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About this Board - Then and Now

Started by Verla Kay, September 07, 2013, 10:22 AM

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Verla Kay

Many people have asked about the history of this message board. This answer to that request is based on an interview Verla Kay did a number of years ago.

Q:  When/How did the Blueboard come about?

A:  First, let me say that I had no clue when I put up this message board that it would grow to the immense size it is today! When I first started my website on February 18, 1998, it was with the hope that it would someday help other struggling writers get some easier answers than I did. We had a very active chat room in those days, and many of the workshops and chat sessions ended up on my website. As the website grew in size, I decided it needed to have a message board, so I put one up. But almost no one visited it. If it got one message a month posted on it, that was a big deal! Eventually, after a year or so, I took it down, due to lack of interest.

Later, looking back at that first abortive message board, I realized one of the major reasons it didn't "take" was because it was so difficult to use. It was filled with pop-up ads, and messages took FOREVER to load, create, and post, so no one wanted to use it. After searching the web for weeks, I finally found the SimpleMachines website, which is what this message board is now on. For a flat fee, I could buy an ad-free message board. So I did, and on September 1, 2003, the message board made its debut. People immediately started calling it the "Blueboard" because there was another message board on the web that was affectionately known as the Yellow board and many of the same people frequented both boards.

Q:  I'm always amazed at how supportive and positive the Blueboard stays.  How do you keep things positive?

A:  When I started the Blueboard, I knew immediately that I didn't want to allow ANY flame wars on it. (I was still smarting from being badly flamed on another message board.) I wanted it to be a "safe" place for people to post. One where folks didn't have to worry about anyone jumping down their throat for saying something someone else disagreed with. I also realized I could never do this all by myself. So... the board's Mod Squad was born. I spent about a week looking at the messages posted on the board and when I'd identified the most frequent posters that were tactful, friendly, and sensitive to other people's feelings, I emailed each of them, asking if they would like to volunteer to be moderators.  Some said, "Yes!" and some said, "No, thanks. I'm too busy," or "I'm not interested." Thus the first Moderators came to be. Later, as the board gained in size and popularity, some of the Moderators were moved up to Administrators and new Moderators were added. Today these active Administrators (including me), and Global Moderators all work diligently to keep the message board running smoothly.

It's important for people to know that until 2013 there had always been NO COMPENSATION of any kind for being a Moderator or Administrator of the message board. There is a cost every month to have the stable bandwidth to put this board on, there was a fee for the client used to put the board up ad-free and there's a yearly fee in order to keep the board client updated. All these costs incurred in the creation and continuation of this board were paid by me. There's no fee for anyone to join the board or be a part of it. That was all donated by me. The Administrators and Moderators donated their time and energy (and yes, sometimes their sanity, too!) to keep the Blueboard a safe, friendly place for everyone.

This all changed in 2013 when SCBWI (the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) took over the financial burden of the message board. The best part about SCBWI taking over the board is this:

It is still run by the same people that have been running it in the past, but the costs of running it are now picked up by SCBWI. When the day comes that I can no longer run this board, it won't just "disappear" because my website has been shut down. SCBWI has taken it over and the board will live on - long past my lifetime. It's definitely a WIN-WIN situation for everyone.

Q:  Are there qualifications for joining the board?  What are they?

A:  The only requirements for joining the board are that you are interested in children's literature, you are not a spammer, and that you "play nice" on the board. People who want to talk about religion, politics, or play flame war games are "encouraged" to go elsewhere to post. We only allow a friendly atmosphere on the board and people who can't abide by that aren't allowed to post on the board.  NOTE:  Everyone's first posts are automatically moderated to make sure our "play nice" rules are being followed by every person on the board.

Q:  Any advice for writers who are dipping their toes into the internet?

A:  If you want a site that will draw people to it, you have to give them a reason to visit your site. Who do you want to visit  your site? Kids? Adults? Teens? Why would they want to come to your site? Why will they want to come back? What would make them want to share your site with other people?  Look long and hard at what is out there now, and figure out what you can offer that will be attractive to them. What information, service, or content can you offer on your site that will make people want to visit it over and over again?

Once you have decided on the "theme" for your site, then you have to commit to updating it frequently enough so people will continue to visit it. It's a big job to have a website, but it can help you get "name" recognition, it can help you promote yourself and your books, and it's almost a necessity in today's fast-paced internet world. Almost everyone depends on the internet today for research, information and even communication with others.

Learn from what others have done, figure out a way to make your site special and then "Go for it!"

Q:  Anything else you think readers should know about the Blueboard?

A:  The message board is set up with more than one level and the next level of the board is not discernible until a person has been given permission to have access to that level. This means that while visitors are allowed to read the basic board, they are not allowed to post until they register for the board. This helps to keep "Drive-by" Spammers off the board.  Once a person has registered and been personally approved by one of the Administrators of the board, then there will be additional boards that were invisible to them as visitors. These boards are "perks" for people who are committed enough to want to participate in the Blueboard community.

If you are a writer, illustrator or are otherwise interested in children's literature and you have never visited the Blueboard <> be sure to stop by sometime and stick your toe in the water. You might just find you love it!

Verla Kay

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