New board, New Software
OK, so we have a brand new look board with new software. The question is why?? The answer to this is twofold. Firstly because a new version of software became available from the people who make it. That's straightforward enough. However, for some, the next part may be a little more complex:
Frankly we were happy with the previous version of the software as it was, bar one feature which the new version now has: CMS. For those who don't know, CMS stands for Content Management System. It enables us to publish articles (like this one) that are not regular threads on the Message Board but in fact, stand alone pages on the website. When the article is published, Allowing Comments (an option that may be switched on during the creation of the article) automatically creates a new thread on the Message Board ("by" whoever wrote the article) containing a link to the page (this page) where the article resides, thus allowing members of the forum community to discuss it. That in a nutshell, is the idea.
So what's the big deal of doing it this way one may ask. Well, it changes things in several ways. For starters, the article goes into a category of it's own and not a thread as you are accustomed to. This one for example, will be in Tech. This gives the article a greater significance in a sense because it will forever be on it's own "page" just like a regular web page. Think of it like this - Compare finding an article such as this one to a thread or post made on a board with over 1 million posts. Now come back a year later (hundreds of thousands of posts later) and try to find that thread or post. Clearly, finding the article is easier (or should be).
Second, forum threads (and subsequent posts) can tend towards a whole lot of wind without much substance. They can become argumentative, loose focus or simply become derailed. Articles on the other hand are, because of their "permanence" (supposed to be) more carefully planned, better articulated and more carefully written than the average "quick and dirty post". (I say this with reservation because it is certainly not true of all posts. Some are immaculately constructed and presented).
Thirdly it affords the opportunity for those who have a flair for writing to do just that. We will cover this below.
Fourthly, the style of writing is different and more akin to something you may find in a Magazine. For example, writing in the third person, describing as opposed to objectifying, teaching as opposed to preaching and most important, speaking as opposed to arguing. Additionally, although an article may legitimately raise questions, it is generally written with authority from the depth of the writers knowledge and experience and not the lack thereof.
Finally, and most importantly, it enables us to permeate the kinds of values this board was founded on into the day to day discussions and topics. Some explanation may help in this regard. For instance, we often go through periods where the only thing on people's minds seems to be one topic. A good example of this would be the recent failed bombing attempt on Christmas day of Northwest flight 253, from Amsterdam to Detroit. This can be so pervasive that all focus is (literally) stolen from the things that can and should matter. Well written, timely articles can help draw focus back onto our real purpose and mission.
To get back to our third point mentioned above - who may write articles? .. and who will write them? The short answer is those who have the ability and those who want to. Generally you would expect article content to be written by "the bosses" - administrators and moderators but in reality, they may not be the best people for the job. Truth be told, the chances of someone being a good administrator and writer would be a rare combination. Some Pastors make good administrators and some administrators are also good Pastors but one is usually better at the one than the other.
In fact, as it is setup right now, not even the moderators are able to write or publish articles. This opens a wonderful opportunity for members with both a passion and flair for writing as well as something significant to say, to express it. It has nothing to do with length of membership, post count or rep score. It's about what you have to say, how well you are able to communicate it, and whether it's 'sayworthy'.
If anyone with the talent can write articles, how exactly do you? For one, we will be approaching the few we know of directly who have demonstrated their writing skills as well as Christian fidelity and integrity on the open boards. The other way is to indicate your interest by contacting one of the moderators with a brief outline of the proposed content of your article.