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Unread 01-30-2018, 01:24 PM   #16
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The meet-ups started before the Mtl Family even came on to the site. Those earliest meetings in Texas, etc., opened imaginations. There were pictures of members together, and songs that they sang together. The teens on the site talked about meeting each other, but it was more like a pipe dream. When Cinnamon and I joined and became friends, it opened new possibilities, because moms can make anything happen.

Every new meeting pushes most of us a little bit out of our comfort zones - and that's exciting when you realize that you didn't die.

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Unread 01-30-2018, 01:25 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Leboman View Post
It was the eggroll.

Also, this.
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Unread 01-30-2018, 01:48 PM   #18
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I'd say the Moms played a major role in CGR being awesome.
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Unread 01-30-2018, 02:23 PM   #19
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For me it was a handful of members (most of whom are no longer active) that captivated my attention and made me want to be a part of this place. Like I said, I was (and still am) quite a bit older than most of them but they were interesting and let me (the old guy) into their little group. At some point I decided I wanted to take over and be the leader of the group. I jest. Well...maybe.

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Unread 01-30-2018, 03:22 PM   #20
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I had been in many online communities related to bands (Roper, Brave Saint Saturn, etc.). Many of them had very tight-knit communities where people knew first names, posted pictures of themselves, and shared life on those forums daily. It was like a chatroom. Some had, within a year of posting, over 40k posts.

Needless to say, even though I never felt like the inner-circle, I was deeply affected by their community. Some I've met in person, even came to my wedding.

I was mostly involved in the "intellectual" forums. But those communities always had a caustic, over-invested individual who loved to debate and protect their image. I liked the debate and many discussions were formative for me.

But after those communities imploded (Roper broke up, Brave Saint Saturn was off and on, etc.) and the refugees or remnant divided, it became harder to connect. Facebook saved some of those relationships.

So when I came to CGR, I had already known what an online community could be like. I knew what it was like to be vocal, vulnerable, yet safe. So, I hoped to find the same thing here. For the most part, it was. In some ways, I felt less involved (who here knows my real name? relative few), but in many respects I felt far safer here to express worries, doubts, and questions with those who were far more qualified spiritually and intellectually. (This was not the case at the other communities; those people rarely posted and thus rarely shaped people's lives)

So I stuck for Theology and the formation that the individuals gave.
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Unread 01-30-2018, 04:04 PM   #21
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I'll keep this short. I think it was the fellowship (I know fellowship on a Media web source is not fellowshipping in person) of people who have a common, I guess, sharing of Jesus. Where we could encourage one another and share Prayer for each others. I remember when I first came, I found it fun and informative and uplifting. That's all I'm going to say on that.
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Unread 01-30-2018, 04:52 PM   #22
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Definitely the guitar tabs.





But seriously, this site basically helped me grow up for reals. And not just grow into the.. culture I was a part of... for lack of better terms.
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Unread 01-30-2018, 05:07 PM   #23
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Unread 01-30-2018, 10:08 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by mtlmouth View Post
I think about the internet a lot. It's kind of my job. Even if it weren't my job, I'd probably be doing it anyway, because I'm an Internet Person™, and CGR is largely to blame for that.

Sometime in the last year, I noticed a pretty substantial change in the way people are thinking and feeling about the internet. In short, it seems like almost everyone I talk to has been feeling a bit soured on the whole idea of social media lately. It's bumming us out, it's making us dislike people we knew in high school, it never seems to show us what we actually want to see, it's making us feel uncomfortable about sharing things we would have shared a few years ago. There's probably a lot of factors at play here: weird interactions of your different social groups, the overall strain in public discourse right now (especially in the United States), algorithms designed to keep you on the site as long as possible rather than designed to show you interesting and useful things, and much more. We've got news feeds designed with the same principles as slot machines, automated YouTube channels traumatizing children, and Russian bots spreading misinformation. Something feels kinda broken.

As I've been thinking about what's wrong with the internet lately, I've been returning to my internet roots a bit and realizing one place that didn't seem to fall into these problems: right here.

That's not to say CGR hasn't had its share of problems (it has), that everything good about CGR is scalable to larger groups (probably not), or that we're even in the midst of a heyday right now (we aren't). But this site has been around since 2001, which was a very different time for the internet. Many of us have been here for over a decade. Some have stuck around for over half our lives. Some people met their spouses here. Some just met long-time friends. I don't hear about that happening elsewhere online these days.

So that brings me to this question: What made CGR work?
How is it that we managed to build this sense of actual community around here? What's the missing ingredient that the rest of the social internet is lacking?

I have some ideas on what it might be, but I wanted to get some other people's perspectives first. I'm going to pose this question in the Facebook group too (perhaps ironically), but I think I'll see if I can make them all come here to talk about it.
You should askLuke about this. He might have some insights.

Because this was at just the time the internet was taking off, the core participants here were clustered around a similar age range (15-25) and shared the anxieties of a tumultuous stage of life together.

Because it was a Christian forum, and a Christian guitar forum, the users were *for* one another, on the same side, despite genuine variety and personal difference, even conflict.

Scale and moderation (and community norm enforcement) made it so everyone had a face, an identity, a reputation. Many of us used real pictures or names. Even if you didn't know everyone on the site you could know the major posters in the subcommunities you were part of. So you were accountable, for one, but also you felt like you could make a tangible impact, not just an anonymous poster screaming into the void.

There was no big brand name social media so we shared everything having to do with our lives. Blogs here, poetry there, music art, stupid jokes, current events. And it was separated into subforums so you could interact with a subset of an individual's posts easily.

The community piggybacked on preexisting relationships. The Straights, folks connected to Luke, and ultimately meetups. There were enough people in TX that I was able to connect with a lot of them.

This set the culture, and that culture has continued to live and adapt in various ways through the structures and personalities of CGR.

I definitely agree with Lee that God is at work here. These are some of the characteristics that God put together.
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Unread 01-30-2018, 10:13 PM   #25
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I've wondered a lot about this myself. In general, I miss forums. Social media has advantages, but it's vapor. I like a place where you can have meaningful conversations, and then find them years later.

I'm still not sure what the magic sauce was on here. There were other forums around, but somehow this took off. I think maybe it was two things:

1 -- I optimized the crap out of the site to rank well in Google, and we got piles of traffic. As a result, some percentage of them hopped in the forums and got things started. So many forums COULD be great, but can never get enough traction early on to become useful.

2 -- We got lucky, and the right people became active early on. People that were active, honest, and quickly took ownership of "our" site. As a result, when spammers inevitably arrived, we had a force waiting for them. Getting those people certainly wan't anything I intentionally did.

Oddly, enough, as was mentioned in the first post, I found this thread via Facebook...
Hi Mickey --

Thank you. Truly.

Should you at some point be in Austin TX, unlimited hospitality is an email away.

My first name at my last name (plural) dot org. (For instance, john@smiths.org)

John
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Unread 01-30-2018, 10:25 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrysostom View Post
Hi Mickey --

Thank you. Truly.

Should you at some point be in Austin TX, unlimited hospitality is an email away.

My first name at my last name (plural) dot org. (For instance, john@smiths.org)

John
You're very welcome. I've been to like 42 states, but Texas still isn't one of them. That needs to change. I'll let you know if it ever does.

I'm just glad to things are still going so well in here. I hate that I vanished so much (and that's unlikely to change with family and business), but it's nice to pop in from time to time.
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Unread 01-31-2018, 12:31 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by MtlMom View Post
The meet-ups started before the Mtl Family even came on to the site. Those earliest meetings in Texas, etc., opened imaginations. There were pictures of members together, and songs that they sang together. The teens on the site talked about meeting each other, but it was more like a pipe dream. When Cinnamon and I joined and became friends, it opened new possibilities, because moms can make anything happen.

Every new meeting pushes most of us a little bit out of our comfort zones - and that's exciting when you realize that you didn't die.
I don't know how many people even know this, but way back, in the days of those early meet-ups, my very first (I think) CGR meetup occurred when Rach flew me down to Southern California for my birthday. I was going through a rough period, and had just lost my job, while she had a really good one. I stayed at her house, where her family accepted me openly. She took me to Magic Mountain and a Lifehouse concert. We had the greatest time. We were just friends, and in fact, her relationship with Chris that turned into a marriage with beautiful children was just starting.

CGR taught me a lot of lessons about generosity, and that was such a big one. It's such a happy memory.
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Unread 01-31-2018, 12:37 AM   #28
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Thank you all so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I truly didn't expect to get this much response, especially from people who are pretty scarce around here these days. If this is your first time on CGR in a while, welcome home.

I'm taking some notes on general themes I'm seeing here and will share my own thoughts in a few days. You've all hit on some of the main ideas I would have guessed, and pulled out a few that I hadn't even thought of, but I might have a couple more factors to throw in to the discussion.

Anyway, keep discussing!
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Unread 01-31-2018, 01:00 AM   #29
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Most everyone else has said a lot but I really do think the timing was right.

The internet seems so much smaller now than it used to, and this place was a haven to communicate and still remain somewhat anonymous.

Tabs brought me here. I was a musician and was only allowed to listen to Christian music. Later on lurking trapped me into creating an account and discussing my favorite music. Lurking the theology forum helped me learn a TON. Then I opened my mouth and promptly shoved my foot in it. BUT - because this is a loving community, I learned rather than rage. Major Tom kept me from killing myself working on electronics multiple times. Various musicians helped me realize that ska might not be the end-all-be-all of musical genres. I'm still not sure if that was a good thing or not but it happened.

I dunno. I think our culture was less toxic and the internet was what I wish it still was. Nowadays suck.
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Unread 02-01-2018, 09:41 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey View Post
I've wondered a lot about this myself. In general, I miss forums. Social media has advantages, but it's vapor. I like a place where you can have meaningful conversations, and then find them years later.

I'm still not sure what the magic sauce was on here. There were other forums around, but somehow this took off. I think maybe it was two things:

1 -- I optimized the crap out of the site to rank well in Google, and we got piles of traffic. As a result, some percentage of them hopped in the forums and got things started. So many forums COULD be great, but can never get enough traction early on to become useful.

2 -- We got lucky, and the right people became active early on. People that were active, honest, and quickly took ownership of "our" site. As a result, when spammers inevitably arrived, we had a force waiting for them. Getting those people certainly wan't anything I intentionally did.

Oddly, enough, as was mentioned in the first post, I found this thread via Facebook...
It's awesome to see your perspective on this, Mickey. Thanks for taking the time to work on the forum all of those years ago. It definitely changed the path of my life substantially, and I appreciate it.

On topic, I have a ton of thoughts on this question. I have been thinking about it for years, actually. I work as a web developer now (in Kennesaw, humorously) and the internet has really become a huge part of my life in a way it never was when I was just a kid desperate for socialization. I have come to believe that social media and the 24 hour news cycle are, in a huge way, destroying the developed world little by little. And it always comes back to "what made the internet of 2001 different?"

I have a lot of answers, but the one that I believe with the most sincerity/solidity is really simple: I believe that the internet was still young enough that the group of people using it were incredibly homogeneous. Back when I was younger the rhetoric regarding internet socialization was that it was all catfishing or serial killers, and real people didn't use it. The reality, however, was that almost everyone on any forum with some barrier to entry (registration + have some knowledge about some thing) was that with very few exceptions every person was someone almost exactly like me.

That is, we were all generally some stratification of under to middle class, first world residents who liked computers, technology, and reading. This is such an enormous bridging of differences it made it nearly impossible to not end up developing meaningful relationships and conversations. The reason it doesn't work like this on forums anymore, in my opinion, is because diversity of background, and thus opinion, has increased a thousandfold, in every direction. Age, background, nationality, technological experience... Everything. We have infinitely less in common, so the idea of going into an unmoderated space and having a real relationship is impossible.

What has ended up happening as a result is that people either retreat into an echo chamber in private communities, such as facebook, or just launch out into an unmoderated and ridiculous mess of "jokes", which leads to things like gaming/twitter "discourse" which is just immediately toxic, and devoid of all sincerity. We're either insulated from disagreeable opinions/perspectives, or don't take them seriously at all so it doesn't matter.

I think about this so much, because I would love for there to be a solution. Diversity is important to intelligent thought and growth, but having it also makes it very difficult for groups of people to develop relationships. It's also hard work, and people (myself included, often enough) tend to take the path of least resistance.

So yeah, tl;dr: I think CGR worked because it was a semi-closed community full of people of very similar, like-minded upbringing and perspectives. There were enough younger teens to drive enthusiasm with enough older, wiser folks to bring substance. The end result was a lot of stepping on toes between those groups, but a synergistic relationship making the community very deep.

Bonus thought: I think people of our demographic (grew up with the internet and are souring on it) are sometimes motivated by how much of their lives have become permanently documented due to the nature of growing up online. I find a LOT of my behavior as a teenager on this forum immensely regrettable. It is fortunately not indexed, so it is not haunting me professionally or personally years later, but it is definitely still there. If this were on some other forum, or facebook, or instagram, it'd be here for a long time.

Wouldn't change a thing, I am immensely grateful for CGR's impact on my life. I met my first wife here, and had a safe place to be the awkward, mentally unstable teenager that I was. It gave me a lot of solid social education which was critical for me to become a mentally sort-of stable adult, even though that has been a difficult road. So yeah, thanks to all of you for all of it.
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