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Unread 02-01-2018, 12:51 PM   #31
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Wow.

The amount of thoughtful analysis going on here is amazing.

Grateful for the responses.

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Unread 02-02-2018, 12:36 AM   #32
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So as I mentioned, many of you have already hit on some of the points I would have guessed were factors, like shared interests in music and faith, an emphasis on valuing each others' opinions and working together to have useful conversations, and simple investment of time and integration of the site into your life. You all also raised some great points that I hadn't even thought of, like how the subforum structure might also play a role in allowing you to choose what subjects you actually want to read about. And of course I don't want to downplay the role of divine intervention, because I think we can all pretty obviously see that at work here.

Two other things I've been thinking about:

1. Some of you mentioned that we were in the right place at the right time for early message boards, right when this method of connecting with people online was just getting popular. That's true, but I think we also happened to be in the right place at the right time for something else: Contemporary Christian music. CCM definitely had a moment of increased cultural relevance and innovation, expanding to mirror broader musical trends, especially rock music. I'd say this spanned from about 1995-2007, roughly from the release of Jesus Freak to the release of the first studio Hillsong United album. That drove people here, because not only did we have the tabs for the songs, but we also had the message boards to discuss the music. CCM has evolved since then. So there's something to be said for capitalizing on a trendy topic.

2. Some of you mentioned our effective moderation strategy, but I think another piece of it is that we were all moderators. We had so many little subforums that lots of people could be part of the moderation team. Everybody who hit three months and 500 posts was excited to be a moderator. Mod positions in major forums were competitive! Being a moderator showed that you were an accepted part of the site, and gave you responsibility and status. And then because you had your own little corner of the site to take responsibility for, you felt more invested in the community and helping it keep running smoothly, even if you were just deleting spam from Other Stringed Instruments. Other social media mostly doesn't give you that opportunity to take responsibility for stewardship and work to make your online community more positive.
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Unread 02-02-2018, 12:43 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by TheProdigalModern View Post

-I think the big thing was, in short, CGR was a closed environment that, even inside its borders, maintained smaller digital biomes. Social media 3.0 (?) is wide open, whereas here we kept things personal (I think I knew the first name of every active poster on the site at one point) AND compartmentalized.
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Originally Posted by Uptown Thrunk View Post
I was able to make a fool of myself as a teen and get away with it. No lasting repercussions in the same way that social media would effect me now.

But, the other side of that is that my foolishness was kept in check by others. I was guided.

I feel like I dont have anything terribly new to say that others haven't.


Recently ive been quiet on here. But, in my hard moments this is the place that I come back to because people care, and I can stay "anonymous" in a way that I cant on social media.
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Originally Posted by Chrysostom View Post
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.
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Originally Posted by Almost Enough View Post
The internet seems so much smaller now than it used to, and this place was a haven to communicate and still remain somewhat anonymous.
I also noticed a bit of a back-and-forth in the answers here that I thought was really interesting. CGR has been a place where you can stay relatively anonymous, but also people had their real names and pictures all over the place. I totally see how both of those things were and are true, even though they seem very obviously in tension. It's fascinating that we fostered both of those things simultaneously.
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Unread 02-02-2018, 04:56 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by mtlmouth View Post
So as I mentioned, many of you have already hit on some of the points I would have guessed were factors, like shared interests in music and faith, an emphasis on valuing each others' opinions and working together to have useful conversations, and simple investment of time and integration of the site into your life. You all also raised some great points that I hadn't even thought of, like how the subforum structure might also play a role in allowing you to choose what subjects you actually want to read about. And of course I don't want to downplay the role of divine intervention, because I think we can all pretty obviously see that at work here.

Two other things I've been thinking about:

1. Some of you mentioned that we were in the right place at the right time for early message boards, right when this method of connecting with people online was just getting popular. That's true, but I think we also happened to be in the right place at the right time for something else: Contemporary Christian music. CCM definitely had a moment of increased cultural relevance and innovation, expanding to mirror broader musical trends, especially rock music. I'd say this spanned from about 1995-2007, roughly from the release of Jesus Freak to the release of the first studio Hillsong United album. That drove people here, because not only did we have the tabs for the songs, but we also had the message boards to discuss the music. CCM has evolved since then. So there's something to be said for capitalizing on a trendy topic.

2. Some of you mentioned our effective moderation strategy, but I think another piece of it is that we were all moderators. We had so many little subforums that lots of people could be part of the moderation team. Everybody who hit three months and 500 posts was excited to be a moderator. Mod positions in major forums were competitive! Being a moderator showed that you were an accepted part of the site, and gave you responsibility and status. And then because you had your own little corner of the site to take responsibility for, you felt more invested in the community and helping it keep running smoothly, even if you were just deleting spam from Other Stringed Instruments. Other social media mostly doesn't give you that opportunity to take responsibility for stewardship and work to make your online community more positive.
Both are excellent points.
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Unread 02-02-2018, 06:10 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by mtlmouth View Post
I also noticed a bit of a back-and-forth in the answers here that I thought was really interesting. CGR has been a place where you can stay relatively anonymous, but also people had their real names and pictures all over the place. I totally see how both of those things were and are true, even though they seem very obviously in tension. It's fascinating that we fostered both of those things simultaneously.
The two complement each other. Some people used real names and pictures, but everyone had to maintain the reputation of their account. It was a stable identity that still offered privacy.
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Unread 02-02-2018, 08:27 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Chrysostom View Post
The two complement each other. Some people used real names and pictures, but everyone had to maintain the reputation of their account. It was a stable identity that still offered privacy.
Definitely - regardless of how closely you chose to tie your CGR presence to your offline identity, your username had a reputation you had to maintain. (Quite literally, for a bit, with our original rep system!) That seems to be missing online these days. On sites with real name policies, people's worst impulses seem to be kept in check only by fear of "this will come up on Google when I'm applying for jobs," not actual concern for their reputation in digital space. Where people can still be anonymous online (an increasingly rare thing), there's no reputation to maintain at all.
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Unread 02-02-2018, 08:31 PM   #37
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So obviously, not all of the factors that made CGR work are reproducible, like the magic right blend of people, the relatively homogenous group we attracted to begin with, or being in the right place at the right time for both message boards and Christian music. And some of it isn't scalable, such as getting a bunch of people to hang out at some cabin in the woods together. But maybe a few of our success stories could be useful elsewhere.

That brings me to my next question for this thread: Is there anything you think other websites could learn from CGR?
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Unread 02-02-2018, 11:09 PM   #38
still not a stale muffin.
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And then because you had your own little corner of the site to take responsibility for, you felt more invested in the community and helping it keep running smoothly, even if you were just deleting spam from Other Stringed Instruments.
other stringed instruments mods say what what!!

my balalaikas and absentee mandolin appreciate the shoutout.
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Unread 02-04-2018, 10:51 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by mtlmouth View Post
So obviously, not all of the factors that made CGR work are reproducible, like the magic right blend of people, the relatively homogenous group we attracted to begin with, or being in the right place at the right time for both message boards and Christian music. And some of it isn't scalable, such as getting a bunch of people to hang out at some cabin in the woods together. But maybe a few of our success stories could be useful elsewhere.

That brings me to my next question for this thread: Is there anything you think other websites could learn from CGR?
Was this too scary of a question?

Seriously, though, Mark Zuckerberg would kill for the amount of user engagement we had on this site circa 2007, in terms of time on site and quality of conversation and user satisfaction.
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Unread 02-05-2018, 06:51 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by mtlmouth View Post
Was this too scary of a question?

Seriously, though, Mark Zuckerberg would kill for the amount of user engagement we had on this site circa 2007, in terms of time on site and quality of conversation and user satisfaction.
That's a good question. And, good questions require thought, which I haven't been able to conjure recently.

Will think about this...

I

My initial hunch is that many cannot replicate or use much. Facebook is too disorganized and caught up on the importance and need of real life identities. Facebook groups are not easy to navigate, because they are organised by either popularity of post or temporal placement.

Twitter is not conducive to good conversation or reading. You have to be very skilled to break through and exhibit those virtues.

Both are breeding grounds for toxicity and rely on algorithms that preclude reasoned, human involvement in matters of policing content and members.

Both are also interested, foremost, in exploiting membership for capital.
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Originally Posted by Demon_Hunter View Post
Taylor, you just got drive-by theologied.
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Unread 02-05-2018, 09:01 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by Uptown Thrunk View Post
That's a good question. And, good questions require thought, which I haven't been able to conjure recently.

Will think about this...

I

My initial hunch is that many cannot replicate or use much. Facebook is too disorganized and caught up on the importance and need of real life identities. Facebook groups are not easy to navigate, because they are organised by either popularity of post or temporal placement.

Twitter is not conducive to good conversation or reading. You have to be very skilled to break through and exhibit those virtues.

Both are breeding grounds for toxicity and rely on algorithms that preclude reasoned, human involvement in matters of policing content and members.

Both are also interested, foremost, in exploiting membership for capital.
Dude, you of all people on this site have the best reason for not conjuring up some thoughts in the last few days. I just wanted to make sure the question didn't get lost over the weekend, what with people's social lives and church and a Superb Owl.

Interesting points, thank you.
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Unread 02-05-2018, 10:24 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by mtlmouth View Post
So obviously, not all of the factors that made CGR work are reproducible, like the magic right blend of people, the relatively homogenous group we attracted to begin with, or being in the right place at the right time for both message boards and Christian music. And some of it isn't scalable, such as getting a bunch of people to hang out at some cabin in the woods together. But maybe a few of our success stories could be useful elsewhere.

That brings me to my next question for this thread: Is there anything you think other websites could learn from CGR?
Honestly, a big part of my formative teenage/young adult years were spent on this site with other people of likeminded values. I knew I could come here and by myself, even when I was annoying and even though I was weird. I didn't have really any kind of acceptance from my family in real life and my journal was the place where I just felt free to be myself and crazily enough, I found a group of people who interacted with me and accepted me, even when I was crying out and in pain. This place also was a major time of growing up for me and I am grateful for the leadership here who called me out when I needed it and helped me become a better version of myself. There was a lot of grace and forgiveness for me in that time, especially when I probably should've been banned. Other places were not like that and social media definitely isn't like that today.

I don't think what was formed here can be replicated on other websites, especially not on social media websites. The culture is very different and is not conducive to forming real and lasting relationships, especially not one where people can actually feel safe to be who they really are and share what's in their hearts without fear of repercussion and stigma.
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Unread 02-16-2018, 12:38 PM   #43
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I work as a web developer now (in Kennesaw, humorously
That's just amazing. I pride myself on knowing most of the local web dev community (largely so we can refer each other as the "right fit" on projects), so we need to connect. Email me at mickey@greenmellenmedia.com and let's do lunch sometime soon.

The other thing I wanted to add to this thread was how accidental the entire site really was. When I started it, I was volunteering a lot with the youth group at church (I was around 24 at the time), primarily with the youth group website and leading worship. The two quickly met in the middle and I started posting worship songs on the youth website. Here's an archive.org look at one of those old pages:
https://web.archive.org/web/19991128...tar/guitar.htm

Even back then I was a stat geek, and I noticed that we were quickly drawing a some solid traffic to those pages (perhaps 300 visits/day, if memory serves). That was awesome, but the gray copyright issues around guitar tabs made me a bit nervous -- I didn't want the church to get in trouble, so I spun it off onto its own site.

Also around that time, the ".ws" TLD was released and I found some articles about how huge it was going to be (ha!). So, I picked up christianguitar.ws, moved over the songs from the Mt. Bethel Youth site, and off we went!

They were flat files for a while (you would browse a server directory to grab the .txt file of the song you wanted) until I eventually found a book about "how to build a PHP and MySQL website" from SitePoint (I spent a lot of time in their forums too) and got to work. The book used the example of "jokes database", so I just translated "jokes" and "tabs" and got things going.

At some point around there, I realized that .ws wasn't going to take off, but christianguitar.org was still available so I grabbed it.

As others have said, there were a lot of great forums at the time -- Third Day and Jennifer Knapp come to mind, as did other Christian tab-related sites. I opened up the forums, got lucky to have some amazing early users (and heavy traffic from Google on the tabs to bring in more) and here we are.
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Unread 02-17-2018, 08:56 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by beanbag View Post
other stringed instruments mods say what what!!

my balalaikas and absentee mandolin appreciate the shoutout.
My balalaika and dulcimer echo this.
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Unread 02-17-2018, 01:50 PM   #45
still not a stale muffin.
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My balalaika and dulcimer echo this.
i didn’t know you also had a balalaika!!

see, here is a great example of what made/makes this site work: c.s. lewis’ “what, you too?” it happens so frequently!
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