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Dave W.
Info Junkie

26009 Posts

Posted - 04/16/2004 :  18:56:10  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
On February 4, 2004, I was promoted to the position of editor here at the Skeptic Friends Network (SFN). I would like to take a moment, on this, my 72nd day as editor, to talk about what I've been doing, what I'd like to do, and about the SFN in general.

To begin with, I would like to thank @tomic and Kil - again! - for giving me this wonderful opportunity. They've heard this many times already, but I simply cannot say it enough. The position of editor comes with many responsibilities, and it shows much in the way of trust and confidence that they offered me the job after I'd been a moderator in the forums for only three short months. Thank you, gentlemen.

And 'opportunity' is, indeed, the correct word. The SFN represents a growing community of people with all sorts of different ideas and viewpoints. But as I understand the history, it was never the intent of the founders of the SFN to just build a message board and a place to post articles. These things are very, very good, but they were not the goals of the SFN.

Instead, they represent tools through which we can practice and publicize our skeptical skills with an eye towards the true goal: the growth in popularity of critical thought throughout the world. While that may sound like daydreaming, I believe that the SFN web site is a foundation from which we will build and expand, taking our message to other media, and reaching more people.

With that in mind, being given the job of editor here, with a great foundation already created, gave me a chance to help slap the mortar between the virtual bricks as we build upwards. Creating the bricks themselves is something I still enjoy doing - and will continue to do - but this position also entails ensuring that the bricks are of a uniform color, measuring the plumb of the walls, suggesting places for windows and doors, and... well, I shouldn't let myself carried away with the old masonry metaphor. Ack - too late.

Since starting my job as editor, much of my work has been behind the scenes. While I'm still an active participant in the forums, and still moderator there as well, I have also been re-editing the articles which have been posted here over the years, fixing broken HTML links, and changing the format in an attempt to give the articles a superficial similarity. While doing so, I have been creating an official editorial policy which will give contributing authors guidelines for their submissions. While the ideas in the articles will remain unchanged, the somewhat-chaotic ways in which those ideas are presented to the public will come to an end, soon.

Along the lines of having the SFN present a unified "face" to the world through the articles, I have given @tomic (who is the SFN webmaster and code expert) a list of bug fixes, modifications, and suggested enhancements as long as your arm. Many of them are small things, which the average user may never notice, but they touch on many areas of the web site, and overall, they should please the members here. @tomic also has his own ideas, and owns this site, but I'm trying to help where I can (especially when he's been working his butt off the past few weeks to get the SFN Store up and running).

Looking ahead, I hope to put together some public projects in which our members will be invited to participate. That is, at least in my mind, another aspect of my job here: to be an organizer of sorts, and try to encourage activity among the users here (and registration from non-members). Which is one reason I was very happy yesterday, when in just a few hours, @tomic, Kil and I discussed and created the SFN mission statement.

Even though it is on every page of the site now, I would like to repeat it here:
The mission of the Skeptic Friends Network is to promote critical thinking, science and logic as the best methods for evaluating all claims of fact, and we invite active participation by our members to create a skeptical community with a wide variety of viewpoints and expertise.
The above, in part, is one of the reasons I am so excited about being a part of the SFN. I believe this is a unique place on the web (in no small part due to our members), and that it will get larger and better-known as time goes by.

The SFN web site served more visitors last month - about 40,000 - than it ever had before. Since late 2002, we've been visited by more than half a million people. We had 18 new members register in March (pretty good for a month with no holidays or school breaks), and now, only about halfway through April, we have already had 16 more new registrations. I don't see these numbers going down significantly, and am very pleased with them.

It is, after all, the members here which "make" the place. Few people would be interested in a handful of people gabbing amongst themselves and clapping each other on the back. It is, instead, the ability to participate, to make your own opinions heard, and to get a chance to maybe make a small bit of difference, which is valuable and is why people join.

I cannot begin to describe how enthusiastic I am about all of this. And with that enthusiasm, I would like to tease a couple of projects which will probably get off the ground within the next few months. First, Kil has been pushing for an SFN email newsletter. The details have not been worked out at all, but with this public announcement, the matter may get a somewhat higher priority than it's had up to now.

Secondly, I have some ideas for a project based upon letters, written by skeptics, to people in the public eye. Not a typical "letter-writing campaign," but a searchable collection of letters (and replies), with an emphasis on writing good letters which deliver critical thinking to people who appear to need it. Again, few details have been worked out, and future announcements will reveal more.

There are, of course, other projects in the works (like the book), and on the drawing board, and we are always open to hearing suggestions for more. In fact, we're open to suggestions, complaints, questions, or bug reports all the time. We're also currently on the look-out for a person to handle public relations and media contacts, and also an artist to maintain and create our graphics. Feel free to make your thoughts known in the appropriate forum, email me or send me a private message.

Thanks again to @tomic and Kil, to the other members of the staff here, and most of all to the members and readers of this site. May the Skeptic Friends Network last a long, long time.

SFN Regular

543 Posts

Posted - 04/16/2004 :  19:53:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Renae a Private Message
@tomic, Kil, Dave W, and all the staff--thank you for all you do to make this site happen.

I've learned a ton here and I believe in SFN's mission.
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