On June 7th, 2001, at 11:24 PM, Wendy Woudstra of Pairowoodies.com made a test post on a new type of forum for custom rod builders. There had never been anything like it before, nor since.
At the outset I wanted to provide a public forum for the exchange of custom rod building information that was devoid of the sort of rude, crude, fighting and flaming that was so prevalent on many public internet forums. To that end I installed a set of rules which required users to register with and use their actual first and last names. Folks tend to behave better when other folks know who they are.
The rules also indicated what would be acceptable in terms of overall conduct. Disagreements were expected and would be allowed, provided they were civil. While I saw nothing in the rules that was overbearing, I quickly received numerous emails and phone calls from folks who were very upset at what was required in order to participate. Few thought such a format could thrive, if even survive. And yet, to this day, Rodbuilding.org has been the most successful rod building forum on the internet. The daily traffic, the number of registered users and the support provided by an industry that feels comfortable being a part of a such a forum, has proved the idea can and has worked.
Sure, there have been a few problems. But only on extremely rare occasions does a user get banned, and then only for repeated rules violations. And no one has ever been banned for simple disagreements. In fact, out of over 7,000 registered users, only 16 people have ever been banned from Rodbuilding.org. That’s less than 1% of the total user base in 12 years. This tells me that most rod building folks are indeed level headed individuals who just want to build rods, learn from each other builders and have fun while doing so.
Sure, we’ve had a few bad egg sponsors. But very few. Rodbuilding.org has maintained a sponsor list each year of from 50 to 60 companies. The total number of individual companies involved in the past 12 years has run just over 80. Many of our original sponsors are still with us. While some came and went due to the usual ups and downs of the business world, only 3 were ever “given the boot” for defrauding anyone. Another testament to the good business practices that prevail in the rod building craft.
Some of you have likely heard me say that if I had it to do over again I’d have never started an internet forum. Frankly, there are days when I still feel that way – you have to watch such public forums like a hawk, which can get in the way of other things you’d rather be doing. But when I consider the 388,000+ posts (all about rod building) made in the past 12 years, the number of builders that have been helped, the friendships made and ideas shared, I can’t envision the craft without this or similar forums. In other words, I think it’s all been worth it. I hope you feel the same way.