10 years ago this month, I launched Rodbuilding.org.Â It was different from any other custom rod building forum around. In fact, it was different than most public internet forums of any kind. Participants were required to use their actual first and last names when posting. Insults, flames, obscene language and bad conduct in general were not to be tolerated.
More than a few builders didnâ€™t like the rules. I routinely received emails to the effect of â€œYou need to loosen up and let the guys have some fun or nobody will use the siteâ€ and â€œNobody is going to put up with your harsh rules. Your forum will be gone in a few monthsâ€ and quite a few harsher ones that I canâ€™t publish here.
But, contrary to the advice of these savvy individuals, the forum succeeded precisely because of those rules. And when you think about it, they were really were nothing more than an admonishment to the users that good conduct was expected of each and every person who participated. To that end, in the 10 years RBO has been online, it has been the most successful and popular custom rod building website in existence, totaling some 365,000 posts (thatâ€™s an average of 100 per day) all centered around actual rod building topics (very little chit chat about anything else).
Itâ€™s been a handful to run at times – you canâ€™t make everybody happy. The trick is learning that you canâ€™t and neednâ€™t. Out of the over 7000 registered users RBO has had, only 16 have been banned (proving that nobody gets banned for anything less than serious rules transgressions, and several of them at that). For the most part, the folks who use RBO have been courteous, friendly and very helpful. No doubt this plays a large role in why the forum has been so popular.
RBO has and continues to feature several additional aspects including a complete Rod Building Glossary, Photo Page, Rod Building FAQs, Rod Builder Locator, an Online Library of selected RodMaker articles and a Buy/Sell/Trade page. And everything has been and will continue to be… free.
Sure, thereâ€™s times when I wish I had never started a forum. But looking back at the thousands of builders who have been and are still being helped by it, I feel good about what weâ€™ve accomplished. I have no idea if itâ€™ll last another 10 years, but these past 10 have certainly been very worthwhile.