The short version:
I’ve created a QRPer discussion board that anyone can join, free of charge, at QRPer.net.
My hope is that this will be a spot for community members to get quick answers to questions and connect with other like-minded operators.
Everyone is welcome and this board is already populated with a number of moderators who will make sure that all questions–no matter how simple–are welcome. Trolls and rude people will be weeded out.
I would encourage you to create an account and check it out: http://qrper.net
The long version:
In the past, I’ve mentioned in posts that email from readers and subscribers (of both QRPer.com and the SWLing Post) has increased to a point that I can no longer keep up with them. It became very evident when I went camping in West Virginia last month and came back home to find no less than 60 messages in my inbox. These 60 messages were all ones needing some sort of reply or acknowledgement–they didn’t include notifications and SPAM.
I take pride in replying to each and every message I receive, but sadly I can no longer keep up with the volume. Sadly, I don’t have enough time especially with my busy family life.
In fact, I realized recently that replying to emails is actually taking a large bite out of the time I have to do content creation. I can’t let that happen, because that could quickly lead to burn-out. Both of my sites are pure labors of love and I enjoy them immensely.
What are these emails exactly?
The vast majority are questions about radio gear, antenna construction, purchasing decisions, and folks simply seeking general advice. I would estimate that at least 70% are coming from people who are new to the world of QRP, field radio, and CW. Being passionate about these things, I try to help and mentor as best I can. Truth is, though, I’m often a bottleneck if someone needs advice quickly; I frequently run 1-4 weeks behind answering emails because I must find a dedicate morning or afternoon to tackle them all at once. Those blocks of time are rare.
When I answer a question, that reply is only seen by the person who asked it unless I turned the question into a public post (which I try to do with common questions, but requires permission and takes additional time).
On top of that, I’m often not the best person to answer a reader question, so I end up referring people to other sources.
Of course, I also receive news tips, guest posts, article ideas, and kind compliments from readers. These messages are very important to me, actually, and I always give them priority because they fuel content on QRPer. I still plan to go through these, of course, as I love sharing your projects, stories, field reports, and more with the community.
I consternated over this problem for months and have reached out to some of you for advice and suggestions of how I could decentralize answering community questions.
I’ve looked at a number of solutions including the creation of an email group, using a modern chat room, and even platforms like Discord. Many of these require downloading apps and are tied into platforms that could change rules and ownership over time. Many are difficult if not impossible to search via generic web searches.
In the end, I wanted to keep the solution “in house” and open source. I also wanted the content to be publicly available to read, search, and archive. I wanted any interaction–i.e. posting and replying–to require logging in with a valid email address and creating an account. This keeps SPAM to a minimum.
A couple weeks ago, I created both installations and made some very basic modifications. I’m very new to this, so I’m positive I’ll need to tweak permissions and forum settings for it to work well. I only have one or two forums in each board as of now, but will add ones that make sense to help filter discussions.
How you can help
I’ve called upon a small group to test the discussion board for a few days and we already have a number of moderators.
If you know me, you’ll know that I like to keep both of my sites on-topic and free of trolls. I like them to be a safe space for all ages. I only moderate comments when someone:
- uses more than “PG-13” language,
- dives into heated political or off-topic discussions (there are better sites for that out there),
- treats others with disrespect,
- or is simply a troll trying to stir up negative comments.
Discussion forums are a bit like a garden and if they’re not weeded, you lose control. It’s for this reason I need trusted moderators; people I know and who are regular contributors here on QRPer.com.
Of course, we also need helpful, kind, and encouraging mentors. I want this space to be one where no question is too basic or simple. A safe place for open discussion.
QRPer Discussion Board:
Feel free to create an account and post your messages and questions.
Keep in mind, that it might take time to sort out permissions, forum settings, etc. so I’m sure there may be a few hiccups along the way. I’m very new to this.
I think a community-lead forum will actually be a much more efficient way for newcomers to feel invited and get the answers and encouragement they need to move forward.
Many thanks to all of you for all you do. I’m truly humbled by your support and kindness!