Many of you here may be part of it, but few understand what BBSN was really meant to be. I know this because I only now see clearly where it is going.
Lets take a step back in time, rewind 5 years ago, the year is 2012 going on 2013. I had returned from Shediac, where I was working in a lobster shop, because my mother had passed away suddenly. While back home, I was on EI and had some spare time. Too much, in fact. I found myself remembering vividly, one particular morning in my recent past. I was on my way to work when I saw a parked car in a lot, on fire. Naturally, I took a picture or maybe a video and uploaded it to my wall. My friend from Moncton said, “I’m a Newschaser is it okay if I share this post?” … I’m thinking, What the fuck is a Newschaser but replied, “sure”. Next thing I know my post took off; hundreds of people were suddenly talking about it. At the time I thought it was pretty cool, but didn’t think much more of it beyond that.
So, while in Campbellton on EI with too much time on my hands, I happened to check out “Newschaser” and once I looked at this group it blew me away. At this point Facebook groups were only used for “For Sale” type communities. Before this I always thought Facebook groups to be rather pointless. I reached out to the owners and told them I would create “Newschaser” groups all over New Brunswick and unify them. The idea was to monetize this concept as it generated immense amounts of traffic and activity due to its nature.
While creating this extension of the Newschaser network I immediately began seeing the issues that surfaced because of it. Every day was a new headache; a new thread; a new post; and it was always controversial. When I began creating newsgroups there may have been in total 3-4 in all of New Brunswick. Today, 5 years later, there are thousands).
When I was brought on board at Newschaser and taught the ropes, I was told that these are my communities and if people didn’t like how they operated, then they could leave. This was the mentality back then. But as time progressed I began to realize that these communities did not belong to me at all. They belonged to the community members that helped make them possible.
After setting up groups for every major city in New Brunswick, besides the few that already existed, I created a basic website for the project. My experience back then was lacking, and well.. it was noobie… as you can see here:
I had 4 years experience in web hosting while living in Moncton, which is where I picked up the foundation for my understanding of websites. I was able to work with basic HTML code but that was about it. In 2014 I had only managed to add a few links to the website as the majority of my focus was on controlling the chaos that had been created all over NB because of the expansion of the Newschaser concept. You can see here the page merely was updated to include links to each of the groups within the network:
As you can tell, not much work was put into the website. The majority of the meat was on Facebook anyway and due to the amount of stress I was experiencing, as well as the focus needed to keep Newschaser running, the website inevitably took a backseat.
2014 was to become one of the more important turning points for this project.
As time progressed I realized exactly what I’d done; I’d created an army of paparazzi all over New Brunswick. I created a movement that would prove to violate so many privacy issues. It got so bad that police in training were being warned to stay clear of “Newschaser” communities on social media. There’s this understanding that people want to know whats happening, the curiosity seems innocent enough, but what it does to those involved is bad.
When you find out a loved one died from a facebook group before police can inform you themselves, thats horrifying. When your going through hell and the entire local community is prying into your pain, its devastating. No one gets it… It’s all fun and games until it involves you or someone you love… then it’s suddenly… very real.
I saw videos of dead bodies coming out of an apartment complex; I saw the last minutes of a persons life being broadcasted to a community of his peers, family, and friends. The amount of social turmoil created went far beyond its benefits to the community, by far, and this was the case with ALL Newschaser groups, not just some.
These groups grew fast, they were very dramatic and attracted a lot of people. But the quality of discussion was poor and without substance. At the beginning I thought bigger is better, but a smaller, more refined, community produces much more substance and quality content then a group that attracts nothing but dramatic trolls.
At times I remember staying up 48 hours with no caffeine or stimulants. This was caused by facebooks dopamine feedback loop technology. The tech was new at the time, but provided the mental stimulation needed to gain an in-depth interest/understanding in what was happening on these communities. Nothing keeps you involved like Facebook does, and because of that I continue to do what I do, same with many others who thrive on social media.
2014, I decided to part ways with the “Newschaser” concept to do my own thing. This is where BBSN was born. BBSN was an attempt to re-create Newschasers but in a more refined and less problematic way. Unfortunately BBS groups did not grow as quickly as Newschaser groups and thus needed a parallel community to help give it a boost. The “Community Concerns Network” you see today is half made up of dead populated Newschaser communities. These old NC groups were given a face-lift and name change and a new set of rules to help create a solid foundation to build upon.
This here was one of the first website designs for BBSN.ca which you are on now:
This new setup was obviously more appealing then last. But still, even though this website looked decent it was not enough to monetize due to lack of integration and, like before, most activity was on Facebook, isolated from the website. During this time I setup an IRC server and a few bots to facilitate things but IRC being so old and outdated was inconvenient for my team and others on social media even though we had a web interface used in conjunction.
Pet Chaserz and Cannabis Chaserz was added to the mix. Again these were separate themes but many cities had groups from each theme so they run parallel to each other and serve separate purposes. The idea is a Newsgroup can be themed for whatever subject. Each theme creates a new environment for the newsgroup to develop, some themes are more appealing then others but in the end they are special interest newsgroups.
So how does BBSN relate to these networks?
Although BBSN has it’s own set of newsgroups which act somewhat like bulletin boards for light discussion, it really is a network management entity. I call it a cluster: a group of networks working together. The majority of the team involved in managing these groups are moderators within all the networks, who are added as mods or removed as needed. We tend to share responsibility and disperse the work involved among ourselves.
With the proper tools and productivity apps this setup has potential to excel beyond that of regular newsgroups or newsgroup networks. There needs to be a sort of unity moving forward, and the tools that are developed over the next little while will do just that.
I cannot go into detail about the systems needed without putting my network at a disadvantage while moving forward, but that has been 5 years in the making. I feel that I’ve gathered enough know-how and experience to really output the vision I had years ago. We’ll see what happens, is all I can say with certainty.
The fact of the matter is, monetized or not, my team and I enjoy what we do, and will continue to serve communities all over NB with or without incentive.