At a restaurant in Chia Graciela and I sat across from barrumundi (his sign-in forum name not his real name) and his wife Maria. They are near our age. Though as is typical for many women in Colombia, Maria looks younger than one would have normally guessed. Her husband sat relaxed but ready to try this new restaurant a long drive from his home in a smaller town.
After the waitress took our order the two Colombian women took off in rapid-fire Spanish, the native language for both of them. No way could I follow their conversation. So I asked the Australian about the new Colombian forum. He had previously contacted me for permission to use some of our Michael and Graciela blogs. We were flattered but I wanted to know more about his venture.
He started at the beginning. Three expat friends began the site just a few weeks previously. The guy across from me, because of his many years experience contributing to forums, got the job as chief moderator. Due to one of the founders receiving a lucrative job offer in North American barrumundi has since picked up more administrative responsibility as well.
Indeed he seems qualified for the task. In his Australian accent he talked about how many years ago on the other side of the world more information about Colombia interested him. The impetus seemed to be knowing more about the country of his wife. Obtaining quality information seemed difficult to find. Then he stumbled a Colombian forum. There he could ask questions as well as read what others had to say about the country. After moving to Colombia his role on these sites switched from seeker of information to dispenser of things about the country.
Over the years his participation has stretched over many forums. He explained that most seemed to last about a year then “implode.” The culprit for their demise, in his opinion, came from members fighting among each other, those taking threads off topic, lack of courtesy and just the general trouble making trolls.
So the three friends decided to create something that would answer questions people have and provide information but in a civil manner. The group has been recruiting members from those they believe will contribute to meeting their objective.
At the same time they look for general members to post interesting questions and information in a free manner. “Any person can have a point of view,” barrumundi said. “You have to allow people to have their opinions. But you can’t attack another person,” he said while admitting that it is normal for some members who know each other to joke and kid some. All of this was said with a sound of excitement in his voice.
At the same time their forum allows visitors to just browse and read. You do not have to join.
“What if they do break the rules of civility?” I asked.
He did not hesitate in the reply which was delivered with determination in his voice. “They are gone.”
This forum is new, but it appears the founders have put thought into what it takes to make it a good one. If you are seeking information about Colombia then check out Colombia Connections.