Welcome to the New Boards

Welcome to the redesign of the Boards!
As we all know, a tone of crankiness had overtaken the boards and eventually caused us to close them down.
While they were shut down, we did some research, thought about the community we wanted, the community we had, and tried to figure out a way to introduce some elements that would tip the balance back toward where we wanted it.
Some of you will find yourselves on moderation – on the premise that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. In order to keep the spirit of the change, we thought we’d help it along by keeping some of you from taking your first steps publicly. Moderation is not meant to be permanent as people get used to the new rules and the jist of the redesign.
I. Trans Discussion & Community
So what have we done? We created a forum specifically for theoretical discussion called 1) THE IVORY TOWER. The experience of The Thread That Shall Not Be Named made me aware that I needed a place to work this stuff out – and others did as well. The intellectual enquiry that happened in that thread was valuable despite it being personally and emotionally painful, too. So we’ve created The Ivory Tower – a place where intellectual enquiry and hard questions can happen without restraint. This does not mean it’s open to flame wars; I still expect people to be polite and respectful of each other’s opinions, and to argue a point with evidence and thoughtfulness, and to agree to disagree when there’s no concensus.
But I want to emphasize that complaints about people’s feelings being hurt will not be recognized as ‘legit’ in that forum. If you are sensitive about trans or gender questions, YOU SHOULD’T READ THAT FORUM. If you do anyway, that is only your own issue, and your own problem.
That said, we’ve also introduced the 2) COMMUNITY & SUPPORT forum, which is intended to be a place for people to share their experiences and thoughts as trans, to seek advice, help, or encouragement from others on the boards, and where emotions will be honored above all else. It is not even intended as a ‘kinder, gentler’ version of The Ivory Tower forum, but something altogether different in tone and intent.
I’ve also introduced a special forum for people to discuss 3) RELATIONSHIPS. Trans people or partners, people wanting to be in relationships or in them can talk here about real world issues concerning partnership in the context of transness. This forum is intended to be a gentle forum, but not without critique; relationships require brutal honesty and so will a forum to discuss them. Still, respect for others’ experiences, feelings, opinions and thoughts will be required.
I’ve also added a sub-forum specifically for those with 4) KIDS, as resources on being a parent & trans are few & far between; I thought we might start compiling useful information about this subject so that others won’t have to look as hard.
There is also a 5) GENERAL TRANS TOPICS forum for subjects that aren’t well suited to either theoretical or personal treatments. This is the remainder of the forumer TG Discussion forum – what wasn’t weeded into new/other forums in the re-design. It will work, I think, as a good default forum – if you don’t know where to put something.
I have sorted a bunch of the threads that were formerly in the TG DISCUSSION forum into the new threads to give people a sense of what should go in them, but feel free to ask questions.

6) SEX & SENSIBILITY required no changes. It is what it is.
II. Partners
Likewise with the 7) PARTNERS’ CORNER, which is still what it’s always been: a place for partners to discuss whatever issues they’d like to without interference or argument from trans folks.
III. Resources
The 8) NEWS forum is still for articles of interest to the larger GLBT community.
9) HELEN & BETTY NEWS is now a sub-forum of NEWS, and is the only forum I lost while moving things around! So its history is gone, though I’m sure I’ll have other things to post there. It may turn out I’ll only be using my blog for our news, and I’ve really enjoyed having some MHB boarders actually post comments on my blog, instead. (So keep that up, she says hopefully.)
10) MEDIA, CULTURE & REVIEWS is a place for us to talk about movies (trans or not), tv shows, magazines, plays, & any other cultural stuff we come across and want to talk about.
The 11) READER’S CHAIR is a sub-forum in it, and just as it was before. All things literary – book reviews, interviews with authors, the writing life, poetry – are welcome here.
The 12) BULLETIN BOARD is still the place to post announcements, events, or other things of interest to people who read the boards.
IV. The Lighter Side
The next big change is another category: THE LIGHTER SIDE. One of the things I felt we were missing – or that was only suggested by the existence of the former “ETC” forum – was somewhere to kick back. Consider it MHB’s bar or an afternoon party.
13) APPEARANCES is all about that: beauty, hair, hair removal, nails, fashion, clothes, body image, weight loss, and grooming. Oh, and shoes. Previously it felt like people were apologetic for posting anything about fashion, and I wanted to acknowledge that smart folks worry about how they look, too. That doesn’t exclude intelligent, critical conversations about gender presentation and body image, of course, but consider this forum my gift to the fashionistas of the boards.
14) MEETINGS & GREETINGS is where we all get to wait for the train together, talk about the wife, the weather, who’s going to the doctor on Tuesday & for what. It can be goofy or serious, and it will be important here to try to indicate what the poster wants out of a thread – if advice, or solace, or humor to make you feel better. In a sense, MEETINGS & GREETINGS is our chat in 24/7 format.
15) THE WATER COOLER / ETC covers all the rest: the goofy threads, the news articles that don’t belong elsewhere, light conversation about culture & politics. Or for stuff that really just doesn’t ‘fit’ anywhere else.
V. Help with These Boards
Finally, there’s 16) TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES which is mostly what it was before: a place to ask questions about how the boards work, to look at when you can’t figure out how to do some neat trick like posting a photo or getting an avatar. That said, here’s the only change: META DISCUSSIONS about how the boards work, or don’t work, are not to happen in this forum. They are not supposed to happen anywhere *publicly* unless & until Betty and I request advice from you all. Why? 1) Because this is a thankless enough job as it is without someone introducing the idea that it’s time to voice all grievances, and 2) Because too many old wounds get brought up in threads like that. However, – and this is important!! – anyone is free to email me or Betty or Caprice with 1) problems with another poster, 2) inappropriate posts (either by subject or tone), and 3) general suggestions about the running of the boards. I don’t want to have these conversations publicly because they become pile-ons in one way or another, eventually, and cause way too much bad blood all around.
A final note: no commentaries about religion or politics. No posting of news articles that are not GLBT relevant. That’s what blogs are for, so get one if you need one. But neither of these topics will be tolerated in future. To be more clear, it’s okay to say “What Rev. Bob Roberts said about gay men is dead wrong,” but saying “Christianity is the problem” is NOT okay.
Obviously we haven’t been sitting around twiddling our thumbs, but put a lot of thought – and effort – into this redesign. One of the things I realized during this break was that either these boards had to be moderated or they couldn’t exist (and still be any semblance of the cool things you all have emailed me that they were). But I will restrict my moderating somewhat: more intense scrutiny on the first two categories, not as much on the 2nd two. I can also think about finding other moderators now, as well, for the lighter forums.
But mostly I wanted to say that it will take all of you you respecting the intent of these boards, and that includes emailing a moderator if someone is going off the rails or a flamewar is starting. It includes walking away and counting to 100 and taking deep breaths when someone says something that makes you angry. It means respecting the intent and content of each of the forums. I intend to be a little bit more of a disciplinarian than I had been: snarkiness, nastiness, personal attacks or “three strikes” (ie, three complaints against one person by three other people + a moderator) will result in moderation and/or temporary bans. Betty and I will also be using negative feedback in order to inform people as to where and how they’ve stepped over the lines.
In a nutshell, we think we’ve redesigned these boards in such a way that everyone can find what they need here: those who are looking for a kind but smart community can have it; those who want to find big answers have a place to try to do so, and those who need support for their own questions of identity and struggles with life can find that, too.
Welcome back.
Helen & Betty