Following the creation of a small website dedicated to the Q875 audio tape, it occurred to me that I might open a venue for real-time discussion of this tape. As a result, in December of 2007 I signed up with a free forum hosting service to create a forum to allow people who had visited the Q875 website to ask questions, post opinions, and generally exchange ideas about the tape. After only two weeks, a handful of people had already signed up, and made a few posts. I was very pleased with the meager beginnings. However, in short order, members were suggesting that I expand the forum to appeal to the larger interest in Peoples Temple and not just one cassette tape.
The thought of expanding was troubling for many reasons. If I expanded the scope of discussion, then any – and everything – about Peoples Temple was fair game. As such, I feared an endless sea of trolls, flamers, kooks, and know-it-alls posting on the infinite minutia encompassing the history and legacy of Peoples Temple. I envisioned an uncontrollable board where arguments were frequent, insults were rampant, and religion was used to temper everyone’s opinion about the Temple. In short, I was seized by apprehension about the disaster that may befall my “new born baby”.
Despite my fears, I went ahead and made some additions to the forum. I added new sections like:
1: Other PT Tapes: A sub-forum for discussion of other tapes in the Peoples Temple audio collection.
2: Books About PT: A sub-forum for discussion of books written about Peoples Temple.
3: Academia/PT in the News: A sub-forum for discussion of news articles and/or new research on the topic of Peoples Temple.
4: Ask a Former Peoples Temple Member: A sub-forum used to display questions posed to former Temple members by forum members and their subsequent answers.
5: General Questions and Other Comments: A sub-forum for items that don’t fit into the above sub-forums.
My fears soon dissipated as a constant, albeit slow, flow of new members posted thoughtful, probing comments and questions. I was amazed by the care and consideration that members were using when making posts to the board. To this day I am still pleasantly surprised with the quality of the posts and level of participation by the posters.
Currently we have 72 registered users, over 2300 posts, and almost 13,000 unique visits to the site. I’d say it’s a great start, considering that it has been up less than a year. I feel confident that the forum will continue to grow and that the level and quality of participation will continue to be excellent. With that in mind, some upgrading may be in order, as we are currently using a free service.
Anyone interested in participating in the forum should take a few moments to become a registered member.
(Joey Dieckman is a regular contributor to the jonestown report. His other articles are New documents, tapes appear on Peoples Temple ham radio site; Ham Radio Site Battles For Government Tapes, Documents; and Am I a Jonestown Apologist? His complete collection of writings for the site may be found here. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)