Dear Forum users,
First of all, thank you very much for your patience whilst the admin team and myself have been reorganising things on the forum. We've tried to keep the forum active for as much of the time as we could, and that has made it difficult to post on. I'd also like to thank many of you for your ideas on how to refresh the forum. It's very easy to criticise (and I did the same myself), but trickier to work out how to improve.
I suppose I cannot get away with ignoring what spurred this on - and the fact that it shouldn't have taken huge arguments and people leaving to get a rearrangement into action. I don't think any of us could pinpoint what caused this, but it's safe to say that complacency in what we had played its part. The patchy application of moderation also didn't help. For both of these things, I am truly sorry.
Now we move onto the future. Everything is reset to zero - except post counts, because I'm not going to do that. There are no warnings, no bans (other than people who've been permanently banned), no alliances or sides. The way the forum works starts again. I know there are some fantastic contributors, and the forum would be (and as many have seen, has been) a poorer place without them. I feel that we need the forum to become more grown up - not without humour, or without one-liners, but with a more respectable way of talking about things. Previously, some aspects of the forum have felt very childish in the way subjects were dealt with.
As a couple of people have pointed out, since Mailwatch began, the way in which the Daily Mail works is very different. We've seen the Mail Online site go from mirroring the paper, to becoming one of the world's biggest news and celebrity sites. In my mind, the idea behind this site has never been to criticise everything the Daily Mail does, and we shouldn't. To me, what the site is about is twofold: Using the Daily Mail as a basis on which to build our own discussions, and using the Mail (and other papers) to discuss the nature of journalism. The Leveson Inquiry this year has put a gigantic spanner into the works of print journalism - and for us to spend our time arguing amongst ourselves whilst the media undergoes its biggest ever upheaval would be unforgivable. We may never be influential, we may never be a "go-to" website for quotes about the Daily Mail, but we should never forget that we should be able to discuss issues in as much depth as we would like. And every now and again, we might get a little recognition for it - one of my proudest moments with this site is when Anton Vowl and myself were asked to contribute to an article in the Gay Times. I still have that article saved on my computer.
The way we do things won't change all that much. The rules are roughly similar, albeit a little tightened up. In terms of moderation and administration, there's now a clear framework that everyone can see, and that all of the staff can follow. I'd also like to welcome Timbo on board as a global moderator, and reiterate the offer for people to put themselves forward as moderators (either for one section or for the whole board).
There are still a few minor things to be sorted out. I would like to clarify a few extra rules in forums (for example, in the columnists forum, it should be essential to put the columnist's name in the title), and I'd also like to edit a few existing titles to make them easier to find. I also think it would be beneficial if a few threads were closed. For example, I would like to close the 'Cunt of the Day' thread. It may have been a regular feature for some time, but I think most will agree that it's something that is a little hypocritical and almost anachronistic to have on the forum. We don't need to do that.
Finally, a few pointers from myself as a personal request. These are not things that will be added into the forum guidelines. Please try to keep things civil, even if someone deserves every name under the sun. Please, also, try and eliminate the aggressive pedantry. I, like many of you, despise poor spelling and grammar, but on occasion, the reaction on here has been as though someone had called for genocide (almost a Godwin there...). Finally, and more positively, enjoy the new forum layout. And if you do put a topic in the wrong section, or make an error in a title, don't worry too much - we can always put things right again.
I hope no-one will blame me when I tell you that I'm going to turn off my computer, and I'm going out!
Thank you once again,