October 5, 2014
Dear BCASParamedics.com Forum User:
After nearly eight years of operation, I am sorry to announce the closure of this forum.
I launched this forum in 2007, as a means to improve communication amongst Paramedics and Dispatchers around the Province. When I began my career with BCAS in Terrace, I remember using the forum, which existed at the time, to feel connected in some way, in an otherwise isolated location. As that forum was shut down, and the subsequent forum shared the same fate, the BCASParamedics.com forum was launched. This was before other, now more widely used, forms of social media existed. For a period of time, I believed that this forum did in fact improve some sort of communications.
Sadly, from the beginning, it has also been an avenue for members to attack each other. Moderating these discussions became more and more difficult, as moderation attempts elicited claims of unjust ‘censorship’. As the years have passed, many, many interpersonal disputes were either born or further fuelled within these discussion forums. Sadly, when I look back, I have to admit I have participated in some of this behaviour. This was never the intended purpose. It seems these forums have now become a mechanism to divide the membership, rather than unite.
As a result of this environment, more and more members have either left the forum, or ceased participating in the discussions. As this occurred, my objective of providing accurate, factual information, became harder and harder to achieve. For me personally, this meant many hours of typing responses, attempting to share my thoughts or report accurate answers to member’s inquires. These attempts were met, by some, with personal attacks, or otherwise inappropriate remarks. I’ve spoken to several members who have felt they’ve experienced the same situation, and have subsequently given up.
Along with interpersonal conflict, the other issue, which I have always struggled with, is controlling access. Despite the administrator teams best efforts to audit each account before providing access, it is widely known that not every account accessing the forum is who they say they are. Some users have shared their own login credentials, while others have signed up under another person’s name. This has led to access by the employer, other agencies, other unions, other professional bodies, government and who knows whom else. These groups having access to the often raw thoughts expressed on this forum, has not served our cause in positive manor.
The question I have been struggling with for some time now is the simple one: Does the existence of this forum do more harm than good?
On Oct 2, 2014, the Provincial Executive Board debated a motion that originated from an RVP. This motion was to have the President write to the owner of the website, to request it be shut down. After a debate, the PEB voted to carry the motion. As I have an obvious conflict of interest, I abstained from this vote. Although this forum is not run or supported by the union, I must consider their opinion in my decision.
After several months of internal debate, which was more focused by the recent PEB motion, I have come to the decision that this forum has reached a point where it does in fact do more harm than good. It is for this reason I have decided to cease its operations. While this was not an easy decision for me, I believe it is the right one.
The forum has had many years of volunteer work dedicated to its operation, not only by me, but also by a team of administrators and moderators. I would like to thank each one of those current, and past, members of that team. The volunteer administrators worked tirelessly to audit and approve new user requests, as well as, assist those who found themselves not being able to gain access. The volunteer moderators spent countless hours reviewing posts (all 111,000 of them), editing where needed, and making hard decisions on what content needed to be removed. These are not easy, or popular, roles, and I sincerely thank them all for their work. The forum would truly not have been able to operate without them.
Along with the volunteers, several users have also contributed finically to the forums. Donations from some of you are what have paid the hosting and domain fees to keep this site running. Without these donations, the site would not have been able to operate, so thank you all as well.
Finally, a thank-you to the 2084 users. Of course without you, the forum wouldn’t have served any purpose at all. I hope that it has served you in some positive way over these seven years, be it a switch shift, or gaining some piece of information to assist you in your career.
I’ll finish with some statistics. Since launch, this forum has had: 217,562 unique users, who viewed 18,029,694 pages! The busiest day of traffic was May 12, 2009, with 52,798 page views in one day. Users have visited from 141 countries across the globe, and sadly, about half of them use Internet Explorer. In recent years, the amount of users connecting from a mobile device has grown to 30%. The average visit from a user lasts 6 minutes.
Once again, thank you to everyone involved in the operation and support of these forums since its launch on December 6, 2007. It couldn’t have lasted this long without you all.
For official information about current affairs, from the Ambulance Paramedics of BC CUPE Local 873, please visit their official website here: www.apbc.ca.
If you feel the need to share your feedback on this decision, you can do so here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for your support over the years.
Owner & Administrator – BCASParamedics.com