Back in 2000, RedsZone.com was created in an effort to move away from the traditional sports forum of the day. Our goal was to create a message board that was not used to criticize a player or team (at least without any substance behind that opinion) and a board that added significant knowledge to the vast fan base. In short, we sought to bring together the most knowledgeable Reds fans to a family-friendly atmosphere in which people could voice their opinions about the team. With this in mind, we decided to create a new forum devoted to the Cincinnati Reds, which was the end result of a posting environment at Cincinnati.com that had next to no moderation. As a result, cursing and excessively bashing players/managers was the norm at the site. Our mission was to bring intelligent baseball discussion back and weed out the posts most felt compromised that goal; thus, RedsZone.
On April 17, 2000, RedsZone was founded. A core group of fans were asked to join and share their thoughts on the new message board, initially on the free ezboard.com system. Membership was small, but meaningful discussions began to flow. We had 36 members in our first two weeks. At the end of 2000 that number grew to 127.
Over the years RedsZone continued its growth. 2001 added 137 additional members, but in 2002 we more than doubled our user base with 428 more that joined the community. From 2003 until the end of last year nearly 900 new fans came on board and during the first four months of 2005 we have seen over 800 sign on. That figure alone is staggering. As of today, RedsZone is easily the most visited Cincinnati Reds message board on the internet, far surpassing even the one at the teamís official web site.
During this growth, we moved away from ezboard and onto private hosting, increasing our operational costs. Originally, we paid the monthly hosting bills out of our own pockets because we wanted RedsZone to be a free service and because the Reds and the site were two of our passions. As the site costs continued to grow more and more members joined and donations started to come in, keeping us afloat, until a subscription system was enacted in the third-quarter of 2003. Since that time, over 150 members became subscribers to help pay for the increasing costs that literally thousands of members were generating.
We have now decided to reformat the baseball forum, Cincinnati Reds Talk, here at RedsZone. This includes canceling the subscription system. Please allow us to explain.
The main forum, Cincinnati Reds Talk, will now only be open to posting for the original founding members of RedsZone - those who joined during our first year (2000), and to all who have been subscribers to the site. All remaining members will be able to read the Cincinnati Reds Talk forum, but not post. In a nutshell, this forum will only allow for posts from people that have been with us from the beginning or have helped financially support the site. In reviewing the list of posters that criteria includes, we are extremely confident that these posters are very familiar with the core values of what this site is about because most of them have been with us from the very beginning. We have no desire to write up additional rules that cover baseless player bashing and a general loss of posting quality from the current forum and we truthfully do not like to have to suspend users who are adding little value to the board with these types of posts. As a result, the main forum will serve as a model for the type of posts that this site built its reputation upon.
A new forum will in turn be created, dubbed Reds Live 2005. Within this forum, a built-in vBulletin (the forum software the site uses) reputation system will be created. This allows for members from Cincinnati Reds Talk to rate a poster who does not have access to the main forum, based solely on the quality of their posts in the Reds Live 2005 forum. Once a user's reputation ranking reaches a certain level (still yet to be determined), he or she will be free to post in the primary forum, if they wish.
Reds Live 2005 will follow the same rules that have been in effect at RedsZone since its inception (which appear at the bottom of every page), but moderation of the forum will be less stringent. This forum is the place for users to show what they have to offer to the community, or coexist and share in a location where their voice is heard.
We fully understand that there will be plenty of backlash toward this drastic change in the way the site operates. We imagine most of the criticism will be along the lines of only allowing the people we like to post or that your freedom of speech is being suppressed (despite this being a privately run site). We anticipate this and welcome feedback and questions about this new change. If that is how you feel, I suggest visiting the Sons of Sam Horn site, a similar style message board for Boston Red Sox fans. Their site experienced similar problems to what weíre having and made the decision to not allow any new members without first submitting an application as to why they belong on the site. We could have just as easily done something like that, but we want to continue to give a voice to those who werenít with us from the beginning or have not subscribed in the past. If youíre unhappy about this decision, the great part about it is that your peers will be the ones to rate the quality of your posts and this will be the deciding factor as to who can post in the main forum. However, one thing that we absolutely will not do is go back on this decision just because some are unhappy about it. The board currently has over 2,300 registered members and if thereís one thing weíve learned from this, itís that itís impossible to please everyone. A lot of time and research went into this decision and itís one that has the full support of both of us.
Cincinnati Reds Talk will follow the simple mission statement RedsZone had upon its creation: "Intelligent baseball discussion. Quality over quantity."
GIK and Boss-Hog