Out With the Old: Introducing the New CBR Community

Wed, April 30th, 2014 at 2:07pm PDT

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

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Let's talk about the CBR Forums.

Many of you know that Comic Book Resources started in 1996 as a "Kingdom Come" fan site. On that site, I launched message boards which, by the end of that series, had grown into a small and beautiful community. From those inclusive, diverse and exciting boards grew friendships, relationships and even families.

Over time, CBR's focus shifted from a community to the media outlet it is today, and the forums haven't received the focus they needed from me as I grew the company. While I'm proud of what CBR has become, and I believe CBR has some of the best fans in the world, with some of the biggest hearts and most open minds in all of fandom, unfortunately, we have had an increasingly loud contingent take root on our forums who refuse to behave in a manner respectful to others.

This changes now.

There has been a negativity and nastiness that has existed on the CBR forums for too long. Two weeks ago, that long-growing ugliness became more pronounced than ever. CBR published an article by guest contributor Janelle Asselin, critiquing the cover to DC Comics' upcoming "Teen Titans" #1. Some of you liked the article, some of you didn't. We encouraged readers to share their feedback in the CBR Forums.

Unfortunately, what happened next was unacceptable -- so-called "fans" around the Internet, on various message boards and social media, including the CBR Forums, attacked Janelle personally, threatening her with rape and assault. These same "fans" found her e-mail, home address and other personal information, and used it to harass and terrorize her, including an attempted hacking of her bank account.

All over a comic book cover critique. Just think about that for a second.

If you're one of the people who participated in any of these reprehensible acts, my message is simple: You are not welcome anywhere on CBR, and in our opinion, you have no place in the comics industry.

But you know what? I'm responsible, too.

I failed to do all I can to make the CBR Forums a safer and better place by adequately dealing with this behavior. And while we employ an army of volunteer moderators, the thread was not properly moderated.

To be clear: this is about more than just this one thread. While there are many examples of good conversation among great members on our old forums, hateful and ugly comments were allowed to be posted in the interest of "free speech," which made the forums a place that wasn't accepting or inviting. I'm ashamed to say, I didn't take enough notice of what was happening.

That failure falls on me. And I apologize.

Starting today, we're rebooting the CBR Forums. For the next 14 days, the messages from the old forum will be located here. All threads are locked, no new posts or replies are possible and no ads will be served on those pages. The messages are there for two purposes only -- to let old users access posts they'd like to archive, and for our moderators to reference accounts and posts.

Please understand -- I am aware that there was a lot of quality conversation in these forums from a lot of great fans. But the louder, vulgar elements, that weren't adequately moderated and/or eliminated from this community have corrupted the Forums. I don't want my name or CBR's name to in any way be associated with that kind of poison.

Effective immediately, in place of the forums will live the new CBR Community, a discussion area that will still facilitate conversation and debate, however passionate -- but will show zero tolerance for intimidation or abuse of all members of the community, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identification. CBR and all areas of its website and operations will be a safe space for all people, of all levels of involvement. We're starting from scratch, providing everyone with the opportunity to build a new community, together. Rules will be explicit, and once again -- we will not tolerate anyone who doesn't want to abide by them.

I believe there is value in building and fostering a community that is inclusive, diverse, accepting and compassionate. It is important, and it's worth trying to build a better place for every fan, regardless of background or identity. I'm putting the money and resources behind this to make certain that those who have acted with hatred in their hearts are unable to spread their hate in our community again. I can't stop them from spewing their trash elsewhere, but I can ensure they're not welcome at CBR.

I was raised in a merged family and exposed to a great deal of diversity for my entire life. My father and mother both had children from previous marriages, and we were all were taught tolerance and acceptance. These forums, as they have been for years, are not representative of myself or my values, and that has to change.

The reboot and new rules are the first step, but this is a process, and the rules we adopt will be updated as time goes on. For instance, in the coming weeks, we'll modify the Community's design to add an easy to find button to file complaints or ask for help. In the meantime, you can e-mail community@comicbookresources.com directly. We'll invite new moderators who share the same outlook as these new forums to join us, and previous moderators who don't support these changes will not be invited to participate in this community. Most importantly, we've developed a new core community standard and rules that can be found here which will be applied across the board. All users and moderators are expected to adhere to them and are required to accept them upon registration.

I invite you to join us in building something better. I have every confidence that those of you who have been long-time forum members, who've built lasting friendships here and contributed constructively, will continue to make the CBR Forums part of your daily visits. For those of you who were there only to be disruptive, abusive and ugly: Go away. This is a chance for those of us who care both about comics and about human beings to create a better comics community and make the CBR Community the safe, inviting place I know they can be.

It's time for us to be better.

Let's start here.

Sincerely,

Jonah Weiland
Executive Producer, Comic Book Resources

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