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|From the Executive Director:|
The End of SoloHQ
Posted by Joseph Rowlands on 11/27, 4:08pm
|We have a very important announcement to make. On December 1, 2005, SoloHQ.com will close down. In addition, I am resigning as the Executive Director.|
As many of you know, SoloHQ is a joint venture between Jeff Landauer, Lindsay Perigo, and myself. We each brought something to the table and sought to combine our resources and abilities to accomplish our various goals. In many ways, it was a very successful venture.
We've created widespread recognition of the SOLO name. SOLO has achieved status as one of the "big three" Objectivist organizations. We've created an archive of over 1500 articles, with over 175 authors. Membership is well over 2000. We have a very open forum where people are free to voice their own ideas. We've attracted some exceptional people.
We're not content to rest on our laurels, though. There are many problems with SoloHQ, some of them so large that they cannot be ignored.
One problem is the popular view that SoloHQ is an entertainment site. The goal was always to create a site of activism. The articles and forums were one form of that activism, encouraging people to write and participate. It was also a way to share ideas and teach people still trying to grapple with Objectivism. It should be entertaining, as Objectivist activism should not be a sacrificial activism. We should enjoy the process.
For some time, entertainment has taken a more central role. People write articles that have next to no connection to Objectivism. The best rewarded articles (in terms of sanctions) tend to be personal stories, often involving hardships and strong emotions, and with no substantial tie into Objectivism or even philosophy. People found it was easier to get sanctions by detailing every sordid detail of their lives. Activism was nowhere to be seen.
With the focus on entertainment, we started to see another problem. People started referring to themselves as "customers". They started telling us we better entertain them or they'd take their business elsewhere.
I could point out that the site is free, and that these people pay us nothing, so they're abusing the term "customer". But the real problem is that SoloHQ was intended as a place of collaboration and activism. We provide the means for activism, in an attempt to trade value for value. Instead of seeing themselves as "allies" or "participants" or even "members", they see us as their servants, and expect that we will be happy to sacrifice for the privilege of serving them.
A very different problem is that the organization is often confused with the participants on the forum. SOLO is seen as the particular crazy people who happen to dominate the forums at any particular time. The staff of SOLO has created new products, made informational websites, publish The Free Radical, had 5 conferences, have created local clubs across the US and Europe, have written in-depth philosophical essays, and much more. And still the common misconception is that we're just a website or a forum.
In discussing these problems and many more, Jeff, Lindsay, and I have decided to shut down SoloHQ. By creating a decisive break with the past, we hope to shrug off baggage and shape our future
In the place of SoloHQ, we've chosen to branch off in multiple directions. Lindsay will retain the SOLO name brand, and will have a new website where he will present his own goals and direction for the organization. I will step down as Executive Director of SOLO and form my own organization and websites, with a stronger focus on activism. On Dec 1, this site will link to both of the new sites, where you can learn more about where we intend to take them.
PS from Linz:
SOLOists, this is not cause for alarm. SOLO is not going away, just relocating! Joe and I have conferred at length and he is firmly of the view that what is proposed here is the best way of moving forward consistent with his aspirations and mine. (I should say, though, that I disagree with some of his reservations about the existing SOLOHQ.) In any event, the upshot will be a variant thereof at the new address to be revealed here on December 1. It will be the new face of SOLO on the Internet. I shall continue as SOLO's Founder and Principal, and appoint a new Executive Director in due course. Andrew Bissell has already indicated he'll stay on as editor. Needless to say, such distinctive features as the Credo will continue to be fundamental to the organisation. To the best of the abilities of myself and webmasters Duncan Bayne and Julian Pistorius we shall ensure that it's business as usual on December 1.
Now, I know you'll all be bursting with questions and comments. I can't speak for Joe, but I'll have little if anything to add here. I'll make a major statement on the new site; it'll be there for you to view when you click on the new address.
No need for me here to thank Joe for his past services -- I said it all in my recent tribute to him, and that still stands (seems I've discovered a great new way to make folk resign - write tributes to them!). But I'd be remiss not to extend a warm salute to Jeff at this point, and also to thank Dean for his efforts since becoming assistant webmaster. It's been a blast, guys - my heartfelt appreciation.
I'm as keen as anyone to see what Joe has up his sleeve with his new organisation. I wish him well. And you never know - this old SOLO dog may well have some new tricks to perform as well!