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Announcement Making VV a vegan forum supportive of vegetarians and open to compatible and interested omnis

Indian Summer

Cult Leader
Administrator
For a multitude of reasons there comes a time when an Internet community needs to re-invent itself. Change is unavoidable on the Internet, and VV is no exception. When we launched the forum in 2012 it was a rebellion of sorts against changes on VB that saw that community change from a place run by a charitable owner as a public service to an openly for-profit operation. VV has stayed true to its no-ads, not-for-profit policy, relying only on member contributions, the moderators' volunteering and my idealism. We've tried to be a 'safe haven' for vegans and vegetarians across the globe.

However, we are not immune to changes on the wider Internet. First of all, Internet forums are no longer the obvious answer to all the different use-cases they were once designed for: social groups, knowledge sharing, image sharing, online community, online discussions and so on. These days we also have several major social media sites, question & answer sites, and millions of blogs, all targeting the pool of potential Internet forum users. Secondly, at the same time the number of Internet forums have also increased, reducing the pool of recruitable users further.

VV unfortunately hasn't been able to replace members lost to natural churn over the years, which is why we're now left with a relatively small, but loyal crowd of active members. So we have to ask ourselves if there's anything we could be doing differently that might help fix the problem.

This is obviously something that's been weighing heavily on my mind for a long time now. I've tried to make the forum look and feel as appealing and easy to use as possible - this is an ongoing task. However, I feel this exercise can only take us so far, and not nearly far enough.

Now there are two major changes I'm planning to make.

1) Open the forum to 'compatible and interested' non-veg*ns. This will significantly increase the pool of potential new members. It also has the added benefit of helping us become something more useful than just a support community for the already converted, and instead allow us to influence and support interested omnivores to move in the right direction. As I see it, VV has an educational mission, and we're not reaching our potential in this respect partly because of too restrictive membership rules. I do understand this needs to be balanced against our role as a 'safe haven', but I think attitudes towards veg*ns in society have improved somewhat over the years. Also, the 'compatible and interested' part will become part of our rules, replacing our current rule #1, though the exact phrasing is still being worked on. Also, there will be an indicator in the user profiles to say whether they're vegan, vegetarian or neither.

2) Being a community for vegans and vegetarians has surprisingly often resulted in problems when trying to promote VV. We're prevented from using vegan channels of communication, such as FB groups, blogs, websites, and festivals because we're not an entirely vegan forum. And there are very few explicitly vegetarian channels, as veganism is so much more popular these days. Let's face it: Almost all our recipes are vegan anyway, and I feel like veganism has basically won the philosophical argument, although we're not all practising vegans. Therefore it makes more sense to simply say we're a vegan forum, but that others who share our fundamental convictions are also welcome, especially other types of vegetarians. What would be the practical implications of this change? We'll be explicitly promoting veganism, so will remove/replace the one or two non-vegan recipes we have. We'll replace the forum subtitle - "Vegetarian and Vegan Forums @ Veggie Views". However, 'The Vegetarian Forum' will stay as is, as we recognise that vegans and vegetarians often share a lot of values, that vegetarianism can be a stepping-stone towards veganism and also that vegetarianism is a significantly more animal-friendly lifestyle than omnivorism.
 
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Amy SF

Dweller in nature
For a multitude of reasons there comes a time when an Internet community needs to re-invent itself. Change is unavoidable on the Internet, and VV is no exception. When we launched the forum in 2012 it was a rebellion of sorts against changes on VB that saw that community change from a place run by a charitable owner as a public service to an openly for-profit operation. VV has stayed true to its no-ads, not-for-profit policy, relying only on member contributions and my idealism. We've tried to be a 'safe haven' for vegans and vegetarians across the globe.

However, we are not immune to changes on the wider Internet. First of all, Internet forums are no longer the obvious answer to all the different use-cases they were once designed for: social groups, knowledge sharing, image sharing, online community, online discussions and so on. These days we also have several major social media sites, question & answer sites, and millions of blogs, all targeting the pool of potential Internet forum users. Secondly, at the same time the number of Internet forums have also increased, reducing the pool of recruitable users further.

VV unfortunately hasn't been able to replace members lost to natural churn over the years, which is why we're now left with a relatively small, but loyal crowd of active members. So we have to ask ourselves if there's anything we could be doing differently that might help fix the problem.

This is obviously something that's been weighing heavily on my mind for a long time now. I've tried to make the forum look and feel as appealing and easy to use as possible - this is an ongoing task. However, I feel this exercise can only take us so far, and not nearly far enough.

Now there are two major changes I'm planning to make.

1) Open the forum to 'compatible and interested' non-veg*ns. This will significantly increase the pool of potential new members. It also has the added benefit of helping us become something more useful than just a support community for the already converted, and instead allow us to influence and support interested omnivores to move in the right direction. As I see it, VV has an educational mission, and we're not reaching our potential in this respect partly because of too restrictive membership rules. I do understand this needs to be balanced against our role as a 'safe haven', but I think attitudes towards veg*ns in society have improved somewhat over the years. Also, the 'compatible and interested' part will become part of our rules, replacing our current rule #1, though the exact phrasing is still being worked on. Also, there will be an indicator in the user profiles to say whether they're vegan, vegetarian or neither.

2) Being a community for vegans and vegetarians has surprisingly often resulted in problems when trying to promote VV. We're prevented from using vegan channels of communication, such as FB groups, blogs, websites, and festivals because we're not an entirely vegan forum. And there are very few explicitly vegetarian channels, as veganism is so much more popular these days. Let's face it: Almost all our recipes are vegan anyway, and I feel like veganism has basically won the philosophical argument, although we're not all practising vegans. Therefore it makes more sense to simply say we're a vegan forum, but that others who share our fundamental convictions are also welcome, especially other types of vegetarians. What would be the practical implications of this change? We'll be explicitly promoting veganism, so will remove/replace the one or two non-vegan recipes we have. We'll replace the forum subtitle - "Vegetarian and Vegan Forums @ Veggie Views". However, 'The Vegetarian Forum' will stay as is, as we recognise that vegans and vegetarians often share a lot of values, that vegetarianism can be a stepping-stone towards veganism and also that vegetarianism is a significantly more animal-friendly lifestyle than omnivorism.
What is your attitude towards members, new or established, who say they’re comfortable with being vegetarian, have no interest in becoming vegan, and don’t consider vegetarianism to be a stepping stone to veganism? Would they still be welcome here, or would you consider it your mission to “reeducate” them and push them towards veganism anyway?
 

beancounter

The Fire That Burns Within
What is your attitude towards members, new or established, who say they’re comfortable with being vegetarian, have no interest in becoming vegan, and don’t consider vegetarianism to be a stepping stone to veganism? Would they still be welcome here, or would you consider it your mission to “reeducate” them and push them towards veganism anyway?
My guess is that IS is trying to make the forum as open as reasonably possible.

Alienating vegetarians wouldn't work toward that objective, so I don't think that it is anything to be concerned about.
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
I think that's a practical approach.

To allay concerns such as Amy's, perhaps somehow make it clear that the board is interested in offering support, not in converting people?
 

Indian Summer

Cult Leader
Administrator
Would something like posting VV’s link on other vegan FB pages be appropriate? Some admins allow that if you message them first.
Yes, as long as it doesn't come across as spam. It can be a general promotion (if the admins allow for that) or if you come across a specific question and you know it's been answered here, then you can post a link to the specific VV post.
 

Indian Summer

Cult Leader
Administrator
What is your attitude towards members, new or established, who say they’re comfortable with being vegetarian, have no interest in becoming vegan, and don’t consider vegetarianism to be a stepping stone to veganism? Would they still be welcome here, or would you consider it your mission to “reeducate” them and push them towards veganism anyway?
They would still be as welcome to join/stay as before, no changes there. Personally, I don't think unsolicited re-education attempts of knowledgable long-term vegetarians is productive. Interacting with lots of vegans online is probably enough 'encouragement'.
To allay concerns such as Amy's, perhaps somehow make it clear that the board is interested in offering support, not in converting people?
Yes, that may be a good approach. We'll support every little effort to move away from animal-unfriendly habits/practises, or to maintain their current level of independence from animal products if that is what the person wants.
 

Andy_T

Addicted Poster
Forum Moderator
1) Open the forum to 'compatible and interested' non-veg*ns. This will significantly increase the pool of potential new members.
I am skeptical that this will significantly increase membership in the forum.

I do not think that every week, dozens of omnivorous prospective forum members find our forum and want to participate, but are dismayed as they realize it is open only to vegans and vegetarians, and leave again.

Mind you, I do not see any issues with the idea, I only do not believe it will change a lot.
 

Indian Summer

Cult Leader
Administrator
I am skeptical that this will significantly increase membership in the forum.

I do not think that every week, dozens of omnivorous prospective forum members find our forum and want to participate, but are dismayed as they realize it is open only to vegans and vegetarians, and leave again.

Mind you, I do not see any issues with the idea, I only do not believe it will change a lot.
That is probably true, good point. I didn't mean to say that these changes on their own would help all that much, but combined with promotion efforts (on other sites, and maybe the odd vegan festival I go to), I think this can make a difference. At the moment we can only recruit people who are already vegan/vegetarian or committed to transitioning. I was also hoping maybe one or two VB/VV-ers who've 'fallen off the wagon' would come back. (Only the nice ones, obviously ...!)
 

Jamie in Chile

World Class Member
How do you make your decisions like this?

Is it just you, or is there a group of owners/admins/moderators?

Do you solicit opinions first before making changes to make sure your views are agreed with by the majority, or is this more of a dictatorship than a democracy. :)
 

Jamie in Chile

World Class Member
I think there is a big difference on the one hand between some vegetarian who eats factory farmed eggs every day for breakfast while drinking animal milk vs those vegetarians who don't eat eggs, or eat cheese but do sometimes eat milk chocolate or a cake made with an egg.

The latter case is sometimes more of a vegan philosophy that just isn't strict enough, or committed enough, to carry the name vegan.
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
How do you make your decisions like this?

Is it just you, or is there a group of owners/admins/moderators?

Do you solicit opinions first before making changes to make sure your views are agreed with by the majority, or is this more of a dictatorship than a democracy. :)
IS owns the board. He was kind enough to start it when a bunch of us were unhappy with our old online home.

While I have butted heads with him on more than one occasion, I see this board as similar to a house IS owns and where he welcomes us to hang out. He and the moderators provide the snacks and drinks, break up any fights, and clean up after us. That gives him the right to set the house rules.

I'll let IS answer the rest for himself; I just wanted to give my perspective. :)
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
I think there is a big difference on the one hand between some vegetarian who eats factory farmed eggs every day for breakfast while drinking animal milk vs those vegetarians who don't eat eggs, or eat cheese but do sometimes eat milk chocolate or a cake made with an egg.

The latter case is sometimes more of a vegan philosophy that just isn't strict enough, or committed enough, to carry the name vegan.
There are several vegetarians on here whom I have known for years and of whom I am very fond. Preaching at them is not going to change how they choose to live. The most it will do is drive them from the board, which will piss others of us off to a degree where we will also leave. Is that the path you want to walk?
 

Indian Summer

Cult Leader
Administrator
How do you make your decisions like this?

Is it just you, or is there a group of owners/admins/moderators?

Do you solicit opinions first before making changes to make sure your views are agreed with by the majority, or is this more of a dictatorship than a democracy. :)
I don't usually make such drastic changes, but when I do, I discuss with the mods first. Then after much tweaking and procrastination I post in this forum so members have a chance to complain, and if there are weighty reasons I tweak further until I think it's workable. It's definitely not a democracy, but I try to listen to sensible arguments.
 

Jamie in Chile

World Class Member
There are several vegetarians on here whom I have known for years and of whom I am very fond. Preaching at them is not going to change how they choose to live. The most it will do is drive them from the board, which will piss others of us off to a degree where we will also leave. Is that the path you want to walk?
I think you misunderstand the point I'm making. I am trying to be supportive to those vegetarians who largely adopt a vegan philosophy, and the point is that such people are more vegans at heart. Those who have the vegan vs vegetarian mentality are perhaps opposing some people that are very close to their own philosophy.

I am not preaching to anybody.

I myself, strictly speaking, am a vegetarian and not a vegan.
 

Mischief

Stranger in a strange land
I think you misunderstand the point I'm making. I am trying to be supportive to those vegetarians who largely adopt a vegan philosophy, and the point is that such people are more vegans at heart. Those who have the vegan vs vegetarian mentality are perhaps opposing some people that are very close to their own philosophy.

I am not preaching to anybody.

I myself, strictly speaking, am a vegetarian and not a vegan.
I was responding to this part of your post:

I think there is a big difference on the one hand between some vegetarian who eats factory farmed eggs every day for breakfast while drinking animal milk vs those vegetarians who don't eat eggs, or eat cheese but do sometimes eat milk chocolate or a cake made with an egg.
"Big difference between" sure sounds like one is a lot better than the other.

If you didn't mean to be critical of the-not-your-type vegetarian, then what was the point of your post?

ETA: I'm not trying to be mean here, Jamie. I just don't want to lose any more members.
 
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blues

World Class Member
Think the idea has merit and worth thinking through.

A lot of animal rights campaigners are meat eaters.
 

Jamie in Chile

World Class Member
I was responding to this part of your post:



"Big difference between" sure sounds like one is a lot better than the other.

If you didn't mean to be critical of the-not-your-type vegetarian, then what was the point of your post?

ETA: I'm not trying to be mean here, Jamie. I just don't want to lose any more members.
I know which part of the post you were responding to. As I already explained, the point of my post was "I am trying to be supportive to those vegetarians who largely adopt a vegan philosophy, and the point is that such people are more vegans at heart".

You are being unnecessarily argumentative and creating an argument out of nothing. It's not the first time I've seen you do it either.

All I was doing was saying that some vegetarians are in practice closer to a vegan than vegetarian philosophy and you have to make comments like "preaching" and "path you want to walk" and "what was the point of your post". You could have easily made your point more politely.

Stop trying to read supposed implications into what I said and respond to what I explicitly said. Or better still just ignore it!

This terrible fear of offence is exactly the kind of echo chamber, intolerant, anti-speech attitude that is a problem on this forum, in the liberal movement as a whole, on University campuses, and in the US as a whole (and related to the thread I started). It may help keep some members, but it's just as likely to turn others off.

If we are more worried about causing offence and losing members than having a robust intellectual debate and learning anything then I see that as a negative for the forum.

Here's another thing. Look back at the discussion above and you'll see that you were asking me direct questions with a question mark, forcing me to either respond to a debate that's not of interest to me, or look rude. I never addressed you directly except to try and answer the question and all I'm trying to do is end the debate.

Just let it go and move on.
 
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