What Is UK-Learning (UKL) And What Is The History Of The Student Room?
UK-Learning (UKL) was the old name of The Student Room.
A bit of fun history for you about The Student Room:
The dawn of time - February 2004
Back, before traceable archives, existed the era known as the Pre-History. No survivors from this era still actively post on the forum, and records from this period are sketchy and near indecipherable. It is assumed that this era began in the year 2001, and that the early forum was mainly a local site for teaching resources. The great administrator, known only as d, is the creator of UK-L and the only contactable individual who witnessed the pre-history. In these later years, however, d has drifted into almost-permanent absence, and is rarely seen participating in the utopia he has created. d is as mysterious as he is powerful, even his real name is unknown to us mere members.
Long ago, d decided that both member and unregistered user would walk as equals; neither denied the privilege of active participation. So it was that both the named and the nameless partook of the great d’s hospitality, and all was joyous within the forum.
So it came to pass that the forum grew, and the demands of maintenance were a strain upon the founder, and the omniscient and wise d decided that his power would be shared. With that, he granted a chosen few members a small amount of his power, and he called them his children, they were the moderators. Looking back at the Pre-History, details of appointed moderators are sketchy, but should one choose to seek them on the vast and old members’ list, then one will see that, despite their absence, they still retain the power and titles that were granted them, so long ago.
The Old Era
The point at which the pre-history ended and the Old Era began is widely accepted to be around April / May of 2003. This is the point at which the forum ceased to be a small, localised discussion board, with few members, but began to grow into a community, a metropolis, where exchange of ideas flowed freely across the world. The number of members is accepted to have been in the 3-figures at this point, but, for an unknown reason, this number began to increase at a drastic rate at the end of the Pre-History, so, a new era was born, the Old Era.
At this point, there are only 2 moderators, other than d, overseeing the affairs of the forum, the population is not large enough to warrant any more. These 2 individuals were known as Koloth and Helenbrownsell. Both have long-since departed. Koloth was, even in his absence, a fully-invested moderator until quite recently.
Very few members from the Old Era still remain, most having long abandoned this place, but there are still a few around, and, should one choose to ask them to recount of the past, then one can learn of the greatness of industry that was the Old Era. Compared to more recent times, post rates were extremely low during this era, with the total quantity required to top the member list being barely 200.
The Early Middle Era
The period of time known as the Middle Era can be divided into two sections, the Early Middle Era, and the Late Middle Era. The former can be remembered as a time of development, being the transition stage between the Old Era traditions of elitism and low-posting, and the approaching establishment of the forum as an epitome of sociability, not just a place of academia. The Early Middle Era is accepted to have started around the date of 25th June 2003.
Indeed, in this era, ‘culture’ began to establish, with many individuals making their mark on the forum, and an almost familial camaraderie developing. Many distinct personalities emerged from the Early Middle Era, some more memorable than others, and a large increase in the popularity and usage of the forum was apparent. As such, it was necessary for d to allocate more of his influence to deserving individuals, in order to manage the rising status. So it came to pass that Leekey and Ollie were instated as moderators, and all rejoiced, unregistered and member alike. Alas, this was also a time of great melancholy, as the once-proud Helenbrownsell resigned her moderatorship, and left this place discretely, without any farewell.
With the acceptance of a new way of life, d became more permitting, and spent less time among his children, removing his name from the moderator board and withdrawing, confident in the abilities of the moderators to manage without his divine influence. The establishment of the forum as a place of sociability, thanks in part to the work of Middle and Old Era posters such as Bloodhound, a_musical_gal and PHIL, resulted in one of the most notable incidences up to this point, this being the emergence of the General Chit-Chat threads. Comprising 4 threads in total, some of which being as long as 30 pages (which, in Middle-Era terms, is immense), these threads were the defining feature of this era, and it was on them that the first member, PHIL, reached the 1000 posts mark. Many events transpired on these threads, with friendships being born and dying, but the chit-chat thread was to die out inevitably, at the approach of the Late Middle Era.
The Late Middle Era
This era is one of the most central, being similar and yet so different from the Early Middle Era. It is accepted to have begun on the 1st August 2003. The 3 moderators, Koloth, Ollie and Leekey, were proficient at their duty, but the ever-rising popularity of the forum led more assistance to be needed. As such, d appointed Rahaydenuk moderator, yet the demand was still great. So, with slight trepidation, d decided upon instating two more moderators, ickle_katy and a_musical_gal. The latter was not pleased with this arrangement, and, as such, spent almost an entire day misusing her new powers, in protest at this unwanted attention she had received. d, somewhat grudgingly, removed her privileges.
The Late Middle Era also saw the end of one of the forum’s most influential members, Bloodhound. Becoming disillusioned with the forum, and the changing times, Bloodhound announced his protest and departure in a blaze of sour grapes. To this day, he has not reappeared within the main forum, but there are those who remain in contact with this Old Era objectionist.
The growth of the forum continues, with two particular threads being started and becoming prodigious in size. These were the Voting Intentions Debate Thread, and the Harry Potter Discussion Thread. The latter continues to this very day, and is the largest thread to ever grace the forum.
The Early Recent Era
So it came to pass that the Middle Era was to, inevitably, come to an end. The rapid influx of members led to the forum as a whole becoming much busier. The Recent Era is called so because it is the true beginning of what we see as ‘today’s’ forum, away from the vagaries and close-knit nature of the Old and Middle Eras, and into the hectic world of high post per day rates and genial competitiveness. This era is accepted to have begun on the date of 1st October 2003.
With the ever-growing number of members reaching meteoric highs, and spam becoming increasingly commonplace, dissent begins to form amongst the masses. As such, revolutions are started, with several would-be leaders attempting to incite fellow members into following them and their cause, whatever it may be. The road to victory is marked with the failure of many of these less-than-successful insurgents, but one or two succeeded in their aims, uniting the majority with their charisma. d, whether as a result of these revolts or not, decides to appoint Edders as a moderator. With that, the revolutions halt (albeit briefly).
To this point, the unregistered users were able to post freely within the forum. However, due to a huge increase in the amounts of spam, d decides that the forum would be more contented without them. So, in secrecy, the unregistereds are removed. The exact time is unknown, as an announcement was not made, but, a few hours later, a member realises what has occurred, and announces it.
Late Recent Era
The beginning of this era is accepted to be around the time that the eighth moderator is instated, 15th November 2003. Adhsur was the appointed moderator this time, and is the most recent to be chosen to date. The Late Recent Era is one of the most interesting, as it is characterised by the formation of strong alliances and the thriving of ‘parties’, organisations that recruited members into their ranks, and were extremely hostile towards opposing parties. Some of the most eminent parties are listed below:
The Alternative Leader’s Party (ALP): The first party to be formed, the ALP, led by Blamps, was not very successful in its entirety, despite kicking off the entire party trend. Only reaching a maximum of 5 members, the ALP did not succeed in its goal of altering the running of the forum and changing moderators, unsurprisingly.
The Way: Initially called the Mr White Fanatical Society, The Way was one of the most successful parties, thanks in part to the efficient administration and effective recruiting drives carried out by senior members. Founded, predictably, by yours truly, The Way was based around a dominant hierarchy, and preached complete obedience to those above one’s station. Totalling 31 members at its high point, The Way’s hierarchy consisted of a single, unquestionable leader, an Inner Circle of 5 people, and several other ranks, ranging from Chevalier Elect to Junior Provost. The Way disbanded after a spate of random dismissals and subsequent resignation by its leader.
The Girls on Top Party (GOT): Founded as a rival to combat the mounting popularity of The Way, the GOT, led by Infinity, was mainly intended as a piss-take. Irregardless, many members joined, and it became the main rival to The Way, totalling 27 members at its high point.
The Party Against Parties (PAP): Founded by Iluvatar in protest at the party culture, the PAP is never recorded as having more than one member. This one member, however, was extremely vocal, and provided exceedingly hostile opposition to the other parties. With the death of the Way and the GOT, the PAP had no reason to continue existence, so drifted into obsoleteness.
There were numerous other parties instigated, but none really reached the eminence of those listed above.
Thanks, in part, to the competitiveness generated by the division of the forum, post rates reached new highs in this era, with some members reaching rates of 100 posts per day.
The Late Recent Era ended at the turn of the new year, and the first UK-Learning awards finished 2003. The awards, organised by Ollie, were a tremendous success, giving recognition to members in various categories, from Most Political to Best Avatar.
The New Era
Beginning on the 1st January 2004, the New Era is the era in which we currently reside. As of the time of writing, only a few interesting events have occurred. The most notable being the demotion of Koloth as a moderator, after 7 months of retaining the position. Also, after months of debate, d finally divided the forum into sub-forums.
What the future holds? Well, I guess that we’ll see.
Mr White - February 2004
Let me explain.
When I tell my many assorted friends- well, both of them- about the wonders of UK-Learning, and of the multitude of fascinating threads that adorn its every page, I am met with one comment: “I wish they had that on TSR.”.
Under the leadership of the Almighty d- with the help of his masterful assistants, A and m- the forum has seen changes. One of the least of these was the change of name. This left many in the unenviable position of having to having to learn a whole three new letters, to insert into the titles of their spam societies. Luckily, “TSR” was found difficult by only a few, who still today sit cursing at their keyboards in frustration.
The situation was not ideal to all. Even d himself had his original suggestion of “Banaboo.com” subjected to almost universal criticism, despite his claims that was best for its obvious connotations of “tropical, outdoor, youthful fun”. Exactly what kind of forum he was planning to create with such a name is unknown to us mere members, but I can say with some certainty that it would definitely have involved beach volleyball and reggae.
Acaila, however, summed up the mood of the forum on the matter: “it sounds like a really babyish way of saying bananas”.
Not that it was just the name that was changing. The forums were too: the TSR subforums were splitting just about as quickly as British boy bands when the money dries up. The chat threads spawned entire spin off forums: Health and Relationships gave 13 year-old girls nationwide an opportunity to announce their impending motherhood to a student audience, while Debate and Discussion gave Tory nut-jobs a chance to moan about the imminent disintegration of society. General Chat remained much the same as ever, albeit possibly with a few extra “OMGWTF!!!???”s.
On the other side of the proverbial coin, each and every possible topic of student academia found a forum of its own. If ever you come to TSR looking for the facts on what “Engineering” be, or what “Keele” am, you will doubtless be glad that there is a forum entirely for your own kind.
Extra forums included those for the few who chose to line d’s pockets with their hard-earned pennies: they were left free to discuss their hatred of the plebs below in their dedicated Moaning Thread. The original subscribers (known in the biz as “subs”, by the way) even had access to the halls of power known as the Moderator Forums. Reading what moderators are thinking: a scary concept, and not one which I wish to discover any time soon, as most of it is probably illegal here anyway. The subscriber forums are now bustling with business, complete with “The Moaning Thread Mk II”, and a forum designed entirely for sex and swearing. If you have not already joined them, you are scum. Get off this forum, you freeloading, bloodsucking scum. Ahem.
The TSR Awards went smoothly, and some may say uninterestingly. “Some” being me, as I failed to make the top 3 in any awards whatsoever. In the latest round, the member known as “Pig” dominated almost every award he was eligible for, and Best Newbie was won by gossip_girl, with cans of lager for all in celebration (probably).
Other notable events managed to propel UKL/TSR even as high as the highly high heights of BBC News. One now-legendary member reached a new record in subtle skulduggery, in posting requests for “help” with a series of mathematical teasers, a request to which a gaggle of forumites were only too happy to acquiesce. Imagine their surprise- nay, their horror!- when they saw precisely those questions printed on their Maths A-level papers the very next day? Outrage, I’m sure they felt, although I doubt I’d be complaining. Our paper-stealing scoundrel has not been seen since; some rumours suggest that he must now be rather more careful in the shower, if you catch my meaning. These have not been confirmed.
No TSR history would be complete without an update on the moderator situation. So, it goes quite simply: there are now four levels of much-praised being above us lowly plebs, them being the levels of Administrator, Super Moderator, Moderator, and Sub-Moderator. Of this latter brand there is just one: Corey is stranded between the aristocracy, as one may put it, and the mundane masses. Administrators are identifiable by their minimalist penchant for one-letter usernames. “m” is no longer with us, but lives on in memory; “d”, to many, is a fully-fledged God, with “A” acting as his earthly representative- some might say Jesus. The Mods and Super Mods alike are similarly differentiated by the use of their titles, in black, bold letters, directly beneath their username. Which is hardly modest of them, to say the least. Super Moderators have included the dearly departed Ollie, rahaydenuk, and Pig. As to moderators, there are a lot of them, but I’m sure you’d enjoy the company of each and every one of them in a broken lift. I promise.
The moderators have had their work most improved in recent times, as they now have had their ability to feel powerful and respected greatly increased, by the introduction of a system of “warnings”. Once one reaches 15 warnings, they are banned, although I’m quite confused as to what sentient being needs fourteen warnings, before they realise that shutting up would be a good idea. As usual, a number of members spoke out against this change, with a few even going as far as to plan revolutions against the existing system. Mr White –author of the history above this- joined with yours truly in an uprising that was quickly ended, when Mr White was made a moderator. This state of affairs quickly ended when A read through White’s private messages, quite possibly finding several messages discussing a certain planned revolution. White was quickly demoted, and thus the circle of life completed.
Events even closer in our memories include the grand spectacle of the TSR General Election. The denizens of TSR were finally given the opportunity to use their vote maturely, participate in intelligent debate, and choose the party that they knew would make a difference.
This opportunity was then squandered, with the forum simply choosing to vote for the candidate that managed to annoy Vienna, Conservative leader, most effectively. The election, therefore, was won by the Liberal Democrats, after accusations on their side led to the aforementioned Tory being banned the day before the election. The member was not seen, for rather a long while. The eventual TSR Prime Minister still roams these parts occasionally, looking smug.
So, as we can see, TSR has gone from being a mere glint in one Cambridge boy’s eye, to the epitome to internet sociability, however much an oxymoron that may sound. Today on TSR, one can find a society of club for almost any hobby, fettish of fixation: Christian? There’s a society. Gay? There’s one out there. Vegetarian. Go look for it. The Mr Blobby Remembrance Society and Sock Society are also easily visible to those prepared to search. If, like me, you simply wish the worship the glory and power that is d, a whole thread is devoted just to this, a fact that d himself has described frankly as “slightly creepy”.
But what next for UKL/TSR/Banaboo? In the words of Mr White: “What the future holds? Well, I guess that we’ll see”.
Have fun, but avoid drugs, morris dancing, and incest,
2 + 2 = 5.
The second part of the history (february 2004 - ) was decided by a poll. Click here to see the other entries.
The Journal of Pig, February 2005 - July 2006
A retrospectively written log of seemingly arbitrary events in TSR history from the point of view of pig, littered with slanted opinions of important events, trends and odds and ends.
Mr White seems to think that writing the first history gives him the right to win the competition to be published the next time round, despite only visiting the forum about three times in the period to be described and thus penning a hideously inaccurate version. He kicks up a childish fuss but eventually disappears into oblivion once again. Nobody really cares. We are in a new era.
If they’re being truthful no one can really remember any details from this period other than to say that it was basically the same as it is now but with different mods, cliques, features and a few more forums; all in all TSR is now a mature community (or immature if you’re reading the Penguin Soc thread) that doesn’t fundamentally change very much.
From time to time relics of the bygone eras awaken from their slumbers, generally to moan about how things were better in their day (when it was all fields round here) and about how ‘d’ would never have stood for such moral decay (picture pensioners grumbling about hoodie-clad teens). In fact this is so much of a recurring theme that I’m beginning to wish that I’d stumbled upon TSR in early 2003 and had buggered off by Christmas – it must have been brilliant back then.
Growing weary of members attempting to divide the moderators by PMing them individually I suggest the creation of the Ask A Mod forum. It's quite slow to take off, but has since become invaluable. The users are generally suspicious of any changes, but if they're good they come round to them in the end. By 'good' I mean 'not a Russian dating site'.
I’ll leave it to the reader to research (another way of saying I can’t be bothered to look it up) but at some point A (the admin) decided it would be a really great idea for a site populated mainly by students (average age: 18) to join forces with a site populated by Ukrainian women called Olga (average bust size: 36) all of whom were (and presumably, still are) on the lookout for lonely yet loaded Western gentlemen for international mail order wedding escapades. This episode can be neatly summed up with the phrase ‘what an absolute hoot’. Needless to say it didn’t go down too well (though allegedly Tatiana from Kiev does) and was quickly scrapped.
There is a growing sense of divide amongst the moderators. In fact there is more of a full scale turf war, with the enthusiastic, inspired and energetic on one side; the complacent, lazy and incompetent on the other. The crux of the conflict seems to be that the latter group has had its inadequacies exposed by the former group's attempts to revolutionise moderation. Apparently some moderators seem to think that everything has worked perfectly well until now, and are opposed to any change, while others think that arbitrary, inexplicable decisions, bannings and deletions with no accountability, consistency or communication aren't particularly good ideas. The ructions eventually soften to less than a murmur as the revolution begins; it's hard to oppose change instigated by proactive and relentless individuals when you don't even bother checking the mod forum for days on end.
It’s my opinion that moderation of TSR has greatly improved over the last 18 months. ‘Well you would say that’ I hear you cry, but really, it has. Some mods have left, yet more mods have arrived. There are codes of conduct, procedures, queues, leaflets and application forms. Think of a job centre without the fake Burberry and you’ve got the mod forum right there. It’s possible to statistically prove that moderation has become progressively more liberal over the last year and a half, but then again it’s also statistically possible to prove that a thread about one particular anonymous user’s inability to orgasm is the most popular thread ever.
But really, you can see what happens when you report posts now, rather than the reports disappearing into internet oblivion without any feedback or way of knowing what had happened to it; you can change your username on demand; you receive warnings rather than being banned indefinitely for saying that edders’ social skills are somewhat lacking and you can actually be furnished with a reason for your thread inexplicably disappearing never to return. That’s progress.
A makes me a supermod. From my point of view this only means I can easily make changes I previously had to write scripts to do (since I had FTP access and could change and add files, but did not have access to the admin control panel) and my name is a different colour, but others think this is a big deal. It seems to be generally well received among the masses. A few days later ickle_katy realises what has happened and throws a tantrum. Apparently d had promised her she would be the next supermod if ever a position arose. Chuckling at the prospect, we attempt to placate her but as things die down the feeling is that wounds have been opened that won't heal.
In just over a year, since it was first listed on the ‘big boards’ site, TSR has gone from being the 188th largest forum in terms of posts to the 125th, recently surpassing five million posts including a spell of a million posts in under 5 months. In terms of regular posting activity TSR is regularly ranked in the top 50 forums in the world. Some people attribute this increase in growth to TSR’s addictive nature and community spirit, but it could equally well be explained by the huge amount of spam in the Chat forum.
We draw up a list of forum rules. Immediately this gesture of good will is distorted by members who seem to think that companies should not be able to override their own terms of service in exceptional circumstances not covered, or perhaps these people want to look for loopholes in the rules and then exploit them to the best of their ability.
If there's one thing I've learned from TSR it's that if the users are not restricted from doing something then they will do it repeatedly regardless of the effect it may have. But I clearly haven't learned much yet, since I lose the mod forum sweepstake on who will be first to complain about the rules.
It wouldn’t be TSR without a bit of bickering, would it? Having written-down rules is a bit of a mixed blessing. On one hand there are fewer arguments about, say, what constitutes advertising; on the other hand because there isn’t a rule that says ‘you must not break into the building that houses TSR’s servers and write your post directly onto the hard drives in excrement’ some people will inevitably try it and plead innocence when brought to book.
A announces privately that we will be upgrading to the latest branch of vBulletin. I point out that if we do so we will lose lots of functions, since the third party hacks we are using have not been rewritten. Additionally I have not rewritten any of my own hacks, but I don't mention this just yet, because I want to see what he's got to say. A tells me that he will rewrite the hacks himself. I say nothing but smirk to myself and begin waiting for him to ask me to rewrite the hacks once he realises what he's said.
TSR has lots of features which again, tend to be mixed blessings. You can post anonymously which is great for those embarrassing personal problems, such as an inability to find romance – could it be something to do with all of these hideous pus-filled boils - in H&R, but arguments ensue when someone replies with less than well meaning advice – perhaps a head-sized paper bag would suffice.
A announces that he is buggering off for a while and that he's leaving me in charge. This is a slightly disingenuous statement in that it implicitly denies the fact that I've been running everything for months and suggests that he's been doing something other than saying 'Cheers' too much. Apparently this is a big deal so I give it appropriate pomp and make myself an Administrator which I could have done at any time since May anyway, which makes my name red but otherwise changes absolutely nothing.
It’s amazing to think, given the staggering amount of forums on TSR, that it all began with a single forum (though the ill-fated US version of TSR appears to be attempting the exact opposite). You can post about cars, holidays, food, computer games, mobile phones and orgasms. Well, you could in fact talk about these things before but they tended to get lost between threads about LPK’s latest avatar and AT82’s favourite Manchester-based minor celebrities.
TSR’s ‘Model Parliament’ has had its ups and downs and comings and goings, with speaker Beekeeper serving a term and deej2 now at the helm (despite being voted out ages ago). The parliament tends to go through short periods of intense activity followed by long lulls of dullness, usually corresponding to most of these virtual MPs realising that such status doesn’t actually entitle them to two jags or two mistresses.
The ‘Model UN’, under the guidance of Nightowl is still going strong; this is a forum in which TSR users pretend to be representatives of UN nations. The UN forum has seen such hot topics as ‘rep for votes’ and ‘Peru declares that his dad is bigger than Bulgaria’s dad’.
Much fun and games as the annual awards fiasco finally draws to a close after almost two months of chicanery, canvassing, flattery and outright begging. There aren’t many genuine surprises though there are slightly more sour grapes than is usual.
TSR is trying to be ‘more than a forum’. It’s not doing very well, but it’s trying nonetheless. After long campaigning by the perennially unappreciated PQ a wiki has been added which while initially regarded with scepticism has started to pick up. You can also post your personal statement (thanks to LH's ingenious idea) and have it reviewed in confidence by a crack team of experts and Juno (she knows I’m only kidding).
I kick off the upgrade. This consists of me clicking a button every once in a while, but otherwise getting on with life and returning periodically to check on progress, though I get the idea that some TSR users think I'm perpetually hunched over a bank of screens displaying rapidly scrolling garbled green text. Things don't get off to a good start as the server starts crashing under the strain. But this is resolved and I carry on. It soon becomes apparent that I've grossly underestimated how long this is going to take. Rather than the hours I'd stated, it will take days. In the end it takes two days. 24 hours in, pharmacists across the country begin reporting low levels stock levels of Prozac. A refugee camp is set up on TSR US to relieve the withdrawal symptoms that many are experiencing. Eventually we return to normal, though there is some disappointment that not only does TSR not look much different, it is now slower and several features have disappeared.
Societies have become a great big thing on TSR since the societies feature was added. No one seems to have noticed that the only thing this feature entails is a bunch of small pictures next to your posts, or if they have they aren’t saying; the popularity of socs remains a mystery. There are too many societies to mention (you may as well simply browse the list) so I’ll just say that there are a lot, and that some of them are truly bizarre.
Everything is crawling to a halt. The hosting people are trying to blame me, even though I haven't done anything. A certain person of dubious character and a history of exaggeration and fabrication attempts to claim credit for a DDoS, but this is nonsense; he hasn't had the funds to rent a botnet for quite some time and TSR is protected anyway. Quite what the specific problem is remain unclear but it needs to be resolved urgently before the temperature on Brimstone's F5 key drops below 95 degrees.
The pulling power of TSR is such that even when faced with a 20 minute wait to load each page many members will diligently continue their posting business, albeit at a greatly reduced pace. But for every member quietly and patiently waiting for things to sort themselves out there are five who refresh like crazy in the vain hope that somehow their requests will get through faster (the same people who think that holding two mobile phones close together will make their text messages arrive faster).
Whenever resources are at a premium, non-essential items are the first to get the chop. A small roar went up when searching was restricted, during times of extreme usage, to subscribers. An even bigger roar went up when restrictions were applied to the length of searchable words. Sadly it was no longer possible to search for ‘sex’ in the H&R forum, though this example alone did cut the number of searches made in half.
We finally get a new server and everything is flying once again. World hunger is abolished and war done away with. Birds burst into song. Or at least you'd think so. People moan and groan every day but their gripes are insignificant; they just want something to complain about. What they really want is a lightning fast server, one that can keep up with them clicking refresh on the Chat forum every 3 seconds. When you've got that, everything else pales in comparison.
In a startlingly short period of time in mid 2006 TSR went from looking like a pristine showroom model forum to a Michael Schumacher’s jumpsuit forum, rather like someone had filled up a sawn-off shotgun with arbitrarily selected adverisments and given TSR both barrels right between the eyes. Despite personally adding the ads to the site I was absolved from blame as I was merely acting under the instruction of new TSR owner ‘CN’, who verbally got both barrels between the eyes (or possibly legs) from disgruntled users.
I meet with CN in a pub in Newcastle. He immediately achieves 'sound bloke' status by joining me in consuming several bottles of brown ale, and also for shouting 'pig?' at me across the pub. I realise CN is enthusiastic, ambitious and knows all of the right things to say, face to face. Unfortunately he doesn't translate well into TSR post form so everyone else thinks he's a bit of a prat.
Some of the best ideas that have ever been thought of were dreamt up at this meeting. Unfortunately neither of us can remember any of them due to boozing. I do remember discussing my ‘job title’ (misnomer since I’m not actually employed by TSR) and sadly having my requests for ‘supreme chancellor’, ‘evil overlord of TSR’ and ‘Queen for a day’ turned down in favour of the rather more humdrum ‘Chief Operating Officer’. Coo indeed.
CN’s announcement of his arrival (several months after he did actually arrive) officially heralds the death of ‘d’ who until now had widely been assumed to be lurking quietly in the shadows and not interfering, exactly like he did when he was actually in charge.
I take away Rich's supermod status but nobody notices, including Rich.
The mod team has been quite static for the past few months; apart from a handful of people (edders, Leekey, corey, Rich) being removed for inactivity and some leaving voluntarily (LH, lou p lou, ickle katy) the only additions have been minimods. Or, as I like to call them, my minions. Minimods moderate specific areas, and can’t trample all over the rest of the forum like the current moderators [s]do[/s] can. The notable success is D&D where we have a team of three minimods who are essentially autonomous, which pretty much resolves the issue of none of the global mods being arsed to moderate in D&D. Not to belittle the efforts of these minimods, they do a fine job that few could manage but I get the feeling that maybe you’ve got to be a bit barmy to take that on. Brave men have fallen attempting the task. Remember that Howard, next time you complain!
Notable exceptions to the slipping away of Rich et al and the resignation of ickle katy etc. are Adhsur and Jamie (previously foolfarian) who were shown the door in dramatic fashion
New moderator appointments since early 2005 include, in no particular order, Miles, Dogtanian, Acaila, Princess Ana, AT82, Helenia, Chicken, Cindy, Apollo and lessthanthree.
I’ve been accused of favouring the appointment of female mods over male which, ignoring the fact that I don’t actually appoint anyone without consulting the mods first, is apparently a symptom of my leering lecherousness. I consider this not an assault on my sense of decency, but on my sense of taste. Wouldn’t you have thought that if I was going to appoint a bunch of chicks to drool over in the mod forum, I’d have gone for some hotties?
I meet with CN, blissy, Daveo, Acaila and PQ in a hotel in London to discuss the future of TSR. The big disappointment is that lunch consists of small triangular sandwiches with the crusts cut off. The outcome of the meeting is a plan consisting mainly of features lifted shamelessly from myspace, facebook and google homepage, though there is a big surprise in that not even the professional moaners have anything to moan about, but there’s plenty of time for that.
I don’t know exactly what will happen to TSR in the coming months and years, but I’ve seen enough to suggest that members will come and go; egos will grow and shrink; cliques will form and disband; old members will return; features will be added; people will moan, congratulate, suck up, give advice (good and bad), troll, flirt or rant; the site will sometimes be slow, sometimes fast; problems will arise; fights will be fought; romances will blossom while others will end; forums will be created; mods will be added, leave or be kicked out; threads will be started and posts made; fun will be had. Otherwise it wouldn’t be TSR.
The third part of the history (february 2005 - july 2006) was decided by a poll. Click here to see the other entries.
July 2006 - July 2007
The Student Room has continued to grow at an impressive rate - reaching the dizzy height of 81st on bigboards.com. Yet more pointless spam and emo questions from horny teenagers. Your humble chronicler must wonder whether TSR is providing a valuable public service by containing all this nonsense in one place away from society at large.
This year saw the arrival of J, latest in a line of new admins. Unlike most of his predecessors, he is often to be found around the forum, posting lots of confusing threads in About, dealing with fawning admirers, and more importantly, checking out the jiggly boobies thread in the Back Room.
The forum graced the news again, with BBC News among others picking up on discussion on TSR that students were receiving a good deal of help from teachers during particularly hard practical exams. Or at least something like that…after all, it happened in the Academic forum so nobody really takes that much notice of it.
Also of note was TSR’s emergence as a matchmaker. (No, not more dodgy Russian dating services being run on the side…) This year heralded TSR’s first wedding as oldie Wzz broke many male TSRians hearts by marrying Forces-forum Sweetheart Blackhawk. Sorry chaps, she’s firmly off the market! This loved-up theme continued as long-time members and mods Daveo and blissy announced their engagement. Ooohs and aahs were heard around the forum at the size of the rock in blissy’s ring. All the best to both couples!
One of the big arguments of the year was over the new TSR logo. It had been due for a replacement to fit in with TSR’s new look (which is in the pipeline apparently) and the member base were presented with several options….all different coloured versions of the same thing. An amount of outcry followed, with TSR showing its creative side by designing their own suggestions. The most shocking thing to come out of all this was TSR members actually on the whole agreed on something - Deus’ suggestion of a globe with mortarboard was widely acclaimed in a rare bout of harmony amongst the membership. That said, we’re still getting the speech bubbles.
The big news of this year, and the events for which it will most likely be remembered, occurred in April. Much has been written about this - much of it being utter tripe - and very little without some sort of bias. Or indeed attempts at turning it into a Shakespearean tragedy (unfortunately that draft of this year’s history by myself and Agent Smith wasn’t finished in time for the deadline) The basics seem to be: search gets messed up, pig isn’t happy and says so, J not happy with pig saying so and makes noises to that effect, pig says “tata” and demods himself, followed later by a request for all of his plugins to be removed from the site. Much chaos, confusion and anarchy results, especially as many other staff members follow. (Note to any who fancy themselves as a supermod - doing all the admin tasks, a good bit of modding and dealing with forum politics in the middle of your final university assessments is not fun). Prophecies of doomabound as many members wonder how TSR will ever cope without so many of its prominent staff and the legendary admin.
However, the forum appears to be still standing when the dust finally clears. After some time new staff members begin to pop up, including our newest supermod, fleur de lis (continuing her meteoric rise after swift promotions to minimod and moderator). Plugins reappear slowly, utilising TSR’s new testing site. Other than that, things continue as they always have here on the forums. No matter what drama the next year brings, your humble chronicler would wager there will always be someone asking “What are those green gems beside my username?”
- Written by Acaila
- This section of the history was chosen by a vote. Other entries can be found here
The last year has seen huge changes for the wiki section of the site. A usergroup of Wiki Editors was set up, each Editor being responsible for developing a whole section of the wiki. Sadly, many of the wiki editors fizzled out after a couple of months. But, while growth has been slow, a small number of dedicated users (including randdom, Noxid, ~Kirsty~, Generalebriety, Juno and RK) have been beevering away to create new content and organise what was already there.
CN and J saw a huge potential with the wiki and over the year decided it needed to play a bigger role. The site redevelopments, right from the start, were show to be bringing the wiki cotnent to the fore-front, alongside forum content.
In April and May 2007 Portal pages were created on the wiki as a stepping stone from wiki-past and wiki-yet-to-come. These brought together and organsied content from all over the site together on one page.
As the end of July approached things were getting ready for some of the biggest chanegs yet. New 'channel' pages were starting to be taked about. Discusions on revamping the 'Wiki Editor' role sprang up and the future of the wiki started to look very rosey.
Hoepefully next year the history will see all this and more has happened and have the wiki grow rapidly in size.. Only time will tell...
The Mod team has changed rapidly over the last year. The pig saga was not the only time that Moderators sunk back into the members realm. Throughout the year the TSR Staff list was constantly changing, whether it was a new Speaker in the House of Commons or a new Minimod, but a lot of the Mods who left did so quietly.
X, who was the moderator of the US study forum, vanished into thin air. Although he was never really around anyway, his departure went very much unnoticed. Most of the members probably never knew he existed anyway. Another quiet departure was Vienna. After spending three long years arguing with anything with a pulse, she finally got power over Debate and Discussion, but shortly after this she became inactive and was demodded. She is another Debate and Discussion Moderator to have vanished into the realms of inactivess. The Debate and Discussion users noticed this however, and in D&D style they played Queen's 'Another One Bites The Dust' in her honor.
The most mysterious disappearance is that of A and C. Any old member will remember these two administrators as having an obsession with putting "Cheers" at the end of their posts. Members even made up theories that they were the same person, so how did these administrators leave so quietly? Nobody is sure why A and C left exactly, but any mention of them from TSR Staff has not been a pleasant one, which leaves the question of 'What did they do?' The following comments A got on F1 Fanatics 'Your reputation preceds you...' thread suggest that perhaps they were given the boot rather than simply leaving. "Deceitful, underhand and not good for TSR." - blissy "Bit of a bent admin, never really did a lot." - Daveo "Left TSR in more capable hands." - Acaila "glad he's gone" - PQ Whatever A did, he seemed to annoy a lot of the Staff.
September 2006 saw the resignation of AT82. After announcing he was resigning due to not having enough time, AT82 vanished into the Motoring forum and does not wander out of there much anymore. October 2006 saw the resignation of the Happy Moderator, Cindy. Due to her lack of free time, she was unable to keep her position as a Moderator. Muse managed to quietly escape the world of mod-dom due to inactivity, though nobody really knows exactly when he left, all we know is that it was near the start of 2007. SilverWings decided to leave as Socs Moderator not long after being modded. She apparently did not enjoy being a Mod and felt the Societies forum never needed a Minimod. In January wesetters announced that he was resigning as Technology Moderator. He announced "I have my reasons" for leaving. Another Mod to quietly sneak out the door was Xenon. Her departure meant the end to the 'Happy Birthday' stickies in the Harry Potter forum, and was to be the temporary downfall of that forum, right until the 7th book was released.
As you are probably aware by now, the pig saga brought lots of drama to TSR. The Moderators dropped faster than the new members in Debate and Discussion. The following announced their resignation in April:
Pig - Chief Operating Officer PQ - Super Moderator Apollo - Super Moderator Daveo - Global Moderator Blissy - Global Moderator Dogtanian - Global Moderator EPD - Minimod jpowell - Minimod Fleffzilla - Minimod
All but dogtanian left in protest of the new regime. Dogtanian revealed that she was only leaving because she had been thinking about it for a while, and then was a good time to.
On 6th May Juno announced her resignation, because she no longer enjoyed being an active member of TSR she decided to leave as a moderator. Rebellious Sports Mod Ziggy Stardust left in May. It is not clear why he left exactly, but he was supposedly going off to Germany so would no longer have time to Moderate anymore. The latest resignation came from Carl, who resigned as Debate and Discussion Moderator in June. He also fell victim to the lack of spare time disease.
Hopefully that will be the last of the resignations, but with such a volatile forum who knows what will make it into the TSR History Books next year.
Although lots of Mods had their downfall, there were plenty of people to replace them to protect TSR from the evil members.
In August three new Minimods were born. BlackHawk, jpowell and Ziggy Stardust became the latest additions to the Moderation team. BlackHawk was given the Careers forum, jpowell was given the Academic forums, while Ziggy got the almighty Sports forum.
Throughout the year the Moderation team would grow, some people being promoted quietly while others had a street party. November saw a whole new change to the Moderation team. A big group of people were stripped from their member status and given a warning stick to represent their newly found mod status.
- BlackHawk was promoted from Careers Minimod into a Global Moderator.
- Dalimyr was promoted from a member to a Global Moderator.
- Juno was promoted from a member to a Global Moderator.
- beach_surf_babe became a Minimod for the Health and Relationships forum.
- Carl became a Minimod for the Debate and Discussion forum.
- EPD became a Minimod for the Entertainment forum.
- iTalya became a Minimod for the Health and Relationships forum.
- LPK became a Minimod for the Chat forum.
- Roger Kirk became a Minimod for the Academic forum.
- wesetters became a Minimod for the Technology forum.
In February, fleur de lis was promoted to a Minimod and was to moderate the forever growing Health and Relationship forum. Her appointment was rather quiet, apart from the celebration parade she ordered to travel through Londons City Centre.
After the "pig saga" there was a desperate need for some new Staff. The Moderators decided that fleur de lis would be a useful member of their team, completely unaware of just how hyperactive her post report finger was. As soon as she was Modded she soared through hundreds of post reports, even managing to do around 200 in two days during the Mod meet in York. Though her most finest moment was when she was clever enough to find a way to successfully demod herself. As she was the only Global Mod online at the time and the post reports were increasing, her howls of despair could be heard from anywhere in the UK. Luckily the Mod Meet was paused while the Staff fixed her Mod Status. To this day she carries on rummaging through reports and eating anybody who steals them from her.
Once everybody had calmed down after the whirlwind adventure of the "pig saga", the TSR Staff got debating on what new staff should be brought in to dominate the forums. After a long debate they finally reached their decisions in June. Acaila was to host the thread Welcoming Ceremony this time, and one by one the new staff appeared. The first two Minimods to appear were Insparato and Nota Bene. These were now Roger Kirks new companions in the Academic forum. They can often be seen plotting against members to get revenge for the constant Edexcel exam rule breaking. LPK also got his powers extended to other forums. His powers were extended to the General Discussion forum and it's sub-forums. He can often be seen trying to understand posts that contain words with more than four letters in it. He also continues to spam away in Chat and abuse his powers to suit his arguments, much to the amusement of the chat clan. The Investment Banking & Consultancy forum got it's very own Minimod in the form of Drogue. It has been reported a few times that the Investment Banking & Consultancy members are high maintenance, but Drogues sanity is still intact, though some may beg to differ. Athena was also promoted to a Minimod and given the Oxbridge forum to patrol. She can be seen in the Oxbridge forum usually wearing her leather outfits to attract the males, ready to ban anybody that approaches her. Nefarious was also promoted from MUN Secretary General to Debate and Discussion Minimod. After being informed of his promotion he resigned as Secretary General and gave his successor, Craghyrax, all his paperwork to do. Luckily for her she got rid of it all. The last and least surprising promotion was given to the forever modding Moderator fleur de lis, who was promoted to a Super Moderator. In four months she had gone from a Minimod to a Super Moderator. I think we should give the Guinness World records a call.
That's all of the New Moderators, though it will be interesting to see how different this list is next year.
Forum Development by LPK
TSR has had lots of ideas thrown at it throughout the year. Some being popular, others being condemned to CN's rectum (if the About users had their way that is) but as a lot of people have noticed, not many ideas have actually taken place. Some would think that is because Acumen PI actually want to make sure they are doing the right thing, but other members who think they own the forum would rather go with the theory that the admins are incompetent.
September saw the arrival of one of the first questionnaires hosted by CN. With a thread titled 'Want to be famous and help TSR?' it was bound to attract a lot of attention. It was revealed that TSR had joined forces with a PR Agency. A survey was put onto the website for people to fill in so that Journalists could see how much coverage TSR could attract. The PR Agency gave members another chance at fame in October, a form was put on the forum by CN that needed to be filled in. Ten people were to be selected from it to be used as profiles for TSR. Although we're not sure whether this marketing scheme worked, there seemed to be quite a bit of interest on what Acumen PI's motives were. The About Extremists (Incase you are confused, that is what I call the people who spend way too much time arguing about the forum because they think they own it) started to wonder if TSR was turning into a business rather than a forum.
CN has used TSR's booming popularity to promote coursework.info (now Markedbyteachers.com). For anybody who is confused, coursework.info is another website owned by Acumen PI (company name now The Student Room Group). The coursework.info bot often posts in the inactive threads lurking in the Academic forum, much to the annoyance of some members. Although some claim that this type of website would encourage plagiarism, CN has backed up the website multiple times claiming it is not there to encourage cheats, but is there to help people get a better understanding of how their coursework should be when completed. In October CN took his argument one step further by linking the forum members to a news article about how the site was using "the most prevalent Plagiarism Detection Software in the world". In November he linked us once again to a news article saying how coursework libraries are valuable learning tools, once again promoting corusework.info. I'm sure that made him feel very smug.
Another exciting event to happen in October was a new partnership announcement. CN announced a new partnership with the discount shopping site 4uni.co.uk. This meant that anybody using this would not only be able to benefit from discount products, but they would also have a 5% discount because they are members of TSR! TSR would also get a small fee for every product bought, so naturally CN had pound signs flashing in his eyes.
In December CN introduced us to a new arrival in his Acumen PI team. J (also known as Jamie) was to be the new director of Acumen PI, and was to have sole responsibilty over TSR. Although this was announced in December, he was not going to start his new role until February. This gave J plenty of time to socialise with the members and get a feel of how the forum worked. He also quizzed members for what they wanted from TSR, and in exchange for their views he had an orgy with them in the shoutbox.
Although J was not meant to start until February, by January he was already an eager beaver. His first role as Director(to be) was to post a thread in the Welcome Lounge asking for new members to give their first impressions of TSR. Not long after this he posted a survey in About asking what people of the UK want from their website. Luckily he never offended any international users.
In March J posted a few screenshots of a new design and a masterplan for TSR (and accused BlackHawk of being a male in the process). Although some people gave positive responses, some people used the "Why fix something that isn't broken?" line. After ignoring the About Extremists rants on how incompetent Acumen PI were, the designers carried on thinking of new ideas to improve the forum.
One of the strangest requests from J came in March when he decided to request words that best described TSR for a Graffiti wall. CN and J planned to have a graffiti wall that would be hung up in the Acumen PI office. Once created, J posted a picture of it onto TSR which can be seen below:
At the time I thought it looked good, but then i became confused about why Acumen PI would have a canteen in their office, seen as there looks like there is lots of food behind these miniature walls. I wanted to make a theory about Acumen PI lying about owning an office, but i feared people would take it too seriously in About.
After the first debate over the new design, J was eager to bite back. This time he posted pictures of the TSR homepage from a logged in view, and a not logged in view. This was one of the rare threads that never get hijacked with conspiracies of Acumen PI's TSR Death plot. This thread did get a lot of feedback, some of which was used to make the design ideas look more appealing to users.
One of the first features to appear on the forum because of gossameerthreads was the new site search. The site search allows people to search for smaller keywords and list them in different orders, such as relevancy, date, forum etc. Although it broke at first and took a bit of tweaking, it still works efficiently to this day. The people who could not figure out how it worked claimed that it "sucked", not realising they just had to click a button to find something recent.
April saw the arrival of the Logo debate. Although J only posted three logo ideas, a poll was added by PQ. Members of TSR used the fact that the "current logo" option was the most voted for option on the poll, and ignored the fact that J had never made the poll anyway. Some members even made their own logos in hope of impressing the admins, but these attempts failed because they would not be suitable for the suggested layout designs. After what felt like a decade, TSR members eventually gave up on arguing about the logo, but only because the pig saga had begun.
The pig saga knocked a massive hole into Forum Development. After disabling all of pigs plugins, TSR was knocked back into the stone age. This was a major blow on development because developers had to pause designing and bring TSR back to 2007.
It was decided that a DEV site was needed to test new features on the forums. J organised a group of 100 nosey warriors and gave them access to the DEV forum to test all the features and then to give feedback. The DEV forum is still used when a new feature needs testing, but the hype of it died down soon after pigs plugins returned.
Once all of the main plugins were put back, J tried once again to get the logo debate going. The thread soon turned into a full Acumen PI assault, and after ignoring the fact that the current logo was never an option, the members carried on arguing. Some members liked the fact that the logo was simple and effective, others thought it looked plain and tacky, and the rest just wanted to moan about nothing. After a long and painful debate, it was decided that the suggested logo was likely to be the new logo in the future.
May saw the arrival of the new Terms and Conditions. Members and Staff had to agree to these before they could post on the forum, and new members need to agree on sign up. After the recent fiasco Acumen PI felt this was the appropriate action to take.
In July J posted more screenshots of how the new design was looking. He was clever enough this time to make the members give feedback in the Feedback forum. The About Extremists came up with theories that J never wanted people to know each others opinions, but they eventually gave up making theories and carried on with their posting.
August saw the arrival of another survey about what members think of a TSR/Facebook integration. Although most members seemed strongly against the idea, and questioned the oh so popular 'is TSR turning into another facebook?' theory, their spirits were lifted when CN announced the winners of the competition on the 10th August. 6 members won £25 Amazon vouchers, and another 20 people won a free three month subscription to TSR. It was also announced that 453 people had filled in the survey. Wowness.
Aprils Fool Day Pranks
April 1st saw some striking changes to TSR, including a set of amusing name changes to the sub-forums. The following changes were made:
- Welcome Lounge --> n00bs
- Chat --> Spam City, Population LPK
- The Gallery --> IM SpESHUL, lOOK At MY DARWINGS, LOL
- Health & Relationships --> Paedo's Paradise
- Technology --> Geeks
- Debate and Discussion --> Debating dick size contest
- About --> Official Moaning Area
- The Back Room --> I have no life so I hang around here
Within minutes members were running round the forums exclaiming their amusement or distaste at the alterations, some even suggesting that the site had been hacked. The moderators received an influx of threads in Ask A Mod from panic stricken and confused members, much to their amusement. Paedo’s Paradise in particular caused a lot of controversy. Many members deemed this change very offensive and inappropriate. Meanwhile the H&R mods chuckled away at their forum’s apt title. LPK was loving the changes and revelled in the glory of having his name in lights at the top of his kingdom.
Among the gags for April Fools was the announcement of the joke Mods' Member of the Month, Dangrover. This was perhaps the hardest of all the monthly awards to decide due to the sheer number of candidates worthy of the title. The names of some of the religion socs were changed around as well, which caused much confusion. In addition, a new option appeared in member’s userCP enabling members to purchase modship for the sum of £1000. Bets were taken on who would be the first to attempt to buy their way into the coveted role.
Another big change occurring shortly after midnight on the first was the removal of the reputation system, meaning that gems and rep history completely disappeared. On visiting their userCP, many members were shocked to see the message: ‘the reputation system is currently disabled’. Members were seen in About lamenting the loss of their precious gems, with comments such as ‘but....but...but....my shiny gems are gone.....*jumps off bridge*’ Ever the rebel, but unfortunately a bit slow on the uptake, Alan Partridge made a scathing post in About telling some members what he really thought of them, under the illusion he could now not be neg repped for it. He paid the price for his honesty though when the rep system was reinstated and TSR returned back to a state of normality the next day. Fortunately for TSR, no one had been foolish enough to purchase the £1000 modship, but one wonders whether the current mods ought not to relax too much as next year is sure to bring more entertainment in the form of April fools surprises.
August 2007 - August 2008
The last year has seen a great number of changes on TSR: There has been a major redesign; the appointment of a million and one new mods; and even quite a substantial change in the demographic of users on the site. This history documents all of these changes, as well as offering five cautionary tales, based on the true stories of certain significant members over the last year. It was drafted in August 2008, and was kindly edited by the mods who stopped it being so
funny naughty. I am thankful for their contributions.
TSR is, of course, still the place it always was. Older members stick around, while new ones come and go. People still complain about trolls, members moan about mods, mods moan about members, and we all moan about LPK (who this year went through puberty). Whilst over time the structure of the site changes, its backbone of members giving helpful advice, leaving sarcastic comments, or anonymously posting single smilies remains the same.
One of the most important changes the forum has seen in the last year is a change in staffing. At the beginning of last year the mod team was rather diminished in size, after a set of resignations in April and May. The last year has seen a significant change in strategy in terms of mod appointments, with thousands of minimods being appointed, keeping the number of global mods constant (including a couple of crusty foreigners who were brought out of retirement to take up slack.) There doesn't seem to be much in the way of a reason for the proliferation of minimods, other than the fact that purple is quite a pretty colour. In the last few months these new swarms of mods engaged in a "crackdown" which made most people crack up. They came bearing banners with slogans of, "hr isnt for jokes", and "it's against the rules to be against the rules".
When minimods were first conceived of, they were for areas of the forum that the global mods either didn't want to mod, or couldn't mod through lack of expertise. Now they are used almost universally across the site, and there has certainly been a change from a system in which global mods would have their own areas of interest but would moderate globally, to one in which users with a specific area of interest are given minimod positions, and the majority of global mods barely post in the public forums. More recently we've seen the addition of "Forum Assistants" to the ranks of moderators. These users have even less powers, no access to AAM, and can still receive warning points (whereas naughty mods get bans). They exist in the House of Commons, and the PS Help forum, where they spend their time moving and renaming threads.
- The Tale of Calcium878
Calcium878 was always rather keen and nerdy, so much so that at the beginning of last September he was made minimod of the universities section of TSR, before he'd even begun applying to universities. Soon enough he showed himself to have a bit of a fetish for answering post reports, although he also managed to put all the posts about maths past papers in the contraception thread. After many months of doing everything he could to become a global mod (including flirting excessively with LPK), he was offered the opportunity to become one, and began tackling every single post report on the site. Soon enough, though, it became too much for him, and it was taking over his life, like a malignant tumour in HTML form. Finally Calcium878 burnt out. He could no longer answer any post reports, and his life was reduced to hanging around parks, drinking his favourite tipple (Malibu) from the bottle, and generally looking like a geeky hobo. The moral of the story: TSR can ruin your life if you take it too seriously. Don't do what calcium did, because no-one likes a geeky hobo.
In early September last year, TSR underwent the most significant redesign in its history. Serious effort was put it in to make it look more "web2.0" (read: derivative of facebook). No longer did it look like a standard vBulletin forum, and the old skins were replaced with an interesting blue and orange colour scheme. The redesign process was rather problematic in its poor-execution. And, while there were a team of users asked to do dev testing, these dev testers and mods were only given 24 hours notice on the changes going live. Consequently, when it did go live it was full of bugs. The most serious was that the contrast between the background colour and the text was too high, so people were posting in the About forum, complaining of migraines, nausea, and epilepsy. Finally the font colour was changed to the grey you see today, and everyone was less ill. Hooray. The bugs from the redesign eventually took about four months to all be solved, although some of them (such as the problems with subscribed forums) are yet to be fixed.
Many people spent lots of time objecting to the redesign, with the About forum being filled with a cloud of grumpiness and negativity. The owners of the site weren't massively impressed with this at the time. Thankfully, though, they've come understand that when people moan in the About forum it's so the site can be made better.
- The Tale of Socrates
Socrates, that Classical Greek philosopher, that great teacher of the ancient world, that Asian guy with the slightly dodgy beard who posts too much in D&D, was one day perusing the pages of wikipedia in his unending search for knowledge. But just like Adam before him, his search for knowledge was doomed by his discovery of sex. On finding a suspect page, which featured a picture of a penis, he discovered carnal pleasure, and thought it a good idea to share this new knowledge with some of his friends. Of course, Socrates, with his great mind and bold username should have known better, but clearly the excitement of seeing such a picture just got to him, and in a flurry he posted it up on TSR. Socrates was then punished by a higher power, but this time he decided that drinking hemlock was just a bit of an over-reaction. The moral of the story: Enjoying the penis pictures you find on wikipedia is bad enough, but sharing this with others is unforgivable.
One of the main points of this redesign was to move TSR away from being "just a forum". The wiki, which began its life as a small set of articles, became greatly expanded, particularly with the help of the WST ("We're Special" Troupe). The home page, for example, no longer showed all of the subforums, and all of the activity that was going on around the site, and instead, with the implementation of "tabs" at the top of the page, directed users towards portals, which in turn led to wiki and forum pages. Regardless of this, the wiki remains far less popular than the forums, even though it has a rather excellent page on tight foreskins, and a superb cheese toasty recipe.
December saw the return of the TSR Awards, in which regular users had the opportunity to vote to say which of their peers were the funniest, hottest, most useful, etc. and generally espouse some much-needed Christmas sycophancy. Fleur de lis, that supreme beast, won in nearly every category (although was disqualified from best male late in the day after admitting that she'd been stuffing her boxers with socks), despite only having started posting in January 2007. That girl sure knows how to make an impression. There was very little controversy here really, although block voting from chat peeps seemed to ensure many of the same people were in the line-up for lots of awards, and it remains a nice way to award people for their positive contributions to the site.
The other way that good members are acknowledged, the reputation system, has been rather more controversial over the last year. The trouble is that a few users just won't shut up about it, however boring it is. Of course, only 0.3% of users have red gems, but sadly they are often the most vocal. All of this, along with sustained rants from a few idiots (and the suggestion from ukebert that we should have molluscs in our postbits) caused the powers that be to poop themselves. Consequently they set up a survey, but are yet to release the results to the public. Anyway, we're told that it's all set to change in the near future, regardless of the fact that the only people who care about rep are the admins (who don't use the site as users) and a few trolls who end up with red gems for, erm, trolling.
- The Tale of Sidhe
There once was an old man, who failed to fulfil the stereotype of wisdom. Sidhe was just a little obsessed with rep. He was sad, or maybe troubled, that given the fact he believed himself to be an esteemed individual, he had very little rep. Of course most of this lack of popularity was down to his constant moaning, and his subversion of every thread in the About forum to a discussion of rep over the course of a number of months. He used to get angry (and sometimes a tad rude) when his ramblings were criticised. Since he disappeared from the scene there have been rather less discussions about rep, in fact the whole system seems a lot less contentious. The moral of the story: If you care that much about rep, you need to get out more. if you care that much about what a bunch of teenagers you've never met think about you when you're thirty-something, you probably need to log out more.
This issue of rep was all rather exacerbated by the fact that the last year has seen what seems to be a death of useful discussion in the About forum. It was once a place where issues regarding the site were debated, mods would get involved in the arguments, and admins would keep a keen eye on it. In the last year points directed at admins have been answered a lot more slowly than during the pig era, and many have been left unanswered, while lot of the mods seem to have withdrawn from posting in there other than to lock threads that become filled with spam. As such, the only threads that remain are the thousands of rather boring ones about rep and n00bs asking how they make a signature.
That being said, the issue of admin communications with the membership, which has been so poor for the last year, is apparently being worked on, and sources are hopeful that it will be rather better in the future. They've set up a blog, but for the moment it seems to mainly have pictures of really ugly soft toys and car crashes. With any luck, this should liven up the debate a little more in the next year. That being said, the familial aspect of communication has been broadly extended in the last year. Something that has sadly been omitted in previous histories has been the nepotistic element of the running of TSR, and this lack will hopefully be rectified by publishing the following diagram (which may or may not be entirely truthful):
- The Tale of Hubert Poo
Hubert poo was super-keen to get everything running just swimmingly in the sports forums. He liked to put smilies everywhere, just to make sure that people understood his sentiments. He was rather new to TSR when he was made sports minimod at the end of August. He instituted a new set of rules, with a rather Christian ethic, such as "Treat others as you yourself would wish to be treated." Over the next few months Hubert Poo began to take this idea to an extreme: repping certain members regularly and they would rep him back. One day this was noticed, and he had all of his rep taken away. Soon after he left the mod circle, and was replaced by a Muslim. The moral of the story: When Jesus said, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", he didn't mean rep rings were a good plan. The TSR Rules are greater than Christ himself.
Out of the football forum, in December, came an idea for a TSR football meet. The first one of these being a success, these events have continued to happen and in fact have grown in popularity. Groups of ethnic, male TSRians descend on the parks of London and hack a ball around for a few hours. In fact, meets of TSR members are becoming more and more common, particularly amongst the subscribers, but also at universities around the country. Often, such as with the football meets, these will be attended by the regular users of one particular subforum.
As the community of TSR has grown it's started to split into a whole range of micro-communities, which have become increasingly developed over the last year. These range from Indian Friends to Grumpy Old Graduates. As the site becomes bigger, there are fewer globally-recognised users. These smaller communities are also encouraging different types of users to access the site, and, for example, where the exams forums have developed so significantly over the last year, there are now more school-age users than ever before. Amazingly though, given quite how rife teenage pregnancy seems these days, it is not one of these kids who's having the first TSR baby:
- The Tale of Blackhawk
Who would have ever thought that TSR could get you up the duff? Well that's exactly what happened this year to Blackhawk. Now she's a few months pregnant with the first TSR baby (the father, Wzz, is also an old TSRian). After romance and a marriage centred around a perverse fascination with the military and horses, a new member is being brought into the world. I guess there's not much more to say than "kids watch out, it could be you next". The moral of the story: Read Helenia's contraception thread in H&R, or meeting randoms off the internet could become a very costly business.
So TSR just does what it always does, and presents us with a diversity of material, from petty frustrations, to children, to more petty frustrations, to laughing at someone posting an impotence thread in H&R, to friendships, to arguments. In some ways the place has got a lot smaller in the last year, there's more room for familiarity than there ever has been before, but also more room to just disappear. It's also still evolving: In the last weeks we've seen the implementation of widgets, and soon enough you'll be able to make TSR look pink, which I'm sure will be very useful.
Who knows what we'll see in the next year of TSR: Who will be next to get 65535 PMs? Who will leave in a strop? Who will moan about rep? Who will complain about the moderation? Will any new members ever be funny? Will gossamerthreads ever reach the bottom of the devlist? I guess to find out you can either stick around, or just wait for the next episode of this history.
P.S. Acaila was written out of this history because her ego was too big already. -- Musicbloke
The fifth part of the history (August 2007 - August 2008) was decided by a poll. Click here to see the other entries.
August 2008 - August 2009
The Student Room 2008-2009.
**** happens. Some **** is more important than other ****. Other things I'm omitting entirely because they're really dull.
Anyway, here I am to fill you in on that ****.
Some people were modded and others stopped being mods, the site was redesigned a little bit making various people happy and others angry. A few people stopped posting and a lot more started posting. Some dude called Tommm made the millionth thread on the site in August, which was very exciting for everyone involved. There’s been a few new forums added and other things didn’t quite take off, like the TSR Editorial. But TSR’s grown to new heights over the last year, even getting a mention in the Metro!
Not so concise version:
Possibly the most drastic change over the last year has been the restructuring of the moderation team. Until a few months ago the site only had three supermoderators: Nefarious, fleur de lis and Acaila. When fleur stepped down (to great dismay) we were left with two semi-active mods. The admin solution to this was to convert all global mods to supermods, and turn the minimoderator position into a more simple moderator role. Acaila stepped down to concentrate on the next section of her life and her contribution to the forum over the years will be sorely missed. Now TSR has a great deal more mods than ever before, with appointments ranging from the obvious (such as Magnum Opus in D&D) to the fantastically obscure (Seanisonfire in the UCLan sub-forum).
I'm going to talk about the football forum for a bit because it's probably the best part of the site. Probably. Ascient became a mod, Rafa had to leave the team, and CJ got a job in the office with the admins. Meets varied in successfulness, ranging from the five person Manchester meet which crashed a stag do to the thirty person London footballfest. The recent addition of The Dressing Room has seen the community in the forum come closer together than ever before.
Health and Relationships continues to expand, with more mods being required every few months as more girls attempt to work out what their periods are and boys pull their foreskins back over their heads and then bring their resultant panic to the internet for support.
General Discussion has turned into a complete craphole as there's now a forum for everything from sci-fi to the University of Wolverhampton, meaning every second thread in GD has to be moved away by one of the loyal team of slaves; Mad Vlad, dh00001, -sky high- and Champage Supernova.
I'm pretty sure the Medicine forum is more popular than ever but that's all I can say about that.
The About TSR forum changed dramatically at some point in the last year, with the split to a Dev sub-forum. Speaking of dev, the dev site has developed some way recently too, with all new interactivity features in the pipeline as Acumen plan a more social aspect for the site. New admin CJ has been put in charge of the testing team, which anyone can join in order to help TSR become even greater than it is now. Other proposed upgrades include the addition of the much desired multiquote function as well as the ability to "thumb up and down" posts, rather than repping the user.
The Back Room has stayed the breeding ground of subs, with various relationships striking up and dying out over the last year. One massive controversy was the discovery that the influx of new supermods could read whispers, which made everyone very upset for about three days. It was truly terrible.
The House of Commons continues to thrive, several new parties having formed since the last session of 2008. Amongst these are the Witness the Fitness party, made up of the regulars of the Fitness forum along with various other Profesh worshippers from Chat. Also new to the fold are the Centrist party, filling the void in the middle of the political spectrum, who are tipped for a good result in their first election. Finally we have the Patriotic Conservative Party, a splinter group who separated from the Conversatives when they decided they wanted to be more fascist. Grape posted a few times as well. They were probably the best posts the HoC saw; fair, cutting, and right.
The Durham and Manchester chat threads expanded massively and the crossover between the two threatens to create a giant super-university, which will leave all before it trembling. Trembling.
Some really ******* terrible new smilies were added, including a Stephen Hawking orgasm face: It's so dire.
Oh, and generalebriety invented the internet, which prevented TSR from having to be a monthly magazine as it had been previously.
That’s all from me.
The History Competition 2009
History is just one bloody thing after another, as one fictional applicant to the University of Oxbridge would have it. Thus commences the present year's entry to the TSR History, strategically placed a few months before Christmas to encapsulate the growing excitement directed towards the pending festivities – and this year's admissions process. They introduced A* grades at A-Level, wouldn't you know, and fiddled the UCAS system around a bit. The universities forums were moved a little further down the TSR homepage as well, resulting in General Discussion rising to prominence. They had to, though. There is a recession on.
After fleur de lis relinquished her position as a supermod to resume her old role in Health & Relationships, the suspicion began to grow amongst the userbase that the layout of moderators was failing to work properly. Only two supermods remained (Acaila and Nefarious), whilst there were growing subforums receiving large amounts of traffic and no designated members of staff to take charge of them. A large recruitment of minimods began for a variety of site areas, and users watched in mock horror as the shoutbox filled with purple and the suspicion shifted from a concern of not enough staff to a complaint of 'police state'. Behind the scenes, however, the moderation and administration teams in unison had concluded from a staff survey that the roles of a moderator extended far beyond those of a police officer. With arrivals, there were departures, and farewells were in order for some old treasures from the team. Rafa left to concentrate on life, Vesta: university, omicronlyrae: computers and Acaila – well, nobody really knew. It was a great pity to lose her as a supermod and an active user of the site, as one was forced to bid farewell to the many passionate arguments between herself and musicbloke about Queer Theory and the level of professionalism displayed in AAM. Also leaving to great disappointment was =nuke= from Entertainment, whilst Ana and emmarainbow left as a global moderator and an H&R minimod respectively, both following the drift towards an inactive state.
The prominent complaint about moderators was then to shift to 'nanny state', possibly as a result of some rather fantastic articles contributed to H&R by Randdom, offering a Bible of life guidance on every subject from pregnancy through to the emotionally and physically draining aspects of the swine flu pandemic. Like a Debate & Discussion thread where some bright spark ejaculates 'Zionist!' at an inappropriate time to an inappropriate person, H&R was to become a furious debating ground surrounding the merits of various cures for coughing and sprouting trotters (the correct one being to slather alcohol gel over oneself at the first instance of looking peaky). Adding a little tang to the proceedings and to help cope with the increasing administrative workload around the site, it was announced that the old global and super moderator roles were to be combined and the minimod team renamed simply as 'moderators'. Some of the current global moderators received the fetching duck-egg blue usernames and some minimods were called up for service. CJ, from the Sports forum, graduated with first class honours and progressed to Acumen PI's graduate administrator scheme, where he now does a sterling job as a kind of supervisory Wigglytuff. Post report waiting times have improved, wrongly placed threads in GD (of which there were many) have been reduced by daniel_williams and morale has risen greatly among the staff, which can only be a good thing.
Plans are under way for an upheaval of the subscriber payment layout system, which has been the year's greatest cause for controversy aside from accusations of spying in the House of Commons. This and similar topics have naturally been debated in the newly-split About/Developments & Bugs forums, which aim to separate what is relevant and interesting, and what is generic. What is contributed by Hubert Poo and his colleagues in the TSR Testing Team goes in another separate forum, where Acumen have found the Honourable Gentleman's knowledge of vBulletin development and his enthusiasm invaluable. Not well acquainted with this side of administration, the supermod team show their deep engagement with the issues concerned by stating, "Agreed"; "Yeah"; and, occasionally, "I should have a word with J about this." The Wiki has continued to flourish and again this year provided a full Clearing contacts directory complemented by a good breadth of advice for applicants. F1 Fanatic has remained in charge of PS Help to a highly impressive effect, and those willing to provide assistance in that area of the site continue to grow. Most importantly, looking towards the end of the year, will be the upgrade to vBulletin 3.8, promising a variety of benefits ranging from more interactive user profiles to more efficient ways for the moderators to deal with post reports. It has been a while in the pipeline, but do continue to watch this space.
What of the site's great personalities? Most remain, often huddled together in the shoutbox at night for stimulating conversation. Jangrafess is as (in)famous as ever, and popular in real life as well as online, a feat that the rest of us may only dream of. Profesh remains an unholy cross between Fry and Laurie, but an entertaining one at that, and it was these characteristics that spawned the most talked-about relationship of the year, between himself and Laus. Musicbloke still complains too much, but the site wouldn't rid him and his interests in the downright bizarre for anything. Herecomestrouble is a kindred soul, generalebriety a kindred mathematician and wes a kindred Frenchman, with the list becoming ever more extensive. Everyone on the top few pages of the member list has done something worthy of praise, whether that be running an area of the site or simply providing entertainment in Chat. Having spent the year taking an unrequired turn towards the inappropriate, the shoutbox became clean again as Yuffie and kimoso received male attention offline and nominations apiece for the Great Bores of the Universe competition. Both have since departed from TSR, and having given them humble and hearty thanks for their contributions, we wish them well in all their future endeavours.
TSR is made special, unique or whatever one wants to describe it as simply because of the people, and I remain very grateful for having had the privilege to both be a member and work on here. Sometimes there can be seemingly unintelligent discussions on the site, where the person with those grades is never going to achieve their goal, or where so and so is never going to achieve the feat of having a yellow rep gem, or where an H&R poster has only a few teenage spots rather than a nasty case of leprosy, for goodness' sake – but among it all tends to be a willingness to help others and to make a positive contribution to a community where 'online' becomes an irrelevant term. To those reading who fit these descriptions, I take this opportunity to thank you and ask you to continue. To the few reading who don't, you will soon be giving hours of fun to Dalimyr as she practices utilising vBulletin 3.8's user management system to its fullest potential!
Member of the Month
Each month, the moderators collectively decide who they think has been "Member of the Month". This is done by the means of a discussion between them, in which some names are put forward, and a poll follows whereby each moderator votes for who they think best deserves the title out of the shortlist. People have been designated "Member of the Month" for different reasons - being helpful (such as making useful posts, making good post reports); being understanding (being a compassionate poster in Health and Relationships frequently, for example) and for making good contributions to the forum. The award first came about in February 2006, and has been awarded every month except between November 2006 and January 2007 when the moderator who ran the competition left. The Member of the Month winners thus far are listed here:
- February 2006: Ana
- March 2006: Pheonix
- April 2006: Juno
- May 2006: F1 Fanatic
- June 2006: AlphaNumeric
- July 2006: Mrs_F
- August 2006: RK
- September 2006: NathanL
- October 2006: wesetters
- November 2006: n/a
- December 2006: n/a
- January 2007: n/a
- February 2007: fleur de lis
- March 2007: Sparklebolts
- April 2007: James
- May 2007: dh00001
- June 2007: Calcium878
- July 2007: ice_cube
- August 2007: ~Kirsty~
HoC and MUN
Hidden inside the Debate and Discussion forum are the House of Commons and the Model UN forums.
The MUN forum requires members to become a representative of a country before joining. Once they have assigned themselves, or been given a country to represent, they then start to roleplay as if they were the representative. The MUN forum has its own Forum Assistant known as the ‘Secretary General’ who is elected by all of the other MUN members.
The following members have been a Secretary General:
- Deej2 - May 2005 - November 2005
- Agent Smith - November 2005 - April 2006
- Nightowl - April 2006 - August 2006
- Apollo - August 2006 - December 2006
- Nefarious - December 2006 - July 2007
- Craghyrax - July 2007 - September 2008
- ukebert - September 2008 - February 2009
- Mrgd291190 - February 2009 - May 2010
- DayneD89 - May 2010 - September 2010
- Student2806 - September 2010 - July 2011
- thunder_chunky - July 2011 - December 2012
- Birchington - December 2012 - July 2013
- The Mad Dog - July 2013
- toronto353 - July 2013 - November 2013
- RoryS - November 2013 - November 2014
- Birchington - November 2014 - February 2015
- Nigel Farage MEP February 2015 - present
The History of the TSR Model United Nations can be found here
The HoC requires members to join a political party on TSR. Once they have joined they are then given access to a forum other party members can access. Active party members can get involved in debates, and can even work their way up to being an MP. This allows them to vote on bills and all other fantabulous changes. The HoC forum has a Forum Assistant who is known as a ‘Speaker’. The Speaker is elected by other HoC members to keep debates running smoothly and to maintain the forums and elections.
The following members have been a Speaker:
- Vienna (May 2005 – June 2005)
- Dexnell (June 2005 – November 2005)
- Beekeeper (November 2005 – March 2006)
- deej2 (March 2006 – September 2006)
- bikerx23 (September 2006 – February 2007)
- Nightowl (February 2007 – September 2007).
- daniel_williams (September 2007 – April 2008)
- Alasdair (April 2008 – August 2008)
- daniel_williams (August 2008 – June 2009)
- DayneD89 (June 2009 – March 2010)
- Thunder and Jazz (March 2010 – May 2010)
- DayneD89 (May 2010 – July 2010)
- Metrobeans (July 2010 – August 2012)
- ByronicHero (August 2012 – November 2012)
- TheCrackInTime (November 2012 – February 2013)
- Jarred (February 2013 – June 2014)
- Faland (June 2014 – February 2015)
- Birchington (March 2015 – January 2016)
- RayApparently (January 2016 – May 2016)
- Saracen's Fez (May 2016 – January 2017)
- Adam9317 (January 2017 – present)
The History of the TSR Model House of Commons can be found here