No Boys Allowed!
March 14, 2013 1:56 PM   Subscribe

I've got an idea for a community website that is women centric in a very male dominated hobby. I've looked, there really doesn't seem to be a community catering to women in this hobby out there right now, and I'm coming to realize that this really could be a good niche because women involved in the hobby are pretty marginalized. What I could use some advice on is - do I make it woman only, or allow men to participate just promoting to women and keeping some women centric topics?

The hobby is aquarium keeping. I've had an overwhelming fascination with fish since I was 5 years old; or so my parents tell me. It's grown into quite an extensive hobby and I've become involved in a number of groups and clubs. And it's very boys club-y. Women exist in moderate numbers, but there is a very "the boys are talking" vibe at conferences and club gatherings, as well as online.

It's in stark contrast to what I've seen of the web design community. Not that there isn't some issues there too, but the conferences I've attended I've felt much more like a part of it and participation felt much more equal and more about sharing ideas regardless of gender.

I digress. I've realized there are a lot of women in this hobby, and many of us feel marginalized. I've met many locally and online and we all seem to find each other because we are rare. Only I'm thinking we're not that rare, we just get chased out of the hobby or aren't participating in group activities because of the very male centric nature of these groups.

So I am going to throw together a forum, and see where it takes me. Here is what I struggle with though - I think gender equality is very important, so I'm hesitant to make it only open to women signups. Plus, on the internet, no one knows if you're a dog, so only allowing women signups would just mean men could sign up pretending to be women.

On the other hand, I'm afraid if I open it up to all genders, it's just going to become another aquarium site, and I'm not sure I want that.

I spoke to my husband about it, his suggestion is perhaps allow men to participate but have them be "vouched for" by another member. It's a interesting idea, I'm not sure what to make of it.

I'd love to hear the advice of other mefites as Metafilter seems to be very gender-politics aware. If this was your project, how you would do it? If you have done something similar catering to a specific demographic, how did you handled it, where did it worked and where didn't it? Also, if you feel comfortable, please include your gender - I would like to see how both men and women feel about this idea. I don't know if I should expect blow-back from men in the hobby.
posted by [insert clever name here] to Society & Culture (38 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You'll definitely get blow back from men in the hobby. I have a friend who runs a comedy open mic for women and those who identify as queer and she gets endless shit from men who want time on the open mic. But she's a strong person.

I would say that it's worthwhile to have a safe space on the internet that is just for people who would otherwise be marginalized. Just be ready for people who don't understand to throw the "but isn't it just as sexist to exclude us?" in your face.

There's plenty of places out there for men and women to post together about this hobby. I don't see why women can't come together in this one space without the worry that you'll be sidelined and talked down to by someone else.

Don't worry so much about who someone actually is, though. If they self-identify as a woman, as long as they don't demonstrate the behaviors you don't want in your forum, they should be able to stay.

As requested, I am a man.
posted by inturnaround at 2:02 PM on March 14, 2013 [8 favorites]

You know what I would do? I'd make the forums' color theme pink. It will deter men without you having to do anything else.
posted by royalsong at 2:05 PM on March 14, 2013 [25 favorites]

I know nothing about this hobby, but I would lean towards making an effort to only reach out to women, noting on the site that it's dealing with women centered topics, and if a few men trickle in, well, they trickle in. If you stick to a list of topics, rather than on who is discussing them, I think that will create the shape of the community.

It never bodes well to me when marginalized people leave out other people themselves.

I'm a woman.
posted by raccoon409 at 2:06 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is not something I know anything about at all, BUT, I do know a few of the folks behind the Tiny Fix Bike Gang (they are MeFites), and I believe they're doing the Ladies Doing Things right.

I don't know what their schedules are like as far as being able to offer advice, but I bet even reading through the Tiny Fix site will give you some good ideas.
posted by phunniemee at 2:09 PM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

I was going to suggest something like royalsong's suggestion. Just make them pink or some sort of pastel. My other suggestion is aggressive moderation. Not banning people for being men, but not allowing ad hominems, ever, or the occasional mod warning when someone seems determined to dominate the conversation. With all of the above in place, there'll still be some men, but the male element will mostly self-select out.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:09 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Another man responding: in my experience, when you advertise something as being a "woman's" anything, with a much smaller note that "men are also welcome", men stay away from it in droves. Just sayin'.
posted by davejay at 2:11 PM on March 14, 2013 [18 favorites]

From a practical perspective, I think you'll get much less attention from men if you allow them but advertise and market it for women than if you ban them. Banning seems to bring all the nasty trolls out.
posted by zug at 2:15 PM on March 14, 2013 [17 favorites]

I would focus on the goal of the group - creating a supportive friendly community for women and let people join who support that goal. This would allow some male allies to join the community as long as you make sure that the tone is kept woman-friendly. You can set the tone with color and design elements plus close moderation to reinforce the intended audience (It doesn't have to be all pink, girly-girly but slanted in that direction would help signal your intent. Female here.
posted by metahawk at 2:15 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Female here, interested in raising koi. IMHO you accomplish your goal through a combination of tactics including:

  • Establish a graphic vocabulary that leans slightly feminine in its choices.
  • Lead with a theme-reinforcing blog and put the community section "behind" it on a separate tab.
  • Deny commenters the opportunity to be anonymous to make gender more obvious.
  • Pursue a dual approach to recruiting site sponsors: those appealing to aquaculture enthusiasts and those interested in gaining access to women matching your demographic profile.
  • Recruit women you know virtually and IRL so there's a tone to the dialogue from the beginning.

    I hope it works out for you!

  • posted by carmicha at 2:15 PM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

    Female here. I have generally found the more sexist the environment, the louder the cry of sexism!!!!!! when you want to create a women's space (so unsurprising this happens in comedy). That is because these people have more of a sense of entitlement to control and ownership of the topic.

    And then all the white knights who will beg to join because of how much they Love Women, who just want to be the one man surrounded by what he sees as a harem of all the women other men aren't allowed to access.

    A few things come to mind off the bat that would help. Similar to royalsong, I think the way you design the forum will help, but I don't think it's a good idea to just make the forum pink. That will put off a lot of women. A lot of women will feel demeaned at the idea of being part of the girlie pink forum for girlie girls.

    But have IMAGES of women. Lots of different kinds of women doing lots of different kinds of things. A lot of guys who are "problematic" in these situations are very put off by images of "not conventionally attractive" women doing things and having lives.

    Second, you could feature writing by women on the topic of aquarium keeping. Articles, small blog posts, etc. The kinds of guys who are put off at the idea that women know anything or we should be expected to listen to what they have to say or take it seriously, will go elsewhere.

    Third, I think it would help if you had moderation on the forum, and explicitly outlined the forum culture and the way people are expected to interact. Because a lot of the problem with having men isn't that they have male genitalia. It's that they have been brought up thinking it's okay to speak and act in this very gendered way towards women. Their *behavior* is the problem not the fact that they are men. So no bullying, no namecalling, no harassment, no dominating of conversations, etc. etc. Those are rules that can be in place for everyone.
    posted by cairdeas at 2:16 PM on March 14, 2013 [42 favorites]

    Oh and pick a name that skews feminine... my mind runs to puns about angel fish, mollies, etc.
    posted by carmicha at 2:17 PM on March 14, 2013

    As a female programmer, it has occasionally bothered me when there was an event I wanted to attend with a friend, but it was specifically 'no men allowed' which meant he couldn't come. (I usually just don't go to things on my own). So I vote for at least allowing '+1' guys or vouching, even though this doesn't seem to be a physical meetup plan exactly. (Similarly, the Skirts in Engineering group at my college had a guy on the exec committee - he got in by wearing a skirt).
    posted by jacalata at 2:18 PM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

    oh and for names - something along the lines of 'fish with bicycles' might work...
    posted by jacalata at 2:18 PM on March 14, 2013 [15 favorites]

    I would create it as a site for women, but I would not explicitly ban them. Just make it a female centric site.
    posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:27 PM on March 14, 2013

    Based on my experience with a forum that's almost all women, though it's not strictly associated with a particular hobby, I agree with what's been said. This forum has (well, it doesn't any more, but it originally had) a name with the word "Women" in it. Most men stayed away from it just because of that. It also has a lot of obviously female-friendly topics/threads, which probably scares away even more men. It isn't literally pink and decorated with pictures of wine and shoes and kittens; it's just plain. But the tone is very female, even when what's being discussed is gender-neutral. There are a few men who participate. Some of them are husbands of women there, some not. Occasionally a man will come in and get all "Oh this is for womenz and laydeez, eh?" but they get mocked so soundly they never seem to return. I don't recall any of them needing to be banned, even, they just get bored of it. Men who come in and act normal are completely welcomed. It's never really been a problem. Unless there is something especially aggressively misogynistic about guys who like aquariums, I imagine it would work the same way for your site.
    posted by DestinationUnknown at 2:31 PM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]

    One site that I think does this really well (besides Metafilter) is Shakesville. It's a blog, not a forum, but it is a space for talking about feminism and women's issues that has male contributors and commenters. They have a very detailed comments policy, and you should probably put one in place too.

    I think moderation of the forum will be key to creating an environment where women can contribute their knowledge and commiserate about the community at large. I think you'll be most likely to achieve your goals if you establish right off the bat that this community is for communicating in a certain way about topics of interest to female aquarium keepers and men who support their interest in the hobby.

    Moderation is really time-intensive, though, so maybe add a flagging feature to posts so that moderation becomes a community responsibility, somewhat like here on MeFi.
    posted by Colonel_Chappy at 2:35 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

    Speaking as someone who has been in the reptile hobby for over a decade (there's a lot of overlap between herps and aquatics)... you're going to need some very active moderators to keep out the trolling. I would almost create it with extremely limited membership; in order to be added, you would need to be known to be female by a fellow hobbyist (but obviously, this is probably not practical unless you're setting up regional forums). I doubt this is feasible, though, so I agree with the other people who mentioned pink & feminine.

    Based on the reptile hobbyists who frequent forums that I know, yes, there will be some blow-back. The ones who spend a lot of time on forums tend to have loud mouths and not a lot of impulse control. They can be controlled through moderation as long as your moderators have a clear idea of what the site's rules and regulations are - so I would use that as a first step; put together your code of conduct and decide how you want this discourse to go. Then enforce the living hell out of it. And set your forum settings for higher privacy, as well. I'm not familiar with BB administration, but you really don't want anonymous people harvesting information for harassment.

    I'm a woman.
    posted by Nyx at 2:39 PM on March 14, 2013 [6 favorites]

    I'm female. I'd suggest deciding on your approach and getting some other people who agree with your general approach to start with you on the ground floor. Set up a code of conduct and some guidelines that are sort of founding guidelines and that are more or less non-negotiable. Have strict policies on trolling and enforce them. Try to be very careful that your guidelines are clear, but that you (or your team) have final say on anything TOS-wise. I'd be much more concerned with having a welcoming environment for women than for excluding anyone (as people have said above) but I'd think a bit about what that means in your community. Are there topics that are flamey and awful? Are there people you know who you're trying to avoid? Are their discussion tactics that you want to keep to a minimum? Think about that stuff before you even open the doors and have your posse be able to help you support that. It's good to have people on your side.

    A few things we do here that may or may not be helpful

    - since people sign up with PayPal we have a little more personal information on them than random people signing up. If you don't want to go all facebook/real name, this is an alternative even if it's like we do and a one-time-only fee
    - it's okay to have banned words or whatever on your private forum. We have a short list of words you're not allowed to call anyone here, and that's okay.
    - Think about whether you want to surface your forum to search engines and whatnot or if you want to keep it members only for content. There are ups and downs to each approach
    - keep it positive. There is no reason to diss on the men in your community unless you want this forum to be specifically for blowing off steam about that sort of thing. Otherwise, it may be for women specifically but you may want to invest some work in it not being outwardly anti-men either
    - focus on the behavior not the gender/sex as much as possible
    - think through whatever your policy language is with an eye towards tolerance towards various queer and transgender people. It takes very little time to do and can enable you to be forward thinking and inclusive instead of getting bogged down in gender prescriptivism or getting called to task with a confusing situation that was forseeable. I can suggest people for you to talk to if you could use pointers.
    posted by jessamyn at 3:22 PM on March 14, 2013 [6 favorites]

    Hi there! I'm female and a huge Discus fan (though keeping them is nuts and I'm back to watching my aquarium full of adorable corys).

    I think this is a great idea, and I'm also going to suggest a color theme and community name that isn't traditionally male. That's the first "barrier." Secondly, aggressive moderation is a must. I've seen forums (unrelated to fishkeeping) deteriorate rapidly if rules against certain behavior weren't enforced fast and consistently.

    And third, "Men Are Welcome" would be a nice touch to hint at the real target audience. I think letting them sign up as whoever is fine, as long as you remain strong when it comes to your code of conduct.

    I'd love to see this happen!
    posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 3:32 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

    I am female and I help run a group for women in a male-dominated field: video game development. The approach we take is to make it clear that our group caters primarily to our female-identifying members (by having the equivalent of "women" in our group name, feminist language on our website, pictures of women, etc) while still welcoming men to attend. The people who run workshops, give talks, or have projects featured at our events are almost always women, with a few exceptions for specific cases. We also have some women-only workshops. At our socials, the crowd is mixed-gender and usually a pretty even split. The men are expected to be well-behaved and in tune with the values of our group if they want to be made welcome. If they're positive and friendly, for us it's an advantage to have them around and involved, although the needs and concerns of our female members always come first.

    So basically, our strategy has been to make the group explicitly "for women," to feature women's work and to cater to the needs of our female members, but welcoming men provided they're not hostile to the mission or otherwise making things unpleasant.

    Also, everything jessamyn said, particularly figuring out who a couple of your "core" people are and discussing what kind of environment you want to create, in positive terms.
    posted by beatrice rex at 3:33 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]

    I'm a woman and have been a member of and organizer of several different kinds of women-oriented communities, clubs and organizations both online and off. What I have done is just focus on what I want to focus on. I make sure that the organization's principles are written and clear and available. I don't make exclusion of men one of the underpinnings of the group. If you set as part of your mission the exclusion of men, well, you'll get blowback. Make the focus simply "a place for women to discuss aquarium keeping in an awesome and supportive environment." There are usually a few "good egg" men who are able to play in that sandbox and be good, contributing members. I find that until you have to address it, it's better not to address it.

    I'm also not a pink, "girlie girl" so that kind of theme would be off-putting to me. Though I see nothing wrong with making some aspect of your group very feminine if that appeals to a subset of the group.

    I just think, overall, you can address it as it comes. Sometimes, when the discussion along these lines has come up early, my starting point has always been, "Oh? Are there men who want to join our group?" And if the answer is, "well, just hypothetically...." then I think it's best to not address such hypotheticals. You can treat men on a case-by-case basis and everything will probably work out just fine.
    posted by amanda at 3:36 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

    Oh and one weird little side thing to think about: men who pose as women (the reverse may also happen but would not concern your community as much). We have had rare situations here where a male user basically pretended to be a female user for whatever reason. And this wasn't a "gender is complicated" situation this was just "here is a dude pretending to be a woman for lulz" situation. If you make any sort of statements about sex or gender, even if it's just supposed to be a woman-friendly space, you may find people who try to be jokey or jerky by pushing the envelope in this way. Just be prepared for it and maybe have something in your ToS to deal with it if it comes up.
    posted by jessamyn at 3:41 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

    I am a woman. I prefer women-friendly and women-run spaces to women-only spaces. I do think tight moderation is key to keeping men from dominating the women-friendly, women-run spaces that allow men. Not a fan of pink myself.

    I think The Hathor Legacy does a good job of being a women-centric space that allows male commenters, but does not permit them to dominate.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 3:58 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

    One word that can be helpful is "allies" - so something like: "This forum is built by and for women, people of color, and other folks who feel marginalized in the general aquarium world. Allies are welcome as long as they are respectful according to the ToS outlined here."
    posted by barnone at 4:40 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]

    (guy here) - nthing what others have said about moderators - you'll have a lot of trollage to remove.
    posted by colin_l at 4:50 PM on March 14, 2013

    I know many people have already commented about moderation, but i didn't want to just click "like" and move on.

    It's not just about it being heavily moderated, but ruthlessly moderated. This site/group isn't something people need to survive, they're not entitled to second chances if they were assholes. You, and anyone who moderates it with you really need to stand strong on ignoring people you banned, and banning quickly and often.

    It's infinitely better to err on the side of having a small tight knit community than letting a bunch of people in who will constantly push the boundaries of the rules, or just generally be annoying and then try and rules-lawyer you or split hairs every time they get in trouble.

    The success of any space that's along the lines of "men are allowed, but tread carefully" or just any generally well moderated space depends entirely on the fierceness of the moderation. it's not even just trolls, but assholes.

    If you have any questions about the type of asshole, go look at any women-centric board on reddit.
    posted by emptythought at 5:02 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

    Not sure how you can really know. Hell, I sometimes visit a lesbian forum and I *know* there are creepy male trolls posing as women because they are disgusting weirdos and that's how they get their kicks. Many of those guys are so obvious that people call them out and mods ban them. But there are probably plenty of undetected ones, in which case, if no one knows they are men, does it matter, as long as they aren't trying to sexual harass women on the site or get them to talk about sex? That site has allowed users who have admitted to being men because they were honest and they wanted to talk about a specific topic that maybe there isn't a better place to talk about, so long as they weren't trolls or causing problems.

    I would just make the forum look very feminine and focus on women-centered topics and empowering women. I think you can make it clear the forum is intended for women but I'm not sure how well you can keep men out. If that's something you want to do, you may get some assholes who will come in and start problems specifically because it's for women only and, let's face it, some men are just entitled dicks. Just have some trusted mods to deal with that.

    I would add, it can take a long time for a forum to really get an audience. And given that it's about aquariums, it may only ever have a small audience and such problems with trolls etc. would be unlikely anyway.
    posted by AppleTurnover at 5:14 PM on March 14, 2013

    Woman here.

    I am uncomfortable with groups that fully ban a gender, although I can pretty well understand the reasons. I still haven't been able to join a woman-only group, for anything. So I'd be much more comfortable with it being woman-centric, men welcome too.

    I probably would not join a group that was too pink and girlie unless I was in some way desperate. Feminine-ish is OK.

    I think that having male members "vouched for" only works if the women vouching for them are verified themselves. Therefore the idea of everyone paying a tiny amount (and being known to the site owner by name and address) seems a great idea for that as well as to forestall trolling.

    Lastly, if you set this up and it's not pink, memail me and I'll join.
    posted by Anwan at 5:22 PM on March 14, 2013

    Thanks everyone. These are some great suggestions, many of which I did not consider but am now. I am positively inspired and thanks to the comments, am overflowing with ideas. I absolutely agree on making it a safe space and open to queer and transgender people; in fact that was part of my consternation on only allowing women signups.

    I think I agree that yes it should be open for all; I don't want it to be anti-man, though I do hope to encourage at least some discussion about being a woman in the hobby. Last summer I was insulted with sexually suggestive and female derogatory language on one site because I disagreed with a particularly nasty troll in a heated thread. My username indicated I was female as did my profile. There was no sexual or gender language in the thread until I responded and all subsequent responses from that person went down the same path. I reported to the site admins and thought that was inappropriate. Their response was apathetic at best. That wasn't the inspiration for this site, talking to other women about similar issues was. But it's that type of issue I want to have discussions on, and maybe even turn the tide in the broader community. But I also still want the main focus to be the aquarium hobby.

    I see now most interesting and difficult part is going to be writing effective an effective TOS that both encourages good behavior and outlines what won't be tolerated while taking into account the different circumstances that each person might be facing.

    I have no idea how I'm going to pick best answers because these are all fabulous.
    posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:24 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

    What I meant to say is that I think I've been pretty well convinced to have signups open to all, and then just have strong moderation and well thought out TOS.

    I don't want to break any rules and share the URL here (there is nothing there at the moment anyway) but will post to Projects when done.
    posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:36 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

    1) Thank you for the impulse! It's a lot of work to run something like this and I always appreciate that. At the hard and boring points, remember your users are more grateful than they're necessarily going to take the time to express to you.

    2) Don't make it pink.

    3) The more you try to restrict it to women only, the more you guarantee you'll have some males posing as females. Functionally, there's no such thing as female only space on the open internet (and it would depend on the notion that there are just two genders, an idea that's starting to get outmoded anyway).

    4) The comments above about needing good moderation and a critical mass of good users to set the tone are key. You don't want to do this alone for any number of reasons; enlist help! :)
    posted by kalapierson at 7:09 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

    Also, I particularly like the part of our culture here which is (to paraphrase) that if you are not a troll it's your responsibility to behave in a way that is clearly not trollish. So very many of the sorts of people you are trying to get around love to take up time and attention by quibbling over technicalities of things. That overlaps heavily with the set of people who think they are just uber-logical and if they out-logic you in their own minds then they are entitled to do whatever they want. That part of our culture sidesteps that.
    posted by cairdeas at 7:18 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

    It sounds like you've decided to open your community to men, which I think is the right choice. But in that case, previous answers have neglected a group here, which is men who would otherwise be knowledgeable, respectful, generally "good" participants; who stay away because they sense a vague anti-men sentiment in your community; and, importantly, who don't say anything because they're not trolls. If you're going to open your community to men, these are exactly the men that you should welcome.

    Is there a man sympathetic to your cause whom you would trust to look over your policies and tell you honestly whether he feels unwelcome?
    posted by d. z. wang at 9:38 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

    Weeeeell, Mr. (I suspect) wang, I don't think making certain that men feel welcome in a space intended for women is really the point. I am quite sure that it shouldn't be.

    To the original question-- as Nyx, I immediately thought of the reptile community overlap and smiled to myself. Yeah, there is definitely a place for such a thing. I've heard the same from other women into aquariums. In England, especially (where the reptile community is also MUCH more of a Boys' Club than in the US), women told me that they simply stopped going to conferences because of sexual harassment and a general feeling of marginalization. I think it's a great idea to give them a space wherein this is not a problem.

    I do hate pink a lot, though.

    I definitely agree with everyone else about not banning men, for all the reasons listed. (Also because I am quite fond of a number of them. Some Of My Best Friends, as they say.) From your comments it sounds as though you're in the same place as everyone else, and also me, with this. ToS, moderation, et cetera. Hooray!

    I wish you good luck with this! I think it's a great idea. While I don't think I would tend toward a Women's Reptile Forum, having such a thing around for people who do feel unwelcome in more male-dominated spaces would be awesome. (I'm a loudmouthed bastard who just shoves her way in whether anyone else likes it or not and ignores anyone who doesn't, but I can absolutely see how this approach would not work for everyone.)

    I am female.
    posted by Because at 4:16 AM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

    You might find this article interesting - it's about another male-dominated hobby forum, but in this case boardgaming. Many don't so much reject the criticism as much as don't understand it.

    I have a few stereotypically female hobbies but the boards/forums I visit connected with them aren't set up as a specifically female place - Ravelry being one example. I don't use the social networking stuff on Ravelry as much as some, but there are definitely a lot of male knitters who use it and there is nothing gender-specific about the site at all. However, given that 'female' hobbies are almost always receptive to men and it is other men who would be more likely to mock male participants, I'm not sure whether that usefully demonstrates anything.
    posted by mippy at 5:15 AM on March 15, 2013

    To follow up on mippy's point (that the poorly behaved men often just don't understand the criticism), I'd make sure that your TOS include (1) pointers to a couple of essays about how language and digressions can be used to silence women (thus justifying your unwillingness to put up with same) and (2) an overt statement that your forum is for women and about fish, and that it's not your job to teach men to understand feminism or their patriarchal privelege. That last point seems to cause amazment at times...
    posted by acm at 7:49 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

    I would suggest that you have some segments in your forums and restrict the talking ABOUT WOMEN to only certain segments, and have the majority of segments ABOUT FISH, with no mention of women at all.

    The reason I suggest this is a healthy weight-loss forum that I was a member of. One of the forums called itself Separation of Church and Weight, with the idea that so many people in the the other general forums were giving credit and thanks to god that it felt really uncomfortable for atheists or non-religious folks to be on the general forums, so this forum was to be a place where you could avoid that. BUT - when you looked at the posts in that forum, a huge percentage of them were ABOUT separating from church. I'm not sure if this is what everyone is talking about when they say to ruthlessly moderate the trolls, but I really just wanted to talk about exercise and diet ideas. I didn't want to talk about god at all, either pro-or-con.

    So I'm envisioning your great idea to talk about fish/aquariums in a female-friendly setting, but most of the articles end up all about being female, and digressing into arguments just like you see in this AskMe thread about whether/how/why men are allowed or whether women are truly ostracized at all. As a woman, I'd rather see lots of info/opinion/articles about fish and aquariums and make it so the female-friendliness is so much in the background that it just feels comfortable without being in your face. Then, of course, have a forum where you do talk about what it's like to be female in this hobby, but restrict it to that forum.
    posted by CathyG at 10:02 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

    Yup, CathyG, that's the intent. While I do want to have a forum to handle women specific issues, I want the rest just to be a women friendly space. Just a place for the girls to come and talk and share their knowledge without some of the intimidation that can come in certain situations of a male dominated hobby. Real or perceived.

    I saw some suggestions from others to do a blog and articles, and I'd love to do that, but I don't think I can manage the different facets, at least not initially. I'm a bit of an introvert, and while I have a lot of women fish keeper friends and acquaintances, I don't know that I feel comfortable enough enlisting them for the amount of work that would be needed initially.

    Or more exactly, my experience with volunteer help is tricky. I've got another website I run that relies on volunteer help for some things, and while everyone does there best, it's difficult to get regular volunteer participation. And I don't blame anyone, everyone has their own projects and life so I don't harass people perhaps as much as many other website owners do. (But having volunteered myself and been harassed to do various amounts of work, I don't want to put other people in that situation.) So I want to make this as much of a project that I can do myself at least at first. If it gets a good following; then I can ask some of the more active and interested participants to help out.

    I market many answers as best answer, and many more deserved it. I feel like I could mark this whole thread a best answer, but that might defeat the purpose. But many many thanks everyone for your input.
    posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:44 PM on March 15, 2013

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