Click Banner For More Info See All Sponsors

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish!

This site is now closed permanently to new posts.
We recommend you use the new Townsy Cafe!

Click anywhere but the link to dismiss overlay!

Results 1 to 6 of 6

  • Share this thread on:
  • Follow: No Email   
  • Thread Tools
  1. TopTop #1
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    WaccoBB, west county’s longtime online bulletin board, calls it a day

    I guess it's official now

    Barry (aka "Chertov")



    WaccoBB, west county’s longtime online bulletin board, calls it a day
    By Laura Hagar Rush, Townsy Media
    January 6, 2020

    Barry Chertov, the founder and longtime administrator of WaccoBB, has decided to let the sun set on his creation. It will be open for new postings until Jan. 22 and then will exist in read-only mode for six months before being closed forever.

    Faithful readers of WaccoBB’s daily newsletter got a shock on Monday when Barry Chertov, founder and moderator of the venerable online bulletin board, announced that “The time has come to close the WaccoBB.net website.”

    Chertov wrote that he’ll be closing the site to new posts as of Jan. 22 and will leave the site up in read-only mode for the next six months.

    What spelled the end? Chertov said that a combination of the site’s antiquated technology, snazzy new competitors like Nextdoor and Facebook, combined with the emotional wear and tear of moderating an online bulletin board site for 15 years took its toll.

    In addition, Chertov said WaccoBB was another victim of the COVID epidemic.

    As businesses closed because of the pandemic, WaccoBB’s advertising revenue evaporated. The site made most of its money from event and services advertising, and both of these industries have been hard hit by the shutdown. But another, more insidious side effect of the pandemic was the amount of time Chertov spent dealing with COVID-19 conspiracy posts. Ultimately, it wore him down.

    “The conspiracy theories have gone off the hook,” he said. “And trying to figure out what’s valid information here, what’s conspiracy theory, and how to separate it out, means paying attention to all this stuff. That was fine for a while, but it’s like, ‘Give me a break.’”

    WaccoBB still has a large audience. The site has about 14,400 registered users and gets more than 10,000 unique visitors a month.

    In the beginning

    Chertov was working as a computer programmer in the early 2000s, when a friend, Sebastopolian Denise Meier, asked him to take over a Yahoo group for west county dance enthusiasts she’d been moderating. He did, and through astute moderation and the creation of a couple of additional interest categories, he grew the group to 3,000 members.

    At the same time, he began working on an independent website that would become WaccoBB, which stands for West County Community Online Bulletin Board. When Yahoo shut down the original Yahoo group for violating its rule against advertising (members often advertised local services), many of its members migrated to Chertov’s new site.

    Why was Chertov so successful at building an audience? He thinks his success was due in part to his method of categorization.

    “That was all about how to give the readers a choice of tuning in or tuning out —tuning out what they didn’t want to see so they could get the bits they did want to see.”

    Combined with his even-handed and generous philosophy of moderation, it was a method he used successfully over the next 15 years.

    The highs and lows of running a local bulletin board

    Looking back over the years moderating discussions in west county, Chertov said he struggled with the same kind of issues that large social media companies are struggling with today.

    “The hot button is always moderation, deciding what’s OK and what’s not OK,” he said.

    When he was considering banning an early troll from the site, he wrote a post that led to a discussion of “Was it freedom of speech, or censorship’? There were valid points in all directions, but I finally came down on the side of, ‘It’s got to feel safe.’”

    Because if it didn’t, he knew, many people would go elsewhere.

    Although the site was designed with progressive sensibilities in mind, he tried to make room for alternative voices as well. “I’ve generally taken the approach of allowing people if they’re thoughtful and respectful.”
    Using that as a measure, he said, “I’ve removed all sorts of people over the years, and that often comes with a fuss.”

    One of the people he removed was someone with legal training and a history of suing her landlords. She was looking for a place to rent, and he gave readers a heads-up about her background. She sued him for libel. To this day, he calls her “the renter from hell.”

    Chertov is proud of the years he spent giving west county a place to debate important local issues, especially local political issues — it’s one of the things he’s going to miss most. He’s also proud of what he calls “the unsexy parts” of the site, like classifieds and housing, for the ways they’ve brought people together over the years. He says he will particularly miss WaccoBB’s annual picnic (which didn’t happen this year because of the pandemic).

    He remembers fondly the year WaccoBB won the Gravenstein Apple Parade prize for “Most Creative Float” for its “Free the Wifi” float, featuring a bird in a cage. (Chertov was advocating that the city provide free Wi-Fi throughout the downtown.)

    There were also some great, only-in-west-county moments he recalled, like the time WaccoBB decided to have a west county singles section. At their first live event — to which everyone was invited single or not — Chertov devised a system of dots for people’s nametags: green for single, red for attached, yellow for “It’s complicated.”
    “And sure enough, nearly everybody was yellow,” he said with a laugh. “I had no idea.”

    Where to now?

    Chertov isn’t sure what he’s going to do next. In the short term, he’s looking forward to taking a break — and stepping away from the computer.

    “I’m looking forward to not having any day-to-day responsibilities for the site,” he said. “When you run a site like that, things need to be fixed all the time and shit happens at inconvenient times. It was basically 24-7, much to the dismay of my wife.”

    One thing that he’s not going to do, he says, is pass WaccoBB along to someone else.

    “I’m so identified with it,” he said. “I would feel connected and would be connected to whatever it did. I don’t think I could just walk away and not look back because if it became something else, people would assume that was me.”

    Big thanks from the community

    Paeans to the service Chertov and the site provided piled up in the comments section below his announcement on WaccoBB. Everyone thanked him for his efforts, and wondered what they’d do without a site that over the years had become like an old friend. At least one person challenged his decision not to keep the site alive by passing it on, but mostly it was hearts and roses.

    “Barry, you and Wacco will be missed!” wrote Barbara Pollack. “I have found Wacco to be informative and entertaining. I’m really going to miss your cartoons and Larry’s poems, among other things.”

    “I took an audible inhale as I read your post title,” wrote Patricia London. “Oh no! But then a felt a peaceful exhale as I read how well you were taking care of yourself and your decision. You truly created a wonderful community, which I have enjoyed and benefitted from for many years. Thank you so much, Barry! Your consistency, kindness, organization and technical skills, willingness and heart have driven and guided this site and this community very successfully!”

    Maria McLeish wrote a lovely appreciation for the role WaccoBB played in the lives of so many — and the complexities it presented:

    “When I moved to Sebastopol in the early 2000s my friend Gary Abreim turned me on to WaccoBB and I found home shares and rentals, sparred on line with differing points of views, and discussed the local doings and happenings in a community forum like no other,” McLeish wrote.

    “As time went on, not everything on WACCO clicked for me, and this was no more apparent than when COVID19 came to town and the conspiracy theorists, anti-vaccine folks and alt-cure promoters came together in a kind if harmonic convergence. And Barry, you provided a forum for viewpoints I profoundly disagree with,” she continued. “But you know what? When I look back now, I am grateful that you gave everyone a place at the community table. This is how we learn, grow, and come together. Especially now. I’ll miss the daily updates of Goat Rock Ukulele, the opportunity to respond with my own opinions and see responses from real people, and the sense that, no matter what, we Waccos were in this together.”

    Chertov particularly liked this comment:

    “Your site allowed so many to speak their minds, fears, choices, confusions, concerns,” wrote a reader named Otto. “You are always attentive and considerate. Unconditional encouragement to think for ourselves and be open minded about so many areas of life, our communities, our consequences to either act or not act on our passionate beliefs … You deserve a huge standing ovation. Hopefully all the hard work will let everyone remember to always make human life and looking out for one another the priority.”

    Read Chertov’s announcement and the comments here at WaccoBB.
    Last edited by Barry; 01-07-2021 at 11:18 AM.

    | Login or Register (free) to reply publicly or privately   Email

  2. TopTop #2
    Jude Iam's Avatar
    Jude Iam
     

    Re: WaccoBB, west county’s longtime online bulletin board, calls it a day

    aha, so waccoBB's closure is (in large part) really another casualty of the response to covid, both financial and emotional/intellectual. well, damn.

    i was thinking about rousting a membership fund drive to offer the monetary support which might have helped keep this going; wonder how much would make it worthwhile... mark zuckerberg is kinda the role model here; Barry, you may not make a fortune, at all, but you have created a great cyber realm for us. to just say we'll miss it is an understatement.

    and perhaps we could all relax about categorization and agree that folks utilyze their own discernment more rather than less. certainly lots to research and discuss, especially with open minds and mutual respect.

    i do hear a well-considered decision with likely finality, though I don't doubt that you'll miss WaccoBB as much as we all will, so just suggesting possibilities for resurrection if/when time is right, by you, Barry, or whomever.

    a last note i wish to add is my real gratitude for the your invention of the gratitude button, Barry.
    though it occasionally felt like a popularity/unpopularity contest with the usual crew piling on pro and con. when it was first instituted, i found myself 'reaching' for the gratitude button after reading other things on other places on the internet.
    yes: gratitude is a wonderful go-to. thanks, Barry.
    blessings, jude


    Quote Posted in reply to the post by Barry: View Post
    | Login or Register (free) to reply publicly or privately   Email

  3. Gratitude expressed by 8 members:

  4. TopTop #3
    cw707
     

    Re: WaccoBB, west county’s longtime online bulletin board, calls it a day

    Thanks, Barry, for all your efforts to support our community by allowing us a space to share, and learn from each other. I'm really sad at this ending, but wish you the very best. Good people like you, have helped us all get through these trying times. Thank you.


    Quote Posted in reply to the post by Barry: View Post
    | Login or Register (free) to reply publicly or privately   Email

  5. Gratitude expressed by 5 members:

  6. TopTop #4
    pamelaL's Avatar
    pamelaL
     

    Re: WaccoBB, west county’s longtime online bulletin board, calls it a day

    good message Jude! I did not use the "gratitude button" as much as I would have if this very old, slow computer did not have to open up a new window in order to do so - maybe that's a setting I neglected- and I second the idea of let the community discern - under hot topics like "everything wack-o about covid" hahaha! I also agree the community will miss this site more than you, Barry, but I hope you miss it so much you resurrect it in time and give it and you a second wind.

    be sure to set a date for the next Wacco picnic before you set the sun on this so see you there!

    big love to you ~
    pamela

    Quote Posted in reply to the post by Jude Iam: View Post
    | Login or Register (free) to reply publicly or privately   Email

  7. Gratitude expressed by 4 members:

  8. TopTop #5
    Mayacaman's Avatar
    Mayacaman
     

    Re: WaccoBB, west county’s longtime online bulletin board, calls it a day

    Laura Hagar Rush wrote in Sonoma West -Times & News :

    "...But another, more insidious side effect of the pandemic was the amount of time Chertov spent dealing with COVID-19 conspiracy posts. Ultimately, it wore him down.

    “The conspiracy theories have gone off the hook,” he said. “And trying to figure out what’s valid information here, what’s conspiracy theory, and how to separate it out, means paying attention to all this stuff. That was fine for a while, but it’s like, ‘Give me a break.’”

    Barry, In a sense you did this to yourself. I protested when you first began to separate the data and sent a goodly portion of it down the the Ninth Ward. I said at the time that it need not be filtered. But, alas, you took it on and stayed with the 'filtering' process. O well. I get it; it was a burden. -But it was a burden that you did not have to bear. Ultimately, it was the karmic burden that weighed you down,
    Barry. You could more easily have allowed the clientele of WaccoBb to do the sifting.

    There was a little Jewish greengrocer with a grocery store on Line Street, on the border of Cambridge and Somerville for whom I brush-painted a three-story house in the Summer of 1971. He insisted that I paint it all by brush, & all by hand. I had to move around a hefty, forty-foot
    wooden extension ladder. He used to say: "Now if I had a nickle for every paint stroke I ever brushed -And- if I had a nickle for every nail I ever hammered, I'd be a pretty rich man..." Actually, he was a pretty rich man.

    Paraphrasing him, I might add, "Now if I had a nickle for every thread that I ever initiated in
    in the "Coronavirus" Ward that got sent down into the Ninth Ward, I'd be a pretty rich man..."


    | Login or Register (free) to reply publicly or privately   Email

  9. Gratitude expressed by:

  10. TopTop #6
    geomancer's Avatar
    geomancer
     

    Re: WaccoBB, west county’s longtime online bulletin board, calls it a day

    My dude, you shit our collective bed with your fire-hose of know-it-all conspiratorial nonsense. Basic curation must have taken Barry an hour a day. You won, good bye and good riddance.

    Quote Posted in reply to the post by Mayacaman: View Post
    Barry, In a sense you did this to yourself. I protested when you first began to separate the data and sent a goodly portion of it down the the Ninth Ward. I said at the time that it need not be filtered. But, alas, you took it on and stayed with the 'filtering' process. O well. I get it; it was a burden. -But it was a burden that you did not have to bear. Ultimately, it was the karmic burden that weighed you down, Barry. You could more easily have allowed the clientele of WaccoBb to do the sifting.
    | Login or Register (free) to reply publicly or privately   Email

  11. Gratitude expressed by 6 members:

Similar Threads

  1. Housing Longtime West Marin resident searching for spot
    By terryjones in forum All Marin County Posts
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 03-17-2016, 05:35 AM
  2. Replies: 5
    Last Post: 11-08-2014, 01:54 PM
  3. why is there not a musicians bulletin board on here?
    By alix sun in forum Help Desk & Feedback
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-09-2010, 11:23 AM
  4. Annoying Phone Calls from West Sonoma County
    By findingme2 in forum General Community
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 11-26-2007, 02:24 PM
  5. West County School Board Candidates Night
    By JandA in forum General Community
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 10-18-2006, 03:49 PM

Bookmarks