Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Death Of A Message Board

Think of message boards, and most people have a similar idea. Its where
people with similar interests, be that bird watching, or tank driving,
go to discuss and exchange ideas.
A few boards are about people, such as the famous and popular Mumsnet.
Message boards come and go, but why do they come into existance? And,
more importantly, why do they die?
Its usually demand that brings a board into existance, and lack of
interest that causes its death.
So what happens to a message board that is hugely popular, filling a
role that few others can emulate, when the owners decide to kill it off?
This is what is happening to the hugely successful BBC Ouch boards,
described as the largest message board for disability related
discussions in the UK.
Its header declares "Ouch! Its a disability thing" and it very much is.
Unusually for a message board, it is very well mannered, as posters are
aware that other posters may have a disability that makes communication
Additionally there is no heirachy, no playing top trumps of disability,
all are truely welcome. I personally joined with a broken leg that was
stubbornly refusing to mend - hardly a major disability!
Many join looking for people with similar conditions, or experiencing
similar problems. Their first post may be one of desperation, but the
kind words and assistance means they stay and become part of the
And this is one major difference. For many of the posters this is their
only online community. They cannot deal with other sites, where they may
have to interact with people who neither know or care about how
disability can affect people. 
They feel safe and secure on Ouch, after all, the BBC will protect them,
and it does so through user-led moderation, and a pre-moderated phase to
discourage people from targetting disabled people with intent to be
In effect it is almost a secret place, where people can ask for advice,
ask for support, debate all things disability related, and chat and
amuse themselves.
There are many professionals on the boards, available to give advise
about everything, from what to expect from treatments and the NHS,
education, housing, benefits, work to the best disabled sports venues
and which festivals are dis-friendly. This is all voluntary information,
given by disabled people to support other disabled people.
But the greatest strength is the feeling of community, the feeling of
having your very own "Big Society" initiative that was established long
before David Cameron thought it was a good idea.
One poster put it;
"It takes me years to trust someone. It takes me years to get to the
point I am at with Ouch where I can feel able to post and contribute. I
can't just move to another board and carry on."
They then go on to say;
"Over the last few years the sites I have relied on, and trusted have
all gone. Ouch is the only one left. I have no real life friends, no
real life support networks. I only have Ouch."
 For many Ouch is not just a message board, it is a gateway into a world
 that disability may exclude.
It provides a very valuable service.
A poster writes;
"My worlds just collapsed." and it probably has, because for many people
Ouch is all they have, it is an accessible place in a world of
inaccessibility, a place of understanding when so many seem not only to
not understand, but to be actively mis-understanding of disability.
Its seems that this active mis-understanding has extended now to the
BBC, who have decided, along with many other sectors of society, that
instead of equality of outcome, they will simply remove this essential
Visit Ouch before it closes,
and post a comment to the Editor at;
In four weeks we will watch the sad death of a friend, the death of a
community, murdered by policy and the disregard that disabled people are
currently held in.


Mewsli said...

No printable comment.

This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

just left a comment for the nazi bbc machine about deleting the messageboard. divide and conquer tactics seem to be in play here.

Anonymous said...

I think that you could set up your own forum and if you need any help in setting one up then just let me know

Anonymous said...

They seem to be deleting links to other messageboards. Can anyone publish some here, please? There was a reference on Ouch to an alternative Ouch board, but it doesn't show up on my search engine.

Sunny Clouds

Anonymous said...

I think that you could set up your own forum and if you need any help in setting one up then just let me know

SunshineMeadows said...


The Ouch board that was created to day is using Aimoo. Here is the link

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Hi everyone. We've got a forum set up at Broken Of Britain which is quite well used. Unfortunately we haven't got anyone to run it or moderators. If people want to volunteer then we can get it going again, BendyGirl

Anonymous said...

Hi BendyGirl
I have set up one for sue in which is a freeware board and in going forward if she no longer needs it it can be easily changed and i will look after it if that helps you in any way ?

The main thing is that a forum is set up and maintained and i will do that if you would like

DeusExMacintosh said...