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7th August 2003Postings - Reminder
By Peter Critchley
Hello All!

I've been using the internet for many years now, and I happily accept that there is a minority who are unable to spell, use the correct grammer, and even those who seek to disrupt the work of others. I apply simple rules to the running of this forum, otherwise we would censor and amend the conversations of all those who we deemed were off-topic or just "not playing our game". That's not the point. The point is to provide a forum for the free exchange of information relating to Rorke's Drift and the Anglo Zulu War of 1879.

We regularly slip off topic, but it's OK, as I see this as more of a forum for like-minded people to get together. Because of it's subject matter, this website does get quite a few hits these days, and we also attract our fair share of "oddballs". The problem is, I'm not Columbo, and I can't second guess people. If someone asks a legitimate question, in a legitimate fashion, what can we do? Are we to start dictating the TYPE of questions people can ask, and how?

In the case of Jacky, I personally have not seen anything that marks him/her out for particular attention, other than the fact that the language is not that good. I realise we have had our fair share of "Trolls" in this forum, and that, unfortunately, is a fact of life when we have as open a forum as we do here - BUT, consider this - we are open to anyone who shows an interest, and we are helping to broaden the horizons of many people around the world. Is that not a good thing?

We have talked before about a members only system, and I am still seriously considering it, but please bear in mind that it has it's own downsides. It's restrictive to the general public, has time implications for us - however, it would mean less "dodgy" posts...

I would very much like to hear the opinion of the forum on this, as it is obviously an important issue.

(We're also going to add the search function.. Sorry for the delay on that!)..

Your thoughts are most welcome..

Moderator etc..
7th August 2003Clive Dickens
I think it would be a slendid idea to have a members only site or another idea on payment of a small subsciption for the anyone to take part on the "Discussion" site on payment a password could be allocated ,This in it'self would cut out the dicey letters we have had
time to time failing this could it not be possible to vet letters for content before it being posted, I accept that these idea's may not be feasible.but certainly something needs to be sorted. on the "jacky" point I myself tried e-mailing he or her I addressed my email to the one jackky had given the reason I e-maile him or her was I felt a little guilty in he way I had a go and wished to apologize but I had my e-mail returned "Address Unknown" so this gives me doubts to this person being genuine.
7th August 2003Dennis
This is my first posting. I find your site to be tremendously interesting and informative. In particular, the disscussion forum adds context to the always murky episodes of history viewed through a modern lens.
I have followed the discussions for many months now and I think it would be a mistake to sever the discussions from the public site.
The vast majority of past postings have been genuine inquiries and provoked spirited and fruitful exchanges.
Charging a small fee for membership will not deter pranksters, but charging a substantial fee will deter the general public from venturing deeper into history of Rorke's Drift and the Zulu War. Minor irritations like the postings by "jacky" are best ignored. If the contributors to the discussions wish to respond to such postings, do so genuinely or not at all and pranksters like "jacky" will soon tire of their efforts and move on.
I think that I would pay a reasonable fee to continue to view and participate in the discussion forum, but I am afraid that others who discover the site will not appreciate the value of membership because they have not read any of the discussions. Therefore, at the very least, please continue to post the discussions, even if the right to participate is subject to some sort of membership.
Keep up the great work! I'm off to make a donation to the site,
7th August 2003Diana Blackwell
A search feature would be wonderful.

Vetting postings for content would slow down the message board a lot, wouldn't it...since somebody would have to look at every message first? Tthat would be a lot of work for the "censor". Also, as Peter says, it's not always clear when a message is sincere.
7th August 2003Barry Iacoppi N.Z.
I am with Peter and Diana on this one. We can not expect him or anyone else to censor all the incoming postings. At times it is hard to tell the difference between genuine posters with less then average communication skills and the time wasting trolls.
However as individuals we can all decide what postings we feel are genuine from those we feel are not.
If you read a posting from a person YOU feel to be less then genuine DO NOT RESPONDE to them in any way. These kinds of people seek feed back of any kind regardless of it being positive or negative. They will see the fact that Peter was forced to start this thread as some kind of victory. Ignore the idiots and they will go away or at least lessen their visits to this forum.
7th August 2003jacky chard
hi peter and all!!!! is their a way that you mite not need the emails when you reply? because i do nt have a real email and tat means people think im a troll :)
7th August 2003Philip Jerand
(sorry, English isnt great here either)
I know you all are going to find this unbelievable, but I am Jacky's half brother. You guys don't know how often she goes on and on about Jrm Chard. She also laughs because her and her mom(stapmom to me) are related, even though there not. Go nice on my sis ok? also if you want to mail her, please use my mail. I shall look forward to reading more mail and posts from you guys.
7th August 2003Philip
Yes, I forgot to add,
On the subject of the email you send me please put To Jacky, if it is for her. That way i wont read it.
7th August 2003James Garland
I believe a small amount of censorship would be a good thing for the forum. When the forum first started I used to view it every day without fail. Contributors were posting all sorts of useful information. But over the past few months this seems to have changed. There have been some contributions that seem designed merely to ridicule the whole site for the personal gratification of the contributer. I don't log on quite so often nowadays because of it. I now tend to share information directly with like minded friends directly by E-mail. A number of the contributors to this forum who used to post long and informative articles seem to be posting less and less. I think this may in part be due to people like Jacky.
As you know I used to run the website "Victorian Voices". One of the reasons I closed it down was because of the number of e mails I got from people like Jacky.
Some thing needs to be done before the forum is ruined by these people.

7th August 2003geoff thursfield
In case it helps there does seem to be a real person of Philip's unusual name in Sweden (age around 18 ?) . It would be interesting to see an English youngster's attempt at Swedish. I still think that a straightforward factual answer to the first question would have avoided all of this unpleasantness.
8th August 2003Keith Smith
Peter et al

In the interests of free speech, I share your views about not censoring or otherwise editing any of the contributions to this site. As has been said earlier, if you believe a correspondent is not fair dinkum, then ignore him/her - they then won't get the gratification they are seeking.

I personally would not object to a paid membership group on this site, for the discussion only, but as also said earlier, there is a down-side to that. When one considers the very few 'oddball' notes received here, compared with the much larger number of genuine enquiries and comments, I am in favour of leaving things as they are. You do a great job as Webmaster, and your liberal approach has the light touch that makes this site operate so well. Regular contributors know how infrequently you intervene, and then it is usually warranted.

Please keep on keeping on!

8th August 2003Peter Critchley

Firstly, thank you all for your informed, and interesting responses! I feel privilidged to be somehow "in charge" of this! :-)

This discussion forum has really surprised me by it's success - It's gratifying that it plays the role it does in the community that is the crowd!! :)

I must confess that I am leaning towards leaving the discussion forum as a free and accessible area for all, but I can see the additional benefits that members areas would offer.

I agree that the best idea is to ignore postings that you don't want to reply to, and use your own informed judgement. It will remain a fact that (and I personally think Jacky is real) we'll have the odd message that we don't want.. Simply email me rather than replying, and if it's not within the bounderies we all accept, then it'll be removed.

I'll keep an eye on things for now, and we'll have a serious think over the next few weeks about membership etc.. If anyone would like to chip in with suggestions, please feel free to use the forum - that's what it's for!

All the best,

8th August 2003Gary Laliberty
Hi all,

Well, he is my two cents worth on this.

I do NOT think a Menbership/Discussion fee is a good idea. And here is why:

Let's look at what Peter has said from his first post: "The point is to provide a forum for the free exchange of information relating to Rorke's Drift and the Anglo Zulu War of 1879. " and "BUT, consider this - we are open to anyone who shows an interest, and we are helping to broaden the horizons of many people around the world. Is that not a good thing?" The KEY WORDS here are: FREE EXCHANGE, and OPEN TO ANYONE.

So, PLEASE let us keep this Discussion Forum Free and Open to Anyone.

Ok, off the soap box I get. Thanks Peter for a Great site.


8th August 2003neil aspinshaw
I go with the majority on this, a membership type forum isn't so good. I tend to view but not participate in forums that want your life story before you can join in.
Having read some of the e-mails from Jacky, one thing does strike me. Like most youngsters today, in the mobile phone crazy world, texting, in a subculture english is the norm. I get phone texts from my neice who is 15, It takes me 20 minutes to figure out what she is asking, this involves an enigma machine and half the staff of Bletchley Park. so lets not be too critical.
I sometimes cringe at what I have written, its often after you have pressed the send button that you see that you'll never make it as a typist.
8th August 2003Edward Bear
How very nice it would be if you could filter out all of the stuff on the films 'Zulu' and 'Zulu Dawn'. And, provide a less jaundiced 'Zulu Perspective' piece.
8th August 2003Clive Dickens
Ok folks
It is obvious a fee of any sort would be unpopular. but I still think it would be a good idea to have to register to and have a password to gain admittance to the Discussion forum The British Army web site do this a it seems to work, also may I add that is a great pity thatJames's Garland's wonderfull site "Victorian Voices" should have been driven off because of stupid e-mails,are we going to allow this to happen to this site for the sake of bringing in a system
which could perhaps put a stop to foolish time wasters
8th August 2003Diana Blackwell
What about keeping the discussion forum available for the whole world to read...but requiring a valid email address from anyone who posts? Would that even be technically possible?

Why eliminate "Zulu" and "Zulu Dawn"...or any other legitimate topic? Any visitor can skip over any message they find uninteresting.
8th August 2003Peter Critchley

In reply to Diana, it is technically feasible to check that a submitted email address conforms to the standards of the internet, but we have no way of checking it's validity as they are obviously on different servers, so therefore we only have a moderate amount of control.

8th August 2003Diana Blackwell
Here's a wild and crazy idea. Leave the forum as is, but add a "Post or Not" feature to the posting process. When a message is submitted, instead of appearing on the board immediately it would be automatically returned to the putative sender at the stated email address, with a "Post or Not" query. Click on "Post" and the message goes to the forum; click on "Not" and the message is killed.

1. Forum remains open to all.
2. Message content remains unrestricted.
3. Nobody has to spend time vetting all messages.
3. Sincere participants have a chance to edit or retract messages about which they've had second thoughts.
4. Messages from nonpersons or fake email addresses could not appear.
5. No one could post a fake message under someone else's name anymore.

1. Somebody would have to redesign the forum to do this.
2. Posting messages would become a two-step process instead of the one-step exercise in instantaneous gratification that it is now. I don't think "Post or Not" would slow the forum down very much, though; judging from other websites, automated messages can be generated pretty quickly.

With "Post or Not," trolls could still leave annoying messages, but they would have no cloak of anonymity; everybody would know who was doing it. That in itself would probably reduce the problem.

8th August 2003Trevor
Stay as you are. Ignore the d--- heads. Just bringing up this subject encourages them!
These sado's will soon go somewhere else!
8th August 2003Peter Ewart
An interesting discussion! Personally, I'd go along with the view which thinks offensive or idiotic remarks should be ignored (the former will eventually be deleted anyway) and that where there is doubt a polite factual answer is the safest bet.

But when one considers how many different threads and how many individual postings appear, say, in any single week, it is clear that the objectionable or time-wasting offerings are very few and far between. I haven't looked all the way back for some time (I did read all the back-postings once but it took a few late nights!) but don't recognise any particularly annoying trend. There will always be some juvenile efforts & I wouldn't think a membership system would be worth it just to eliminate them, whereas I do think any restrictions introduced, however mild, would tend to dissuade at least some potential contributors who might have been very welcome.

I participate in one other discussion forum which does require a membership, but that membership is of a society of 4,500 worldwide which had a thriving membership before internet discussion groups were thought of & which is required before involvement with the forum is allowed.

I go along with Keith's summary and Dennis has also put it perfectly succinctly. However, it is clear that the ability to enter a false email address has caused problems, although on the other hand at least one contributor has latched onto this for his own protection, so I suppose it works both ways.

I'm sure Edward's plea for a bit of filtering is made tongue in cheek. Much better to pass over the threads which may not interest you. For example, I'd probably say that 100 films don't equal one single good book, but someone else might disagree. And one of the most rewarding aspects of the site is the way some topics become "organic" and grow - very, very few go right off topic.

Even the odd "niggle" in some of the debates can enliven the exchanges, although I'm sure some pithy remarks which have been intended as ironic or humorous have slightly backfired, perhaps because the clever rejoinder doesn't always work with email (as I've found to my cost on another forum!) unless one adds the "smile" emblem! Or because English/Welsh/Aussie/American humour is different!

If anything slightly annoys me it is discourtesy (even allowing for a sharp debate) and sloppy typing. I know most of us (including me) are two-fingered amateurs, but a quick look over the text for obvious "typos" before sending can make a big difference. It's only a few seconds.

On balance, I'd say leave well alone. A great site, well run, from which I've learnt a great deal in 18 months or so & "met" some smashing people with similar interests. Well done, Peter & Alan!


P.S. But do something about these long-winded buggers, I say!
9th August 2003paul neville
Let's not try to sound like a bunch of snobs by censorship of people for grammer. The idea of this site is to bring information to people on a new subject, not to scrutinize their grammer or intelligence.
9th August 2003Julian whybra
Just got back from holiday! Keep the website as it is; Peter should just use his discretion to cut out the unnecessary and unwanted. Geoff, jag vet inte om den har Jacky ar svensk eller hur men jag kan skriva sa bra pa svenska som han kan pa engelska (men, du har ratt, jag ar inte sa ung!)
9th August 2003Dave Nolan
Julian - As you say, your Swedish is not as good as Jacky's English, but age is no excuse! :) Dave

Paul - 'grammer' - made me laugh, good one!
9th August 2003Arthur Bainbridge
It will be a sad day when we have to become members, people all over the world respect this site and the care of the people who run it.Please keep this as an open forum.Sir Peter Critchley is a true champion, a gentleman and a scholar , please Sir keep this discussion free for the low paid,the pensioner and those who have been made redundant.Best wishes
10th August 2003barry Iacoppi NZ
Well said Arthur.
11th August 2003Peter Critchley
And as Authur has put it so well, I need not re-iterate. I think you people do a great job without my intervention anyway! :-)

We'll look into your idea Diana, I think it's a sound one, and continues the theme of self-responsibility very nicely!

Thanks guys, we really appreciate the input!

All the best, as ever!

11th August 2003Edward Bear
Skipping messages on 'Zulu' and 'Zulu Dawn' would cut out some of the over-romanticised nonsense that so often appears on both subjects and could avoid semi-educated and absurd debate on such subjects as possible 'homoerotic' themes in 'Zulu'. It would be as sensible to conjecture that the Rev Witt's duaghter was there to provide lesbian love interest!
11th August 2003Dave Nolan
Edward, what a new angle to put on the film, well done - I had always thought her eyes were wide open at the sight of the MEN dancing but it all becomes so clear - 'why do they carry those little spears?' brings on a whole new dimension. And it would account for how she was able to withstand the charm of Hooky and the subtle advances of the guy on the bed. ;-) Dave
11th August 2003Diana Blackwell

Absurd? You're entitled to your opinion. But "semi-educated"? What is a "semi-educated debate" anyway? Are you saying you know the educational levels of all the participants in that thread, and find them wanting? You participated in that debate yourself (and gratuitously revive it here). Are you semi-educated?

No, it would NOT be just as sensible to argue for a lesbian subplot involving Miss Witt. Why not? Because there is no internal, filmic evidence for that. Not all interpretations of a film are equally valid; they must be grounded in specific scenes in the film.

An adequate presentation of my homoerotic theory would take more sustained and detailed argument than is appropriate here. I'm still working on a more complete treatment of the subject for inclusion in my JB fan site and I'll be sure to notify you when it's finished and accessible online.

11th August 2003Edward Bear
Well fine, but as long as your site does not encourage anybody to display a sense of humour, or be in the least bit thoughtful or sensible.
11th August 2003Edward Bear
Well fine, but as long as your site does not encourage anybody to display a sense of humour, or be in the least bit thoughtful or sensible.
12th August 2003Ian Essex
What's with the Diana bashing?
She has some very interesting views on the film Zulu, which like it or not is a major driving force for this site and probably a vast majority of peoples interests on this subject.
The films in themselves have started a huge amount of debate AND education on this whole subject and as such their inclusion is extremely valuable. I don't always agree with what Diana has said but find her opinions rewarding, educational and welcome.
12th August 2003Diana Blackwell
Thank you, Ian.
12th August 2003Martin Heyes
Oh dear, oh dear!!
As someone who participated in the earlier debate on "homo-eroticism" (inter alia) in the film Zulu, (in fact I started the post, but that was NOT my original topic), perhaps this is an appropriate moment for me to add my two-pennyworth.
Except I won't - at least on the eroticism point!!
But I would like to say one thing. As I believe has been mentioned earlier, I find it somewhat disconcerting that someone, (oh alright, "Jacky"), can come on to this website without, by her own admission, a proper e-mail address. I would have thought that this fact alone makes it mandatory that the webmaster - note the word WEBMASTER; I consider that to be self-explanatory - exercise some control over what appears on it.
Oh, and Edward, I do not consider myself semi-educated - if such you were implying. I do have a Master's degree from a UK university.
12th August 2003Barry Iacoppi N.Z.
Dam it. You have dragged it out of me. I confess to being semi educated. I left school just before my 16th birthday with very few qualifications and a stereotypical cockney accent. I guess that one of the reasons I frequent this forum is to further my education.
I have much to learn about the Anglo Zulu wars and I like to think I ask intelligent questions. One in a while I am able to contribute to a discussion when my own area of limited expertise is touched on.
I feel that the film “Zulu” has a vital part to play here. After all many if not most of us credit this film with sparking off our interest in the topic. Romanticised and not totally accurate it still managed to capture what I feel must have been the flavour of the moment better then any period painting or black and white photograph.
12th August 2003Dave Nolan
Perhaps as well as a valid email address posters to this forum ought to provide proof of their level of education? ;-)
12th August 2003Andy Lee

I totally agree with you, Diana has made many interesting comments over this forum and I agree with she has to say on this.

Lesbian subplot, Miss Witt, Mr Bear I think you need to get out more.

12th August 2003Peter Critchley
...if someone would like to provide me with a technical method of authenticating someone's email address (not just the way it's spellt) I'd be happy to implement it. As I said, I think Diana's suggestion is the closest we'll get to it.

We'll do our best to implement it soon.

I'll continue to moderate the content on this site, but I also hope that people will continue to email me outside of the forum if they feel a particular posting is not suitable.

Thanks again people.

13th August 2003paul neville
I left school in 1983 with 9 CSE's, 6 "O" levels, and 2 "A" levels. Does this qualify me for being able to post questions on this website? Dave Nolan, great comments!!
13th August 2003Clive Dickens
Good God I hope not more so is because I only have Army cetificates to my name so I will be barred for sure
13th August 2003Clive Dickens
That first line should have "I hope so"
13th August 2003Diana Blackwell
Thanks for considering my suggestion regarding "post or not". If it out, hopefully Mr. Bear will be prevented from giving any more fake email addrresses

[email protected] Ha ha, very funny. Are you "Christy Bluewell" by chance?
13th August 2003Sheldon Hall
As the subject of ZULU has been brought into this rather long-running debate, I ought to add that the Discussion Forum and its contributors, whatever their backgrounds, interests or expertise, has been an invaluable source of research for the book I'm writing about the film. Having access to a range of specialised and non-specialised views and opinions about it has given me an enormous insight into the audience for the movie, the kinds of topics and issues people are interested in, and so forth. Restricting the Forum only to "accredited" or paid-up visitors would greatly limit the breadth and richness of the material accessible through it. For that it is well worth putting up with the occasional idiot or ill-informed contribution - and indeed the idiots may well become better informed by the responses they trigger off. Oh, and while I don't go along with Diana's reading of a homo-erotic element in the Hook-Maxfield relationship (more Oedipal, I'd say!), I would certainly like to add my voice to those who have said that she is among the most thoughtful and stimulating of the Forum's contributors. More power to her!
13th August 2003Diana Blackwell
Thanks, you are very kind. Can't wait for your book!
15th August 2003Melvin Hunt
Hi everyone,
Just back off Holls. Fascinating thoughts from all above. Peter, may I add my own humble opinion?
I think that you have a great site here and I am very gratful to you for it. I have learnt a lot more about the zulu war in the last 12 months. The site, as you say, requires very little censorship. It is good that we all have different views and comments. Everone should be entitled to state them. I, personally, have found that contributions however much considered ill informed, controversial or at total odds with popular opinions, are still thought provoking and as such are of important value to the site. It is also good that there is the occasional "few words" between contributors but we should all not lose sight of the fact that we all share the same common interest.
I still think that "Jacky" is a wind up but, as Peter states, she asked a reasonable question and I feel that the only options open to us at that stage were to provide a reasonable answer or not to answer at all.
I dont think that validating e mail addresses is worthwhile as people can have many.
I'm sure that we can cope with the occasional time waster. I have no objection whatsoever for a membership fee but it would be better to make it a voluntary fee. (I would hope that all people who use the site make a donation anyway).
Do you think that it would be worth having a miscellaneous link section to encourage more feedback from contributors on news, items for sale or wanted (with perhaps a % commission to the site), or maybe comments, recommendations or warnings about encountered problems during South African visits etc. I realise there is a "your stories" link but it doesn't get much response.
In answer to Edward Bears comments about the films: I dont see the point he is trying to make. I consider that "Zulu" is the best film ever made and the only reason for that is because it inspired me into a lifelong interest to learn more about the subject. Because of that interest I have also attended many society meetings over the years and met new friends and travelled where I would otherwise not have done. The point that he misses is that I, and most others, are fully aware of its faults and innacuracies but I think that the general opinion is that most of those faults helped to make the film the inspiration to us that it was.
21st August 2003Simon Copley
I like the Film debates and the more serious stuff. Why not have two strands on the website?

It's a great site - keep it free but ask for voluntary conributions
21st August 2003Mike McCabe
I don't read this site very frequently, but would welcome some weeding or streaming of some of the peripheral stuff. Is it possible to divide up the discussion page into focus areas (2 or 3 perhaps).

I could not really understand the 'Edward Bear/Diana Blackwell' stuff until I read all of the other bits above. The 'odorofbears' bit (buried deep in the archaeology) is quite funny, though I can easily see that not everybody might think so. There are times when sense of humour deserts this site entirely. More's the pity, I say.