Perhaps it is easy to lose sight of what the lrrsa Yahoo discussion
group is primarily - a gathering place for those who already know
they are interested in "Light Railways" as defined by lrrsa.
A key outcome of this is to have a valuable on-line presence that can
attract new members and new readers of the magazine, a role shared
with the lrrsa web site.
It is interesting to wonder how many casual visitors arrive at the
group page. My guess would be that the vast majority of casual
visitors to the group pages are those who have found their way there
through a search - and so once again know exactly why they have come
there and what they are interested in.
In any case, the lrrsa group front page is very clear in stating what
people might find within.
My suggestion to Brad is that the Fiji bullock-hauled cane train on
portable track is an excellent front page picture for a little while,
but that generally speaking the front page should be of an Australian
scene and should be changed periodically to take in the breadth of
the society's interests, just as Frank does with the lrrsa web page.
It is good if the web page and group site complement each other, not
duplicate each other, and I think this has been achieved well.
As an experienced moderator of groups, Brad will probably have quite
a reasonable idea of the type and level of interest most represented
by those who visit discussion group pages such as ours. Sugar cane
may have its own more specialised groups, but I would wager that a
significant proportion of our newer members became interested in
lrrsa through sugar cane. As the cane industry is by far the dominant
user of "light railways" in Australia today, I'd suggest we need to
maintain a close eye on this industry.
I imagine that the reference to the "worthy leaders" of the Society
is to the elected individuals who have statutory responsibilities for
its strategic direction and management. I am not and never have been
one such. However, my observation is that they have been very
successful so far in making it a very successful organisation.
My understanding is that the "worthy leaders" do believe that it will
soon be time for another stocktake, as happens with every successful
organisation, and I understand that they will be consulting members
and stakeholders in a variety of ways.
Out there in the big bad world, discussion groups can tend to be
taken over by the "wrecker", the "wind up merchant", the loud and the
opinionated. It has been shown that most people who belong to a group
say very little, if anything, while antagonistic attitudes, rudeness,
and general shouting is a very effective way of driving away members
of the "silent majority" (for that is who they are).
That is why we control access to the group and have active
moderators. Thankfully, this guiding presence is nearly always
invisible, as it ideally should be - which is a tribute to the good
sense, good humour and positive attitudes seen in just about every
post. Our focus has been, and continues to be, the generous sharing
of information and the respectful sharing of ideas. Long may it