About the Goat Pen

Welcome To The Goat Pen

Right off the bat let me tell you The Goat Pen is not for everyone. For the most part, our catch phrase – The Forum without Decorum, holds true. No topics are taboo, all language is acceptable and it’s not a place for the thin-skinned. If this seems different from other message boards, it helps to understand the history of how The Goat Pen got started. If you want to go straight to The Goat Pen Forums without reading the history hit the “Home” or “Forums” button in the navigation bar to jump right in.

When It All Started

Most of the long time regulars at The Goat Pen share one thing in common; we love to  talk about college basketball. In the mid 90’s, Sports Illustrated, along with CNN, created a web site with a message board. As the Internet grew, so did the message boards and literally thousands of people were posting about various sports, both pro and amateur. The CNNSI message boards were divided into sports categories, then by teams, and message board participants were allowed to freely roam to any forum and discuss any topic.

Early on CNNSI allowed participants to create their own categories (also called “threads”) which ultimately proved to be a bad idea. However with CNNSI determining the threads, as participants (also called “posters”) started investing more of their time, the threads often covered topics not having anything to do with sports, especially in the off season.

CNNSI for the most part, just performed maintenance on the system at that point and from their hands off approach, an online community with thousands of regular posters evolved. CNNSI ignored the day to day activities of the posters, which gave them a great deal of freedom. Foul language, pornography, copyrighted material – all the Internet vices were well represented on these threads. Oddly enough, long lasting friendships were created, even some thread participants planning events to get together with other posters through the categories.

It was during this time that the first steps to creating The Goat Pen started.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Toward the late 90’s, CNNSI started to pay more attention to what was happening on their website. Some threads had moved away from sports entirely and were hangouts for pornography collections, race baiting and political discussions.

For the most part, the threads about college basketball were tame. Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke had large fan bases represented and the number of posts in their threads exceeded 30,000 on multiple occasions before CNNSI moderators archived them. Due to the large number of participants, and the sheer volume of activity, these threads, along with a few threads of other schools such as Cincinnati, and threads dedicated to basketball conferences like the Big East, became the common online hangout for the regulars who eventually all knew each other as their online persona (monikers, aliases) and interacted with each other.

For some posters, the idea of reading posts on a sports thread that weren’t sports related, and specific to their favorite team, led them to other message boards with full time, active moderators who would not hesitate to delete posts and ban posters, who by even reasonable standards offered opposing opinions. One website, Rivals, was established during this time. Rivals is a collection of websites representing every major college program. While discussion is welcome, dissension, for the most part is not, and there is a laundry list of do’s and don’ts. The regulars at CNNSI found these boards, while very informational, too restrictive for what they wanted to discuss on a daily basis.

The regulars of CNNSI threads also participated in other sports related threads so over time, a good number of the regular posters on the basketball threads didn’t even consider themselves big college basketball fans. The good-natured insults, along with the not so good natured insults lead to hundreds of entertaining conversations.

Unfortunately it also led to a few posters, out of the thousands, taking all of this a little more seriously than it was intended to be, and CNNSI moderators were often sought out to resolve disputes. With every attempt by a CNNSI moderator to solve a problem, several more arose. One of the challenges of trying to control a generally computer savvy audience is to implement rules that cannot be bypassed. It never worked, and CNNSI became less flexible as time wore on with what was allowed.

Near the end of 1999, CNNSI was reaching the end of their limits in supporting a free and open message board. AOL/Time Warner had recently purchased them and AOL’s family friendly reputation was permeating throughout the online community. The direction of the online communities was going in the opposite direction and those ideas clashed in the early months of 2000.

CNNSI moderators cracked down on language along with discussions off the thread topic and began banning posters who were singled out for their actions by other posters. While this had always been addressed, the frequency and intent behind it signaled to everyone that CNNSI wasn’t interested in running a message board, nor did they care that these online communities had been together, in some cases, over 4 years.

Many of these regulars found themselves banned and their messages deleted for simply saying a curse word, discussing something other than sports or having a moniker that wasn’t politically correct. This was a drastic change compared to what they had become used to over the past several years.

The Worldcrossing Years

By late 2000 CNNSI’s crackdown was almost complete. Thousands of users moved on or dropped out completely. College basketball regulars decided to move to a free forum posting site. Our first choice offered a lot of flexibility but the format was so completely different than what we were used to, we abandoned it and returned back to CNNSI briefly. It was during this time we lost several regular posters who felt that the Rivals boards were more stable.

At some point we found Worldcrossing, which was a large community of user run message boards using the same WebX webcrossing forum software that was previously used by CNNSI. It had the very familiar look and feel of CNNSI, it was free, stable (especially after regulars donated more than $10,000 to buy new servers) and most importantly, we were allowed to go back to the posting freedoms we had become accustomed to over the years. We migrated to Worldcrossing around April 2001, and we were able to maintain the forum on the Worldcrossing servers for 10 years, until the forums shut down in April 2011.

As had happened at CNNSI, where posters interacted across many different sports categories, our time at Worldcrossing, where many other forums were also hosted (many of them also hosted by CNNSI board refugees like us), fostered links and cross forum participation between The Goat Pen and many other communities and forums that discussed various topics such as baseball, college football, politics, etc.

In early 2011 the company that had continued to host the Worldcrossing forum community announced that they would be pulling the plug on the service and all of the forums on April 15, 2011, leaving many active forums scrambling for new homes in the months leading up to shut down.

In February of 2011, goatpen.net was registered and a new forum site was created to be the permanent home of The Goat Pen after the Worldcrossing shut down.  Other forums that were hosted on Worldcrossing that didn’t have new homes were also invited to move their forums to the goatpen.net domain so that today in addition to The Goat Pen, we now also host The College Football Forum, The Something Forum, The NBA, and The Back Room on the site.  True to their announcement, Worldcrossing shut down on April 15, 2011 and goatpen.net became the new home for our forums.  Unfortunately, along with the shut down, we lost 10 years worth of posts and discussions in our Worldcrossing archives.

Why “The Goat Pen?”

Just prior to the crackdown at CNNSI, a regular poster on the basketball threads pretended to be a young Italian goat herder, mostly to antagonize another regular who had recently admitted he was Greek. In a forum where there are no language limits and the regulars have been cracking on each other for years on any and everything, a revelation such as being Greek is going to provide a lot of entertainment. The majority of the regulars believed the poster was actually a young Italian goat herder, as absurd as that sounds now, and with that being fresh on our minds, when we made a decision to look for an alternative sports forum or create our own we decided to integrate Goat Pen into the forum somehow when we started our new home at Worldcrossing.

So How Do I Become a Regular?

Perseverance is the best way to describe it. All of the regulars have been together for a long time but we welcome anyone who wants to participate. College Basketball is still our main passion on here but if you look around you’ll see threads covering the main topics of everyday life. As a throw back to our CNNSI days, since all the threads were sports related, we took over threads of schools that didn’t have any fan interest for our own conversations. From that, the Florida State thread has become focused mainly on political discussions, and the Oregon State Beaver thread will cover most of the porn. Uncle Bud’s is a Goat Pen original where we discuss food, along with a Movie/TV thread. Assorted sports threads exist, including a soccer thread that we’ve tried to spice up with mascot fight discussions. We try to stay on topic but generally whatever you want to talk about, wherever you want to talk about it is accepted as long as it’s worth talking about, and hopefully entertaining. Few discussions remain serious here.

To take the first step as a regular here, you need to tell us something about yourself. Not personal information, but something more defining of you as a poster here. We need to know first of all, which college basketball team you cheer for, followed by who would win if a tiger and a bear got into a fight, and finally, which bar-b-q sauce is better – tomato or vinegar based. Seems silly to you? Consider it an Internet message board equivalent of a Rorschach test.

While there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, allegiances will be formed unbeknownst to you in later smack fights.

Are There Any Rules?

You’ll find that we don’t want any rules but over time we’ve established that there are in fact, a couple of do’s and dont’s.

Don’t give out any personal information about a poster.  If you want to tell us something about yourself that’s fine, but we aren’t interested in anyone here using that against you somehow. Our intent is for this place to not interfere with anyone’s real life.

Don’t be a dick just for the sake of being a dick. We all crack on each other all the time, but no one enjoys reading posts from someone 100% negative or their only appearance here is to talk smack with another poster.

Do feel free to talk about anything you want. While I’m sure a topic like, say, being a pedophile, won’t go over too well, you’ll find there aren’t too many things that won’t get discussed at one time or another on here.

Don’t get frustrated by our own little cliques or that we have our own vocabulary. We’ve been together longer than we like to admit, and over that time, we’ve developed several points of reference that would make little sense to someone who has just started out here but don’t stop hanging out just because you don’t catch on at first. We’re always looking out for new regulars who can bring something to the table.

Well that’s about it. Hang out, read up and join in.

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