Previously, I recounted the tale of how The Phorum began. Now I will tell how it was liberated from its shackles and set free into the world.
As the proboards version of the Phorum began to grow, its creators were also growing. Specifically, we were graduating high school and going off to university. I had moved up to Virginia to attend school in Blacksburg, but I was still acting as administrator of the Phorum. Because the proboards software did not allow punctuation marks in names, although my nom de plume was Vlad! The Mighty Armored Assault Duck, my actual display name on the software was Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. It was a confusing time.
As for the site, a curious shift began to occur: the reviewers spent more time writing articles to be posted on The Rebel Base and more time actually talking about and discussing music and film on the Phorum. Some of this was because a couple of the reviewers were becoming well-known enough in the field of music criticism (or at least the niche field of Christian music criticism) that they were writing articles for actual publications. The draw of the Phorum was not the ability to read an article but the ability to engage in thoughtful discourse about the art in question.
My brother had also started drifting away from the site a bit. He was in the process of figuring out exactly whom he wanted to be — an important pursuit for someone at that age — and writing reviews of movies and music wasn’t really a part of that. Despite my absolute ignorance of all things artistic, his friend Josh and I had become the core partners in running this forum.
As the Phorum had grown in both importance and popularity, Josh decided to pay for its own domain name and upgrade it to a paid, self-hosted site run on the tragically now-defunct (after the death of its owner) FlockHosting. The site would no longer be serving banner ads (the proboards site had by that point become at least as full of advertising and malware popups as the old EZBoards site), and rather than being a small, free forum attached to a review site, it would be a full-fledged sidekick to The Rebel Base.
In fact, it shortly thereafter became more than that. The Rebel Base faded into obscurity, but the Phorum lived on. It was no longer “The Phorum @ The Rebel Base,” as it was once branded, but just “The Phorum.”
The new software, called Invision Power Boards, allowed us an unprecedented level of control over everything on our site. We designed custom themes, a couple of members made custom graphics, and we very much made it our own. My role as admin expanded significantly, as I began to learn the PHP programming language that the boards were written in. I also started really learning how to properly admin the boards.
Josh and I also very, very heavily contributed to the content. He and I were always vying for top poster (the lead was usually determined by whose course load was the heaviest that semester). Although the site was only a couple of hundred registered users and maybe a few dozen active members, we did our best to build it as a thriving community.
The Phorum had come into its own.