Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

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Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby Lovely » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:18 am

I'm probably going to be annoying about this, until we can get something set up.

But, this and this has got me thinking. It's got me angry, and it's got me ashamed. As well it should!

We can do better. A lot better.

As much as one side of me wants to feel inclusive and has thought that including race issues within the whole of the A+ forum would be good, it's clear that maybe that isn't the best way to be welcoming to PoC. Maybe this forum has to show that race issues and anti-racism is important to us by having an area to focus specifically on that. Maybe in order to make sure that feminism alone doesn't drown out the other issues that we want to work on within the Atheist community, we should actually show to our members here already and to anyone else interested that, hey, race issues are important.

And, yes, I hate that I'm a white person asking for this. I'd honestly rather hear from PoC about whether this would in any way help. But, I don't want to wait, because I don't want to force a PoC to carry yet another burden of making sure the white people get it right.

So, how about an Anti-Racism safe space added as a subsection? Some place where there will be stricter rules enforced about whitesplaining? Some place where it'd be strongly encouraged to allow PoC to talk about race issues?

I mean, those things should go for the whole site, but perhaps we need to focus on that to show we mean business.

Thoughts?
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby ateisten » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:23 am

"I think of myself more as a human being than of a white male because the latter, by definition is restricting as a white male I have that privilege."
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby surreptitious57 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:40 am

The modification of definition is not recognisable over here

And it is also completely without relevance too
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby ischemgeek » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:19 am

surreptitious57 wrote:I think of myself more as a human being than of a white male because the latter, by definition is restricting. By thinking of myself in the other way, I see other human beings the same.



^ This? Proof we need such an area. See Colorblindness Is Just Blindness and this other post by Crommunist (TW for the latter: Ableism in title. Crommunist did apologize and promise not to do it in the future, but left the title the same. Proof that even generally awesome people mess up sometimes).

Surreptitious57, as a fellow white person: Stop. Now. Your privilege is showing.
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby SubMor » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:32 am

Really, ^ this.

Here, ischemgeek. Hold my mod hat. (That's a not so subtle warning to disengage from that argument, surreptitious57. Please read the above links.)

Edit: To clarify, if this is something you have questions about, the I&A forum is the place to be.
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby Lovely » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:34 am

Yeah, OK. See, that's exactly the thing that needs to stop.

This is about PoC. Not about white people that don't think of themselves as white people. I'm facepalming so hard.

So... Maybe I need to clarify: Thoughts, PoC? Would a space like that prove valuable?
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby ateisten » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:34 am

Apparently, I am too subtle.
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby Pteryxx » Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:58 pm

Greta's articles, and Hepshiba's at DailyKos (which everyone ought to read in depth, srsly) stress having diverse voices in positions of power.

Does this forum have any moderators who are PoC?

That's important, not just to have a voice in internal discussion (and immediate binning of whitesplaining crap) but because there's no reason for PoC to even trust an anti-racism space here *to be a supportive or safe space* if it's going to be primarily populated, guided, and *defended* by us same old clueless white folks. From Hepshiba's article (bolds are mine throughout):

Like many feminist NGOs, this one clearly has a small core leadership group of about 4-5 women, all of whom are white. The white women are the ones who describe the problem: they simply can't get women of color, and especially African American women, to join the organization or to get involved with programs in any real numbers. Mary looks at the women of color and invites them to contribute to the discussion, but they generally demur or repeat what the white women have said. We're used to this -- Mary will hear something different when she gets them alone.

And that's our first proposal -- we'd like Mary to meet with the women of color in the organization and brainstorm, while I meet with the white women and discuss possible strategies to invite more participation. The women of color nod in agreement, but the white women are nervous. "Is this a good idea?" one of them asks. "Won't it divide us instead of bringing us together?" Mary explains that women of color are often able to speak more freely when they don't have to fear offending or being misinterpreted by white colleagues. I explain that white women also need a space to open up about feelings and attitudes without fear of offending non-white peers. Only when we can be open about our attitudes can we begin to address any problems that are caused by our beliefs. We both explain that meeting separately is temporary, and that the goal is for everyone to come together and to express themselves in constructive ways. So we set a date for the meetings, which take place at the same time in different parts of the building. Afterwards, Mary and I meet to discuss our findings. For us, it's business as usual.

Mary reports that most of the women of color associated with the organization showed up -- 25 attended the meeting. It took a little while to break the ice, but after introductions and a brief discussion of the expectations that participants had, Mary asked her usual questions, which elicited the usual answers. The women of color felt strongly that the organization was mainly "white" and that "white issues" had priority. All of the women present were aware of working "outside" their own communities, and most did so because they felt "the cause" was of primary importance.


Making an anti-racism space within these forums MIGHT, at best, be a first step towards training the white folks to fuck up less. It's probably not going to be a safe discussion space for PoC, much less a home, any time soon and certainly not without a lot of direct involvement. And shouldn't us white folks be educating ourselves by, among other methods, lurking and reading other spaces where safe discussions are already going on?

What I had planned for my meeting with the white women of TWFC was a set of introductions, and an initial discussion of what, in their opinion, a truly diverse organization would look and feel like. As I expected, their views were universally that a diverse TWFC would be just like the current TWFC, except there would be more women of color attending events and volunteering for the organization. Their focus was on "attracting" more women of color. I urged them to shift the focus in two separate directions:

Question 1: "How do women of color stand to benefit by joining the current TWFC?"

Question 2: "Can you see anything about the current structure of TWFC that might serve as an impediment to attracting women of color."


from White Feminist Privilege in Organizations

Another of Hepshibah's articles lays out guidelines for the Daily Kos White Privilege Working Group:

I founded this group to create a productive and welcoming space for antiracist activists on DK. This includes both white antiracists at any stage of development, and activists of color who are generous enough to share their time and energy to educate others in antiracist practice and theory.

A founding principle of WPWG is that moderated communities are the best communities when it comes to providing space for constructive discussion on sensitive topics. Twenty-five years of work in cyberspace communities has taught me that all it takes to utterly destroy an online environment is a small group of hateful, vocal posters who flood the screen with vitriol and make it impossible for members of oppressed groups to discuss complex and sensitive issues among themselves, and with their allies. Likewise, it is impossible to offer a safe space for white folks who wish to learn the theory and practice of antiracism if they are forced to continually respond to baiting and personal attacks by their racist peers. DK4 is not perfect in terms of providing the right kind of space, but it is a real improvement on DK3, so this is the kind of community I intend to build here with you all.


from White Privilege Working Group Guidelines

The WPWG posts can be followed here.

I'm not sure that having a racism-focused subforum is a bad idea, or a useless one, but I'm getting a strong feeling that we're expecting such a space to be more of a solution than is plausible. It can't be just a PoC zoo for the white SJ warriors to practice in. Similarly, the white SJ warriors can't declare an area safe, any more than conventions could decide harassment wasn't a problem. The people who make use of the space have to be supported and heard enough to feel confident speaking out there.
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby GreatBlueHeron » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:25 pm

mod edit: long quote [ Show ]
Pteryxx wrote:Greta's articles, and Hepshiba's at DailyKos (which everyone ought to read in depth, srsly) stress having diverse voices in positions of power.

Does this forum have any moderators who are PoC?

That's important, not just to have a voice in internal discussion (and immediate binning of whitesplaining crap) but because there's no reason for PoC to even trust an anti-racism space here *to be a supportive or safe space* if it's going to be primarily populated, guided, and *defended* by us same old clueless white folks. From Hepshiba's article (bolds are mine throughout):

Like many feminist NGOs, this one clearly has a small core leadership group of about 4-5 women, all of whom are white. The white women are the ones who describe the problem: they simply can't get women of color, and especially African American women, to join the organization or to get involved with programs in any real numbers. Mary looks at the women of color and invites them to contribute to the discussion, but they generally demur or repeat what the white women have said. We're used to this -- Mary will hear something different when she gets them alone.

And that's our first proposal -- we'd like Mary to meet with the women of color in the organization and brainstorm, while I meet with the white women and discuss possible strategies to invite more participation. The women of color nod in agreement, but the white women are nervous. "Is this a good idea?" one of them asks. "Won't it divide us instead of bringing us together?" Mary explains that women of color are often able to speak more freely when they don't have to fear offending or being misinterpreted by white colleagues. I explain that white women also need a space to open up about feelings and attitudes without fear of offending non-white peers. Only when we can be open about our attitudes can we begin to address any problems that are caused by our beliefs. We both explain that meeting separately is temporary, and that the goal is for everyone to come together and to express themselves in constructive ways. So we set a date for the meetings, which take place at the same time in different parts of the building. Afterwards, Mary and I meet to discuss our findings. For us, it's business as usual.

Mary reports that most of the women of color associated with the organization showed up -- 25 attended the meeting. It took a little while to break the ice, but after introductions and a brief discussion of the expectations that participants had, Mary asked her usual questions, which elicited the usual answers. The women of color felt strongly that the organization was mainly "white" and that "white issues" had priority. All of the women present were aware of working "outside" their own communities, and most did so because they felt "the cause" was of primary importance.


Making an anti-racism space within these forums MIGHT, at best, be a first step towards training the white folks to fuck up less. It's probably not going to be a safe discussion space for PoC, much less a home, any time soon and certainly not without a lot of direct involvement. And shouldn't us white folks be educating ourselves by, among other methods, lurking and reading other spaces where safe discussions are already going on?

What I had planned for my meeting with the white women of TWFC was a set of introductions, and an initial discussion of what, in their opinion, a truly diverse organization would look and feel like. As I expected, their views were universally that a diverse TWFC would be just like the current TWFC, except there would be more women of color attending events and volunteering for the organization. Their focus was on "attracting" more women of color. I urged them to shift the focus in two separate directions:

Question 1: "How do women of color stand to benefit by joining the current TWFC?"

Question 2: "Can you see anything about the current structure of TWFC that might serve as an impediment to attracting women of color."


from White Feminist Privilege in Organizations

Another of Hepshibah's articles lays out guidelines for the Daily Kos White Privilege Working Group:

I founded this group to create a productive and welcoming space for antiracist activists on DK. This includes both white antiracists at any stage of development, and activists of color who are generous enough to share their time and energy to educate others in antiracist practice and theory.

A founding principle of WPWG is that moderated communities are the best communities when it comes to providing space for constructive discussion on sensitive topics. Twenty-five years of work in cyberspace communities has taught me that all it takes to utterly destroy an online environment is a small group of hateful, vocal posters who flood the screen with vitriol and make it impossible for members of oppressed groups to discuss complex and sensitive issues among themselves, and with their allies. Likewise, it is impossible to offer a safe space for white folks who wish to learn the theory and practice of antiracism if they are forced to continually respond to baiting and personal attacks by their racist peers. DK4 is not perfect in terms of providing the right kind of space, but it is a real improvement on DK3, so this is the kind of community I intend to build here with you all.


from White Privilege Working Group Guidelines

The WPWG posts can be followed here.

I'm not sure that having a racism-focused subforum is a bad idea, or a useless one, but I'm getting a strong feeling that we're expecting such a space to be more of a solution than is plausible. It can't be just a PoC zoo for the white SJ warriors to practice in. Similarly, the white SJ warriors can't declare an area safe, any more than conventions could decide harassment wasn't a problem. The people who make use of the space have to be supported and heard enough to feel confident speaking out there.


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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby wind » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:37 pm

A progressive moderation policy regarding who gets to be a mod would be AWESOME!

Regarding a PoC safe space...I'd need to hear from a PoC on that.
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby ceepolk » Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:26 am

Pteryxx wrote:Greta's articles, and Hepshiba's at DailyKos(snip)

All of the women present were aware of working "outside" their own communities, and most did so because they felt "the cause" was of primary importance.


This is me. right here. I am working outside my community and I do so because the cause is important. That is *exactly* what I would say to a black person who came up and said "Cee, why you all over that atheismplus group? Why you giving them so much of your time?" absolutely I would say, "I know, it's a white group serving white interests. but they mean to do better, and how they gonna do that when they got nobody there to talk to them about race?"

Making an anti-racism space within these forums MIGHT, at best, be a first step towards training the white folks to fuck up less. It's probably not going to be a safe discussion space for PoC, much less a home, any time soon and certainly not without a lot of direct involvement. And shouldn't us white folks be educating ourselves by, among other methods, lurking and reading other spaces where safe discussions are already going on?


THIIIIIIIS

one thing I did *not* appreciate wolfman marching up in here and demanding this that and the other thing - you can't wave your magic wand and make inclusive safe space! and I was genuinely confused by his attitude until he revealed that he was white, and then I became extremely unimpressed with his ass. coming in here and concern trolling the lot of us with his opinions when he ain't lifted a finger to help but he's got all ten for throwing shade - No. Listen to the black woman who said it would take time, asshole. that's rule number one on how to be a supporter for oppressed people - when the oppressed people tell you a thing, you fucking listen to them.

I'm not sure that having a racism-focused subforum is a bad idea, or a useless one, but I'm getting a strong feeling that we're expecting such a space to be more of a solution than is plausible. It can't be just a PoC zoo for the white SJ warriors to practice in. Similarly, the white SJ warriors can't declare an area safe, any more than conventions could decide harassment wasn't a problem. The people who make use of the space have to be supported and heard enough to feel confident speaking out there.


It's a good idea if it's got the right expectations on it. but this is not a thing that can get solved with "if you build it, they will come." this isn't bike lanes. I think it initially would be about consciousness raising, because quite frankly postmodern white dominated colonialist society has some seriously twisted ideas about race that are baked right into the culture, and examining that is likely to get really personal and painful in places. I know that it took me about a year from the first inkling I got to falling apart and putting myself back together as a black woman who'd been raised in a fashion that denied and rejected blackness, and it was a rollercoaster. I don't expect that it would be easier for anyone else. Colorblind racism is some shit. It is sly, and it's the champion gaslighting game.
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby Lovely » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:20 am

Yes to what Pteryxx has said. I wasn't imagining a fish bowl where we plop down an Anti-Racism area and suddenly PoC swarm into it and we white folks get to peer in from the outside and feel great about ourselves for solving racism, high fives all around... No. Just no. That would be all kinds of "doing it wrong". So I'm entirely in agreement with you about the points you made, Pteryxx.

This isn't so much a grand solution, as it was just a small idea to build from. A stepping stone. Or the first Lego piece as we build an elaborate castle (one that might take years).

I get that Wolfman was probably being a douche, but if he brought up a problem, then he brought up a problem, and if it lit a fire under the forum's butt so that we start doing something, even if it's this small to begin with, then we can turn that into a positive.

If what a space like an Anti-Racism area would provide, to begin with, is a lot of consciousness raising or education, then yes, at this point we're doing the same for some other subjects and I think it'd be truly remiss of us to not give racism the attention it deserves.

So, maybe a space to start is really only at the "not bad" and "not entirely useless" level. I fully understand that, this is no white savior situation and never will be, and I absolutely believe you, Ceepolk, when you says it's about building awareness at this point. But as long as it's something. I mean, as long as it doesn't completely turn into a piece of crap that makes things worse... (BUT, HEY NO PRESSURE!)
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby Eowyn Entwife » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:32 am

ceepolk wrote:one thing I did *not* appreciate wolfman marching up in here ... and I was genuinely confused by his attitude until he revealed that he was white, and then I became extremely unimpressed with his ass.

this

ceepolk wrote:No. Listen to the black woman who said it would take time, asshole. that's rule number one on how to be a supporter for oppressed people - when the oppressed people tell you a thing, you fucking listen to them. ... this is not a thing that can get solved with "if you build it, they will come." this isn't bike lanes... Colorblind racism is some shit. It is sly, and it's the champion gaslighting game.

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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby Flewellyn » Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:36 pm

One thing I wonder about, though...is having a separate anti-racism area kind of, well, segregating?

I mean, we have an "Atheism+" area for discussing the kind of advocacy we do, which should definitely include anti-racism. I don't see how a "separate but equal" area to just talk about race would be such a great idea.

Or maybe that's my whiteness talking. I dunno.
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby Surgoshan » Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:47 pm

Barring a recent spate of race threads, "Atheism+" has been fairly well dominated by issues of gender. Perhaps if we all make the effort to keep more issues floating there, then other users will feel more comfortable coming forward with different items of interest.
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby Pteryxx » Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:59 pm

Dunno about a separate anti-racism *area* yet (separate, kinda eww; but keeping race topics from getting ignored/buried as easily, good) but IMHO we definitely need a dedicated anti-racism 101 set of stickies, references, and resources for further reading. Most of us are just now learning how 'colorblindness' is a bad bad thing for instance - that's at least as important and central as rape culture is to gender. Also IMHO, whether or not *the threads* on racism get put in their own space, I'm thinking the resource material should be its own set and not just melded into the general resources. It'll be harder to ignore, easier to reference, and clearly most of us in this community need to have anti-racism occupy more of our awareness than it has been.
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby ischemgeek » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:08 pm

Flewellyn wrote:One thing I wonder about, though...is having a separate anti-racism area kind of, well, segregating?

I mean, we have an "Atheism+" area for discussing the kind of advocacy we do, which should definitely include anti-racism. I don't see how a "separate but equal" area to just talk about race would be such a great idea.

Or maybe that's my whiteness talking. I dunno.


Well, I was actually thinking a while ago that we're getting a lot of stickied topics in some areas, and maybe having sub-sub forums for each topic and one for intersectional issues might be a good idea. Dunno if that makes it better or not.
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby Lovely » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:08 pm

I realized the separate thing might be iffy, but the reason I suggested it was due to making sure it got some notice. If the threads would be somewhere where there'd be a way to make sure those topics didn't get drowned out, etc. If it doesn't end up being the best idea, well, that's why I asked!

I think that we can start working on some Anti-Racism 101 type threads to begin with. Where information about racism / anti-racism can be posted somewhere that won't just fall off the page, etc. I've seen a lot of "colorblind" stuff pop up lately, so I can see threads like that being useful.

In that way, yes, I think the anti-racism threads needs to be separate from some of the general ones, even if it does repeat some things that are elsewhere on the site, because there are other issues that are exclusive to racism where they can be expanded upon.

And, like Pteryxx says where they will be harder to ignore and easier to reference.
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Re: Adding an Anti-Racism Area? Or a PoC Area?

Postby smhll » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:39 pm

I don't want to create a silo or a segregated thread grouping. But maybe a sub-section of marginalized topics with a heading like "Boosting the Signal" or "Issues Neglected By Mainstream Media" (This could include race, class and other human groups that are getting screwed). The point being to broaden the exposure of voices in the social justice community that some white folks might be overlooking. I can look around the internet and read what people of color are writing (if I generate a good search string), but I do appreciate it if someone links me to the most outstanding stuff. (Wow, that sounds awful, like I might only spare 10 minutes a day. Ulp.)

White people need education, not because what white people need is more important, but because white people need to be decent and well informed before other people will find them pleasant to interact with here on this forum. (And I'm lasering in on this forum atm.) People of color are welcome to participate here, but right now the level of pissy and stubborn and ignorant discourse seems likely to be too damn high. Even from well-intentioned people. But let's work on reducing the level of ignorance if we want to be welcoming and worthwhile to people who have justifiable concerns about being treated poorly.
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