Kent Brewster, Yahoo developer, sci-fi author, and creator of the old-line website for writers called 'Speculations' has finally called it quits on his famous writers' forum.
More commonly known as 'The Rumor Mill', Speculations had been a web presence since 1996. It was famous for never deleting a single post the entire time. When spam came in, (which it did regularly to such an open site), it was moved into a 'holding tank' and left to wither away. Visiting the site was like going back in time. It was minimalist, but quick to load and effective. Just like Kent Brewster.
There is a new page at The Rumor Mill explaining why Kent finally shut the site down after twelve years. Some reasons given were the increase in spam, and the fact that users could post anonymously finally caused too many problems to fix.
Another possibility, although this is unsubstantiated, could be the recent filings of lawsuits against other sites, such as the one against Preditors and Editors by Publish America. The Rumor Mill carried threads about many 'borderline' publishers, and there were thousands of postings in those threads - some negative, others positive, depending on the publisher.
If Brewster decided not to risk the possibility of being involved in these events, he did the right thing by dumping the database. However, it's more likely that the sheer weight of twelve years of postings overwhelmed his ability to keep it going - especially with a no-deletion policy in place. That he kept it alive and vibrant for a dozen years is a tribute to his endurance and patience.
Brewster is a front-end computer engineer, the author of a great book on websites, a family man, and his last reported job was still working as a developer for Yahoo. A majority of writers in the United States, and many from around the world dropped by The Rumor Mill occasionally. The discussions there sometimes became the stuff of legend. Truths about negative or positive factors in the writing community were often revealed there, sometimes by anonymous users who came forward, and sometimes by writers or publishers who signed in.
Brewster said more than once that his favorite thread on the Speculations site was 'Ask The Expert'. Users would pose some sort of technical or other question they needed to know for a book or story, and people would respond in droves. Many of the answers provided by other users ended up as devices in different books.
The site was consistently listed in the Top 100 Websites for Writers by Writers' Digest - year after year. Hundreds of writers had threads there under their names. Just scrolling down the list could give you a headache. He also published a market newsletter from the site that had numerous subscribers.
It was unfortunate to see such a respected and old-line site close down.
It will be missed by thousands of visitors.
You can view the new homepage by clicking the link below, where Kent tells why he finally called it quits.