~ Apnea Board History and Philosophy ~
Apnea Board was created on May 23, 2004 partly because of the stifling effects that over-moderation and over-control caused upon the free exchange of ideas within the (then) currently existing sleep apnea forums. One forum was controlled so much that the Admin closed it down at night and on the weekends when he couldn't "be there", so he could maintain absolute control over what was posted and jump on any infractions immediately. I'll abbreviate that forum as SN
. Can you imagine having an Internet forum that was closed several hours each day and on weekends? It was kind of crazy
Next, another forum was overly-controlled by a commercial entity (a DME or "Durable Medical Equipment supplier"). That forum I'll abbreviate as TAS
. Back then, they would actively censor any posts that spoke ill of their services as a DME, or remove posts and ban users who overly criticized CPAP machines that were sold in their online store.
A forum created shortly after ours which had great potential was operated by a non-profit org (ASAA
). But it devolved into an over-controlling forum also, actively censoring posts that have anything to do with changing one's own CPAP pressure.
So, Apnea Board was created with two goals in mind:
To provide a haven for sleep apnea patients to help one another without being subjected to the negative effects of commercialism or being controlled by a commercial entity.
To provide a 24/7 open discussion forum where free exchange of ideas would be encouraged with as little restriction as possible.
Our forum started on the Ezboard forum system 10 years ago. Things were going great back then, the forum was small but active - and we used totally free hosting, until the free forum server crashed and we found out that our "free" forum wasn't being backed up by Ezboard at all. We lost an entire year's worth of posts when that crash happened. So, we picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and started Apnea Board all over again using the "Invisionfree" forum system.
Eventually, even that free system didn't provide us with enough flexibility, so we moved to a system operated by the same company, called Zetaboards. Zetaboards also has a free version, but we ended up agreeing to pay Zetaboards a monthly software fee and bandwidth fee that gave us greater options. Zetaboards was working fine, but had some quirks and problems of it's own. By that time, Apnea Board had grown significantly, and while the forum software was okay, we really didn't have control over the system much and had to rely upon Zetaboards staff to address forum software and server issues (such as bugs, page load issues and data backups).
Considering the Ezboard "crash and burn", we decided to break loose of someone else being in control. We moved to our new forum software platform and began leasing our own server back in February 2012, taking control of our own destiny. At that time our Master Members group (now called the Advisory Members group) helped to beta test all the software that we installed on our new server. They also helped to copy over numerous important posts from the Zetaboards site to the new forum platform. We upgraded to a faster, new dedicated server shortly thereafter and later upgraded the hardware again to keep up with increased activity and traffic. Our server is working great now with no major issues; it's currently in a large secure datacenter located in Dallas, Texas.
On how Apnea Board is operated:
We have two paths
that we could have gone down with regard to running the forum. We understand the reasons why someone might want to go down either
path, and neither
way is absolutely wrong and each path
has it's own benefits and down-side.
One path is what might be called the "open path
"; the other is the "restricted path
Now, sometimes we must have a few restrictions
(mainly for legal purposes, or to control spam and other attacks upon the forum itself). Although those restrictions can be a pain sometimes, they are there for very good reasons: they protect the very existence of the forum itself.
Any other restrictions on open speech tends to hamper idea-generation
. Apnea Board uses and supports open-source software as much as possible. The reason that kind of software prospers (being non-commercial) is because the participants are free to change things quickly and openly. There is no large institution that controls the software - it's all a collaborative effort by the very people who use the software. Now, while you can't run an Internet forum exactly
like an open-source software package, we're doing our best to do just that
In the open-source software communities, bad ideas are allowed to be presented side-by-side with good ideas. There is no attempt to squelch the bad ideas by some controlling entity; rather, they seem to "die on the vine" all on their own, because the group realizes the folly of promoting a bad idea.
We try to run things in a similar vein here. We generally don't ban, censor or otherwise restrict the free exchange of ideas, but as you can see in this thread
, a likely bad idea was exposed by several in the group here. Eventually, that bad idea will be pushed off the front page by better ideas. But we did not remove this guy's post or censor anything he posted as long as he stayed within the forum rules.
This type of system has the benefit of being "self-policing".
Now sometimes, if someone promotes illegal activity or their actions threaten the very survival of Apnea Board, we will restrict those types of things. Or, we will restrict activity that threatens our goals of remaining uninfluenced by commercialism. We restrict commercial links because doing so protects our status as an "educational entity", giving us legal protection under the U.S. Fair Use Copyright laws so that we can freely distributed copyrighted CPAP Clinician Manuals for educational purposes.
Sometimes our volunteer Moderators and Monitors are forced to ban someone or remove posts that have become so contentious that by remaining on the forum, they become a distraction to Apnea Board's main goal of helping sleep apnea patients. That's to be expected in any forum. But again, the default setting is that Admins or Moderators don't interfere with the free exchange of ideas where possible.
There are some exceptions to the above policy, and if you look hard enough, you're going to find a handful of problems, loopholes, or other ways in which this policy of openness doesn't always work. However, this "open path
" is a general philosophy that we'd like to embrace whenever possible and practical. It's not perfect, but if we devolve into an overly-controlled "restricted path
", we are introducing a cancer
that can eventually destroy the whole body. On the other hand, if we have no rules and no moderation in place, this forum would quickly turn into the "wild, wild west" where agitators and trolls might run free. So, it's all a balance.
Apnea Board exists to promote "patient empowerment
" (where patients educate themselves and take a more active role in their own sleep apnea treatment). This empowerment tends to have a better end-result when it comes to effectiveness of treatment. Patient empowerment comes generally through idea-sharing. A restricted path will limit idea-sharing; an open path tends to nurture idea-sharing.
In a nutshell, that's the history and philosophy of Apnea Board. This place would be nothing without active members who help one another. I would like to thank each and every person who has ever helped another patient here on the forums. That concern for others is what makes this place wonderful. I'd also like to express thanks to our staff-- our Moderators, Monitors and Advisory Members who help come up with ways to improve Apnea Board and fine-tune our rules and policies.