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End of Exchange message boards not an end to exchange of ideas

One of the cool parts of working in the media for the past 15 years has been seeing (and helping to lead) all the changes in technology.

Back in 2005, I had the honor of launching a project called The Exchange – an online forum or message board setup that was hot stuff in the days before most of York County was on Facebook or regularly using a smartphone.

We billed it as a respectful exchange of ideas – a place where community members could talk about whatever they wanted together, and where we as a media organization could provide a platform to help them do so.

For the past 10 years, it’s been basically that. But everything has its time and place, and it’s time for The Exchange to end, 175,353 posts and 3,707 members later.

But we don’t intend for this to be the end of an exchange of community ideas – far from it.

In fact, we’re more interested in ever in helping connect everyone in and around York County to the discussions they want to take part in. Just a few of the ways we suggest doing that:

  • Facebook: Whether it’s through the YDR’s Facebook page, the plethora of groups devoted to local memories and history or your own account, this is the best place to find other people to talk to.
  • Blogs: Check out – and comment on – blogs on dozens and dozens of topics throughout the Yorkblog network. And if you have your own blog, email us (best bet is Editorial Page Editor Scott Fisher at sfisher@ydr.com) and talk to us about joining the network!
  • Letters to the editor: Share yours for consideration for online and print publication, and read the ones written by others.
  • Article commenting: And, of course, all YDR articles do offer the ability to comment directly on them using the Disqus commenting system, which is pretty straightforward and gives you a choice of ways to log in, some more and some less anonymous.
  • The New Exchange: I can take zero credit for this, but some really cool members of The Exchange created a new internet home for those who want to talk about all things local and national in a forum setting. I’m there; I hope you’ll stop over and say hi!

Just for fun, here are a few Exchange milestones:

  • Sept. 2005: Launched
  • March 13, 2007: 10,000th post
  • Sept. 23, 2008: 50,000th post
  • Dec. 28, 2010: First in-person meetup, at the York Galleria food court (that’s us pictured above – from left, Exchangers by their usernames, azalealady, BHott, JMO, JPaules029 and me, jconcilio!)
  • April 6, 2011: 100,000th post
  • June 2, 2011: 100,000th post celebration dinner for some top Exchangers at the former DaddyO’s Pizza on East Market Street in Springettsbury Township

Amid all this, I think the thing I’m the most proud of is that this venture created a group of friends. From being invited to celebrate Three Kings Day with the family of a fellow poster (who I’d not previously met) in 2009 or 2010, to seeing people who were “real-life” strangers helping each other through depression and unemployment and the deaths of loved ones and pets, and moves across the country, I think The Exchange was the first place to show me the power of virtual community, something that now affects nearly every part of my life.

On behalf of everyone at the YDR, here’s to the future of digital – and in-person – community.