The British Fantasy Society Forum

Fantasy => General Discussion => Topic started by: C.R. Barker on September 18, 2006, 08:25:54 pm

Title: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: C.R. Barker on September 18, 2006, 08:25:54 pm
It strikes me that there is a need for a private uncensored message board so that controversial issues can be thrashed out without offending those who don't wish to get involved. I have therefore set up the following group and cordially anyone to join:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thehorrorsanctuary/

Let me state again very clearly that there will be NO censorship. These are the only rules:

1. Only members will be allowed to post and view the archives.
2. Applicants must disclose their real identity on joining and must have a valid interest in the horror genre i.e. writer, reader, publisher etc.
3. Messages should not be copied from the group into other forums.

Although there will be no censorship, members will be expected to respect each other and to limit personal abuse.

The BFS board is currently unsuitable because it is obvious that most people do not wish to get involved in controversial disagreements; Ramsey Campbell's message board has unfair membership restrictions, the threat of censorship and is viewable to the whole world; and usenet aka Google groups is a dangerous place to post, because few people reveal their real identities and comments are viewable by anyone in the whole world.

The Horror Sanctuary is NOT designed to challenge other general discussion groups. It exists purely as a platform through which warring parties can exchange views in private and without interference from censors or anonymous mischief-makers.

No applications will be refused provided they meet the above three criteria.

CB
THE HAUNTED RIVER
http://hauntedriver.co.uk











Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Gary Fry on September 20, 2006, 11:24:56 am
Why don't you come to the FCon and air your ideas at the AGM? That's what it's for.
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: C.R. Barker on September 20, 2006, 07:11:34 pm
Why don't you come to the FCon and air your ideas at the AGM? That's what it's for.

At the risk of giving ammunition to my enemies, because I can't get away from the house for that long. I have two autistic four year olds - I'm their primary carer - and although I wanted to attend with Reggie Oliver to fly the Haunted River / Reggie Oliver flag, it would place too much of a burden upon my wife, who would be home alone with the kids.

Having said that, I can't say that the prospect of having to engage in debate with the likes of Mr Campbell and his entourage of disciples is something that appeals to me (and nor I suspect would it appeal to many others). The cards are, like the BFS set-up itself, stacked very heavily in his favour. I've seen politics in action - both as a councillor and a local govt official - and in my opinion, the way that the BFS is run, led and managed is somewhere between amateur and tinpot.

You are of course more than welcome to join the 'Horror Sanctuary' I've set up. I'm confident that the atmosphere will be pleasanter than exists on other boards when tempers get heated. I'm a better 'moderator' than anyone else I know of, certainly less emotional and prejudiced than Sean Parker, the Roden, John Pelan et al, because I believe that folk should worship at a 'broad church'.

However, I suspect that you won't want to join, Gary, because while you're quite happy being in a group that you control, or an environment where you're backed up by a big gun, you fear having to stand up for yourself alone (as I am quite happy to do). That's a pity, because it would be interesting to pursue certain issues we've touched upon before i.e. schizophrenia, communication misunderstandings etc.

Best of luck with your book launches and your own new collection. Oh, and no pot-smoking in Ramsey's bedroom; you know what the gossips are liable to say about that..... ;)

CB
http://hauntedriver.co.uk





Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Gary Fry on September 21, 2006, 10:05:29 am
>>>I have two autistic four year olds - I'm their primary carer - and although I wanted to attend with Reggie Oliver to fly the Haunted River / Reggie Oliver flag, it would place too much of a burden upon my wife, who would be home alone with the kids.

Understood.

>>>Having said that, I can't say that the prospect of having to engage in debate with the likes of Mr Campbell and his entourage of disciples is something that appeals to me (and nor I suspect would it appeal to many others). The cards are, like the BFS set-up itself, stacked very heavily in his favour. I've seen politics in action - both as a councillor and a local govt official - and in my opinion, the way that the BFS is run, led and managed is somewhere between amateur and tinpot.

It's run by volunteers and it's clearly a thankless task. Personally I think the organisers should be applauded, and not berated. As I've said before, if you want a system designed to meet your agenda, pay these people a full-time wage. Otherwise, let them do what they do, limitations and all.

>>>You are of course more than welcome to join the 'Horror Sanctuary' I've set up. I'm confident that the atmosphere will be pleasanter than exists on other boards when tempers get heated. I'm a better 'moderator' than anyone else I know of, certainly less emotional and prejudiced than Sean Parker, the Roden, John Pelan et al, because I believe that folk should worship at a 'broad church'.

Why is it not visible to non-members? It shouldn't be. 

>>>However, I suspect that you won't want to join, Gary, because while you're quite happy being in a group that you control, or an environment where you're backed up by a big gun, you fear having to stand up for yourself alone (as I am quite happy to do). That's a pity, because it would be interesting to pursue certain issues we've touched upon before i.e. schizophrenia, communication misunderstandings etc.

Yes, I'd like to talk to you about schizophrenia, too...

>>>Best of luck with your book launches and your own new collection. Oh, and no pot-smoking in Ramsey's bedroom; you know what the gossips are liable to say about that...

Thanks. And always finish with the recency effect, eh? (Look it up in a psychology textbook.)

GF
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: juzzza on September 21, 2006, 01:04:25 pm
Always been a big fan of the Primacy effect...

Maybe you should have started your post with F Off, Gary!
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: VirgilKain on September 27, 2006, 01:09:16 pm
It's a shame to see that Mr CR Barker has been moved on.

I know he came across as hard headed (he is a self confessed antagonist) but underneath it all he did have some bloody good ideas.

With fear of saying the wrong thing I really hope some of his suggestions are given some thought over the course of the next year. ;D
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: David Lee Stone on September 27, 2006, 01:37:13 pm
I agree absolutely. He was obviously very angry and frustrated at the society for his own reasons....but there are many not so 'vocal' members who feel the same way.

Fortunately, I am not one of them.....but I personally have stopped shouting for the time being in order to give the society a chance to take in and action a lot of the good points that I believe have been made over the past few months. I really hope we can see some genuine movement in the coming year...and I am optimistic.


David Lee Stone
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: DFL on September 27, 2006, 05:26:43 pm
I have no axe to grind *for* or *against* anyone, but CRB's discrete yahoogroups forum has been interesting on a few topics.
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: DFL on September 27, 2006, 05:39:40 pm
Having said that, I thought the 'Peter' who came on a thread recently as the phantom of the opera was a tiny bit heavy-handed.
des
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Wayne Mook on October 01, 2006, 04:59:14 pm
I agree Des. it did seem a bit heavy, after all he was called immature and a few other things, but these were not challenged. Even though I did not agree with him and on somethings he was wrong. I would have liked to hear his views some more even though I know there is some history.

Wayne.
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Peter on October 02, 2006, 10:17:34 am
I would agree that the exchange of ideas is a good thing, I would agree that frank discussion is a good thing. However, when this is coloured by personal dislikes the value becomes lost in the general negativity, unfortunate but true. While some ideas may have had merit, adopting opposite sides of the same argument based on who happens to hold the counter view  is not valuable, nor does it contain any sincerity in it's intent to "improve" the society, it becomes simply another opportunity to take a jab. The other unfortunate side effect is the overall negativity causes anything of genuine value to be missed, people just get tired of reading the same old diatribes..

I had previously warned that repeating the behaviour would result in removal, I simply followed through with what I had said. We could have course gone back and forth on it repeatedly, following the normal pattern of the argument skipping from thread to thread spoiling any genuine discussions going on and culminating in the same result, but I see no reason to do so, repeating the cycle just makes the atmosphere worse.

So to conclude, all suggestions/comments or criticisms welcome and open for discussion, this can only be beneficial to the Society as a whole in moving forward, but let's keep the personal vendettas personal and in a more suitable venue.
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Graham Joyce on October 02, 2006, 11:21:15 am
I agree with Pete & I don't think he was being heavy handed.  In fact the poster in question had been treated with a lot of toleration and was still using this board to make pretty serious allegations and rather insulting "invitations".  Now, had that poster received a show of support on these boards, then the debate should and must continue.  But this was NOT the case.  I think the moderator waits to see if the support is there, then if there is no support the moderator steps in so as to disallow one person a completely disproportionate amplification of provocative views.  It's like controlling the microphone at a panel or a formal meeting: you can't surrender responsibility for the air-waves in a public space.  Web-boards unfortunately grant space without responsibility, and one consequence is endless recapitulation of the same points.  This is not censorship: anyone is at perfect liberty to continue the debate on another board, but, because of the disproportionate and unsupported negativity, the Society is saying "Not here please".
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: DFL on October 02, 2006, 12:05:09 pm
Well, having put my head above the parapet following my re-joining the BFS in recent weeks, I shall now lower it.  :-)

But not before saying:

I can only respect the words above:

because of the disproportionate and unsupported negativity, the Society is saying "Not here please".

if that is the official view.

However, generally, I don't think a web message board like this is the same as a public meeting: the latter is finite whilst these boards are potentially 'infinite' - wide-ranging dicussions on various threads; boards that can be locked; new threads started; the vibrancy of debate (perhaps sometimes angry); views proposed and countered at leisure; etc etc.

I am a Moderator in places elsewhere.  I only ban people because of blatant spamming, obscenity, illegalities etc.


I can't remember all CRB's posts but they seemed cogently argued and deeply felt, sometimes angry. 

I don't know enough to agree or disagree with most of his points.  But they brought a lot more attention to these boards (as a by-product).

I know he was wrong, in my mind, about some matters concerning people.  Such views  need to be addressed.  He still believes what he said.

I've never met CRB, never had personal correspondence with him, never seen his work in the field.  In fact I don't know who he is other than what I've seen recently on the net.

I have no axe to grind.

Head now lowered.

des


Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Graham Joyce on October 02, 2006, 12:56:08 pm
No need to lower your head Des!  I know some people cherish the untrammeled freedom of webboards and I respect that, too.  I don't know Mr Barker either & like you I've no axe etc.  In fact he's made some good points here but they're lost inside a slew of personal attacks that the rest of us know nothing about.  It's always mildly diverting for the rest of us to see someone "having a go" but when there appears to be no substance and no support from other members it becomes like reading things scribbled on a bog wall.  A genuine controversy however, with lots of people wading in on each side is a very different thing and I'd very much against the society controlling that. 
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Peter on October 02, 2006, 01:23:13 pm
I think that's the main point here. Any time on any board that something occurs like this it attracts attention in much the same way as a schoolyard fight generates a crowd, simple human nature. In the short term it attracts traffic but over the long term it becomes "oh no not again", the results of that are that any of the valid points raised become overlooked, once any thread it moves to gets hijacked and turned to the same old argument others cease posting, and ultimately people just stop posting as they stop seeing the point.

I would encourage anyone to express a viewpoint and I'm sure that the ensuing debates will at times become heated, I don't see that as an issue, but let's keep personal attacks out of it.

Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: VirgilKain on October 02, 2006, 07:19:30 pm
I have to state that it was, in my understanding, Mr Barker who removed his own account from this board.
He made his final post and then removed it via his personal profile section.
No one can take credit for removing him. He did so himself.

I feel that he had some supporters here and it's a shame they only spoke up after he left. I know it's easier to sit back and just read, but sometimes support would be nice. People tend to remain quiet depending on who is being questioned or vice versa.

In a recent thread disscussion I was involved in I received emails, texts and personal support from people I've never met, but none of them were willing to be vocal in public. This is a shame. If these people became vocal then things would be different.

I'm rambling now. But Mr Barker will be missed regardless of his personal views that upset others.
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Graham Joyce on October 02, 2006, 09:12:52 pm
Well let's get people speaking up. Now is a good time, coming off the back of a very successful con.  Especially if this was your first or second con, or first for a while.  I honestly don't think there is anyone in the society scared of debate.  We certainly do need new ideas, and more than that because of the voluntary nature of the entire committe we need people to do the work suggested by any new ideas. Some of us have known each other for a long time and maybe that has made us too cosy.  But I don't see anyone standing in the way of new blood, new ideas or fresh debate.  The floor is open for anyone.   
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Marie O'Regan on October 03, 2006, 12:40:59 pm
Just to add here, that we're always open to new ideas and debate, and indeed are discussing ways to move the Society forward over the coming year, details of which will be posted as and when they're finalised - events/new site design, etc. At the AGM a new award for Best NonFiction was suggested, and in fact voted in for next year. Allen Ashley suggested BFSPublications should not be exempt from the Awards, and Steve Jones raised the opposite viewpoint. Both viewpoints will appear in an issue of Prism later this year or early next year, in plenty of time for people to be informed of the various standpoints - the matter is then scheduled to be raised again and voted upon at the next AGM, in the proper manner.

If you have ideas for publications, email the editors at any time, their addresses are on site - and any points can of course also be raised here, or via email to me or any committee member, and we'll discuss and answer to the best of our ability. And members can stand up and be heard at the AGM.

The *only* thing that isn't welcome on the boards is abuse - and I have to agree with Peter and Graham here that Mr Barker overstepped that mark on several occasions, to the detriment of the board activity as a whole. Such behaviour discourages open discussion rather than encouraging it, as people who disagree with views stated find themselves attacked. Open debate is encouraged, but this isn't the place for personal abuse - that should be a private matter between individuals concerned, rather than dragged into public forums.
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: David Lee Stone on October 03, 2006, 02:38:10 pm
Hmm.....

I - like Chris - have some very different views on the running, management and direction of the BFS. I have voiced these views, had debates with Marie and others - some heated and some conventional (all of them fun!) - but the fact IS that at some point you have to stand back and give people the chance AND the breathing space to attempt to action some of the changes suggested. There's no point in continuing to rant over stuff that individual folks can't actually do anything about at the drop of a hat.

I can say 'can you guys try to change blah blah' and Marie/Jen/whoever can say 'I'll have a chat with the group and see what they think'. The problem with a lot of Chris's arguments is that he would suggest something - not get exactly the response he was expecting - and then start moaning about the society ignoring his suggestions BEFORE anyone could discuss it.

The Ramsey Campbell issue was different. It always felt (to me, at least) that Chris had/has a personal issue with Ramsey Campbell. I don't know where this came from or what the full story is, but practically every argument was edged with some sort of anti-Campbell strike. Ramsey attempted to personally respond to his arguments in the forum at one point, but was - from memory - then accused of further stuff relating to his column. It all seemed very personal to me.

Now, I like Ramsey's writing. I think he's one of the best British horror authors ever to put pen to paper and, though I've never met him, I understand from live interviews I've listened to and from chats with several author friends, that he's a thoroughly lovely bloke who is always willing to help and encourage new writers. However, I have said before and will say again that I think it is ridiculous for the BFS to have ONE lifetime president.....I believe having Ramsey as LIFETIME president gives the BFS a 'largely horror' mask and that a number of different authors from the fields of sf/fantasy/horror should be given the honour for set periods of time. Terry Pratchett as president, Philip Pullman as president, Anne McCaffrey as president, James Herbert, Clive Barker, etc - all these names for set terms would give the society an entirely new and 'changing' look.

But this is my opinion......it is NOT a mission statement. Quite frankly, the thought of Ramsey sitting at home reading this and thinking I'm on a quest to 'bring him down' makes me feel quite ill.  :-\

I would also like to see a lot more T/H/E fantasy in the BFS and more focus on T/H/E authors......but, again, I've put this to Marie and I'm told (from the glorious Juliet McKenna) that she, Paul, Peter Coleborn and several others are trying to include more of the above.

So, to be honest, I'm not feeling all that argumentative, right now. Things don't change overnight....so lets give it a few more years (and a few more well-attended cons like the one just gone)....and see what happens.

Right....have to run. My dog is upset that he hasn't been for a walk today, and he's giving me THAT look.

Davey
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: VirgilKain on October 03, 2006, 05:59:06 pm
As you say, Ramsey is a lovely bloke (when you finally get to know him). So could another honorary postion be bestowed on him if the idea of fixed term presidents became real.

I can see Davids point on a Fantasy author being in place for awhile. It would bring in a whole new crowd. But Ramsey does bring in a crowd as it stands and it would be a shame to lose him altogether.

Could a compromise be thought up? ;D
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: David Lee Stone on October 03, 2006, 06:14:42 pm
A good idea......you mean giving Ramsey an official 'Lifetime President' title and then installing a series of 'interim' Presidents beside him, each serving out a specific term in the office?

Food for thought, definitely.
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: VirgilKain on October 03, 2006, 06:23:33 pm
It could, in effect, double the audience and potential members of the BFS.
Always a good thing. ;D
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Peter Coleborn on October 03, 2006, 08:28:09 pm
I wish to add my support to Marie -- but I would, wouldn't I, being long in tooth (can I be ageist about myself?) and one of the in crowd (DH editor). I am favour of freedom of speech -- but my interpretation of this is the right to express one's ideas unhindered. What I disagree with is continual bad-mouthed criticism, especially on these boards. I am against people continuing a tirade against an individual for some perceived slight. How many people would appreciate someone standing at their front door shouting abuse into their house? I wouldn't. If folk really want to continue with a vendetta against one of the BFS's stalwarts, go and do it elsewhere.

I am more than happy (no, I don't do insurance) for people (BFS members and non-members) to make suggestions that may improve the BFS / Fantasycon. These boards are a conduit. So too is the AGM. However, unlike some others have said, I thought that the AGM was somewhat muted. Most of the hour allocated to the AGM passed far too quickly with reports from editors etc (sorry Marie -- not getting at you; it happens at almost every committee I go to, and I go to far too many of the bloody things) so that when topics for debate came up we didn't have sufficient time to explore them properly. Maybe we need more than an hour scheduled for the AGM. Yes? No?

There have been many ideas posted on these boards by people like David Stone, Graham Joyce, Garry Charles, etc. It is difficult to explore these issues on the message boards. The BFS committe are dispersed over the UK. On-line committee meetings are unsatisfactory. Getting people together for a face-to-face meeting is logistically difficult, although we are trying to arrange one for November (likely venue somewhere in the wilds of north Staffordshire). We already have a lot to discuss. But to help us tackle issues logically, send your suggestions, ideas, proposals, comments to Marie. We will discuss them: honestly.

As has been said before, the BFS is run by a bunch of amateurs (in the not-getting-paid sense). Unfortunately for them, the BFS and the membership, real life sometimes gets in the way. This may cause delays in getting magazines published, events arranged, advertising done. I wish it were otherwise; I'm sure other committee members wish so, too.

One other thing: although he is the President, Ramsey doesn't run the Society, as some thing. He is a figure head (and, I believe, a great one) who will offer his advice and thoughts. Ramsey has been a member of the BFS almost from the start (he was at the very first Fantasycon, as he described in this post-prandial speech) and has a wealth of experience to offer. (But he didn't mention Bonzo the Dog!)

Thank you for your time.
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Graham Joyce on October 03, 2006, 09:30:14 pm
David, Garry, I think there needs to be some clarification about the position of President.  It's largely a figurehead position (and quite so, because you wouldn't want an established author to be seen to be using the Society for his or her own ends and despite some frankly hilarious ssuggestions that this is what happens, we're thankfully not in that situation).  I would imagine the President to act as a spokesperson for us in some rather serious or formal situation, and very occasionally to advise the committe in matters of difficulty.  The job is not to be one of the movers & shakers of the society.  For that we look to the Chair and the rest of the Committee.  Thus for example in this matter of perception about Horror vs Fantasy the way to change perceptions is to get media attention, re-focus publications and communications, generate an outreach policy and to maintain regular contact with many like-minded organisations. (Christ, I'm boring myself here).    Now I'll hold my hands up and say I personally don't have time to do that stuff and I can't ask the committe to either, because they're already giving up huge amounts of time.  It needs someone to offer to undertake these tasks. Switching Presidents would be easy but it won't do any of that.  There's really no conspiracy or block against Fantasy: it just needs someone who has got the time to do these things as a matter of preference.
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: David Lee Stone on October 03, 2006, 10:17:45 pm
Re: the mover and shaker thing - I do KNOW this. It is precisely BECAUSE the position is as a figurehead only that I believe more than one person from one perceived field should hold it.

I'm not for one second suggesting that Ramsey holds some sort of arcane power (apart from the arcane power he writes with, that is! ;D).

Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Marie O'Regan on October 03, 2006, 10:23:34 pm
We are actually extending links with a number of outlets, Graham, both Fantasy and Horror, that haven't been interested before - and as Peter says, we're all committed to keeping things fresh and maintaining a balance. Interest is increasing substantially at the moment, which is something we want to see continue and steps will be taken to ensure that. The whole Committee are meeting in November, as Peter's said, and we have regular online meetings as well as being in daily email contact. Given that it's only a week since FantasyCon, we need some time to implement things discussed there.

As Graham and Peter have said, Ramsey's post is largely a figurehead one, although Ramsey does maintain an active interest, is on Committee email, and is always on hand with advice or an opinion when asked. The reason he was made Lifetime President originally, as others who have been members longer than me will tell you, was that he kept getting voted in each year. The only reason this matter was voted on again this year was because Ramsey felt he should stand down because of Mr Barker's constant comments on the boards, and the detrimental effect he felt this could have on the BFS. I, for one, am delighted Ramsey was voted in again as Life President. I see no reason why we need two presidents - the active Committee changes make up on a regular basis, and all - whether horror or fantasy fans - are intent on maintaining a balance. The coming year should show that, if our assurances on the boards and statistics of publications/awards over the years don't.

Peter's quite right in saying that any propoosals/ideas/suggestions should be emailed to me as Chair - they'll be put to the Committee and discussed fully, of course.

As Dave said earlier on this thread, change doesn't happen in five minutes, it takes time and effort - something the whole Committee work very hard at, and over time, will become obvious.
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: David Lee Stone on October 03, 2006, 10:35:06 pm
Agreed!

I'm doing my bit - am currently completing a 2500 word article for Dark Horizons on the history of the Fighting Fantasy series, and I've even mailed in a horror/fantasy short set in Illmoor during the first reign of Duke Modeset!

I'm also chatting to my publishers about possible BFS mentions on some of the Illmoor tour sheets (they go out with me to schools and festivals, etc).

 ;D
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: Marie O'Regan on October 03, 2006, 10:47:59 pm
Thanks for that, Dave, it's appreciated - I'm in the middle of sorting out an ad that Jo Fletcher has said can go in Gollancz books (subject to author approval, of course), and a lot of the small press have also agreed to do so - I'll be mailing them this week, and am very grateful for the ad space. I'm also going to be mailing contacts at other mainstream publishers to see if they'll do the same - all this should help raise the profile.
Title: Re: Uncensored private board for controversial genre discussions
Post by: mightyjoeyoung on October 21, 2011, 01:38:39 pm
Question: Who actually moderates the forums?

Having read through Mr CR Barker's comments they do have some worthy suggestions, but those are somewhat lost amidst the Ramsey-bashing. It's a shame that some people can't just get on with promoting ideas without making things personal.

On the issue of Presidency, I've never met Ramsey Campbell, but I've read some of his work, and spoken to him. He seems like a great bloke. Life President is good, I'm happy he's in that position, but the suggestion of having new Presidents could be good for the BFS. If there were to be 'Honorary Presidencies' given out, it could give massive promotion to the BFS by having such high-profile people as Terry Pratchett, J.K. Rowling and so on being given the role, which of course doesn't necessarily mean that they have any official duties to perform other than having their names associated with the Society.

Think of it like people who get 'honorary degrees' without ever attending the seats of learning associated with it. Excellent publicity potential.

As for 'Former Presidents', they could be elevated to a 'BFS Pantheon', which is a lot better than being seen to be discarded and would give them the legendary status they have earned through their careers and service to the industry.

The Pantheon could already include past masters of all genre writing, so former Presidents would be in good company.