PoetBay: My Reasons Why it's Dear to My Heart (Creativity Aside)


A little bit of PB history, a little bit about the people behind PB past and present, how it came to be, what it's done for my life, what it all means to me ... 15 years (2005 - 2020).  It's a lot to cover, but I hope that you'll find it interesting.



By pure happenstance, PoetBay turned out to be a find that would have life-changing effects and outcomes for me.  What I mean by that is, fifteen years ago, I came here, on this little website that was in its month-old infancy, and I couldn't have in any minute imagined all of what would come from it. I'll be explaining further.  But oh boy, a lot came from it. Even before all of these things came my way with PoetBay, it didn't take long for me to fall in love with the place then, and I'm still in love.


It all started in May 2005 for PoetBay.  At the time, PoetBay had a popular Swedish sister site (also still running today) which was identical then - we're a translated copy of it. The creator / webmaster of the site was a kind Swedish man who went by the name of Jof on the site, and he took great care of all of us.


Because of his kindness, and his keen desire to make PoetBay a place people want to be, I became interested in what he does and how it all happens. So began my learning curve in programming, and it quickly settled into a passion. So much so that I even went on to college to confirm my self-taught learnings, and set myself on the path of financially supporting myself doing it from home to suit my circumstances. And that worked very well for a number of years (I had to take a break for a while, but now I'm currently looking for new contracts).


When I arrived on PoetBay in 2005, things were not going well at all in my personal life, at a catastrophic level. Very unwell, isolated, battling with depression and everything causing it, all the while financially struggling, there wasn't much about which would qualify as happy or serene. And on PoetBay, I found a much needed respite. Not only did respite become possible, I gained a lot of support from endearing, caring and loving people from this community. I've met a lot of good people here, many of which are to this day very dear friends (I even visited a few of them in Europe in 2017!  Never thought that would ever happen). In a world of pain at that time, I found peace and love here.


As if that wasn't good enough, I also met my husband on PoetBay. Another truly unexpected turn 'cause by that time in my life I had come to believe it was a total lost cause - I'd given up any hopes on having a life partner. But here we are, fourteen years later, as happy and as in love as we were and always are together. Neither of us at that time thought it'd ever happen, and certainly not through the internet! It couldn't have been a more unlikely situation to make anyone think this could happen. Our point of contact was on a little poetry website based in Sweden, hosted on a server in Germany, while (at the time) my husband was taking a break from travelling the world and living in Spain, and I lived (still do) in Canada.  What were the odds!  Yet it happened.


And then, a little further down the line, as happens with personal projects without too many resources, PoetBay was in danger of being lost when Jof unfortunately had to leave his project for personal reasons. As a result, PoetBay went through a few different owners (some webmaster, others not) from late 2007 to 2009, but every time, it went nowhere. The site was neglected for a while. Then came the big crisis of 2009 where PoetBay was on its way to an imminent permanent end should no one intervene. So, Anna (also a long-time member of the site) did, forking out way too much for it unfortunately! (she told us later how much she'd paid)


But in a desperate bid to keep PoetBay going for everyone, she jumped right in and bought it. The problem, though, was that programming or website management weren't areas she had knowledge in, so she needed help. And poor Anna found herself feeling a bit stuck 'cause her "Chief Technical Officer" (as he called himself), well, let's just say he was too much of a novice in programming to be helpful in the emergency situation PoetBay's state was in. A little too proud to let anyone know this truth, the inevitable result ensued: he wasted a lot of time and made an absolute mess in the code.


Since my husband and I were (are) active members of the site, it couldn't escape ours and everyone else's notice that something was terribly wrong 'cause the site wasn't working. Afraid that PoetBay would permanently go offline, we reached out to Anna to ask her if she needed help to fix the site. We were more than happy to volunteer. And that's how mine and my husband's involvement at repairing and maintaining PoetBay began in 2009.


From that point on, it's been a real joy, and a dream come true for me to do this for PoetBay.  When the latest crisis PoetBay went through a few months ago came our way, it really scared us because it was a huge and very difficult job to do for just two programmers.  I cannot even begin to express the size of my relief that we were able to pull it off.  Due to a continued lack of resources (and life taking space), we didn't have a chance to keep up with the programming languages' evolutions, and so our code fell way behind, which caused the problem when our webhost wanted to upgrade to new technologies for their webhosting services.  As I'd explained to you at the time, PoetBay wouldn't have worked on the new server.  After months of putting our heads together to figure out the solutions to make it work, many all-nighters, many all-days, many cups of coffee (husband) and tea (me), we got through it.  We're really, really pleased about that.  


And now, here we are, in 2020, in better shape than ever (we're still tweaking in the background nonetheless to make the site better).  Looking back on where it all started, things sure showed me that you never know what'll come. I began in a poor state, with a life spiralling out during an intense period of isolation, with no means to support myself or my children because of my health, with no life partner, and no prospects of anything getting any better any time soon. And then, I stumbled upon this little website, and found myself surrounded by people who showed me so much support and love in a way that was very unusual in my life. Then I met a most wonderful man who would turn out to be my life partner.  There was also PoetBay's webmaster's obvious passion for his project (and for the people who enjoyed it), and that started a whole new path for me that I hadn't before then even considered.  I didn't know a first thing about anything concerning programming or website management at the start, and now, it's what I do. 


Even though we're not making money taking care of PoetBay, I love doing this (most of you know this, but for those who don't, the site doesn't make profits as all of your contributions only pay the yearly costs of keeping the site online).  I really couldn't have in a million years foreseen all that would come of PoetBay for me. Certainly not that I'd become involved at keeping it running either!  But I'm really glad that by the time the trouble for PoetBay began, I was knowledgeable enough to be of help, along with my husband.  


That PoetBay is still around fifteen years later, and that I was able to be part of the reason why, means a lot to me for many reasons. The main reason is for all of you, the people of our community, who love it as much as I (we) do.  Another one of them is that I don't want to see Jof's project go either. I have a profound feeling of gratitude for him having taken the time to create this project because of all the good that it's brought to my life. He doesn't know it, and he definitely couldn't have foreseen such effect, I'm sure, 'cause none of us could have, but it truly changed my life for the better in so many aspects. And it's a whole lot of much welcome good.


Those are my reasons in a nutshell (admittedly this nutshell is pretty long) as to why PoetBay is so dear to my heart to this day.  I want to let it live for as long as you will want to use it.  So thank you,  dear PoetBay community, you make it all worthwhile.



Words by Editorial Team The PoetBay support member heart!
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Written on 2020-05-30 at 20:41

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Ann Wood The PoetBay support member heart!
Such a lovely story and thank you for sharing it with us. Well done for the great job you did with our lovely website.

Your dedication (so much without reward) is a beacon to us all. So much we take for granted here and not realising the work that goes on behind the scenes. We, I thank you deeply and hope the Bay continues to flourish under your guidance.
Thank you

Lawrence Beck The PoetBay support member heart!
Thank you back, Isabelle. Your dedication is deeply appreciated.

Thank you for being so honest and informative. I am fortunate to have used this site since 2009 and it has seen me through some difficult times for which I have been truly grateful. The lovely people I have "met" past and present have been and are a privilege that I will continue to treasure, so thank you for all that you do and the impact you have on a lot of people's lives. Long may PoetBay flourish!

ken d williams The PoetBay support member heart!
Ken D (Williams)