Doctor Who Forum and Outpost Gallifrey to close

June 3, 2009

The Doctor Who Forum, the largest and oldest fan community on the Internet, is to close at the end of July. It will take with it Outpost Gallifrey, widely regarded as the best source of Doctor Who news in the world. The announcement came from owner Shaun Lyon:

For many, this will come as an enormous surprise. For some, probably not so much. Two years ago, I shut down the day-to-day operations of the Outpost Gallifrey website, retaining its News Page as a continuing entity administered by news editors, as well as the Forum run by a moderator team. But all good things must come to an end, and several months ago, I began planning the eventual shutdown of the website and forum by taking a first step: the cessation of taking paid patron memberships, in order to run down the cash coffers (which I projected could last around five to six months without any additional input from new or renewing members — current patrons were simply extended indefinitely as we announced). At the end of July, any remaining funding (expected to be very little, if any) will be donated to a noted charity, save for costs for the one item that *will* (and actually must) continue to function at — the web space for our long-running Doctor Who convention, Gallifrey One, which enters its twenty-first iteration next February.

Since 1996, Outpost Gallifrey has served as a valuable source of news and information in the online world. Since 2001, the Doctor Who Forum has created an enormous sense of community amongst Doctor Who fans, far longer than I (or perhaps anyone) ever anticipated. When the BBC shut its own DW forums down, we underwent massive growth that created the largest focus for online Doctor Who discussion and debate in cyberspace, and I’m very proud of that fact. Of course, the announcement of the new series in 2003 certainly helped that, and its debut has seen our profile rise exponentially. But as they say, it’s better to go out on a high, which is exactly what we’re doing. Some may wonder if there is a catalyst for this decision, when in fact it’s nothing but a simple and straightforward desire to move onto other things… a decision I made several months ago, counselled by many friends and supporters for a long time.

People will wonder out loud: why don’t we spin it off, or why don’t I pass it along to others? Simply put, Outpost Gallifrey is nothing but a concept, a concept I created, but which now rests in the hands of the fans who utilize it every day. It’s a title, and you don’t need a title to continue… you already have the community. Like our site and forum, the Internet has grown exponentially. There are other communities to visit on the Internet, obviously, and we encourage you to visit them. But of course, if these communities do not serve your needs (and we expect many won’t), we encourage you to take the course that I did 13 years ago: create your own space. This is, in fact, why we’re giving notice to the Forum community two months early — sufficient time for our members to find their own direction, to create new communities, new forums, and perhaps utilize new methods of communication. Through the friendships and community you’ve created here.

Outpost Gallifrey (and its Forum) have always remained near and dear to my heart. We’ve been a powerful voice in the online Doctor Who world, collectively, and the powers that be have listened (and continue to be active, if invisible, readers of what has been said). We’ve helped influence the course of the Doctor Who universe, through fan interaction with Big Finish Productions, BBC Books, independent publishers and even the Doctor Who Production Team. And we’ve made terrific friends throughout the world, from inside the BBC to inside the homes of tens of thousands of fans in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and elsewhere.

I am eternally grateful to everyone who made this site and forum a reality, from a spectacular team of administrators and moderators (led by the phenomenal efforts of Steve Hill) in our Forum, to our brilliant news editors who have kept the News Page updated as often as possible with the latest from the world of Doctor Who, to everyone else who has supported us and made us the biggest and most popular fan-run site on the Internet for the past thirteen years, through good times and bad. Thank you, everyone.

It is still unknown what will happen to the community, though many fans are talking of splinter forums, and moderator Steven W Hill is planning to launch Gallifrey Base, which will not retain any of the Doctor Who Forum’s accounts or posts.