I've been a babble participant since its first year (nearly 11 years now), and in the early years it wasn't just the technology that was different, the culture of the board was light years away from where it is now.
Even without the "oh, it was so much better then" sentimental artifice, the babble culture in its first several years was much more of a community. It was still an ass-kicking place, but not so much a mean and bullying place.
We had one moderator - Audra - and we had many many participants, a far more diverse group than we have now. Yes, there were arguments, sometimes pointedly personal, but it was rare that a babbler (non-troll) was so nasty that they caused another babbler to leave. And generally, when Audra called attention to the personal attack, it stopped. Suspensions were extremely rare. Bannings never happened unless the individual was an obvious troll. Yes, people flounced, but it was rare.
This is the last time, for a very long while, that I will post anything personal or experiential. Babble is simply no longer a place that is safe for me to do so, and I refuse to cling to the idea that babble can ever be the community it once was. I still hope that it will be a welcoming but shit-disturbing community as it should be, but it's time to move on.
Babble will never be everything for everyone on the progressive left, and it would be a crime if it were, but there is such a lack of compassion, such a lack of positive community culture here that people, good people, are reluctant - even afraid - to express anything that gets them really stoked. It's not even so much about it being a monoculture. It's just plain toxic.
I'm not leaving - I don't have that luxury - but I am going to be here purely as a moderator. I will do my job, and then some, I will contribute to both babble and rabble.ca, but I can no longer consider this a community. I can no longer invest myself in this space beyond what is necessary to do the best job I can as moderator.
This board's culture is the sum of its contributors, and if I find it toxic there is little or nothing I can do, as an individual, to change it. I'm work-to-rule now, and will enforce policy like any good bureaucrat.
It's up to you babble contributors to decide what kind of space you want this to be. I will be here to help, in any way I can and in any way you wish, insofar as it is reasonable, as a moderator. Just as a moderator. For now.