Whenever he thought about it, he felt terrible. And so, at last, he came to a fateful decision. He decided not to think about it. ~John-Roger and Peter McWilliams

Andy Pearson, 1998

The Board originally existed around 1995 in the step-down lounge in the Wilkinson Student Center step-down lounge (where the Garden Court now stands), but building construction took it down. The Board was out of operation for at least two years. How it started at that time or what it was like is unknown. It sat in an unknown BYUSA storage area in the WILK until the 1998-1999 Public Relations person under SAC heard about it. Her name was Audrey, and she worked for Dan, who was the VP over SAC during that same time. I was recently off my mission and new to BYU; Dan was in my ward, so I asked him how to get involved. He suggested I talk to Audrey; she presented several programs to me that I could direct, and since resurrecting the 100 Hour Board immediately grabbed my attention, I took it on.

We had to find the Board; clean it up; find a new place for it and get approval, which was a whole process and ordeal itself; get the plaque and question box made; and get the Board, plaque, and box mounted. Then questions and writers just started appearing.

I posted a flier on the Board stating whoever was interested in writing should email me, and since I would be editing all content anyway, I let anyone be a writer. I would meet with them in person once to give them the general idea and what would be inappropriate and gave them a policy and procedures guidelines document. Not much sophistication to the actual hiring process though. But we got lots of them quickly and I soon stopped advertising for them. Meanwhile, Karen Stay designed the first 100 Hour Board Web site so we could submit questions online.

Karen Stay

As a freshman in 1995, I found the 100 hour board in the Wilk, and was immediately hooked. Every time I walked through, I checked for new entries, and was thrilled with the prospect of a place where you could get an answer to any question on any subject. I saw a question once, though, that I thought had an unsatisfactory answer; I believe it was the one about "Why is a raven like a writing desk" and the person who answered didn't know. I had read the "Annotated Alice" and knew exactly where it had Lewis Carroll's own answers (though he had posed it as a riddle without an answer, he later thought of some) and so I photocopied the page, and wrote a note with it and put it in the box. When they printed my note -and even came up with an ascii representation of the little hedgehog I was signing my name with at the time.

I got to thinking that I could be part of this. Unfortunately I had some conflict and couldn't meet at the same time as any of the other writers on the board, and so I never met them. To me they're still just those mysterious people who miraculously come up with answers in 4 days.

While at BYU I worked for a couple of different departments (CHHP and Alumni) doing Web Design (which was still very new; we were straight coding all of the HTML), and I also wrote the Web pages for two clubs I was in, and I thought that the 100 Hour board would be a perfect candidate for going online. I got the website through clubs.byu.edu and threw something together. It wasn't very fancy, but I think I had a little form mail script running that let people submit questions online.

The Emergence of Funny Questions

And so the Board continued its lonely existence, until one day, in a stroke of inspiration equal to that of SAC's decision to begin the Board, someone noticed the wording on the plaque next to the Board. It said "Place a question in the box and it will be answered within 100 Hours." "Really?" thought the inquirer. "Any question at all? Let's give it a shot." This brilliant individual penned some silly question, which has since been lost to all mankind, and dropped it in the box. The question was so silly that he or she didn't even attach his or her name to it. Rather, a silly false name was made up to match the silly content of the question.

Some time later, the person in charge of collecting questions from the box (or at least someone who looked in the box from time to time) retrieved this silly question from the box. Like the student who penned the question and the question itself, this collector's identity is shrouded in the impenetrable fog of undocumented history. The prudent historian is left to guess at the nature of this individual merely by the way he or she handled this silly question. It seems unlikely that this person was in fact a member of SAC, and well nigh impossible that it was the president of SAC, for this individual had a sense of humor.

Whoever this person was, he or she decided to follow the letter of the Board, if not the spirit of the Board (that is, the spirit given to it by SAC). He or she did not discard this silly question, as many might have. Since the Board promised an answer within 100 Hours, this individual decided to give one! In the everlasting tradition of "ask a silly question, get a silly answer", he or she answered the question as it deserved to be answered, and provided his or her own funny name as a signature to the provided answer. It was at this point of silly-question discovery that the Board, as we know it today, was truly born. In fact, one might say, the Board created by SAC died that day and was resurrected as a truer, higher Board.

When the question and its response was later posted, it caused a bit of a stir among the asker and his or her group of friends, which encouraged them to submit even more silly questions, along with a serious question or two, that were signed with false names. The questions were continually answered. The 100 Hour Board began to grow.

Administration Issues

Audrey Perry, Former SAC Public Relations Executive Director

It was the spring of 1998. I was a freshman. Somehow, the details are a bit fuzzy and difficult to reconstruct due to the haze of freshman optimism that clearly surrounded me, but somehow, I decided that I should get involved BYUSA. I was hired to be the SAC Public Relations Executive Director. In one of the many training sessions I endured, Dan, the SAC VP, gave me a list of old, non-functional BYUSA programs that I could consider starting up again. Two programs on the list jumped out at me: the 100 Hour Board and the Soapbox. The idea behind the Soapbox was self-explanatory. Once we found the actual box, the program practically started itself. The 100 Hour Board was much more difficult to conceptualize. No one in BYUSA really remembered what it was. Even the advisors were fuzzy on the details. I don't think SAC had even been in charge of it before. But the concept fascinated me. Why 100 Hours? What would people ask? Where would the Board be? Who would answer the questions? How would they find the answers in only 100 Hours?

So, for the next few months, every time a volunteer would come talk to me about doing Public Relations work I would list the 100 Hour Board as a program with great potential: an exciting, unpredictable program for the most inquisitive of minds. Then, Andy Pearson showed up. My list of potential programs bored him until I mentioned the 100 Hour Board. He instantly volunteered to take it over. We had to fight (BYUSA was/is? nothing if not a massive, powerless bureaucracy) to actually get the Board up on the wall on the first floor of the Wilk -- not because anyone at BYUSA suspected the potential censorship issues of the Board, but just because so. many. people. had to approve its existence and placement.

Finally, the Board was mounted across from the travel board, the plaque was made, and the question box was placed. At that point, Andy was completely in charge. I forced him to come up to the BYUSA offices a couple times in the following months -- just to check in --but he seemed to have everything in control. I'd check out the Board every day on my way into the BYUSA offices, beaming with pride because Andy was doing such a fabulous job. The questions and answers would magically appear in under 100 hours! I had no idea how he was doing it or who was writing those answers, but the ingenuity and self-sufficiency of the Board greatly impressed me.

Then, the silly questions with the silly answers started to pop up. It was a while before anyone other than me at BYUSA noticed. When the Board finally was brought to their attention through a complaint, my superiors at BYUSA did not like the way things were going one bit. The Board was subversive. It was trivializing a BYUSA program! Why couldn't they just answer the decent questions like: "How do I get involved in BYUSA?" and "Where do I go to pay a parking ticket?" Alas, the Board had bucked BYUSA control and taken on a personality all its own.

So, we had a series of meetings about the purpose of the Board. Andy and Matt were called in at one point to discuss and defend the Board. We reviewed a sample of the questions and answers to determine if they were appropriate. The main concern of the BYUSA powerful was the image the Board was conveying to people about BYUSA -- should BYUSA be associated with something it apparently couldn't control? Would it make BYUSA less trustworthy? Would people take BYUSA less seriously because of the Board? These were genuinely tough questions given the immense amount of credibility BYUSA has always had on campus, and it took many, many meetings discussing the Seven Habits to resolve the issue. The BYUSA powers-that-be were eventually convinced, and the Board was allowed to continue being self-sufficient and uncensored -- at least until the next BYUSA President or VP decided to flex his or her muscles.

I left BYUSA in the spring of 1999, and that is where my involvement with the Board ended. However, until the day I graduated, I would purposely take routes through the basement of the Wilk so I could check in and make sure all was well with the 100 Hour Board -- and feel proud of whoever it was who was directing and writing for the endlessly entertaining Board.

The administration was very concerned about content. Officials regularly read material, and when they would occasionally rip down content, I would get notified. The Board was shaky for a while with threats to pull endorsement. We had several promotional campaigns, and the news of the controversy spurred interest among the student body. We put up posters around campus and put fliers on the centerpieces of tables in the CougarEat. We put a press release in the Daily Universe and put up information on the Board about how it works. We had a great flier and poster with these smart looking nerds crunching numbers on a chalkboard looking like they were solving life's deep secrets and challenging people to stump the 100 Hour Board staff.

I answered very few questions and spent most of my time editing questions, dealing with administration, and organizing the process of managing the Board. I pushed the limits of appropriate content, mostly to create attention but because such a forum was needed at BYU. And although rare, I did ask writers to rephrase some material.

Board System & Organization

We slowly got more organized and actually had a few meetings, but the Board, questions, and answers were largely managed by email. I put all the writers' names on an email list, and every day or so when I retrieved the questions I would email them to everyone and assign them to writers, but writers could also answer other questions that interested them that were assigned to other writers. This system required a fair amount of effort, as well as took up a lot of the 100 allotted hours; I kept a spreadsheet of questions assigned and if writers were not good at responding I would stop sending them questions and good writers would get more questions; I had to keep track of how long it had been since a question was asked, in addition to who was answering how many questions, so as not to overburden writers who already had a lot of questions.

I started to learn what topics writers were good at and they would regularly tell me which topics they preferred. The answers would then be e-mailed back me, and I would print them up and post them. I worked in the computer lab right next to the Board, which made administration easy.

Many of the writers never met each other. The Board attracted extremely interesting people, and I wanted them to all get together. So we eventually had a party for all the writers, and it was so much fun to place a face with the writers we knew so well. We had pizza and played some games; it was a great time.

Eric Snider, a previously BYU-legendary comedian, wrote Snide Remarks and some clever pieces for the Daily Universe. He admired the 100 Hour Board; we received some questions about him and got him to write the answers, as well as had him be a guest writer for some questions.

I got the Board organized and running well, and then passed the day-to-day operations and editing on to another, and slowly got more involved in school, my career, and graduating from BYU. I finished BYU in Business Management with an Emphasis in Information Systems in 2001 and have worked in IT Risk Consulting since.