One day in 1999 during my freshman year at BYU, my friends and I (one of whom became Benvolio) stumbled upon a ridiculously-large wooden board on the first floor of the Wilk. We marveled at the prospect of the carpeted frame covered with colored sheets of paper and were amused by the delightful answers the Board provided.
However, because we found the Board to be mildly entertaining, we placed the Board into our daily routine: we purchased a Jamba Juice (which we will forever refer to with its true name, ZUKA), relaxed on the extremely old red velvet couch on the second floor of the Wilk just above the Terrace, and then proceeded to the first floor of the Wilk to read the Board.
The following was one of the first questions we ever asked, thanks to numerous dating couples in the area:
Dear 100 Hour Board,
The MOA garden is dangerous to go near in the late hours. Shouldn't there be some sort of BYU PDAPD?
--Averting my Eyes
The Board became a staple in our lives for other important uses. For example, we girls occasionally loved to visit Campus Craft and Floral during lunch to see what new items were there. However, Benvolio and the two other guys we hung out with decided the store "reeked of estrogen" and refused to set foot in the store. They were grateful to discover the Board because it gave them something to read while the girls entertained themselves in a flower shop. (For the record, the guys only entered the store for worthwhile purchases, such as buying flowers or corsages for us.)
But the influence of the Board had left a huge impact on our character. Between discussions of dating, American Heritage, and Dining Plus money, we decided that someday we wanted to write for the 100 Hour Board. We didn't know what type of a feat that would be, but we would do it someday--somehow.
A jovial year of Board readership passed, and my friends and I left the University for spring and summer terms. I continued to read the Board when I returned fall semester, even though most of my friends had temporarily left the University for a two-year adventure during their summer break.
One day while walking through the Wilk, I discovered an oddly-placed scrap of paper pinned to the Board. It merely read, "If you are interested in becoming a writer for the Board, email firstname.lastname@example.org."
I pondered the idea for days, but eventually decided to write the mysterious email address and apply for the Board. None of my friends had attempted such a feat. Would it be worth the effort? Could I become a Board writer?
The editor, ever so kind, responded quickly and asked what subjects I could specialize in, if I knew anyone else who wrote for the Board, how many fingers were on my right hand, and all sorts of enumerative questions. A few days later, my inbox glowed with a new email message, "You have been accepted as a writer for the 100 Hour Board." I couldn't wait to write my friends and tell them I had accomplished something that they all wanted to do--and I was the first one to do it. That prick of pride eventually diminished, but writing for the Board would be my own adventure. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.
So I proceeded to write for the 100 Hour Board. I sometimes felt strange calling departments on campus to ask them odd questions, but other times the chase was exciting, especially when I had to fess up and tell someone why I was calling. Some of the people would say, "You write for the 100 Hour Board? That thing is so awesome!" I decided it was a good thing that I explained myself over the phone because I wouldn't want to be mobbed by adoring fans who might see me in person (other writers feel this same way, of course).
I tried to change my alias a few times, but ultimately I kept calling myself Duchess because no other name fit me as well. One winter semester I took an ever-so-popular Board writer hiatus to study in London, England, but I occasionally wrote in with the added pseudonym of Westminster. There was no real Duchess of Westminster in London, and since the BYU London Centre was located in the city of Westminster, I decided to be the city's duchess while I was a resident of jolly old England.
I didn't know any of the other writers on the Board for quite some time. I went to a pizza party once a semester, but two hours wasn't adequate time to get to know anyone well enough to consider them friends. Therefore I wrote in a sea of anonymity. But over time, I put names with faces, and eventually became better friends with such famed persons such as Othello, She Who Must Not Be Named, The Captain, Misaneroth, and the infamous PEZkopf, the only writer who refused to recognize any other Board writer outside of a party and insisted everyone call each other by their pseudonyms. Over time, Othello gave up his post as editor, and She Who Must Not Be Named assumed his position.
One day, She Who Must Not Be Named sent out and email announcing her resignation. Who wanted to be the new chief editor? Being the smart individual that I am, I realized that being the editor would lead to world domination, but since that wasn't my main motive for wanting to be the editor, I replied to the email and said I would assume the position if no one else wanted it.
Well, no one else did. And I soon found out why. I was assured that editorship wouldn't take very much time at all--just a few hours a week. Well, had the time allotment had been seriously misjudged. The system was as such that I was responsible for every step of the process. The questions from the Wilk box had to be typed by hand, and all the online questions submitted via email had to be collected out of an online database. The Web site existed at that time, but it was extremely basic and the search engine unnavigatable.
All submitted questions to the Board had to be assigned to a writer; each question was documented with the day it was sent out and who it was sent to. I had to keep track of how long it took for the question to return. Once a question came back with an answer, it had to be formatted into HTML and posted on the Web site, in addition to being printed hardcopy for the Wilk board. I always looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, where I could put the Board on break and not worry about it for a few days. But I realized there had to be a better way to set up the system.
I also had to invent the Board application, since inquiries from readers wanting to join the Board came more frequently than in the past, and acceptance to the Board had to reside in only the most qualified individuals. Occasionally the application was revised to keep the same people on campus from getting the same phone calls over and over again, but the purpose of the questions remained the same.
After Oz created a temporary Web site for the Board from a mysterious host server, he proceeded to take a hiatus from life for quite some time. The online Board had since continued to suffer in quality, so I wanted to speak to Oz about updating the site. After attempting to track him down for some time, I received an email saying that said Webmaster was going to retire, but that he had found a replacement--someone with Web space.
The new Webmaster (hence the penname "Webmaster") was extremely enthusiastic about the Board. I asked him if he could create a better system for submitting questions and posting answers that wouldn't be extremely time-consuming for me and other chief editors in the future. At this time it was mid-March 2003; In April he modified the system a bit so that questions could be collected just a bit easier, but with finals approaching, he said that realistically something amazing couldn't be set up until mid-summer.
Experience a change of pace with BYUSA: enter stage left (not exactly the villain in this narrative, but one is unsure where the organization lies). That same semester, I decided it would be a good idea to meet with someone in BYUSA, just to establish relations and keep tabs on the Board budget issue--nothing really other than pizza parties, which were a good source of Board unity. So I called the vice president of Public Relations who answered all inquiries in good spirits, but wouldn't you know, she thought it would be a good idea for me to come in and speak with her personally. I definitely thought something was different in the atmosphere of BYUSA treatment, but only agreed to the meeting a week later because BYUSA now knew my real name, and I didn't want to get tracked down. I also thought it would be a good idea to have backup, so I invited the Mighty Quinn to accompany me as a second opinion for whatever issues might surface.
And issues surfaced, indeed. We found the vice president, she invited us into the office of the BYUSA clubs coordinator. Naturally, there must have been a mistake in the first place because the Board was not a club. However, we had the meeting with this coordinator and vice president anyway; perhaps they met together with the same mentality that we had--people are always safer in numbers. So the battle ensued between the independents and the BYUSA administration. Apparently a question had been answered that a faculty member had taken as personal offense, and the news escalated up the ranks of the BYU administration to someone who eventually called said clubs coordinator. This situation, as you can probably concur, was not a good situation for the Board to be in. Naturally the Mighty Quinn and I were extremely confused about all of this, especially since the coordinator and vice president acted like the Board was plotting to take over campus. Said persons also decided that if the Board was under BYUSA's domain, the Board would have to be moderated.
Moderation was nothing more than having to personally email the Board's daily postings to the vice president of Public Relations, which was quite silly as it was because the answers were posted on the Web site as well. Why the VP couldn't just read them online was apparently beyond comprehension. Eventually I stopped sending the emails, and, shockingly, nothing was ever heard about the subject again.
Meanwhile, life was good. Board parties, thanks to Othello, continued to exist. I eventually found out that the Board didn't have a budget but was given money from the excess PR budget. The amount was definitely not $200 per year, I was sure, for the first party I organized fall semester was over half that amount. However, I decided the Board needed more parties--the writers would be able to work together better if they knew each other better. Since I had decided BYUSA would only fund one party per semester, I took a suggestion from the writers and created potluck parties. Potlucks expanded the writer party base to three or four a semester instead of just one. The concept was new, but it would continue to thrive.
Mid-summer came and went, and the Board's popularity continued to grow. I went out of town for a week and The Mighty Quinn tried to assume the editor role. Readers still wonder why some of the links weren't correct or the posts weren't coded correctly, but three days obviously wasn't enough to learn the current system with all its many pieces. The online Board reached hundreds of visits per day, and the questions continued to grow as well. I didn't know what to do. Would the Webmaster come through? Would the Board become completely overrun with questions? I had to hire new writers to help handle the question volume, which was great, but I could do so much work...
One marvelous day in October, my persistence brought to light a new, but in-a-working-stage Board site, theboard.byu.edu. The Board completely shut down for a week for system maintenance, which, I am sure, caused severe suffering for both the readers and the writers--they were addicted to something that they couldn't cure. But they soon resumed their readership (and writership). The new system didn't have a ribbon-cutting ceremony or a parade fanfare. Instead, a simple email announcing its creation had to suffice.
All writers were given a login to the system, where they could access all questions, set up profiles, and comment on other questions ready to post (and would post at 100 hours). All submitted question were sent to an Inbox for easy access instead of a random database. The printed version of the Board was accessible with the click of a button. The new system shaved off hours of work, and the writers as a whole were so delighted that, to this day, they never seem to log out. But Board loyalty appeared to be enough, for the Webmaster was content to manage the technical difficulties, while I navigated the writers and the administrative system policies.
Fall semester came and went, and habitual tradition set up a break over Christmas 2003. But since virtually everything was online and my work was reduced down to practically nothing, the writers complained and wanted to keep the Board open. And apparently so did the readers. Since no one was used to working on the Board over Christmas, the idea of keeping it open was somewhat new, but I took down the notes on the Web about the vacation break and let everyone board to their heart's content. The only thing that closed was the Wilk Board submission box because no one was in town to check it.
The Board's original popularity was (and still is) created mainly by word-of-mouth. But naturally, the Board writers wanted to step up their presence a notch, so we decided to launch into the world of advertising. Thanks to the Board's in-house advertising and marketing design specialist, the Mighty Quinn, the Board received approval to put up Board posters in all of the open access labs winter 2004. A few of the writers also created a Board t-shirt, which readers can purchase through any Board writer if they happen to know one, or at our semesterly PR promotion booth. Other future advertising ideas are in the works as well.
The Board celebrated its one year anniversary of the new Web site April 15, 2004. Since the Board really never had a birthday, it decided to adopt said date as the day of its birth, even if it was sometime ten years ago. I organized a party to celebrate, complete with BYU "Y" Sparkle. By this time, the overall concept of parties had grown to a new level. By June 2004, writers would issue each other random invitations to play video games, croquet, and bocce ball, see movies, eat dessert, and the like. My idea of Board writer friendship had exploded beyond anything I had intended. But the intention was great because the writers were friends, and knowing about each writer's life outside of the Board made it more fun to associate with each other and be Board writers.
This tale of BYUSA won't be referred to as an issue, because it really wasn't. Once upon a time, the new PR coordinator for BYUSA contacted me through one of the Board writers that he knew (since the Board is "illusive" and people don't know how to get a hold of it besides submitting questions). So I met with Mr. Todd; he offered the Board a lot of perks in BYUSA if the Board would do certain things. After much time and discussion, the Board and BYUSA wrote up some guidelines and terms of agreement, and the Board officially became part of BYUSA PR again--this time they weren't homeless. It moved to the realms of the BYUSA server, and I began to apply a bunch of new policies to the overall setup of the Board and its writers.
I also handed some of the editing reins over to Ambrosia. The Board was receiving more questions every day than it had the day before, so the number of questions that had to be reviewed was becoming overwhelming. And thus began the standard of having more than one editor on the Board.
Since the readership volume had exploded over the previous year, the readers started desiring certain characteristics to be incorporated into the Board, and the Webmaster began to work his magic. Unfortunately he came down with a case of engaged-itis in the middle of his project and was unable to finish. Fortunately for the Board, it found two good souls, Fractile and Dinomight, who volunteered to complete the Website; the new site unveiled on 8 December 2004. If you've made it this far in this history, you are viewing the new Website that shows their handiwork.
Depite the policy that Board writers must be BYU students, I always told myself I wouldn't leave the Board while it was in an internal state of chaos. There are other things I wanted to do but couldn't while the Board was mandating my time. Therefore, I felt like Fall 2005 was a good transition period. The Board had calmed a bit internally and was a bit more stable in operations. I turned the title of editor-and-chief over to Pa Grape, and with the continued help of Ambrosia and Latro, I knew that the Board would continue to thrive and be an organization that would further the world with good.
Long live the Board, the writers, and its loyal readers.