Originally Posted by Just Jeff
You got the basic answers already. Ed "Not to Worry" Speer had the Yahoo group for years. It was a great community, and lots of fun...Ed organized the original hammock hangs, usually in Hot Springs, NC, and Dave "Youngblood" Womble was one of the key drivers for hammock technology (SPE, PeaPod, SnugFut, etc). The only drawback was the text-only-email format that made some kinds of communication a little more difficult, we couldn't embed pics/videos in the messages, etc.
At the same time, Whiteblaze had the Hammock Camping subforum. (That's where JRB introduced their first underquilt.) There was a lot of traffic on it, and a lot of ground dwellers getting irritated at all the hammock posts. So attroll and I setup HF in Oct 2006...not with the intent to reduce the traffic on either of those sites, but to give hammockers a place to talk without making WB's ground dwellers mad, and without having to put up with their comments about how hammocks don't work, in a more user-friendly format than email, etc.
So we went live in Oct 2006 and grew from there. Our original membership came mostly from whiteblaze, but we continued growing. In the beginning, the DIY influence on HF was huge and we were definitely drivers of hammock camping technology. That attracted more members from all over the internet, and we started adding moderators: Slowhike, angrysparrow, headchange4u, NCPatrick, Cannibal, and now JohnSawyer. It's great that folks are willing to do so much work for free...purely volunteer.
We've had some growing pains along the way, but a great community has sprung up on HF. We're willing to meet perfect strangers in the woods for hangs b/c we feel like we know them. We're willing to send folks PIF gear b/c we value what it means for our community. We're willing to send free gear to members who lost theirs by fire, theft, etc. All based on how this little corner of the internet has become a family.
Frankly, although we try hard to keep commercial influences out of our community, HF's role in driving technology is limited compared to what it used to be...largely because some of the key minds in developing new ideas got frustrated with new "vendors" appropriating their ideas in the name of the free market, so they stopped posting. Thankfully, though, the community as a whole still posts about how integrity in business practices is still important.
We still get some bumps now and then with moderating the site, mainly when there's tension between the community's norms here and how other sites are run "more freely" and "less draconian." It's usually a new member trying to figure out if they're willing to follow our rules or if they'd like to go somewhere else. Sometimes it's more established members, though...sometimes even in person (more or less). Such is life, and such are the changes in the community...can't please everybody. We don't force anyone to read HF.
Overall, HF is still one of the most respectful, content-rich and noise-free forums on the internet. And largely still focused on our original topic of hammocks. We consider that a success.