We are updating our site to incorporate the changes that have been made by the updates to the First Certicate in English (FCE) exam from Cambridge English.
I have had a few complaints about swearing in the forum, even though the posts were legitimate questions about the use of slang and swearwords. There aren't that many threads dealing with these, but some of them do contain language that somewould consider to be extreme and taboo.
The World Cup is about to start and the football glossary posted in the forum a couple of years ago has now been updated, turned into a regular glossary format and put onto the main site. You can view it alphabetically or by category.
After we changed everyone's passwords a couple of weeks ago, people were asking some questions about passwords and personal data. Firstly, we don't hold much personal data- as people have usernames, we don't know real names. We do ask for the year and date of birth to comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). We ask for an active email account and send a link that has to be clicked on to complete the registration. This is to make it harder for automated registration by advertisers and spammers. We also ask where you're from, where you are based now and what your first language is. There are also optional fields where people can add biographical information and interests if they wish. Unless you use your real name as a username or connect via Facebook, the data is anonymous. If an acount is deleted, this information is deleted from our records.
A few years ago we used to host some pieces written by Martin Wolff and Niu Quiang about their experiments in trying to teach English in new ways in China, which have since evolved into the China Holistic English site (link broken).
Our site reached its tenth birthday this year. Technology has changed a lot over that time, but the basics of forums have remained, and are still the best thing going for me on the site. When I was doing my MA, learner-driven was a buzzword, but forums are all that. And more besides. The simple act of communicating works.
In the Jacobean play The Revenger's Tragedy, the central figure, Vindice or Vendice, starts out as someone who has suffered injustice- the murder of his love, but soon the play descends into a bloodbath where the victim has so exceeded any offence that he has become worse than the wrong he set out to right, only far worse. It seems appropriate for the forum context that there are different spellings of the protagonist's name, and doubt about the identity of the author.
Last year I culled about 500 dead links from our database, but this year the total was lower- 231, just under ten percent. This doesn't include inactive sites like blogs, just sites or pages that have disappeared, and will include some sites that were unavailable when checked but still exist.
I have just cleaned out our links database and if it is anything like a representative sample of the ESL industry on the web, things are looking grim. We had just under 3,000 links when I started and have just under 2,500 now. It's a particularly dull and time-consuming job and I do it about once a year, though I skipped last year as I was on a slowish connection. Even so, it's a lot of dead links and right across the board.
The idioms section has had a display problem recently, with some html code appearing, so people may have seen entries with same strange bits using < >. Sorry for this; I have been going through and removing them.