Site Owner Phil, answers question put to him by various readers over the years.
Why build a site like The Black Presence in Britain?
When I had the idea to build the site, there were very few black british history resources on the Internet. It was hard to find out anything at all about the lives of black people who lived in Britain prior to the 1950’s. I thought it would be great if there was one place on the web that students could find information about black British history. It is my hope that black British history will be integrated into school history lessons in in the United Kingdom, thus giving children a clearer view of how multicultural Britain has existed through history.
Who is this site aimed at?
This site is intended to be used as a starting point for anyone who is interested in British History. So teachers, students and researchers will benefit from the existence of this site. The main purpose of the site is to make British history more inclusive.
Isn’t it racist, what if there were a site called the White presence in Britain, surely this is double standards?
The site is specifically focussing on one area. History topics in Schools and Universities do this all the time. There are lots of sites and thousands of publications about British history that largely exclude the contribution of black people. This site seeks to make the information available to anyone who wants it, irrespective of race. Inadequate and incomplete history books do not give a true representation of British history. I think that’s something that has to change.
4) Why have you changed the name from the Black Presence in Britain to just blackpresence, what are you hiding?
Nothing at all, the site has changed it’s name and that was widely publicised. After 12 years on the web there are now lots of sites focusing on black British History. I decided that as many of our visitors were from overseas, that it might be more interesting and challenging to broaden the appeal of the site and write more about events and news in the diaspora. Black British History is quite a narrow focus and I want to expand.
5) What happened to the old forums, they were really lively and buzzing?
Well, I’m afraid they were killed by spammers 3 times. I was using the free software PHPBB to run the forums and though they were lively a few years ago they were slowly strangled by Russian spammers. The Spammers send out small programs called bots. These programs register on the forums as real users and then proceed to fill the forum with links to porn and viagra and other such nonsense. Sadly this began to drive the regular user away from the site.
Despite installing several anti spam measures, they kept getting through, my moderators were emailing me every day about the influx of spam. In the end I decided to pull the plug. It was taking up too much of my time.
6) Why does the site have a gmail email account and not a normal @blackpresence.co.uk email address?
The site did have blackpresence addresses however, these were again, choked with spam. Gmail has a brilliant spam filter which keeps my email time down to a minimum. Before I swapped to gmail, If I went on holiday for 2 weeks, I’d get home open outlook and have to download about 900 spam emails, it was a nightmare.
7) Given that there are so many black websites out there now, and black people are using the net much more. Is there still a need for your site?
Absolutely, remember there’s a difference between quantity and quality. It’s a slow road but visitor numbers are growing and the site still ranks on page one of Google after 15 years.
I aim to make Black Presence one of the best sites on the Internet for black British related information. All I need is time, the will and interest of the people. As long as you click the ads every now and again, the site will pay for itself and hopefully still be around in another 10 years.