Answer Me This

Maybe this question won't be answered; but, it'll be asked. I'm getting lots of private mails from participants who suggest the Forum has been redirected, that MLee Smith has sold out, that Margaret and some others are gone, that new people are in key leadership positions here, that there are no attorneys involved in the posting fraternity any longer, and that more is being changed here than just the store-front appearance of the Forum. Is any of this true? Is all of this false? If the answer to these questions, respectively, is other than NO and YES, please elaborate. We deserve answers.


  • 29 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Dandy Don,
    I live here in Middle TN and tried to call M Lee Smith in Brentwood today to ask some of the questions you posed. I could never get a "live" person on the phone. Every time I thought I was pushing the right button to get someone, I was taken to another menu. I'll try again tomorrow.
  • Popeye,

    I talked to customer service about this, and we're not sure why you're not getting through. We have a lot of phone numbers - try 373-7517 or (800) 274-6774. From 8 to 5 Central Time, those numbers are answered by a real live person, usually Denise, who's a real nice person and a pretty good pool player, too.

    Ask for me if you want, although I'm leaving early today (been a long week).

    James Sokolowski
  • questions from MS subscribers are copied to me. i believe i have responded to each legal issue presented.
    Peyton Irby
    Editor, Mississippi Employment Law Letter
    Watkins Ludlam Winter & Stennis, P.A.
    (601) 949-4810
  • I have not gone away, but have been on the road almost constantly since the first of September. I haven't even had the chance to peruse The Forum in almost two weeks. Thank you for all the private e-mails asking if I'm okay. I am...just tired! I'm packing my suitcase to leave again even as we speak!

    Someone called my voice mail to tell me that Don D have invoked my name in some form or fashion. I read this post and the other huge one about format changes. While I don't work for M. Lee Smith, I know lots of the people there. Lee Smith is still there, vey much running the place and alive and well. I just saw him at the conference in Las Vegas.

    I know the people that work constantly to keep this site up and running for us. They really care and want to make it as useful as possible for us. I think we need to give them a break and simply help them de-bug the new format, e-mailing them (or posting) problems as we experience them.

    This is not the first time we've had a change to the format. Each time it gets better and more useful once things settle down. I also think that we need to remember that they provide this as a service to us and don't have to do it. Can we tread a little more softly because I've learned a lot, gotten lots of help and made lots of friends? I don't want to become such a pain that the people at M. Lee Smith become sorry they ever hosted this website for us.

    I'll try to catch up with every thing on The Forum next week. I'm sorry I've not been as faithful as I have in the past, but I still want to participate!

    Have a good weekend all of you. I think you've earned an extra margarita, for sure. Don D, that goes double for you...and you'd better lay off the raw meat!!

    Margaret Morford
  • Well, thanks for finally posting a reply. Our concern for you and the Forum is for no reason other than genuine concern. And my invoking of your name is out of 'love' for you and what you do for us. And don't anyone misinterpret that remark. We do, after all, develop a sort of 'love' for each other with this tool. I know lot's of you 'love' to 'hate' me, but that's ok too. One or two of you even 'love' me. So there.
  • Hmm.

    I don't think the Forum has been redirected. Honestly, we weren't trying to alter the Forum in any way except as part of the overall redesign of the site. As James said elsewhere, all of the changes were unintentional side effects of intentional changes to non-Forum pieces of

    There's only one change in a key leadership position: Dan Oswald has come on board as president. He hasn't been here long enough to make any changes. In fact, his first full day was Wednesday. I've known Dan in the industry for several years, and I have a high degree of confidence that changes that come about as a result of his arrival here will make our products more valuable to our subscribers and other customers.

    Margaret Morford is still around; her business relationship with our company has changed, but that happened quite a while ago. She's involved with the Forum because she's good at this stuff, enjoys contributing, and hopes she may get some consulting business out of it.

    Several of our attorney editors continue to be involved. Peyton Irby in Mississippi jumped on this one, for instance. They tend to jump in on questions of a specifically legal nature, particularly if the question involves state law and is asked by a person from their state. Some of them can't participate fully because of the strictures of legal ethics rules in their states.

    The only personnel change I can think of that's had much of an effect on the Forum was James's arrival in Christy Reeder's position as web editor. They are both immensely talented people, but they are different people. In addition, you may have recently seen the names of some of our staffers who have always worked on our web products but with the asbestos shield of anonymity. Chastened by their reception, they have now retreated to lick their wounds.

    The only major, substantive change that is under consideration - and has been since our earlier airing of the pro's and con's on the Forum - is the idea of limiting Forum participation to newsletter subscribers. I just bring it up because I don't want you conspiracy-minded types to think that such a decision, if it comes, was driven in any way by recent unpleasantness.

    If any of you have further concerns about any of this, feel free to email me or James.

    Brad Forrister
    Director of Publishing
    M. Lee Smith Publishers

  • Yeah! I love the idea of only subscribers on the forum! If the decision goes through - awesome! If not, then it's okay. Thanks for giving us a heads up on the potential changes in the future - it's very helpful.
  • Clear communication is an excellent tool. One that cannot be overutilized, specially by those in the HR field.

    For those that have retreated, licking their wounds, --Welcome to the forum. The forum learning curve can be a bit steep at times, but taking the lessons personally and not returning to the fray is not what is intended by most of the posters, except maybe the Forum Mafia, why else would they use a name with those connotations?

    The forum tends to have it's own brand of "natural selection." If you allow yourself to be selected out, then your brand of intellect, wit, information and perspective will not benefit the forum users or yourself. Don't allow yourself to become an 'extinct species' - contribute.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 11-14-03 AT 05:19PM (CST)[/font][br][br]Um, Marc - who are you talking to? I've just reread the thread - and I'm confused...x:-/
  • Good question Mwild31. I was speaking to Brad and the unnamed staffers with the asbestos shields of anonymity who entered the fray and have now retreated to lick their wounds.

    Looks like a couple of posts squeezed in between Brads and my posts, perhaps that created the confusion? Or perhaps it is my writing style?

    Either way, sorry for the confusion.
  • No worries - thanks for clearing it up. It must have been a flow thing. I kept trying to follow & then I thought maybe those 'voices in your head' you keep talking about took over your body & made you post a response here rather than in another area. x:-) Ditto - though! My sentiments exactly x:-)
  • Marc, I trust the "Forum Mafia" comment was in jest. The name was thrust upon us by one of our esteemed participants and was always used in a humorous sense. No negative connotations were ever implied.
  • Thanks for the response Brad. What's the recent unpleasantness? This place is like Cheers or any other bar. You've got all types of people from all sorts of places coming to the door and hopefully they all have something in common, Human Resources. Some come in and some don't. Some come in and stay, some leave. Some peek in and walk on by. Some flip the bird and run. Some never leave and spend the nite. Like me. Some turn the chairs up on the tables and mop at night, so the place will shine the next day, like James. But when we heard the bar was being sold, we got nervous. Of course we don't understand the intracacies of who owns what and what the affiliation of this place is with Margaret and others and all those details. It is interesting though, that 95% of the lawyer contributors have left this place entirely. Maybe they just weren't getting any clients from it. As many attorneys who say they write for this thing, sometimes we'll beg for days for one of them to engage in a conversation when we stalemate and all we have is silence. But, I digress. I will tip you hugely if you'll delete the woman on the home page screen. Or at least make her mop up at night. x:-)
  • I hesitate to respond anymore due to the download times invovled - but I don't want to be perceived as running from the fray x;-).

    James and Brad, you've allayed many of our concerns. And I do understand the bugs that come from a major technological overhaul of a website as large as this. Why, though, was some foresight not given to what these changes would do to the Forum, where, I daresay, 90 percent of the participants are subscribers? All the pretty colors and graphics in the world aren't going to be appreciated if it takes even a few secondss more to download a thread - and right now it's taking more than that. I'm alright at work - but at home I'm on the old fashioned phone line. I won't dare try to sign into the forum this weekend - I'd time out before log in would even complete. While some of the comments may have seemed a little rough, it's criticism out of frustration. We had a tool that worked great, and, as I'm sure you're tired of reading, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    Anyway, y'all have a great weekend and hopefully we'll come back on Monday to no more big blue boxes on the side!
  • I think that I've posted this in the past when asked what my relationship to M. Lee Smith Publishers was, but so there's no mystery, here's the scoop. About four years ago, I was heading up the HR consulting practice for a national consulting firm out of North Carolina. Lee Smith and I happened to be at the same legal seminar and began to talk about a joint venture. Lee and I finally agreed to begin a consulting practice as a natural extension of his publishing business. TheHRedge, Inc. was born and Lee and I were co-owners. I was thrilled to partner with Lee because I had taken his newsletter for years and used his products, as well as recommending them to my clients. I still recommend them because they are excellent! About two years ago, Lee agreed to allow me to buy out the consulting practice (theHRedge, Inc. only...not the publishing piece). While I own the business outright, I still do programs with Lee as well as various projects.

    I continue to participate in The Forum because I learn something new all the time as well as meet other HR people on-line. I recommend The Forum as a wonderful learning tool to all the HR groups I speak in front of. (I hope some of our new members came from those recommendations and find it to be alot of help to them.) I answer questions and offer help because I believe it's what good HR people do. I got help when I started in HR and I believe we owe it to our profession to help others learn and grow. I think I've gotten a few inquiries about the services of theHRedge, Inc. from my answers (no business that I'm aware of), but after almost 2 1/2 years of answering questions, I'm definitely not doing this to drum up business! There are much better, more cost effective ways to market the business. I participate just like everyone of you, who make time to help your fellow professionals.

    Hope that's a clear explanation.

    Margaret Morford
  • Ray: I also trust that Marc's comment about the mafia is in jest. (I'm not Italian, but I do carry a gun.) Although I did not participate in labelling that group, I think I have been included in it oftentimes. I don't think you'll find anywhere three people more attuned to the feelings of others, more gregarious in welcoming new people with a slap on the back and a hearty guffaw, or more concerned for/with the problems our fellow HR staff are struggling with.....than you, me and Para(beetle).

    I think we, all of us, have every right to voice our concerns about the redesign in whatever manner we choose, unencumbered by the thoughts others have about how we might have voiced it differently, or more gently. If hides are too thin for the constructive criticism and screaming protestations, they can either retreat to lick their wounds or kill our passwords. After all, they obviously control the buttons.

    I've gotta get coffee. I hear the rooster crowing.
  • Forum mafia,

    Just some gentle teasing intended.

  • Good. BTW, Don and I agree, based on the membership criteria, you definitely qualify, Marc.
  • What membership criteria? I wasn't aware there was any.
  • Well Beagle, since you coined the term, you should know. You must have used some kind of criteria to put Don, Ritaanz and me in the group - with you as the godfather. :oo

  • Using that logic the criteria must have been "those who have picked on Parabeagle mercilessly and maliciously and without reason or provocation." x;-)
  • And I thought the name Beaglepuss was a term of endearment.
  • Beagle has this dog/cat identiy crisis going on inside his head so when you call him Beaglepuss he gets easily confused.
  • Quit it! You guys are giving me a headache! Ow!
  • i want out! Associating with you guys is killing my reputation. You guys ride around without me. I'm walking.
  • Sorry Don, neither you nor I chose to be in the "group" so we can't chose to be out either. Beagle put us there, only he can take us out.

    Sorry Beag, I was just getting mystical again... or is that mythical?
  • Does that mean I am a 'made man?' My wife is not Italian, she's Sicilian, which I think is one step closer to the birthplace of La Cosa Nostra.
  • No, no. You're not a "made" man. You have to get over 1000 posts to be a made man. Don's a made man almost four times over. He is, indeed, a "Don" x;-)

  • At last, a goal. At this rate, I may actually know something about HR by the time I get to the 1,000. Bear with me.x:-8
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