Yes, RichardDawkins.net belonged to Richard Dawkins. So, in that sense he had the right to close the forum and replaces it with a narrower blog system instead. Of course that is not taking into account what the good Professor wished to use his web site for and the impact of his change upon his own purposes.
Richard spearheaded a movement to try and build up science and reason in the face of growing irrationality. That movement needed a number of things, activists, resources and a refuge for those that wanted to come "out" as atheists. The later being the sole purpose of the Out Campaign
The forum fulfilled an important role in all this: allowing thousands of members to organise activity; taking in new members who were either outing themselves or finding refuge from places where outing was too dangerous for them; building up scientific and reasoning resources; generating a community out of the proverbial herd of cats. To do all this required a great deal of effort and investment of both time and emotion by the volunteers.
What Richard has done is to disconnect that community, replaced real social connection with presentation and simple response, and told everyone in that community that their body of work over four years was a small, unimportant, trivial thing that can just be thrown away. He certainly has the right to do it but he does not have the right to avoid the consequences of such an action. the consequences are that he lost the activists and shut down one of the key instruments of his campaign. Maybe he doesn't understand this but that is what has happened nevertheless.
Don't be sad, its not all doom and gloom. Why? Because hundereds of rd.net refugees have built a new site with the idea of keeping on, but no longer under Richards banner. You will find us at http://www.rationalskepticism.org.
We are somewhat new and improved there. We are still committed to the guidelines allowing criticism of ideas but not attacks on the person. Now we have been able to rationalise the structure without the Richard Dawkins sales/fan aspect and with wider science range. On the old site there was General Science and then evolution and biology. The new site now includes Physics
, Earth Sciences
and more. The area on religion
is more comprehensive and focussed as is the scope of topic areas for debunking creationism
, pseudo science
and other enemy of reason stuff. There are years worth of resources we are trying to salvage from the old site but its going to be a long task and some of it has been lost forever. So it goes.