Not many people know that the basis of AVO Magazine is a Dutch language forum about Japan-related topics. AVO Forum started out on 16 May 2003, which makes it today exactly 16 years ago. This forum was at first an anime forum, and later on, transformed in a forum for Japan lovers and was a cosy place for several discussions, projects, fun games and offline meetings.
Why this attention for AVO Forum? Because it all started with AVO Forum, it is needed to share this information with those who are not familiar with it or forgot about the forum. Earlier this year, AVO Forum got hacked. Someone found a weak spot and the forum was put down by the hosting. At that time, it was not possible to take direct action to find a solution. Days became weeks, weeks became months and now we are here in May, without any steps made. Is it possible to get the forum online again? Maybe yes, but will it be worth it? Not sure, but there are a lot of good memories stored in this database. These memories make me always smile.
The forum is a precious hobby project that started out as a place without rules. Everybody can probably guess that this will never work and they were right. For me, AVO Forum was a good place to learn new things, from other peoples, about myself, my creativity and get to know cool people.
The most precious project for many, that took place to celebrate 10 years of AVO, was the AVO Book on a Travel. It took an almost 1-year journey through The Netherlands and Belgium. Everybody was worried that the booklet would be delivered (in one piece) to the next person. Every time the booklet got sent, we would see a few photos of the new additions to the booklet and that made others enthusiastic to join as well. If I browse the booklet now, I can read the several stories people had on the forum, but also during meetings, find new ideas for AVO Forum, creative projects, a lot of (Hello Kitty) stickers, origami and more. All those pieces of art are valuable and make me nostalgic. From making themed year calendars, to poetry contest, from the AVO Hunting game (a bit like The Werewolves of Millers Hollow game, but then on the forum) to interesting discussions that make you learn something. Furthermore, the existence of AVO Forum was also the reason to organise AVO J-Rock Festival in 2013 and AVO J-Music Festival in 2018.
AVO Forum was for a lot of people a place where they could grow and found out their newest interests. Things change, people come and people go. But some will remember AVO Forum as a safe space where they could hang out with other like-minded people. If the forum wasn’t hacked, the forum would be still online. Yes, AVO Forum became more inactive, also thanks to social networking sites, people going on with their lives and interest in Japan can fade away. But there were for me no reasons to put the forum offline. Furthermore, I wasn’t planning to throw a place away for some who love to hang out from time to time. Of course, for me personally, it is a special thing. It is something I started out when I was younger, it grew out into a very known name in the community of Japan lovers (especially anime and Visual Kei). I will look back at it with pride!
But at this moment, I don’t see a way that I could put the forum online, it has been offline for a few months now, so I guess it wouldn’t get active anymore after putting it online. Maybe if I find the time and energy to work on it, I will put it online as an archive.
The fact that AVO Forum is offline en no more, doesn’t mean that AVO is stopping. With AVO Magazine still up and running (and very active in Dutch and English) and the concerts AVO organise, it will not stop at all. On this day, we will still be celebrating the fact that the project that is called AVO is a year older. I want to thank everybody who have supported AVO till now and are planning to do that in the future.
Happy 16th birthday, AVO!