I have always intended this place to be visible and readable to non-members so that anyone can dip in and out, and that the information built up over time would get archived at Google and other search engines for other people to use in the future.
However - on Tuseday night when I re-ordered and re-catagorised forums and subforums I forget to tick the boxes to allow thread views by guests.
This meant that until I fixed it late last night - some threads were not readable for non members - hands up - a big 'sorry - my bad' for that one.
On the upside - it answered a question I've been wondering for a while - how many guests are visiting the forum? Well - a few people saw that change and registered so they could view the content. I say a few, 103 of you in about 48 hrs actually. It increased total membership by about 30%!
Give that stat - I think it's fair to estimate that about 50% of the people visiting here are not actually members, just 'occasional lurkers' - and I'm sure there are some interesting people amoung those ranks of lookers-in.
So - a quick favour to ask - essentially as a nice shot in the arm for me and my little forum - if you are involved in any of the missions listed here, or even involved in one that isnt, I would LOVE to here from you via email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) . This isnt so I can go "Oh - look, the PI for X is visiting..ner ner ner" - but simply so I know that I'm going in the right direction with this place.
Mission personnel are hellishly busy people with little time to eat, sleep and acknowledge the existance of their own families - let alone register and post in the place like this - but a few of you have and for those that have I am very VERY greatfull - your involvement gives some validity and grounding to this place.
As many will know - I'm hoping to put a book together of MER images in the not too distant future ( once the wheels have fallen off them - dont want to publish a book then have Opportunity take the panorama to beat all panoramas thereafter ) in the same mould as Full Moon - and acknowledgement of my imagery from 'industry' people would be a very usefull and powerfull tool in my quest to get the work of scientists and engineers into print in a fitting, beautiful and just manor.
Likewise - if you are involved in a mission of some sort and would like to say something without actually registering for fear of getting bombarded by 'fan mail' as it were - simply drop me a note and I can put your message across.
For those that would like to take the time to visit, register and contribute, I can set you as a moderator of a forum about your work so that if things are untoward w.r.t. what's being said, you can turn a post 'off' for editing etc. If you would like to have an @unmannedspaceflight.com email address that you can essentially ignore, but register with - let me know !
I'm off to the BAA meeting in London on Sat - to talk about the journey of Spirit - and that experience of talking about and sharing the spirit of discovery and exploration that MER has exemplified so very well is the very heart of what this place is about. It's about sharing, learning, teaching, creating, explorting - and to the people who have contributed so well in the past, and to those yet to contribute, I am for ever greatfull!