Yeah, those were some lean days for lipstick lovers. Finding a picture of a woman in great lipstick was something of a find back then. Application videos were pretty much impossible to find. Lots and lots of spam. Those were dark days for us. If there was one good post a day we felt pretty good about that. There were also multiple attempts by kiddie porn peddlers to flood the forum with their shit. Without admin rights, there was no way to get rid of it. Fortunately, the laws about the Internet were pretty lax back then, so the risk of being shut down was low, but the content was disturbing and was driving members away.
I still don't know who "Buster" is. I was lucky enough to get him to reply to an email I sent and he was willing to let me take over the site, but we never had any contact after that. We were finally able to moderate the site, and pay Bianca's (the host) to keep the lights on. I'd love to find the guy and buy him a drink. I still have the same email address as back then (one among many), so if you're out there, send me an email and I'll reward you with the best scotch you've ever tasted.
As Wolf said, in 2003 it became clear that the site was in danger of vanishing. Bianca's was very unstable and would often be unreachable for hours or days. Lipstick lover, Spam Axe and I decided we'd better prepare for the move. I had some experience in website creation and management, so I volunteered to find us a new place. Ezboard was popular and easy to manage, so I settled on them. I had just finished setting up the forum, and we'd done some testing and we're pretty happy with what we had. We had made a few announcements on the Buster's that told folks where the new site (ezboard) was, but we'd only been doing so for about a week when Buster's went down. Probably half the folks who frequented Buster's came with us. The rest either didn't see the notice or didn't bookmark it and were lost.
Folks came trickling in to the new site for years. Some who visited us back in the Buster's days and finally found us, others who found us through this new, very powerful search engine called "Google" that looked poised to take over the search engine lead position from Yahoo! I think those days were my favourite. The Internet was still new and a lot of the folks who joined posted about how they thought they were the only guy in the world who had this fetish and how it made them feel like a freak until they found us and knew they weren't alone. It made me happy to know that we were not only providing links to great lipstick content, but that we were also helping people feel better about themselves.
Wolf is again right about the incident at ezboard. My best guess at the time was that they had been hacked by one of their forum admins. More than 8000 message forums were affected (most posts lost) and the owners of ezboard offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification and arrest of the attacker. To the best of my knowledge, they never found out who did it. Ironically, some of the forums affected at ezboard were dedicated to hacking. Ezboard never did restore most of the lost messages.
Again, we were fortunate to foresee the failure of our host site and were able to find another home before things completely collapsed behind us. I don't remember when I decided to hang up my admin shoes, but I think it was shortly after that.
I think the thing I remember most about the early days are the discussions that formed the basis for some of this site. Providing users a way to discern smoking content from non-smoking. Finding a way to provide a safe environment for the very generous women who were willing to contribute photos to the site. (And dealing with the times where, despite our best efforts, harassment happened.) Deciding whether the site was right as a home for TS/TV lipstick related posts.
And then there was the debate about underage posts. That one was a doozy! Folks on one side claiming that since there was no nudity, it was fine. Folks on the other saying it was kiddie porn because of context. In the end, as you all know, we came down on the side of forbidding underage posts of any kind. Hardly revolutionary today, but at the time, I think it was very forward thinking. After all, the Internet was still very Wild West back then. Hacking was barely illegal. Chasing after online kiddie porn wasn't really happening and the phrase "why don't you just take a seat over there" hadn't yet been uttered.
Not only was there a lack of legal presence for Internet based child porn, but many were still completely unaware that child porn was as widespread as it is. Those of you who have grown up in the Internet era may find that hard to believe, but I remember a world, pre-Internet, where things that happened in the dark corners of the world were not particularly well known. Today, such a decision would be easy to reach. Back then, it wasn't so clear cut. (Though to be honest, all of the mods at the time quickly came down on the side of not allowing it, it was mostly a small segment of members who objected....)
Wolf, LL, Spam Axe (during his time) and I all worked together to make the Lipstick Forum, where ever it resided at the time, an Internet haven for those who "Shared our passion for the perfectly painted pout". Wolf's tl;dr not withstanding, he absolutely did do it. We all did.