Before I address eBay’s recent announcement about a revamp of their discussion boards, please allow me to paraphrase a popular quote once made by former President Ronald Reagan — “Well, there you go again.”
We knew something was up last month after eBay announced that they would no longer be using LiveWorld to manage and moderate their forums, so this doesn’t come as a big surprise. It seems to fall in line with the other updates eBay has made to the site to make it more social and member friendly.
So — what are the changes, you ask? Well, first let’s cover what is staying the same. eBay is keeping the left navigation, search function, and basic structure of the Discussion Board, Answer Center and Groups. You will even still use your same eBay user ID and password to log in. The community-only profiles and avatars are history though. eBay has said that these will be replaced with your user avatar and information.
The new features include “ask a question” which will also include a way for members to acknowledge that they like other member’s answers. You will also be able to “Accept the Solution” if you feel that the answer you got was worthy of an acknowledgment.
The biggest change to the discussion boards, however, seems to be more of a cosmetic one. Instead of board moderators having a pink colored designation, they will now be identified by a blue box that will surround their post. This may not seem like a big deal to those who are unfamiliar with eBay’s discussion boards, but for those who frequent the community area it sort of is since the LiveWorld moderators have been a thorn in the side for many eBay members for quite some time.
This is because the moderators not only police the boards looking for people who are violating the rules (no advertising, no repetitive posts, or abusive messages), but also have been known to make entire topics disappear if they feel like it is portraying eBay in a negative light. Although some members argue “freedom of speech”, eBay is quick to point out that the discussion boards are on their site and you need to play by their rules.
While we wait for the debate to start about whether these changes are for the good or bad I’ll try to be cautiously optimistic, but it seems doubtful that eBay will let some of their members post their true feelings about the company if those feelings are negative.
This guest post was contributed by Kat Simpson. Kat is a trusted eCommerce author, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur. Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is an eBay Education Specialist and Gold Level PowerSeller, as well as a successful Amazon merchant. Currently Kat is the hosts the popular weekly eCommerce Podcast That Kat Radio and an active Facebook Group ThatKat.