I run a forum that people often sign up to for support when they have trouble with their motorcycles. There are a number of similar forums on the net, some specialising in specific models, including one that’s long established and focuses on the same brand. A number of people on my forum are also a member of the other one. There’s no commercial interest at stake.
A new user recently signed up for my forum to ask for some help. One of our regular members replied with a link to the other forum, a suggestion that they’ll increase their chances of getting help (true) and advice on signing up. I have no problem with people being on as many forums as they wish but I’m trying to decide whether to remove this post as it’s verging on advertising. I have no problem with people posting links to specific information on other forums but this is different.
Here’s the post:
There are some very talented and clever people on this forum but to increase your chances of getting more help I suggest you try (link to alternative forum). Register and introduce yourself in the Newbies Hangout section, then post your problem in the Technical Help section. There are several members on that forum who do not frequent this forum that have fantastic in depth knowledge of (brand_name).
My initial thought was to remove it. I haven’t because of the critical first sentence. Am I being overly sensitive about this? Where do people draw the line?
interesting question. clearly depends on the type of forum community one has / targets. myself, i don’t care because my forum has no real competition in that regard and i welcome links to related forums (it’s a official fan forum for a professional sports league). but i can see possible scenarios where one might be more sensitive (and rightfully so) to other forum links.
for example i can easily see how a forum specific to a company, say to discuss their product features and for support, would not allow links to other forums.
a lot would also depend on the context. if someone on my forum linked to another forum to mock or otherwise attack that other forum, a user there or their posts, then i would have mods remove it (if they don’t do on their own). also, opposing forums dissing each other is poor forum etiquette IMHO.
I don’t want to put up barriers or suggest there’s any sort of rivalry. The other forum has been going for quite a while but has little of no support from the owner. Last time I checked they were on software that was well out of support. The Admin almost never responds to posts or PMs. I set up mine on Discourse to offer the that community, and new members, a better service on a modern platform. If we’re going to be the best place to go then it should be because we are the best, not by trying to sideline any 'competition. Not sure if this is the moral high ground or just a soapbox.
If it were me I’d respond saying something along the lines of “While we recognise that there are other forums that service this same audience, we’re working hard to build this one up so it’s definitely our preference not to send people elsewhere!” and remove the link.
It’s your forum, your rules, but be transparent about your reasoning.
For me it depends and context matters. If a link is more like extra content and that post has some real value too, it’s ok (unless that link goes to low value and controversial content).
But in situation like the example is I would take same road that Hawk suggested.
And… perhaps I’m just a bad person but that was only sugar coated way to say there isn’t capable users, and owners of that brand should move forward to linked forum. Shortly: it was unpolite answer, even it wasn’t ment that way I reckon.
I’ve dealt with it along the lines Hawk suggested. I do believe this member is just trying to be helpful but it is inconsiderate, and I explained that in my PM to them. Unfortunately they are also somewhat volatile so I may have to deal with them further. All part of the fun when you run a forum…
That’s pretty much my thinking, too. It’s interesting to hear the opinions of others. As @MikeNolan says, different forums may take a different view. I don’t think any of them are wrong.
I updated the forum guidelines retrospectively. We can’t cover every eventuality from the start so this seems reasonable to me, though the person in question feels slightly agrieved. I see it as evolution, not persecution.
It’s a tough call, and sounds like you handled it well enough. The restrospective guideline update is definitely a good move.
When I experienced this, it was equally as bold “Hey, did you know we also had a communtiy over here for this!” I sat on it for a few days. Immediately reacting or removing the post just reeks of insecurity. I know Discourse is the better platform, and I know our instance is going in the right direction, so I don’t need to do much here.
Turns out the problem solved itself as one of our best users actually responded a few days later. Paraphrasing:
Not at all, TIL that other community exists. As I have never seen anyone using it, do you mind sharing what topics are discussed there? How is the technical depth and who is the target audience?
Sadly the original poster did not follow up. Even if they did, the answers to these questions would have been useful to the people in our community.
In future my response will probably be a more tactful version of the above. I’ll simply ask them about what the community is, what it offers, etc.
if i was running an interest-based forum community and was concerned about links to competitor forums, i would probably also do what i could to make my forum a better and more unique experience for my users than the other ones. eliminate the reason for users to link and make your forum the place to be for the users that you want. what is it about that other forum that users like that your forum doesn’t have? these are the sort of questions i would want to know.
Thanks and yes, exactly my experience as well. I actually deleted the post then almost immediately un-deleted it as I felt I was being reactive without considering the situation properly. Even when I disagree with someone, or think they need moderating, I do try to take see the wider context.
In this case the ‘other’ forum is well established and has a knowledgeable community. Unfortunately the owner has all but ignored it for years, taking (optional) subscriptions and inserting ads but the last time I checked, the software itself was over 5 years out of date. He doesnt’ respond to messages, even from the moderator. Once the spam got out of control I decided to try and do something similar but better. Discourse is certainly a better platform but non-technical, older people do struggle sometimes with the unfamiliar.
If the member had PM’d the person with the other forum details, linked to specific information, or just mentioned it by name as another place to check out, I wouldn’t have been concerned.
@JammyDodger I understand your concen. The discussion is interesting (to me, anyway) so if it’s split off rathr then removed that would be appreciated, unless there’s another, similar topic already in play.
I don’t think it’s an either/or situation. I am constantly working to make my forum the place people like best, and some have said it is. As has been mentioned, it’s not about imprisoning anyone or denying them knowledge of other forums. We’re a community of communities, after all. People can frequent many at the same time if they want to and that’s all good.