How do you manage commercial/business accounts on your forum?

Hi,

Some shop/business owners or brands have accounts on my sports forum.

Some have been here for almost 20 years, and some are newly registered.

They have never been an issue with these accounts, and they’re all well known and appreciated by the community.

However, one of the users created a topic asking if there were any rules regarding these types of accounts):

We started discussing the fact that some message could be considered as advertising and that we should find a way to notify users that these accounts are tied to the industry.

A shop owner and well-respected user replied this:

Some suggested that if there hasn’t been any issue yet (in 20 years!), then nothing should change and I agree. But I think that it could be useful to publicly identify them as “official” accounts anyway, since it can be helpful for some people, like newcomers.

Plus, adding an icon or a title to these accounts by putting them in a public “business” group could also be useful as people will be able to contact these official entities from a centralized place (the forum), instead of having to search for a contact form of each of these shops/brands own official website.

Finally, if businesses have an account here (examples: https://unicyclist.com/admin/users/38261/qu-ax and https://unicyclist.com/admin/users/38280/mad4one), maybe some other business will consider having an official account here as well. I see that as a win/win situation, for both the businesses and the forum users.

What are your thoughts about this?

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I come up against this quite often when I post in CM forums. My intention is to participate as a community manager but given that I work for a vendor, caveats apply.

If the community runs on Discourse I generally have a Discourse Staff title so it’s all good. On ones where it’s not, I usually start my response with a disclaimer of some sorts. That ensures that my intentions are clear.

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What about having a category for businesses. Business users could have a flair added to their avatars. In a Business category you could have all the businesses listed along with the users’ names connected to each business. Each business could have a link to their homepage. Users could also PM the business users since they’re listed here.

It is better for all if a user making a comment is open about any relationship he/she has with a business. I disagree with the comment made by rogerunicycledotcom that his comments could be classed more as “rider” than as “company.” That would be like Bill Gates saying his comments could be classified more as a “PC user” than as the “owner of MS.” Same thing with an auto executive - more as a driver than the CEO. In all honesty, yes, they may very well make comments in respect as a user of the product, but there still should be some type of disclaimer to be open about the business relationship. Not everyone says, “Oh, he owns X business so I won’t listen to him. He’s biased.” Most people will take the comment as someone who knows what they are talking about, not just from a user’s point of view.

Bottom line: A business user should have a flair or some kind of identifier for all to see, and a business listing category would be an easy way to advertise and gain some new customers.

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I think you’re talking about a group rather than a category? We’re currently considering this, and it’s hard to find a proper icon :smile:

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Yes, “Group”. It was getting late here. :yawning_face:

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We have sponsors in our forum. They’re generally restricted to their dedicated forum, where they can respond to staff-posted threads about their offers. They are all a part of a group with flair on their avatars and custom titles, as such:

I chose the gem because of the fact they’re supporting us, so they’re a “treasure” – so maybe something like that could help.

Or you can just look through the FontAwesome cheatsheet and look and see what inspires you.

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Thank you for all your replies!

We don’t have sponsors in our forum, as it is 100% independent. So the gem icon wouldn’t fit.

After hesitating a lot, we choose the user-check icon from Font Awesome.

image

The icon isn’t directly related to brands or businesses, but it conveys the idea of an approved, official user. The vast majority of users know well the brands or people that work in this sports industry, so it will do the job. These professionals will be the only kind of user to have a flair at this time, and thus it won’t be confusing for regular users.

Since the checkmark was too small on the tiny flair icon size, I modified it and enlarged the checkmark.

user-check-solid

I think it will looks good:

image

I thought about moving the icon next to the username, I’m not sure if it would look better or not.

I don’t intend to set a default custom title on these users. Since they are all very well known by the community, it would add not much but noise text.

We’ll also create a private category for this group so professionals can discuss with each others in a private area. I’m not sure it will work, but it’s worth a try.

Now we have to set up this feature for real and notify these users of why they have a blue icon next to their avatar and why we think it will benefit them as well as the community. :slight_smile:

And then, contact other professionals and invite them to create an account as well. :+1:


Edit: We’ve finally done that. Here’s the group page:

I also added a direct link in the hamburger menu:

image

We’ve also created a private category for business users only, but I don’t feel it will be used.

The icon only and the lack of title/link in these users’ profiles is not clear enough in my opinion, I don’t know how to improve that. I don’t want to add a “business” title… Maybe I’ll find a way to add the information only in their profile or user card, but I don’t want a title to be displayed on the posts.

The next step is contacting old business accounts that didn’t connect for a long time and get new professionals to register.

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