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    45 Replies Latest reply on May 4, 2008 11:19 AM by Johnsquest68

    Success Story or Advertising?

    Lighthouse24 Ranger

      Personally, I wish the forum threads provided more actual answers and advice, and fewer self-promotion and "contact me by e-mail for help" responses. Yet this is a community site and the community at large seems very comfortable with that aspect of things -- plus we're growing at the rate of about 100 people a day, and that wouldn't be happening if this weren't a useful resource. So who am I to argue?

      That said . . . within the past 24 hours, nine new "success stories" were posted in the STORIES section, and eight of these were pure advertising (and all were posted by individuals who'd been a members of the community for less than an hour). I reported all eight as inappropriate, but my question now is, should I have? Would you have?

      It seems to be largely up to us, so looking two months ahead -- +What do you want the STORIES section to contain+? 42 stories based on actual member experiences that might benefit other business owners -- or those 42 stories mixed in with 500 no-holds-barred promotional advertising pieces?
        • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Lighthouse 24, Interesting post. (BUT then i find most of your posts interesting).
          I am glad that you started off by saying " Personally ". Up to now I have not thought about who should write what
          and what topic is good or what is self promotion. I guess it is part of "freedom of the press" or is it freedom of speech?? We get to pick and choose the topics we want to answer and whether we want to answer a second time. It is a good think that Bank of America included "Mark as inappropriate"
          My first thought is that once we start eliminating one topic, then do we start eliminating others.
          Just like there have been suggestions to add topics. Keep up the GREAT answers.
          • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
            DomainDiva Ranger
            Perhaps we should have an advertising section. If not, then these posts should be pulled. My post about needing investment and what we were doing got pulled really quick and now that I see all of this 'stuff' I really wonder why mine was so offensive that I had to be 'moderated'.


            Of course I will have to admit that when I tell someone we are doing document and records management without a relational databse or a search engine I have been subjected to things that are better forgotten and told in no unceratin terms that "You can't do that." So if my post got flagged as 'inappropriate' then maybe whoever flagged it thought I was not being truthful.


            I would hope that we could keep as much junk off the board as possible.....I am really sick of all the MLM stuff that has shown up....I flagged one a couple of days ago.
            • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
              CorpCons08 Ranger
              Originally, the Story Section had the following description: Write a story about a challenge your business faced and how you successfully handled it.
              Although it has been used as a way for the Members here to also share expertise, advertising has been increasingly annoying on the Story Page.

              On the forum side, I think the major problem was the creation of a "Business Classifieds" section.
              What do you think of when you think of classifieds? A lot of times it is nothing more than advertising.
              The SBOC opened themselves up to the advertising hits when they created that section.

              However, we also have a problem with advertisers hitting reply on multiple posts to put their URL.
              I had that problem with my "health" post where someone posted a reply about IT Solutions.
              There really is no reason for that at all.

              • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                NatOnline Tracker
                Perhaps it is the time for BoA to give to the three first active members the power of forum moderation if they which to take this opportunity :-) to help the administrators of this BoA forum.
                • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                  Buffalo Adventurer
                  Success Stories should be just that, not a venue for advertising. Period!
                  Reporting them as you did, Lighthouse was,in my opinion,the correct thing to do. There are enough posts in the forums that are obviously advertising. And while some of them are a source of amusement they dilute the main purpose of the site.
                  The reason I came here was to get advice on problems that I may encounter and hopefully give some advice in return.
                    • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                      Lighthouse24 Ranger

                      Luckiest, Nat, Diva, CC08, and Buffalo: Thanks to all of you for the discussion and input so far.

                      It seems the site Moderators are like town sheriffs in the Old West. They're the Law, but they don't do anything unless we file a formal complaint (report as inappropriate). So if a "snake oil salesman" slips into the Forums and tries to scam people, the sheriff looks the other way. If we all get together and gun him down in the street, the sheriff looks the other way. Unless someone complains, life goes on.

                      The moderators apparently maintain control of the Experts section, but we seem to control the Stories section. It only took a few minutes for CC08's recent story to move from page 1 to page 4 yesterday, and mine and slavaret's to move to page 5. And since it's a "last in, first up" deal, several members seemed to be actively posting multiple versions of the same advertisement to try to get "feature" billing on the landing page.

                      Again, thanks for your thoughts and discussions so far. I'll leave this question open through tomorrow at least, since some of the "regulars" haven't been around today.
                    • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                      slavaret Adventurer

                      I think you brought up a vital subject.

                      B of A has created a great forum. Some growing pains are inevitable but if they don't keep pace this place is at the risk of spinning out of control.

                      Of course B of A OWNS the forum, but like every corporate entity it should have a structure best geared towards its current needs. I still don't understand who the moderators and founders are (as opposed to owners) but I would think the Forum should have a board of directors comprised of the most active and competent posters that recommends rule changes. The Rules should be amended as the Forum grows and enforced by moderators.

                      If I could, I would suggest the following changes:

                      1) A click through (hyperlink) from the poster's name in the post to his/her profile.
                      2) An introduction section - new members introducing THEMSELVES and their reason for joining.
                      3) An ad section - in addition to the profile, so that members can promote specific products/services, offer member discounts, specials, etc.
                      4) Success stories reserved for STORIES.
                      5) Clear lines of communication between the board/owners/moderators/founders - like a scheduled executive chat, for example.

                      Most small businesses share the same problem: their phone is not ringing, their sites are not clicking with sales. Low barriers to entry. We all feel comfortable doing business with people we know and trust. The Forum should facilitate getting to know people and get to their business offerings.

                      BofA sets the rules - but the good posters provide quality CONTENT which seems to be the commodity in short supply these days. It's easy to be heard online, but is anybody listening?
                      1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                          slavaret Adventurer
                          Forget #1 - it's there :)
                          • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                            Lighthouse24 Ranger
                            Slavaret, thanks for your thoughts and suggestions!
                            • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                              Ed O'Gee Adventurer
                              I agree with everything except having a board of directors. I don't want any of you telling how to use this site. If we give 5 or 10 users the right to regulate everything, what happens when the status levels start changing? What happens when new top users come on board? Do we have elections? Come on people, this is a great site that keeps growing, of course there are bound to be people who post garbage. There is not a site out there doesn't have this problem.

                              I assume BofA's point for having the community feedback section is to take ideas from us to make the community better. They have already made some decent changes since I've been using the board. Apparently they don't actively manage the forums because I have seen people talk negatively about the bank, yet they allow posts to stay. For that I give them credit. We are the owners of the site, not the bank and that I like. If you see something you don't like, that is what those inappropriate buttons are for. If you look at the stories section most of that garbage that was posted a few days ago is gone. You guys reported it and the bank deleted it. I would much rather things work like that than have any of you, even as smart as you are regulate my usage.

                              Lighthouse, Domain Diva, CorpCons, Luckiest, Slavert, I tend to look for your post because you guys have intelligent things to say. Give people credit, they will ignore the garbage (most of the time) and look for help/feedback from those who obviously know what they are talking about. Your status levels tell people you are obviously here to help.

                              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                                  CorpCons08 Ranger

                                  Great point of view. I agree with you on every point you just made.
                                  I really do the same thing, I look for responses from the regulars as they are usually intelligent and well thought out responses.
                                  Bank of America has done everything they can to make a great forum and there is always going to be some people who abuse it.

                                  • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                                    Iwrite Pioneer

                                    Ed is so right. Trying to control or police this will only inhibit discussion. Some folks are clearly out of bounds but they can be handle with a clear response. If you feel it is advertising then call them on it. Let the community determine whether it is or isn't.

                                    I am more concerned with those of us who ask for help and then get upset when people try to help them. There have been a couple of exchanges that had me worried, but once again the community dealt with it. This is how it should work.
                                    • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                                      slavaret Adventurer
                                      I was not talking about censoring content.

                                      Set the board idea aside - every group with a purpose has to have rules: use this venue for this, and that venue for that. If you misuse - you get warned, if you abuse - you get suspended.

                                      BofA does a good job of keeping out rudeness, I was thinking about keeping the board efficient and responsive as it grows. Should BofA take input from 1000 members, implement every suggestion, or should there be another venue for implementing changes suggested by the community?
                                        • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                                          Ed O'Gee Adventurer
                                          Gotcha, Slavaret - we are on the same page. I've already seen many folks on the board tell people they are out of line or their posts should be moved to someplace else. And I know for sure some spammers have been banned from the board, the bank posted it in the announcements section.

                                          I agree with you on the feedback but I am sure they will probably ask the opinions of top users when changes are needed. Apparently this was done when they launched, I get BofA's small business magazine and read an article about the community, that they invited a small group of folks to test things out before they launched to make sure the site operated properly. Maybe these are the founders? But if these guys did it once, I am sure they will be smart enough to do it again.

                                          I am all for efficiency, I just don't want clicks to form and new folks to feel shut out.
                                            • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                                              slavaret Adventurer
                                              I came here from Yahoo Answers where BofA advertised.

                                              I was a top contributor in the Finance section, with over 30% best answers.

                                              Yahoo Answers eventually banned me - for violating the rules!

                                              The site was a great success but apparently they decided to cater to the lowest denominator: if the dummest asker felt the least beat upset by an answer - they would report it to Yahoo Answers and Yahoo would routinely suspend the answerer. They have a whole site for appealing decisions. Reads like Soviet era horror stories. Here are mine:

                                              I got a warning for answering: "Why isn't the market going up?" with "Why should it?".

                                              Then somebody asked: "What is 10% of 1400"? (or 14% of 1000 - I don't remeber exactly). I answered: "How dumb do you have to be to come to Yahoo Answers Finance for that?" I got an abusive email from the asker which I reported to Yahoo. Yahoo's response was I can adjust the settings to not to receive emails from posters. They also suspended my account for upsetting the asker.

                                              I am not saying this is where BofA is going - just simply speaking from experience: this is where things can go if you rely on corporate benevolence and cater to the lowest denominator.

                                              As this place grows, we can expect more posts like payday loans and more fabulous MLM opportunities. If readers have to wade through a lot of junk and bickering to get tuseful info, they will leave.
                                              • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                                                Lighthouse24 Ranger

                                                Guru, Ed, and Iwrite: Thanks for joining the discussion and offering your perspective.

                                                Just to recap, my question pertained only to the STORIES section, not any of the discussion threads in the FORUMS -- and I was just trying to get a general consensus of how you guys felt about "success stories" being posted that were really just pure advertising.

                                                I was not advocating any change to the community's rules or structure, only asking if you thought we as community members should actively use the guidelines that already exists to keep that section free of promotional ads and "business opportunities."

                                                My interpretation was that DomainDiva, NatOnline, CorpCons08, Slavaret, Buffalo, EdO'Gee, and Iwrite would not have a problem reporting as inappropriate a post in the STORIES section that was little more than an advertisement for the business owner who posted it. I gathered Luckiest's position was that if ads are posted, so be it (don't like them, don't read them).

                                                Nat and Slavaret "trial ballooned" the idea of an editorial board made up of community members that would review and okay STORIES before they were posted, just as BoA controls the EXPERTS section. I think that balloon did a Hindenburg.

                                                Again, thanks to everyone for reading and offering input! I'll leave the thread open a few more hours if anyone else wants to join in.
                                        • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                                          guru2008 Wayfarer

                                          Success Story or Advertising? My thoughts are it appears to be a little of both and as long as its on the topic,sharing something new and follows the guidlines..." lets rock on" but if just for a minute... wouldn't it be nice to have a heading "snake oil"


                                          • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                                            CorpCons08 Ranger
                                            Everyone, Bank of America has made this community as a free resource for all small business owners to use. They have made the community to be run by the small business owners as well. That being said, if you feel some form of content is inappropriate you have a link to report it. A moderator will review your report and make a decision. It has been a working method since the community started. There are aways going to be people out there that will abuse a good thing. It is to be expected.

                                            I think we have done a great job of aiding each other with important business decisions and knowledge sharing. Lets not let a few spammers ruin a good thing. Let us continue to share our knowledge and work together and just report the riff-raff.

                                            • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                                              Lighthouse24 Ranger
                                              Thanks to EVERYONE who responded. There's obviously no single "correct" answer to this question, and I'd give everybody a "helpful" vote if I could. (I assigned them to Ed and Slavaret, mainly because their detailed responses seem to trigger a lot of the additional discussion that followed.) Thanks again, and all the best to everyone!
                                              • Re: Success Story or Advertising?
                                                Johnsquest68 Adventurer

                                                I have a personal point of view on this. As far as I understand, this forum is for business persons to communicate with one another. Prospective entrepreneurs, established businesses and investors, looking for fresh Ideas. Each in it's own right is an "advertisement" either soliciting financial ventures or seeking to finance a new idea or company. Lighthouse, I do agree that pure "spamming" by shady MLM marketers or those with less than credible "business opportunities should not be in the forums. A good business person will at some point in just about any conversation, throw in a brief pitch about their company. It is inevitable, and in most cases expected. At any point, I find the forums very informative, some provocative and insightful. I have yet to find anything in here really innapropriate. The great thing is, we are ALL free to have our own opinions.