Monday, August 18, 2008

An Example Of A Better Message Board

Good news: I received comments from Mark Sapir via email about the suggestions I have proposed for the website. He agrees that these changes would help improve the experience for existing members.


This morning if you had checked the message board, someone who has never posted before started a thread that had nothing to do with etopps or the hobby. Instead, if you clicked on the thread, there was a pornograhic photo and links to pornography websites.

This spam was a reminder that anyone can post anything on this message board. One way to stop this is to have an etopps account in order to post on the message board.

I've been on message boards in which I have to wait 24 hours after registering on the site before I can post.


I'm posting today to discuss a little more about what I wrote about etopps 2.0: the idea of private messaging on a message board. It's nothing new online. You're bound to find this if you post on other message boards. When I wrote Test Drive Etopps 2.0 the message board what I had in mind was the one that can be found on

Their forum used to be pretty basic. There were no forum categories. Catching up was simply scrolling down the page of threads. There was no private messaging and no moderators. It wasn't anarchy and they were pretty good at moderating themselves.

Then came the message board upgrade which happened last year. At first I (username: countgorgonzola) was reluctant to post on it because I was used to the old one but soon realized how much better the new one was:
  • Private Messaging - no need to give out your email address. When someone private messages you, an email is sent to your inbox.
  • Specific Categories to post: General Information Area (including an New Members Welcome thread); Hobby Talk by Sport and a section for Non-Sports; Case and Box Breaks for all sports and non-sports as well as for youtube breaks; Marketplace to Buy/Sell/Trade which includes a category to give feedback to those who you have had transactions with and a section to spam your ebay listings; and there is also a Community section that allows members to post what they've pulled, experiences selling online and at shows, etopps (!) and anything off-topic.
  • Message board users are given a control panel so they can manage private messages, signatures, personal information on their profile page, and choose email subscriptions to any particular sub-categories on the message board.
  • There's a feedback rating system similar to ebay for trades so each person who posts has a number starting from zero (which indicates no transactions with anyone else on the board).
  • Users can decide whether or not to include their ebay id on their posts.
  • Also on each post, there is a small icon to report a post that you find offensive or inappropriate and another small icon that indicates whether the person is online or offline.
  • There's even a blocked list so you can exclude anyone's posts that you don't want to read.
I PM-ed the message board rep for blowout cards this morning, asking them the cost of this message board but haven't heard from them - they must be busy from the orders that came in this weekend. I'll update this post when I get a response from them.

The etopps MB is in desperate need of an upgrade in where we post what we want to say, in how we identify ourselves to one another. Besides blowout's message board, we can elect our own moderators who post regularly who can encourage others to follow rules we set for ourselves. And hopefully, a better message board will convert all of those readers who never post into active participants.

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