SEW Forums - Gaining Reputation as a Rough Crowd?

4 comments
Thread Title:
Professionalism and Quality of Information
Thread Description:

This is an interesting thread in many ways. The new(ish) SearchEngineWatch.com Forums have, currently, probably the highest level of professional SEO discussions available to forum surfers. The skill level in there is extremely high, and many of the conversations are quite a few notches above most of the other SEO forums out there.

As with all new ventures of course there appear to be some teething problems (i've had my share right here at TW ;-) and how the administration handle and overcome those difficut decisions about policy and moderation levels will no doubt prove both interesting and defining as these forums mature and settle into their 'place' on the seo forum circuit.

Part of the problem seems to be that moderation of discussions is very light. This is an admirable goal IMO but not a particularly realistic one. SEO's in general are an opinionated bunch and written communication misses many of the nuances of verbal, face to face discussion. Misunderstandings and a general decline in ones manners is all to human when your not actually looking at the person you are talking to and "spirted debate" can often devolve into unseemly behaviour.

This rasies the question of how much is too much? in the context of moderating discussion forums. WebmasterWorld is probably the strictest run forum I've ever come across. Try posting a link to an example of something or asking for recommendations on a product. They do appear to have a good balance with respect and consideration though. You will rarely see unseemly behaviour from the members at wmw as it is just not tolerated, and as a result, it sets a tone and an example that new members adopt readily.

Cre8asite also head off potential conflicts pretty quickly and like wmw, for a new member it's a friendly place to visit. (in fact cr8 is on my top 3 list of fave forums). They're far more relaxed on linking policy and this facilitates debate and argument of the issues of the day.

Where the problem may lie
Possibly the reputation SEW is gaining stems purely from inexperience. The majority of moderators have (as far as I can tell) no experience in moderating online discussion, and whilst most of them do an excellent job of providing good information and starting lively debates in their respective forums, some appear to be there in name only and yet others appear to be there on personal agendas that leave some users baffled.

DianeV, a moderator over at cre8asite said:

To be honest, as much as I like many who post here, I've often looked upon SEW as a bit of a rough crowd, where the way things are presented can be pretty rough around the edges. Bottom line is that it's often how something is said, rather than that it is said at all, that makes all the difference. As a wise man once said, manners smooth the way in human relations.

Whether that was directed at the moderators, the membership in general or me personally :) is unclear but it's a good point i think.

So, you have a forum moderation staff that have little or no experience in moderating forums. Couple that with the fact that if Danny Sullivan launches a forum it's bound to be popular, and add to that the appearance of many forum veterans some of which are the "fallout" of wmw's shift in emphasis over the last couple of years and what do you get?

Quite probably the best SEO forum in existence at the present time, but sadly, possibly one with a limited lifetime. At least in terms of quality of information.

I would hope that despite the indecision on policy, intelligent folks like Danny and co-admin Elisabeth will ride through this and come out shining on the other side of the trial by fire that throwing open a forum presents. Good luck to them, I mentioned my "top 3" earlier - guess who's no.1?

I'll leave you with a link to this interesting post by Andrew Goodman - presumably directed at me and quite indicative of some of the points i've mentioned above.

Be your own judge, follow the threadlink at the top of the post and read through it, it's a great read, full of fun, games, and a large amount of politics.

Comments

You hit the nail on the head

The current crop of mods there are somewhat inexperienced and not the type that "live" at a forum. I think that is changing somewhat as they're adding some newer, perhaps more experienced moderators. Plus they're also adding additional rules/guidelines as issues crop up.

What they are missing, and may not ever have, is one person who claims ownership that is willing to be the mom or dad. I don't think either Danny or Elisabeth have the time or inclination to do/be that as much as they may try. Let's face it, there aren't too many in the world that can take the time it takes to really live at a forum. It takes someone to pretty much read every single post, and check on them every couple of hours or so. Great mods can certainly help take up the slack, but it's still not the same thing.

That may very well be its ultimate downfall (if there were ever to be one).

I see better quality of posts at SEW

The quality of posts at http://forums.searchenginewatch.com, even with the light moderation, is probably the highest of all the other Search engine marketing bulletin boards I've seen. (OK, with the exception of Threadwatch.org ;) )

There is not a lot of idle chit chat, me-too posts, and those that post there are some of the most qualified in the industry. The thread referenced in the above post seems like a few people having a squabbble, and is not indicative of the majority of the threads that are there.

I also think that since Searc

I also think that since Search Engine Watch is branded as "the site about search engines" that people expect more or better info than they do from other forums.

Also many people with a problem will carry their problems to and voice it at that forum since that site has broad distribution and is generally held in high regard by lots of SEOs.

All in all the quality there is top shelf though, as time passes it will prove a harder site to moderate than many of the others due to clashing personalities AND the strong brand / following which SEW has developed over the years.

Quality

It's an absloute gem, ive learnt more their in the last few months than on any other forum i've spent time on...

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