Dissension in the Ranks - WMW Supporters Lash Out

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Seems like the WebmasterWorld paid up supporters are unhappy with the noise levels in the supporters forum..

You have to be a paid up member to view the link and as it's not a thread open to the public you'll have to settle for some paraphrasing rather than quoting im afraid:

The General Gist
Too many Foo threads, stuff about kids, dogs and god knows what else. Lots of rumblings and outright complaints over the supporters forum being rendered useless by the huge amount of non-professionals in there and chit-chat nature of the forum.

One member suggests that she no longer even comes back there as all the good stuff is out in public and all the dross back in what was supposed to be a quieter, more professional oriented forum.

Trouble in the rank and file? - Actually it's nothing that new, even a year ago or more when i was in there it was virtually indistinguishable from the public side off-topic forum Foo - and the good stuff died when toolmans excellent "Confessions of an SE Spammer" thread was removed. - You can only speculate as to why that decision was taking but i dont think it takes a rocket science brain to come to a reasonable guess eh?

This story comes hot on the heels of The Dirty Little Secrets of SEO & How Information Travels blog post i made earlier in the week. Most liked it but a few got a bit irked when i politely refused to part with the goods :) but what's relevant to this are the parts that talke about private forums.

I mentioned that the paid system wasn't a great one:

There are quite a few public forums out there that have private forums - areas set aside either for the invited, or those with the cash to join. The problem as i see it, in my admittedly limited experience, is that once you start to top a certain number the information flow dries up. This kind of thing only really works if everyone trusts everyone else and if there is an answer to the scaling problem i've not heard about it, so do let me know :-)


Too right

and the good stuff died when toolmans excellent "Confessions of an SE Spammer" thread was removed.

I remember that. I was pretty was pretty upset with WmW and the supporters forum when that and a few other edits happened.

I also do not like that the "donation" became a "subscription". I should have checked that out before paying and understood the ramifications of it. I can tell you I was - livid - when I saw that PP had autopaid my subscription (in the middle of the night). Well it's my bad so I stood by the payment, but it poisoned the well -- I'll never "subscribe" to a paid premium forum again - ever.

Heh, I'm still hot about that -- I better quit posting now.

Too much noise

I was under the impressions before joining that the private forum was somewhere not necessary to learn secretes but where the noise level would be low and the quality of posts would be high. Unfortunately this has now become rare, and it often seems more of a chit chat area than anything else.

Quite a few of the posts asking for help with webmaster issues would probably be removed from the public area for being too basic with a polite message saying use the search or read the library.

There are still some gems, just rare and easily missed if you don’t check regularly. At the moment search engine watch forum is more like what i expected the WMW supporters section to be like – just have doubts that it can last.

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes

There was a similar point made
in this thread at WMW I sort of wondered if it would get cut, maybe it has by now.

There does not appear to be a ready answer to your points once you top a certain number the information flows dries up and it only really works if everyone trusts everyone

You have sort of got it here Nick, with pretty open access for anyone signed up to posting - but at the moment you probably know most people in a round about way. Realistically (you may call it cynically) you too will get the nutters, and will need to censor/restrict entry.

The money has to be in volume, and apparently the only way you can get volume is from unrestricted access, which in turn drives away those that are looking for what they came for in the first place....

...now what was it someone said about the bell shaped curve?

No, i agree....

I dont think that will last either Paul. They are targeting "all levels" of seo types over there so it'll get pretty noisey pretty fast im thinking..

While it's hot though, it's HOT :-) and im enjoying that place very much...

Is it so serious?

I can see where JudgeJeffries is coming from in the original WMW thread, but I think that the problems stems more from inaccurate expectations rather than a huge problem within the supporters' forum itself. More specifically, the expectation when you sign up that the supporters's forum is some kind of rarified atmosphere where secrets are discussed: the presence of members such as GoogleGuy is going to kill that off in any case, and because access is granted to anyone who is willing to pay, there's no basis of trust.

The trust comes from your posts, and the real value comes when you've built the relationships, done the networking, and can share information accross the private networks built between forum members.

Yes, there are simplistic questions asked in the Supporters' Forum which would be more appropriate in the New to Web Development one, but that's a moderation question more than anything else. But overall, there are some valuable posts too. Personally, I would like to see more posts of the kind described in this thread: http:/*/www.webmasterworld.com/forum78/6783.htm (another subscription-only link).

The true nature of the supporters' forum hasn't really changed - however, some members' perception of it has evolved with the realisation that paid membership is not in itself a route to accessing more "confidential" or focussed content.

Finally, isn't it a good thing that the best posts at WMW are in the publically-available Google News rather than arbitrarily restricted to paid supporters?

More haystack, but no more needles, imho

When that forum started, it worked fairly well, imho - due to the small, more clubby atmosphere.

I recall well the "confessions of an SE spammer" thread, where toolman laid out many things that still worked, but people had all but stopped talking about in public @ wmw over the last few years prior.

Between the edit(s?) in that thread, the inclusion of GoogleGuy, and then the nuking - many folks (myself included) felt something changed, and was lost.

SEW Forums is nice now, but as Nick points out - that won't last long, imho - though I'll still try to read the better points.

Scale, in any form, I've noticed - has both good & bad aspects. The problem is always mitigating the bad aspects, and maximizing the good ones - there will always be trade offs. In any event, I read WMW a lot less than I used to, I can't post, and the value of the few needles I find amidst the growing haystack of noise...well, leaves something to be desired. Far easier to find gems imho, @ SEW forums.

Or here - the signal to noise ratio is fabulous, but again, there will come a problem of scale...when will it become apparent? And what to do about it? :) I like Nick's idea of shutting down access but then...it seems that new members provide a certain life to a forum, as well, and how do you know, a priori, that they'll suck - or contribute fabulously?

Dont worry...

Apart from comments getting noisey (which i think we can handle) i just dont see it becoming an issue. You can now tune out all but the good stuff by reading the homepage, the Recent Threads page, which just lists links to outside threads as we've always done (and there are only so many good threads a day...) or ussing the RSS feed

The guidelines allow me to remove noise posts if it ever becomes necessary.

For me, it's not about numbers, it's about quality and about target audience - I laid down some thoughts here and i'll state again: I will not let it happen dammit! :)


Its okay if the Detritus Blog get's busy as of course you can now tune this stuff out easily. As like me your an ex-wmw guy jeremy, think of it as Foo without the link paranoia :)

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