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Old 10-15-2006, 12:03 PM
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RG_ RG_ is offline
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Advice/Observations (Unsolicited!) For the New Forum (Long Post)

I'm really glad to see the new forum at AS, and want to wish it much luck. If it's successful, we ALL win, of course!

If it does become a successful and active board, then these will be considered the very early days. When I logged back in this morning I think we are up to only 15 members so far. So in that context I wanted to offer, for what it's worth, some opinions for the operation of the board as it gets started. My opinion is worth no more than the next member's and beyond that, having run a fairly large and successful spanking-related discussion board at one time, I fully understand that it's the prerogative of the board owner (Gary and whoever may be with him) to do what he wishes with this discussion board and take it where and in what form he wishes. I fully respect that.

Observations:

GENERAL
I think that the AS board is appearing at just the right time. Gary makes reference to the demise of the World Spanking Forum discussion board as a contributing reason for the start of this forum, and I think he’s right on target with that. The disappearance of WSF is leaving a void in the decent spanking discussion community (I use “decent” to refer to a place where a real sense of community with a diversity of members had formed). Further, I think that another good discussion board, that at Spanking Internet (more commonly known as “SIN”) is on a very noticeable and measurable decline, further widening the void. So the time actually is, I think, just right!

WHAT I LEARNED FROM BEING A MEMBER AT WSF
• One of the strengths at WSF, I think, was its embrace of other spanking websites. It was ok there to talk about other sites, offer praise for what other sites did well (and criticism for what they did not), and to even promote them. Not only did that greatly enhance the members’ experience there, but as a result of that (an active, free flowing board) I think that it exposed more members to the Real Spankings site, which ran the board. From strictly a commercial standpoint, I suspect that RS got more paying subscriptions from allowing the free discussion of other sites than it lost due to that. I would encourage AS to do the same.

• A good feature that WSF had which would be good to duplicate here, if possible, was that the last 15 or 20 posts—I don’t recall the exact count—under any topic were floated to the top of the discussion board. One could immediately see what was active and didn’t have to go digging through every different area to see if something was new. The dates to the right on this new board help with that, but that “latest" feature was very good.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM BEING A MEMBER AT SIN

SIN, I think, has much to learn from, both from a good and a bad perspective.

--GOOD—
* SIN does not have an abundance of topic areas, but keeps the general focus on a few, most of which get a good amount of activity (or did). And for what SIN is trying to be on the message forum aspect of its site, the categories were well chosen.

* SIN has a good “Off Topic” area which is quite active. Most of those into spanking also have a very active vanilla life, the “rest of us,” so to speak, and in this room people can expand and share much of that life, whether it be activities, recent events, political rants, etc. To a great degree, it helps very much, I think, to build the sense of community on SIN.

--BAD—
* Sean, the owner of SIN, would occasionally go on pograms, throw out members, and delete thousands of messages on what appeared to be little more than an angry whim. In doing so he greatly disrupted the message boards, leaving holes in the middle of long threads, and losing posts that were very valuable, insightful, and informative for members. He let most or all of the members back in, but many did not come back or, if they did, only posted a little or not at all. In the most recent sweep, about a month ago, among those that he kicked was someone who had over 11,000 posts and was well liked by other members. She created and added a lot of discussion on the board, shared experience, etc. Further, the discussion of other members was more suppressed, because they were afraid of doing something which would get them summarily kicked off. I think that to a large degree, it’s the accumulative affect of these actions that has led to a noticeable decline in activity on the SIN message board now. What to learn: don’t do that here!

WHAT I LEARNED FROM BEING A MEMBER AT SPANKING CLASSICS

• Being a former site owner myself, I think that one of the best things I saw at SC was a well organized group of moderators who work together to keep the site on track and working. There are five of them and four of those are very active in maintaining and guiding the site. They communicate with one another on an almost daily basis and have worked out a set of unwritten but fairly closely followed rules on what to do with the site and how to vet things with the other moderators.

• Once that real sense of community was there, Spanking Classics started a private portrait site so that long-term, trusted members could share with one another on a deeper level and “see” who the others were. It has very tight guidelines to keep out the voyeurs and admit the legitimate, but it adds another important aspect of community for the most loyal members who have established their own value for the site and for other members of the site.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM OPERATING MY OWN SPANKING SITE/DISCUSSION FORUM

• It takes daily work to be successful. Read that again. It takes daily work, every single day, to be successful. My site ran mainstream for about six years (a very small “down stream” is still active and interesting, but is only minimally active among a group of old adherents), and I realized that I had to make time for it every day. I struggled with that due to my business travels at the time, but worked out a way to make that happen. The great majority of these spanking message board sites fail, or never rise above ground level, and I’ve found that the very first indication that one is about to go down is when the owner/moderators start not work it every day. It’s just about a 100% guarantee.

• Understand what your vision is, and then work to achieve that vision. That means driving hard for what fits into the vision, and being diligent about not letting what does not creep in and blur it.

• From the standpoint of principles, run the message board like you would run a good business. It takes advertising to get the right kinds of members and discourage the wrong kinds, you have to take care of your loyal member base, you need to keep up a constant dialogue so that you understand what’s going on with your members, you need to have a vision of what a “high quality product” is in this sphere and make sure that’s what you provide, you have to keep an eye on traffic and activity and know whether it’s growing, sustaining, or declining, and then work out to find out why that is, so that you can strengthen the growth, and turn around the decline.

SUGGESTIONS I WOULD MAKE

• Real life stories, whether memories from growing up, or adult experiences, are a category unto themselves, versus fictional stories. In other groups where this separation has been made, it greatly helps to make the distinction between fictional stories, which are not always labeled as such, and true stories much clearer, and much more targeted to the particular interest of members. WSF, SIN, and Classics, all mentioned above, either originally or eventually made this distinction. Another message board that I frequent, Happy Tails, does the same thing. I would strongly encourage MSF to do the same thing, especially since I suspect that MSF will have more than the usual percentage of those interested in real life stories because it addresses this aspect of spanking, to a degree, on it’s commercial site.

• Put together a small group of moderators right up front who will help with this site. They can serve a number of functions: 1) close moderation to ensure that the site stays on it’s mission and does not get hijacked by a host of evils (spammers, personal ads in main topic areas, porn advertising, loose cannon members who raise Hell and create discontent, and much more). Additionally, they can work to support and spur discussion, and if they are experienced in the spanking world have a wealth of information and/or insight that they can share. They can maintain contact with the good members and encourage their on-going participation. It actually can take a lot of work and personal time if it’s done right, so compensate them with membership to your site, a fairly common custom on major commercial sites with message boards. I would suggest that you start with 3, maybe 4. BUT, make sure it’s someone that you have some confidence in and at least an initial level of trust. You’ll probably have a bunch of folks who will PM you with volunteer offers after I’ve just said this because they want the free access. Do some e-mail with them, at the very least, and I would strongly suggest a phone conversation before just handing some control of the board over willy-nilly. They can be a great boon to this site, but also a great hindrance. Obviously, if she’s willing to do so, I would think that Amber would be a good initial choice since you already have that level of trust.

And I have many more, but this has gotten to be much longer than I anticipated! Again, take all of this only for what it’s worth, and there is certainly no arrogant expectation on my part that you do anything with any of this. Finally, I encourage any of the hardy members that have read through all of this to contribute your own thoughts, even if entirely counter to my own.
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  #2  
Old 10-15-2006, 05:32 PM
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garyspk garyspk is offline
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RG,

Thanks for posting your observations of the other sites/boards. It's helpful to know what has worked and what hasn't.

It's entirely our intent to allow other spanking vendors on here, including any competitors. It can't do anything but help all of us. After having been to a number of Shadow Lane events (and others too), I can count on about 2 fingers the number of people in this business that are total jerks. So we welcome all.

It's also our intent to moderate regularly. In the beginning here, it won't be as difficult. But as time goes by, that's when the real moderation will be helpful. Fortunately, we've got plenty of help. You'll see Amber, Chasey, Lexi and others who work with us on here now. We'll have others too. And they'll all help out.

Once again, thanks for the tips.
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