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Q: Bulletin Boards in an online store ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Bulletin Boards in an online store
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: respree-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 10 Sep 2002 21:11 PDT
Expires: 10 Oct 2002 21:11 PDT
Question ID: 63746
I'd like to read some articles (at least three) as to whether Bulletin
Boards are a good idea for an online store.  I was thinking of setting
up one in order to increase the stickiness of my site (we have a
fairly large site selling art prints and posters) and create a sense
of community.

What is the recommended traffic for setting up one?  There's nothing
sadder than going to a board with no posts. =(
Subject: Re: Bulletin Boards in an online store
Answered By: rico-ga on 11 Sep 2002 07:30 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi respree,

An online article with (in my opinion), the best content on creating
an online bulletin board/forum/community is at

"Ten Tips For Building An Online Community"

The "tips" in order are:

1:  Test the water 
2:  Make it a party 
3:  Have 'em waiting at the door 
4:  Use your entire site to seed discussions 
5:  Recruit help 
6:  Set and enforce rules 
7:  Remember it's their community, too 
8:  Project personality 
9:  Grow carefully 
10: Be a skillful moderator 

I'll let you read the full article for yourself, but as an active
member, and one-time moderator, of several online discussion groups,
the "recruit help", "set and enforce rules",and "be a skillful
moderator" particularly resonated with me. One of my colleagues,
webadept, runs a forum for Google Researchers that has been invaluable
to me both as a source of information and support in a very isolated
occupation. webadept's skills as a moderator are the key to the
Researcher Forum's success.

The article also offers several case studies (look to the right of the
article for the links) on online communities, including this one,
about GolfWeb, which I think is worth exploring... has several, fairly generalized, articles on building online

"Why Create an Online Community"

and "What is Community and Why Do You Want It for Your Site?"

Federico Carnales, a moderator in the Sitepoint Forums, offers an
article, "Building a Community with Discussion Forums"  at...

...where he discusses bulletin board software as well as tips on how
to get people talking as well as keeping the discussion going.

Other articles you may find of interest. Please note that several of
these sites are promoting their own services, and are obviously

"Add a Bulletin Board To Your Site"

"Moderating Online Electronic Discussion Groups"

Bulletin Boards "Tips and Advice"

"Bulletin Board Benefits"

"Building Online Communities: Transforming Assumptions Into Success"
(nb: this deals with bulletin boards for nonprofits)'s online community (cited as one of the feister
bulletin boards)

...and finally, you might find this review interesting, as it contains
several useful statements of building an online community...

Hope this information helps you in your decision to build your own
online community.



Request for Answer Clarification by respree-ga on 11 Sep 2002 13:15 PDT
Hi Rico:

Thank you for your response.  Its obvious you put a fair amount of
work into your answer, but after reading all the information provided
by these links, I'm afraid none of them answered my question.  I am
not interested in the 'how to' aspect, available software or 'why (in
general terms) its a good idea,' which is what most of the links

My question was very specific and focuses on using a BBS in an online
store enviroment, where the 'primary' purpose of the site is to sell
product.  I don't see any big online stores doing it, so I'm coming to
the conclusion its not a good idea, but would like to read discussion
as to why.  Certainly, I'm not the first person to think of it. Need
articles discussing advantages and/or disadvantages for my particular
situation.  Would appreciate another try.

Thank you.

Clarification of Answer by rico-ga on 11 Sep 2002 15:05 PDT
Hi respre,

Sorry to see my answer didn't address your question to your
satisfaction.  I'll take another hack at it, but it will probably be
at least 12-18 hours before I get back to you.

Just to make sure I'm looking for what you need, you're specifically
looking for information on the advantages/disadvantages of
implementing an online community (be it called "forum", "bulletin
board", etc.) within the context of an online store environment. Since
you specifically note "big online stores", I'm assuming you're not
interested in articles discussing the success of forums at Motley Fool
and eBay, for example.  I'm not sure they would fit your definition of
"store", even though both of them are in the business of selling
product in one form or another.

Let me know if that's correct, or if you have other thoughts.



Request for Answer Clarification by respree-ga on 11 Sep 2002 15:23 PDT
Hi Rico:

No rush on the answer and thank you for taking another crack at it.

Rico wrote: Just to make sure I'm looking for what you need, you're
looking for information on the advantages/disadvantages of
implementing an online community (be it called "forum", "bulletin
board", etc.) within the context of an online store environment. 

clarification from respree-ga: Yes, that understanding is correct. 
When I say 'online store,' it means that the web site's "primary
source" of revenue comes from selling products.

Rico wrote: Since you specifically note "big online stores", I'm
assuming you're not interested in articles discussing the success of
forums at Motley Fool and eBay, for example. I'm not sure they would
fit your definition of "store", even though both of them are in the
business of selling product in one form or another. I'm not sure they
would fit your definition of "store", even though both of them are in
the business of selling product in one form or another.

clarification from respree-ga: Ebay is not a store (since their
revenue comes from 'commissions') nor is Motley Fool (their revenue
appears to come from advertising, although they have 8 products in
their tiny store, which appears to be only a supplemental form of

I think the keyword here is 'primary source' of revenue comes from
selling product.  Online stores are,,, etc. 
The articles do not have to specifically be discussing 'big' stores
(like the ones mentioned above), but they would be classified as an
"E-tailer" (as opposed to a content site, portal, or informational

Please let me know if you need further clarification and thanks again
for your help.

Clarification of Answer by rico-ga on 12 Sep 2002 14:40 PDT
I appreciate your clarifications and patience, respree. I think I've
now located articles and studies that better meet your criteria.
First, I should note that many of the links that follow lead to
Acrobat documents, and will require the Acrobat Reader, which can be
downloaded for free from 

I'm also providing one link to a PowerPoint document (I'll also
provide instructions on how to download it). If you're using Internet
Explorer, and
have Microsoft Office or PowerPoint installed on your machine, you can
view the presentation online. If you don't have PowerPoint, you can
download the free PowerPoint Viewer from|97|98|2000|2002&Type=Converter|Viewer


According to a PeopleLink study conducted by a McKinsey & Company team
in September 2000 using proprietary Media Metrix data, online
community users are up to two times more likely to purchase from a
retail site than are non-online community users. Online community
users visit a site up to nine times more frequently than non-online
community users, and retention rates for online Community users are up
to twice as high as those for non-online community users. Please

...for the full report. 

PeopleLink has several other white papers, and one PowerPoint
presentation, that you may find of interest. "Business Applications
for Online Community" is an Acrobat document available through this

They also have a Gartner Report PowerPoint presentation -- "Exploiting
the Power of Community"-- available from this link...

Click on the title with the right-mouse button to download.  If you
want to view the presentation through your browser (IE and MS Office
recommended), the direct link is...

Please note I found this file very slow to open even through a cable
modem connection.


During my research, I saw a number of references to a Forrester
Research report, "Cashing in on Community", (Forrester Research,
September 1999), citing the following information, "When people are
considering buying online, about half of community users attach some
importance to the opinions of their fellow community members. One
third of them acknowledge that those opinions influence their purchase
decision. Communities offer user-generated content, message boards,
and chat, providing a valuable resource for gathering perspectives on
products and gaining insight from experts as well as from other
customers. As a result, people can get input that helps them make
informed buying decisions. Examples include product reviews and
discussion boards at Amazon, product reviews, opinions, and advice at
ePinions, and
DVD reviews and store ratings at"

The full 19-page "Cashing in on Community" report is only available
from Forrester Research for $895.00 at this link...,1338,7744,FF.html

I understand that your level of interest in the subject may not be
high :-), but I include the link for completeness.

An excerpt from "Winning Customer Confidence" by Lou Hirsh
( July 29, 2002) notes...

"Many sites build entire communities based on the principle of
fostering information-sharing over product pitching. Forrester
(Nasdaq: FORR) research director Kate Delhagen said this practice is
exemplified by outdoor goods retailer REI. Delhagen told CRMDaily that
REI has one of the most extensive sections of information pages
related to various outdoor activities, in addition to forums where
like-minded enthusiasts can trade tips about favorite locations and
gear. By providing such services, REI establishes trust with consumers
and has become a consistent sales winner on the Web. And online
success, in turn, has boosted the company's offline revenue." 

The REI "Learn & Share Community" can be visited at...


Other articles...

"Building an E-Commerce Community: Friendship Sells" is a fairly
generalized article that I offer simply because it expands upon the
McKinsey findings with a quote from a McKinsey analyst,

"They also remain twice as loyal and buy almost twice as often," Brown
said. "Even people who don't directly contribute, but do read those
message boards, are more likely to come back and to buy. If they feel
a connection, they're more likely to take the next step and become

The full article can be found at...

Again, InformationWeek provides a generalized article entitled,
"Return On Interaction" July 2, 2001, that quotes from the McKinsey
report, while providing additional claims that, "the communities build
loyalty, give valuable feedback, and contribute to increased sales.
But corporate management wants quantifiable statistics to demonstrate
that the community effort is paying its freight."

And finally, January 23rd 2001 issue offers an
article entitled, "Where the payoffs and problems are in hosting
online communities", which I think you'll find interesting...


Other resources...

Many of the links I've noted above I found through the so-called "Web
Marketing Info Center" at...

I've culled through what I felt were the links that best suited your
criteria, respree, but you might want to take a look at the listing
yourself, in case I've overlooked something.

As with the Forrester Report, a report from the Yankee Group entitled,
"The Real Value of Online Community" is available for $795.00. Again,
I include the link only for completeness. :)

The report's abstract states, "Online or virtual communities have
generated tremendous hype in the Internet marketplace due to the high
values associated with owning a large, interactive and targeted user
base. However, the financial market's ability to attribute a value to
'online community' is hindered by the term's vague definition. As a
result, companies marketing themselves as online communities and
investing in online community applications generate inflated market
valuations without the quantifiable data to verify that an online
community business model will drive revenues.

Companies currently offering or thinking of implementing online
community strategies must understand that a successful community is
contingent upon the integration of robust content and a large
interactive user base.

In this report, the Yankee Group defines the term online community and
assigns three valuation metrics that measure the success of online
community strategies. Yankee Group segments several Web business
models to identify how online communities enhance their core
businesses, and then underscores certain issues to consider when
integrating an online community component. The report's Exhibit 1
shows how the Yankee Group views the components and attributes of an
online community."


I hope this information better meets your needs, respree. Feel free to
ask for further clarification, or, if you now feel that I've answered
your question, to rate my answer.


respree-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Excellent work. Fast, prompt, courteous and very professional.  Thank
you for diligence and persistence.  I've only skimmed the articles at
this writing, but it looks like what I was looking for.  Thanks again,

There are no comments at this time.

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