To generalize, I think there are features on this forum that are useful and well implemented. It’s pretty easy to follow any discussions that you want, and there’s several ways to look at recent activity. This forum has a great wealth of experiential knowledge and is one of the best online places to discuss ideas, have fun, and get feedback from others. End of review.
The main reason for this post is really to engage with the Audiogon website creators and provide them feedback on how the participants/users see potential improvements. I would @-mention them here if I knew who they were...
Better forum experience > more community engagement > more new users > more revenue for Audiogon > more budget for improvements > better forum experience > etc....
I’ll start with my own website improvement suggestions, and I invite others to discuss them and to add their own:
1. A new forum topic for this very thing. An example of a name is "Community Feedback." This could also function as a public support forum.
2. A new functionality for polls to be created by a new discussion starter. Out of all of my ideas, I think this one is the most interesting and will get the most rapid increase in overall engagement. The Telegram mobile app has the ideal version of this, in my opinion. Their implementation is exceptional and if Audiogon could get anywhere near that level of functionality, programming refinement, and real-time results updating on a bar chart of the answers and percentages, it would be sure to impress. Twitter’s implementation is more simplistic, but it works. The main features on Telegram are 1) "Ask a question" field, 2) define up to 10 answer options, 3) choose whether the answers show up as anonymous or reveal who chose which answer, 4) choose whether multiple answers are allowed (advanced option, infrequently used), 5) quiz mode where poll creator defines a correct answer which is visible after choosing an answer (advanced option, infrequently used).
3. A functionality to tag manufacturers in any post, including original posts that start discussions. Make it a drop-down where the user must choose an existing manufacturer tag to avoid misspellings. Make the tag small but visible on every individual post. Then implement a tag filter functionality into both searches and the forum browser. There could be a question that must be answered before submitting the post that says "Do you want to add a tag".
Allow anyone to follow manufacturer tags, just like they can follow specific discussions. I’m sure many users and dealers and especially manufacturers themselves would love this.
This tag functionality could be expanded to include many other things, and even re-work the way the forum is organized and searched. However, it can add a burden of complexity if not well implemented. I originally thought that dedicated sub-topics for manufacturers was the way to go, but I think that can lead to some fragmentation across different topics and unduly increase complexity.
4. In addition to displaying the Audiogon Insider icon/symbol next to usernames, do icons for Audiogon staff, dealers and manufacturer reps. Those people should have their business details displayed in their user profile. I think people with financial interests should be identified for the sake of integrity of communication. It would be ideal to make that icon show up in the drop-down menu when @-mentioning a forum member, too. Perhaps even allow a filter within the @-mention drop-down menu for different icons.
5. The @-mentioning system doesn’t work for a lot of people because they don’t know that selecting from the drop-down menu is required to get the blue text which links to the user profile and send them a notification of the mention. I’d like to see the system auto-fill a hyperlink for a correctly typed @ symbol followed by a username, without the need to select the name from the drop-down menu.
6. Perhaps adding a new topic where only verified manufacturers can start new discussion would increase manufacturer engagement and give them a place to do marketing as well. New product coming this quarter? Want another way to increase brand awareness and jump-start word of mouth marketing? Do a teaser on the Audiogon Discussion Forum, tell people to follow that discussion for updates, then follow up later with more substantial announcements.
That’s all for now. Thoughts?