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eBay to Overhaul Community Discussion Boards – Again

eBay sellers often turn to the company’s discussion boards to seek advice or discuss business issues, but in June, they’ll have to get used to a whole new structure. eBay is overhauling its discussion boards yet again.

An eBay moderator posted a table of the new structure on Friday with no explanation. Users were in the dark until Sunday when another moderator stepped in to answer questions from users expressing confusion and concern about the cryptic post.

eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore confirmed the changes, telling EcommerceBytes on Sunday, “We’re in the process of consolidating our discussion boards, which is an initiative we’ve been working on for over a month. With over 100 boards that have originated in the past 10 years, our plan is to consolidate that number over the next few weeks to add a better structure. No content will be deleted, and all content currently on the Community will continue to be available after consolidation.”

Last summer, eBay revamped the discussion boards when it switched hosting providers from Live World to Lithium. Sellers have expressed dissatisfaction with the moderation under both providers.

On Sunday, a moderator named Jeff edited the table containing the new board structure, removing several private boards from the table: Education Specialists (private); Voices Calls Feedback (private); and Voices Connect & Share (private).

Jeff also began answering questions on Sunday. “Annoucements (sic) will be posted to each board with the timing of when the content on that board is planned to be moved. The first moves will begin in June and all moves are expected to be complete within a couple of weeks. No content is being deleted as part of this reorganizstion (sic). All content currently on the boards will remain on the Community.”

And, he added, “No content is being “dumped”. All content will be migrated into one of the new boards, with the exception of older content which is archived as we’ve done in the past. Archived content is still accessible by search or by links on the member’s profile pages.”

One seller expressed concern about boards that would disappear, writing, “No Trust & Safety on tthe (sic) boards or the answer center? No Seller Central? Hard to believe. No specific category boards? That would be foolish to put it mildly. You’re already losing sellers at an incredible rate. That would definitely not help the attrition rate at this point.”

In response, the moderator Jeff wrote, “These will be the structure of the boards following this transition. The structure is designed to be clearer to all users about where to go to discuss issues, get advice, or share tips and best practices with other community members. There are category boards included in the new structure.”

And in response to a user question, “how much has traffic dropped since lithium took over the boards,” Jeff responded, “We don’t discuss specifics on traffic, but we are very, very pleased with the results we’ve had since partnering with Lithium.”

And, he said, “We’re announcing the new structure now, but we are not planning to make any moves to content until early next month.”

After some confusion remained, Jeff wrote, “Yes, the goal is to take boards that are very similar in their content and bring them together so that everyone will know which boards to go to with specific questions or comments.

“If a group of people are very passionate about a subset within a board and want to focus exclusively on that (ex. model train collectors within the Collectibles category), they will be encouraged to tag their posts so they’ll be easier to find, to follow members who share their interests, or even to start a Group for their interests if that’s what they want to do. The options are open.”

Here is the eBay discussion thread about the new eBay board structure.

Comment on the AuctionBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.