I was ROTFL with my BFF about IDK. :-) (Chapter 6)

Posted on July 8, 2011


My initial thought when I hear the word “chat room” is of the Dateline: To Catch a Predator special.  Debuting in 2004 in New York City, Dateline personnel pretended to be young teenage girls in online chatrooms.  The young girls invited “predators” to their home and 18 men showed up in the first 2 1/2 days (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10912603/).  The special series was cancelled in 2011.  From my corner of the world, this was what I knew of internet chat rooms.  They were dangerous places filled with child pedophiles.  Although all of this may be true to some extent, the internet forum should be given more consideration–especially as a business tool.

As I said, my forum experience is limited.  While surfing (I know think I should call it cerfing since it was a nod to Vint Cerf) the internet one evening, I came across the forum on city-data.com.  The forum is for people moving/relocating and inquiring about areas in the city.  I was hooked by a number of different discussions and could not resist the urge to sign up and defend my city (Minneapolis).  I just checked back and saw that my posts had over 1,000 views and a number of replies.  I also have one reputation bar.  I have no idea what that means, but I’m honored.  My husband is active on silverfish–a forum for longboarders.  He constantly posts things and has put on two successful longboarding events, but only has a few reputation points while others have hundreds.

Weight Watchers is a good example of a successful business forum.  Online members of Weight Watchers can participate in forums through the company website.  Although I’m sure the forums are administered by Weight Watchers, they allow members to connect with one another, share stories, swap recipes and seek advice/encouragement without going through official meetings.  I think the forums help members feel more committed to the program and the company.  They promote brand loyalty.  All of this PR is free for Weight Watchers–they just have to make sure participants follow the rules of the forum.

Setting up my own forum seems a little intimidating, but so does much of what Safko talks about in his book.  It seems as if communications professionals need to be computer programmers on the side.  Safko says that Yuku is easy use, so maybe there is hope for us that are less comfortable with our computer savviness.  If I really want to make it in the communications field, perhaps a computer class or two might give me an edge.  If not, I hope that more and more programs are extremely user-friendly and easy to set up.