eBay are “scaling back” the Online Business Forum, which was opened at the end of 2010 as “a place for SMEs, especially those in the online business world, to come together and share ideas and insights, and debate the issues that matter most to them”
6 months later still with just 714 members and following the launch of the Sellersphere, eBay will be scaling back their involvement in the Online Business Forum, although I’m not quite sure how a static news site with no user interaction is supposed to replace a discussion forum. The Online Business Forum won’t be closing, it’ll simply be left to it’s own devices without any eBay input.
Dan Wilson will be also be stepping down as editor and, whilst he’s done a magnificent job managing the forum, without him at the helm it’s unlikely to prosper. The Online Business Forum is hosted on a closed network (LinkedIn) and that means it’s not indexed by search engines. If Dan isn’t there to drive traffic and stimulate discussion the chances of new members finding and participating in the forum are practically nil.
I sometimes wonder if eBay understand social media at all and why they can’t link projects together. The Sellersphere has content but no user interaction, no comments and currently not even a method to follow it (no Twitter, no Facebook and not even an RSS feed). The Online Business Forum has followers, but from now on will have no content and no editor.
eBay seem to have missed the blindingly obvious solution – Would it not have made sense to simply cross post Sellersphere content (either in full or as a digest) into the Online Business Forum as a place to let professional and business sellers comment and discuss the articles?
As things currently stand it would be kinder to kill the Online Business Forum and close it down today than it will be to leave it to slowly wither and die on it’s own. Revitalising it as a place to discuss Sellersphere articles would make sense… or perhaps eBay simply don’t want their users talking about them?