Our first customer forum was with phpBB open-source software. We hosted it ourselves on a Mac mini. As a “customer” forum, we set it up to require Admin approval for anyone wishing to join. With each joining request, someone here at Bountiful Baby would verify that the requestor was indeed a customer, and if so, the request would be approved. Otherwise they would not be approved, because our intent has always been that this forum be a forum for our customers, and not the general populace.
We have also always had the policy that any post would be deleted upon request by any forum member for any reason, no questions asked. Usually we would not even check to see if the requestor was a forum member— if we got a “delete” request from anywhere, it was acted upon.
All of the above still is our policy. We are just managing it differently now. We use commercial forum software that we pay a monthly fee for. But it has many advantages, including automatic removal of posts when enough people vote it “thumbs down”. This one feature alone has almost completely eliminated a lot of the “management” needed with the old software, and has made the forum almost self-managing.
We also rely on the software to manage the forum registration requests, rather than having an administrator here at Bountiful Baby do it. This was a scary step for us to take, trusting the software to completely manage the registration process. But it seems to be working fairly well.
We still have all the same policies as before, though— we are just relying on the software to manage it to a much greater extent than we did with phpBB. And this usually works out very well for us…
…except when a person gets banned from the forum.
If there are any customers who have been banned, please email me (at “nevin at bountiful baby dot com”) to have you manually added back in. Please be advised, though, that our manual processes will still be the same as they were earlier. You will need to be a current customer to qualify to be manually added back in.
For the vast majority of people, though, the automated software manages everything well.
Nevin Pratt, CEO