This discussion grew as an off-shoot of my blog post Active Rain, Localism, and The New Economy (Members Only) As promised, with Solomon-like skill, I have divided up a two-headed conversation:
To summarize (And if I get it all wrong, Ardell will jump in anyway :-> )
Suppose Ardell writes a great post aimed towards first time buyers discussing, let's say, asking the sellers to pay buyer's closing costs.
OK. For whatever reason, I don't agree with something in her post, maybe things are just simply different in my region. So I write I comment stating my opinion. (Sorry Ardell, I just can't control myself.) Next thing you know, agents from all over have joined the fray, everyone sounding off that their way is the better way.
Ardell's original target audience, the first time buyer, is either completely befuddled or bored to tears by all the debating real estate agents.
On Active Rain, I think everyone can agree that Members Only posts are fair game for anybody, anytime, anywhere.
But what about Public posts that are intended to show up on Localism? Is there some sort of professional courtesy that should dictate that we tone down comments to other agent's Public posts?
Here is the discussion so far, copied from The New Economy post:
ARDELL: But nothing turns the public off more, and scares them away than more, than more then one or two agents "in the room". If localsim continues the 99 comments from agents model...I think it will by that, destroy that which the vision creates.
Localism should permit consumer comment, but not internal agent comment. Not sure that is possible.
But clearly someone throwing a hijack on a locaisim post would destroy the entire concept. Or agents putting in their two cents about why don't the freakin' consumers "get" In other words, any negative interaction on a Localism post aimed at consumers. I know that is not the intent and just the effect.
One agent coming in and saying "Close that DEAL!" to their "friend" the AR participant, and all the work is for naught. Not sure how you fix that besides deleting comments, which is cumbersome to maintain and perceived badly by consumers who are blog-conscious.
CJ: Ardell, I hadn't thought that one out yet, but I think you are right on! Several months ago I mentioned the idea of separate systems, one for agents to share ideas, network and interact with each other; and a different one for agents to interact with the public ... it sort of seems to be evolving in that direction.
BRIAN BRADY: I think there is truth to what Ardell says. Greg has a "boss blog" at Bloodhound to facilitate off-line commentary. Active Rain might consider a small fee for users after a 90 day trial to facilitate the boss blog and keep comments from the public.
BRYANT TUTAS: You know with all the talk about "transparency" why should we hide comments form the consumer? I totally disagree with that idea. I think what separates, AR and Localism, from other sites is the fact that the consumer can see what we do and how we interact. Granted there will be agents that will make themselves look bad, but so what? Wouldn't the consumer be interested in knowing who they can trust prior to deciding to do business with them? Personally I have nothing to hide from anyone. ALL of my posts and comments are open to the public.
The consumer wants to work with "real" people not people that are just putting on a show. I say lay it out there for the world to see. Let's truly be transparent. Not just transparent in what we want the consumer to see.
CHRIS TESCH: I tend to agree with Cheryl about hiding the agent comments. I'm not so concerned about my own comments, but comments from others that aren't really thinking about how the consumer will perceive it. Localism shouldn't be for agent comments any more than our "members only" posts should be read by consumers.
BRIAN BRADY: Bryant:
Why separate comments?
1- I want to talk in the community sometimes.
2- the presence of real estate industry insiders is very intimidating to the consumer. Transparency is great but a bunch of naked people in a room intimidates even the most open-minded person. Does that make sense
CJ: And then there's stuff like the Halloween Costume Contest ... which was great fun, but probably not the first impression one would want to leave with a potential client. Yes, we aim to be transparent in our business dealings, but sometimes folks just want to kick back, goof off, and speak freely among friends. There needs to be a place for that.
BRYANT TUTAS: Cheryl and Brian, Isn't that why we have members only posts? If its a public post then folks just need to remember that and watch what they say. I never write any comment unless I wouldn't mind one of my sellers reading it. I really don't think the system needs to change, I think the users need to change.
SUZANNE MARRIOTT: Tony and I would prefer that 100% of our clients are "connected" and that they are blog savvy. That said - we're still playing follow the leaders!
MAGGIE DOKIC: As for Ardell, Bryant and Brian - fabulous points. I agree that the system's probably set up right and it's the user's responsibility to use it properly, but how can that be assured?
JEFF DOWLER: I think ARDELL has a really good point. Great for the professionals to provide the content, but if the focus is on the consumer, agents don't need to be commenting as we do here on AR. As an example of the negative impact this could have, take a look at one of the comments in Chris Griffith's post on FSBOs in Florida - there was a pretty annoyed reader who made some really good points about the commentary by us agents...yet another consumer turned off by real estate professionals! Perhaps it should have been a Members Only post?
BRYANT TUTAS: Maybe I'm missing something, but I still think the key is to ALWAYS respond as a professional unless it's a members only post. I've written several post about this. It also seems that a lot of the consumers that are commenting, do come in with a bad attitude, towards Realtors. IMO, mostly justified. It is our job to try and change this perception and AR is the perfect platform for doing it
CJ: Here's a snippet from that annoyed reader of Chris Griffith's post:
>>>>How dare you, you arrogant full-of-yourself PROFESSIONALS? (Many of you, not all of you) And .......
>>>>This blog did nothing to generate my trust in real estate salespersons. And it made too many of you look petty.
My original post seems to have grown two heads; The first original head being the part about comparing Active Rain to The New Economy of the 90s. The second new head being about the appropriateness of members commenting on another member's public blog post.
If I have the time and energy, I'll make the "second head" into its own blog post. But if someone else gets to it first, that's fine by me. Just post a link to the new blog post here. Thanks.
JEFF BELONGER: Late to the party... I also think Ardell has something here.... Bryant... I don't think it's so much the hiding aspect, but goes back to so many agents making comments, will outsiders chime in. Look at AR.... you have many members from AR that probably don't chime in because they aren't comfortable. So new and see so many people carrying on with conversation. Same thing with Localism. And maybe the comments get so deep and friendlly because many of us know each other... many outsiders just read, but don't comment. DO I think we should be able to comment and answer questions. Yes... but I think there is a fine line here and worth looking into. Just my .02.
OK .... Any other thoughts, guys?
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