The Business of Software forums hosted over on www.joelonsoftware.com have been a great resource for me. I’ve participated there for about 2 years and I’ve learned a bunch from the group of ISV’s who participate on that forum. I also feel I’ve added a good deal to the quality of the discussion there and with it’s rise as a top resource for small ISV’s. That’s why I feel betrayed by the moderators of BOS today.
Over the past few months the quality of BOS has gone down as ISV spammers have taken to posting links for their half finished products. These links are almost always by people who don’t otherwise participate and are pretty transparent attempts to simply drive traffic to their sites.
I wondered if I was the only one feeling this way, so I posted a thread (cached version) asking for these spam posts to stop so that the forum could return to it’s previous quality discussion without all the spam noise. I wasn’t ranting, but in fact offered several suggestions including moving the “review” posts to a new forum on BOS or to an existing link site which joelonsoftware is affiliated with. An energetic discussion ensued where most people agreed with my position. Even Eric Sink a forum moderator and ISV guru agreed.
So I was surprised this morning when the thread, which had 22 posts on saturday still had 22 today. I remembered that the BOS forums will hide moderated posts from all but those who originally posted so I headed over to proxify to check the site from a remote server. I was extremely saddened to find that it had in fact been removed. You can see the image below, the post should be between ‘Formal Documention Process Document Templates’ and (ironically) ‘uISV Needs Review of Revamped Site’.
It appears that the spammers have more rights on the BOS forums than someone who has actively participate for several years and who was simply posting a comment to improve the experience.
I’m not sure where to go from here. BOS feels like a part of my business having been such an important part of my learning process. Perhaps it’s time to move on or start a new forum where the spammers don’t have more rights than the true participants.
Update: Wow, looks like the stars must be aligned. Dharmesh comments below that he’s started a new forum which is an alternative to BOS. Especially attractive is that he’ll be approving all posters. While I normally don’t like that feature in general, I think in this particular case it’s exactly the type of thing I’m looking for. A slightly more exclusive forum where everyone knows everyone. If you’re interested you can check it out here: http://onstartups.com/
Update 2: Thread is live again… Thanks Bob/Eric. I think it’s the right thing. As I’ve been saying all along I just want BOS to be the best it can be. I truly am too lazy to find someplace else to congregate if I can help it 🙂