I've been thinking about this for the past three hours, and the best solution I can come up with is that we have seperate forums for each manufacturer and have all manufacturers contribute their knowledge in the other forums as well.
The reasons for having seperate forums for each manufacturer (who would like their own forum)are as follows:
<OL>[*]Their support personnel will have less messages to wade through, freeing up time to answer their brand specific messages.
[*]The Manufacturer Specific forum can be linked to directly from the manufacturer's site, so that their customers can come post questions directly.
[*]The specific forums for that manufacturer can be bookmarked for the support personnel, making it easier for "new to the Net" people to get there.
[*]More security: There's a saying that the number of people that know a secret is equal to the square of the number of people you told. If we have 5 manufacturer's represented, and each of them has 2 people (+-) that have the moderator password, that's 100 (10 squared) people who have access, a security nightmare. Limiting the access to the administrative functions is not something we will compromise on. Having seperate forums means seperate passwords for each moderator profile, which means greater security and less chance of foul play (Hacker/Cracker or otherwise).
[*]Manufacturers will have the ability to make announcements in their own forums, hold contests, etc without getting drowned out by other traffic.
[*]Forums can be customized with specific manufacturer logos.
[*]Manufacturer specific forums have the option, at their desire, to have their support personnel notified by email every time someone posts in their forum. This will allow rapid response to topics as they come up, instead of having to check the forum every 10 minutes for traffic.
The case against having one big Manufacturer Forum:
<OL>[*]The aforementioned security dilemma.
[*]Too much traffic that could just as easily be handled in the General Discussion Forum.
[*]Too much "temptation" to edit/delete a message, without anyone knowing just "who" did it.
[*]Not enough "personality". The site is a community, and each manufacturer would be able to, in a sense, have their own suburb if they had their own forum.[/list=a]
My solution to this is to have a Non-Specific Manufacturer Discussion Forum for smaller companies, or for companies who do not want their own forums, and seperate Manufacturer-Specific Forums for those companies who's traffic is high enough to warrant it.
How does this sound to everyone?
Kevin Jon Schlossberg
SysOp and Administrator for BladeForums.com
Insert witty quip here
[This message has been edited by Spark (edited 08 January 1999).]