Head of Protection Products at Citi Bank UK Consumer (Egg.com)
08 October 2002 14:19pm
Are we aware of a company that sells 'off the shelf' chat functionality.
A variety of packages dependent on the number of concurrent users that are expected is the ideal, as well as some form of monitoring is desired, as would the ability to set up organised 'ask a question' type chats. eg Ask Ash a question between the hours of Noon and 3pm.
All suggestions would be welcome.
CEO at Econsultancy
08 October 2002 15:31pm
Are you looking for an outsourced / hosted solution or 'off the shelf' software you can install and run? Just the technology or also the people to answer the questions? I remember looking into server side chat software a good few years ago now and not getting that far - pretty flakey products at the time.
I guess you could of course go 'quick and dirty' with an instant messaging (IM) solution or go the full hog with a fully outsourced customer service solution of which online chat is a part (e.g. LivePerson - http://www.liveperson.com). Here the technology element is only a small part of the value proposition.
08 October 2002 15:42pm
I'm looking at the bulletin board / discussion board style. Similiar to the 'chat' function we are using at the moment. One that caught my eye is <http://www.vbulletin.com>. I guess that the gap between chat function and bulletin board has narrowed in my mind.
I appreciate that swear words can be removed automatically, and am wondering if monitoring is necessary?
On 15:31:59 8 October 2002 Ashley wrote:
>Are you looking for an outsourced / hosted solution or
>'off the shelf' software you can install and run? Just the
>technology or also the people to answer the questions? I
>remember looking into server side chat software a good few
>years ago now and not getting that far - pretty flakey
>products at the time.
>I guess you could of course go 'quick and dirty' with an
>instant messaging (IM) solution or go the full hog with a
>fully outsourced customer service solution of which online
>chat is a part (e.g. LivePerson -
>http://www.liveperson.com). Here the technology element is
>only a small part of the value proposition.
08 October 2002 16:23pm
OK. To me there is quite a difference between 'chat' and a bulletin board / message board / threaded discussion forum - this thing on e-consultancy being the latter. The key differences, in my mind, being that chat is 'synchronous' and usually not stored/archived/searchable whereas forums are asynchronous (you can reply whenever) and the contents are stored, viewable, searchable etc.
Somewhere I think I have a list of the latter.... A very propular one that springs to mind is Infopop (http://www.infopop.com/) which you see on a lot of sites. As you can see we decided to do things in house. Why? A variety of reasons but the 3 most important being:
- we reckoned we could do a better job than most
- we would retain ownership of the code, giving us control and flexibility to modify etc.
- we would retain ownership of all the related content and user data
This final point is the most important one for us. Tricky to do persaonlisation, for example, if your content and user data is sitting on someone else's server. I'm sure we could do something similar for you if you wanted... ;)
The short answer on your question about monitoring is that you cannot afford to rely on software - only the user community itself can effectively police a forum. It's tempating fate to say we haven't had any problems in these forums but I'd hope people can see that they are a forum for serious, professional debate and knowledge exchange and, as such, are self-policing. Of course you also have to be registered to post (normal for most forums) which would help us track and block any abuse.
08 October 2002 20:22pm
vBulletin is very good, well supported and highly customisable. Another excellent (and free) option is http://www.phpbb.com
If you do decide to go for the live chat as well, both of those are easily integrated with hosted solutions like DigiChat as well as Open Source like phpMyChat.
Yes, you can filter certain words, but it's very easy for posters to get around that (for example adding . or spaces between letters). You will almost certainly need moderators to keep an eye on the messages being posted.
Let me know if you need any more info.
On 15:42:03 8 October 2002 C.H wrote:
>I'm looking at the bulletin board / discussion board
>style. Similiar to the 'chat' function we are using at the
>moment. One that caught my eye is
><http://www.vbulletin.com>. I guess that the gap
>between chat function and bulletin board has narrowed in
>I appreciate that swear words can be removed
>automatically, and am wondering if monitoring is
Director, Development & Education at CommunityPeople.net
04 November 2002 15:57pm
Vbulletin, Infopop, wwwthreads, phpbb, etc. are all very stable clients. I've used them all in communities I've built and managed. However, dont be fooled - they're never FREE in the long run.
You can read a case study I wrote on open source client software at http://www.communitypeople.net/cases.asp and you will see that is rarely if ever FREE to use open source software or stand alone client software, such as vbulletin, etc.
On the other hand, developing your own client software is also VERY EXPENSIVE in terms of a developer's time. Of course, if you have a developer on salary with nothing else to do, fabulous! But the software takes time to develop, as well.
I've been in online community for nearly 10 years and in my experience, it's almost always cheaper to use an ASP (application service provider).
AS for moderation, there are several options, including recruting volunteer moderators from within your community membership. If this isn't a viable option at the moment, you can hire excellent moderators.
If you're looking for synchronous (live) interactive tools, then you'll need chat, not message boards.
I'd be happy to talk to you at length about your needs and, of course, we'd be happy to provide you with what you need - but barring the sales pitch, please contact me for objective suggestions, if you like.
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