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Occasional Contributor

Adding a Marketplace (used equipment sale) to our Lithium Community

Hi, 

We currently have a thriving support Community using Lithium. We mostly focus on clients and superusers answering support questions between them with minimal Customer support/Customer care involvement. 

Our product dept, asked us if it would be possible to add a board to our Community in order for our clients to buy and sale their used equipments (Tv box, internet router and mobile phones) within the Community.

It's something that our clients are already doing on social media and other forums unrelated to the company. The logic would be to be able, in offering this board, to better monitor this kind of pratice. 

However, my gut feeling is that it might be a bad idea as these kind of used sale community are time consuming for their administrator and they tend to attract scammers. Initialy we even added a point in our Community guideline to avoid any kind of solicitation and sales. 

Is there anyone here with a similar board? What are your opinion on this kind of board added to a support community? Is there anything we should be careful about?

Thanks in advance! 

 

Vincent Q. 

1 Reply 1
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Khoros Oracle

At first blush, this always seems like a great idea.  After all, I cannot think of another great way to get truly engaged people to participate in the Community than by putting their money-where-their-mouth-is (either by selling or by buying).  However, there are countless traps to watch out for:

1.  As you mentioned, there are already rules against solicitation and the like.  Changing Community Guidelines at any time, for any reason, always give me pause.  Put simply, the reason had better be darned good

2.  The potential downside might just outweigh the potential upside.  All it takes is one horrific experience, and the Community's reputation is forever altered within your brand (they'll probably shut it down in a fit of panic), and for the public as a whole

3.  Last but not least, and I rarely invoke this team, but your brand's LEGAL team may not be ok with this at all!  Chances are pretty good that the Terms of Use and the Privacy Policy (both of which are likely located in the footer of your website) already forbid private transactions.  It is entirely possible that the Terms of Service (accepted upon registration) forbids it also

I came up on 'hobbyist' style Communities.  I love them!  I have bought and sold lots of stuff through those types of Communities.  But your brand may have a totally different view on this.  They are a business and nobody can begrudge them this.  They likely want their customers to buy new stuff, or at the very least, they do not want to be responsible if transactions on the website go awry, even if it is between two consenting adults.

Put simply, if you were the Community Manager of a 'hobbyist' Community, I would say, 'go for it'!  But because your Community is part of a traditional corporate brand, the advice on this one is to pass.  As the old saying goes:

Never ask a question with your technology that your business process cannot answer - Joe Cothrel

...Oh - one thing you never want to do is be seen as a stick-in-the-mud to good ideas that Community Members send your way.  It is highly likely that legal already forbids this, so maybe you can blame it on them when you have to tell your Community Members, 'no-can-do'. Heh.