QRZ doesn’t get it.

While I applaud QRZ for recognizing that their Ragchew Central (RCC) forums caused a lot of trouble, their latest attempt to calm things down by getting rid of RCC (some months back) and RCCII (which was created to soothe the wild beast of the vocal minority after RCC was killed) and creating a new “Just Talking (Subscribers Only)” forum that can only be posted to by people who pay QRZ for some level of subscription strikes me as marketing by wishful thinking.

For one thing, nobody is going to subscribe to QRZ who doesn’t see value in doing so.  Being able to post in a ragchew forum when there are so many free places online to vent about politics and general bullshit isn’t going to inspire anyone to pay good money for a subscription.

For another thing, most of the troublemakers in the RCC forums were subscribers.  So what’s the point?

So now, someone (a non-subscriber) has created a “Filter Out Subscriber Only Forum ??” thread in the Community Help Center forum to ask if those forums could simply disappear from view for non-subscribers instead of remaining visible but non-writable.  The responses from QRZ staff are hilarious; they amount to “Go away kid, you’re bugging me.”

The trick is this.  I run Xenforo myself, on a (non-radio) site.  They could, in fact, “disappear” the new forum from non-subscribers, and from anyone else who didn’t want to see it.  I’ve done this myself, primarily to create space for mods to discuss things without the general membership being aware that space exists.  (Because, yes, people complained about forums they could see but couldn’t access.)

QRZ could do it the same way I did, by changing user permissions and creating privilege groups, then setting the forums to be visible only the the appropriate privilege groups.  That’s essentially what they’ve already done to block posts from non-subscribers; there’s no other way to do it, so bottom line, all they have to do is go through one more time and set those fora so they can’t be [i]seen[/i] by non-subscribers.  That they won’t do it suggests that they think gaining the ability to post there will drive subscriptions.  I rather doubt that, but I’m cynical about that kind of marketing.

For me, as an XML subscriber (a service I find useful, or I wouldn’t pay for it), I’d be happy not to see the ragchewing fora at all when I go over there and hit “New Posts”.  QRZ’s biggest Achilles’ heels are its off-topic fora.  And until Fred understands and addresses that, preferably by nuking them and making them stay nuked regardless of the pissing and moaning from the vocal minority, alternative and competing sites like eHam and RadioReference are going to get more attention from dissatisfied hams.