Operational note:  if you have applied for access to the Q&A site and haven’t been granted access, did you answer the three questions?   Did you get a reminder to answer the three questions?   If all else is good but your request hasn’t been answered, please drop a line to [email protected] because Facebook does occasionally do strange things.

The page

The Community Radio Q&A Facebook page is an initiative of Technorama in conjunction with the CBAA.   The aim of the page is to provide a forum where questions can be asked, and answers can be given.   But there are two other outcomes which are just as important as Q&A:  consolidation of community and the safe room.

That’s one of the reasons that the group is CLOSED… not because we want the discussion to be secret, but so that we have control over the way discussion happens, that contributors have identified their credentials for being in the room, and that there’s no lurking in secret.  All our lurkers are known!

The site will work best if there are no holds and no restrictions on discussion – especially in terms of honesty.   It’s important that we can be as specific as necessary, and that answers can be truthful and open.  We need to be able to talk pricing, value, positives, negatives, and applicability without fear or favour.   For example:

Q:  has anyone used the XYZ CD player, and how did you find it?
A:  we purchased five of them and they underperformed to the extent that we needed to change them all.   The JKL function didn’t work, and the PQR knob repeatedly broke.  The agent was not helpful and refused to support us or provide a refund.   Not recommended.

or

Q:  what’s the best way to set up a transmitter and link?
A:  we used the Brand A PA and exciter pair but for $20 more why not use the Brand A PA with a Brand B exciter.  The combo is excellent and your SNR will improve by 2dB.  We’re considering the changeover.

Some policy

To ensure those conversations can  happen openly, we’ve informally moved to some important policies:

  • All opinions are valuable.   Facts are even more valuable
  • Negative experiences are just as important as positive experiences – and both need to be based on accurate reporting
  • Vendors are encouraged to offer help, but NOT to spruik or advertise specific product
  • Allegiances and conflicts need to be expressed as part of an answer
  • If a responder needs recalibrating (for whatever reason) that should happen gently.  Maybe even offline.
  • Robust debate is good.   Flaming is not.
  • Anyone may ask for a commercial solution to a problem (eg: a quote), but the commercial discussion needs to be conducted somewhere else

A few vendors have asked if it’s OK to offer a product solution to a problem, and in general the answer is to establish contact, qualify the discussion online (maybe) but then take specific commercial discussion offline.

This works for everyone, and especially vendors.   You might think that a vendor won’t want their product dissed in public.   And they won’t; there’s no justification for capricious denigration (ie:  slagging off for no good reason).   However if a product is truly working badly, the smart vendor is the first person who wants to know.  Everyone wins from reasoned praise and criticism:  in the former case the vendor gains selling points and a reference, and in the latter case future objections are out in the open and can be addressed.

But at the end of the day, just be guided by the big rule:

Play fair!!  Or go home.