QOTD: Chaperone or One Your Own?
Today’s question stems from a note buried in some text we read for yesterday’s news post in which we spoke of VW reviving the Scout brand. As the owner of a relatively niche vehicle, would you rather use a private internet forum – or one operated by the company itself?
Scout Motors, which is technically its own company in this country and not a sub-brand of VW, has created an online forum to provide Scout owners, enthusiasts, and curiosity seekers with a place to engage each other and – just maybe – a few people who actually work at the company. Stated goals are discussion, suggestions, stories, and making connections … all of which sound like the bumf from an insufferably upbeat marketing company but are actually useful traits when one is trying to find real answers to an automotive conundrum.
As the Scout forum rightly suggests, supportive communities are sometimes hard to find. Witness the morass of self-righteousness and ill-informed advice which often bloviates from private forms, where keyboard warriors bash other builds or give answers which are either biased or completely incorrect. More than one person has been burned by a random person on an internet forum who, while having the best of intentions, dispensed incorrect advice and caused more problems than they solved.
Would this be mitigated with a manufacturer-owned forum? There is an argument that the answers provided in such an environment may be better informed than Joe’s Yelling Forum, but we highly doubt an OEM would comb every single entry for accuracy and clarity. And even if they did, there will be cynics in the audience who’d suspect the brand may try to suppress some messages if they go against the intended design of their vehicle. This author doesn’t think that would happen – but we all know the level of conspiracy theory involved in some corners of online discourse.
But if a manufacturer commits the proper resources to such an endeavor, it could be a boon to that particular enthusiast community. Imagine engineers at Jeep, as part of their workday, being assigned for an hour to browse the official Jeep forum during which time they could provide sound advice and guidance. Or have a particular day of the week designated for AMA sessions with a notable person on the Jeep team. Yes, the opportunity is there for such a task to become far too time-consuming.
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