Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Prosper's New Forums Not So Hot

Prosper has unveiled their new forums (see zcommodore here and here, or RateLadder here) and they've not been well received. It's very nice that they tied the forum IDs to the Prosper lender/borrower ID. Unfortunately, that's the best I can say. My overall opinion is that it has become a forum in name only. It has become a walled city - guards at every corner making sure folks don't run with scissors or talk about unmentionables.

In this, I think Tokyo Joe said it pretty well:

As long as the community here was organic, Prosper had a shot at being the eBay of loans (notice how nobody ever says that anymore). An open marketplace requires on open forum (which ought to jibe with Prosper's repeated insistences that they respect 'transparency')

By making the forums insular, they have pretty much removed the last vestige of the community Prosper has always pitched. They already had been removing the "community" part when they,(for better or worse but probably better) gutted groups.

The thing is, Prosper seems to have gone too far in the other direction, and all the angst spent by Prosper in dealing with the angst spent by lenders really never had to happen. Now that it has, I guess this is what's needed in order to present a fresh new face at PD2008. If I were boss, I probably would have done the same thing. Except that my boards would be way more stylin' (and functional) than these...

At any rate, I see this move as another step away from being a unique marketplace, and one step closer to simply being one P2P broker out of what eventually will be many.

I mourn the loss of the old forums, even if they hadn't been really good since the Sprring. I don't begrudge Prosper for doing this (I had even suggested it many times-- but not deleting the old forum)

One thing Prosper has never understood is that you can't force community; it either happens or it doesn't. They had one of the most devoted communites I've ever seen, and they let them get away...

Maybe they'll make this company work. But it's really just a company now.

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