I think it is a good thing to have discussion forums so that people of similar interests, who also happen to be Amazon shoppers, have a place to discuss products and genres of interest. I will say though that the forums system in their current status are rather archaic, so I have a list of changes that I think should be made.
1. Remove the voting system. It serves no purpose at all except as a popularity contest. People can decide on their own whether a post is helpful or not, and do not need some arbitrary number of upvotes or downvotes to tell them. Besides the system tends to be abused by people who stalk others whom they don't like, sometimes on multiple accounts, who will downvote every post that person makes. Or people will downvote posts just because they don't like the opinion someone stated, even if the post might actually be helpful, such as answering a previous question. The post voting system is a leftover from forums a decade or more ago and has proven to not be worth the bother.
2. A more powerful search feature to search for previous posts, with the ability to narrow down the search returns.
3. A two tiered ignore feature. By this I mean when you want to put someone on ignore you are given two options, a full ignore or a partial. When you do a partial it will work like it does right now. If you do a full ignore you see absolutely nothing from that person. In those cases you will no longer see threads labeled "You are ignoring the customer that started this discussion" or posts within a thread that say "You are ignoring this customer's posts. Show post anyway." If you have the person on full ignore because they are just unbearable, you don't need to know that they made a thread or post, that's why you put them on full ignore to begin with. Make their threads and posts completely invisible.
4. Have a section where it lists people that you have on ignore so that they can be easily accessed should you change your mind and wish to remove them from the list.
5. Make it so that one person responds to another that it shows the name of the person who they responded to as the link instead of showing "an earlier post." That would make it easier to follow the conversation and give you the option not to bother reading the earlier post if you choose not to because of who posted it.
6. A clear and consistent set of posting rules, that are actually enforced by real moderators who read complaints. I have seen far too many incidents of people posting vial, racist or otherwise objectionable material, who get away with it for weeks or even months at a time before they are finally banned. Of course we can easily put them on ignore but in reality should people this disruptive be allowed to post on a commercial forum dedicated to selling products? This doesn't seem like a good recipe for keeping other customers happy.
7. Expand your number of moderators so that the forums can be moderated more effectively and rule breaking posts removed in a timely manner.
8. This idea I feel may be the most important at stopping forum abuse, and may be the most controversial idea. The problem with banning people is that they can easily make new accounts to start up all over again, something I have seen happen regularly.
My suggestion to end this is to make it a requirement that every customer must spend at least $50 on Amazon before they are given posting privileges (grandfather in current customers). If the person is banned, their name and address is banned forever. If for some reason they really wanted to continue abusing the forums they would have to make a new account with a new name and address, and spend another $50 before they can post again. This would be unlikely in most cases, and would nearly eliminate the practice of making new accounts repeatedly so they can abuse the forums. After all the forums are for customers so why not make it for paying customers.
Others can feel free to add ideas to this list but I feel these are important changes, which if implemented can make Amazon forums a much more pleasant place to frequent.
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