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Reorganization of Retail Therapy

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For many years, the Retail Therapy forum has become a place for e-tailers to further their own means. Before we had rules in place, e-tailers used to come on the forum to promote their products, provide customer service, or use the forum in some way that only benefited themselves and not the BPAL community at large. We've had issues of e-tailers using RT for research and development, as well as cases of e-tailers using the Lab's aesthetic and ideas to produce products very similar to the Lab and to some extent, duplicate the Lab's more popular scents. On top of this, we've had e-tailers who were untruthful about some aspect of their business, whether it was misrepresentation of their products, disregard for others' intellectual property, or just really poor customer service. Every time one of these issues cropped up, it resulted in all sorts of drama. Additionally we discovered that the vast majority of these problematic topics, as well as the companies that were represented in said topics, tended to be competitors to the Lab.


This past month, the moderating team started brainstorming to see what we can do to prevent this problem from reoccurring. We considered only allowing selective topics and companies in RT and even at one point considered removing the forum altogether. However, at the end of the day, we all agreed that RT is an extremely popular and useful forum, and even though it had its share of drama, we all love it and want it to be a place where we can talk about ways to fuel our shopping habits


In our discussions, it dawned on us that Retail Therapy has been growing with two different basic types of topics: product-based topics and company-based topics. These two different conversations have completely different ways about them. Product-based topics, like the nail polish topic, talked about all sorts of brands, from high-end boutique brands to indie brands coming out on Etsy. The majority of the conversation is about our love (or hate) for the products.


On the flip side, every single one of the problems we have been having with e-tailers in Retail Therapy have emerged in the company-based topics. In these topics, the issues we've encountered include people re-posting announcement/updates, sharing coupon codes or discounts, and occasionally breaking our rules by arranging group orders outside of swaps forum.


So we are going to try an experiment: we are changing the direction of the RT forum by shifting focus from company-specific topics in favor of product-specific topics. We believe it will solve two things:

1. It'll be easier for you to find a particular product (e.g., soap for dry skin);

2. It'll minimize the drama that keeps cropping up every few months


We are also doing a small reorganization of Retail Therapy's sub-sections to reflect these new changes:

=> Soap-cetera will be a forum dedicated to all things bath and body product related: soaps, shampoos, bath goodies, facial products, lotions, and more. Whether it comes from Etsy or Nordstrom's, we don't care. Does it work? Do you love it? Talk about it there!

=> The Runway will be a forum dedicated to all things style related - fashion, accessories, shoes, and more.

===> Backstage will be a sub-forum of The Runway, dedicated to all things cosmetics & hair style related.

=> Veni, Vidi, Visa will be a read-only forum that contains archives of the company-based topics from what's currently Bed, Bath, and Beyond.


Soap-cetera will only have topics about products -- no company topics!


The Runway and the main forum will continue to run as we have had it during the experimental period. Once we have seen how the product-based topics works in practice, we will reassess the state of the forums. As of right now, we intend to convert the rest of Retail Therapy to be product based. After all, when you are looking to buy an e-book reader, it makes more sense to read one topic all about e-book readers, rather than 4 different topics for each e-reader brand that's out on the market.


During the early phases of this transition, any new topics created in Soap-cetera will be queued until it has been reviewed by a moderator. Any topic that bridges multiple forums (such as clothing and bath products) will have the existing topic archived.


Additionally, moving forward, there will no longer any topics about perfume in the Retail Therapy forum. Please refer to the following threads where you can discuss perfume (even non-BPAL):

* What did you wear before BPAL?

* What do you smell like today?


This decision was not made lightly; at the end of the day, there are too many companies ripping off of BPAL that get highlighted here for us to continue to allow them free space in RT, especially since the Lab is one of our major donors in keeping the forum's server online. We will continue to monitor the progress of the forums during this time. If this experiment does not work out, we will go back to the drawing board.

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With the feedback we have gotten, we have decided to add a sub-forum to The Runway, exclusively for topics about cosmetics and hair style.

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