My thoughts on Michael's suggestions:
1. Limit the threads to one person reponses--that' it! No ongoing buyer/sellers or agents bickering back and forth ad infinitum!
2. Give a date expiration for any question. I saw an agent reponse to a rude Seller seeking a price basis for an estate and the question started in August of 2007 and the agent responded yesterday!! Enough! Agents!!--Read the darn threads and quit repeating just so you can get an "question answered" check mark!
MY OPINION: Agree.
3. Determine who is a "real estate pro" by entering a license number or some verification if we choose to do a real Agent to Agent site. Maybe make it area or zip code specific. I loathe those who answer questions from another state where they no NOT of their practices but want that vaunted" question answered" on their profile voices!!
MY OPINION: Generally agree. However--and I'm not sure how you'd do this, maybe by creating another category--there are some very knowledgeable real estate investors who aren't licensed agents. I started off as a real estate investor, and there are whole areas that investors are familiar with that licensed agents generally aren't. However, regarding the Zip Code specific criteria, yes, some questions are very location-specific. (Which is a better Zip Code to buy in: 22030, 22032, or 22043?) Most agents don't answer those. Where there's a gray area is a question like: "When will the market turn back up in Northern Virginia?" Sure, much of that is location-specific, but it is possible that someone from somewhere else can offer valid comments on interest rates, the concept of absorption, the overhang of foreclosures nationally, etc. And other questions are valid regardless of area or region. Maybe when answering, there'd be a way to indicate geographic specificity--a little "map" icon preceding the answer if the answerer is from the same state, and two little "map" icons if the answerer is from the same city or county.
4. Get rid of the "first answer"--who cares! Get rid of the "best answer"--who cares!
MY OPINION: Generally agree. One drawback to "first answer" is that the pressure is on the person attempting the first answer to make it very short and sweet, in order to beat the other answers. Take a look at many of the threads. The first answer often is technically correct, but doesn't supply any real detail, depth, or nuance. The follow-up answers--when there are some--must be relied on to do that.
5. Get rid of the thumbs up/down as who cares!!
MY OPINION: Disagree. They generally seem to reflect the quality of the answer, and that can be helpful for someone totally unfamiliar with the topic and presented with widely divergent opinions or pieces of advice.
6. Can we get a survey as to who actually has gotten business from this site?
MY OPINION: That'd be OK. I know I haven't. While it'd be nice to, I really enjoy this more for the mental exercise it gives me. And because I learn a lot.
7. Cut with the cutesy alias's and photos (sorry, Elvis!). And no more photos of DOGS!! or Animals!!
MY OPINION: Disagree. Let me let you fellow Realtors in on a little secret: Many non-agents--your average Joe and Jane Doe--are mystified why agents plaster their pictures everywhere. Especially when the agents are, umm, less than attractive. I know it's to personalize the experience; I know it's supposed to make a connection, etc. Maybe one day I'll use my picture. (Nah! I look like a cross between Richard Simmons and Henry Kissinger. No way that'll sell any houses.) So, if someone wants to use a cutesy photo, or even Elvis (who only uses pictures of the early Elvis, none of the bloated older Elvis), that's fine with m.
8 Moderation of the constant back and forths which leave both Seller/Buyer and Realtor/Licensees not in a good light with either party!!
MY OPINION: Maybe. But make sure the moderation is done with a very light hand.
9. Spamming under control. You can place your web page in the "web reference" plus your contact information in your profile--You DON'T need to state it in your reponse!!
MY OPINION: Agree.
10. Reponses where the Realtor/Licensee states, "Call me for my answer or for more infomation!" Hello! That's why we have this format!!
MY OPINION: Agree.
And (before I run out of characters), a suggestion from me: Isn't there any way we can improve or create a search tool so that the same questions ("How does a short sale work?" or "Where can I find a list of foreclosures?") aren't asked over and over again?