Industry forum takes off

Friday, August 31, 2007

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Three-hundred thousand page views later, Chris Rice's "hobby,", has become a key site for many providers looking for information and networking opportunities.
Rice recently revamped the year-old site--hatched at last year's HME News Business Summit--aiming to keep it as informative as possible.
The site now includes news feeds, a marketplace where users can post items to sell, online polls, industry links and breaking news articles written by Rice. He also changed the way posted topics are viewed, so that popular discussions stayed at the top.
"The initial site was really limited as far as when you would post a topic, then someone else would come along and just post an agreement," said Rice, director of marketing for Diamond Respiratory. "Each post would take priority over the prior one and push them down the list."
An e-mail blasts out the hot topics each week.
The site has about 750 registered users and 2,700 regular readers. It currently averages 50,000 page views a month.
The forum remains Rice's favorite part of the site, with categories on general topics, competitive bidding and accreditation.
"The forum's got all these different providers trading opinions, talking to each other, sometimes yelling at each other," said Rice. "People are interested in accreditation, keeping tabs on NCB, or people in the middle of NCB can't figure out one issue or another."
The site remains advertiser-free, to keep it "pure and untainted" should a user have a complaint about a particular manufacturer or product, said Rice. Users are free to post on just about any topic and editing is rare, he said.
"Sometimes, a lawyer will call and tell me I have to change something," he said. "But that's few and far between."