A few years ago I read a book that predicted that Recommender Communities were the future of the Internet. Most people do not make purchases based on traditional advertising anymore, but on what others recommend. I know this is certainly true for me. When I want to buy something, I research it online either in Consumer Reports, on other review sites or by looking at the reviews on Amazon. When I travel, I pick hotels and restaurants based on online recommendations.
The idea of Recommender Communities delights me because I’m all for more power to the people, but also because I know that our Mothering community is one such Recommender Community. The idea of developing our Recommender Community influenced me to move our discussion forums last year to a new software platform that more prominently displays the reviews we previously had buried all over the forums. I want new as well as established members to be able to find the reviews easily.
Another idea that has floated around for years at Mothering is to create a seal parallel to the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, which has a prestigious history. I know that we have a very knowledgeable community and want to highlight our expertise in a way that will benefit others. For example, when my granddaughter was born, 15 months ago, I watched the confusion my son and daughter in law faced trying to figure out what baby carrier and what diapers to use. There are so many choices now.
Enter the Best of Mothering awards. The awards highlight the expertise of our community as well as help new parents find the best products. This is not about buying more; most parents today seek to be financially frugal. It’s about buying the best when you do spend money. In some cases, the best just saves you money in the long run; in other cases it can be life saving.
As many of the products previously exclusive to the natural parenting world become part of mainstream parenting, they move away from the personalized customer service inherent to small business. The recall of the Infantino Sling Rider, in which two babies are reported to have died, illustrates the fact that as baby carriers, cloth diapers and other natural products become mass produced and sold in chain stores, parents need the recommendations of other parents to educate and protect them.
In Ft. Collins, my family has the benefit of Clothes Pony, an all purpose family store and resource center, where they can try on baby carriers and get advice on cloth diapering. Because all communities don’t have a Clothes Pony, parents naturally turn to the Mothering community, the largest online community of naturally minded parents.
My dream for the Best of Mothering awards is that the awards, along with our reviews and conversations, will truly help new parents decide what to buy, when they must buy. Many items, like car seats, and diapers are must haves. Teething tablets and baby carriers can also seem like must haves because they help make parenting easier.
For those parents who don’t have friends to help them decide or who need more perspective, Mothering is the go to community. Check out the BOM contest, write reviews, and vote. We’d love to hear your opinions and are eager to share them with others.