Tracking the Boards: 2

Stephen Yagielowicz

In Part 1, I discussed how Adult Webmaster Message Boards, while staples of daily webmaster life used as a vital tool for learning, networking, and entertainment are not without their serious drawbacks, and that one tool now available to help get a handle on them is BoardTracker. Today, I’ll wrap things up by running through the installation and configuration process, and help you to get started with this powerful message board monitoring tool…

Getting Started
After thinking about the necessity of a product like BoardTracker for some time, and then yesterday finding an immediate reason for using it, I became convinced that I had to give this service a try. Doing so proved to be quite simple, as I visited their website, and filled out a brief online form. It asked me to provide the usual information such as a desired username and password combination, my real name and email address, and then it asked me to enter a few keywords that I was interested in monitoring the boards for.

I would have been a bit happier to receive some guidance at this stage regarding the number of keywords that I could monitor, whether key phrases were allowed, how to separate keys (i.e., via spaces or commas) if multiples were allowed, etc., but as there was little explanation, I simply entered a few choice terms and then moved on to the next step: carefully reading the TOS (Terms Of Service) disclaimer, and positively affirming my acceptance. It’s always important to read the little scrolling boxes of text before clicking “I Accept” – those who don’t face the prospect of a “free download” or membership accompanied by a ton of adware, spy ware, and worse. Fortunately, all was well and reasonable regarding BoardTracker’s TOS.

I then continued, and after clicking the submit button was greeted by a ‘Thank You’ box advising me of an impending confirmation email and the steps I should take after receiving it in order to activate my account (pretty standard fare). While the suggestion that I make BoardTracker my Home Page was declined, I did however include a link on my MSIE “Links Bar” for easy access.

Checking it Out
Once I clicked the link to confirm my account from the confirmation email I was sent, I was able to login into the account setup area and check out the different options, which include the ability to view all the posts from all the forums of all of the boards, providing a complete list from the newest threads, back. You are also able to bookmark boards and forum groups and follow their threads alone, as well as maintain a list of threads that you wish to track, and search the threads in all the boards and forums you bookmark!

Advanced Features
One of the things that I liked a lot about BoardTracker is the innovative features that it offers. For instance, you can choose to receive email or ICQ alerts delivering a list of threads matching your alert search terms, and speaking of which, there is a help section inside that explains the alert term’s Boolean search syntax. There’s also a section devoted to helping you narrow down the boards and forums you wish to monitor, though many users will doubtless wish to cover all of ‘em.

Another kick ass feature is the BoardTracker banner, which displays the last 10 threads from all of the forums, and can have its display further refined through the use of the same Boolean search syntax as used for email and ICQ notifications. A really slick tool (featured above) that will doubtless see lots of use on many sites – and will prove invaluable for power-users (such as myself) that surf and work from custom browser consoles where this tracking banner can easily be embedded.

At this point I need to mention that BoardTracker has a premium service which is still in Beta. Once it has been released in its final version, it will be a subscription service offering ‘enhanced features,’ but given the amazing array of current features, it’s hard to see just how much more ‘enhanced’ the offerings will be! But don't worry; the free version will continue to be available too!

While I try not to overly endorse too many products or services, I find it really necessary to recommend the BoardTracker service to every adult Webmaster who wants to leverage his time and knowledge while also protecting his or her interests. Check it out for yourself! ~ Stephen

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