And we have our answer! It appears without enough volunteers stepping up to the plate, eBay has decided to simply shutter the Soapbox for good and not create a private group at this time - which may have been the goal all along.
Update as of 11/15
We haven't had additional volunteers for the private soapbox group. If in the future, you're interested in creating a private group, you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Update as of 11/14
So far we've had one volunteer that's in good standing on the Community, but hasn't posted that often. We're looking for one more volunteer to manage the private Soapbox group. Last call, is EOD November 14th
It appears the community team has not yet had enough volunteers to take on the job of managing the soon to be private, invite only Soapbox group.
It's not clear what will happen if they do not get sufficient volunteer participation before the November 16 deadline.
We haven't had many volunteers for the private soapbox group. We need more than one person to manage this, and this volunteer will have to be in good standing in the Community (no or very few restrictions or bans). Send us an email if you're interested in managing the soapbox.
There are some that asked if they can move certain topics to The Park or The Cafe. We won't be able to do this unless it's a private group. If you're interested in creating a private group on the topic of your choice, email us and we'll set you up. All public facing content, posted on Community, has to be eBay related.
Some longtime eBay community forum members are sad to see the latest changes being made to the forum - the long running "off topic" Soapbox board will be moved to a private, invite only group on November 16 and anything older than the last 2 months will be removed completely.
We’re moving the Soapbox board on November 16, 2022. The content of the board is more appropriate in a private group because it isn’t eBay related. Therefore, we’re giving you the option to join an invite only group that one or more of you can manage.
If you’d like to host this private group, you can reach out to us via email: email@example.com and we can provide you with the new Soapbox link.
Please take the time to wrap up your conversations in this forum before November 16th. Older content in the current Soapbox will not be moved to the new private group, but we will move the most recent 2 months of conversations over.
Users say they have not received invites yet and it's unclear if anyone has actually volunteered to host the private group.
The Soapbox housed many topics, from recipe swapping to music and tv show recommendations to general chit chat and of course the more contentious topics like the economy and politics. It's a vestige of eBay's early days that saw its function almost as much as a social network as a trading place.
No doubt the move will free up server space and moderator time - and considering that the eBay forum is hosted, supported, and moderated by third party provider Khoros, there could even be some cost savings involved for eBay.
Some sellers have questions about where the moderators will now move off-topic posts in the community, some questioned if it was eBay's way of censoring or limiting discussion, and others agreed with the decision to make the eBay community forum more narrowly focused on "strictly business".
As many here know, the Mods occasionally move what they consider non-ebay related threads to the Soap Box Board, where people are free to continue the discussion. Just a heads up: The Soap Box board will cease to exist as of Nov 16th...it will become an Invitation Only Private Group.
I do not really spend time on the Soap Box Board, so this doesn't really effect me, but I'm not sure how that will impact the removal from this Board of "non-ebay" threads---where will they go? devon@ebay , can you get us an answer?
An invitation only group that someone else has to host? lol ebay's way of getting rid of discussions they do not like.
Maybe the board became too time intensive, and expensive to manage manpower-wise.
And since it had nothing to do with ebay, why spend money on it?
I think it's a good idea - short of dumping the board altogether. This is an ecommerce site, not a venue for dueling Truth Squads, but if Khoros just got rid of egregious political threads and political hooks disguised as so-called "business" (which seems to be mostly what gets banished there) there would be tear-choked cries of cancel culture!!!!!!!!!!!! Just fun stuff could go to eBay cafe which is a sort of water cooler.
I've read a few threads and topics there. Personal issues and current topics don't belong on a site who's platform is "business." Just my opinion.
Yes, I find it surprising that the Soapbox has lasted so long, frankly, and that eBay will continue to give resources to it in any guise.
There's nothing wrong with a place where people go to rant and rave about partisan politics, discuss theior opinions about societal changes or the criminal justice system or whatever, criticize the news media, or, well, you-name-it. I just find it surprising that an e-commerce site would spend one minute or one nickel to provide it.
I'm not sure when the discussion forums were added to eBay, but I know it was before MySpace (2003), then Facebook, Twitter, et al, came into being so I suppose it stems from a time when eBay was unusual in having what we now call "social media" as a feature and that doubtless drove some traffic to the site.
One poster raised an interesting point about the social aspect of the community leading to the almost 24/7 availability of volunteer "help" for business related questions.
To my understanding the entire purpose of this board was to be an off-topic place for us to hang out on.
And I remember when it was frequented by a bunch of us, who used the Box to pass the time while we waited for buyers and sellers who needed help to ask questions on the New to eBay or Seller Central boards.
We would chat here, off topic, and then switch back to the help boards. So many people who came to eBay help boards remarked how surprised they were to see their eBay questions answered within minutes!
It was because many of us hung out here. Chatting away about cooking, or hobbies, or current events. If we hadn't been on any of these boards at all, many would have waited hours or overnight just to get an important buying or selling question answered.
What do you think of the eBay community getting rid of the Soapbox? Smart business decision or subtle censorship? Let us know in the comments below!