There is an impressive number of social media outlets available today, and sometimes it can be hard to tell which one is good for what. Especially when you look at them from a professional point of view. The one thing that many of these outlets have is that they were all in some way derived from a common ancestor – the internet forum.
This was one of the first popular methods of asynchronous communication on the internet, and made it easy for groups to get together to discuss all manner of special-interest topics. The optical industry is no different, with the most popular internet forum being OptiBoard.
Started in 1995 by Steve Machol, OptiBoard is a place that is designed for express use by optical professionals. It’s not intended for the end-consumer, and they are actively discouraged from posting. That means you’re not likely to come across the question of “How do I take my own PD?”. This makes it a useful professional tool, as you can use it as a resource to not only connect with other eye care professionals, but also to learn more about things going on in the industry.
With over a half million posts, the board is full of topics that you might not otherwise be able to get an answer on. For example, you can get real reviews from peers about what practice management software they use, their opinions on vision insurance plans, or comments about the latest progressive lens that’s on the market. OptiBoard has over 26,000 registered members, making it a great way to get the opinions from a number of other professionals.
The topics on the board range from discussions on lenses and materials, to job postings and used equipment sales. The great part about it is the ease with which you can search through and look back at older discussions. This makes it different from most modern social media tools, as they tend to only focus on the most current discussions.
There is also a benefit that you don’t have to link your personal profile to the discussion at hand. A lot of social media revolves around telling everyone all of your personal details about everything. With a forum-based approach, there’s no requirement to link personal information to anything. That can make it a little more approachable than normal social media. It also makes it easier to separate your personal from your professional presence.
The reason that OptiBoard works so well is that it’s run by someone with quite a bit of optical experience. Steve Machol, who now runs the site full-time, began his career in 1973 with an optical service chain, eventually moving on to work for SOLA Optical. He has a technical background in anti-reflective coating development, which means he was enough of a geek to start OptiBoard back in 1995, and continue to watch it grow for two decades.
Even though it’s been around for so long, OptiBoard is a valuable resource for the optical industry. The amassed knowledge that it has can be a benefit for both those new to the industry, as well as veterans that want to find out what other people think of new products. In the end, that’s what you really want out of online professional communities – communication and honest feedback that you can use to enhance your knowledge and give yourself a wide view of the optical world.
Visit optiBoard.com to learn more
– opt Staff