As for the underage kids participating on these kinds of boards is a weak argument because you just stated that "reviews hold value because there is useful, detailed information contained in them", but you never mentioned whether those reviews were written up by VIPs or non-VIPs. Do we KNOW for certain? Nope.
An underage kid can easily write one of those up. So your argument doesn't hold water on that point.
There are many avenues that TER can implement to verify the legal age of an user on this website. TER can utilize the some of the age verification websites that are already in place such as Preferred 411, Room Check 2000 and so on. Another option is to charge that person's credit card without placing a charge on on the card.
Are those methods 100% foolproof way of verifying one's age? Unfortunately, no. However, in this day and age of the internet, there are other methods out there to verify the users to satisfy the verification of that person's age and we would rely heavily on our own TER members to assist us in weeding out the kids and undesirables from TER.
I should be asking YOU this: How do I know that you're not a 17 kid writing this post up? I don't know. You don't know if I am a 17 year old kid. Do you? Nope.
But we put our trust on TER management to kick out any underage kids from TER. I've been a member of TER since 2003 and if I really was a 17 year old kid... I would have been 8 years old when I joined up TER. That doesn't make any sense.
You stated that a VOUCH system would be a major disincentive to pay for VIP. How so? I am a VIP, but did you automatically assumed that I paid for my VIP status? Just because it says VIP next to my name, doesn't mean a hill of beans because ANYONE can put in a well written review in and bingo, that person just got 15 days of FREE VIP access. No age check, no verification from the provider to make sure that this provider actually saw this person who wrote the review.
TER already has in place a way for ANYONE to get FREE VIP access without any kind of verification. That alone is a major disincentive for PAID VIP access.
What percentage of the total TER VIP users are underage? I don't that answer, but I will venture to say that percentage may be higher than you think.
You stated that a VOUCH system would turn TER into a popularity contest full of useless and meaningless shills for providers and hobbyist.
Has it ever occurred to you that this is already happening on TER?
Judging on some of the postings in the TER forums, that's already in place. The cliques are there, the drama is there and the BS is there, too. So, stating that a VOUCH system would create these kinds of things is baseless because it's already here in TER.
You stated that a hobbyist or provider may not have time to play the popularity game by getting vouches. That's a weak argument because I have seen both hobbyists and providers spending a good amount of time on TER and most of that time is used to post in the forums. TER is a social website, not strictly a review website. If TER was only a review only website, trust me, TER would NOT get the kind of traffic that comes through the website. Reviews are a vital part of TER, but it's NOT the ONLY part that makes people keep coming back to TER day after day.
I have put in about 15 reviews of ladies on TER, however, I have seen a number of those ladies more than once. I have ZERO incentive to write another review on the same lady that I have seen before.
There are NO incentives to encourage us hobbyists to write more than one review for the SAME lady. For the first one, we get 15 days of FREE VIP access. But the 2nd, 3rd review of the same lady... us hobbyists get NOTHING. Zero, zilch, nada.
Yes, the providers MAY get the status updated... that's it. That's a big IF. Because I have seen a number of reviews that will show the initial review as rated 7/8, for example. But suddenly the provider's performance has taken a nose-dive, then the last few reviews are showing 2/3, but the initial review is still showing her first review information and that information has not been updated to show her last few reviews which are negative. That is very misleading for any TER member.
Getting back to my suggestions for a VOUCH system.
Not everyone can do the vouch system. This will be limited to VIPs who have at least put in a certain number of reviews, let's use the number of 5 reviews. Plus, if there has been any kind of verification done by TER through another website's verification method or TER's own credit card check.
I would recommend that TER setup 3 types of accounts:
Non-Verified User (Hobbyist / Provider) - Someone who is checking out TER but has very limited access to the forums and no verification has been initiated.
Verified Hobbyist / Provider - Just as the name implies, that person has been verified by one of the above named methods, but has yet to either give a review or get a review.
VIP Hobbyist / Provider - That person who has given at least 5 reviews or the provider has received 5 reviews PLUS have already been in the Verified status. If a person who has paid for their access to TER, then that person will automatically be put into the Verified status, but not the VIP until that person has written a number of reviews as stated before.
At this point, this is where the VOUCH system takes place only at the VIP level.
For each vouch that the hobbyist gives to the provider, the hobbyist will get additional days added onto his account. The provider will benefit by having the vouch system indicate the status of her vouch by a colored code labels / icons. Such as this:
1 vouch = Yellow
2 vouches = Blue
3 vouches = Green
4 vouches = Silver
5 vouches = Gold
6 vouches or more = Platinum
The vouch color coding can be used for the hobbyist as well. Same methodology will be used to verify the reviews and vouches to make sure that all is in order according to TER rules.
All parties including TER will benefit greatly from this VOUCH system that will solidify the current review system that is in place now and make TER even that much better place for all folks to come and make TER 'The Place To Go To'.
Does this mean that the management of TER will have more work to do? YES!
I am confident that there will be some volunteers (in both genders) willing to help out TER to make this VOUCH system a success. I for one will be a volunteer if I am asked.
In the long run this will make TER a website where everyone can trust and have some degree of confidence in TER in providing the kinds of website that everyone can rely on.
I don't see how "vouches" would mean anything. It's just a popularity contest for people who want to do favors (or gain favor) "vouching" each other. It's basically just useless and meaningless shills for providers and hobbyists. It smells like pure clique-y drama and b.s. A provider or hobbyist may not have time to play the online popularity game by getting "vouches". That doesn't mean he/she should be seen in any less favorable light.
Reviews hold value because there is useful, detailed information contained in them. New reviews are useful to hobbyists even for well-reviewed ladies because they show whether appearance & service has improved, remained the same, or declined.
TER is already "THE SITE" for hobbyists and providers in many markets. I don't agree that a "vouch" system would provide any benefit for TER.
Here's a suggestion that I think will benefit TER greatly by increasing traffic to this website and draw away traffic from what I consider a few websites that are nothing more than a 'post and bitch' websites.
The review system that TER has in place is good, but not great. TER can make it GREAT by implementing a VOUCH system similar to another website (shall remain nameless at this time).
I would like to see TER become a "clearinghouse" for verified reviews and VOUCHES without the drama that goes on in the forums. That's my vision that I have for TER.
I know that there are some great programmers out there that can make some sort of arrangement with TER management to come up with a VOUCH system that will benefit both the hobbyists and providers.
I briefly mentioned this in another posting, but I'll repeat here.
Create a VOUCH system where a hobbyist has seen a provider previously. Instead of writing out another review, that only benefits the provider not the hobbyist, submit a VOUCH for that provider and award that hobbyist an additional one or two days of VIP access.
That way both parties benefit from the VOUCH system. If TER keeps the number of days granted to hobbyists for each VOUCH small (1-2 days), then the potential for VOUCH abuse is small. Also, the VOUCHES will only be good for a certain period of time, for example, 12 months.
I'm sure that others who read this will comment more on this, but I think this is a great starting point to get TER to become "THE SITE" for hobbyists and providers to go to.
Just my 3 cents...