It's called Beyond The Story because our discussion forums thus far have been limited to comments on individual stories. And we policed those comments strictly, making sure that they were indeed about the story they were attached to and that they were non-promotional, non-offensive and respectful. (Well, as respectful as IT professionals debating RFID, PCI, CRM and Mobile are likely to get. We don't seek miracles here.)
Until now, we have pushed all non-story-specific comments to our StorefrontBacktalk discussion areas at LinkedIn and Facebook. Unfortunately, the moderation processes from both of those fine sites proved completely inadequate for our needs. Often, vendors and others would post blatantly self-promotional material (some was outright spam and some obscene spam at that) and it would remain up on our site until someone here noticed and removed it.
We quickly concluded that the only way to have a healthy discussion forum that would be what our readers have come to expect from us would be to do it ourselves. And that's what "Beyond The Story" is all about.
This new area, though, goes beyond a simple discussion forum. It will require registration (free for all forums now and most will remain free permanently), which will allow us to enforce private forums, such as those for only CIOs or QSAs or franchisee restaurants. We will be verifying all registrations, so you can be confident that a CIO-only forum will be just that.