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Company: GlobalSpec
Average monthly unique visitors: 217,000
Source: Self-reported Next: Overview

CR4, the engineer's place for news and discussion, was a pioneer in user-generated content when it was launched in April 2005. CR4 is an abbreviation for Conference Room 4, a mythical as well as virtual place where intellectually curious people share ideas and tackle problems.

Chris Leonard, GlobalSpec's director of community and engineering editorial content, explained in his blog how CR4 was born. People were coming to GlobalSpec searching for answers to questions outside the boundaries of its role as a gateway to product specifications. The team members answered some questions and more came pouring in.

Without time to field the deluge of questions—and sometimes stumped for answers—the team “came to the conclusion that, as a group, our GlobalSpec user body had infinitely greater experience than our team,” Leonard said.

After trying an off-the-shelf solution, GlobalSpec built its own community platform and introduced it in August 2006. In December of that year, CR4 attracted more than 86,000 unique visitors. That number had almost doubled by December 2007, and it has continued to grow this year.

“We are constantly tweaking the platform based on user requests and information acquired from our data warehouse,” Leonard said. “In the past year, we added a rating system which allows users to mark comments as "good answers' or "off-topic.' We improved the user interface in the posting system, and we expanded the number of sections on the site from 10 to 14.”

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