TradeMe isn't just a place to buy and sell - it turns out that the message board area has a life of its own, quite unrelated to retail therapy. Stuff.co.nz tells us:
* Between 5000 and 20,000 messages are posted on the message board every day.
* The average age of someone who posts a message is 35-plus.
* The boards are largely self-censored, with 98 per cent of threads monitored by the online community and every member able to ''vote'' to remove a thread if they believe it is not suitable.
* Message topics are most active on personal or social issues, be they grief or happiness.
* There are 20 different categories for messages, from books to parenting. General and Opinion tend to be the most frequented.
Greer McDonald, in an article entitled, Web of support for the grieving, writes about the way in which Julie Adams happened on the TradeMe message board almost by chance, and discovered a world of fellow New Zealanders who were prepared to go the extra mile, offer support and encouragement, and even try and discover what had happened to Julie's missing husband. (His overturned car was eventually found on its roof in dense bush 50 metres down a steep bank just below the summit of Rimutaka Hill, Upper Hutt.)
It may not be 'church' as we know it, and it may not be 'community' as we know it, but it's certainly a place for Christians to be keeping tabs on.