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Policy for dealing with members who have commercial interests in ER.
Old 10-04-2007, 09:00 PM   #1
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Policy for dealing with members who have commercial interests in ER.

We are working on some community rules to offer up for you all to comment on. The goal will be to find out how you all want E-R.org managed and set some guidelines so members and moderators know what is allowed and what is not.

I would like to ask you all how you want members with commercial interest in ER to be handled. We will have clauses about SPAMMING so they cannot post links to their sites/products but I wanted to table a couple topics regarding this to get your input.

Some of these members might have some quality info to share and offer some valuable insight into their specific area of expertise. One thought is that we will not be able to stop these business people from joining and posting so let's make a forum where they can post their products, links, etc. We do this on some other sites and it works out pretty well. This allows them a place to post commercial oriented posts and keeps them out of our other areas. Many members (or guest) might actually find these posts to be of considerable value.

In a way it's kind of like not being able to prevent a dog from going to the bathroom so we make a place for him to go. If he keeps crapping all over the rest of the house then we have to get rid of the dog.

Another thing to consider is the posting habits of a member. If a member has contributed greatly to discussions and on occasion posts a link to his/her site, I see no problem with that. It's a member who joins and is obviously posting just to get the link in their signature in front of everyone that I have issues with.

If we had a forum for commercial oriented posts and a new member joined and posted about insurance policies in this forum, it could just be ignored. I could setup the home page so these posts would not show up there. That way someone would have to go into that forum to see the discussions and they would stay out of our other forums.

What I would like know is how you all feel about this. Do you think people with commercial interests can be of value to our discussions? If so, what should our policies towards these people be? Do you have any ideas or suggestions on how to deal with them?

Thanks in advance for your feedback.
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Old 10-04-2007, 09:32 PM   #2
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Andy, I think we get good info from several of the pros here that post in their area of expertise. And, as you point out, there'd be no practical way to prevent such a person from joining.

On the face of it, I don't think having a special place for unrestrained "hawking of wares" is a good idea. At all. I'll bet many users don't even note which sub-section of this forum we are in, we just scan the new message titles and read them if they are of interest. I'm not interested in reading 50 new posts per day from annuity salesmen. Let these people buy ads.

No links to corporate web sites that the poster has a personal stake in.

No advertisements masquerading as posts. The line is fuzzy, but (like pornography) we know it when we see it. If a poster shows an interest in the greater good of the forum and contributes in other areas, then I don't think there's anything wrong with him/her discussing common practice in his business. If folks on the board want to contact him/her by PM as a result, then that is fine.


My 2 cents, per your request.

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Old 10-04-2007, 09:37 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
On the face of it, I don't think having a special place for unrestrained "hawking of wares" is a good idea. At all. I'll bet many users don't even note which sub-section of this forum we are in, we just scan the new message titles and read them if they are of interest
Bingo. Viewing "new posts" is a great way to catch up, and I'd rather it not be cluttered with ads. If there was a way to block this section so I wouldn't see them when I view new posts it wouldn't be a problem.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:23 PM   #4
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I don't think that there needs to be a separate forum per se. I work for a large financial services company so I feel qualified to post about things like credit card utilization without mentioning which company I work for (actually, said company forbids me from mentioning their name since I am not a public spokesperson and I, of course, am never going to give out company secrets). Of course, after I FIRE, it won't make a difference.

There are plenty of other boards where people can hawk their wares. I don't think that this needs to be one of them.
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Old 10-04-2007, 11:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy R View Post
One thought is that we will not be able to stop these business people from joining and posting so let's make a forum where they can post their products, links, etc. We do this on some other sites and it works out pretty well. This allows them a place to post commercial oriented posts and keeps them out of our other areas. Many members (or guest) might actually find these posts to be of considerable value.
Andy, I'm already feeling that I've been sold out enough.

I come here because I don't have a bunch of advertising inflicted on me (as long as I can block it) and because this board's software is marginally faster than the bloated stuff at M* & Yahoo!.

As for stopping them, gosh, these people are welcome to join and post. They're just not welcome to spam sell their products. If they can't abide by that rule then they can go anywhere else on the internet (or buy one of your ads).

For me, sales & marketing have zero value on this board. I find the opinions of the board's members to be the real value in judging the rest of the world's sales & marketing. Some opinions are more valuable than others but I can judge their credibility by their demonstrated personal commitment to ER, not just a commitment to the commissions that can be earned by selling to the ER demographic.

If a poster can't resist selling & marketing their product, well, that's what moderators are for. You're relatively new to the discussion but there are plenty of threads on the moderator's board dealing with who's been excessively advertising. Perhaps you and the mods should mine those threads for policy nuggets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
On the face of it, I don't think having a special place for unrestrained "hawking of wares" is a good idea. At all. I'll bet many users don't even note which sub-section of this forum we are in, we just scan the new message titles and read them if they are of interest. I'm not interested in reading 50 new posts per day from annuity salesmen. Let these people buy ads.
No links to corporate web sites that the poster has a personal stake in.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bssc View Post
I don't think that there needs to be a separate forum per se.
There are plenty of other boards where people can hawk their wares. I don't think that this needs to be one of them.
I don't read a particular forum, I just click the "New Posts" link and browse the subject lines/poster names.

I think the links in people's signatures are already pushing the boundary of decorum. If a new forum was set up for sales & marketing then I'd want to have an "ignore forum" feature, or at least have it put on a separate part of the server where I only have to look at it by clicking the link.
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Old 10-05-2007, 05:27 AM   #6
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I second, or third, or whatever SamClem's post.
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Old 10-05-2007, 05:58 AM   #7
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I agree with Nords. Let's not actually encourage the forum being spammed to death.
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Old 10-05-2007, 06:33 AM   #8
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Agree with above posts - why give away free advertising when you are also selling it? I definitely don't want to have to sort out advertising in new posts.
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Old 10-05-2007, 06:37 AM   #9
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I also vote "no" on a forum for commercially oriented posts.

Make it clear in your forum rules that advertising of any nature will not be tolerated, including any links to commercially oriented sites/products in signature lines, etc. Then, with the help of forum members using the "report post" button , enforce the rules. Allow the mods to use their good judgment on what does/does not cross the 'spam line' and to use a little discretion when a poster's history of contributions to the forum merit giving a little wiggle room.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:05 AM   #10
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No vote from me too. We don't need the riffraff that comes with it.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:09 AM   #11
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What all of the other posters above said!!! 100%!!!
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:16 AM   #12
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Thanks for the input so far. I am going to play devils advocate for a moment so I can keep understanding things.

I agree with you all, we don't want the riffraft but this is an age old problem. Just like I might want a dog that does not poop, they don't exist. So not having spammers is going to be impossible. That means we need to decide what to do with them. I can indeed setup an ignore forum function on the New Post link and also prevent posts from certain forums from showing up on the portal page. Then we could setup a forum at the very bottom of the page for them to post their poop. If they don't poop where they are supposed to then they get sent packing.

Once again I am playing devil's advocate here just trying to stress the fact that we always have had spammers and we will continue to have spammers. So this was just an idea.

Other things that I think we should do is be vigilant and educate new members about the rules during the registration that (spamming is NOT allowed). I will change the text in the registration process to be very clear about commercial parties SPAMMING the boards. I think this will help but it's only one piece.

Other members, please chime in with your thoughts. I hear the message so far and if the feedback continues the same way we will simply not have a special forum for their poop and will put in place a zero tolerance clause in the rules and MAKE SURE all new members read it.

Thanks again for your feedback. We will likely have a handful of things to discuss (like this) in order to create some clear rules so that new members know what is and what is not allowed.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:23 AM   #13
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we will simply not have a special forum for their poop and will put in place a zero tolerance clause in the rules and MAKE SURE all new members read it.
Amen to that.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:28 AM   #14
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I hear the message so far and if the feedback continues the same way we will simply not have a special forum for their poop and will put in place a zero tolerance clause in the rules and MAKE SURE all new members read it.
Wonderful!
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:30 AM   #15
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Good job Andy.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:37 AM   #16
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I'd appreciate a low tolerance for spammers, and back when I was a moderator would quickly delete such messages and ban the poster with a curt message (assuming it was blatant, of course).

The key element for me in those "gray zone" situations is whether the self-promotion is a) gratuitous, really out of synch with the feel of the thread, or b) repetitive - I can handle one borderline link to their site or product of choice, but when it becomes an anthem, I don't like it.

Suspect spam products include members' own websites where they sell ad space, services or products. Keep in mind that guidelines may affect a very few current members, not just new ones. Whatever is decided should apply not just to message content but to signature lines, too, if they are clearly $elf-promotional.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:49 AM   #17
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What everyone else said. I use the "New Posts" link to check what is new, so a new forum doesn't help me. Let them buy an ad if they want to advertise. This board will be a lot less enjoyable if I have to sort through advertisements in the messages themselves. To continue your analogy, if the dogs are crapping all over your house, the solution isn't to teach them to crap only in the guest bedroom. Make them crap somewhere else.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:54 AM   #18
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some random thoughts...

The line between spam and every day self-promotion is often fuzzy. We are likely to have ongoing issues with new users who register, scan or don't read what ever guidelines we have and then post in a somewhat spammy way as an intro. In my short time here I have seen this repeatedly. Some are truly just cruising for business, others are interested in the board, but include a commercial link in their signature, much the way you might include a link or e-mail address in a signature block. Unfortunately, both these kinds of new members are tarred with the same brush and some potentially good members have been driven away to chants of "spammer".

Folks who are professionals in the financial arena do bring value to the conversation - the trick is to do it without promoting a product. Having an area for vendors would allow us to label them at vendors. I am more comfortable knowing that the person I am talking to may have an interest in selling me stuff.

I am opposed to dog crap. But I have a border collie who knows better. He did, however have to be taught. The teaching process was annoying but has paid off; I now have crap free rugs. I guess we can take this tack with new users as well... Crap too much or too often and you are sent packing, crap a few times and then get it right, we're happy to have you.
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Old 10-05-2007, 09:04 AM   #19
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The line between spam and every day self-promotion is often fuzzy. We are likely to have ongoing issues with new users who register, scan or don't read what ever guidelines we have and then post in a somewhat spammy way as an intro. In my short time here I have seen this repeatedly. Some are truly just cruising for business, others are interested in the board, but include a commercial link in their signature, much the way you might include a link or e-mail address in a signature block. Unfortunately, both these kinds of new members are tarred with the same brush and some potentially good members have been driven away to chants of "spammer".

How about an immediate one-time warning?
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Old 10-05-2007, 09:11 AM   #20
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I actually have no issues with a link in someone's signature. Where the line gets crossed is when a poster spends most/all of their time here saying "look at my link!" and "aren't life settlements/equity indexed annuities/rubber penises/whatever I am selling great? huh?! huh?!! huh?!!!"

A little moderation and a stick with a nail in it go a long way towards solving such problems. And maybe if you rub their noses in it...
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