[new members] Vendor participation in the forums. What about their friends, insiders, promoters, and influencers? - Page 3

Offer your ideas on how to improve the site or report problems.
voozy

#21: Post by voozy »

jbviau wrote:You mean "pour *décourager* les autres," no?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Byng

"Byng's execution was satirised by Voltaire in his novel Candide. In Portsmouth, Candide witnesses the execution of an officer by firing squad and is told that "in this country, it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others" (Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres).
Everyone drinks Voozy.

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HB (original poster)
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#22: Post by HB (original poster) »

jbviau wrote:No, aside from the expectation of transparency with respect to "gain, financial or otherwise"... we members are [mostly] mature, sufficiently skeptical adults capable of sniffing out bias and making rational decisions.
By the same logic, there's no need for restrictions on commercial posts, assuming the poster states upfront that they're a vendor.
Dan Kehn

voozy

#23: Post by voozy »

I think it would be ok if things were more relaxed than they are, as long as affiliations are disclosed, and people with real commercial interests pay their sponsor fees. If you look at Reddit's coffee forum they go berserk stamping out shills and referral spammers but if someone is a vendor and discloses it in their "flair" (like a user tag) then it is ok as long as they don't self-promote much in normal threads, and there's a special weekly (or maybe it's monthly) thread in which self-promotion by tagged vendors is allowed. That thread is called something like "promote your stuff here!!!" and it is popular.

Similarly I'm an ex-mod on a tech forum about the size of HB, where vendor participation is welcome as long as it's not blatantly spammy, and actually selling stuff requires getting a vendor tag from the mods (that tag is free, but requires a reasonable contribution history and the mods do some basic legitimacy checks on the vendor site). It was similar on another site where I was a regular (not a mod) for many years, where professional sellers had to pay vendor fees but personal sales were ok. That site had its various dramas that all eventually settled down, and I think the policies worked ok.

I'm new here though so I'm not trying to tell anyone what's best, just what I've seen in the past and feel comfortable with. I don't know what issues this forum has had that's led to the present policies.
Everyone drinks Voozy.

jbviau
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#24: Post by jbviau »

^^^ voozy/Paul, thanks for clarifying. My satire detector occasionally malfunctions! I need more Voltaire in my life.

Re: vendor participation, yes, I'm in favor of it. I like the opportunity to interact with vendors.
"It's not anecdotal evidence, it's artisanal data." -Matt Yglesias

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rimblas

#25: Post by rimblas » replying to jbviau »

Agreed! That's a big value add.

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MNate
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#26: Post by MNate » replying to rimblas »

+1. Interacting with the coffee gods out there who are developing new tools, even in their garages, has been an awesome part of HB that has really made me feel like I'm part of the wider coffee community, even though I have very little to contribute of my own. It's neat to hear from people who get early versions of products - of course they're friends or being incentivized to test the products, how else would they get them early - and it's really easy to tune out the obvious hawkers out there who are pursuing money instead of great coffee.

I'd be sad to lose any of those threads in the future. Next to another_jim, they are the best thing about the site!

*I have no connection to anyone who sells/makes any sort of coffee/equipment (do I have to disclose that all the time now?)

Coffeechap

#27: Post by Coffeechap »

I am struggling to see why you guys are doing this? I am sure there are many people on here that have received equipment to review some of which have never been returned! Others have purchased stuff themselves and reviewed it. Provided folk are open with how they came to get the equipment in the first place then all information is good information, however I suppose the problem comes when people push equipment whereby there is some sort of gain for themselves.
levers levers levers, is there any other way?

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HB (original poster)
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#28: Post by HB (original poster) »

Coffeechap wrote:...I suppose the problem comes when people push equipment whereby there is some sort of gain for themselves.
That's what I outlined in the first post. This isn't a hypothetical concern. We know of cases where vendors hired someone to create "product buzz" for them in the forums. We know of cases where a vendor asked friends to do the same thing. We know of cases where the vendor themselves pretended to be a huge fan and criticized their competition. Sometimes a promoter mentions their arrangement with the vendor in passing. Usually they don't, and only admit to it once challenged offline by a moderator.
Dan Kehn

gophish

#29: Post by gophish »

Regardless of the result of this conversation, from a once (and still very much feel like typical home user member of this community) to a now "sponsor" due to my transparently disclosed "relationship" with Versalab, it seems most that commented in this thread feel vendor participation is beneficial, but the enforcement is the opposite. Before I ever exchanged a message with Versalab or had a blog, it was clear that vendor posts were discouraged and typically seemed to be viewed in a negative light.

Maybe the first post in this thread is making a point of the tricky dynamics of today's environment, but dissecting it into so many (overlapping) segments seems to make it more complicated than needed, and also just makes it tedious and people start to tune out. This thread directly applies to me figuring out if I can still participate in the general forums and my eyes were glossing over halfway through all the categories.

At the end of the day, it's not a democratic process, there is a team and an owner of the forum, so I respect that it's their decision. My bigger concern is that whatever rules or approach that is in place doesn't seem to be enforced on a consistent spectrum across users or "vendors".
Versalab

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HB (original poster)
Admin

#30: Post by HB (original poster) »

gophish wrote:...now "sponsor" due to my transparently disclosed "relationship" with Versalab, it seems most that commented in this thread feel vendor participation is beneficial, but the enforcement is the opposite..
From what I understand, you received loaner equipment from Versalab, wrote some reviews, and then promoted them in Versalab M3 Thoughts and Discovery. At a later date, John hired you to handle social media and promotion for Versalab. Based on your recent post history, moderators guessed there was an arrangement, but it wasn't confirmed until some of your posts were flagged as commercial posts and John contacted me offline to confirm you were working on his behalf.

This site has had a "no commercial posts" rule from the beginning. Experience in past forums has shown that without this restriction, many threads will be cluttered with soft-sell pitches from responsible vendors and blatant hard-sell pitches from irresponsible ones. Sorting out "good vendors" from "pitchmen" on a case-by-case basis is a lot of extra work for moderators.

During my 5 year stint as a CG moderator, I learned an important lesson: If moderators are reduced to forum cops, you'll have a hard time recruiting volunteers. Most people don't want to spend their evenings in offline bickering about interpretation of forum rules.
gophish wrote:My bigger concern is that whatever rules or approach that is in place doesn't seem to be enforced on a consistent spectrum across users or "vendors".
It's often a judgment call. For example, someone who's been a member for years and contributed hundreds of posts is afforded a more lenient interpretation of the guidelines versus a first-time poster. On the other extreme, someone who has been warned multiple times and continues to violate the guidelines should be shown no leniency.
Dan Kehn