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Old 07-10-13, 01:36 PM   #1
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Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

There have been a lot of questions concerning what users may post as far as deals/advertising/self promotion, etc. We've tried to come up with some FAQ that will better explain what is and is not allowed.

<blockquote>Where do I find out about the rules on advertising within the DVDTalk.com forums?
The first word is to be found in <A HREF="http://forum.dvdtalk.com/rules.php" target="_blank">the list of rules</a> to which members are expected to adhere on signing up:

YOUR MEMBERSHIP TO THE DVD TALK FORUM IS ALSO PREDICATED ON YOUR ADHERENCE TO THESE RULES. If you violate any of these rules your account will be suspended and you may be permanently banned from membership at our discretion:

ABSOLUTELY NO:
• Posting of any form of advertising including: URL's with affiliate codes, referrer tags, tracking numbers or anything which actively promotes a site or company. Paid advertisers are obviously excluded from this rule.


I’m not sure whether the rules cover my particular situation?
If you are in any doubt whatsoever as to where the line is drawn on such matters you should PM a mod or admin and then wait until you have received a response before proceeding with any action which might be regarded as in contravention with either the letter or the spirit of the above rules.

Doesn’t this put a lot of responsibility on the member?
Yes it does. Members are entirely accountable for their posts and risk the suspension or permanent removal of posting privileges for any infraction. When in doubt, it makes sense to check first, wait for the reply and then to act on it.

What about simply posting about a bargain where I work?
As well as blatant "shills", we've had long term members essentially setting up shop here before. Somebody asks about getting a new TV and they chime in with "I can get you a good deal on that". And it happens over and over. Others keep posting in threads about new releases their company has or sales items. A trend is noticeable after a while. We have had a good number of those so, as a result of these episodes, now we don’t let anyone promote business for a company they work for.

But I know that members will be interested!

We have a diverse community that works for many companies that produce products that members might be interested in. If we allow their posting of the deals we would never get advertising from those companies. The company would just have the member do it. Not to mention that those "deals" aren't always objectively the best deals. Non-employee members come from the viewpoint of several vendors to choose from, not just the one cited. When a non-associated member sees a good deal it usually is because they've also compared against a selection of vendors. So when it comes from the member who is an employee it becomes just advertising.

Is there a line to be drawn? Any grey/gray areas?
See above about being unsure if the rules cover your situation. But IB have agreed to the option whereby members can ask for administrator pre-approval if they think there's an exceptional reason for posting a particular link/deal/etc. Or, for that matter, in cases of genuine doubt with regard to what constitutes a competing site.

Can I put a link to my site in my sig?
We would suggest asking permission first. Promoting your blog may be fine but promoting a commercial website… No.

What about innocent self-promotion?
See above about being unsure if the rules cover your situation. As far as individual members telling others about a CD they made, or a short film they worked on, or whatever, as long as it's small-time like that, for the most part we should be able to live with it. It sounds like good community camaraderie. When you have friends on a forum you'd like to be able to tell them about something cool that you’re personally involved in. However, bumping threads during the season for buying your book or your CD (or whatever) is seen as taking a step too far. When it butts up against advertisers' interests, or DVDTalk's interests, there's the line. Since DVDTalk has a very high-traffic review blog section, links to similar blogs are probably over the line, for instance.

How will you even know if I might profit personally?
Most of the scenarios envisage you contacting the mod team in advance. A part of that would include background information as to your connection, if any, to the deal. As is the case in any community, there is an implicit element of trust. And, as is also the case in any community, there are sanctions against those who breach that trust. For details of how perceived infactions are handled, please see the SOP which is posted elsewhere.

Are there any people who are allowed to advertise in forum threads?
Yes, IB has authorised certain company reps to become members and post. You will usually recognise them by their custom user title and maybe a company-oriented avatar. If you are in any doubt, please just PM an admin and they will check our list.

I think the pesky mods are being unreasonable in their interpretation. What does IB have to say?
“We can't very well ask vendors to support the site through advertising if we're going to allow anyone to hawk their stuff for free. Likewise, we don't allow competing websites to shill here or try to enlist support. Rule of thumb: if it potentially hurts this site, we shouldn't allow it; if it hurts our paying advertisers, siphoning or discouraging participators, it's hurting DVDTalk's ability to grow and improve." - IB

You said that the forum rules were the first word. What is the last word?
For details of how perceived infactions are handled, please see the SOP which is posted elsewhere.
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Old 07-10-13, 11:28 PM   #2
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Well, this certainly clarifies things. I'd like to thank Internet Brands for being completely honest and admitting that their priority is on satisfying sponsors over maintaining the community Geoff left them. Many companies wouldn't have had the guts to admit they don't consider site users valued customers but only eyeballs to be delivered to advertisers.

iBobi, best of luck and may you enjoy a long, fruitful career at IB, a company with a bright, bright future ahead of it.

X, have fun as a volunteer Colonel Klink. I'm sure as the community spirit here deteriorates further, you'll have plenty of opportunities to wield your power for your own jollies.

I'm outta here. See you all in the better place.
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Old 07-11-13, 06:18 AM   #3
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Does this mean you will be shutting down the "Hot Deals" forum? It seems to me that just about every post in every thread of that sub forum violates these new rules.

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Old 07-11-13, 07:20 AM   #4
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Quote:
Originally Posted by dave-o View Post
Does this mean you will be shutting down the "Hot Deals" forum? It seems to me that just about every post in every thread of that sub forum violates these new rules.
How so?
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Old 07-11-13, 07:52 AM   #5
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Do I understand this right that a Best Buy or BJ's employee is not allowed to post the deals anymore? For example a known Best Buy employee can't post the newest flyer? He would have to give it to another user to post?

Like the user that worked for BJ's and always posted the instant rebates that many of the stores never put signs up for?
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Old 07-11-13, 08:25 AM   #6
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirkUSA View Post
Do I understand this right that a Best Buy or BJ's employee is not allowed to post the deals anymore? For example a known Best Buy employee can't post the newest flyer? He would have to give it to another user to post?

Like the user that worked for BJ's and always posted the instant rebates that many of the stores never put signs up for?
That's how I read it, too.
Unless, of course, those users posting the flyers happen to be among the paid advertisers, but I don't think that's the case.
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Old 07-11-13, 08:37 AM   #7
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Quote:
Originally Posted by VinVega View Post
................

ABSOLUTELY NO:
• Posting of any form of advertising including: URL's with affiliate codes, referrer tags, tracking numbers or anything which actively promotes a site or company. Paid advertisers are obviously excluded from this rule.[/I]

...........
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave-o View Post
Does this mean you will be shutting down the "Hot Deals" forum? It seems to me that just about every post in every thread of that sub forum violates these new rules.

-This post was brought to you by ***********.com
Quote:
Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
How so?
Because the first quote says that we can't post a deal that promotes a site or company. If I find a deal on BestBuy.com I shouldn't post it because I would promote BestBuy.
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Old 07-11-13, 08:49 AM   #8
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

That's not a new rule, and obviously posting "hot deals" has been allowed since the beginning.
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Old 07-11-13, 09:02 AM   #9
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
That's not a new rule, and obviously posting "hot deals" has been allowed since the beginning.
But it's a new sticky thread that obviously is there to clarify the rules and make sure that the members read them. If those rules will not be used why would they be re-posted in this sticky thread and why would it say right on top "Absolutely No...................."

The way the rules are worded means that the only deals that should be posted are those of a paid advertiser.
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Old 07-11-13, 09:29 AM   #10
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Is my calendar wrong and today is April 1st?

If I'm a clerk at Best Buy I can't post deals from there?
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Old 07-11-13, 09:45 AM   #11
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

I can maybe understand having a problem with someone from Wal-Mart posting deals from next weeks flyer that has not been made public yet, but once it is public, what does it matter who posts it.

People who are blatant shills for a certain site will be obvious. If a user constantly posts site X has some great deal and it is shown that they are not great deals ... then you have a shill.

If someone posts Amazon has a good deal, it is a good deal, who cares if that person works for Amazon?
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Old 07-11-13, 10:16 AM   #12
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Hot Deals are not "active" advertising...nothing has changed there.

My recommendation for anybody who works for a company and wants to post their circular details is to PM a mod first and we'll see what we can work out.
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Old 07-11-13, 10:18 AM   #13
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

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Originally Posted by BearFan View Post
If someone posts Amazon has a good deal, it is a good deal, who cares if that person works for Amazon?
"We can't very well ask vendors to support the site through advertising if we're going to allow anyone to hawk their stuff for free."

Why should large corporations be exempt from the rule compared to a smaller mom and pop company, which are the types that need the extra help because of the larger places running them out of business?
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Old 07-11-13, 10:23 AM   #14
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man with the Golden Doujinshi View Post
"We can't very well ask vendors to support the site through advertising if we're going to allow anyone to hawk their stuff for free."

Why should large corporations be exempt from the rule compared to a smaller mom and pop company, which are the types that need the extra help because of the larger places running them out of business?
Amazon is an example, and a good once since everyone has heard of them.

Replace Amazon with Bob's DVD Shack and it still works.
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Old 07-11-13, 11:30 AM   #15
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
Hot Deals are not "active" advertising...nothing has changed there.
Yes, but neither was posting about a good deal on pens at Best Buy, and look how that turned out.

At least I am not the only one who is reading the rules like this, I was wondering if it was an error on my part.

Essentially, the rules as they are currently written, could be used to ban someone for merely posting in the "Hot Deals" forum. Everything that goes on in there can be construed as "hurting" the website in IB's eyes. Or any posting of an external link, could be construed as diverting users away from here. It is a bit ridiculous if you ask me. These rules (and the mishandled situations that lead to them) are doing far more to hurt this website.

Sean brought up a valid point about where IB's interests lie. I don't think anyone here is under the allusion that IB doesn't need to make money and needs to put sensible policies in place that protect their investment. When the policies are doing the opposite, when problems that are actually hurting the website remain unaddressed, it can be really confusing and frustrating for the customers.
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Last edited by dave-o; 07-11-13 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 07-11-13, 11:52 AM   #16
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Quote:
Rule of thumb: if it potentially hurts this site, we shouldn't allow it; if it hurts our paying advertisers, siphoning or discouraging participators, it's hurting DVDTalk's ability to grow and improve." - IB
Paraphrasing what dave said, everyone gets that IB needs and wants to make money on this site and I do not think anyone has a problem with that.

The problem is that is this line "hurting DVDTalk's ability to grow and improve." I think we have failed to see the grow and improve, the site is essentially the same as it has been since the early 2000s. The recent addition of avatars is nice, though pretty late in the game, but still nice.

But I am not really seeing an effort to grow and improve and if there was a feeling that at least some portion of the revenue from this site were going into something beyond the minimum to keep it up and running, there might be a better attitude from some of the users here.
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Old 07-11-13, 11:53 AM   #17
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

I didn't realize the advertising policy was what was driving people away from here. Wasn't it the heavy-handed and overlong suspension Tarantino got for asking about the policy here after he was warned?

This is a little more restrictive than I would choose if I ran the site (although not much), but not enough to make me do more than shrug my shoulders.
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Old 07-11-13, 12:07 PM   #18
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

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Originally Posted by WallyOPD View Post
I didn't realize the advertising policy was what was driving people away from here. Wasn't it the heavy-handed and overlong suspension Tarantino got for asking about the policy here after he was warned?

This is a little more restrictive than I would choose if I ran the site (although not much), but not enough to make me do more than shrug my shoulders.
True, which is why I mentioned the "unaddressed problems" in my post. But in an indirect way it is an issue. The poster you mentioned, as well as several others who have come forward, all had similar situations happen. They begin with this "anti-shilling" policy. If the policy was better understood by users and perhaps more reasonable, they wouldn't have been in the situation where they felt a need to question the rules in the first place. It seems to me, all this new FAQ does is make it so anyone at any time could get a warning, suspension or banning, if an admin chooses to do so.

When someone has to over think about whether they should post something or not, it's easier to just not post it. Which is obviously the opposite of what IB would want (obvious to me at least). On the other hand, it's reasonable to want posters to put some amount of thought into what they are posting. I imagine it is a difficult balance to strike, and imo these changes (are they changes even?) miss the mark.
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Old 07-11-13, 12:33 PM   #19
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

The whole point of the FAQ is to help clarify what is "shilling" and what is not. However, I think we can all agree that it's impossible to cover every possible use case.

Here's the rule of thumb I would use: if you're posting a hot deal or bargain on a site with whom you have no affiliation, it's no problem. If you think that there might be a conflict of interest, PM a member of the moderation team first.
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Old 07-11-13, 01:24 PM   #20
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
The whole point of the FAQ is to help clarify what is "shilling" and what is not. However, I think we can all agree that it's impossible to cover every possible use case.

Here's the rule of thumb I would use: if you're posting a hot deal or bargain on a site with whom you have no affiliation, it's no problem. If you think that there might be a conflict of interest, PM a member of the moderation team first.
That's a pretty good way to think about it. Another way is that these rules are a guideline, and nobody will be sacrificing the spirit of the site for the letter of the law. Hot Deals are and will be a part of DVDtalk. Shilling for your company or website has not and won't be. If there's an edge case, the mods will sort it out, and if there's a problem with that, we've already put a new appeals process into place.

As to the comments on my quote about advertisers, this is a very specific reference to this particular FAQ -- I wrote the quote for this purpose. Simply put: you can't use DVDtalk to advertise for free, because this is an ad-supported site. There's no sleight against the community there whatsoever, no matter how narrow your perspective. This community is the reason the advertisers come here-- not the other way around. The community comes first, and that's not going to change, thank goodness!

We've put a bunch of new community features and rule clarifications together over the last couple of months, and more will come. If you have more suggestions, feel free to PM me at any time, or post in Feedback!

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Old 07-11-13, 01:45 PM   #21
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

So I'll ask again.

I'm a part-time clerk at Retailer X. I see a deal that people here may be interested in. I can't post about it in any way?

Can I PM another member to post the deal? Does IB look at our PMs?

But I can post about it as long as IB doesn't know I work there? Or if I first type that I no longer work there?
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Old 07-11-13, 02:48 PM   #22
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Let's be truthful, if you don't say that you work there nobody's going to know. But if you're a "cool new member" and all of your posts are hot deals as Retailer X you'll probably come under scrutiny.

Again, if you're not sure, PM a member of the moderation team and we'll see what we can work out.
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Old 07-11-13, 03:07 PM   #23
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
But if you're a "cool new member" and all of your posts are hot deals as Retailer X you'll probably come under scrutiny.
I can't imagine any member here having a problem with the mods scrutinizing that kind of activity.
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Old 07-11-13, 03:29 PM   #24
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidh777 View Post
I can't imagine any member here having a problem with the mods scrutinizing that kind of activity.
Yeah, I do not think anyone wants that, but if you have a poster who is active in the community and happens to work at a retailer and post legit good deals that have been made public by the retailer, I do not see the difference between that person posting or the next guy who posts the same thing.


To be fair, I work for a major retailer that is a big player in one of the subforums here, but I do not post any deals mainly because I have no inside info on pricing and do not really purchase those products myself ... but I am not seeing what the problem would be if I saw we had some great sale or promo to post it
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Old 07-11-13, 03:35 PM   #25
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Re: Advertising/Self Promotion "FAQ"

Out of curiosity, was the weekly posting of Fry's ads banned some time back due to the person posting them being an employee or for some other reason? This place used to be the only site I checked for DVD & Blu-ray deals, but it seems like at least the Blu-ray side of that has become fairly worthless compared to other sites over the past year or two. Not sure how much of that is due to people deciding to go elsewhere to talk about about deals vs limitations on what was posted. Anyway, it seems the deals side of this site has pretty much died, which is too bad, because I know it's what drew a lot of us here in the first place.
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