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Thread: Vendor Forums

  1. #1
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    Default Vendor Forums

    Barry, perhaps this should be a PM, but I like things out in the open if possible.

    When I (and I know Ramona does the same...can't speak for anyone else) read the site, I generally go to 'new posts', and I don't pay much attention to what particular sub forum I'm reading or contributing to (I do try to keep anything going into the commercial forum relevent to commercial beekeeping/beeekeepers).

    It seems that the sponsered vendors are generally using their sub-forums to advertise...and when they are, even if I don't know what sub-forum I'm on, I know it is an advertisment....and it's clearly not a regular beesource discussion.

    Today (you know the thread), an open question was asked by one of the vendors in their own forum about why not use a particular treatment (the equipment to apply this treatment is what they 'vend').

    I answered as I would anywhere...concerns about safety (which are real), pointing to MSDS for the substance, pointing out well known negative effects of the treatment, concerns about customers being mislead about the legality.....

    Obviously, the vendor didn't want this on his subforum and deleted these posts which were made in good faith and designed to contribute to the discussion of the question posed.

    The problem is that these sponsored subforums appear to be on equal footing with the freely shared info from the rest of the BS community..but obviously they are different.

    I wouldn't for a second want to host a discussion of our book (on BS or on my own website) where I could simply delete criticism I didn't like...and certainly the discussions of our book here on BS haven't been without criticism. The people that would be problematic enough to have to moderate (from my perspective) have mostly already been banned by you on the site...it would be for real reasons.

    I don't know what to suggest, but for those that use the site like I do (with the 'new posts') I think the sponsored forums are problematic because they have a whole different set of standards from the rest of the site.

    Perhaps they should only be for advertising and not for discussion? Perhaps they should come up separately when viewing new posts? Perhaps they should have some kind of visible warning?

    In any case, thought I would mention it...I don't think advertisements should look like forum posts to the user.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Dean, you raise some good points.

    The Vendor Forums are designed to give vendors who pay for an ad, a place to post sales, additions, promotions, new items for sale, etc., as others do in the For Sale Forum. I do not allow general discussion to take place in the Vendor forums for some of the reasons you mention. I have warned vendors that using their own forum can be a blessing and a curse, if not used correctly. If I was a vendor, I would never start a thread that invited discussion about my product because you will get both positive and negative replies. I would start a thread like "February Sale On Frames", make my post describing the sale details and then close the thread so no one can post a reply. It should really be used as a one way communication tool.

    Hadn't thought about how this works in conjunction with iSpy or new posts. I probably need to get more detailed with vendors on how these forums are to be used.
    Regards, Barry

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply Barry, I appreciate it....and I agree with the above, except that I do think it is good to have both positive and negative comments on products...even for the vendor.
    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    As a consumer, one has a place to express their experience with a product or supplier in the Consumer Report Forum. I think it should be a vendors decision whether or not it's good to allow discussion about there product. One just has to be ready to deal with both sides of the coin if they open it up for replies.
    Regards, Barry

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    I agree Dean. While I admit at the time of my post I was aware of it. I didn't expect it to play out the way it did however. I won't directly comment about whether I feel you were treated fairly as I wasn't able to read your comments. Get over it Dean, the Pats lost get on with your life. I always enjoy a debate with you, you usually give better than you get at least in a fair fight.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Dean, you sell a product, if you were using this forum as a vendor, how would you want to see the tools made available to you? What changes would you want to see made? What improvements can be made for the vendor? I'm all ears for making any changes that make it a win-win for vendor and consumer. Each have different objectives and it can be a hard line to find the perfect balance.
    Regards, Barry

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Hi Barry and all...I wanted to give this the thoughtful response that it deserves.

    The issue I have is not of 'fairness'...I think we have discussed that issue recently. The issue is that these vendor forums have a vastly different purpose and vastly different criteria than the rest of the site. If this is not clearly visible to the user, I think it reduces the value of the site as a whole (just as a news story is reduced if it contains a paid advertisement that isn't clearly visible as such).

    As a 'vendor', I'm in a little bit of a different situation than most vendors (I think). Unlike most that are advertising, the book we wrote is not published by us, so there isn't the kind of direct cashflow from successful advertising campaign to my wallet that someone that sells a product directly has. We do sell our book on our website for the same cover price you will pay at a local bookstore (and we will sign it), but you have to pay shipping, and we have to buy the book at the same wholesale price as everyone else. I've seen Walmart online sell the book for litterally a few pennies more than we pay wholesale...I can't afford to compete with that, and I can't predict when the prices on Amazon, Walmart, Target, B&N, etc will go up or down.
    Right now, B&N has our book for under $8 new. I'd love for thousands to sell at that price, but I don't have a reasonable way to pay for advertising (here or elsewhere) that I can recoup from B&N selling some books. The resources for that budget lie with the publisher.
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/listin...-2687052267018
    ...I'm can't compete with that on any level, and I won't try.

    From an overall perspective, you want to make the advertisers message visible to the visitors of the site, but you don't want to confuse it with the non-commercial nature of most of the forums.

    In 'what's new' view, I would put the newest of the sponsored forums on the right of the screen (where the ads are on other screens) and label them as such. This keeps them visible (and of value to the advertiser) but not confused with the regular forums.

    There should be some description as to the guidlines of the vendor forums....I went to look and see what the guidelines were when my posts started getting deleted and couldn't find any.

    I agree that these should probably be 1 way communication from the advertiser. Once that is breached and an open question is asked, I think the same moderation criteria should apply as to the rest of BS...no special treatment.

    I remember one incident where my posts were deleted because it was said that it might 'embarass' the vendor (they were trying to drum up votes with a premium offer for a contest for which giving premium offers were prohibited...I pointed this out and was told that I should have PM'd the vendor so as not to embarrass them instead of posting on the thread that they started). This shouldn't happen...the same criteria should generally apply to everyone (specifically WRT special treatment for advertisers).

    All products and all services should be up for scrutiny in the main forums one way or another..sponsor or not. If the vendors choose to open up for questions in their own forum about the product they sell, someone besides them should be moderating the forum...or there should be a clear messsage at the top of every MESSAGE that this is a paid location on BS and is for marketing purposes (not informational) and that the discussion will be moderated towards that goal. If one wants to have a discussion about their product that meets the standards of BS, it should not happen on the vendor forum with the vendor as mod.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    WRT the specific situation that caused me to write the OP, there are additional problems.

    One will note that vaporizer sales have generally been 'underground' (I bought mine several years ago from a local equipment supplier...it was not advertised as a product they sell). Note that the major suppliers don't sell them. I don't think there are advertisments in the journals for them (are there?)

    Using one of these things as directed is illegal. Using one of these things not as directed can be dangrous. Determining what 'as directed' means is nebulous at best.

    A couple of weeks ago I was aghast to see that Ramona had been using (coincedentally) an OA cleaner in our 3 bay sink to get it nice an shiny. Why is this a problem? Because one of the bays is for a bleach based sanitizer...if these two things mix, one can end up with chlorine gas, which really is deadly and is to be avoided.

    Ramona brought this up in the context of this discussion....she didn't know this was a problem (she does know not to mix bleach with ammonia) and wanted to know how she would know...and why the vaporized OA would be different.

    So, I looked on the label for the bleach container. It is in small print, but if one follows the directions on the label, all surfaces should be rinsed clean and drain pipes flushed before and after use...and it should never be in contact with other cleaners (and specifically toilet bowl cleaners).

    This is the issue...OA that you buy to put in a vaporizer is not intended to be put into a vaporizer (it is stated very clearly not to heat it on the MSDS), and therefore it comes with no reasonable precautions or instructions.

    I don't know what the legal exposure is for BS in this case, but taking paid advertising, allowing the advertiser to moderate (and delete) warnings and concerns about the lack of warnings from BS isn't a very good position to be in. If someone is injured, fined, or harms their bees I would think that would be of concern.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Beesource is not delivering any OA message any more than Verizon, ATT, Comcast, CableVision, Sprint or whoever else is delivering internet connectivity. Any liability, if there is any, is with with the vendor, not those delivering the message.
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    If I were suing, I wouldn't agree. Barry, the site owner, has, for a fee, allowed someone who sells a device that is illegal to use as intended to use their own criteria for their own commercial gain in moderating a forum....and has used this 'power' to delete warnings and warnings about lack of warnings (both legal and physical).
    Best I can tell, there is no disclaimer (which I mentioned there should be), and this appears to the user as normal use of the site.
    Do the journals accept advertising for these things?

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    I don't think liability needs to be part of this discussion. I have a site disclaimer http://www.beesource.com/site-disclaimer/ and stay away from putting myself in the position of knowing right or wrong in these things. I'm not an attorney nor do I know all the laws about these things. I have run these things by my attorney and feel confident to manage it as I have.

    I've been told that the journals do publish ads for the vaporizer. I'll reply to your other post soon.
    Regards, Barry

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Barry, because you are giving moderation privileges and authority to individuals _because_ they are paying for advertising, I do think it enters into the discussion.

    From the disclaimer, "While Beesource.com uses reasonable efforts to include accurate and up-to-date information on this web site, it makes no representations as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of that information. "

    ...I would argue that allowing a vendor to pay for moderation privileges (and the ability to perform moderation outside of your 'reasonable' criteria) it puts you in a bad position legally when they delete safety warnings...at that point, I don't think 'reasonable efforts to provide accurate and up to date' information is being followed. I do think that vendor moderators are advertisers...if this were a magazine you would run a paid ad from them (with very little scrutiny from you as to content)...but would you publish and article about their product from them without letting it go through your editing dept/system?

    This is not a forum member posting something that might be problematic, this is someone who is paying for the right to delete safety and legal warnings from the discussion of their own product. I think this does expose you more than you are thinking it does.

    I'm surprised that the journals accept these advertisements.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Beesource, like many journals, has an audience beyond the USA. For instance, oxalic acid vaporization use in beehives in Canada is an approved method of varroa control. Beesource has hundreds of Canadian members, and likely many more Canadian viewers that have not registered.

    Surely one would not expect Beesource to comply with rules about what products are 'illegal' in every country where Beesource members may reside! That would be very difficult as the rules vary by country.
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    How the vendor forum functions is what my focus is on. Up until recently, I have been the only one who could delete posts in the vendor forums. It wasn't until just recently (last month) that new issues have surfaced in regards to this. I am moving towards making them "post only" by the vendor. No discussions. That is why it is very restrictive in the For Sale forum. This is the first time the legality of a product has been raised. I have put that burden on the vendor by stating:

    You agree, through your use of this service, that you will not use the Beesource Beekeeping Forums to post any material which is knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise violative of any law. You agree to be civil and "observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy." You agree not to post any copyrighted material unless the copyright is owned by you or by BeeSource.com.

    We can discuss all day long what we each think about liability, but it's just opinion. I default to my attorney in these matters.
    Regards, Barry

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Barry, that all sounds good....I would suggest that it somehow be made clear that this is marketing copy...as even 1 way communication can be misleading.

    This is the struggle....from your perspective, you want to make sure that ads look like ads to your readers so that advertising copy does not look like the free discussion on the rest of the site (and therefore cheapen the value of the content). From the vendors perspective, the more it looks like 'information from Beesource" the better, as the site has a great reputation....they are looking for people who look to beesource. Perhaps each 'post' should be its own page...a full page ad for the vendor with a link to it from the vendor forum area, and in a module that displays on the right hand side of the [recent posts] page? This way, vendors are motivated to post often to stay near the top of 'new posts', and might offer BS members special offers to spark discussion in the rest of the forum?

    Rader, the vendor in question is selling from the US into the US. I doubt (with import duties) that he could sell competitively in Canada or anywhere else where these things are legal and widely available...but that's just a guess.

    ...but given that not everything is legal everywhere, I'd vote that some new vendors from Colorado be recruited ASAP!

    deknow
    Last edited by deknow; 01-22-2014 at 09:52 AM. Reason: added [..]
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    ...but given that not everything is legal everywhere, I'd vote that some new vendors from Colorado be recruited ASAP!
    To be used in smoking the bees, right?! Beekeepers are a creative bunch, where are those entrepreneurs from Colorado and Washington?
    Regards, Barry

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Dean, before I saw your latest post I composed a PM message to the effect that while I didn't agree with some of your posts on insurance/liability issues, I do enjoy and agree with most of the rest of your posts.

    Then I discovered your PM box was full and my message was rejected.

    I'm not commenting publicly on the Colorado vendor situation. Seems like there might be some liability doing that.
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    ...
    Seems like there might be some liability doing that.
    yeah...but like, who cares man?

    Barry, it's like the old Cheech and Chong Christmas routine (a little magic fairy dust for the reindeer, a little for Santa).

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    To be used in smoking the bees, right?! Beekeepers are a creative bunch, where are those entrepreneurs from Colorado and Washington?
    They're busy getting ready for the Super Bowl !

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Vendor Forums

    You guys must be mistaken, nothing illegal happening here. We are simply using OA to whiten the inside of the hives as well as the frames. We just can't figure out how to get the bees out when we do it.
    Beeman
    All things may be lawful; but not all things are advantagous.

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