Are there any forum rules relating to when, how and if commercial entities can use the forum?
There are a number of accounts that are run by commercial entities and although most of the time posts are simply educational on their products and answering queries, some are getting pretty close to just being product advertisements.
My experience so far is, that we have not had problems with that in the past. And I do not see, why it should be a problem now. I will not tell names here but until now i only know one account that is not obviously connected to the brand it belongs to. That you won’t read “nimbus is crap” from Roger or “don’t buy mad4one” from Marco is naturally. I’m very happy, that we have most of the important brands and retailers here and that they give advice or answer questions of the community.
I know of one thread, that is purely advertising (in the german category), but that one is even labelled as ad in it’s title.
As it comes to rules, here is what i prefer:
I would not prohibit brand/dealer accounts to join here
It should always be obvious to users that an account is connected to a brand / dealer / etc. (via name / userpic or logo / or even a special user category (like the “leader” you see behind my name))
they shall be allowed to introduce their new products here. (This allows a discussion about the product as well as questions from the community answered directly by the producer)
sticking to the truth and not lying is a rule, that should apply to all, not only to commercial accounts
So in short: the only thing I’d change is: I’d make it mandatory to label your account as commercial respectively keep it always obvious to which company the account belongs.
I don’t see this really being a problem either (it’s normally obviously fine or obviously spam), just thought that it might be good to have the rules stated somewhere in case the situation arises.
If a company who sold say cycle computers came on and just created a post to advertise their products, would that be OK?
Would it be OK for them to do it in a thread talking about measuring speed? Would it be OK for them to do it as a post in “trading post” with a sale link? Would it be OK for them to do it in unicycles and equipment?
A special category for industry accounts sounds like a good idea. Some other forums I’m on also have an additional icon over the user picture to make it clear that they’re representing a commercial entity.
That would be less clear cut for an account like Roger’s though as generally he’s on talking as himself, but sometimes he’s talking as UDC UK.
+1 I’d like to see them marked by the forum (with something like the “leader” badge), to avoid confusion by riders who may not know a lot about the unicycle world. Just helps to make it clear for everyone.
I’m not sure where to draw the line exactly, as with sponsored riders etc. there will always be a grey area. (Ideally the non obvious ones like Rogers, would always clearly indicate their position when relevant, and so far have usually done so, at least as far as I’ve seen.)
Agreed with y’all. We’re a small niche sport and it’s nice to be able to communicate with the manufacturers on a first name basis! But I agree that they should be identified as such.
@rogeratunicycledotcom is a slightly different case - I guess as is @danger_uni - in the sense that they were probably here before being the face of brands. Or at least long enough that one knows when they share experience or talk about their products. Maybe a case of opening separate accounts in their cases? A bit like Roger did (correct me if I’m wrong) on FB when he opened a dedicated account for Unicycle.co.uk
Well, they could have a 2nd account, but that would be annoying to use 2 accounts on the same forum depending on what they want to post.
Plus, whether an account is “personal” or not and whether they’re sharing personal experiences or are talking about their own products, the user behind is still part of the industry.
I don’t see a particular issue in adding an icon to their account that just basically says “this user is part of the unicycle industry”. Once other users know that, it’s up to them to use discernment.
No problem until now so why would you change or precise the rule, everybody is adult here and knows where is the limit, I always appreciate comments from Roger, Kris, Marco, David so please let them continue like this
To me it’s not just about “warning” users that some accounts can have biased opinions.
Adding an icon to “tag” them as part of the industry also implicitly says that these accounts are able to give official information and that can be useful for users with little knowledge (new unicyclists for example).
Also, industry-related accounts will be listed on a specific group page, which is a pretty good way to centralize “official information owners” that any user can contact privately or not, instead of looking for the official contact form of any brand/shop website.
I don’t think it has ever been a problem, so no need to really address it right now. Being loose on the rules allows them to contribute without worrying about breaking any rules and their input has always been pretty valuable, even if it is just announcing new products.
This new forum software doesn’t have the signatures shown anymore, and that used to be where these accounts would tell us about their association to a company.
I agree that if there hasn’t been any issue so far, then there is no issue and I’m in favor to not resolve non-existing issues.
We can remove the advertising/bias thing from the thinking here then.
And just focus on the idea that an icon to identify some people that have a certain legitimity is a common feature on the Internet, for example, a video game forum where game developers are identified as such. Users like that, it increases interactions, and gives devs more visibility. I think it would benefit everyone; I’ll quote myself:
No downside here in my opinion. Please continue to share yours guys
Indeed, I like the idea of adding an icon to tag them, not just because it helps a user recognise a possible advert but also because it allows industry figures to have some weight/authority. I mean, Roger’s opinion on new Nimbus models that might appear in the future, obviously carries more weight than mine!