Dear Chiff & Fipple Friends,
One of the thorniest problems on the message board has been to find a way to deal with the use of the board for commercial purposes by people posting messages. I think it has been difficult to find a good position on this. On the one hand, I think there are those who exploit this free service to promote their business. I object to that, as do many if not most readers of the message board. On the other hand, I really don’t want to stop individuals from selling whistles to each other and using the board to initiate those transactions. Personally, I don’t mind if a person who makes money by selling or making whistles posts an occasional message making us aware of something they have to offer. However, I think it is important that such a person can demonstrate that the majority of their posts are entirely non-commercial. In other words, they are contributing members of the board community. I also think it is critical that their be NOTHING competitive about the message. No “best deals.” Nothing that suggests any superiority over others’ products and services. Nothing that diminishes or belittles the work of competitors.
So, because for the most part I think almost everybody falls well within these guidelines, I’ve taken a pretty tolerant approach to people using the board to get free advertising. Now I am running into this problem: Whenever I allow SOME of this to occur, resentments arise from those who I’ve asked, in the past, to stop posting commercial messages. You get into judgment calls about what constitutes inappropriate use of the board. Regrettably, I think I’m going to have to take a firmer line about this. I am proud of the fact that we’ve not had to ban anyone from the board. Let’s keep it that way. Here are some new guidelines.
1. The blanket policy is this: You may not use the board to promote your business. Exceptions will be made under certain conditions. Some of those will be outlined below. When in doubt, email me and I’ll try to work with you.
2. If you are not in the business of making or selling whistles or other products (of any kind), but you have items such as used instruments you want to offer for sale, you may post two messages. In the first, you describe what is available and you provide your email address and/or phone number. You may not use the message board to receive offers to buy or to negotiate further. Replies to your offer of sale should not be made on the board. Your message should clearly indicate that interested parties should NOT respond on the board. If replies are made on the board anyway, you must respond to them off the board. They will be deleted if and when I see them. When the item is no longer for sale, you may post a message indicating so. Or you can just delete your original post.
3. If you are in the business of making or selling whistles or closely related products, you can announce the availability of new products only. Once and only once. You may not include ANY competitive or self-promotional language.
4. You may post a message on the board that describes your business, avoiding competive language and claims of superior products and services, ONCE A MONTH (not more). I’ll evaluate these announcements for appropriateness and delete them if I see fit. In any message, I recommend that you let it be known that you will email announcements about products and services you render to interested parties on an opt-in basis. In other words, you invite people to email you if they want to hear more about your business. You collect their email addresses and email them as often as you wish and as often as they will permit. You may renew that offer ONCE A MONTH (not more often) on any or all Chiff & Fipple boards.
I’ll repost this occasionally and will also email it to people who may have missed it if and when they post inappropriately.
Sorry to have to do this, but I’m spending way too much time trying to manage this problem.
Board policies and official announcements about Chiff and Fipple and the forums. Please read!
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