Punting Vs Being Helpful

Discussion in 'Rules of the Forums' started by Rob Fisher, 24/8/14.

Discuss Rules of the Forums on South Africa's Vaping Enthusiast's Forum

  1. Rob Fisher

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    Just to carry on the discussion of Punting vs being helpful...

    The fact that the Vendors are mindful of the issue shows that they are on the right path... the admins and mods are almost fanatical in keeping the normal threads clear of shameless and ninja punting because there is a very real likelihood that punting could destroy the integrity of the forums...

    That being said so far there has been very little punting in the forums and that's the way we want it to stay but we certainly want the helpful bunch to be there with advice.

    If you think that a post is punting then it is... if you think it's just being helpful then it probably is!
     
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  2. WHeunis

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    I think as long as a retailer doesnt link or specifically point to his own shop while replying to a question asked outside the retailer forums, then im very ok with it.

    Q: Which Mod should I get for my mPT3?

    Helpful Answer: I have had nothing but good words for the (so and so device unlinked). It has (blahblah) features and is really well-priced.

    Punting Answer: The (linked item to own store) is awesome!
    Punting Answer: The (so and so device unlinked) is great and my shop has it!

    More of those could be dragged on, but the line is quite clear to most of us, I think.
     
  3. Nimbus_Cloud

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    Thanks for creating this thread. I think a clear discussion on this can only be productive for vendors and Forum users alike.

    I think what @WHeunis is saying makes sense, so long as vendors are not obviously suggesting a product purely for a sale and are only suggesting something if it is something that they, in their personal capacity would suggest. Suggestions out of our respective forums should be done in a manner that would be the same as any other forum user, Suggest something you would suggest to a close friend for example.:)
     
  4. Silverbear

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    As a vendor rep, allow me to paint an example, in a recent thread about a new high end box mod coming onto the market, forum users where asking which vendor was going to stocking the mod or be open for pre-orders, a direct request for response from the vendors, unfortunately due the vendor punting constraint, we were unable to respond even if we had the answer. In order to responsd we would need to go to our vendor forum, create a new thread and create an unlinked thread in response to a seperate thread. IMO this results in vendors not responding and the users not getting the answer or response they are requesting.

    IMO if a forum user posts a general product question not aimed at a specific vendor asking for a answer or response, then vendors should be allowed to respond as the vendor directly to the point or subject in question, in a responsible and non generic punting manner, if they have the answer to the request directly and not just respond because vendor wants to advertise. If a vendor posts a response to a request from the forum but can not back the respons then that should be punishable with a fine.

    This post is my view and not that of a represented vendor.
     
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  5. WHeunis

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    In that example, I am personally OK with it if a vendor was to reply "(we/I) MegaVapeBunker will be stocking this/taking preorders in a week/are in no way interested/wanna paint your face and ready you for war with this mega monster right now"
    But at the same time, I don't feel that a link would be appropriate, or a price, or such. Maybe those sorts of details belong in a PM...

    That last little bit is where it turns grey area in my mind.
     
  6. kimbo

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    Maybe the "who has stock" should be renamed to cover the pre-order thing as well. Then ppl can ask there, are the venders allowed to respond in that thread?
     
  7. Andre

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    To my mind there are only 2 viable option - Totally allowed or not allowed at all. Nothing in between can be applied effectively.

    For me the general (members') forums are for members only and this should remain sacrosanct. I do not want a grand bazaar there.

    On ECF no punting in any form is allowed in the members' forums. A vendor may not send a PM to a member unless that member has contacted such vendor first. PM solicitation results in an instant ban.

    Members should know that questions directed to a vendor(s) in the general forums will not be answered. Other members can remind a member posing such a question and direct him/her to that vendor's forum or answer the question if they have the knowledge.
     
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  8. Noddy

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    Am I, as a non-affiliated member, allowed to suggest a specific vendor for whatever?
     
  9. WHeunis

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    I believe trading links, prices, shop tips etc between non-retailers is allowed.
     
  10. WHeunis

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    To me this almost feels like we would be excluding retailers from being helpful forum members.

    "is the SVD a good device?"
    "Couldn't say, I would get banned"
     
  11. Silver

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    Hi all, thanks for the comments thus far on his issue
    Feel free to continue posting your comments and views

    The Admin & mods team will certainly be discussing this and deciding on the way forward
     
  12. kimbo

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    But is think the vender can give advice as a fellow vaper, "Yes the SVD is good, have a look at this review on youtube"

    He/She dont have to include his/her shop link to help

    Help is help
    Including a link t your shop is punting

    That is how i see it
     
  13. Gazzacpt

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    They can comment and give advise as long as they don't say I have stock buy it from me.
     
  14. WHeunis

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    Well, yeah!
    I thought I already said that...

    I DID!!!

    We agree on that then.


    But what if in that same thread the same guy (or even another guy in same thread) asks where he can get one and how much?
    Remember now, this happened outside the retailer forums.
    On ECF rules, even if the vendor at that point PM's the guy, he gets banned...
     
  15. kimbo

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    But that is why the "who has stock" thread are there

    My view again
     
  16. Gazzacpt

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    Tell the formulite to start a thread in who has stock as @Andre suggests or us regular okes recommend a retailer.
     
  17. Rob Fisher

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    Yip that is the safe way to handle it.
     
  18. devdev

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    It doesn't take a brain surgeon to spot direct punts, and the extreme example provided above is not the problem. Even a corrupt civil servant with aspirations to become a tenderpreneur would identify that sort of statement as being improper conduct.

    The more subtle punting is the problem, the implied and indirect punts and statements.

    An example - User wants to know if he should buy setup X or Y. Vendor only has stock of X, has never stocked Y. Vendor advises the user to avoid Y and says that he has sold X to many happy customers. (A complete indirect punt).

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Or what about differences of opinion?

    User A: new user, looking to spend some cash on a rig that beats his twisp.

    User B: very opinionated, has very limited experience and thinks that his opinion is fact. All knowledge is based on google and youtube videos.

    Vendor : Has recently brought in a batch of nautilus minis. He is the only person with stock available at the moment, Has consistently acted in best interests of the community and provides a good service.

    User A posts in general area of forum:

    User A: I am looking to upgrade my twisp. What should I get?
    Vendor: The nautilus mini is really good, lots of folks are raving about it
    User B: Well I hear that the aerotank mini is really the business, and RipTrippers said awesome things about it
    Vendor: Yes it was good when it came out, but at the moment the Nautilus mini is considered the best on the market within its class.
    User B: Well Rip has not done a review of it yet, so I would go with the aerotank mini
    Vendor: Would be much better if you got the Nautilus mini. Trust my experience, I have used both.
    User B: I read a review on ECF where some guy said that he thinks the aerotank mini is so much better than the nautilus mini, so you should really listen to me, because the aerotank mini is the best

    Clearly the Vendor and User B have a difference of opinion.

    Who should User A trust? The person with a vested interest (even though those statements were made in good faith) or User B, who comes across as knowledgeable but has no business interest in what User A picks (when he actually doesn't know the first thing about either of the two products in discussion). If the Vendor pushes the point with User B how long will it take for User B (and most likely User A) to feel that Vendor has an agenda, when in fact he doesn't?

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    It is quite simple. There should be no variance from the established principle that is already in effect. Remember that browsing this forum as a normal member is very different from being a staff member, we have to monitor and police all of the vendors and users and constantly balance the competing interests at play. I don't think anyone actually realises what a large time and financial commitment running this forum requires. We have to mediate petty disputes, enforce rules on vendors (who really should know better than to behave the way some of them do) and then keep an eye on all threads to ensure that no one is breaking the rules.

    You now want to add to that a function that requires us to evaluate and determine the appropriateness of individual responses, when the vendors are all competing for the same slice of market share? Forget about it.

    It is very simple. If the user asks whats a good RBA to buy, the vendors should not say a word. The forumites can answer that question. That's how it has always been. If someone wants to know where to get something, then they must be told to raise that it in the Who Has Stock forum. That's what it is there for.

    As @Andre said, if we relax this rule we will soon find vendors doing mass PMs, doing indirect punting, and normal members arguing with the vendors 'opinion'. This proposal is the veritable opening of a can of worms. None of the members on here want to trawl through marketing spew from the Vendors masturbating their 'upcoming products' offers in the general forums.

    From the perspective of preventing conflicts of interest (actual or perceived), keeping the administrative tasks on the staff to the essentials and ensuring that the conduct of Vendors is regulated in a fair and equitable manner (and that none are able to obtain an unfair advantage over the others) this rule must stay in effect.

    TL;DR - The rule cannot change, any claimed benefit of doing so does not outweigh the negatives
     
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    Last edited: 25/8/14
  19. kevkev

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    I agree fully. Also thanks to all the staff members on EsigsSA that dedicate a lot of their personal time to keep this forum functioning.
     
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  20. WHeunis

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    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    But the AeroMini totally is better!
    Yanking your leg a little.

    I didn't think of that particular angle from quite that point of view. The backoffice point of view that is.
    I don't so much mind two people having a difference in opinion on better toys, even if one of those were a vendor, and even if he might be secretly harboring alterior motives.
    It would be pretty hard for a vendor to actually succeed at any level with that sort of punting if the product wasn't good to begin with.
    But I'm veering off point slightly ---
    I didn't actually consider what a massive timesink the policing process on such a fine line would end up being...

    For that, I do appologize to the EcigsSA staff --> I quite often take a lot of what you do for granted. I often forget that you give your own free time for no reward.

    But looking at it from that whole other perspective, I do more clearly understand the need for a thicker and more well-defined line - one where you don't have to dance around a thousand blades yourself just to keep our playground clean.

    I also just don't want that line to be quite so thick as on ECF, where retailers/vendors almost don't exist as participating forum members.
    For all I know, half those vendors just make alt-accounts and post what they were gonna post about the stuff they're trying to punt anyway - links and all included - in the guise of being another helpful guy.
    I find that way more evil than at least mild but slightly-grey-slightly-obvious punting.


    So yeah... I spose my TL;DR - I understand better the Staff's position - but am not opposed to SLIGHT relaxation if it doesn't mean double workload on the staff.
     
  21. Chop007

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    The forum is a place where the vaping public can get assistance. If a member asks where can he get a certain vaping device and then he asks a specific vendor on any thread, it is our responsibility to assist that member in any thread since that is the point of this forum.

    Sometimes non-retailer members punt other retailers with some notion they will get something for free or if they are big buddies with retailers, this is also unfair punting. I would like to be able to assist any member to the utmost, regardless of what thread it is in, doing otherwise goes against community spirit in itself.

    There is a very fine line between punting and being helpful, or letting someone know that you have stock of the item they ask you directly for. The only solution I can see is a clear cut rule as @Andre suggested. There is a thread for asking who has stock, if the user posts in the incorrect thread it is up to responsible members to direct them to the appropriate thread. And it is up tot he vendors to not punt to him/her.

    The only way this can work is either to abide by the rule wholeheartedly or to make exception to that rule on a one by one basis. If we are to assist members greatly as is the ethos it would be great to structure this correctly so as no retailer or user feels unfairly treated.

    Another issue could crop up when one retailer begins helping other users constantly, the other retailers/and or mods could feel that said retailer is punting by 'helping too much'. This could be viewed as great service by knowledgeable vapers or it could be viewed as punting. A very fine line exists here folks, we need to get this issue clear and concise so as to not leave any room for doubt or conflict. We do however need to remember that our first and foremost responsibility is to the vapers out there and NOT to the retailers. Hence, the focus on the Forum users, the vaping community should be at the core of this issue. Whatever way we, as retailers can help those in their vaping journey , we should be doing it, and the forum 'rules' should be in line with that. Lets help people in any way we can, vendors, lets be ethical in all our dealings, now and into the future for our own benefit and for that of this amazing forum.
     
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  22. Al3x

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    I agree with most of what has been discussed, in this thread, Just need to clarify a few issues that I have,
    O and I am in the process of becoming a vendor on the forum

    1. If someone asks for eg, x or y which would you choose, will I as a vendor be allowed to give my opinion as I have been a vaper first and have obviously used the items in question and my opinion will be the same whether the store has them or not.
    2. If a user asks - anyone used product x, will I as a vendor be allowed to respond or will I only be able to respond if I do not have it in stock or dont sell it
    3. Product reviews, as a vendor will I be able to review a product and give my opinions on it, the pros and cons

    I have been through quite a bit on my vaping journey and hopefully will go through a lot more products as I am just like that, only satisfied if I have tried them myself, and will only recommend stuff that I personally will use and/or buy.

    I know I know stupid questions, but as an active member of the forum I do not want to be restricted because of being a vendor, It has been really awesome on the forum from the first day I joined.
     
  23. Silver

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    Hi all

    Once again, really great comments from everyone

    Please bear in mind that this is an important issue that the Admin & Mods team will discuss and decide on in due course.
     
  24. Matuka

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    A very interesting subject. In the spirit of free enterprise, perhaps vendors should be permitted to punt their wares as long as everyone knows that they are a vendor and that their comments and advice should be regarded with that in mind?
     
  25. Rob Fisher

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    Never in a million years!
     
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