A question about advertising links in signatures, and mod responsiveness.

This could well be TLDR for some people, but here goes anyway.

This thread is about a rule on the boards and also, more generally about the question of moderator responsiveness to member concerns.

A couple of months ago, there was a thread started by a rather new member. This new member seemed like a pretty decent guy, and he also works for one of my favorite retail establishments. I noticed in the course of that thread that he had a link to his employer’s website, as well as to his work email address, contained in his signature.

This was something of a surprise to me, as i had always been under the impression that this sort of advertising was not permitted in sigs. I said as much, and moderator Gary “Wombat” Robson pointed me to the rules stating that members may have links in their sigs, but that the link must be to “a site you have a personal interest in or association with.”

I noted at the time that i found this rule rather problematic:

In that same thread, samclem made a response to my concerns, noting:

Taking the second part of his post to heart, i decided to wait and see what that mod/admin discussion turned up.

Fast-forward to late September, and i noticed that the same poster who had originally attracted my attention was still posting, still with for-profit links in his sig. Curious about what the mods and admins had decided regarding this issue, i decided to PM the mods and admins who had participated in the earlier thread, in the hope of getting some feedback. The reason i didn’t start a thread at the time was that i didn’t want the member in question thinking that i was targeting him specifically. For me, the general question of for-profit links in sigs was the issue, not any one specific poster.

I sent my PM to samclem, Gary “Wombat” Robson, twickster, and Gfactor, because they had all been in that thread. I really only expected responses, however, from the first two on the list, as they had been the ones who responded to that particular issue in the thread. In my PM, i raised 3 concerns related to the poster in question, and also to the more general issue of links in sigs.

I received a reply from samclem, suggesting that he sympathized with my position, and would follow up in the near future. And i received a reply from Gary “Wombat” Robson that responded to my point about the individual member, but ignored my other two more general questions completely.

I sent a PM thanking them for responding, and noting that i looked forward to hearing back from sam, and asking Gary if there had been any conclusions reached about the two issues that he had not addressed in his response.

That was three weeks ago, and i haven’t heard back from either one. That’s why i’m starting this thread.

It seems to me, given the frequency with which we are asked to PM or email mods about certain concerns, that the least they could do when we do this is not blow us off. One of the reasons i sent my original inquiries by PM was precisely because i would have been happy to get an answer without airing the issue on the boards again. I know that i’ve been involved in quite a few threads oer the past year or so where i’ve been critical of the mods for various things, so i figured i’d ask about this particular issue in private rather than start another thread in ATMB that could be perceived as critical of the board’s rules or moderation.

But if no-one’s going to answer the private messages, then the public forum seems like the only way to get things done. So here it is. Did your “conversation in the moderator/Admin loop” about the question of for-profit links in signatures actually reach any conclusions on the matter?

henryp was told that non-members are not allowed to have links in their sigs. His sig still has his name and the name of his employer in it, but there are no links in his signature now. So he’s complying with the rules. This was taken care of the day after you contacted the mods (we’d discussed it with henryp before that). Sorry if no one got back to you.

Isn’t that kind of putting off the inevitable complaint when a member puts a link to their employer in their sig?

I personally don’t really care, but it seems that mhendo would. I don’t link to my employer because I don’t think my employer wants me as a self-appointed spokesperson.

(But you are looking for a low-cost small-box retailer with a friendly and courteous staff for your household goods or consumables needs, you can PM me. :))

I could occassionally use some small boxes, but if you have to ship them to me, that would kinda defeat the purpose.

(I have no idea what you were trying to say. “Small-box retailer” is gibberish to me.)

Typically a small, independent retailer.

Really? Is that what you got form my OP? That my only concern was with the fact that non-member henryp had links in his sig?

Gary “Wombat” Robson told me the same thing in his response to my PM, and both his response and yours have been completely unhelpful regarding the issue that attracted my attention in the first place, viz. the fact that members are allowed to have for-profit promotional links in their signatures.

I made very clear in the original thread, in my PM, and in the OP of this thread that it was not simply non-members that i was concerned about, and that i found such signatures used for members to be problematic also. Furthermore, samclem gave me cause to believe, both in that thread and in his PM to me, that this particular issue—the question of members using promotional for-profit sigs—was being discussed in the mod/admin loop, and that i could expect some feedback from that discussion.

If the result of that discussion was simply, “Fuck what mhendo thinks, we’re leaving things as they are,” then i’m willing to live with that. My concern is that i was told that the mods were discussing it, and was told to “stay tuned” for an update, but despite almost three months going by, a PM exchange, and now a new thread on the subject, everyone seems intent on answering the least important part of my inquiry (regarding henryp, and ignoring the parts that have broader implication for board policy.

As i said in the original thread, this issue isn’t big enough for me to go to the mattresses over. If nothing changes regarding the sig rule, i’ll say “Fair enough” and move on. But, having made my opposition known, and been told by a board representative that the mods and admins were actually discussing the issue and that i should expect some feedback, i would appreciate not being blown off.

Small-box: small store footprint; fewer, targeted brands; more focused category selections. Kind of like taking a Wal-mart (a big-box store) and compressing it into 8,000 square feet.

I’m not a mod, but in the purpose of furthering discussion on this topic, let me take a stab.

The actual policy states:

The example given seems to be

I would argue that a corporate website is too far removed, even if it is their ultimate employer. An email address from that company site, maybe, but not just the web portal. That, to me, crosses the line from a “personal association” into “acting as someone else’s agent”, namely the corporation. This leaves room for someone’s personal site hawking, for example, custom jewelry or handmade computer cozies or something, but shuts down “ShitMart - the cheapest shit anywhere!”*

As to the original example, I’m not sure why that link wasn’t originally disallowed on the same grounds. I can guess that the moderators look to the simpliest bright line rule they can use specifically to keep from having to create broader policy. So in this case, the bright line rule hinged on him being a guest, and ergo a quickly enforced** line.

However, they did state that they were actually considering your question about the broader policy. Now maybe it fell through the cracks, but I think it fair they address your question.

  • Not meant to imply any previously stated company. Merely a generic placeholder.

** At least quickly enforcable, if not actually quickly enforced. “We told him the policy, then forgot about him until you pointed it out 3 months later, then quickly enforced it.”

Heh. While nobody used the F-word or mentioned you explicitly, and I wouldn’t characterize the discussion that way myself, we discussed it and decided to leave the new policy in place.

I apologize for this. I thought a staff member had posted a follow up. Sorry to leave you hanging.

Once again. I’m sorry.

Fair enough. While i still think it’s a policy that leaves the board open to the sort of commercial promotion that we have largely been able to avoid, it’s not been much of a problem so far, and it’s not something i’m incredibly worried about. I was simply interested to know what the mod/admin consensus was.

Thanks. I appreciate it.

I guess i’m still a little perplexed as to why you were able to give me this relatively simple information in a single sentence, but why two mods responded to my PMs without ever answering that question, and why one of them, and the first mod to respond to this thread, also managed to answer the minor question of the individual non-member while completely missing the main point of my inquiry.

But that’s not something i expect you to explain, of course, because they’re not your responsibility.

I believe you’re referring to me here, so let me explain:

I received a PM from you with one question I could answer and some that I couldn’t (at that time). I addressed the one I could answer as soon as I saw your message, and left it to others to respond to the rest. I apologize for not following up to see if someone else had, indeed, responded.

I thought that your issue was primarily with guests in general and henryp in specific. We fixed the guest issue, although the fix did not address sigs that were already in place at the time we did so. I brought henryp’s signature into compliance manually.

Fair enough.

I guess i just tend to assume that if i ask someone a three-part question that falls under their bailiwick, they’ll let me know specifically if there are parts of it that they don’t know the answer to.

I also generally assume, if something has been a topic of discussion in the “mod/admin loop,” that the mods and admins know about it.

I didn’t know how specific you wanted to be in public about your private message, but since you’re pushing…

You asked three specific questions.

#1 regarded a specific person and whether he was exempt from the rules. I responded with an explanation of how we were handling enforcement in general and what I personally had done with that specific person.

#2 was actually a statement rather than a question. It stated your position regarding a rule. It needed no reply.

#3 was a question about what the results were of our discussion. As of three weeks ago when you sent the PM, there was not a final result ready to discuss. Since, generally speaking, the admins announce rules changes, I didn’t feel it would have been my place to respond before any announcement was made anyway. My apologies for not explaining that in my response.

No problem. Thanks for the explanation.