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Old May 15th, 2006, 10:17 AM   #1
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I agree that it's nice to support our sponsors and all, but this site has gotten a kind of militant feel to it lately. God forbid anyone says anything remotely bad about B&H. Even mentioning a product is on sale at BestBuy gets the thread immediately closed. Now I'm the biggest B&H cheerleader out there, I've never had a problem with them, and I buy all of my products from them; but it's just kind of tacky to suck up so much to them and censor to the extreme that the moderators are doing. I may get banned for this but it's just somehting that I have to get off my chest.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 08:26 PM   #2
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No you won't get banned, and it's not the moderators, it's me. I own this place and I've chosen not to saturate it with banner ads like so many other sites do. That's not the experience I want here, with a bunch of flashing ads competing for your attention all over the top, left and right hand sides of the sites, or in the middle of the page for that matter. Saturated advertising doesn't bug some people, but it bugs me, so I'm not going to litter this place with ads.

At the same time running a site like this is not cheap. If I were a philathropist, if I were independently wealthy, then I'd just pay out of pocket to do this thing. But I can't afford that. So I have to rely on the generous support that I get from a handful of dealers and manufacturers who pony up the money to keep this thing afloat, making it free for everyone to use without having to resort to a subscription model and without saturating it with banner ads.

What those sponsors get in return -- out of fairness to them -- is exclusivity. We refer *all* where to buy questions to them. Because it is the single most important question that gets asked around here. And because they are after all the best in the business. I turn down a lot of offers from companies that want to be on this site. I've limited the number of sponsors only to those who are the cream of the crop and Best Buy is not one of them.

What you call "sucking up" is me following through with the commitment I made to these people. If I don't follow through with that commitment, then I lose their support. Without their support, there's no longer a web site. I choose to do it this way because I don't want a bunch of flashing banner ads all over the place. I prefer instead to give exclusivity to a select number of trusted dealers. You don't have to agree with the way I choose to run this place. There are dozens of other web sites out there that cover the same things this one does and anybody at any time can log out of here and go visit some other site. But what you have to understand is that I'm going to continue to direct any and all "where to buy" questions to our site sponsors because first, they really are the best and second, without them I wouldn't have this site, at least it wouldn't be free to use like it is now.

This is the same policy that's been in place ever since we started back in 2001. If it seems more "militant" it's only because there are so many more new people coming in who don't know the ropes. And it's not censorship. It's quality control. I'm not stopping anybody from posting whatever they want out on the internet. I'm simply exercising my freedom of speech by running this site the way that I want to. Nobody can tell me what I can or can't allow here. And besides, the Best Buy post you refer to wasn't deleted. It's still there for everybody to read. I closed it because I reserve the right to have the last word on it.

For those who disagree with the way I run the show here -- vote with your fingertips. Change the channel, log out and visit some other site. It's a huge internet. The freedom of choice that we have with regard to the number of web sites out there is nothing less than amazing. DV Info Net is only one single destination on the web, there are a lot of other places to go to. Better yet, do what I did, start your own self-publishing site / blog / board / whatever and run it however *you* want to. Censorship is when you're not allowed to do that. And I'm not stopping anybody from doing that, in fact I wholeheartedly encourage it.

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Old May 15th, 2006, 10:09 PM   #3
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Very well put. Plus, as stated, you could have a much worse sponsor then B&H.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 07:40 AM   #4
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Honest publishing

Wow, an honest publisher at last.

We should form a club Chris (albiet a very small one).

If you have taken the decision to work in a mutually beneficial way with the people who financially support your site, and be transparent about it, that is fair enough. I haven't done the survey but I think most peope feel the same way about pop-ups and so on.

I've had different situations where major advertisers have pulled their print advertising because we wrote about some of negative aspects of their products in the magazine - even though it was factually correct. We continue to write about their products in a full and fair way when they release new products. Tit-for-tat is not a game I want to play.

As a company we have decided to make it policy that we never pander to advertisers, i.e.: We do not except advertorial or fluff and will not knowingly distort the facts by missing out important elements - negative or otherwise. Though for balance we never let snide or sarcastics remarks enter the copy and investigate alternatives and work-arounds at every opportunity. OK we're human and some features turn out stronger than others, but each story has to pass the initial 'So what!' test.

If we only wrote what advertisers wanted us to we would not only put off readers, who because of the sheer amount of discussion on sites like this are extremely product savvy and advertorial wary, but we would not attract the high quality writers that we have. Bad editorial = no readers.

This being said most advertisers are extremely supportive to this way of working here in the UK. They realise that they maximise their exposure if people are actually reading and keeping the publication for reference. I'm getting the same feedback from the NAB launch of the US edition and have more potential writers than we can handle (seems every journalist we've spoken to would love the freedom to write the truth and all have their own war stories).

Integrity is important and I believe it can work - eventually.


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Old May 16th, 2006, 10:18 AM   #5
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Denise, thats why so many UK based zines are popular here in the states. Most stateside rags won't do anything controversial to upset their revenue stream, because they're only about revenue stream, subject matter is incedental. Better to charge more if possible. (Not attacking Chris here, just talking about zines in general).

I've gotten to the point where I'm willing to pay more for quality if thats what it takes.

Now if we can only find a tape seller with great prices that will sponsor here, hint, hint.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 11:02 AM   #6
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Bad reading

Unfortunately Joe, it's pretty endemic amongst UK publishers these days too.

For instance one publication told a PR friend of mine that his policy was to refuse to visit any companies at NAB that were not advertisers, and he's the editor. This has always happened, but usually with a bit more subtlety.

Don't even get me started on awards...

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Old May 16th, 2006, 05:15 PM   #7
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That's why our sponsors here are pretty heavily screened. That way, we don't have to worry about writing bad stuff. About the only bad thing you might find with a sponsor would be a shipping error or some such thing. But most of our sponsors are dealers who represent a large array of manufacturers so even though a product might have issues, it's not the fault of the sponsor.

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Old May 16th, 2006, 06:08 PM   #8
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However, DV-Info.Net has become the most significant Web forum for video issues. It's the one forum where most people end up going for the best advice and discussions about the subject. To say that anyone disagreeing about the policies of its owner/operator can go elsewhere, fails to acknowledge its position at the top of its genre.

In addition, such a forum or any other institution where ideas are exchanged, is not just the property of its owner. The people who are its constituents and without whom it couldn't have become successful, must be considered as partners in its operation.

The main point here and one for which there's no satisfying single answer, is who pays for this forum's expenses and how much control do these payments buy. One might suggest a subscription-based membership, requiring a fee to participate. But, if this were done, I'd guarantee that the participation would drop drastically, no matter how little were charged. This would not be good for anyone concerned. However, if it remains sponsor-funded and if information about the offers of non-sponsors is squelched, then I believe that the definition of the "sponsors" becomes closer to that of "advertizers".

The operation of PBS has a parallel to this. Although there is still a bit of public funding and a lot of viewer contributions supporting their budget, they also rely heavily on corporate sponsors. But, I'm wondering how much absolute control these sponsors have on the program content of PBS? Actually, that answer is pretty obvious. The sponsors wouldn't be funding too much, if it worked against their own interests. When I started this message, I was thinking about working up to a more critical conclusion, regarding the sponsor issue here. However, in stating my opinions, I have revealed to myself that I have no better alternative proposal for funding this forum. The realities of our high-priced society allow for no free lunch.

I would like to see a less iron-clad prohibition on presenting alternate buying opportunities with non-sponsors. But that's just a personal wish and I'm not the one having to pay the bills. I'd like to think that if I ran a large corporation, I would altruistically make no-strings-attached contributions to good causes like this one. But, do you think that anyone with that generous attitude ever could have risen to lead a big corporation? I also don't think that sustaining sponsors have a right to demand totally exclusive marketing content in the messages that forum members make. But, if sponsors demand it anyway and would withdraw if they didn't get it, then what can the forum owner do?

At least there's no brand-discrimination in the management of the forum. We should recall that DV-Info.Net started mainly to focus on a certain Canon DV camcorder, but that over time, full opportunity has evolved here to discuss every brand and model.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 09:14 PM   #9
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i think it is a good thing to have some pre-screened sponsors, especially to someone who is coming new to video. there's plenty of scammers out there who are eager to part the unsuspecting from their cash. i mean, hang around while and you're bound to read some enthusiastic post from some poor naif effusing about how "DenofThieves Camera Co. is selling new GL2s for $500. is this a good deal?" at which point, some patient wrangler re-directs them to resellerratings.com to check out DenofThieves' one-star rating. and probably saves their bacon.

so maybe another way to perceive this (besides chris is being tyrannical, insert emoticon here....) is that dvinfo is providing a valuable service to new videographers and in exchange hopes for some degree of commitment from its users over time to help him keep the site growing. and to keep the quality of the content high. it just doesn't seem like a lot to ask in exchange for what we receive for free, great discussion and instant access to a buncha experts in every video niche who are here to help you. i get to discuss the virtues of nikon v. canon with the likes of charles papert or watch lauri kettunen tearing around finland conducting lens experiments on the local wildlife with an H1. it's really an amazing value in exchange for "please support our sponsors...."

and if, after awhile, you get to know anything about video, you learn where to look for the best deals, both here, from the sponsors and from the used section, and in other venues, so what's the big deal? you get smarter about making your purchases and about pricing from having loafed in chris' backyard.....
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Old May 16th, 2006, 09:43 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by J. Stephen McDonald
However, DV-Info.Net has become the most significant Web forum for video issues. It's the one forum where most people end up going for the best advice and discussions about the subject. To say that anyone disagreeing about the policies of its owner/operator can go elsewhere, fails to acknowledge its position at the top of its genre.
Steve I respectfully disagree with your conclusions. One of the reasons dvinfo has become what it has become is the strict standards it sets. It's not like there aren't plenty of options to search for other vendors. It's also not that the sponsers of dvinfo are the only good ones out there.

I've purchased from excellent reputable vendors who don't sponser here. You're missing the point of what Chris is trying to achieve. He's offering a select few access to quality clientelle. This raises the trust level that people can have in the sponsers, and has a great positve effect on the perception of the vendors themselves around the net. You don't get on dvinfo.net unless you meet high standards that Chris can verify. Thats called smart business any way you look at it. A win win situation for everyone concerned.

No one is locked into using dvinfo sponsors. No members are prohibited from emailing others users about good deals they found elsewhere. If anything, dvinfo members should check out how long someone has been a member when they email you about a 'great deal', or check the number of posts if they've been lurking. Newbies or low posts when somone wants your money, or directs you to an unknown site should be taken with a large grain of salt.

Hope I didn't sound to harsh.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 10:03 PM   #11
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I think the way Chris is running this forum, and his approach to sponsorship vs. advertizing is vastly superior to most other forums (fora?) I visit. The sponsors get exclusivity where buying referrals are concerned. We get a very useful, informative discussion site, free from the clutter of banner ads and resource-gobbling, poorly-programmed Flash animations. And since the arrangement is openly acknowledged and explained, everything is above-board, and there's no indication whatsoever that our sponsors influence any posts other than those of the "where should I buy?" variety.

If I'm not mistaken, Chris has even allowed posts in the past where people had an issue with a sponsor, provided they were constructively worded, confined to the facts, and the sponsor was afforded an opportunity to respond. Contrast that with the angry, profanity-laced rants and tirades you often find on other boards. Of all the forums and discussion boards I visit, this one is one of the most pleasant and useful ones I've found. I know from experience that moderating chat rooms and bulletin boards is a challenging and often thankless task. There's no way to please all of the people, all of the time no matter how hard you try.

Thank you for all that you do, Chris!
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Old May 16th, 2006, 10:23 PM   #12
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You are pretty much on the mark with these words, Larry. The sponsors aren't the ones demanding 'exclusivity' on our site on where to buy referrals. It's a commitment that Chris has made to those sponsors and he intends to honor it. And yes, if a problem crops up somewhere, go ahead and post about it in the constructive, fact based method as you described.

Think about the recent actions that were taken with respect to access to the classifieds section. We did this after many rounds of discussion amongst the moderators about how best to handle the influx of scammers with the board's increasing popularity. Whether it's classifeds, sponsors, or posting policy, the idea is that this forum is an oasis of sorts from the junk you find on other sites. I for one, am totally on board with this idea. High signal, low noise so that you can come here and get the information you need without having to wade through countless meta posts, banner ads, tirades, profanity, and general negativity.

DVINFO also doesn't care about how many people they can get to sign on, or how many total posts the site has. It's quality over quantity here. It's also Chris' house and just like in anyone else's house, the owner sets the rules. You abide by them or get asked to leave.


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Old May 17th, 2006, 12:52 AM   #13
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DV Info Net etc..

Most of what I've read is absolutely on the mark.
I appreciate this site the efforts of Chris and the fact that most of us can agree that the sponsors of the forum are among the professionals in our industry.

Each of the sponsors has pros available for tech support as well as a high motivation to prove their value to those making a living in in video production (with the occasional wrinkle.)

I happen to enjoy going to Best Buy for numerous items, phones, computer cables, furniture, watches, TV's, cables etc.(when I'm in the states as I live in Uganda) however, I have a much greater confidence in the range of questions I have when making a serious inquiry or puchase regarding my dv production livelyhood.

I will always look, listen and follow the advice from the people I respect in forums such as this one and those in our industry they reccommend who sell the tools of the trade we're in. I like talking with Professional salespeople who technically speak my language and teach me more than I know, chances are, this will happen with our sponsors.

All good things,

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Old May 17th, 2006, 05:39 AM   #14
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Money for nothing ...

On the other hand what's wrong with allowing companies/individuals to advertise their products and services. After all most have spent years and invested lots of cash (sometimes putting all on the line) in creating products and companies that are beneficial to us in our work. OK there are a few unscrupulous folk out there, but they usually come to light in a short amount of time because of forums such as this.

It's true, readers don't like litter - this simply means that you have to be creative in your design and not let them get in the way of content. I personally get a kick out of knowing that companies who spend their hard- earned (and believe me in todays economic climate it is hard-earned) buck with us get results. And we'll go the extra mile to help them to find the best position amidst the most suitable editorial, we'll even design the ads for no-charge for smaller companies that can't afford to pay design agencies. A beneficial circle is possible.

As nice as it sounds to only have paid subcribers and to concentrate on what you enjoy doing, be it managing a forum or producing a title, while watching the money flow in - it's pretty unrealisitic. Personally I find the daily contact with companies who are dealing with people working at the sharp end, namely the production crews, is extremely beneficial for us and enables us to keep a handle on what's happening in the industry.

While Joe, and thankfully others like him, are prepared to pay for quality. It can take years to get to a point where enough people are prepared to pay. Meanwhile the bills keep coming in. Such is life.

Back to it...

Cheers, Denise
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Old May 17th, 2006, 09:10 PM   #15
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Sorry Chris

I should have kept my opinion to myself. I was in a bad mood.

I am sorry for getting carried away.

You run a fine site and I will always hit certain threads because they contain great info.

Jerry Mohn

Last edited by Jerry Mohn; May 18th, 2006 at 09:43 AM.
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