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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old July 24th, 2002, 02:24 PM   #1
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Since there seems no where else to post it...

Chris -

I have to admit I am more than a bit concerned with your closing and locking a thread that mentions, and in fact praises, vendors who are _not_ sponsors of your site.

While I can appreciate that your sponsors help pay, if the mission of this site is to promote free discusion about all things regarding DV, your moderation of that thread is, to be blunt, ridiculous.

There are many other discussion areas out there where people can go so I would like (as I imagine others as well) to hear a clear policy on what is and what is not allowed on your site.

I am not trying to start a flame war but in my 25+ years of bulletin board useage, back to the one I ran on my Apple ][, I have rarely seen such a blatent pandering to advertisers on what I believed to be a true "community" forum.

I anxiously await your reply.

Warmest regards,

-- Joshua
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Old July 24th, 2002, 02:26 PM   #2
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the post that I'm referring to...

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?s=&postid=16410#post16410
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Old July 24th, 2002, 02:32 PM   #3
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The dude has to pay his bills. Nothing he does on HIS forum prevents anyone from doing a search on Google for sellers of anything that is talked about here.

Gone are the days when stuff on the Internet could be had for free. Hosting is expensive. Traffic is expensive.

Forums are not democracies. Live with it or go somewhere else.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 02:38 PM   #4
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I am not saying he should go without sponsors but if you really read deep into that message, it's clear that people are really happy with Zotz who is one of the sponsors. I'd much rather hear a healthy discussion about who has worked and why than being editing down to no one else. It's clear that a lot of people have had great experiences with the sponsors and that's going to sell more than a synthesized list of vendors with no one one to compare to.

And while I recognize that forums are not democracies, than it should be clear what is and is not permitted on the site.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 02:51 PM   #5
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This has been brought up at least handful of times in the couple months I've been here. That being the case, it should be clear that this is is a running policy of the board. I tripped it up myself but I accept it as the environment. Chris is quite clear and polite about why he is doing it. I don't know what else I can say. Read DVInfo.net for what it is.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 05:05 PM   #6
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The thread covered what it needed to cover and was closed. It can still be read by any and all who desire. No posts were deleted. But i can tell you where that type of thread leads. The next guy says he bought his here and the next guy there and the next guy somewhere else. If you want to rate merchants there are plenty of sites to do that.

To me personally, it borders on being rude to so blatantly promote another dealer. Kinda like going in to Best Buy and standing at the camcorder display and telling people to go to Ritz Camera. The first time you do it, you get told to stop, second time your showed to the door, third time your arrested. Go figure, Best Buy doesn't have a sense of humor.

The way I see it, this site promotes the open discussion of Digital Video and promotes the companies that help support the site. Kinda simple.

Jeff
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Old July 24th, 2002, 05:10 PM   #7
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Fair enough if it's clear that we're in another dealer's "house" - which I didn't realize was the case. I think calling the original post rude is a bit of a stretch considering the general perception of the board content.

If we are in fact in the "house" of Zotz or whomever, let's get it public and then there's no confusion or hurt feelings.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 05:41 PM   #8
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Don't take what I say here as Gospel. Chris runs the show and I'm sure he'll respond when he can. I'm pretty sure he's traveling to the next DV convention, in NJ I think. I don't mean to cause hurt feelings and if I have, you have my sincerest apology. My analogy is to the extreme, but it's to illustrate a point, not to be taken literally. Many things are sponsored today. Sporting events, civic events, concerts, cultural happenings, even museums get sponsors.

If Miller Brewing sponsors an art show at a museum, I don't critasize Miller for causing alcoholism. Miller doesn't own the museum,nor do they control it, it would just be poor taste. It's not the time or place to voice my concerns. I can raise my concerns at another time, in another forum. Again, this is an extreme, but perhaps better illustrates my thoughts and concerns.

If I have offended you in any way, I am truly sorry.

Jeff
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Old July 24th, 2002, 05:57 PM   #9
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I'm not sure I want to get dragged into pit, but seeing as I was the "rude" one who started all of this, I just wanted to let you know a couple of things about my post.

After purchasing my camera at the aformentioned non-sponsor, I ran into Chris at Macworld, and I happened to mention where I got it, and the positive experience I had. I thought I might get scolded for not buying from a sponsor, but instead, Chris said "perhaps they might be interested in sponsoring the site".

When I returned home from NYC, I composed the thread starter and then I sent an email to bestpriceaudiovideo.com with a link to my post, thanking them for the fine service, and also suggesting that they might contact Chris about sponsoring the dvinfo.net. I figured, hey, it's worth a chance, and it would be a way for them to find out what a cool site it is.

How do I feel about the thread being closed?...well personally I'm in favor of any open, positive discussion, which that thread certainly was. And I do think it benefits the sponsors to have it remain open...as we've all seen, there were many comments about the sponsors quality, but also I think any good merchant scanning the boards can gain knowledge as to what the most important factors are to buyers...price, service, technical information etc....so that they can better attract those buyers.

Anyway, I was unaware of the board policy regarding outside merchants, if I had, I wouldn't have posted it. Sorry for all the hubbub.

I'll go to my room now.

Barry
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Old July 24th, 2002, 06:23 PM   #10
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I should point out that this forum benefits ALL merchants anyway by promoting the PRODUCT. Although in the future I believe I will order from the site's sponsors, so far I haven't bought anything from them despite hearing the good impressions. Just because my local merchant wasn't lauded on this forum didn't prevent me from buying locally, though it did make me look closely at them.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 06:31 PM   #11
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Awww, come on, Barry. I said borders on being rude. I didn't mean to call anyone rude, and you have my apologies also. You can come out of your room now (if its OK with Chris).

But since I've got your attention I tell you a little story. I used to own a big production company in Cincinnati. The money I made was spread around. I sponsored lectures and NPR on one of the Public Radio stations. You get the picture. Well at one of the events, some one asked who this production company was. The response was that it was the company that made this particular cheesy commercial. I over heard the remark and my feelings were hurt. Here these guys are eating the food, drinking the wine, I helped pay for at this event. The money from the cheesy commercial helped pay for it all. The commercial was what the client wanted and he loved it. Is it my job to be the judge of good taste and censor the commercial? No, I don't think so. It's just that those remarks were inappropriate at that time and place. They, perhaps, should have been a little more sensitive.

Your remarks were well meaning and well intentioned. They can be taken as an endorsement by a visitor, just browsing the posts. The sponsors are easy to miss. Chris doesn't have huge gaudy banners or pop-ups every time you hit a link. We need to be thankful for that. The post is open for all to see, but it really doesn't need to be expanded upon.

Jeff
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Old July 24th, 2002, 11:16 PM   #12
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Let's not forget that in many other threads, lots of other suppliers get mentionned and Chris doesn't go around shutting them down, so it appears to me he is pretty lenient on the rules.

Personaly, I like buying things localy, but since the local place <cough>Leoscamera<cough> likes to charge almost double what Chris' sponsors charge, I will be buying the rest of my stuff from Zotz. After all, look at all the info we get from this site that they pay for. Supporting them back is only fair. And thusly it's not fair to advertise their competitors on the site they pay for.

Chris, thanks for running an awsome forum!
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Old July 25th, 2002, 12:32 AM   #13
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Okay guys I really hope this doesn't become a big deal. Hard to type on a laptop in a hotel room, but here goes. I'll try to make it brief.

I have no problem with Barry starting the thread. In fact I'm glad he brought up the topic. However since the revenue model for this community (it can't happen for free as you know) is dealer sponsorship then I have to be sensitive about how this topic is discussed. There are very few topics that I will ever excersize any sort of dictatorial control over, but the number-one single most sensitive issue and one that gets raised over and over again is *where to buy.* And on that particular subject, I reserve the right to final say. That's why the thread was locked, so that I have the last word. The thread was not deleted, not edited... just closed.

The actual income I derive from paid sponsorship is really not a very large amount. It keeps things going. But the last thing I want to explain to a sponsor is, why are the message boards he's helping to pay for telling people to buy somewhere else. It's a delicate situation. So it has to be handled delicately. I think I've done that.

For a list of who has money in the website, go to www.dvinfo.net and click on "Sponsors." I know all of them personally. I firmly stand by their reputations. I've lost count of the number of dealers I've turned down wanting to get on the site, and all their money I've refused, because to my eye they were not up to scratch.

The request for a clear policy about posting on this topic is a legitimate thing to ask for. It's a priority. Hard to do from the road but I'll make it a point to do so as soon as possible. The thing is, it's not a hard and fast, cut and dried rule, not by a long shot.

For instance, somewhere today someone posted about buying from Adorama. And that's okay because Barry Zilberschlag who owns Adorama is a friend of mine, I see him at every show (saw him today in fact) and he's a great guy and we always get together to chat. Then there's Gary Bettan of Video Guys / Electronic Mail Box. You'll see him post his specials every so often. I know him well, he's a super guy and he's always welcome here. These guys are like the next ones on my list... I'll say, look, we're talking about you. It gets us that much closer to getting them onboard here officially. The point is that I know them personally though. And that's the first requirement. These site sponsors, I know where they live. I have their home phone numbers. It's that close of a relationship.

But it's the ones I don't know about that concern me. Barry Goyette had a good experience with one and posted about it and that's fine. But I don't want that to expand into a whole slew of dealers I don't know who compete directly with the ones who are putting money into this thing making it possible for all of us to interact like this. They're kicking in so I have to watch out for their interests. What have these other guys done? If I don't know 'em then I can't help 'em. If they want to contact me that's fine, that will start the process but it's no guarantee. I don't take just anybody. Sounds like Barry found a good one, and I'm glad, but when it comes to "where to buy" then that's when I have to step in and say, this is what you need to do and now we'll talk about something else. I don't mean anything rude or domineering or Nazi-ish by that. It's just *business,* and that's all there is to it really.

Oh yeah, as pointed out, you don't really see a whole lot of banner ads over on the site and there are none here on the boards. I don't like seeing them anymore than you do. But part of the agreement is that I'll actively promote my sponsors, so you'll see me doing that, and these guys are all so awesome as dealers that I'm happy to do so. But you won't see any ads using Flash, and very few animated ads. And I'll never sell the list of members, or permit mass mailings, or re-directs, or pop-ups, or any of that stuff. Just simple, down-home, low-key guerilla marketing. That's what I'm all about.

Hope this helps -- guess we don't need to lock *this* thread yet, right?

Barry! You can come out of your room now. There's milk and cookies on the table.

;-)
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Old July 25th, 2002, 02:36 AM   #14
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Chris.....Thanks for the thoughtful explanation.

Barry

p.s....Is that CHOCOLATE milk?
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Old July 25th, 2002, 05:02 AM   #15
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Chris -

Thanks for the update. It explains a lot and great points were raised. If you want any help on the policy, I'd be happy to edit. :-)

Enjoy your trip and kick Dan Berube in the knee for me. (Make sure you tell him it's from me.)

-- Joshua
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