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This 181 message thread spans 7 pages: 181 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 > >   posting off  
Get rid of the draconian policy on URLs and mentioning products

 10:54 pm on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

firstly let me just say that i think Webmaster World is a great source of really useful info. however, i actually stopped using it so much because of the overbearing policy on URLs and mentioning 3rd party products. i know it's difficult to figure out if people are unscrupulously promoting their products. but, please use better judgment on the new site. in the past, my posts have been edited when i was clearly not promoting a product. yes, i mentioned it because my question was a technical issue to do with the product!

also, it's actually very useful to see a discussion about the relative merits of shopping cart A versus shopping cart B. and just because i post about this doesn't mean i'm promoting either one. you just need to use better, more sensible judgments in my opinion. (by the way, those aren't real products so you don't have to edit this ;)



 11:04 pm on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I tend to disagree. The strict enforcement of board TOS in this area keeps lots of spammers away, and that's a very good thing.

For specifics, if you need to know you can always ask using a sticky mail, which isn't displayed publicly.


 11:18 pm on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Agree with claus, a lot of times a URL is not really needed. Anyone who is interested will either recognize the product by its name or description, or is able to quickly search for it on their own.


 11:23 pm on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's not just urls though, I've noticed virtually any mention of commercial products or services tends to be sledgehammered.

It's a primary reason I rarely visit this site, until getting the email asking for feedback...


 11:27 pm on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm with the original poster regarding product mentions.

Objective feedback on products / businesses that we are considering is an important benefit of a community.

And some of us don't really want to form a group of sticky-buddies to get some quick feedback.

Something more towards the middle would be good, but if not I would say just drop the policy that mandates no product mentions.

If you kept the restriction against links you could still stop affiliate spammers.

So what if a couple people hype their product a little. If I read a topic with 50 posts I can usually discern the truth just like you can usually tell the truth on Yelp about a restaurant. Some are shills and some are haters. But the whole concept of free speech on the internet is that the truth prevails if you allow freedom of speech.

Currently it's a little silly how people talk in code to avoid mentioning the product but still guide someone who really wants a suggestion.

And it's selectively enforced. One thread mentions products and another doesn't.

Also I'm a paid subscriber, and I don't know that I feel I get a lot that I would miss if I were a free subscriber. I might prefer an ad-supported model.

Now if you had genuine vetted product-specific reviews that might merit a subscription model.

I wasted a huge amount of time recently looking for a good domain drop finding tool. I was happy to pay for the tool and would have been happy to pay to save the time I wasted finding it. But I rarely find good new tools on WW because of the no-product-mention policy.


 11:33 pm on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Allowing URLs would make moderators' task much more difficult - they'd have to check each one to weed out the sometimes-subtle spammers. And, of course, they'd be forever in the middle of disputes and/or miss too many.

If there is a consensus to allow URLs (unlikely!), then only allow one style of short URL - thus reducing any spammer incentive.

One reason for WebmasterWorld's longevity and continued success is it's almost uniquely successful zero tolerance policy; throw that away lightly and you risk everything.


 11:36 pm on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

the policy about url and mentioning products does not bother me at all.
at least less spam, this is what makes this forum stand out from a lot of other ones.
Advertising not an issue but it should stand out clearly that it is advertising


 11:45 pm on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I believe the current policy is just fine. Don't tinker with it.


 11:51 pm on May 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

You think I can't spam WebmasterWorld with my URL's? Seriously, I am that good. It wouldn't be the first time I've gotten a link from a forum despite tight policies, and it won't be the last. Give me six months and I'll have YOU spamming the forum for me.

e.g. I've got a bitchin' number of posts, I contribute heavily to the forum. So I come across a really great idea for linkbait and drop a link to the site to help you folks out - that's how nice I am to you (no,no, don't thank me). And I neglect to mention that the site is a client of mine. Boom. Spam.

I don't disagree with the perception that the tolerance for links here can be overbearing and that in certain circumstances it's too much. It certainly took some adjustment. Just pointing out the reason why - in a pool of sharks, pointing out schools of codfish should be treated with suspicion :).

Still, it looks like the site is being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21'st century :). Perhaps allowing link drops will be something that changes. I do think that doing so will cause more work for the mods, and more complaints. Not that work for mods is a reason not to do something :).

The next problem is, do link drops get nofollowed? In every other forum, yes. In a forum full of webmasters that is heavily moderated? I beg to differ. Say I do drop a link - it's not advertising. It's moderated. And I've got a whack number of posts. So where's the justification to nofollow my linkdrops? Srsly, let's get that rant going again :).


 12:18 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sometimes, I really want to post a useful URL. But the "draconian policy" protects all of us.

If anyone could post URLs, we'd be bombarded with ad spam. Webmasters, SEO, PPC, and analytics experts are HIGHLY valuable targets for marketing. Look at Twitter. It's nearly all junk posting now.

So, don't change the policy. I don't like it, but the alternative is far worse.


 12:45 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I agree with the naysayers.

This has to be the only forum I know of with this level of quality discussion. The rest simply become ugly great adverts for assorted garbage, because it's just not possible for a small band of humans to weed out the genuine from the guff.

If focus of discussion requires a tight policy, then so be it.


 2:05 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

"the policy about url and mentioning products does not bother me at all."

It doesn't bother me either - because I no longer visit this site.

As a sales copywriter this place would be ideal for me to meet clients - but as I recall I'm already on dodgy ground by even mentioning that, URL or no URL?

Likewise there's many people here I'd love to hire but how?

Maybe time has made the problem seem worse but my recollection of this site is that even mentioning the profit motive seems to be frowned upon. My first thought upon seeing the email asking for feedback was "Quit wasting the opportunity for people to do business".

There's a certain bright red forum that starts with W and ends in R that offers a section where members can make special offers to other members. For a small fee of course. I rarely use it as I usually have plenty of work. It's still nice to know it's there.

I cannot recall how long it's been since I last visited or posted here. At least a year, maybe two, possibly three. My impression was that it was so hard to be specific about anything that it was hard work trying to ask or answer anything, especially since I was treading on eggs by even mentioning I'm a copywriter for hire.

For asking drive-by questions this place can sometimes be great.

It could be greater, if more people with knowledge and skills had a *reason* to stick around.

I don't object to the policy; it's not my site and I rarely visit. You asked for feedback though and that's mine.



 2:08 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Update - it was as recently as June last year, so only 11 months :)


 2:38 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Could the link policy become more flexible for more engaged users? maybe at 500 or 1000 posts links can be added by a poster. if they are found to include a "spammy" link these rights would be removed. I think sometimes a link is necessary and "googling it" doesn't always work...


 2:43 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I like the no links policy, it has to be a strict policy or the links would take over the forum. If you give an inch they take a mile...


 3:04 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I also agree to not changing the policy of URL. I have enjoying webmasterworld because of that (I am not an active poster but an active reader).


 3:14 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I agree with no links. If someone mentions Example Co's new widgetizer, it takes me all of 5 seconds to search for it... and I can sticky the OP and ask for a specific link if it's not so obvious.

One thing about links, they don't age well... Imagine all the broken links the forums would have if they were allowed?

And conversations would get stupid. People would post things like: "Go to example.com/someurl/other.xyz click the thing on the left --- then see what happens?"...

When the link dies the whole thread will lose context.

Also -- the mod work would be unending --- it took me about 3 seconds to mentally scheme this:

A). WebmasterWorld allows links

B). I post a really helpful bunch of info with that link mentioned a few times. It passes the mod test, and I wait a few days.

C). I replace the content on that URL with [___fill_in_the_blank___].


 4:19 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

@lexipixel, I think people here would notice C very quickly, so if we combined it with adrian's suggestion.

I think the policy is right, but a bit too strict. I am also not always sure what is OK, and I have often seen comments says something like "I hope this link is OK" - perhaps a clearer policy is needed


 4:32 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

WW Mods are smart enough to figure the link thing out all on their own .. It was last year, or maybe even the year before, I mentioned a certain script, written by a certain person, and my post was such that said. "Google it" .. a few days later, a Mod edited my post to include the link.

I like the no link policy as is ..

As far as the mention of *Products? .. We all know that various types and kinds of products have their own assorted fanboys .. fanboys who would rather argue about how great their product is, than to actually provide any real value to the forum threads .. My vote? (if there were to be one) would be NO to the mentioning of products .. Simple math .. no products = no fanboys ..

Besides, widgets are really the only products there are around here that everyone can agree on being the greatest .. :)


 5:01 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

No matter how I think about the topic of allowing links/product mentions...I can't help but think that it will create more work for someone at WebmasterWorld and/or the community here. I don't want to have to log on and have to police the site/posts, even if it only takes a few seconds. But...I probably would, because I value and enjoy reading this forum at the end of each day.

Most of the webmaster products out there lately seem to be desperate to gain links to them. So, thumbs down on the idea. Keep the worms in the can...


 5:42 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

If I owned this forum, I wouldn't risk it's integrity by allowing link drops and product promotions. 99% of the webmaster related product mentions would eventually have an agenda IMO.
Hard to put those worms back in the can.

But... if I felt I had to do something in this area, I would build a 'doing business' subsection of the forum where people could do that - Allow people in who had been a steady contributer for x amount of time. Or maybe even a fee, whatever.

That part of the site would still be moderated, of course. People will gravitate towards the part of the forum they feel is the most benefit to them.

There is a another webmaster forum I visit where the only interesting part is the buy/sell area. The rest of it is pretty pathetic.


 6:17 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

While the "no links, no promos" rule is pretty tough, this rule makes the forum a better place than most other forums. And if you look at "that other forum" you will find that the message boards are so ugly with all the footers, links, user icons, and ads, that it actually discredits the content (even if it is good, which is rarely the case).

Also, I think that most NEW users have a problem with this. If you have hundreds or thousands of posts, you have learned to accept the fact that links and promotions are not desired around here.

So, no, I would not change this.


 6:34 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

no. keep it as it is now.


 6:35 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I enjoy the moderated policy and this is one of the reasons I contribute here.

There is no reason to change the policy that has worked this well over the years.


 8:39 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, all I can say is this is one of the reasons I don't spend much time here anymore. If I want to figure out which is the best domain registrar, or the best uptime monitoring service, or the best shopping cart for my needs, I'll go elsewhere. Somewhere where there's more freedom of speech and people can actually mention products. I can usually easily tell when people are hyping things up. I can also look at people's previous posts and see if they're genuine. And I can certainly tell if a product is no good once I do a bit of research in a search engine. But I need the product name first.

On second thoughts, maybe WW is better off being different and sticking with it's policies. It's not exactly in need of more traffic and other places can provide those services instead. I'll just use it for the purely technical stuff from time to time. Having said that, there are now some serious competitors for that too.

By the way, there are other much more creative ways to moderate a website and I could give you and example but I'm probably not allowed to!


 9:00 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

"I could give you and example but I'm probably not allowed to!"

That about sums it up.

There's room for everything on the net, and a close-knit bunch who talk around 'that of which we do not speak' is fine for those that like it.

My next suggestion - a clearer means of unsubscribing from threads..?



 9:22 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I find the lack of specifics or links annoying sometimes, but then I try other forums where these are allowed and like those far less.

The problem with allowing links and specifics is that even if people on the forum can work out that the post and poster is junk, the forum has had space taken up with the (self) promotion.

I accept that I need to PM and dig around then go elsewhere to evaluate what gets mentioned obliquely here. I use other sites for that and that alone, but always come back here because of the very tight editorial control.


 9:33 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I wasted a huge amount of time recently looking for a good domain drop finding tool. I was happy to pay for the tool and would have been happy to pay to save the time I wasted finding it. But I rarely find good new tools on WW because of the no-product-mention policy.

Sorry for wasted time. And so much of it at WW. If you had asked me (pm back then) I might not have given you the skinny because I'm also in the biz.... Called competion!

What we do is suggest directions, instructions, and maybe a "here's how" to get started. We DO SAY DON'T when something is not correct. This is an educational site. This is a help yourself site. This is a... more than we can say, and also more that we will do. Nothing is given away free. Grasshopper, but one can LEARN.


 10:20 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Let's look at this problem sensibly instead of arguing...
  1. We don't want spammers or self-promotion.
  2. We all find the current rules to be inconvenient.
So, a method of avoiding spam and self-promotion whilst allowing more outbound links is the obvious goal of any changes. This being the case, let's try to find a method that works - we're supposed to be clever and this doesn't seem an impossible problem to me. I will kick off...
  1. Use cloaking to hide outbound links entirely from search engines. If necessary, create a white-list of domain names for news sites such as the BBC, etc.
  2. Make sure everyone knows that outbound links will be cloaked - for new members place it in big bold letters on the sign-up page. For existing members, send out an email or maybe arrange for a popup window to be displayed. Also, consider adding a tooltip hint for each outbound link stating that it will be cloaked (i.e. use the title attribute).
  3. Ensure moderators receive a list of new outbound links and the posts that contain them so that they can be easily checked.
  4. Consider pre-moderation for new members if the post includes a link to site that isn't white-listed.



 10:32 am on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ensure moderators receive a list of new outbound links and the posts that contain them so that they can be easily checked.... Consider pre-moderation for new members

I'd be interested in how you'd propose to compensate moderators for the extra work and hassle that would involve.

This 181 message thread spans 7 pages: 181 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 > >
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