We have had a long running discussion [webmasterworld.com] about url dropping in the forums. I would appreciate if you would add your comments to the thread. Basically, that thread can been seen as the guidelines for the forum.
I have tried and tried to write down some hard and fast rules. To create a list of such do/don't requirements on url dropping that encompassed all the possibilities, would require a document in long terse legal language.
On topics and urls: If you've read other forums around the net on various subjects, I'm sure you have noticed the new trend of topic or subject branding.
"Anyone every heard of Search Engine World???"
That is one example. It doesn't matter what the discussion is, it is still an advertisement for search engine world. It could be a thread flaming the site to death, and it would still have positive branding effect. The trick is determining the difference between a simple legitimate topic and a branding topic.
With the explosion in topic branding that is going on right now, I am very sensitive to it. We are not going there here. The only way I see to prevent future problems is to stop it before it starts.
I've made numerous statements to the fact that I do not want to put advertising on this site and that it is a pure community site as close to not-for-profit as I can make it. That carries over into the messages and posts. I've even been slowly weeding out my own self promotion and links back to SEW. To that end, I will be moving the perl script forums and former buddy links forums back to SEW shortly.
Examples: Specifically when Buddy Links cashed in its chips, there was a rash of topic, troll, and pure site advertising that went on here. I think I deleted 20-25 posts that were "Quick Try Xyz-links.com" advertising posts. I overlooked a couple due to the fact they were long time supporters of the board and Buddy Links. In the words of old american hero Jonny Carson, those that give'eth, get'eth.
When to delete or edit a post is a very tough call. As someone who has been edited, deleted, slandered, and hung-out-to-dry in other forums by moderators and administrators, I am hyper sensitive to the issue. I take very seriously editing or deleting a post. We have talked about it, and talked about it in the moderators forum - it has been one of the chief concerns. I try to error on the side of caution and just leave users alone. As long as there is no liability to WW or to me personally by users statements, then there is no reason to edit a post. I feel, if the choice is to edit a post or else, then the entire thread should be deleted. Editing someone's post is an absolute last action scenario. I bothers me deeply to edit someones post - I consider it to be a highly unethical thing to do. It is manipulating or defacing someone elses work for what is ultimatly your own benefit. It is worse than stealing in my opinion.
If you have been following the thread in Inktomi, there is a perfect example of to edit or not to edit. Was it our place to remove the name? I didn't think so at all; but several of the moderators felt strongly that it should and I trusted their judgement on the issue.
I think we have done ok here so far. The moderators all understand my hands off philosophy and I am very pleased and honored with the job we've been doing here. It isn't an easy thing to run a successful forum on this topic. After all, most of the visitors are promotion oriented people.
In the end it is always a judgement call. I hope users will come to trust our decisions and feel this is a place they can call home. I am committed to making this a place where members are free to discuss topics of interest to them without interference.