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Forum Moderators: rogerd
If you do allow for this I think there is two reasons, one you want the members (you can send newsletters to, etc.) and many people who come to a site start their first post with some sort of spam. (heh i did...) The second reason for allowing this seems so that people can find new links, and also spammers wont spam in the public area.
Do you allow for spam, i mean announcements on your forum, and why?
At the end of the day, you would usually configure your forums based on the wants / needs of your visitors - if a specific subject area was high demand, then you would dedicate a new forum for it right?
With this in mind, your users (or at least a percentage of them) may want to promote their services or whatever, then surely it must be better to nurture this in a controlled way than expend resources trying to prevent random occurances?
Another issue is how do you define what is spam?
As webmasters / SEOs / forum admin, our opinion of what is spam may differ from business owners and indeed regular users. What we see as blatant self promotion may be a welcomed alternative resource for our users.
Clearly certain stuff could be constituted spam - someone new member posting, "Hey I found this great new site....blah blah blah" in 10 different forums is clearly spam - it's not directed at the best interests of your users.
However, someone adding to an ongoing discussion and posting an URL to their own services that is relevant to the subject may be beneficial to your users, and ultimately make your community become a good resource for "widgets".
From my own experiences, I run a career advice site, so I get many recruitment consultants, CV / resume writing people, etc posting and leaving their URLs. The way I look at it is if these "experts" offer their input to various threads, then Im fine with them leaving their URL (I draw the line at sigs in every post). On the other hand, I'll instantly remove people starting threads promoting services, etc (although I'm fairly leniant towards people promoting information sites and the like).
I suppose it's down to the subject area of your forum - some industries are more prone to spamming than others.
What effect do you think it would have if Brett removed the commerical exchange forum? Granted the level of advert style posts would be down (most regular members just wouldnt post them). But I think that those who would otherwise post in commercial exchange may simply just post elsewhere.
Looking for a forum admin? There's no Commerical Exchange anymore so post in the Community Building forum..... ;)
Sometimes its hard to tell if a private message is spam or just a private sales attempt - if a dozen users get the same message, though, an admin can put a stop to it and take steps to insure that the individual doesn't re-register and try again.