Lotus Elan

Commercial Posting...was Sue Miller's Catalog

PostPost by: pharriso » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:14 am

jcocking wrote:We have heard from Phil's and Simon's perspective. What do other members think?


Actually I don't think I have expressed an opinion on the issue yet, but I will now.

Firstly god bless Jeff for funding the site himself! Funding could be by:

1. membership dues, but that infers member benefits such as increased capability ( membership required to search or post for example) or member discounts from sponsors. It also requires administration of the membership

2. Sponsorship by Suppliers who then get banner ads etc on the site, maybe do mailings to membership etc As an observation the Sponsors section has been open for a while, but I do not see any entries. Suppliers is not limited to Lotus Elan Parts, it could be car insurance, tires, etc etc I think the elephant in the room is "would our posters object to commercial postings?" I would say no if they were limited to the one forum & banner ads.

Or by any combination of the two; I belong to a couple of other automotive forums for my other cars Rennlist.com (Porsche) & M3Forum.net (BMW), both sites are sponsored by suppliers but only Rennlist has a membership charge ($30/yr.)

rgh0 wrote:There is a section for commercial suppliers and the catalogue post should probably go there I believe. All suppliers have the opportunity to put their ads / catalogues etc there and it should be encouraged.

cheers
Rohan


I thought about that before I posted & came to the conclusion that the "And now a word from our sponsors" should be reserved for "our sponsors" where they could post blatant marketing postings. If I object to marketing postings then I could decide to never visit that forum section.

Please remember that the web capabilities of our limited number of Lotus parts suppliers vary greatly. RD Enterprises, Paul Matty & SJSportscars have reasonable websites (only SJS let's you order online) while Sue Miller's & Miles Wilkin's (Fibreglass Services) offer nothing more than contact information. When I offered to scan & convert Sue's price list she was delighted saying that she struggled with e-mail. Yes you in the UK can get a price list mailed & have it in 2 days, it took me a week to get through, 10 days for mail & the first copy had a missing page! I would rather have Sue spending her time re-introducing obsolete parts than worrying about her lack of e-commerce skills.
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PostPost by: billwill » Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:01 pm

You missed out Voluntary Donations by members which is a current significant factor in funding.
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PostPost by: pharriso » Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:42 pm

billwill wrote:You missed out Voluntary Donations by members which is a current significant factor in funding.


I would hope that it would be, but have my doubts... Jeff?
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:54 pm

I have posted links to catalogues or products on many occasions either in answer to a question or because I thought the product or company would be useful for others to know about. I'm sure that I have also posted downloadable documents from time to time.

I have no problem with Phil posting up Sue's Elan price list and think he should get on with the +2 price list as well.

I would be very disappointed if I had to think about who or what I was potentially promoting before posting a message on these forums.
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PostPost by: casalunge » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:11 pm

I will cop a plea to being an "Observer", though to balance that out I have enjoyed the company of Elan.net member's whilst in France, Italy, USA (St Louis, New York & California) and Argentina in the past 12 months not to forget old Blighty.

The Observing provides a good deal of amusement at times :D and reminds me that life is pretty good for Elan owners given some of the threads that pre-occupy this forum.

I am not and was never during my working life a businessman.

However the initial response to this thread was met with support and encouragement.

No - one sought to raise this issue when Classic Car Automotive were given a damn good airing recently with regards the quality of their Brake Caliper overhauling in a recent thread (I must add superb work, I use them all the time).

This forum is awash with with recommendations of companies and good work undertaken by specialists, people highlighting items for sale on other websites etc.

If you want to tap up one specialist for a few dollars, then it may be felt appropriate to take a good look over past threads and do the same for anyone else who has benefited from a bit of advertising/promotion and likely as not you will open a can of worms in the process.

It is apparent from the initial response's Sue Millers parts list was well received and therefore felt beneficial to some members of the Forum.

What has been posted is already in the public domain and a few minutes spent online on a search engine will quickly point you in Sue Miller's direction along with all the usual suspects. I mean really.

There is enough red tape in the World without dragging Lotus ownership/enjoyment into it.

Has anyone asked Sue's views/input on this? Probably not - and that is why many are comfortable to observe the few :D

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PostPost by: MickG » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:38 pm

I must admit to being more than a little dismayed by the reaction of some people to what initially was one member trying to be helpful to others. This is to be commended and I do not see any problems with it.

Many if not all of the ?usual suspects? have web sites with either priced products or at least downloadable versions available. So what is the harm in this version?
As pointed out by Spyder fan, most of us have in the past recommended certain suppliers/company?s without any problems. Now it?s asked if Sue is sponsoring Lotus Elan.net.
What next! A quick call to Ebay for a few bob (dollars) every time someone posts a link The same applies to all the others where members help fellow members by posting links and recommendations.
Where will it all end?
OK maybe protocols weren?t followed but what advantage has this supplier gained from the general availability of a price list that others freely included on their web site.
To be honest I can?t see Sue sitting at home rubbing her hands together waiting for the extra orders to role in.

One miffed Mick G :roll:
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:43 pm

This thread illustrates precisely why LotusElan.net is dead in the water.
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PostPost by: robertverhey » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:48 pm

I wouldn't say dead in the water. It's an immensely useful resource (for me anyway). Just seems to be a tendency for too much ruminating and navel gazing recently. Maybe all our cars are running too well and we're not spending enough time "on the tools".
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PostPost by: jcocking » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:43 pm

I split this thread into separate sections. This one is for the commercial discussion.

The original thread is located here:

lotus-talk-f50/sue-miller-catalog-t28902.html
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PostPost by: jcocking » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:56 pm

Let me try to get the topic back on focus.

The two questions we are trying to answer are:

1. How do we handle Commercial Postings?
2. What constitutes a Commercial Posting?

How do we handle Commercial Postings?

The official policy is commercial postings are not allowed. We have warned many companies and individuals that they are not allowed to use the forums to sell products or services.

What constitutes a Commercial Posting?

We have historically defined a commercial posting as any posting that is specifically about purchasing/selling a product. For example:
  • A member who responds to questions with "I sell a product to fix this problem".
  • A member who posts to list products that are for sale. (This is not an individual selling spares, but products are sold for the purpose of profiting.)

These guidelines have never stopped members from recommending or discussing any company or parts. The guidelines are to prevent direct selling to members. The forums should be an environment to openly discuss items versus every discussion be an opportunity to be sold to.

I get the feeling from the discussion to this point, that the members want to remove these restrictions on commercial postings.

Am I understanding everyone's desire?

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PostPost by: pharriso » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:12 am

Jeff said "I get the feeling from the discussion to this point, that the members want to remove these restrictions on commercial postings."

I do not think anyone except myself has mentioned how to limit commercial activity. I believe that the original technical forums should carry on with the existing "non-commercial" policy, but then sponsoring vendors should be allowed commercial activity in your new "Now a word from our..." forum.
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PostPost by: jcocking » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:42 am

pharriso wrote:sponsoring vendors should be allowed commercial activity in your new "Now a word from our..." forum.


Great point. Help me on this hypothetical....

Let say we have four businesses that are sponsoring the website. They are able to post catalogs, specials and price sheets in the sponsors section.

How should we treat a post that contains a non-sponsoring business' catalog or price sheet?

Should a non-sponsoring business have a catalog in the main discussion area, while business that paid for a sponsorship be limited to a special area in the forum?

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PostPost by: pharriso » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:06 am

I would use it as an intro to market lotuselan.net to that company

"You've probably seen a pickup in sales or enquiries recently... That may be due to your exposure on ... Blah blah... How about supporting us"...

If the posting was from the vendor I'd give them a week to consider it & if they did not come through I would delete the post.

If the posting was from a well meaning community minded contributor ( I.e. not the vendor) I'd still see if I could sell lotuselan.net to the vendor, but take an easier / softer approach.

Transparency is needed either way...
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:50 am

jcocking wrote:Great point. Help me on this hypothetical....

Let say we have four businesses that are sponsoring the website. They are able to post catalogs, specials and price sheets in the sponsors section.

How should we treat a post that contains a non-sponsoring business' catalog or price sheet?

Should a non-sponsoring business have a catalog in the main discussion area, while business that paid for a sponsorship be limited to a special area in the forum?

jeff


Ok, I see your point, and I think I'd answer the question of how to deal with such a situation as "specific judgement call".

If the catalog is posted outside of the "sponsors" section as this was, then it's fairly easy to see if it's been posted by a supplier touting for business or an individual. Phil is an individual with clearly no financial gain to make and a long standing member with many posts to his credit, so my judgement call would be that he was doing it to help others.

And the responses to his post reflect exactly that. Yes, Sue Miller (in this instance) may benefit by not sending out 368+ catalogs but this is a bit like the old pirate MP3 argument; not everyone who downloads an MP3 would buy the song and I very much doubt we have 368 members who so badly needed a new catalog and weren't prepared to email or call via Sue's website.

So the reality of having a PDF catalog where none existed before is just convenience for IT-literate forum members and pragmatically speaking, this post is little different from a link to a component on a suppliers website when someone asks "where/how do I get/do xxx ?".

In the latter example, "mea culpa", so do you go back & delete my posts ? I suspect that if we take that route the forum really will be "dead in the water" because the ability to share knowledge & help others will be severely curtailed. We'll move from an open forum to private emails very rapidly.

But to reiterate, I do see your point, the financial reality of the way you've subsidized the forums to date and hence I've no argument against generating revenue where we can.

So looking at the case where company XX decides to post their catalog in a general forum then you, or a moderator, would be able to see the source of the posting or if the poster had registered simply to promote their wares (new registration/low post count ?). And of course you can clarify the position by questioning the poster if needed.

At that point the judgement call becomes "commercial" and either you delete the post or more productively get in touch to ask if they'd fancy chipping into the pot. You/moderators presumably have the ability to monitor how many viewings or downloads the thread gets which would justify (or not) the course of action.

Admittedly trying to be fair to a potential sponsor and someone freeloading is a thorny problem. Personally I think it's not something you can legislate precisely, it comes down to "does this look like a freeloader, or is it for the benefit of members ?" Which is a judgement call and sometimes, it'll be the wrong call.....

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:40 am

jcocking wrote:Let me try to get the topic back on focus.


How do we handle Commercial Postings?

The official policy is commercial postings are not allowed. We have warned many companies and individuals that they are not allowed to use the forums to sell products or services.

What constitutes a Commercial Posting?

We have historically defined a commercial posting as any posting that is specifically about purchasing/selling a product. For example:
  • A member who responds to questions with "I sell a product to fix this problem".
  • A member who posts to list products that are for sale. (This is not an individual selling spares, but products are sold for the purpose of profiting.)

jeff


Hi Jeff
I am somewhat confused by the above and what that all means for the "business and vendor listings" section.

I believe the Sue Miller catalogue posting should have been in that section like all the other postings in that section. Commercial postings per your definitions above appear to have been allowed in that section and should continue to be. I agree commercial postings should not be in the general discussion topics but that should not stop commercial suppliers commenting on their offering or experience with respect of a topic e.g. when talking about timing chains in general and IWIS chains in particular Jeff saying he only supplies these chains.

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