Vendor Forums - keep, change, or end?

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jeff

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I created our Vendor Forums a few years ago after seeing a similar feature work well on another site. What I envisioned was a place where vendors would interact somewhat actively with members. Unfortunately, our vendor forums get very little traffic. Some in fact have not been posted by the vendor or a member in almost 2 years. A couple do get quite a bit of use, but most are quiet/dead. I'm thinking about a couple of things, and I'd like your input.

1) Delete vendor forums which have not been posted in for X period of time. Maybe 60 days?
2) Eliminate vendor forums completely. This would require that we:
  • relax the rules about vendors participating in the open forums to answer questions about their products
  • provide a place for vendors to advertise specials, etc., and the For Sale forum probably isn't that spot
The goal of the vendor forums was to make vendors feel welcome and included in our community while not having too much commercial content in the forums. If you can think of a better way to do that, please speak up!
 
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J_B

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I vote toss the vendor forum completely as I believe it would actually be more helpful if the vendors are able to reply directly to a specific discussion regarding their products which we utilize. All the answers, help tips from vendors etc would be better placed in that specific discussion or issue raised by fellow members.
To help support these vendors I think an advertise/specials page will still give them a nice free place to park their adds. in return for them addressing and monitoring any issues which we may have with them.

Thanks
2centsJB
 

MRDucks2

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I would think eliminating the vendor forums but providing a single location or page for vendor links to their websites would be ideal. It could be managed to ensure only relevant and active sites remained listed.


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jttheclockman

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Please please please do not invite the vendors back in to the mainstream of pen turning forums. We have been through this and the amount of additional ads will set this site back once again. I lived through the ad wars here and thus the signature wars as well and rules were made to stem the tide of those. Not pleasant. (my opinion)

If a vendor is not posting to their home then drop them plain and simple. They are not vendors you want to deal with anyway. I like it if a specific question comes up about something that deal with a specific vendor it is done off site and in their own thread. If more than one person has the same question then go over there and repeat the question as many times as you want. We do not need to bog down forums with questions that can only be answered by a vendor.

If you want to have one big forum strictly for vendor questions and ads and promos then that is good too. They would have to sort out how they make themselves stand out. What I see here is alot of non vendors selling blanks so I guess you still need to keep a for sale thread open. Just my thoughts.
 

mbroberg

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I'd be fine with eliminating the Vendor Forums and allowing Vendors to speak more freely in the general forums. As it is now if I make a pen using one of my blanks I don't believe I can post that pen in SOYP because of someone yelling "Advertising in the general forums". If I recall right, that was the situation that led to the creation of the Vendor forums. Ed Brown couldn't wish someone a Happy Birthday without someone claiming to be annoyed by his "Advertising" (OK, maybe a little exaggeration, but he seemed to be called quite a bit over trying to give legitimate answers to legitimate questions.) But if I make a pen using one of John Underhill's blanks, or Tom Bell's blanks I can post it in SOYP and identify the maker or source of the blanks and kit which is something I normally try to do anyway in case someone else would like to make a similar pen. Having a single forum where Vendors can make announcements regarding their stores, sales, new products, etc. would be fine. Having a link to individual vendor websites would also be good, although most vendors already have those in their signatures. Allowing the vendors to talk about their products in the general forums shouldn't be a problem if the comments have a legitimate bearing on the conversation that is taking place and the vendors themselves use a little common sense about what they post.
 

CREID

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I like the vendors forum. It lets me know they are a vendor that pays attention to the board, not just someone that logs on and puts up something for sale in the for sale forum then leaves. Maybe to help with the unused problem, if after a certain amount of time with no posting an automated message (if thats possible) could be sent to the vendor advising them they are missing out on keeping the community informed of their business.
 

jeff

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I vote toss the vendor forum completely as I believe it would actually be more helpful if the vendors are able to reply directly to a specific discussion regarding their products which we utilize. All the answers, help tips from vendors etc would be better placed in that specific discussion or issue raised by fellow members.
To help support these vendors I think an advertise/specials page will still give them a nice free place to park their adds. in return for them addressing and monitoring any issues which we may have with them.

Thanks
2centsJB
I don't recall going to the vendor forum. Links would be useful. JMHO.
It was in my first post above: Vendor Forums
 

walshjp17

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My preference is to remove the inactive vendors and keep those that have shown quite a bit of activity/value, especially Rick Herrell.
 

lyonsacc

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Keep them - I go there a couple times a year to look for something specific. Eliminate after 6 months maybe. Loosen up what vendors can say/do in the regular forums.
 

jeff

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I'd be fine with eliminating the Vendor Forums and allowing Vendors to speak more freely in the general forums. As it is now if I make a pen using one of my blanks I don't believe I can post that pen in SOYP because of someone yelling "Advertising in the general forums". If I recall right, that was the situation that led to the creation of the Vendor forums. Ed Brown couldn't wish someone a Happy Birthday without someone claiming to be annoyed by his "Advertising" (OK, maybe a little exaggeration, but he seemed to be called quite a bit over trying to give legitimate answers to legitimate questions.) But if I make a pen using one of John Underhill's blanks, or Tom Bell's blanks I can post it in SOYP and identify the maker or source of the blanks and kit which is something I normally try to do anyway in case someone else would like to make a similar pen. Having a single forum where Vendors can make announcements regarding their stores, sales, new products, etc. would be fine. Having a link to individual vendor websites would also be good, although most vendors already have those in their signatures. Allowing the vendors to talk about their products in the general forums shouldn't be a problem if the comments have a legitimate bearing on the conversation that is taking place and the vendors themselves use a little common sense about what they post.
We did have a mess. Vendor A would post an answer to a question, then vendor B would chime in with his own answer, and sometimes disparage Vendor A. I never want to get back to that point, nor do I want every other post to be someone pushing a product or running a live auction or somehow trying to squeeze money out of me, such as I see on other sites. Today I think we have a very nice selection of vendors who act very responsibly and treat us and each other with respect.

We do have some rules in the Marketplace catagory, but they're not easy to find since we switched forum software, and they definitely need to be tweaked. Make those more accessible is on the to-do list. Here are the Produce Reference Rules. You definitely can post in SOYP. Here the relevant part:

Posting in Show Off Your Pens

If you are a vendor, and you make your own pens from your own product, feel free to post your work in our Show Off Your Pens forum. You may tastefully identify your materials and indicate that you sell them, but you may not direct people to your web site or IAP ad, or post links, catalog numbers, or prices. (A tasteful reference would be: “Made using my Sweet Sparkles Blank.”) The idea is simple; we want to see your nice pens, we want to know you sell the stuff so we can make similarly nice pens, but SOYP is not your product catalog. Leave a week between posting a pen in SOYP and offering the same thing in the classifieds or vice versa.
 

mbroberg

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We did have a mess. Vendor A would post an answer to a question, then vendor B would chime in with his own answer, and sometimes disparage Vendor A. I never want to get back to that point, nor do I want every other post to be someone pushing a product or running a live auction or somehow trying to squeeze money out of me, such as I see on other sites. Today I think we have a very nice selection of vendors who act very responsibly and treat us and each other with respect.

We do have some rules in the Marketplace catagory, but they're not easy to find since we switched forum software, and they definitely need to be tweaked. Make those more accessible is on the to-do list. Here are the Produce Reference Rules. You definitely can post in SOYP. Here the relevant part:
Thanks for the clarification, Jeff. I wasn't sure (Yes, I could have asked) so I erred on the side of caution. I too do not want to witness all the drama we have had in the past and I certainly don't want to be a part of it.
 

Curly

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I too remember the "old days" when the jostling for vendor supremacy and the acrimony among the camps was rampant. Most definitely don't want to see a return to that and I am not so sure people will be mature enough to play nice with one another if the thumb is removed.

I also got spanked the first time I showed a pen I made from one of Marla's blanks because it was considered shilling. So after that any posts I made identified they were her blanks and added the signature showing the connection between us. I also put a disclaimer on any post that mentions a product by one of the vendors of her blanks for the same reason. I'd like to give that up but am happy to if it means harmony in the forum.

If there is a way to ensure history doesn't repeat itself I'm for it. If not then keep it.
 

leehljp

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Combine Marketing, Vendors, Sales or similar all into one category. I never see Ed's posts as "vendor oriented" because he does not try to sell with his posts. He is a true friend to IAP members. IF someone asks in a general post, he will answer that specific question, but it is usually others who mention his products. I guess I am saying he is not "pushy" with his products but is very helpful to the point of a question. But I do see people try to stealthily push their wares in a general post. There are times when it is OK, IMO such as when someone comes out with a totally new product such as when the laser engravers got started and a couple of people developed the mechanical devices to roll the blank under the laser. For those that can remember, It was fun to watch the "watch parts" pen develop. But these were not in "sales" but rather in development and pushing the development of pen making.

There is a difference in that above vs sales, marketing and vendors. And it sure gets discombobulated when pen making & development get mixed in with sales of some sorts.
 

edman2

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Well I've been around for 12 plus years and I too remember all the noise about vendors selling. I remember some people being annoyed if the slightest mention was made by a vendor and "selling" was the charge. I remember being annoyed by those who were annoyed about everything. So, I think the safest sloution from an administrative viewpoint is to keep the vendor forums and set a guideline about how often the vendor has to use it if they want to keep their slot open.
Freddie
 

robutacion

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As a vendor myself being through the nightmare we had here about adds, sales pitch, and all the issues mentioned above that cause the creation of the Vendors forum, I never felt more relaxed participating on IAP.

It is also true that I haven't had much of adds/sales for a long time as I see enough people offering blanks for sale on a regular basis that (I believe) never registered as a "Vendor" but I also think that people should be free to do what they want if they play within the rules.

I certainly do not wish to go back to the point that every time I open my mouth, I will be accused of marketing or trying to sell something, I had enough of that so do I think the Vendors forum should stay...? absolutely, it did sort a mess that can be easily re-created, after all, we have new member joining in every day some of which can have very strong criteria and tolerance to what Vendors can saw in the "regular" forums, therefore bringing back all the nasties we experienced before.

I would invite members that have joined basically to sell products and others that sell but also contribute in another way like most of us, to register as a Vendor and make them aware of the rules that are fairly relaxed, therefore, should not be abused and remove Vendors that are not contributing in any way for more than 3 to 6 months.

I believe Jeff that, if ain't broken don't try to fix it, I understand/know what you had in mind when you posted this thread and put forward your thoughts about the issue but in reality, this is not a perfect world and there will be always someone out there that given the chance will try to spoil what we have, it has taken a long time and a lot of work from a lot of people to get IAP to this point and I will defend it with all I have...!

PS: Just one question, If a member asks if anyone has a particular type of blank/wood, if you are a Vendor and happen to have that blank(s)/wood(s), would it be better to 1- don't say anything, 2-send a PM to that person letting him/her know you may have what he/she is after or 3- you reply to his/her thread directly letting him/her and anyone else that may be interested in that/those particular blank(s) know you have them...?

Cheers
George
 
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socdad

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Keep the forum but delete those that do not keep up on a regular basis, possibly every 90 days or so ...
 

duncsuss

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If it doesn't cost anything to keep them open, I don't see there is a problem letting them sit there even if unused.

Perhaps ask the vendors privately for their thoughts on how IAP could work better for them, then use your sound judgment to filter the ideas and bring a composite suggestion back to the general membership?
 

Hubert H

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The above discussion - back and forth - is why this site works so well. Thank you Jeff and each of you who make it possible. By the way, I have been here longer than it shows. I had a computer crash - couldn't remember the pass word I had used so I rejoined a second time.
 

deeceedub

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I actually appreciate the vendor forums. Several times I’ve seen specials, sales, restocks, new products, etc announced there. Just last week I was having difficulty using a discount code for Exotic Blanks; I checked the forum and sure enough, Ed had commented that PayPal was having issues with the code and told us how to check out successfully.

Delete inactive or non-responsive vendors, but leave the active accounts, please. :)
 

robutacion

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The above discussion - back and forth - is why this site works so well. Thank you Jeff and each of you who make it possible. By the way, I have been here longer than it shows. I had a computer crash - couldn't remember the pass word I had used so I rejoined a second time.
Hi Hubert,
In regards to the highlighted situation you mentioned, I think is unfair on you not to get to your old membership login, I would ask Jeff to reinstate your previous status with the correct year on joining, threads and posts and anything else you had on your previous login, I'm sure that Jeff will help you out in that regard so, contact him.

Cheers
George
 

jeff

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The above discussion - back and forth - is why this site works so well. Thank you Jeff and each of you who make it possible. By the way, I have been here longer than it shows. I had a computer crash - couldn't remember the pass word I had used so I rejoined a second time.
I merged your old user account ("Hubert") with this one. Now you have your original join date and post count added from the old account,
 

jeff

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Thank you all for the excellent discussion. Very helpful to me!

I think it's obvious that the Vendor Forums serve a purpose when they are used regularly. We have a number which are used quite often. SIDE NOTE: I think @robutacion (George's Bits of Timber) gets the 🏆for most entertaining and interesting vendor forum. George, you have a way of writing that I have always found very enjoyable to read!

I'm going to contact the forum owners who seem to have let their forums go dormant, and let them know that we expect some (meaningful) activity by them at least every X days in order to keep theirs open. I think that X is probably 60 days.

I'm also planning to move/consolidate some forums, and I think it might be helpful to make the vendor forums more visible.

Thanks!
 

robutacion

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Thanks Jeff on the double, I knew that you could resolve Hubert's situation/issue with certain ease so than you for that.

The second thank you is based on your words in regards to my Vendors forum "value" to all IAP members, I try to be all those things and being educative at the same time, I'm a little disappointed with myself for not using the sales side of the Vendors forum criteria which I should, I have great blanks to offer that no one else has, maybe not the most "commercial" and "exotic" woods/burls, nevertheless, I have the variety and quantities to keep going for a long time, sure, I have the web-store that some of you use every so often but I could do "specials" as I did before and continue to share my woods with all the IAP members and have some fun with it.

I did, however, have another reason as to why I stopped creating those adds on IAP and that has nothing to do with the number of people selling blanks here, it has to do with the "accusations" that I had from some members where I was trying to push sales/blanks at peoples throats and that all my content/presence was to sell stuff. Some of those people are gone and some are still here and I hope that once and for all, they accept the fact that they were wrong, very wrong indeed, when was the last time I put an add on IAP...?? long ago, years indeed but that will change in the near future so, I'm pleased and relieved that Jeff is keeping the Vendors forum, a place where folks like myself can be free of all those nasty comments, I don't hold grudges but I don't forget...!

And Jeff and others that I know that enjoy my writings, I may even tell a few more stories some from more recent times and others that I recall every so often, my timber life has changed dramatically since Merissa developed the Rheumatoid Arthritis and became unable to help me out, on my own is only so much I can do, I know that my friends here have understood that which I appreciate immensely but I'm not done yet, I have been on the chainsaw lately trying to cut into manageable sizes all my goodies stored in the paddock and bring them all home and undercover, I managed to find another old fart like myself that know how to use a chainsaw but he is half my weight so he moves like a cat and get's paid, there are some chainsaw milling to do on some huge logs, crotches and so on that I got in 2016 from the now non existent, McLaren Vale firewood processing plant, I have been finding pieces that I forgot I put in there and some are something else so, I will share when I'm ready...!

I apologise for going a "bit" actually quite a lot off track to the thread issue, sorry Jeff, sometimes I can't help myself...! :)

Thank you,

Cheers
George
 
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leehljp

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George, I didn't mention you in my original post above, but you are also one of the most helpful people of all and I always enjoy your posts. IMO, there has never been a problem with you (and a few others) as a vendor pushing your products within the "helping" forums. You, Ed and several others have set the example of honor in this area! Thank you!
 

robutacion

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George, I didn't mention you in my original post above, but you are also one of the most helpful people of all and I always enjoy your posts. IMO, there has never been a problem with you (and a few others) as a vendor pushing your products within the "helping" forums. You, Ed and several others have set the example of honor in this area! Thank you!
Thank you...!

Cheers
George
 
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