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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador Joey's Avatar
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    Question Ethics Of URL Posting
    The recent events with Redtagdeals got me thinking a little about when it's acceptable to post your URL to different sites. Obviously it's inexcusable to have bots post your site to hundreds of forums, as was the case with Redtagdeals. But lately I've noticed some very well known affiliates posting hundreds of links for their websites in places where the links are relevant, but still seem spammy considering that the affiliates seem to be contributing only for their own profit.

    You probably have no idea what I'm talking about, so I'll post a couple examples from Yahoo Answers. I really don't want to start any finger pointing. I'd just like to know if others here think this practice is acceptable or not. This is one of the tactics that Mike from Hardwaregeeks pointed out that Redtagdeals was using to spam, but obviously the affiliates doing it don't consider it wrong. What are your thoughts?

    http://answers.yahoo.com/

    Please note that this is happening on many more sites than Yahoo Answers. This is just an example.
    Last edited by Trust; April 11th, 2007 at 05:02 AM.

  2. #2
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    You probably have no idea what I'm talking about, so I'll post a couple examples from Yahoo Answers.
    Yes, I do - and so do plenty of others.

    seem spammy considering that the affiliates seem to be contributing only for their own profit.
    That is BULLSHIT. But excuse me, so now you're a mind reader, the Chairmain of Universal Conscience and Ethics, and everyone's motive police?

    I really don't want to start any finger pointing.
    Oh, but you did, didn't you?

  3. #3
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    If people ask for coupon codes on yahoo, and they get answered with them - what is the problem? Looking at Alex's Coupons posts, he seems to be on target and relevant with his answers, that is the right way to do it.

    The wrong way is how redtagdeal did it, he initiated offtopic posts, posting the same posts on 1000s of forums, regardless of their focus. That is spamming.

  4. #4
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Seems that there is a thin line between forum rules and -- when they are not broken in the process -- some internal code of ethics and decency (cf: Chet's comment on redtagdeal).

    Geno

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Joey's Avatar
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    Wow, no need to get angry. I was posing a question because the line between spam and legitimate posting has to be drawn somewhere, and I'm curious to see where people think that is. I probably shouldn't have listed specific profiles but this seemed hard to explain without examples. I figured that the fact that respected affiliates are doing it lended credibility to their actions.

    But, In my opinion, just because a post is targeted, doesn't mean it's not spam. If I ran an affiliate program, and the only time I ever posted on ABestWeb was to post my affiliate program's URL to threads related to my program's industry would you consider it spam? What if I was a coupon affiliate that used a bot to scour forums looking for people asking for coupons, (as affiliates are doing by hand in Yahoo) and had the bot automatically post a few sentences and a link to my coupon site? Is that spam?

  6. #6
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    Somebody is just into WOM big time.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador Joey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webworker
    That is BULLSHIT. But excuse me, so now you're a mind reader, the Chairmain of Universal Conscience and Ethics, and everyone's motive police?
    Webworker, if you looked at the examples I posted, you'd see that the motive is clearly profit. You're entitled to look at it however you want, but 200 posts, each containing little more than a sentence and a URL to someone's site seemed spammy to me.

    I suppose if you define spam as 'unsolicited messages' Chetf is right though. If people are asking specifically for what your site provides, there's no harm in pimping your own URL.

  8. #8
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    I don't spam other people's forums/blogs.

    I contribute to the discussions at hand at those forums/blogs, only speaking on the matter if I have something useful to say. I have a link to my site in my signature.

    It's worked out for my site in terms of traffic (I frequent 3 forums, get a few hundred referrals from a couple dozen sites), but my site has what WebPagesThatSuck.com likes to call "Heroin Content", something users can't live without after they've had a taste.
    Dr. Strangeweb, or how I learned how to stop worrying about SERPS and love the WOM.

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    The way I see it, if you're contributing it's not spam. I have a policy on a blog I run that commenters who actually contribute to the discussion deserve a link (without a nofollow tag to boot!). If they've taken the time to comment thoughtfully on my writing, they deserve a backlink. I moderate my comments of course...

    I feel a lot of people get a bit angry when they see people trying to make money off of free web 2.0 type sites like forums, blogs, yahoo answers, and such. There is nothing wrong or unethical with trying to make a buck on the web. If you're contributing, or if your answer is relevant, then I don't think its spam. If you don't want to buy anything, don't click the link...
    Jason Rosenbaum
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  10. #10
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Say I was a personal injury attorney. Would sitting quietly in the lobby of the local emergency room with a briefcase covered in day-glow letters reading "Personal Injury Attorney, Big Money for Your Smallest Pain" be considered spam?

    Probably not, but many people would still find it distasteful. I'm not hurt, not a nurse, not a family member, etc. Fact is I don't belong in the emergency room. I'm just some guy with something to sell.

    Relevance to the topic is one thing, but there's still a question of taste and community involvement. If the sole purpose of a person's participation in a group, forum, community, etc is to market to the members, it's not that much different than my attorney example above, and I can see where Joey would raise the question.

    BTW, whatever examples were provided had been edited by the time I saw the thread, so nothing personal intended towards anyone mentioned earlier.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  11. #11
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    I think it depends on the community/site you're on.

    Some won't mind, while others would warn or ban you. Best thing is to take a look at what's being accepted at the particular site, rather than making assumptions either way.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  12. #12
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Eathan has a great analogy there. Even if it's allowed, I think it's in poor taste. If you site is good enough, your users will tell people about your site in their normal course of discussion. When it's YOU doing all the telling, it's not Word Of Mouth.
    Michael Coley
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  13. #13
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Say I was a personal injury attorney. Would sitting quietly in the lobby of the local emergency room with a briefcase covered in day-glow letters reading "Personal Injury Attorney, Big Money for Your Smallest Pain" be considered spam?


    .
    .
    .

    I just got another idea! How about this?

    How about if someone spent the day at the local mall while wearing a t-shirt with"

    "Save Money on Gas and Taxes"
    "Shop Online"
    " - at - "
    "MyShopingMall.con"

    ...

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    I agree with your analogy Eathan, but I think it depends on the community. Obviously, sitting in a hospital would be bad taste. But if I were one of these lawyers and I ran across someone at a party or something who was telling a story of how they were injured when their doctor prescribed the wrong medication, I would hand over my card and tell them to call. I think I would be doing them a service! If they were wrongfully harmed they deserve to be compensated.

    Of course, good judgement and discretion are very important. That, it seems, is the main difference between your garden variety forum spammer and someone with a product to sell AND insight to offer. It's not what you do, it's how you do it that counts.
    Jason Rosenbaum
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  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador
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    This thread reminds me of an early scene in "Clerks".

    "You're stirring up all this anti-smoking sentiment, to what, sell more gum? Get outta heah!"
    Dr. Strangeweb, or how I learned how to stop worrying about SERPS and love the WOM.

  16. #16
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MINDsprinter
    I agree with your analogy Eathan, but I think it depends on the community. Obviously, sitting in a hospital would be bad taste. But if I were one of these lawyers and I ran across someone at a party or something who was telling a story of how they were injured when their doctor prescribed the wrong medication, I would hand over my card and tell them to call. I think I would be doing them a service! If they were wrongfully harmed they deserve to be compensated.

    Of course, good judgement and discretion are very important. That, it seems, is the main difference between your garden variety forum spammer and someone with a product to sell AND insight to offer. It's not what you do, it's how you do it that counts.
    I think it's not so much the venue (hospital vs. party) that makes it distasteful, but as you said, more how it's done. In the hospital example, the lawyer is trolling. Their sole purpose for being at the hospital is to reach out to potential clients - totally not what the venue is meant for.

    At the party, he's a guest. He's there to socialize and handing out the one card isn't counter to the purpose of the gathering, nor is it trolling for clients. Then again, if the guest was a car salesman and opened every conversation with "Let me ask you, what are you driving these days?" I'd hope he didn't get invited back.

    I think what Joey was bringing up was more akin to trolling than occasional link dropping as part of normal participation. If the only posts a community participant makes are revenue driven, they're rarely adding much to the community.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  17. #17
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    Totally agreed Eathan. This is what makes spam such a hard thing to grasp. Spam isn't simply unwanted advertising, it is unwanted AND tasteless. I mean, I could say that I don't want the advertising I see on ABW (banners and such) but they aren't spam because they aren't in my face and they are an accepted part of onine life today. With spam, as with ethics, intent counts.
    Jason Rosenbaum
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    MINDsprinting

  18. #18
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Banners aren't even in the same league. Those are put there by the owner of the site. In Eathan's analogy, that would be like a food court or billboards at the hospital. Nothing wrong with that.
    Michael Coley
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  19. #19
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    Much better analogy Michael, thanks! Billboards are an accepted part of daily life, even billboards placed by individuals, say hung from a window that faces a highway. While not "paid for" and not necessarily wanted, they are not intrusive or done with malicious intent.
    Jason Rosenbaum
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    MINDsprinting

  20. #20
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    It's really all about intent.

    There's the intended purpose of the community, board, forum, hospital, etc and there's the intent of each participant. In most cases those intentions are symbiotic. A board about gardening attracts gardeners who talk about plants, pests, etc.

    The spam line starts being crossed when the intent of the participant has nothing to do with the intended purpose of the community, and since very few communities are built for the purpose of "Hey, I sell those" or "Hey, I like music. Save 10% at..." the line gets crossed quite a bit.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  21. #21
    CPA Network Rep adFinityJoe's Avatar
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    I don't think posting URL's is wrong at all, but each community has specific standards for how and when it's appropriate. When someone violates a community's rules (or even just the agreed-upon standards) , the person that creates a link is usually warned and usually doesn't commit the offense again.

    The ABW boards here are a good example, as well as DP's policies on links and sigs, etc. You have to become a part of the community before you're allowed to promote yourself or your sites.

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