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  1. #1
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    Defunct merchants list - discussion thread removed?
    What happened to the discussion thread about defunct merchants? It seems to have disappeared -- was it removed for a specific reason?

  2. #2
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Mark,

    I gave it to the moderators as I had some issues with the post that I wanted them to review.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  3. #3
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Mark,

    I was asked to inform of the reasoning so I am posting here to let you and all know that I did the above, I didn't think a merchant list (of any kind) should be posted here. If you would like to post that you found 662 merchants in your list were what you considered to be defunt, I will gladly explain our reasoning as to why they are still in your account - my issue was not with the fact that there is a list. I didn't want to just delete it so I left that up to the moderators who will make that decision.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  4. #4
    Speechless OTProf's Avatar
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    L-a-m-e

  5. #5
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    I didn't think a merchant list (of any kind) should be posted here
    I don't know about that "(of any kind)", because we have lists of merchants that work with parasites here, so I don't see what can be wrong with also seeing a list of merchants that are no longer active on the networks.

    Well, maybe not in the open for obvious reasons, but at least somewhere else, like on the IC, on another PR, or even on the network itself.

    Anyway, that is just what I was thinking when I posted on that thread, even tho I had the feeling that, that list was going to be deleted sooner or later.

  6. #6
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    Brian, I posted the list because it is NOT easy to determine which of the "temporarily offline" merchants are actually just temporarily offline, and which are "gone forever." A merchant who takes all available steps to close a program (as I did with QuoteProducts) is still listed as "temporarily offline." In addition, a number of merchants who are listed as active and online are actually defunct (with traffic redirected elsewhere without compensation, or parked domains, etc.)

    Since affiliates cannot identify from the interface which merchants are actually "closed," I had to spend many hours to "manually research" this issue. I felt it was appropriate to share the information I'd gathered so that other affiliates could review the list and follow up if they thought they might still have active links.

    ShareASale absolutely, positively need to add a designation/status for merchants whose programs are "closed," different from "temporarily offline." ShareASale should also be more "pro-active" in closing down "stale" programs (parked domains, etc.), or at least add another designation/status to communicate to affiliates that the merchant's status is "dubious."
    Last edited by Haiko de Poel, Jr.; November 13th, 2007 at 09:55 AM. Reason: removed link after this list situation has gotten waaay out of control

  7. #7
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    i'm sure there'd be no legal problems marking a merchant as dubious.

  8. #8
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    ShareASale absolutely, positively need to add a designation/status for merchants whose programs are "closed," different from "temporarily offline." ShareASale should also be more "pro-active" in closing down "stale" programs (parked domains, etc.), or at least add another designation/status to communicate to affiliates that the merchant's status is "dubious."
    I agree that SAS needs a more effective signal in terms of letting affiliates know which programs are temporarily offline vs. which are permanently offline etc.

    I'd like to thank Mark Welch wholeheartedly for his efforts.
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  9. #9
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    While I wholeheartedly understand and agree with Mark's impetus, I do find it quite alarming that a link needed to be posted to "the list" while the issue is still being discussed. I really don't like that, forget the fact that it is completely against the rules and a banable offense.

    I'm sure the list took quite some time to compile and Mark's reasoning was only just, but like I said a list or specific action within SaS needs to be taken but within proper protocols to ensure that companies reputations aren't besmirched nor irreparable harm done because of some need to post a list -- I mean it hasn't even been 12 hours since the thread was moved into mod queue!
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  10. #10
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Mark,

    I don't have a problem with the discussion of the subject and will gladly discuss and look over what we can do to make the process easier for you and affiliates to clean out closed programs.

    I did have a problem with the actual data of merchant names and merchant IDs posted here so I asked the mods to review that.

    I recognize that your intentions were only to help other affiliates and as I said I would be happy to discuss what we can do to make this process easier.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  11. #11
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    How many variations are there to a merchant's status? Three of them are obvious:

    A merchant is online;
    A merchant is offline because they've not made a deposit;
    A merchant is dead (in other words, their URL brings up a 404 or "Parked Domain" message).

    The online merchant is fine and clearly a dead merchant should be entirely removed from the SAS network as soon as possible. And a merchant that goes offline but makes a prompt deposit is only of momentary concern.

    The problem, as far as I can see, is with an offline merchant that has NO INTENTION of making a deposit and getting active again. Neither the affiliates nor the SAS administrators can read the minds of these merchants, so everything remains in a constant state of limbo.

    So the question that I ask is this -- how long should they remain in this ambiguous state before they are identified as a real or potential problem? And secondly, HOW are they to be identified, so affiliates can efficiently deal with them? I don't have any easy answers, but one thing I do know is that Mark's considerable efforts make it clear that this is a serious problem that should be open to discussion, and after the discussion, some sort of action.

    .

  12. #12
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    I would be happy to discuss what we can do to make this process easier.
    A submission form along with the merchant information so that people can submit what appear to be problem sites when they're found and have them looked at to verify that they're still legitimate and live.

    Directories and link pages have facility for "Report bad link." It's no harder than the "Contact merchant" form in the interface, except that it's sent to internal SAS mail for review.

    Even Yahoo (reputed as one of the worst for support) videos has a form to submit right there if there's a potential problem with a video. I recently submitted one for a video I thought was inappropriate (not adult, not porn - just not wise at all safety wise), and lo and behold, I got a response from a person with a name who actually looked. They don't tell anything at all about what they'll do, but at least there's a review and email acknowledgement (optional) of receiving it.

    It's the simplest way, and forms to "report" are very, very common - and useful.

  13. #13
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    No one is discouraging any discussion, it is an issue, that already has been identified, what is being "protected" is the need for an accurate list. The one that was posted last night on ABW wasn't and that kind of inaccurate and negative exposure is not going to help anyone but lawyers for irreparable harm suits.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  14. #14
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Lets start with this... we have listed those as offline because they were able to return with deposit - and didn't want the stats to be removed in that case so that affiliates can see them for yearly review or further.

    I will have those listed (the ones we are aware of that are not coming back) as "Closed" instead of "Offline" and hope that helps clear up some confusion and allow you the choice of either keeping them in your stats or just removing them from your account.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  15. #15
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    Brian what is the basis of classifying a merchant as "closed"?
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  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    I just check the date of the last commissionable transaction. If it's not within the past week I'll likely move on. That and the EPC are both very clear indicators of merchant activity.

    As far as the list is concerned, I'm not sure I agree with it so much. I've got a friend on that list who has been struggling to get his store off the ground. I'm doing my best to help him with it and don't think this list will help my efforts.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  17. #17
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    >>I just check the date of the last commissionable transaction.

    Some merchants are VERY seasonal.
    I'd make a list and post links during their high season.

  18. #18
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Shouldn't they stay in our stats no matter what the status? I don't want stuff disappearing off of my reports just because the merchant is no longer active.

    I think the only place where "Closed" should matter is in browsing or searching for new merchants, the merchant application page, or places like that.
    Michael Coley
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  19. #19
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    It was RIGHT to remove my list
    Shortly after I posted my list of "defunct" merchants, several folks pointed out reasons why some merchants should either not be included -- or from my perspective, should have been listed "differently" (such as the merchant whose "old" merchantID was correctly listed as defunct, but who now has an active program under a different MerchantID).

    In doing more work with my lists today, I have discovered that I had identified some merchants as "defunct" when they are, in fact, online (but with unpleasant offline "histories"). I certainly intended to include merchants who've been offline for 6+ months as "defunct," but included at least one merchant who only had a two recent offline periods of less than 3 days each.

    And of course, many of the merchants listed as having "defunct" ShareASale programs are still in business, some with affiliates programs elsewhere.

    The bottom line is that the list should probably not have been posted in a place where it would be "static" and impossible to edit. I don't intend to provide an ongoing "SAS defunct merchant listing service," but I also recognize the need to make some changes and clarifications to the list.

    I am pleased that Brian has agreed to change the designation for merchants whose programs are closed, so that they will no longer be identified as "temporarily online."

  20. #20
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Brian

    The - Closed is a good idea - But - After a merchant has been inactive after a certain amount of time - why not just remove them from the network completely.

    That way we no longer have to go through so many merchants trying to see who's active and who's not.

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    Shouldn't they stay in our stats no matter what the status? I don't want stuff disappearing off of my reports just because the merchant is no longer active. // I think the only place where "Closed" should matter is in browsing or searching for new merchants, the merchant application page, or places like that.
    Michael - I agree that having the closed-merchant data remain in our accounts for reporting purposes is appropriate.

    Some of us have old links in place which we don't bother to remove if a merchant is merely "temporarily offline" (since they might replenish their accounts) -- but if we can see that the merchants are actually "closed," then we would know to remove the links.

    As noted in another thread, a report similar to CJ's invalid link report would also be helpful.

    Added: The EPC data for "offline" merchants should also be updated -- it's very bizarre to see non-zero 7-day and 30-day EPC values for merchants who have been offline for more than 30 days!

  22. #22
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    If the list is inaccurate and you have no intention of updating it on an ongoing basis, what good does it do to have it on your site? It could also open you up to legal issues, especially in those cases where the list is inaccurate.

    I see some real value in building the list (especially the criteria used to generate it) and constructively sharing it with Brian/SAS, but to just publicly post it seems quite irresponsible. I realize you're just trying to help SAS improve, but are you causing more harm than good?
    Michael Coley
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  23. #23
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    BurgerBoy,

    The listing is kept in your account for stats... at anytime that you would like to remove them you can hit the "Quit" button next to their listing and they will disappear from your list. They already do not show up in new merchant searches.

    Mark, there is an Invalid Link Report.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  24. #24
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    OK

    Thanks Brian

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
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  25. #25
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    Brian - where would I find the invalid link report? I can't find it, and I know there was a discussion thread here last week about this.

    Is it possible it's available to merchants but not affiliates?

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