No Commerce Guideline - Please Read.

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by neil_poulsen|1, Aug 4, 2003.

  1. A question has come up regarding the "No Commerce Guideline" I
    established on this forum. It puts me enough on a post that I would
    like to open the question up for discussion. The "No Commerce
    Guideline" follows below:

    "2] Maintain a commerce free environment. Please do not use the LF
    forum to sell equipment, workshops, services, etc."

    With respect to this guideline, should we allow participants to post
    notices about non-free workshops, so long as there are no dollar
    amounts quoted in the thread? After only a brief announcement the new
    thread would point towards a webpage that would provide additional

    On the positive, it would inform participants about possibly excellent
    workshops that they might like to take, especially since LF
    educational resources will probably become less available.

    On the negative, it would "clutter" this forum with threads that are
    not related to direct questions about techique, aesthetics, etc., that
    people would like to ask. Plus, I've noticed that for the free
    workshops we permit, additional posts are generated if the workshop
    doesn't fill. Given the number of workshops available, one wonders
    about the number of additional threads that allowing these
    announcements would generate.

    Please add your thoughts as to whether or not you think we should
    allow announcing non-free workshops in the above fashion.
  2. I can't see how a posting inviting participants to a free workshop, or for that matter just someone wondering if there are any other LF photographers in their neighborhood, would violate a 'no commerce' ban. If money isn't exchanged (in some form) then I don't think it's commerce.

    As to the forum's purpose -- conversation about equipment, technique, and esthetics is all well and good but the potential range of topics related to large format photography is vast. As moderator, do you really want to spend your time trying to decide whether a thread explaining to a new LF photographer about the differences between composing a shot with a 4x5 vs. 35mm is topical or not? How about a thread giving the URL for the new website of a famous LF photographer? How about for a non-famous one?

    Perhaps the real question is how well message "subject" corresponds to the thread's content. It's very easy to ignore a thread on a topic I'm not interested in. Those darn transmogrifying threads, which evolve into something quite different from the Subject, can be more difficult, I know.

    I guess the real question here is, how much active control do the moderators feel happy with exercising? Good luck to you!

  3. I see nothing wrong with being able to speak to issues of free
    services. And I'm not sure I would classify it as 'clutter'. If the
    reader cares enough to follow up, he'll be on a different page
    and the $ talk won't be here. Maybe find a way to limit the # of
    posts for an unfilled workshop? My 2ยข
  4. I don't mind it, if it's kept within reason. People buying and selling equipment should post in the classifieds, but occasional workshop announcements or informational posts from manufacturer's reps are okay by me.
  5. posts about workshops, whether free or not, do not bother me. as mentioned, it is easy to skip over posts you arent interested in. also, i think i would actually like to see LF classifieds allowed here, since the main classified section is always cluttered with all kinds of non-LF stuff i dont want to wade through. as long as the FS and WTB posts are from forum members and not from a business, i dont think it would clog up the forum or waste bandwidth. btw, carleton watkins rules...
  6. Twelve to one, the thread that kicked this off was:

    Where a noted photographer reponds to a posting by identifying a workshop the noted photographer is running that will answer in depth the poster's question.

    Clearly commercial. But is it a bad thing? You can obviously argue that both ways, hince this thread.

    Perhaps what is needed is a "workshop" forum where people can post information about their workshops, and participants can post their reviews of the workshops when they have attended. This would keep the postings out of the more specific large format forum area, and would give large format people that want the information a place to go to get it.

    While I'm at it, it would be nice if the workshop postings could be divided - if a large format photographer could find information about workshops that were aimed specifically at large format photography. Maybe that's too much to ask?
  7. I live faraway from any photo-mainstream except this one. Internet.<br>
    I agree that forums of this kind should be free of commercial adds, but when
    we ask ourself, how many workshops are out there? I don't believe that
    announcements of new workshops will bother anyone here. Free or even
    commercial workshops. After all, there is subdirectory in this forum named
    "Workshops", not free_workshops.<br>
    And I really like when I can see that someone out there is working (in some
    sort of classic style:).
  8. Everything is fine as is. The occasional harmless 'plug' is no big deal - especially when well-known, established and successful photographers are passing along their invaluable input and advice, which, gives much more legitimacy and value.
  9. My personal view is that announcements about commercial workshops would be more useful than problematic. There will always a be a line beyond which a post becomes a blatent advert rather than an informative piece of information though, and I think there has to be an understanding that this forum must remain a resource for the benefit of the large format community as a whole and not creep towards being a vehicle for commercial interests.
  10. I guess I'm going to be one of the (or the only?) voices of dissent.

    In some larger respects, I'm not sure that selling workshops is that much different than
    selling equipment or trips or services. It might appear to be more beneficial than say
    somebody selling a new camera line, but it's still selling something.

    I'm not sure that it is fair to use, which is sort of like a public service, as a
    marketing/promo device for a few people that are selling certain services, such as
    workshops, just because that some members feel that some membes of the forum will
    benefit from enrolling in their commercial offerings. Why should these outfits benefit
    from using What about other good and services that some members *might*
    benefit from? Why not include them too?

    I don't think it's in the spirit of this forum to allow people to sell things on it. I'm all for
    hearing about free workshops, club meetings, ad hoc gatherings, and even references to
    commercial products (it would be hard to have this forum without the latter), but my vote
    is to keep direct commerce (e.g. "I or my company is offering a workshop for xxxx
    dollars. It's all LF, blah, blah blah") out of the forum.
  11. Neil, personally, I have no objection to either ads for workshops (fee or free), nor FS/WTB/WTT ads for equipment, as long as:

    1. the poster is a regular participant here,

    2. the workshop or equipment relates directly to LF, and

    3. the FS/WTB/WTT post is clearly identified as such, and posts from any one individual are reasonably limited in number and frequency (i.e. no dealers, please).
  12. I believe FS:, FA:, WTB: etc posts should remain off limits here: there are the classifieds on and specific Usenet newsgroups for selling equipment.

    Workshops are a more complex matter. The free workshops as provided by the seemingly indefatigable Per Volquartz and others should continue to be welcome (even though I'm a ocean and the width of a continent away so can't attend - grrrrrr...). As for paid-for workshops: well certainly if someone pipes up with a question to which one answer is: "why not join my workshop next month at suchandsuch where we will be addressing that issue you mention?", that would certainly seem OK to me. If you allow that, do you then allow "hey, two people just cancelled on our workshop in 2 weeks - anyone want to join up so these poor people get their deposits back?". If you allow that, do you allow ....

    Gets complicated - so perhaps given the low number of such LF specific workshops, it might as well be allowable to announce a commercial workshop a limited number of times - say one Topic post which is then archived after a couple of weeks?

  13. "I'm not sure that it is fair to use, which is sort of
    like a public service, as a
    marketing/promo device for a few people that are
    selling certain services, such as
    workshops, just because that some members
    feel that some membes of the forum will" is already in some ways semi-commercial, with an aim to eventually becoming a valuable piece of internet real estate.

    As for workshop announcements etc - if you look back to the days this forum was on greenspun there have always been these ad-hoc announcements - usually by someone who is a long running member of the forum. It has rarely ever been abused and most "announcements" of a for-fee workshop have usually been in the context of some question which the workshop happens to address. I don't remember that many people just basically posting an ad for their workshops.

    It seems to work pretty well as it is, and I personally have no problem with it. It has never "clogged up" the list to date, and I don't really see it doing so in the future - lets face it - there aren't really that many LF workshops going on out there!

  14. Well, workshop announcements seem O.K. to me, although I'm not used to speak english and see no chance to visit the states during the next years.
  15. > is already in some ways semi-commercial, with an aim to eventually becoming
    >a valuable piece of internet real estate.

    Of course it is, but I think that's a different issue. The posting asked about our thoughts
    on having threads related to advertising commercial services on this forum and bending
    the rules to allow certain people to advertise services here. Figuring out the financial
    future of (sponsors, advertising, insertion fees, commissions, subscriptions) is a
    different matter. The question was asked with respect to the future of postings on the LF
    forum. Just because there are some commercial aspects of and places where
    people can advertise goods and services (in the ways I eluded to above), doesn't mean the
    LF forum has to do it.
  16. "I'm not sure that it is fair to use, which is sort of like a public service,"

    Jon, you raised the issue with your comment above - isn't a "public service" that is somehow going to be despoiled by a few semi-commercial posts in the LF forum.

    "Just because there are some commercial aspects of and places where people can advertise goods and services (in the ways I eluded to above),
    doesn't mean the
    LF forum has to do it."

    The LF Forum has always allowed this, with no problems. Why worry about it now.
  17. BTW, the new/original LF Forum is still rolling ahead after something of a haitus due to injury and convelesence...
  18. No objections here to posting information concerning "non-free" workshops, etc. Brief information on same with a URL to jump to would always be appreciated.
  19. I would sure want to know if someone were hosting a workshop in my vicinity.
  20. How about a bounce type title that would alert you to look elsewhere. Allow a workshop to announce in the subject line the title, date and presenter, but all additional and further information would have to be on a separate Forum Section. No information could be given in the body section. Interested parties then could move to the other forum section to determine if the workshop or gathering suits their needs, whether free or for profit. Also, the workshop sponsor maybe should only be allowed one post per month.


    John Bailey
  21. I'd like to see continued information on workshops, both free and not free, as long as they pertain specifically to LF. I'd also like to see appropiate WTB or WTT notices, but NOT For Sale Notices.
  22. No problem with announcements concerning non-free workshops. A fee has to be collected just to break even, and in any event I don't think anyone is making serious money on non-studio "art" LF photography. Besides, the frequent seemingly innocuous references on this board to the "big four" lens manufacturers, to the leading film producers, and to the same very few internet or mailorder suppliers certainly result in increased income or profits for the parties concerned.
  23. I think everyone is getting their panties in a bind over nothing-
    should I (or others) get our threads deleted because me
    sometimes mention "call **** and *** will give you a good price
    on ****" or order azo from us, or whatever???

    more bandwith is tied arguing over field cameras vs monorail
    cameras or ebony vs wisner or what film is better than what film,
    than "commerce" or "free workshops".

    Put a cap on the stupid threads about what camera is better than
  24. Neil, actually what we think it does not really matter. I think this is something you have to talk over with Brian M. and get a consistent policy. That!! is the problem I have seen with an inconsistent policy as to which practices will be allowed or not. Sometimes threads get deleted for mentioning E bay, sometimes they are not, and so forth.

    Personally I have no problem with members announcing their workshops, gallery openenings, or someone like Bob Solomon who has been always very helpful in this forum announcing a new product. After all if it pertains to LF they need our support. OTOH I can see how would not want to become a clearance place for all this kind of threads. Bottom line IMO is talk it over with the site editor and pick a policy stick to it and be consistent. After all this is not a democracy and you wont make everybody happy.
  25. i'm with james d.

    let's don't play faves. if yer gonna get pissy about service stuff, then you best start deleting all those threads aboot SK grimes wif prices. as for me, i'll do as i please and you can ban me if you don't like it. if yer gonna draw a line, get rid of those annoying pop ups everytime i log on and we'll talk. otherwise, it's hard enough finding some stuff without you elves adding new road blocks.

    just leave it be,


    p.s. and if you ban me, you better ban salomon first. personally, i want it all and to hell with what adorama wants. i'm the consumer...I'M THE BOSS!
  26. I have no issue at all with discussions of workshops. In fact, this is a good place to get some information from others who may have been in workshops with the same instructor, same school, etc.

    Actually, if posters have the discipline to include a WTB, FS, or FA, code in the subject, I wouldn't complain about commercial postings either. The LF world is fairly small, and we need to band together to share information. Including some commercial content in that information isn't bad.
  27. I agree with Louie.
  28. I strongly agree that announcements and information about Large Format workshops, free or not is of value to many LF forum visitors.

    I would not like to see items for sale posted.
  29. If the LF forum was an entity unto itself I would be open to all commerical
    usage by members who contribute such as Bob Salomon does. (I would
    prefer the membership gets first choice) I would limit ads tho. Since it is a part
    of photonet, there are classifieds where everying including workshops can be
    announced, and should be for all to see.

    Speaking as to workshops, many of the photo magazines carry ads for the
    same. It's not hard to find a workshop if your interested. Usually they are
    planned quite a bit of time ahead. Again if we were a self entity, a charge for
    posters would help defray cost.

    As to free workshops, I believe they have done more good for LF users than
    annoyed some who prefer not to read them. I doubt anyone looses sleep over
  30. On a side note, I'd like to see the digital threads kept to a minimum. We get too many scanner questions, etc., which really falls under digital imaging, not photography.
  31. Commercial or not, workshops are about educational opportunities, whereas threads
    selling stuff are just about selling stuff with no other purpose. That's how I
    differentiate between what is appropriate and what is now.
  32. whatever dave,

    workshops are the real waste of time and money, expatially to some of us with no need fer fellowship or whate'er the hell it is you get outta 'em. cornsidering you can get a book to teach you the same. gear and supplies is where the real learning happens. m'luh!

    and yer a doody-head, infinity...

  33. It seems to me the vast majority of posts have nothing to do with technique or aesthetics, but with equipment and materials. I think if you look through posts you will find a large percentage deal with someone plugging a favorite camera when someone asks for advice on a purchase, favorite or preferred lenses, tripods, film etc. Photonet should welcome announcements by workshop organizers, and manufacturers.

    If someone is introducing a new LF product it should be mentioned here. No need to get into pricing or a sales pitch, just the announcement, some info and a link to more information.
  34. There is a classifieds section for advertisements by members, and this section is currently used without charge also by dealers.

    But the Terms of Use state that forums aren't to be used for classified ads or for commercially-oriented postings. There are many things about the forums that are basically left to the forums to decide for themselves, through the moderators, and as was pointed out, the different forums don't have consistent policies on everything. However, the non-commercialism policy is not one of the things that is left "up" to the forum participants or moderators.

    Only one forum has specifically been granted permission for classified ads by non-dealers: namely the Leica Forum. This is because classified ads had been the norm on that forum for several years when it moved here last June, there being no classifieds section on LUSENET. We would not be very open to making a similar exception for other forums.

    So that is the policy. Of course, the key issue is: what is a commercial posting? If an employee of a company is a regular participant in a forum, and happens to mention some relevant product or service of his company in the course of a thread, I wouldn't consider that commercial. The test is: is it a post which a person not associated with the company might have made? A lot of the postings in any forum amount to recommendations of particular products and services in relation to particular problems. If somebody posts a question asking, what workshops are available on landscape photography in Newark, N.J?, it is fine for somebody to chime in: my company is offering one starting next week and there are still slots open. Because that is information that any participant following the forum might have provided, if he had known it. But it isn't fine for that person to come into a forum to start a thread announcing: "Slots still open in the such-and-such workshop!!!" Of course, people can circumvent this policy by creating a shill account to ask the question, and then posting the ad they intended to post, in the form of a "helpful" answer. We wouldn't take kindly to that, if we thought it was happening.

    (I should add that Per's free workshops, being free, are not commercial, and are totally fine.) Also, if a regular participant provides a pointer to his web site where he happens to have prints for sale, or is promoting his services as a professional photographer: that is slightly commercial, but I'm OK with it, within reason.

    Basically, (1) we don't want advertising to be mixed in with the forum content; it should be in visually separate areas, and (2) if ads do appear on the site, we want them to be paid for, since advertising is one of the few sources of revenue available to us. The open posting policy of the site is not a back door for commercial companies to post ads for free.
  35. I vote against making this YALF (Yet Another Leica Forum). I don't think it is necessary to combine a discussion forum and equipment trading channel - there are other places for selling and buying equipment. Let's keep this what it is. Non-free workshop announcements can be allowed but if they become a problem this issue can be brought back. I also have no problem, if we stick totally to the "No Commerce Guideline" with no exceptions at all.
  36. so it sound slike lets just keep the status quo? Which sounds just fine.

    The occasional reference to a workshop here and there, the occasional... ( :) ) reference to Linhof by Bob, Per's free workshops etc
  37. Maybe we could arrange a ban on any future threads about which side of the GG a fresnel goes on... :)

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