Clarification of the Rules on Links and recommendadions

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

ilmarinen - MODERATOR
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In another thread the subject of links to a site not associated with Bladeforums came up. Spark and Blues clarified the issue.

I have been guilty of this myself a lot. I link to a photo of a product on eBay, Reeder, and many other sellers of things we all need or want. It made it easy to explain what I was referring to and what it looked like. I know this crosses the line on advertising and selling, but gave Shop Talk more leeway in this area. This was separate from people advertising items they sell or businesses they work in. I was WRONG. The two are both the same as far as Spark is concerned. If you want to show photos of knives, wood, tools, etc. that you sell, you need a Knifemaker membership or higher. If you are a dealer and want to sell or talk about your goods, you need to get a Dealer level membership.

It is fine to say, "I think Greg at Reeder makes a great grinder.", but you can't post a link showing the grinder and the site info.

If you have a favorite supplier or dealer you wish was able to show his wares here, recommend to them that they join and get the proper level membership. It can be good for business. Many of our suppliers are members, and it is fine for us to post a link to an item in stock, or to show what an item they carry looks like.

If you are a knifemaker, putting a link to your website or sales site in your signature line or in a post is advertising. You are welcome to do it as long as you have a Knifemaker level membership.
If you are a dealer, the same applies, but you need a Dealer level membership.


Here are the rules. They are not for debate or critique ... simply put - they are the rules!
"The following sections are taken from the rules which govern bladeforums - Spark:"


SECTION 1- Membership Levels Defined:


BladeForums.com is supported by members who have paid subscriptions. These different subscription levels offer various perks and benefits. As such, only certain membership levels may advertise items and services for sale on this site. Below are some general guidelines as to what privileges each membership has within this area. Put it another way, without the appropriate level of paid subscription, you may not advertise or sell on this site. Period. No excuses.

DEALER / MATERIALS PROVIDER
- Dealers are defined as anyone who purchases at wholesale pricing, or purchases items with the intent to resell (flipping). Other terms for dealers include purveyor, broker, reseller, etc. Materials Providers offer raw materials such as steel, handle materials, or other items related to knifemaking in general as typical stock for sale to the forum members or to the general public via their own store front or website. We reserve the right to make the final determination as to what constitutes a "dealer".

Dealers/Selling -
  1. You must have a current DEALER membership to sell on this site.
  2. You are allowed to have any other level of membership and take part in discussions, but unless you have a DEALER membership you may not:
    • Mention or link to your business in any way (not applicable to Knifemakers)
    • Use private messaging to sell to members
    • Include your business name in your username
    • Use your signature or avatar to promote your business.
    • Take part in any discussions involving your business OUTSIDE the Feedback forum.
 

FredyCro

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I might have overlooked something, but to me it is still unclear from this rules why I couldn't link to the products I am referring to IF I am not a dealer, retailer or marketing/taking provision on the said products.

We will often link stuff we use in order to help fellow knife makers or refer them to websites which sell knifemaker or other products that help with the shop or knifemaking.
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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Freddy, I was under the same impression, that is why I did it often. But, in Sparks rules, there are no links allowed unless the dealer is a member. You can mention the dealers name, just no links.

Chuck at Alpha pays for a dealer membership, so linking to a product he sells is fine. Greg (Reeder) is not a member, so linking to his product is giving him free ad that Chuck has to pay for.

Also, it was abused in the past. Say, a dealer gets a basic membership in his dog's name. He links his business in every post he makes. That is free advertising.
 

Cushing H.

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So …. Let’s say that there is a tool, or widget, or sprocket, or a whatever I am looking for and can not find and ask about here. Let’s say another member knows it can be found on Amazon. It sounds like that member had to create some word soup to say something like “look on Amazon, and search using *this* specific word combination (which still may not work, all searches not being created equal), but that other user can *not* just post a link to the specific product on Amazon.

Is this correct? Guaranteed, Amazon (and a whole host of other non-knife related sites out there) are *not* going to buy a dealer membership on blade forums - and so there is no revenue lost. I realize the rules are not up for debate, but this could make it really frustrating in trying to help another user here…
 

weo

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but this could make it really frustrating in trying to help another user here
True, but I have to ask, why should minimizing one person's frustration in one case leave a loophole for people to take advantage of the system and provide for an unfair playing field? Just because this is the way things are typically handled here in the states doesn't mean it's the right way to do it ;):eek:...
 

Cushing H.

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True, but I have to ask, why should minimizing one person's frustration in one case leave a loophole for people to take advantage of the system and provide for an unfair playing field? Just because this is the way things are typically handled here in the states doesn't mean it's the right way to do it ;):eek:...
Not really saying that a loophole should be created (because I agree with you ..... for any one loophole, there will be many folks who abuse it) .... mostly just clarifying. I think we have all in the past posted something like "I use *this*", with a link. Or ..... "you are looking for something like *this*" (again, with a link.). It is almost such a natural thing to do that it will likely be difficult to catch yourself from doing so..... because it does not "feel" like you are advertising for the seller .... just clarifying for a fellow knife maker where they can find something they are looking for.

the contrary person inside of me (I know that surprises you to hear me say that :) ) would want to point out that there is very little practical difference in terms of "advertising" for someone between posting a link, and saying their name along with a statement as to what could be bought there. For example, recently Pops was mentioned as a source for steel. Now, pops is not registered as a vendor here, yet I am absolutely sure that seeing Pops mentioned here has brought business to them (I am one example for sure, and I have no doubt there have been others). Now, I am not saying change the rule, neither do I have a reasonable alternative (though I have not really put any thought into it) ..... but I will go so far as to say that while I understand and tend to agree with the intent, prohibiting links while allowing written mention of a vendor is a distinction without a difference....
 
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[SNIP]

SECTION 1- Membership Levels Defined:

BladeForums.com is supported by members who have paid subscriptions. These different subscription levels offer various perks and benefits. As such, only certain membership levels may advertise items and services for sale on this site. Below are some general guidelines as to what privileges each membership has within this area. Put it another way, without the appropriate level of paid subscription, you may not advertise or sell on this site. Period. No excuses.

DEALER / MATERIALS PROVIDER
- Dealers are defined as anyone who purchases at wholesale pricing, or purchases items with the intent to resell (flipping). Other terms for dealers include purveyor, broker, reseller, etc. Materials Providers offer raw materials such as steel, handle materials, or other items related to knifemaking in general as typical stock for sale to the forum members or to the general public via their own store front or website. We reserve the right to make the final determination as to what constitutes a "dealer".

Dealers/Selling -
  1. You must have a current DEALER membership to sell on this site.
  2. You are allowed to have any other level of membership and take part in discussions, but unless you have a DEALER membership you may not:
    • Mention or link to your business in any way (not applicable to Knifemakers)
    • Use private messaging to sell to members
    • Include your business name in your username
    • Use your signature or avatar to promote your business.
    • Take part in any discussions involving your business OUTSIDE the Feedback forum.
I could be wrong, but my reading of the rules as quoted above makes no restrictions to a third party linking-to or talking-about a product. As I read it, if I like product X and I want to recommend it to someone in response to their question, nothing in the rules prevents me as an unassociated person from posting a link to a retailer for said product. The rules are very explicit about the association between dealer memberships and advertising the dealer's own products but there is nothing prohibiting anyone from talking-about or linking-to products they are not associated with.
 

David Mary

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Email each other links to non-supporting dealers. Then you find what you are looking for, and the dealer doesn't get free advertising.
 

FredyCro

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Freddy, I was under the same impression, that is why I did it often. But, in Sparks rules, there are no links allowed unless the dealer is a member. You can mention the dealers name, just no links.

Chuck at Alpha pays for a dealer membership, so linking to a product he sells is fine. Greg (Reeder) is not a member, so linking to his product is giving him free ad that Chuck has to pay for.

Also, it was abused in the past. Say, a dealer gets a basic membership in his dog's name. He links his business in every post he makes. That is free advertising.
Hi Stacy, I understand your point, but the rules do not reflect this.

It should be clearly stated that even if you are not a dealer or have no interest in selling anything, linking to other products is not allowed.

Anyhow, I don't really mind it. I just think that sharing is in the interest of basic members who are here just for information and have no economic interest whatsoever.
 
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Guys, why are you complicating a simple thing? No links , period ! Make sense to me .

Which drill bits I should bye for drilling hole in hardened steel ?
I use Alpen drill bits for ceramic tile !

Which belt you use for grinding hardened steel?
I use Klingspor ceramic belts .

Which belt grinder should i buy ?
I don t bye them , I build them my self :p

YOU asked question and if you trust in my choice of belts ........GOOGLE them on internet and decide should you order them or not .
It is simple like that !
 
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Can’t post pics directly to site without membership. Can’t post links to site without link having a membership. Pretty soon- can’t post at all without a membership. And later- can’t read website without a membership.
 

AVigil

Adam Vigil knifemaker working the grind
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Can’t post pics directly to site without membership. Can’t post links to site without link having a membership. Pretty soon- can’t post at all without a membership. And later- can’t read website without a membership.

Admin complain about people posting links and getting free advertisement, but they are all for members posting valuable information for free.

Things that make you go Hmmmm.....?
 
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As a moderator on another forum I am well aware that the word of the forum owner is as the word of God, and the moderators have near deity power and arguing and trying to split hairs over the rules isn't a good course. I also have found that when we want people to do something that is a little unusual, or not intuitive compared to the broader internet, it pays to spell it out in the rules, and to place a link to those rules very conspicuously.

Having read what Stacy wrote, I went looking for the list of rules to see exactly what it said about posting links or describing products. First thing I discovered was that the rules are much more subtly presented compared to where I moderate. I found them after clicking through several threads in the Tech Help forum, but the real location is in the very small print at the far bottom of the page. Not hard to find when looking, but if you were not looking you might never see them. Having found the rules, I started looking for where it spelled out what could and could not be posted with regard to products we use.

As something as fundamental and likely to be a stumbling point on a site that thrives on sharing information, I expected the issue to be spelled out in the main site rules:
However there was nothing that appeared to cover the situation that Stacy described, the closest was Number 8: No Deal Spotting.
No Deal Spotting
BladeForums.com stays open due to paid subscriptions from various member groups, including Dealers who help sponsor this site. A dealer who does not have a paid subscription is not allowed to advertise in any way, shape, or form. In the past, dealers have used 'shill' accounts to promote themselves & their products; as a result we've limited all dealer advertising to The Exchange or registered Dealers with active paid subscriptions.
Now maybe this means something different to folk in the US, but to me, outside the US, deal spotting is posting "Hey, just found that XXX is having a great sale", or "XYZ is on sale on ebay, better hurry before they are all gone". If someone starts a thread and asks what these EDM stone things they have seen mentioned are all about, then subsequently asks where they should look for them, I would never guess that posting a link to the Kemet or Cromwell sites here in the UK to illustrate both what the stones look like and the kind of place that sells them, would constitute "Deal Spotting". The description reads as aimed at dealers and I wouldn't have picked up that that rule would apply to members who are not trying to sell products.

Further digging turned up Number 5 in the image rules:
No use of images / signatures to advertise for yourself or others without an appropriate paid subscription.
Bladeforums stays open thanks to the members who support us through paid subscriptions. Posting images advertising non-supporting Dealers, or members without paid subscriptions hurts everyone.
This looks more like what Stacy has described, but it is not talking about links, and the bold section might not register with folk who think they are sharing recommendations for things that they have no commercial interest in. You need to read this carefully and think about it quite hard, but when you do more questions arise. Namely, it isn't about links, it is about images, and there seems no clear distinction between posting an image of say a Reeder grinder that you find on Google that is basically the one from their site (not linked to their site), and posting a photo of the same grinder in your own shop.

Kind of rhetorical questions, but, at what point does the recommendation and detailed description of a tool or material and its supplier become prohibited advertising?

The clearest explanation is to be found in the Warnings and Infractions page that spells out the point penalties for breaking rules.
Auction / Deal / Bargain Spotting - 10 points
BladeForums.com stays open thanks to the users who have paid subscriptions, including the dealers who pay to advertise here. If a site doesn't advertise here, you are not allowed to link to items they have for sale.
If that description was written into the main site rules under No Deal Spotting it would be a lot clearer a lot quicker.

Okay, so need to know who the Dealers, Retailers and Service providers that one can link to. Helpfully there is a link in the Rules area to the Supporting Dealers:
Which today says "Coming soon".
The current active list is in the Exchange forum:
Just a short 18 members long. Alpha Knife supply is the only material supplier, no tool suppliers. :(

I can see how these rules would be applicable in the general area, when someone comes in wanting to know where to buy a particular Benchmade, or a flash light, and there are retailers supporting the site that sell these things, and some member might point people in a different direction. In our maker-centric area there just are not supporting businesses that sell the tools and equipment we spend so much time talking about. Not linking to such non-supporting businesses isn't likely to encourage more of this type of business to join the forum. At least I don't see it happening.

For my part it won't he hard to fully comply since I am such a low rate poster and live outside the US so the places I buy from won't be of interest to US based members anyway. I am worried though that strict enforcement will diminish the information value of the forum and have folk being a little less comfortable when they post.

Best regards

Chris
 
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All because some people misused the freedom everyone had, now restrictions have been introduced. Anyone else find the parallel to restrictions on locks and blade length ironic?
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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Folks, I completely agree with you that the rules are hard to find and not clear in the case of our Shop Talk recommendations for suppliers and such.
However, I was told by the Super Mods and The Owner that they don't want links except to dealers or other members.

The solution isn't too hard to do:
Just type,
Do a search for "Reeder Grinders" and you can see the basic chassis. It is very affordable and rock solid.
or
"Google "HighTempTools" and you can see all their refractory. They carry everythiung you need to build a forge.
or
Check "witmermotorservice" on ebay, he has complete motor/VFD packages. I use them a lot.
or
Do a search for "Old hand pump coal forge". You will see lots of images of them.
 
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Stacy, While I do agree with you that the item can usually be found if a phrase is typed in in a way to make it find it easy. Even on Amazon or ebay the item can be found by just giving the item number, no link, just the item number. Isn't that legit?

I can fully understand the why of not linking to folks who might be advertising on the site, but I don't see the big deal with linking to sites that wouldn't normally purchase a membership since they would never post to the site, such as Amazon, Ebay, etc. BUT - it's a privately owned site and they can make what rules they wish. If I wish to visit, it behooves me to follow the rules, and I will do so.
 
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Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

ilmarinen - MODERATOR
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I don't see any problem with listing the number or description as long as it isn't a link.
Something like
Check Amazon for "PIILOO Blacksmiths' Hammer"
or
Check eBay for item (323310666680) for a good motor combo.
 
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Can’t post pics directly to site without membership. Can’t post links to site without link having a membership. Pretty soon- can’t post at all without a membership. And later- can’t read website without a membership.
Host your photos on imgur.
 
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Hey Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith or other Mod. I'm kinda fuzzy on this and its seems like others are for good reason. If I understand things correctly ita sounds like a headache for you guys and something that is going to really get to a lot of people.

Hey my job as an inspector is to read code. In a code there are terms and definitions relating to any word that could be interpeted in different ways. The guys here tend to be people who build stuff to a high standard and who take things seriously. The standard rules apply well to the ither pages and the other pages are the bulk of this forum. People here do have a point that they are providing free high quality and valuable information. There is a real concern that how things are run can drive off the most experienced people who give the most and that the amount and traffic on this page is declining in quality and if it does we are loosing one of the best resources in our community since we get help, socialize and most of all get inspiration and learn new techniques and ideas. Is it worth paying for? Hell yes, but with a very large, "But....". If we loos the traffic of all the experts on the site then the value is gone. It's not really fair to treat everyone here as a full time blade maker. I am not and even though I sell some knives they just tend to be around cost. Since I don't have the reputation for high prices and I don't have plans to become a full time maker and I don't need advertising since I already can't keep up and only build a few knives per year. For me its a passion project and there are things that I want to explore. What is good clear cut rules when dealing with the general section get murky here since we actually make knives. However only a fraction of those ever go for sale and only a fraction of thos have been done on spec and are not already sold. So we have have a problem where intent becomes an issue since pictures are very much a part of what allows us to communicate. I get that the owner wants to have even inforcement around the site since if nothing else the perception of being treated unfairly causes problems and he is running a business and I think everyone can say that it's nice to get a paycheck and eat. I think its the ambiguity here that always makes things tough. There is also the feeling that people are being unfairly targeted. I get the plan to offer something that could be useful for knife makers and when you do that its fair to charge. However the sales threads are semi useless other than maybe for materials and supplies. Generally the only ones who try to use it as an option to sell are brand new makers with hopes and dreams of supporting themselves with knife making in 6 months and worse yet skilled hobbyists who are both selling below the real cost of construction. If it was somehow actively maintained in a way that made it useful for sale and there was good to high volumes of well priced knives and maybe connections to places with a market it would be fantastic and well worth paying for, but its not. The single most valuable thread on this page is the shop thread where we can see what each other has going on or what is being made. It would be interesting to see a survey of people who actually sell knives and it makes up any part of their yearly budget and is really more than a hobby. Of those there is going to only be a small sector of people who have any thoughts that posting here is good exposure. Especially since not many of us plan to buy each others knives. If charging for exposure is the goal the cuatom knives page is a good one to pay lock. Its just really hard for this area to function with partial pay locks. Perhaps I am misunderstanding something and that posting pictures of our work is still ok and this is just about links. When it comes to that sort of thing detail would be nice again since is it just looks or are we going to start having issues with people having problems with recommending dealers we like. Its not like half the post don't start out with "I'm a new knifemaker, where do I get stuff ".

I think people are going to have issues if we are in grey areas. We don't really want to loose a nice resource but at the same time some of the rules and how they are inforced are going to affect the site. I don't know how many full time makes with 5 years of work on the books really want to pay to just help other people get started. It's Spark's business and he is free to run it like he wants. He also should understand what happens when he makes the rules and why there is an issue in a part of the forum that is very different from the rest. After all this is the only area that really deals with construction. I have seen pay wall welsing forums and they can be worth it since they have a large audience with people on projects that get a lot of value out of answering questions and a lot of business relationships. I guess my thought here is how many people are going to be here to answer questions if moat of the good makers don't post pictures and that leads to them not being here. Now that Larrin Larrin has provided answers to most of the heat treating info most of the reasons I come here are social and to see what other makers have going on. Those pictures are inspiration but also are where a lot of questions start and I think they are the core of the value for this page. Heck sometimes it's just seeing how to take the picture.

Is it possible that we get some custom rules here with detail? We are detail people and everyone is going to lock on to every last one. If Spark Spark doesn't want to do it can a Mod just express what our concerns to him and have a basic rule list approved where the lines are and then we run off od something specific. Because first it's no pictures but then you can have pictures everywhere else. Then it's no pictures of knives but does that include finished knives. Then new guys will post pictures and that will be fine because they should definitely not sell that but then someone else who builds amazing knives as a hobby is angry because he can't post his and being able to post knives means people think they suck. Then you get back where we have been and it's the shop page for building knives and we show what we are building to each other and since I have never seen anything where it seemed like anyone was selling knives off this page. I think that it feels like the context is wrong. Out on the main pages if our knives finished were being displayed it could be advertising. How many people have had customers, from people who didn't also make knives, who saw your knife and looked you up from the shop page. I'm sure it happens but its a small group and most of the people in it don't need to pay to get advice. They know who to ask and usually how to do it and are here mostly for the community. How many will stick around when they have to pay to help.

Deal spotting makes sense on so many levels and protects your people scams and manipulating behavior as well as avoiding other ethical and problematic issues. Showing a quick link to explain what you are looking at is a totally different context. However it's just easier to Mod with blanket rules. However are there going to be coming issues if we have to check a list to recommend a seller. If on the main forum someone says they look for a type of knife and Someone else says that at the local shop they always got great service a good selection are the mods cracking down? Just being clear where thin line is will save everyone a lot of grief and from having new peoples heads ripped off when someone post something that they don't think is against the rules and then a big fuss starts.


It's the pictures that I really don't want messed up. I have been making knives for about 5ish years Nd with Larrin Larrin 's book i don't need much here. However I know I want to bring my finishes up. Until I am making really complicated high end knives and know enough to ask thos questions the pictures are where the value of thise site is. I really don't want to loose that and it doesn't matter if I pay if othera stop posting then the value goes. Sites like this need to be active to be good or they fall apart. Look how the makera pages are on other sites and they don't have pay walls either. As far as a business decision he really needs to weigh making sure that things are fair and people aren't cheating and getting something for free and trying to follow a simple set of rules. However by the clear language of the rules almost all of the posting should be allowed. This makes it feel like we are being squeezed and is likely to push out a big chunk of people who give this site value. If anyone wants to ask for advice on the general thread they will not get full expert answers. It's also really hard to Mod since it doesn't really work with the plain language of the rules doesn't work here.

I don't want to loose what we have and hopefully this is respectful enough. I also want to know exactly where all the lines are. If someone could just make it ultra clear for a simple guy it would be happy
 
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