Ban public discussion of instruments for sale or sellers?

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Ban public discussion of instruments for sale or sellers?

Postby jorge » Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:53 pm

This discussion started in a thread advertising a set of drums in the Instruments for Sale section, and would be more appropriate as a standalone thread. Postings by forum members of their opinions about the items being advertised were considered by some to be inappropriate and against forum rules. This is an important topic that gets at the heart of how we use this internet forum.

Essentially the question is whether we should allow use of this forum as an internet tool that lets our forum members publicly request, obtain and discuss information about a particular item for sale, and/or about the person selling the item. This would be a different policy from those of Ebay or other strictly-business websites.

My own opinion is that this would be appropriate, would help keep merchants and forum members honest, and would allow forum members to benefit from the opportunity to get feedback directly from other members about the item for sale and the seller that is not otherwise easy to come by. Buying over the internet of instruments you cannot see or try out, from someone you don't know in a place far from your home has many risks as well as benefits. I think it is healthy that those who want to sell something, be they merchants who make a living selling instruments or working musicians selling a single item, know that many knowledgeable people are watching, and that dishonesty will not be tolerated and will be made public. Recognizing the potential for abuse in either direction, I would go a step further and say we should require that anyone who advertises any item on this forum, or who wants to comment publicly on that seller or the item for sale, must identify himself or herself by full true name and business name (if there is one), email address, city, state and country, and working telephone number. If any forum member then finds out that any of the identifying information is fraudulent, and that is confirmed by others, the seller should be banned by his or her real name.

One opinion that has been expressed, and that reflects the current forum policy, is that no "negative" comments are allowed. This is not as simple as it sounds. Certainly I can understand the potential for ugly interactions, especially since "negative" is not defined. This policy, however, essentially amounts to a total gag order on any public comments that could be perceived by anyone as "negative" about the item. This ban, if strictly enforced, eliminates public comments, whether true or untrue, about reliability or honesty of the merchant, known problems with that instrument or model, or members' experiences in dealing with that merchant or instrument. These kinds of comments can be very valuable to those of us who want to purchase a used instrument without the opportunity to examine or play it. While such a ban may be more convenient for honest sellers, who can interact perfectly well by PM or private email, it leaves our forum members more vulnerable to abuse by dishonest sellers.

An opposing argument is that without such a ban, ie, if the policy were changed, sellers of instruments may be more open to abuse by unscrupulous forum members who may be trying to manipulate a better deal or may be just mischievous or have an unrelated axe to grind with the seller. If this is true, I think the full identification policy would go a long way toward ensuring that if someone were able to get away with this once, they would get a well-deserved bad reputation and not be able to pull it off again on this forum.

There is obviously no perfect solution to this issue in our imperfect world, but the world of conga players is relatively small and I think requiring full identification of both the sellers and the commenters would go a long way toward reducing the potential for abuse by either sellers or other forum members.

I know there is a diversity of opinions on this topic and probably no definitively correct answer, but let's try to keep this discussion civil.
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Re: Ban public discussion of instruments for sale or sellers?

Postby rhythmrhyme » Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:33 pm

Probably not unexpectedly, I agree with you on this issue Jorge.

This is a public forum, not a site explicitly set up to sell merchandise. Personally I would welcome comments about an item I posted here for sale as I understand the nature of public forum's and believe that all members should have the freedom to voice their opinions. At one point I had written on a Moperc for sale thread and made a couple comments regarding overtones in Moperc drums that I had addressed with different heads. I thought the comments were neutral and actually constructive as they provided a potential solution to an issue I had experienced with the drums. Unfortunately when I returned to the forum a few days later my posts were gone - no PM telling me why, they were just gone. I have a difficult time with Censorship of this kind. If Conga Place was charging people a fee to post items for sale (and this was clearly stated), I would completely understand this type of monitoring, but in this context it doesn't make sense to me. What difference does it make if people make comments on the for sale section? Obviously a member could just fire up a new thread about the same drums under the Conga Set and Accessories section and technically the moderators would not be "allowed" to alter it - although I understand that the forum is owned and thereby under full control of those parties etc. and in reality they can do whatever they want :lol: .
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