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  1. #1

    Question Rule Clarification?

    I was recently emailed off-board by someone (no names, but it was a fellow host, as opposed to a Moderator) from WHT letting me know that I was 'routinely breaking WHT rules'... the offense? My Special Offers posts in the Special Offers Forums.

    It wasn't the frequency of said posts (I've posted seven of them total since 4/4, the closest together was 10 days apart).. it was the URLs inside them.

    For example my last one from July 2nd.

    When I post urls to anypart of my site on WHT, I place a "?afilref=WHT" at the end of the URL. This is, obviously, for statistical tracking purposes on my end... lets me know if a client came from WHT... nothing sadistic or evil in my plans I assure you.. I do it with everyplace I hangout/post regularly... helps me know which places are generating the most interest in our services.

    But now I've been pointed to the WHT Rules by a fellow host, and told I'm violating the "Participants may not post any commission, referral or affliate links in any of the forums, this includes the advertising forums." rule...

    I truthfully never noticed this one before, and after reading it I'm a bit lost.. At first glance I assumed it was to keep people from flooding the boards with affiliate links that have all be seen 50k times.. and surely it couldn't apply to what I was doing? I mean, yes, I have a financial interest at stake... but then again, all of us in the ad forums do!

    But lets face it, that afilref code isn't really making a whole lot of difference either way.. I could just create a specific page to link to for WHT specials.. but that's alot more time consuming and a bigger mess to implement on my end.. the afilref=WHT tag was the quickest and easiest way to tell where someone came from..

    But at any rate, I guess I'm just looking for some clarification... I'll accept the word of a moderator as gold, and if told that yes, I am in the wrong, will go about making a specific WHT page to link to.. no problem.. (or I could change from afilref=WHT to somethign else, if the whole 'afil' thing is a problem? like ?a=WHT)

    I don't know.. color me confused, but I'm not wanting to step on any toes here, but at the same time I can't help but think maybe somebody just had a little too much time on their hands to hunt me down for THIS infraction (if it is an infraction?)...

    Advise? Flames? Tell me I'm worrying too much? Or tell me my afilref=wht tag is causing massive amounts of world unrest and has to go?!
    Pure Energy Systems
    www.purenrg.com

  2. #2
    Such tracking tags are perfectly fine; I've seen several other people use them (presumably for the same purpose).

    Probably this person just thought it was a referral link, and didn't look closely enough to realize that you were referring people you yourself.

    (OTOH, there's no real need for it, since you log parser should be able to tell you where your traffic is coming from anyway.)
    Dr. Colin Percival, FreeBSD Security Officer
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  3. #3
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    You're short!, your belly button sticks out, and you're a terrible burden on your mother. =)

    Originally posted by Shannon
    Advise? Flames?
    dotGig
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  4. #4
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    LOL @ Samuel . . . .

    But, back on topic. If someone were to contact me in the manner in which you say you were contacted, I would email the moderators (there is a link at the bottom of every page).
    There is no best host. There is only the host that's best for you.

  5. #5
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    We do require that you either set up a page or a directory for the purpose of tracking hits from the forum. The problem is that people are often unable to distinguish your tracking links from other affiliate links and rather than explain why it is permitted sometimes and not permitted other times, it just isn't permitted period. HTML page with a meta-refresh of zero or a .htaccess redirect, etc., should do the trick.

    So this holds true (to answer the question):

    Participants may not post any commission, referral or affliate links in any of the forums, this includes the advertising forums.


    Those who are doing it shouldn't be and would be notified when we run across them.
    HostHideout.com - Where professionals discuss web hosting.

    Chicken

  6. #6
    Originally posted by Chicken
    We do require that you either set up a page or a directory for the purpose of tracking hits from the forum. The problem is that people are often unable to distinguish your tracking links from other affiliate links and rather than explain why it is permitted sometimes and not permitted other times, it just isn't permitted period.
    ok...

    Participants may not post any commission, referral or affliate links in any of the forums, this includes the advertising forums.
    How about you change this to "Participants may not post any commission, referral, or affiliate links, or anything which looks like such, in any of the forums. This includes the advertising forums."
    Dr. Colin Percival, FreeBSD Security Officer
    Online backups for the truly paranoid: http://www.tarsnap.com/

  7. #7
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    Originally posted by cperciva


    ok...



    How about you change this to "Participants may not post any commission, referral, or affiliate links, or anything which looks like such, in any of the forums. This includes the advertising forums."
    I like that one.
    There is no best host. There is only the host that's best for you.

  8. #8
    Alternately, the rule could be simplified to "Participants may not post any URL which contains a question mark."
    Dr. Colin Percival, FreeBSD Security Officer
    Online backups for the truly paranoid: http://www.tarsnap.com/

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by cperciva
    "Participants may not post any commission, referral, or affiliate links, or anything which looks like such, in any of the forums. This includes the advertising forums."
    To me that is redundant. A referral link is a referral link, thus it looks like one, thus...

    Even adding, "for any purpose..." seems redundant to me as it says, "Participants may not..." I think the issue has come up maybe 5 times. This clarifcation was requested and another 2 times others asked for a clarification via email, but other than that, it doesn't seem to be an issue.

    If we could only get the board-spammers to understand the other guidelines, I'd be happy
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    Chicken

  10. #10
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    Seems to me the purpose and "spirit" of the mentioned rule, is prevent people from providing URLs that will make them money through "commission, referral, or affiliate links" with another company.

    Using a URL for tracking or marketing purposes of links on their own site, does not conflict with this spirit. Ergo: I don't see where there would be a problem.

    We all love rules/guidelines that are no-brainers, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Moderators are allowed to make Judgement calls and of course, they should first checkout the link to see if the rule applies. Potentially, this rule would apply to every URL provided to a commercial site, as it could be construed as a referral.

    How many posts are there where someone likes or dislikes a commercial site and posts the URL. By definition that is a "referral".

    WHT gets around that sticky-wicket by allowing people to only post their URL (to their commercial site) within certain areas of the Forum. Someone else though, can provide this person's URL in any Forum. It's very easy to get around an obvious URL used for "commission, referral, or affiliate links" with another company. You can bet though, not every link is followed up on -- only the ones that "look" funny.

    The purpose of laws/rules/guidelines are usually very good ones. It's in the execution or enforcing of them, that most people fall down on. Methinks the particular "rule" mentioned should be re-worded for better clarity and less ambiguity.
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  11. #11
    Originally posted by Chicken

    To me that is redundant. A referral link is a referral link, thus it looks like one, thus...
    Yes, but other tracking links (eg, ?visitorsource=WHT) are not referral links (at least, not in the common vernacular) but they're banned because they look like they are. Assuming I understood your post correctly, that is.
    Dr. Colin Percival, FreeBSD Security Officer
    Online backups for the truly paranoid: http://www.tarsnap.com/

  12. #12
    Whoa, I never expected to come back this morning and be greeted with ten replies. :grin: I figured I'd have one reply from Chicken (or some one else of experience, knowledge and mod power) saying either "your fine" or "no, you die now."

    Like I said, it's not that big of a deal... I already dropped a subfolder on the site for /wht and it just adds the tracking code and redirects back over to ouro hosting page.. not a problem.. a little round-about way of doing it, but it works..

    (OTOH, there's no real need for it, since you log parser should be able to tell you where your traffic is coming from anyway.)
    True, except I hate sifting through logs..

    You're short!, your belly button sticks out, and you're a terrible burden on your mother
    Now, if you had said "Your Tall, your belly sticks out, and you never call your mother!" you would have been alot closer to the truth.

    If someone were to contact me in the manner in which you say you were contacted, I would email the moderators (there is a link at the bottom of every page).
    You know, my first reaction when I got the email was "HEY, don't go sending me crap like this, how dare you add to my already big pile of crap to delete every morning! let alone by complaining about how I track where my visitors come from!".. then I re-read the email a few times... I couldn't exactly tell if the tone was to be read as accusatory, or just a friendly reminder... so I ended up taking it as a friendly reminder (benefit of the doubt and all that).. and didn't really let it get me too worried, I just wanted to get clarification because, you know, I happen to like WHT (most days... although sometimes the "I want someone to create my site for me, host it, and oh yeah, it's a 0-day warez site, for .94 cents a month.. I know someone can do it for this, because I got offered the same for .95 cents a month just yesterday." posts get a little.... well.... you know.) and didn't want to logon one day and find my account locked/banned/whatever or worse.. the imfamous *'d out routine (which sadly, I think generates MORE interest these days.. but I digress).
    Pure Energy Systems
    www.purenrg.com

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by Website Rob
    Seems to me the purpose and "spirit" of the mentioned rule, is prevent people from providing URLs that will make them money through "commission, referral, or affiliate links" with another company.

    Using a URL for tracking or marketing purposes of links on their own site, does not conflict with this spirit. Ergo: I don't see where there would be a problem.
    That is the spirit of the rule however, as I said, the problem is that people are often unable to distinguish the difference between a tracking link and other affiliate links.
    Methinks the particular "rule" mentioned should be re-worded for better clarity and less ambiguity.
    I'm not sure how less ambiguous this could be:

    "Participants may not post any commission, referral or affliate links in any of the forums, this includes the advertising forums."
    HostHideout.com - Where professionals discuss web hosting.

    Chicken

  14. #14
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    Thank you Chicken, for proving my point.

    Because no clarification is made to specifiy that the rule applies to anyone trying to make money for themselves, through posting a link to a third party site giving them money for the link, I would guess that almost every single Member is in violation of this rule.

    Remember: any link or URL posted on a Web page is by definition, a "referral" to that site.

    The purpose or intent of the link, is where the rule must apply -- not the posting of the link or URL itself.

    Hopefully this rule will be changed soon to better reflect the purpose and "spirit" of the rule itself and how it will apply, so everyone will not have to stop providing links to any commercial sites.


    We've seen many times already, where someone will stir up the waters (sort'a speak) by taking some postings to task for clairity and meaning. I know I am in that group.

    Can you imagine, if someone wanted to challange some the Rules at WHT in a court of law? WHT has Members Worldwide and there are lots of people with time & money on their hands. Whenever Laws/Rules/Guidelines are invoked and enforced, there is a very probable chance that at some point down the road, they are going to be challenged. Only the venue needs to be determined.

    For a site of this size and popularity and in IMHO, it would be remiss to not spend the money and have a Lawyer draft up the "Rules" that will be enforced at WHT -- and why, and how, etc.

    Just a thought.
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  15. #15
    lawyers? court challenges? Whaaaa?

    I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to get yelled at later... Was definately not trying to make things complicated... igh: oh well.
    Pure Energy Systems
    www.purenrg.com

  16. #16
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    Shannon, guess I should have clairified my posts were of a general, overall nature and not implied at, or to, anyone specifically.

    I just thought, since the issue had been brought up, might as well go into some details that apply to everyone.

    Apologies for any confusion.
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