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Thread: Industry Affiliation and Disclosure -- astroturfing is bad, mkay.

  1. #1
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    Industry Affiliation and Disclosure -- astroturfing is bad, mkay.

    So, PF has rules -- they are codified in our so-called Code of Conduct (that everyone has to click a checkbox saying that agree with when they register) and can be found as the first item in our General Discussion & Miscellaneous area.

    While we haven't always been terribly strict with all the rules, one that we have ALWAYS rigorously enforced is the Industry Affiliation and Disclosure, and Anti-Astroturfing rules:

    Quote Originally Posted by PF Code of Conduct
    II. General rules of conduct:

    To further the goals of the site as specified in the mission statement, we have developed a code of conduct that we expect members of pistol-forum.com to abide by at all times. Failure to abide by the rules of the site can result in suspension or even termination of your posting privileges.

    When involved in discussions we expect you to:

    • Disclose any commercial interest you have in a product or vendor. This can be done in your signature.
    and:

    Quote Originally Posted by PF Code of Conduct
    IV. A note about "astroturfing"

    We require disclosure of industry ties/links on this forum as a way of helping our membership determine the validity of advice and opinions that are shared on the forum. If we find that someone who is giving rave reviews of a product or service has an interest in that product/service that they have not disclosed, we will immediately ban them. If we find that someone has signed up for the forum solely to push their product/service in discussions, we will immediately ban them. If we find that someone has created multiple accounts, one to advertise a product/service and the other shell accounts to generate rave reviews for the product while appearing to be customers, we will immediately ban them. To be perfectly clear: We despise astroturfing and will mercilessly crush it on this forum.
    A few years ago we started offering paid Supporting Business accounts and at that time decided to let people have different personal/business accounts if they chose to do so. This wasn't to allow them to hide their affiliation with their business and shouldn't be seen as a way to "buy" permission to astroturf -- because it's not. It's simply a way for people use and enjoy the forum in both personal and professional pursuits. Our Supporting Business members, just like all other members, are expected to conduct themselves in a legal and ethical manner.

    Often when the term "astroturfing" comes up, there are people that are unfamiliar with it. In a nutshell, it's a colloquialism for "pretending to be unaffiliated with a company that you are personally endorsing when you are in fact materially connected to that company either as a paid spokesperson or as an owner or employee". An example of astroturfing would be me posting something like:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom_Jones
    I just picked up a Striker Control Device from the guys at @taudevgroup. It's an awesome product, and unlike a bunch of other companies that are just making knock-offs or "improved" versions of existing products, @taudevgroup are innovators and creating completely new products that truly benefit endusers and make the world a better place.
    It's astroturfing because, while obviously true and completely unbiased , I am @taudevgroup. It is disingenuous. Es no bueno.

    I should note that our stance on affiliation/disclosure and astroturfing isn't a "PF thing", it's a Federal Trade Commission thing and is covered in 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 16 CFR 255.5 covers disclosure of material connections and, in part, states:

    Quote Originally Posted by 16 CFR 255.5
    When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed.
    If for some reason you are unable to disclose your connection with a company/product, then you should make it a point to never post about that product or company.

    Integrity counts. Do the right thing (or the mods will be forced to help you do the right thing ).

  2. #2
    careful what you wish for blues's Avatar
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    Thank you, Tom. A word to the wise should be sufficient. (One hopes.)
    “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu | "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

  3. #3
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    FTC endorsement guidelines and FAQs:

    https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/busi...ple-are-asking

  4. #4
    Site Supporter misanthropist's Avatar
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    Timely and of course well-put. In fact I really hope this excellent thread gets the coverage it deserves in my favourite Canadian firearms publication, Calibre Magazine, where everything you need to read is always featured in thought-provoking and intelligent ways.

  5. #5

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