Is MacRumors ignoring its own rules for profit?

Discussion in 'Site and Forum Feedback' started by Yebot, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. Yebot macrumors 6502

    Yebot

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #1
    I've been coming to this forum as a registerd user since 2004. Today, I found myself looking at this thread:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=12260325

    Seems like a nice review of a nice product by Targus. And a nice link to the Amazon product page for said product.

    But there's a problem.

    The link to Amazon is an obvious affiliate link - which isn't a problem in and of itself, but it made me curious.

    Here is the affiliate link from that thread. The 'tag=macrumors-20' part is the part that tells Amazon that if the click results in a sale, Amazon will pay a percentage of money to the affiliate with the id of 'macrumors-20'.

    Code:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&camp=1789&tag=macrumors-20&creative=9325&path=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2FB004N62HZI
    I have no problem with affiliate marketing. The problem I wish to point out is that this forum has rules. And the thread I'm talking about breaks those rules. If the original poster would have said, "this is an affiliate link ... if you buy, I get paid, etc." I probably would have moved along.

    From the rules page:

    http://guides.macrumors.com/Help:Forum_Rules

    Now really, I don't have a big problem with any of this. Whatever. So someone wants to make a buck. Ok. So do I.

    But here's what's really puzzling. I left a comment on the thread a few hours ago. I simply wrote, "Nice affiliate link."

    I even hit the 'Report Post' button on the orginal post. Only because I read the rules & saw a violation. Sorry, for being a rat. I thought Arn would like to know what's going on on his forum. That someone might be breaking his rules -- trying to make money by piggybacking on the gobs of traffic this website gets.

    Some time ago, my "Nice affiliate link." comment has been deleted. The thread is still active.

    In summary, here are the facts:

    1. A thread was started as an obvious affiliate sales pitch disguised as a review.
    2. The Amazon affiliate ID of profit-seeker is 'macrumors-20'. (By the way, all Amazon affiliate IDs end in '-20'.
    3. The thread was reported for moderation.
    4. My public comment, calling attention to the affiliate link, was deleted & the thread remains active.

    Draw your own conclusions.

    Arn? Are you there?
     
  2. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    Location:
    Shropshire, UK
    #2
    The affiliate name doesn't automatically mean that it's Macrumors who are the ultimate beneficiary, but it does seem suspicious, particularly when you reported the thread and it remains: I would agree that an affiliate link breaks the site rules
    Of course, if this thread also gets deleted things will look very suspicious indeed...
     
  3. Yebot thread starter macrumors 6502

    Yebot

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #3
    I agree Phil. Just because the affiliate id is 'macrumors-20' doesn't mean, MacRumors is behind it.

    On the other hand, suppose this forum is configured to automatically rewrite any link to Amazon with the 'macrumors-20' tag. If that's the case, Arn and the team ought to disclose it. So if someone wants to link to an Amazon page, they'll know what's really going on.
     
  4. arn macrumors god

    arn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2001
    #4
    Forums links are automatically rewritten with this site's affiliate codes where applicable. We should disclose that somewhere.

    arn
     
  5. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #5
    Yes, it's a plug-in for the forum system that inserts our affiliate link for several online stores when linked to in the forums. It's been in use for a couple of years.

    It's certainly not an uncommon practice, and we do have to make a living. :) We do make a point to mention affiliate linking when it's done on news stories, but I'm not sure where and how would be the best place to do it in the forums.

    While we don't alert each and every poster of the practice, we certainly have no wish to hide that we're doing it.

    Edit: Or see arn's even more official response above. :)
     
  6. Yebot thread starter macrumors 6502

    Yebot

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #6
    Thanks for clearing this up guys. I work in the affiliate marketing industry myself. I fully support a successful website's use of good technology to drive affiliate sales. It's a major part of how the Internet works.

    What is concerning to me is that I wrote a comment, "nice affiliate link" in that thread. And my comment was deleted. not flagged or edited -- deleted.

    This is what lead me to believe someone was trying to hide something.
     
  7. princealfie macrumors 68030

    princealfie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2006
    Location:
    Salt Lake City UT
    #7
    As Steve Jobs would say, "We do not have to disclose that."
     
  8. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #8
    I would imagine that your comment was deleted simply because it was off-topic for that thread and could easily have led to a derailment of the discussion. But I haven't looked at the case specifically (leaving right now, so don't have time), and yes, I can see how you might think we were trying to hide something when in actuality our moderators were just trying to keep the discussion on track.
     
  9. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #9
    It is possible your post added no value to the thread itself and it appeared trollish. Where a mod may have known of the auto-affiliate fill-in, many here may not have. I am one of them to be honest. That said, if my reply to that post was "nice affiliate link" then I would only assume it was deleted because it added no value. This thread, your thread, adds a great deal of value because again, as a long-time member with a few posts up her sleeve, I really never noticed this happening nor did I stop to think about it.
     
  10. Yebot thread starter macrumors 6502

    Yebot

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #10
    Really gang?

    Spend 20 seconds looking at MacRumors forums and you'll find dozens valueless, off-topics posts that don't get deleted. Please don't hide behind that.

    Ha ha. I think I just got accused of being trollish for pointing out something that Arn says ought to be disclosed anyway. This is rich.
     
  11. GGJstudios, Mar 31, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2011

    GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #11
    As you can see from the publicly-available thread that WildCowboy referenced, and the links to two more such threads in that thread, they're not hiding anything. If they were trying to hide something, they would have deleted those threads and wouldn't have directed your attention to them. They also would have deleted this thread if they were trying to hide something.
     
  12. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    #12

    If it weren't for valueless, off-topic, trollish quotes, Arn would still be practicing medicine.
     
  13. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #13
    Calm down guys. Yebot, thanks for making this thread, and for pointing out something that Arn agrees should be done. That's an *extremely* rare honour. You should feel proud of that. You are literally one in several million, and I mean that seriously.

    Your old post that got deleted didn't give any useful detail, and your post in this thread does. Look at all the thanks you're getting from other members.

    I don't have a problem with that, as long as it's stated somewhere, like you say. FAQ seems the right place.
     
  14. angelwatt Moderator emeritus

    angelwatt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #14
    We generally don't send messages to people making post reports as it is a time consuming process. The moderator who handled this case recognized the affiliate link as being from MR so knew nothing needed to be edited in the OP's post. I'm not sure what flagging your post would have done, and if we simply edited every post members made that was an incorrect statement, it would needlessly clutter the forums. Also, reporting a post, plus responding to the post you reported generally causes more work for us moderators, so we prefer you simply report the post only.

    In short the your post was deleted because it was off-topic, and the moderators generally don't make personal follow-ups on these kinds of edits because of the time it takes. The Contact Us form is there for when members have specific questions about moderation if they really want clarification from us. And we have no issue clarifying our actions when people ask.
     

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