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Discussion Starter #1
I have not really read all the details of your advertising Policy, but have a question.

Say a member of 2-4 years who at one time was engaged in average discussions on the Forum then stop participating in general discussions on the Forum and ONLY posted Sales ads (their own personal truck items, so they say) we are talking in 12-14 months over 150 post of nothing but for sale posts and ZERO in general discussions.

How would that fly with you guys?

Kevin
 

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Just Horsing Around
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It would definitely get the fuzzy eyeball for sure and we would probably discuss it in the back room to try to disseminate exactly what's going on.

Our supporting vendor guidelines have been around for a very long time as we have always had a significant number of vendors here to pay a lot of money for the privilege of being able to advertise their goods – accordingly, we do actively crack down on people who are trying to do an end run around such. There would be little incentive for legitimate vendors to pay a lot of money if everybody else just came along and got to do the same for free, obviously.

We judge things on a case-by-case basis – they're certainly has been scenarios in the past where it was blatantly clear that a member was actually running a small home-based business or such and using us as a place to sell and advertise, even if they were actively still participating in our technical forums or not. Although they usually try to do so covertly it doesn't take much to put 2+2 together.

In such cases we usually approach the member and ask for an explanation before jumping to any conclusions – sometimes there is a legitimate explanation (such as a part out) that just didn't seem obvious to us initially.

In extreme circumstances where their goal is obvious and they are breaking the rules and we have asked them to stop yet they refuse, we have removed marketplace privileges via a usergroup to solve the problem forcefully. It rarely gets to that however, most people figure out that we are on to them upon our first communication.
 
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Yeah, the way I see it, their participation in the forums is more or less irrelevant. Even a member is constantly posting in the technical sections and helping other members out, they can't expect to be able to use the MarketPlace for their for-profit sales without being a supporting vendor.

That's not to say folks can't make money off the stuff they sell in the marketplace, just not as a regular part of a profit generating mechanism (i.e. a business).

That said, if I see a member who is actively helpful to the community at large, and one that isn't, I would likely have more leniency toward the helpful member in cases like this...
 

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One thing to add to there great advice is I have a dummy account set up on cummins forum which I have modified the join date and post count on, to not look suspicious and I use it to go fishing when I suspect someone trying to sell behind closed doors. Sending a PM to the user engaging interest in items they have for sale and other possible items they might have. Most of the time if they are selling as a business they will bite the hook and let you know. I most common warning/infraction would probably be for non supporting vendors. Ranges from well known shops down to guys building things on the side for a few extra bucks.

Nic
Cummins Forum Administrator
 

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The dummy account is a good idea and we have one too. Although with only two members in question concerning sales we have yet to use it for investigating, but it's come in handy when the mod team needs to be able to check out a new feature in regular mode or see how something is set up without permissions.

Leah
HF Admin/mod
 

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R.I.P. Sam
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We have the same. A test account, appropriately named "Test" and a bogus account for digging info.

We have a few that sell used parts, but have for the most part, let it fly under the radar. They generally arn't doing it as a primary source of income, just selling off extra pieces and for the most part, its the real old stuff. We've had a few issues with people constantly selling endless electronics.
Most of the investigations have blown up in our faces with us assuming more was going on than we could actually prove. But calling it to their attention that we are watching seemed to quell things.
Funny thing, is when ever we get a reported post about someone running a marketplace business, its usually by another member doing the same thing.
 

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Just Horsing Around
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In extreme circumstances where we are simply unable to determine exactly what's going on after an investigation, AutoForums does have a plug-in installed here that allows them to read other peoples PMs.

It's not a secret, we have publicly declared its existence in our operations forum, and most importantly absolutely none of the staff have the ability to use it – only AutoForums. It usually solves any question once and for all, but IIRC it's been at least 3-4 years since we've needed it.
 
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