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Policy on affiliate links...?
04-06-2005, 11:35 AM
Post: #31
Policy on affiliate links...?
Quote:I've clicked on one before accidentally and actually submitted a support request to make sure that the person did not receive referral credit from me.

LOL! That's nice. Can I use this as a gag in my upcoming web hosting related sitcom?

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04-06-2005, 01:43 PM
Post: #32
Policy on affiliate links...?
(jrahaim)

Quote:And I want them never to forget dreamhost WILL dump support
messages from the Queues without resolving them.

Huh? I thought we resolved that, when the last guy accused us of doing that.

We have never ever ever 'dumped' peoples messages out of queues in the manner you describe above. We certainly respond to peoples' messages at times without resolving their problems, but never intentionally. If you've been telling people that we've been dumping messages, they have been grossly misinformed.

(everyone else)
I'm reading all of the responses here with great interest... Will follow-up with additional thoughts when I have a chance.

- Jeff @ DreamHost
- DH Discussion Forum Admin
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04-06-2005, 02:00 PM
Post: #33
Policy on affiliate links...?
Quote:Personally, I've never experienced that; however, I'm willing to concede
that it probably happens from time to time. If I was working in the
support department, I'd probably get a bit frustrated that the same
questions were being asked time and again, when the answers are generally
available on this forum.

Actually, it can be frustrating at times, though support isn't the worst for this sort of thing, and the forum is sufficiently out of visibility that most people never seem to kind it, so you can't really blame them. To be honest, sales questions are often more frustrating in this regard as most answers for 90% of peoples' requests are available from a single page:

http://www.dreamhost.com/shared/comparison.html

But... That's life, and part of doing sales/support. Some people don't like or use self-help tools, and we need to help them too.

That said, it bears repeating before it becomes a nasty rumor: We do not dump messages. If your message hasn't received a response, it happened for one of several reasons:

- It simply hasn't been gotten to yet.

- It was 'gotten to' and you received a quick response, but was forwarded to an admin who hasn't gotten back to you yet (not all issues can be resolved as soon as people like).

- It was accidentally deleted/purged/etc. This should never happen, but has on rare occasion (usually due to the accidental selection of a message in a select box by a tech).

- It was spam (we don't need your viagra, thanks!).

- You attempted to display every obscene 4 letter word in your vocabulary to us (in all caps, no less), even after one or more requests to stop. At that point, we have probably given you 30 days to pack up your virtual bags and find another host.

There are times, yes, when we receive 100+ messages about substantially the same thing. This usually occurs when there is widespread downtime of some service or another, we announce a new policy that people are unclear about, or Josh posts some bizarre words in the newsletter (ie. regarding furry red tennis rackets and $2,000 checks).

In such cases we make every attempt to provide a personal response. The very least we will do is re-purpose the same general response for multiple people if it applies to each case (and customize it so that it does, if not).

No matter what, though, if we have anything to do with it, you will receive a response. There's no dumping here.

- Jeff @ DreamHost
- DH Discussion Forum Admin
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04-06-2005, 02:35 PM
Post: #34
Policy on affiliate links...?
Quote:Aside from that, if a person has found the DreamHost forum on their own, if they sign up via a referral link in the forum they weren't really "referred" to DreamHost by that link anyhow, as they already knew about us by that point. Odds are also pretty good that they were even already referred (truly referred) by someone else, and that the referral cookie is being overwritten.
I completely agree. On two of my sites I have DreamHost banners. If someone were to click on them and then come to this forum, click on another link someone posted (maybe to the comparison page) and then I were to loose my referral. - That would plain suck Sad I choose to put DreamHost ads on my site for two reasons. One is because I like DreamHost as a hosting company so I want to "pimp it." The other being it's an easy way for me to help balance out hosting costs.

I do however think that if someone posts a link in their signature that says "let me be your referral," or something along those lines, making it clear to the user what he/she is clicking.

Quote:(ie. regarding furry red tennis rackets and $2,000 checks).
I'll forgive the $2,000 but I'm still waiting for my furry red tennis racket! Big Grin

happylittlethings.com
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04-06-2005, 02:38 PM
Post: #35
Policy on affiliate links...?
I just don't see why it should matter to anyone. Maybe I am missing something here but if follow an affiliate/forwarding link because someone has taken the time to give me some advice and they get a little kickback that costs me nothing, why should that be a problem?

What I notice is that some of the folks who add affiliate links here also have been giving out good advice on this board for a long time and some folks who haven't been here that long seem to have a problem with it.
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04-06-2005, 02:38 PM
Post: #36
Policy on affiliate links...?
I'm all about the least regulation you can get by with and for giving people credit for having brains enough to figure things out on their own. I read through this long thread and haven't really been convinced that it does any *real* harm. Where it does indeed to seem to do some harm is in stirring people up over it.

It'd make me no big difference either way, just a small moral loss if the pepole that get stirred up have to be satiated, nothing that would kill anyone, except for maybe BobS.

Shame to see BobS die, I really liked him.

jason
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04-06-2005, 04:02 PM
Post: #37
Policy on affiliate links...?
Some clarification of my thoughts re: referral links:

As I see it, the main purposes for this forum (and to a similar extent the wiki - I wasn't aware that people were putting Rewards links there too, but I suppose it makes as much sense) are:

- To provide DreamHost customers with a means to discuss things that go beyond the scope of what our support can offer. For example, help with installing random 3rd party software packages, web design help, etc.

- To provide DreamHost customers with a means to express their opinions (pro or con) about our policies, features, etc. and discuss these things with other customers. Basically, the idea here is to keep the lines of communication open between DreamHost and its customers.

- To provide potential/prospective DreamHost customers with an unbiased place to go to learn about what real DreamHost customers actually think, and to ask questions of them to find out if our services/support/features will fit their needs.

In this case, I think that #3 is the main issue here. Many times, in answering a sales request, we have people write in asking questions that essentially boil down to "are you guys any good? can I trust you to host my site?". For obvious reasons, we are a biased source of such information and opinion. Rather than trying to portray myself as an unbiased judge of our host-worthiness I often make a point of telling such people "ask some of our customers, they'll give you an earful - good and bad", and pointing them here.

When I do this, and those people find that a significant portion of the people here have Rewards links embedded in the content of their messages (without any sort of disclaimer), I can see how those people might feel that they are being mislead. Even if the intent of the person linking to Rewards is genuine and they'd say those things in the first place, I think that this sort of thing significantly lessens the trust that potential customers feel that they can put in this forum. At that point, we may as well forget #3 above and keep most of the focus here on discussion amongst current customers.

...

As for some of the specific issues people brought up:

(re: the people being responsible for the "final push" in making the sale)

To some extent this is true, though by that reasoning when you make a 'normal' Rewards referral the final push is usually provided by DreamHost (in normal cases, people don't really know if they want to follow your recommendation until they reason our sales lit or contact us for more info), but you still get the credit.

Also, on a practical level just because a person clicked on a link, doesn't mean that they weren't just as significantly influenced by the 3-4 other people who contributed thoughts on the service - but for whatever reason neglected to make a link out of it.

In any case, this is really still skirting the main issue: people come here with the intent of getting unbiased thoughts (and are sent there for that reason), and leave under the impression that they aren't. We're not sending people here so that you can "make the sale" for us. That is antithetical to what the forum was designed for.

While we provide the ability to create and earn money from Rewards links, it's also up to the administrators of each forum/place you post them to decide whether or not the posting of such links is beneficial to that community. To the extent that Rewards links are beneficial or harmful is what I'm trying to decide here.

(on ease of enforcement, or lack thereof)

To a great extent, I expect and hope that people here would police themselves, and (except for the occasional person who drops in, causes a ruckus, and leaves over the span of a week) in my experience all of you are the type of people who are willing to respect the rules even if you don't like or agree with them. Just to clarify, I don't view the current use of affiliate links as anything any of you are doing "wrong" - they're not banned or restricted now, that's for sure - though I do have concerns that they devalue a part of the purpose of this forum.

For the most part I doubt there would be a big need for active enforcement. I'm not big on enforcement (too lazy!), and am happy to know that it would rarely be necessary. Don't think that I haven't noticed some of the tricks people have used, though - I've seen, for example, "the hidden frame in a sub-domain" trick, only to just shake my head and go on to the next message. :>

(concern over potential policy on linking to pages which, in turn, have Rewards links on em)

As long as it's not an obvious trick to make it look like you're linking to something else, this isn't a concern I don't think. A link to a real web page with its own content which happens to have an affiliate link is one thing, linking to a tricky sub-domain/frameset with a redirect is another.

(about unbiased-ness of DH people who post here)

I think it's fair to say that we do have a bias, and have a financial stake in the company. I also make a point (w/my signature) to make it clear when I'm posting as an employee. I know Dallas does the same, though I'm not sure about the others (they don't post very often).

When I link prospective customers here to ask questions, my hope is that not only will they receive completely candid answers, they'll feel like they are being given completely candid answers and feel comfortable trusting those. This is really the flip side of our policy on not censoring negative posts, for the same reasons. If people saw negative posts disappearing on a regular basis, they'll (rightly) think that we have something to hide.

(on BobS dying)

I don't want to see BobS die, either. :>

- Jeff @ DreamHost
- DH Discussion Forum Admin
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04-06-2005, 04:06 PM
Post: #38
Policy on affiliate links...?
Oh yeah, and another thought...

What would people think, if instead of banning Rewards links outright, the policy were that they had to be clearly marked and can only be used in signatures - ie. by being proceeded by "Affiliate Link: " or something similar?

This would still allow new potential customers the ability to 'tip' a helpful poster by clicking on a link in a signature, but would still be transparent enough that people would know if the person they're reading has a vested interest in them signing up, allowing them to take that into consideration.

Trying to find a middle ground here... :>

- Jeff @ DreamHost
- DH Discussion Forum Admin
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04-06-2005, 04:21 PM
Post: #39
Policy on affiliate links...?
Y'know, this entire issue is ridiculous. Just listen to the people here: "I am more worthy of the $100 for referral than the person who actually referred you." "No, I am more worthy, click my link instead." "You both are waaaay off the mark. It is I, in my esteemed prestige, who is deserving of the money. Click here."

You guys are on each others' virtual throats for crying out loud.

Pause for a second. Think for a moment. What was the original purpose of the referral reward? It's to reward the people pimping Dreamhost. What's going on here is harvesting rewards. There's no referring going on; people here are just hopeful that they get lucky! It's reminiscent of phishing, and totally permissible. No wonder it's so popular. I do not think, however, that it's true to the referral program's original intent. Correction welcome from the creators of the program, of course.

I'm also surprised that nobody has noticed the liability issue. This is money we're talking about. Hundred bucks a shot. You guys wouldn't give a rats ass if there wasn't money involved. That's the real world extending to the virtual world. When you deal with money, you assume things like liability. The referral program is income for crying out loud. How long before someone is going to cry foul because they lost $97 because of referral-harvester on Dreamhost-sponsored forums?
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04-06-2005, 04:23 PM
Post: #40
Policy on affiliate links...?
What if I put on my sig something like this:

"Did you find my post helpful, informative, funny, or do you just like me? Click here to give me a reward. Don't worry, it won't cost you anything and you won't even have to shock the monkey!"

Edit: Here's a crazy thought: how about an intermediate confirmation page before the referral is set? Any link that has a referral ID in it would lead to a page where the user would be told that the link they followed contained a referral ID of so-and-so, and the user would be asked whether they wanted to declare this person as the one to get the referral reward. After the user would choose either yes or no, the page would take them to wherever the original link was pointing to.
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