I am banning forum members for using affiliate links. Read the rules!

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Will Prowse

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The first rule of this forum forbids using affiliate links. Today I had to delete 4 members and all of their past posts for this reason. And a senior member is going through his past posts right now and removing them.

If you see someone using an affiliate link, be sure to use the report feature of a post to let me know. It helps a lot!

I would love for members to post affiliate links, but it is a bad idea. I have considered the idea, and I would love for members to get paid with affiliate links... but as I have seen on other forums, it usually does not work out nicely for these reasons:
  • If an affiliate program operating agreement is breached by posting on forums/ social media, the account can be terminated. This is true with amazon associates.
  • Each affiliate link needs to be labeled to FTC guidelines. Check out my youtube description to see what I mean. I have a disclosure statement and each link states "sponsored link" next to it. If you do not do this, you can run into legal trouble.
  • If we were allowed to post affiliate links, we would have more traffic from marketers trying to push cheap products. I am tired of the shill sales people in the solar energy market. I would rather not contribute to this problem.
  • Google search "solar forum" and have a look around. They are filled to the rim with ads and shills. I do not want this forum to ever turn into this.
Some folks may say "Wait! People are posting your affiliate links here on the forum to support you Will! Is that allowed?": The affiliate link posting rules applies to me as well. And when people post my links, I ensure that this website is NOT listed under my associate account. So I will not get a commission. I really do appreciate people willing to support the forum, but I would prefer taking a pay cut so that I am on level ground with everyone here. I know of another forum where the only person allowed to post affiliate links is the owner. And I dislike that.

I want this forum to be for educational use only. Not a billboard for shills and goofy youtubers trying to milk their audience. I think it is fair for me to post my links on my website and on my videos, but not here. How I support this forum is with the single link "diy solar blueprints". If even a few people trickle in and purchase a couple products, this website is fully funded. So it is not an issue. The link does not get clicked very often, and the website is filled with free information, so I think that it is fair.

I also included the amazon associates disclosure to our forum just in case someone posted a link, and I was not aware. It is best to comply to FTC laws when possible.

I also think that it is fine and dandy to post self-promotion and advertisements to the corporate section. Post away! If you want me to expand on this section with new forum categories, let me know.

What do you guys think? If you disagree, let me know why.
 
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Ampster

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I fully support that.

I clicked on the Bluprint link but it did not give me what I was looking for. I need a permit package and there are several companies that provide them with teaser free packages. I would not mind paying for one of those for my next project and would prefer to give you the affiliate revenue if that is practical.
 

JohnLM

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okay, dumb question.. what exactly is an affiliate link? ..just so I know how not to post a link that I shouldn't. I post links to things I am considering or already purchased so that anyone reading my topic can review what I linked to. Thanks.
 

Forbisher

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okay, dumb question.. what exactly is an affiliate link?
Google has most answers.
An affiliate link is a specific URL that contains the affiliate's ID or username. In affiliate programs, advertisers use affiliate links to record the traffic that is sent to the advertiser's website. This action is all part of an affiliate program
Affiliates get paid a percentage of the items selling price.
 
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Sun Tzu

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My experience following you in YT is that your a fair and honest guy. I would much rather see some restrictions put in place than to have this forum taken down or put in legal jeopardy. I like that it's focus is on information and education.
 

FilterGuy

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As an FYI:
On a URL for amazon, everything starting with the question mark is extra tracking and affiliate information. If you want to post a link for something on amazon you only need the stuff before the question mark.

Here is an example:
https://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Threaded-Thread-Length-Threads/dp/B00G3PEUD4?ref_=s9_apbd_orecs_hd_bw_b16rAt&pf_rd_r=ED7A85YMSWPM02D7XZG0&pf_rd_p=19ea7c74-317f-59c0-b139-b5eea346ffe2&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-10&pf_rd_t=BROWSE&pf_rd_i=16410711

In the URL above, everything after the red question mark is tracking information that tells them about how I got to that page. (In this case it is all about my search history)

This URL takes you to the exact same page as the one above.
https://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Threaded-Thread-Length-Threads/dp/B00G3PEUD4.

Many other shopping sites operate the same way. If you only use the short form, it won't be an affiliate link. (and I like the shorter URLs better anyway)
 

FilterGuy

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Good to know. Does that mean I could be an affiliate marketer without even knowing it? ;)
Yes, I believe so, but it depends on how the site tracks affiliates. If you copy a link from another site, it could well have affiliate markers in the 'extra' stuff in the URL. (Web sites make extensive use of all of the extra stuff to gather all sorts of tracking information.....but they don't really want you to know that)

Here is another fun fact about Amazon URLs. The string right before the question mark is the product ID. As an example from the URL above: https://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Threaded-Thread-Length-Threads/dp/B00G3PEUD4.

If you go to Amazon and search on 'B00G3PEUD4' you will get to the same product. In fact, GOOGLE is good enough that if you search the string in GOOGLE, the first result will probably be the amazon page with that product.
 

Ampster

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As far as I know I have not signed up for any affiliate benefits. I did recently post a link to a product that seemed abnormally long but then it came up as a graphic link. I went back to edit to see if it had that question mark but it was too late to edit. Is there a way to look at the html after the fact?
 

MrNatural22

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Wow I have posted links I thought were only helpful not realizing that may be occurring. We all need to be more aware of possible problems. The shills and scammers have grasped onto the popularity of this outstanding forum and will as always try to exploit it. 🤙
Members are the best watch dawgs
To keep them at bay. 👁👁
 

GVSolar

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Joined
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Messages
370
The first rule of this forum forbids using affiliate links. Today I had to delete 4 members and all of their past posts for this reason. And a senior member is going through his past posts right now and removing them.

If you see someone using an affiliate link, be sure to use the report feature of a post to let me know. It helps a lot!

I would love for members to post affiliate links, but it is a bad idea. I have considered the idea, and I would love for members to get paid with affiliate links... but as I have seen on other forums, it usually does not work out nicely for these reasons:
  • If an affiliate program operating agreement is breached by posting on forums/ social media, the account can be terminated. This is true with amazon associates.
  • Each affiliate link needs to be labeled to FTC guidelines. Check out my youtube description to see what I mean. I have a disclosure statement and each link states "sponsored link" next to it. If you do not do this, you can run into legal trouble.
  • If we were allowed to post affiliate links, we would have more traffic from marketers trying to push cheap products. I am tired of the shill sales people in the solar energy market. I would rather not contribute to this problem.
  • Google search "solar forum" and have a look around. They are filled to the rim with ads and shills. I do not want this forum to ever turn into this.
Some folks may say "Wait! People are posting your affiliate links here on the forum to support you Will! Is that allowed?": The affiliate link posting rules applies to me as well. And when people post my links, I ensure that this website is NOT listed under my associate account. So I will not get a commission. I really do appreciate people willing to support the forum, but I would prefer taking a pay cut so that I am on level ground with everyone here. I know of another forum where the only person allowed to post affiliate links is the owner. And I dislike that.

I want this forum to be for educational use only. Not a billboard for shills and goofy youtubers trying to milk their audience. I think it is fair for me to post my links on my website and on my videos, but not here. How I support this forum is with the single link "diy solar blueprints". If even a few people trickle in and purchase a couple products, this website is fully funded. So it is not an issue. The link does not get clicked very often, and the website is filled with free information, so I think that it is fair.

I also included the amazon associates disclosure to our forum just in case someone posted a link, and I was not aware. It is best to comply to FTC laws when possible.

I also think that it is fine and dandy to post self-promotion and advertisements to the corporate section. Post away! If you want me to expand on this section with new forum categories, let me know.

What do you guys think? If you disagree, let me know why.
You sir, are a man of integrity.
 

FilterGuy

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Is there a way to look at the html after the fact?
Most browsers will show the URL in the lower left of the screen if you hover over the link.

I would not worry too much about any existing links you innocently posted. We should be careful but I would hope that folks that control this stuff would understand about innocent copy&past. Also, if you just did a search to find a product and then did a copy/past of the resulting link, it is highly unlikely you inadvertently copied an affiliate link.

Also, I just looked a bunch of Will's affiliate links for amazon and ebay. They seem to be using a re-director so at least for those links the affiliate info is probably not contained in the final URL.
 

namesgolden

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N Alabama
thank you.

when I link to products its someone I've purchased from and had a good experience or a link to a product I would purchase but not necessarily from that seller.

I make a practice to strip any links of useless info and do not attempt to profit from this forum. knowledge I've gained here has helped me make a profit in the real world though.
 

Dzl

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I think this is the right decision. Keep the forum more pure and focused on information sharing and learning, not profit, and removes potential conflicts of interest. And I think you are making the right decision by holding yourself to the same standard.

I specifically appreciate the last two bullet points:

  • If we were allowed to post affiliate links, we would have more traffic from marketers trying to push cheap products. I am tired of the shill sales people in the solar energy market. I would rather not contribute to this problem.
  • Google search "solar forum" and have a look around. They are filled to the rim with ads and shills. I do not want this forum to ever turn into this.

I want this forum to be for educational use only. Not a billboard for shills and goofy youtubers trying to milk their audience. I think it is fair for me to post my links on my website and on my videos, but not here. How I support this forum is with the single link "diy solar blueprints".

I agree with this.

I will admit that, I (like many others,, I'm sure) have occasionally posted an affiliate like either from your website and probably one or two others out of convenience--but its of no benefit to me (besides the convenience of quickly finding what I'm looking for) so I think that's probably a separate issue.

Thanks for keeping this forum focused on learning and free sharing of information.


On a slightly separate but related note, has anyone else got some shill-y private messages from people claiming to be the official US representatives of CALB or other battery companies in the last week or two. I think I received two private messages to that effect, one was deleted within hours, and I can't find the other now, so I imagine they were quickly banned for spamming.
 

Supervstech

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I think this is the right decision. Keep the forum more pure and focused on information sharing and learning, not profit, and removes potential conflicts of interest. And I think you are making the right decision by holding yourself to the same standard.

I specifically appreciate the last two bullet points:





I agree with this.

I will admit that, I (like many others,, I'm sure) have occasionally posted an affiliate like either from your website and probably one or two others out of convenience--but its of no benefit to me (besides the convenience of quickly finding what I'm looking for) so I think that's probably a separate issue.

Thanks for keeping this forum focused on learning and free sharing of information.


On a slightly separate but related note, has anyone else got some shill-y private messages from people claiming to be the official US representatives of CALB or other battery companies in the last week or two. I think I received two private messages to that effect, one was deleted within hours, and I can't find the other now, so I imagine they were quickly banned for spamming.
ANY junk messages like that, just click report, and tell us, and they are gone.
Thanks.
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
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Location
Rural NE Ontario Canada
Hmmm, I post many links to articles or products that I use or am testing etc, usually relative to the topic being discussed. I "May" have posted an affiliate link or two without realizing it, I do try to avoid that as I know the conditions that Will mentions. I've also seen good Forums turn into marketing filled drivel with vendors battling their points, totally destroying the point of the forum.

I also had two separate "marketers" PM me and I just deleted them without responding, will report them in future should I get such again.
Gotta Say it, This Forum is Really GREAT for what it is doing and how well it is doing it. KUDOS to Will for keeping it on the right track and "clean of litter".
 

jafo

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want this forum to be for educational use only. Not a billboard for shills and goofy youtubers trying to milk their audience. I think it is fair for me to post my links on my website and on my videos, but not here. How I support this forum is with the single link "diy solar blueprints". If even a few people trickle in and purchase a couple products, this website is fully funded. So it is not an issue. The link does not get clicked very often, and the website is filled with free information, so I think that it is fair.

I haven't been here long and I do not have a vast knowledge of Solar and or Solar Systems, but i want to. I'm reading the books, watching the videos, and following this forum the best I can. I look forward to all this great knowledge everyone is imputing here. I love nothing more that Will created this forum because of his inspiration to teach what he has learned and solicit and harvest the knowledge of others. Everyone here is helping with that and I am one who is humbly grateful to everyone.

I do however feel that, at times, others here forget the educational part of it, so I can see Will is only trying to be a transparent as possible and make everything a bit more clearer and less confusing. This is why I follow. Some of us follow to teach, some to honestly help, but I think most are here to learn.

So Thank You everyone! Keep up the great work.

Stay Healthy and Safe!
 

sed6

Knows just enough to be dangerous...
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Messages
117
Are we allowed to use Will's affiliate links?
 
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