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Paying to get posts made on your forums

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by mrGTB, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. mrGTB

    mrGTB Well-Known Member

    Been reading a thread posted on another site earlier, it was about paying to get posts made on your forum. It's an interesting subject, but one that goes against the grain with me. What's the point running a forum if having to pay somebody to get content listed, because that's what it basically is when all said and done. Your forum is struggling, so you turn towards getting some content listed by paying people to do it.

    What do you think?
  2. Wuebit

    Wuebit Well-Known Member

    Ive bought articles before kind of the same thing just more content, its all about content. As for buying posts no need! I don't have a forum :p
  3. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    Bad form........

    I guess it's a matter of whether one is on the internet just to make money or be popular - as opposed to truly adding to the usefulness of something...

    We 60's characters prefer the later.
  4. Chimpie

    Chimpie Well-Known Member

    I haven't done it, but I see nothing wrong with it if you're starting up or trying to recover a site. If you're able to recoup your money through advertising, why not? Plenty of businesses hire people solely to post on discussion forums, blogs, social media to help market their brand. If you need to hire someone the help get a forum going, go for it.
    Andrew likes this.
  5. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    It's not a crime - but questionable in terms of ethics and morality.We all have our standards.....

    For instance, if you owned a store that sold a certain appliance, would you hire a bunch of fake customers to come in and pretend they were buying things...so that the real customer put their money up quicker? I would not.

    Nothing illegal about it, but I don't see where it adds anything. If a site cannot provide a real value (info, community, etc.) then faking it won't fix it.
    mrGTB likes this.
  6. mrGTB

    mrGTB Well-Known Member

    Well, I would agree in that instance. If your selling something and looking for a very good write-up about items being sold to make money (boost your chance of sales). Sure, I can see how a person would approach a decent article writer for that one. But was talking really about your average forum board selling nothing paying to get threads and post listed, that's a little different really.
  7. Sador

    Sador Well-Known Member

    Then paying for advertisement surely must be unethical too? I mean, if people are on someone elses site and get lured to yours..
  8. System0

    System0 Active Member

    Ethics and morality? What has ethics got to do with paying someone to help kickstart your forum. I'm puzzled by your response. Every company on the planet makes false promises and stretches the truth when they advertise their products - all we are trying to do is add content to a forum so that it isn't empty. Is anyone being hurt by this?

    I have some experience with this issue. Generally speaking, for English language forums, it isn't worth it. The people who work as forum posters charge very little but their standard of writing is reflected by this. Most services use people from India, Phillipines, Malaysia etc. Whilst they can write English, their grasp of English grammar is not that great, which makes reading posts very difficult.

    If you were willing to pay a little more and get someone who was a native English speaker, it could be worth it.

    Alternatively you could:
    • Made dummy accounts and started conversations with yourself until real members join.
    • Do a post exchange with another forum owner.
    • Post high quality articles on your forum regularly and use a mod like XenPorta to highlight them on the home page.
    Obviously, both of the above solutions will take up your time, which is why many forum owners choose to bring in good forum posters.
    If you already have a successful website with a loyal readership, getting people to join up to a brand new forum is fairly straight forward. Bear in mind though that generally speaking, people don't join empty forums. 99% of people generally read a forum first before signing up so if you have no content, it's doubtful anyone will sign up.
    From my experience, the best way to get a forum started if you don't have a site to push traffic to it is to:
    • Create a big competition to launch the forum - make sure the prize(s) is good enough to encourage people to post. Also, I'd stay away from a top posting competition and go with either a referral competition (which you watch closely) or a 'best post' competition.
    • Become active on a forum with a similar forum and place a link to your forum in the signature. Many forums don't let people promote rival forums in their signature but if you can it's a good technique. Become active on the forum, help people out and make friends - you'll find that people will want to join your forum if you write good quality posts.
    If you do want to go down the paid forum posting route, I recommend Digital Point Forums for low quality posters at around $0.15-$0.25 a post and freelance websites such as eLance, PeoplePerHour and Odeskif you want to pay a bit more and assure that the quality of posts is good (though you can get cheap posters there too if you wish).
    Good luck
    Andrew and M@rc like this.
  9. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    Full disclosure would be the name of the game - which is why advertisements are usually labeled so.

    The real question here would be WHO the paid visitors were and what they said.

    As I mentioned, nothing (usually) criminal or illegal about it, although in some states if it were in a store or commercial establishment it could be against "fair advertising" guidelines.

    Let's spell it out. You have a bed and breakfast or an eatery. You get people to put up great reviews for you - who have obviously never been there. That way your biz looks good.

    Do you consider that ethical?

    We are all entitled to our opinions and mine is that this has the same name as a Rock Band "Cheap Trick".....

    Besides that, I don't think it would be very effective - but that's an entirely different story.

    BTW, I was in retail for 20+ years - owning stores, importers, etc. so I do have some experience with the customer and marketing end of this. We never tried to fool our customers. I'm not saying that many businesses are not guilty of doing so, just that I find it to be against my grain.
  10. System0

    System0 Active Member

    I fail to see any relation in building a forum to running a bed and breakfast. I worked in Financial regulation for many years but it's a different industry.

    Tell me this, if you found out that myself and a few other members were actually paid by xenforo to make this forum more active. What does it change?

    If people were paid to go into a forum to enforce and encourage a certain viewpoint, I could see how that could be unethical, as they would be trying to influence other members. This is rarely if ever the case with paid forum posting - the sole aim is to make the forum more active (or appear more active) so that real members will sign up. I can't see any harm in this.

    As I said previously, there are better ways to kickstart a forum however I don't think ethics is an issue here.
  11. Lisa

    Lisa Well-Known Member

    Christ, don't even joke about it otherwise the conspiracies will start ;)
    John and System0 like this.
  12. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    You are correct that context matters. If you are a geek or a helpful person and are paid to promo XF here, then you are a member of the community - whether you make nothing or $1,000 a week.

    But let's not fool ourselves - paying folks from Vietnam to post on a 4X4 forum that they know nothing about is a vastly different things!

    I once started a site selling a certain T-shirt design and told my friends that if they bought I shirt I would pay them back! I wanted to sell a couple shirts so that the trademark was valid. Yeah, probably a bit shady.......but I was confident once folks started wearing the shirt, it would be worth while.

    Let's get back to some core principles - when you waste someones time, IMHO, you are talking advantage of them. If someone visits your forum and reads a useless post(s) or articles scrapped from elsewhere or irrelevant, you are wasting time and bandwidth, IMHO.

    Hey, everyone has certain standards. I really do think Bernie Madoff intended to pay back a lot of that money if the stock market had kept rising. Maybe my standards are too high - but having been online since 1986 I tend to lean toward the informational and community models and away from anything that seems like snake oil.

    A lot of people considered sending email in bulk unethical....before the current laws were in place. Did you? In other words, would you have bought a list and/or had bulk emails sent to try to get people to your forum or site? Many people would and did - yet it was unethical and is now against the law.

    Just because something is done or legal does not mean it meets all of our standards.
  13. System0

    System0 Active Member

    Well I consider myself an ethical person and have never ripped anyone off - offline or online. Over the last 12 years I have sold hundred of domains and websites and still try and help out people who have bought from me in the past. I don't think the issue is about having high standards.

    What's the difference between:
    • Paying a forum service for a few weeks to post on your forum so that there is (a) content for search engines to spider and (b) activity on the forum.
    • Creating a competition to launch your forum that rewards high posters.
    Forums are full of useless posts. Show me a forum that isn't :)

    Also, I think you are being a bit presumptuous that any posts that are paid for are garbage. As I said, if you pay crap rates, you'll get crap posts. Though if you pay a bit more you could get good quality posts. I was recently offered $5 per 500 post. I never took him up on it as he didn't know enough about the subject matter though it illustrates that you can get quality.

    At the moment I am also paying several writers to write for my blogs. Is time and bandwidth being wasted if someone doesn't find a particular blog post useful?

    What about the fact that many successful writers use ghost writers? Is that unethical too? What about pen names and aliases - is it unethical to use a fake name online because you don't want people to find out your real name and address? Your own forum doesn't have a privacy policy or terms and conditions. Is that unethical?

    My point is, there is a huge difference in between sending out spam emails to someone and someone posting 'Wow. This is a great forum. I'm looking forward to being a member here.'. One is invasive, the other is not.

    Put simply, paying for some people to post in your forums is harmless. At the moment my girlfriend is posting on my forums frequently to help it get started. In the past friends have helped me. I see no difference in friends and family helping me out by posting there and me paying someone to do the same job.
  14. dojo

    dojo Active Member

    What's the point of running a forum if NOBODY is posting? Would you rather get 2k posts in a year or in a month? Would you run an active forum from day one or wait for 2 years until it 'naturally' earns members and posts?

    It's not 10 years ago, when anyone would join a forum and post to help. Most members are posting in your forums TO PROMOTE THEMSELVES (if you run a webmaster/admin forum). This doesn't mean they post crap, it means they will ignore your forum until it's established enough to matter. A brand new forum doesn't matter, regardless of what you have in mind with it.

    I run my sites as a business. I am paid by others to create themes for their sites, blogs, forums. I am building up my content for the sites I run, but have used few editors to help out with some articles or posts. If this allows me to have an active forum TODAY and not in 2 years time, then I'll do my best to establish the forum ASAP and not wait until it's 'big' enough for the cool guys to hang around. I am aware that, after I get to a very good traffic and a decent PR, many members will flock in, since they'd get a lot of traffic from us, but right now I had to rely on few paid editors and many amazing people who just saw it's a new project and joined us to help out. Such people are not the norm though, many are still lurking or ignoring the forum, until it's established enough for them to get something in 'return'.
    System0 likes this.
  15. System0

    System0 Active Member

    Dojo - That post convinced me to join your forum :) Seems like you are moving servers so I'll drop by later today or tomorrow.
    dojo likes this.
  16. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    As I said above, it's all about context and disclosure - and let me add reputation to that.

    I was taught that online (or offline) success is/was based on trust. When you lose that, you lost everything.

    Most famous people who write books name the other (real) author. I have much less respect for those who would try to hide that.

    Sure, lots of wasted posts, junk and BS on my forums and all forums. The difference is that I don't pay for it.....nor put it there to look good.

    It's an entirely different matter to have paid content - then again, some of the "content mills" our there are, IMHO, horrible business models over the long term and are, again IMHO, not worthy of the time.

    We could write a book on this and I'm sure, depending on our situations, would have many points to disagree on. For instance, was it unethical for many sites to use Britney Spears in keywords way back when it fooled search engines? Is fooling search engines immoral?

    The line is very different for each individual, company and situation - which is why we put in on the continuum of "ethics".
  17. System0

    System0 Active Member

    You make some great points. In 2001 I created a football forum and it had over 20,000 members within 6 months. It's much more competitive now and people are also spending their time online differently e.g. Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook etc. The days of 'Build it and they will come' are gone.

    I am speaking with one of the writers for my blogs about posting on my new forum just now. If we can agree a fair rate, I am guaranteed to have great posts from him and not the poor quality posts that many forum services provide.

    A competition will be more effective though so I'm looking at options for that just now. People need a reason to post at the start, even if there has to be an incentive involved.
  18. Sador

    Sador Well-Known Member

    Someone is browsing a website, probably with quality and relevant content - otherwise he would not be there. He gets lured to your website by advertisement. So, basically, you're paying to "steal" or at least "lure" people from that website to yours. In which case you're taking advantage of that website owner to get visitors and (hopefully) get income yourself. Doesn't seem fair, does it?
  19. dojo

    dojo Active Member

    @System0, thank you for your support. Just bought topadmin.net to move the forums to it, since it's better than top-community.com. Am interested in branding the forum some more and a long .com with a '-' in it is not really pretty.

    The site is now moved to the proper location. Will have now to correct my links to it and start promoting this new link instead :)
  20. digitalpoint

    digitalpoint Well-Known Member

    I don't see anything wrong with it form an ethics/morality standpoint. It *does* seem a little silly though, and nothing I've ever done myself. Personally, I'd rather invest the time/money being spent on that into building cool/unique things that will make people want to come to my site on their own free will. A forum is no different than any other site in that it's going to be very difficult to gain traction/recurring users unless you are actually offering something unique (that the user wants) that other sites aren't giving them.
    a legacy reborn and Lisa like this.

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