Feels a bit abusive, honestly. - Kawasaki Ninja 300 Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Feels a bit abusive, honestly.

So I've been playing around with affiliate links lately so I looked at Motorcycle.com's Terms of Service for this website, which state:

KAWASAKININJA300.COM - WEB SITE TERMS & CONDITIONS OF USE


KAWASAKININJA300.COM reserves the right to overwrite or replace any affiliate, commercial, or monetizable links, posted by users of KAWASAKININJA300.COM, with our own internal tracking. You agree not to post or otherwise make available content that constitutes or contains "affiliate marketing," "link referral code," or "unsolicited commercial advertisement."

This kinda pissed me off. I remember where it was said that it was thanks to the generosity of Motorcycle.com that we had free accounts, and a few scoffed at it, understandably. Between paid accounts, advertising, paid posts (like Ridersdiscount) and affiliate links I'm sure it's a hell of an investment. I'm 100% for capitalism, and I appreciate the fact that these forums only exist as long as they make money. I wouldn't want it any other way. However what pisses me off is the one sidedness of reserving the right to modify any link any of us post.

Basically that if you post affiliate links for someone else on places like Ebay or Amazon, they can substitute that link with their own so they can make money on it. Something like 1-4%, which can add up for a site with hundreds of thousands if not millions of links. Normally it's anything you buy at that site over then next few days, even if it's not what they linked. 90% of the time it's absolutely nothing, but on a site wide scale that's most likely tens of thousands over the years if taken advantage of.

I wouldn't have any issues with that if it weren't for two reasons. First, I wasn't aware of it since it certainly isn't disclaimed next to every link as in theory it should be. Second, they also prohibit you from posting your own. I'd be fine if they replaced links with no tracking (might as well someone take advantage of it), but that doesn't make if okay, in my opinion, for them to replace anyone else's without more direct consent. Regardless of making use of it or not, it feels deceptive and I'm sure most people aren't aware. No option is given to opt out, like other sites with a similar practice do.

A much more fairer policy would be to allow any individual not related directly to the products to post disclaimed affiliate links, and to give themselves the right to substitute non affiliate links for their own affiliate links, making the disclaimer more prominent, and allowing users to opt out if they would not like their links to be replaced. That way everyone wins.

Anyway, I feel like 90% of people won't care about this, but it caught my attention and I certainly felt a bit defrauded. I personally will not post any types of links in the future if I can avoid it with a policy like that. I'd rather just let whoever reach that destination on their own.

I'd be happy for someone to correct me if I misunderstood any of this.

On the other hand if you're of the mindset that capitalism sucks or Castro wasn't all that bad, then I'm sure you'd be happy to point out why it's immoral that anyone would want to make money at all.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 12:30 PM
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Welcome to the internet message board world. It's considered 100% private property and constitutional rights stop here. It's 100% a dictatorship and you can just hope that the dictator is somewhat benevolent. It's also the nature of a corporate sponsor/patron to make sure that their investment and assets aren't being used to bolster the competition without fair compensation. If you were a sponsor of a TV show and during your advertisement window for the show the host threw in a mention of your competition you'd be pretty pissed right? It's kind of a similar thing here. Although I'm not too sure on if the admin at this site have actually ever really utilized this power to change people's links to another affiliate sponsor's link.

I agree that it sucks, but it's become the nature of every message board. Just like technically everything posted on these boards becomes the board owners property in a sense.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 12:52 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreelancerMG View Post
Welcome to the internet message board world. It's considered 100% private property and constitutional rights stop here. It's 100% a dictatorship and you can just hope that the dictator is somewhat benevolent. It's also the nature of a corporate sponsor/patron to make sure that their investment and assets aren't being used to bolster the competition without fair compensation. If you were a sponsor of a TV show and during your advertisement window for the show the host threw in a mention of your competition you'd be pretty pissed right?
If we were the hosts, I'd agree, but I see that more like saying that if Budweiser sponsors a sports game, no one is allowed to come to the tailgate with Yuengling.

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Although I'm not too sure on if the admin at this site have actually ever really utilized this power to change people's links to another affiliate sponsor's link.
I'd doubt it were an admin. It wouldn't be economically feasible if so. It's pretty trivial to just have a bot replace links to sites where they are able to generate affiliate revenue. There isn't really any reason to not automate the process when you're working at such a large scale as Motorcycle.com (which I can only wonder if it's owned by Vehicle.com or some parent company of the sort). I don't remember if it's on this forum or elsewhere, but it isn't odd to see random links pop up linking whatever that person said to some completely unrelated item to what they were actually talking about, making it obvious it is sometimes automated. In the text above it's even simpler. Just change the tracking ID the user posts for their own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreelancerMG View Post
I agree that it sucks, but it's become the nature of every message board. Just like technically everything posted on these boards becomes the board owners property in a sense.
Yup, every so often you see how some site claims to own the copyright to whatever is owned there. And if it's not that it's some major data leak which reveals they had more information that one would have supposed. Like they say, if you're not paying for the product, you're the product. And most of the time, we're more than happy to oblige.

Anyway, thanks for the input. Wasn't really expecting anyone to see eye to eye.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gables_Ninja View Post
There isn't really any reason to not automate the process when you're working at such a large scale as Motorcycle.com (which I can only wonder if it's owned by Vehicle.com or some parent company of the sort).
Site is owned by Verticalscope Inc. which owns over 600 other forums. It is a private company, estimated revenues per year are between one million to five million dollars.

If you are good at coding you could make a plug in for Chrome that would strip their affiliate link to the base link. That way they would not make any profit on the replaced link.

edit: Maybe it is just me but I use an ad blocker extension for Chrome and I don't see any ads or changed links so far.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 07:52 PM
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I never see any changed links, but I do use an ad blocker extension. Forums like this would be totally useless without an adblocker.

I miss the old days when forums were run by hobbyists for hobbyists. Today it's all just a sickening monetizing profit scheme.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-27-2017, 09:49 PM
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I can assure you guys that the admins do not go around replacing any links. Could we, in theory, do this? Sure - we can edit, delete, merge, close or move any post. Do we care to exercise that ability? Only when we absolutely necessary.

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I never see any changed links, but I do use an ad blocker extension. Forums like this would be totally useless without an adblocker.

I miss the old days when forums were run by hobbyists for hobbyists. Today it's all just a sickening monetizing profit scheme.
I'm a huge fan of the Chrome ad blocker extension. I can't ever go back to not having it.

For what it's worth, there are still a few forums run by private individuals; I'm an admin for a women's motorcycle forum. We run it on a couple of servers in the other admin's basement. The upside is that we can run it how we want; the downside is that we have a very shoestring budget compared to forums like this one.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-28-2017, 01:31 PM
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I think ninjette.org is privately owned also.

I turned off my adblock there once to see what it looked like and it wasn't bad. So I whitelisted them to show support.
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