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At my communities, we are proactive when it comes to defending the rights of others, in fairly clear cut matters. There are people out there who are tickled to allow hotlinking, mass copying and pasting of copyrighted articles and blog posts and unbelievable piracy, just as long as no one calls them on it. When they are called on it, they act. But, until then, they are happy to have the traffic. Not me.

One good example of this is our handling of hotlinked or direct linked images. I use hotlinking as an umbrella for when someone embeds or directly links (such as posting the link http://www.ifroggy.com/image.jpg) without permission from the person who is hosting the photo.

We make a reasonable effort to ensure that the person is using a free file host that allows it, a website that has permitted it or their own web space. One site that pops up, from time to time, is Flickr. Flickr’s community guidelines are clear. You can link or embed an image on their server, but you must link to the actual image page on Flickr, as well. So, for example, if you post a link to or embed http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3126/2588974860_9e53e85043.jpg, you must link to http://www.flickr.com/photos/65547304@N00/2588974860/. A common and acceptable way to do this is like this:

As you can see, I have embedded the image here from Flickr’s servers. When you click it, it goes to their photo page. Another way to do this is simply to provide a “photo source” link below the photo. Either way, you are accomplishing the objective and respecting Flickr’s wishes and requirements.

We had a person sign up for one of my sites just the other day and start posting multiple links to images on Flickr’s servers, apparently to photos on his account. Not embedding them, but linking directly to the .jpgs. No big deal, we’ve seen it before, many times. Post removed, documented in our staff area and a kind and polite private message (PM), explaining the problem, is dispatched.

The next day, the guy does it again and adds a question, why was his other thread deleted? (Which, of course, violates our guidelines as referencing administrative decisions). So, again, it was removed and a kind and polite PM was sent, explaining the situation once again.

Now, my moderator – the moderator who handled all of this – did a wonderful job and is a super nice person (as all of my moderators are). With that in mind, here is what the member sends back (note: this isn’t the exact PM, but it is basically a rephrasing of what he said, except with better grammar):

Look,

I linked to Flickr. http://www.flickr.com. Flickr is a FREE host of pictures and videos that allows you to upload your pictures and videos for their blogs and websites. Again, FREE. So you know, Flickr is very large and tons of people use it for direct linking of pictures on their blogs. There’s nothing illegal about it. [Editor’s note: no one told him it was illegal]. Furthermore, the pictures are MINE. I downloaded from them Google and I uploaded them to Flickr MYSELF. You got it now? If not, go to Flickr. http://www.flickr.com. Actually, here are their guidelines: http://www.flickr.com/guidelines.gne.

Thanks for your NICE message. PERIOD.

So, basically, he was a jerk to my moderator. But, this message is pretty funny and the actual one killed me. He probably violated Flickr’s TOS by downloading images from Google and uploading them to their server. That’s nothing to be bragging about.

But, the real gold is in the fact that he linked to Flickr’s guidelines. If you go to the page, you will see that they clearly state:

Do link back to Flickr when you post your Flickr content elsewhere.
The Flickr service makes it possible to post content hosted on Flickr to outside web sites. However, pages on other web sites that display content hosted on flickr.com must provide a link from each photo or video back to its page on Flickr.

My moderator sent him back a very nice message, showing him this excerpt and I ended up banning the fellow. But, that message was just too good not to share. There’s a certain hilarity when someone like this links to the page that shows that he is, in fact, mistaken.

Funny story. I had someone send me a message on AOL Instant Messenger and tell me that they were interested in affiliating with my site. They wanted to know what my traffic was. So, I thanked them for their interest and asked what their website was.

I took a look at it and while it looked OK, it was similar to what our site was (if different as far as what was/wasn’t allowed), but smaller. In considering the site, I didn’t see any reason to affiliate. So, I thanked him again for his interest, but said that I would have to decline, at this time.

Here’s where it gets good. His next message is basically “Yeah, same here. My members say your site is boring, anyway.” Heh. I didn’t send him another message and he didn’t send me one, either.

So, I visit my site and I see that, before contacting me directly, this person had posted a thread in our introductions forum. Basically, he gave a really quick introduction and asked about affiliating. Then, he closed his message with “This place looks great!” Heh.

Let’s recap. This guy went from “This place looks great!” to “I want to affiliate with you.” to “I didn’t want to affiliate with you, anyway. My members say your site is boring.” All in few minutes. Instant classic.

On last night’s episode of SuccessfoolTV, I came on to talk about online community, forums, social media, the book and more. I thought it went really well and that it was really informative, so I wanted to share it. You can check it out below.

Live TV by Ustream

Thank you to Alejandro for having me and to everyone who stopped in, helped to spread the word through Twitter and had kind words to say, during and after. I really appreciate it.

I love when people spam and say something like “I’m not trying to steal any one’s traffic.” I love it even more when they are spamming something that is either exactly what we do or similar to what we do. For example, spamming a sports community on SportsForums.net.

“I’m not trying to steal your traffic.” Well, that’s funny, because that is exactly what you are doing!

I have a story to tell. So, I run a community and there is this other community on the same subject. The owner of it posts a spam thread on my forums, acting like he isn’t affiliated with the site. This post is removed.

Before I saw this post, the person e-mailed me and asked for my advice in developing his forums. I answered and did what I could for him. And, after that, I saw that a moderator of mine had removed the post he made.

After a period of time goes by, he e-mails me again, asking for my advice. Once again, I helped him, but I also mentioned that you don’t want to spam forums, especially in such a devious way.

In response to this, he acted as though his community being spammed on other ones was something that has happened before because he allowed someone in his office access to his account to “promote” his site. That person had been dealt with, he said.

That’s fine and dandy, but I reminded him that whatever happens under his account, he will ultimately be held responsible for.

A couple months later, what happens? Someone from his group with an e-mail at his domain made 25 junk posts so that s/he could use our private message system. And then that person sent approximately 50 different members the same PM. Any guess as to what they contained? Worse yet, it was signed by the same guy, even though the username didn’t match his name.

I deleted most of the PMs before anyone had viewed them.

Four days before this PM spamming, he had again e-mailed me asking for assistance and I had, again, kindly assisted.

At this point, I took a look at the site and noticed they had ripped our forum descriptions. I once again told him what happened, gave him the details and then I didn’t hear from him again.

Until recently when he e-mailed to ask if he could buy a paid advertisement. That wasn’t going to happen. I took another look at his site and saw that, while it appeared the descriptions had now changed, they had now stolen our rank images! These are unique and were created specifically for me.

I informed him of this. And I haven’t heard back. But, he has now marked his forums as private. Ha. Marking your forums as invisible is not an answer to copyright infringement. The files are still on your server! I plan to file a DMCA notice soon.

Anyway, how much can one guy do? Some people don’t get it. Not everyone is cut out to manage forums or manage people. Maybe he’s listening to some really bad advice. None of these things are particularly unheard of, if you manage forums, though it’s rare when they all come together in a great synergy for one person or one site.

Sometimes, we can learn a ton, not just from the people we want to be like – but the people we don’t.

I just wanted to mention that the “Managing Online Forums” Example Forums have launched. What are they? Well, I had the idea to put up some forums that displayed just a few of the concepts that I discuss in the book, like a staff forums set up, various guidelines, a system of documentation for violations and more. Sometimes, it’s easier to consider something if you can see it in front of you. So, I hope that some find it useful. :)

Video: How To Behave On An Internet Forum

Posted by Patrick on February 20th, 2008 in Humor

VideoJug has come up with a tongue-in-cheek guide to behaving on online forums. Worth a watch and good for some laughs. Warning: some inappropriate language and content. Watch below.


How To Behave On An Internet Forum

Via Brad Linder via Mark Fraunenfelder.