It's 2:35AM, and i've spent the better part of the night going back and forth with Mark of Simpson/Vulfix and the bottom line is there's just no way we can move forward productively with Mark. In the 6 year history of B&B, we've only had to explain why a member had been banned 2 times, but the intent here is to set the record straight, present the facts and allow the community to move forward.
Before anyone calls into question the legitimacy of the information below, keep in mind Mark represents a large for profit organization with a very prestigious reputation. The DIRECT QUOTES taken from Mark below are being stated publicly and if were not direct quotes from him or were doctored in any way, would put us in a position to be sued for libel. This should unquestionably remove all doubt, even from the most skeptical members here.
The specific reasons/violations and an example of the type of interaction we've had/received from Mark are as follows:
1.) Example of a typical exchange with Mark and a Mod.
FACTS: Mark calls out a mod asserting he "went into hiding" after getting a PM from Mark in this post. He did this, without calling out or mentioning the specific mod, forgetting that he had been sending hand slaps (and in some cases nasty grams) to MULTIPLE mods. Thinking he was getting called out in public - 5 year veteran moderator Suzuki responds to Marks post in a gentlemanly manner HERE
Shortly after, Suzuki gets the following PM from Mark:
While he didn't spell out a curse word, it doesn't take a linguistics specialist to decode the fact that he was calling Suzuki an expletive. A helpless victim? You be the judge.Sent by: A. E. Simpson 1919
I was referring to Mr. Scruffy ...
Why didn't you check here with me first before BLASTING out copies of PM's you ****
Jesus ... You are a Mod?
This is crazy.
An example of some of MY messages to both Gary and Mark when they continued to refuse POLITE requests to just tone it down a touch, despite being given WEEKS to comply, then finding out they've been bashing us on other sites. Keep in mind, I make it CRYSTAL clear i've specifically stated that i've refrained from making any public statements, despite them publicly badmouthing us on other sites (keep in mind this message was sent a MONTH ago):
The above CLEARLY shows adequate and consistent measures being taken to try to compel these chaps to follow our guidelines IN PRIVATE, and adhere to our requests.Gary,
This is positively silly - and is turning into a tremendous waste of time. My exact note to Mark is below. It's a Gary Young limited edition Simpson brush. Your family started the company. You're an agent of the company (look up the definition of agent - it's acting on behalf). Should ANY member of our forum act on behalf of a vendor/manufacturer as a "representative" - especially on a product bearing his/her name, clearly their actions are on behalf of a company. In many instances, this has occurred in the past - even in some instances it involving a member who has NO affiliation, relation, etc with a company/product, and they're just a tremendous fan of a particular brand, vendor, product and we've had to ask them to tone it down, or stop entirely. If everyone were promoting a product, this would be a pretty miserable place to participate in.
We will not delete your items, you are free to respond to queries via PM, and we will not remove your account, unless you should act in a way which violates the terms of usage.
I made a simple request several weeks ago for you to tone it down just a touch, and you refused to comply. I made it explicitly clear what the ramifications of disregarding my warning, and when you did so anyway, both you and Mark over-reacted, and immediately went on the offensive over PM and on other communities. In fact, many vendors have complained, as we've given you more leeway than any other vendor (and we've had to moderate quite a few) and then once action was taken (several weeks ago) we continued to give you more leeway than we've given ANY other member or vendor... period. Clearly it was neither recognized, nor appreciated.
Instead of causing you both embarrassment by stating there was an ample warning delivered weeks ago, and a complete dismissal on your part (guaranteed to leave a sour taste in many of your customers/prospects mouths) I took the high road, and got throughly bitten as a result.
Remember chaps - you broke OUR rules, we haven't done wrong by you, and I don't take kindly to the ungentlemanly manner in which you've reacted.
Shaving brushes are QUICKLY becoming a commodity, and there are new, incredibly good brands popping up daily that create exceptional brushes, for a fraction of the price. Burning bridges isn't within your best interest. Follow our rules, you're welcomed with open arms. Break our rules, or upset members, you won't be.
When you sign up for a vendor account, there are very specific guidelines see here and within your subscription parameters see here. For example, Gary (considered an agent of your firm) made 10 posts in the Simpsons thread yesterday, and in multiple occasions in a row (IE: not a back and forth dialogue, but multiple unique one-way messages). If every vendor were doing so, the vendor forum would be of little value, as there would be tremendous competition to get on the first 1-2 pages in that forum. Also, you are not yet promoting a tangible product, with complete details - which is annoying quite a few folks, who in turn are lodging complaints to the mod team.
I have talked to/warned Gary about his activity, and i've allowed him several weeks to tone it down, yet he has refrained to do so. We've also alienated, and upset many of our other vendors for giving you too much leeway (three posts per week, versus ten in a day is definitely unacceptable) - as with other vendors we typically jump in much faster.
I understand your frustration, but please understand ours. We have a community to run, and to successfully do so, we must have rules/standards.
After finding out he would not be able to bypass the vendor guidelines for their level of membership by having Gary post things, not him - he sent the following PM, clearly outlining his sole purpose of coming here was to promote his limited edition brush, which coincidentally aligned in lock-step with Gary's activity on the forum. Also as mentioned in the PM above, Gary was never banned (still isn't - but he did ask to have all of his posts, interview and wiki content removed) - he was merely asked to no longer promote Simpson products and since being asked to no longer promote Simpson products, he has chosen not to participate. Maybe it's just a coincidence....
The last PM I received from Gary was as friendly as friendly gets, whereby he re-affirmed his desire to have a few ciders with me next time I was in the UK, and provided me his personal email address to get in touch with him. I've got no issue with Gary, I think while he'd probably tell you he didn't understand the whole vendor nonsense, I know he'll tell you he was treated with respect through and through, he was given warnings and multiple weeks to comply and i'll be the first one to tell you, he's acted like a complete gentleman about the whole thing to date.Originally Posted by A. E. Simpson 1919
Further to my last PM:
I conciously avoid posting on the shaving brush forum in an effort to distance ourselves as manufacturers, therefore avoiding issues with bias / marketing etc.
My decision to go as a vendor was based purely and simply to inform forum members of up and coming Limted Edition brushes that are going into production.
There is absolutely nothing (as far as I can see) to stop the likes of Shavemac, Plisson, Rooney etc opening accounts here and promoting their goods in an orderly manner?
We are very active on the internet, very customer orientated, very pro-communication but more importantly, VERY open.
As for Gary not being able to post up on anything Simpson related, I'm shocked ...
This is a man with more shaving brush heritage in his blood than 20,000 members of this board put together and he is 'forbidden' to speak. What have we become here?
I look forward to hearing a reply with an insight into the minds of the moderators here.
So what was the issue/break down? Well there were quite a few problems, but the key issue was the way in which they were marketing this product (in which we got a lot of member AND vendor complaints about) and the amount of activity they were generating in the vendor forum (which grossly exceeded their allowance) and the way in which some of the mods were treated in the PM's. If every vendor were to do this, that forum would quickly become unruly, and as a result we made consistent, repeated gentlemanly requests to adhere both to their vendor subscription post/thread allowance, and to the vendor terms of usage, which all vendors/members agree to when creating an account here on B&B, and is available to view at the bottom of EVERY page (see the link "Terms of Usage"). There was a failure to comply, consistent snaky (and in some instances RUDE) responses from Mark, and a tremendous attitude. Worst yet, was the public bashing of B&B/the mod team on other sites, and the call to rally support as the victim, promoting untrue assertions - IE: Gary Young was banned (never happened).
Now - the specific rules that were broken (above and beyond the vendorship excess)
1.) Vendor Rule #2 Know that SPAM will not be tolerated on the site, and is grounds for immediate termination of posting privileges. Our definition of SPAM includes frequent discussion of your products outside of appropriate forums/threads, any attempts made to use the site as a means of making personal contact (via PM, etc.) with members who have not specifically sought said contact, and advertisement of items which are, in the discretion of moderators, not in keeping with the purpose of the site. Specifically each item outlined in the red text has specific violations associated with them - from PMing mods/members arguing about comments made about Simpson brushes, to promoting a product without specs, promoting product in the brush forum, pricing, pictures, designs, info etc (some of that came eventually) - despite being warned.
2.) Vendor Rule #3 Comply with the requests of the moderators. We don’t interfere unless it’s absolutely necessary. We will gladly discuss with you, via private message, any requests we make. I think this is self explanatory.
I think some the above should paint a clear picture of the amount of time, energy and resources we've spent dealing with this issue. As I finish this post at 3:30AM on a work night, I hope you realize the amount of energy we put into handling this situation as much as possible behind the scenes. I hope you understand how important it was for us to be fair, give them MORE than enough time to comply to reasonable requests and ONLY take things public after they had been warned many times, over the course of 1+ month and after they took issue with our mods to other sites publicly, then proceeded to make snide public comments here on the forum. I hope you understand what a miserable position we're in, how painful it is to have our actions called into question and how tiresome it is to be constantly put on the defensive.
We have no motive to mess with vendors. All vendors are treated the same. John is a mod, John's wife owns/runs WCS, there's clearly room for wacky theories and other nonsense, but the simple fact of the matter is, John gets more negativity to his business by being a mod here on B&B, then positivity. He gets a TON of grief and a ton of flack (and resentment) from some members for the MISPERCEPTION that he's treated in special way or somehow benefits from his position as a mod. Well, he isn't and doesn't. Some will believe me, others won't - but frankly, if he were, i'd have no problem saying it - I have no reason to "hide" that from anyone, it's my site, if I wanted to give him special perks and if I thought it would be fair to do so, I would, but I don't. There's no cloak and dagger action, there's no behind the scenes black ops missions, it's a bunch of schmucks running a shaving site in the best way they can.
I care about each and every one of you members here on B&B. More often than not, for me - this place is more of a hassle, than it is a place of fun. Issues like the above are common among place to deal with on a daily basis from spammers and problem/unbalanced members (vendors are usually awfully appreciative and tow the line with the greatest amount of civility, thus this being such a strange outlier) but please fellas - know this... we stay up late at night, we sacrifice personal relationships, and we break our backs to try to make this place the best it can be, and to try to "hide" these situations from your view so as to not poison the mood/tone of the site, and overall - I think most of you will admit, more often than not, we do a pretty darn good job as a mod team.
With hundreds of thousands of visitors, no matter what I say, or what PM's/info I share, there will still be a small number of folks in the "this should have never been posted or public" camp, and/or in the "Mark was wronged, framed and ganged up on" camp - it's just a simple law of statistics. With that said, if you take issue with anything in this post, please - send me a private message and let me know what you have an issue with and why. I want to hear from you, and I care about what you have to say.
Alright - 3:45AM, time to pass out.