Audio Forums, On-line Store Fronts, and the Art-of-Deception


I have absolutely no problem with dealers on Forums in general; in fact, I think they perform a very important role in providing information to buyers about their product and insights about the competition. The key is to maintain full disclosure and an environment that encourages open discourse.

However, I am curious as to whether other members of our hobby have observed "supposed" Audio Forums that in reality are nothing more than a store-front for the Forum owner's equipment dealership which, in turn, uses business practices established to cloak the owner's profit objectives to appear as unbiased forum commentary. Do others feel this way or am I seeing things wrong?

I see the approach going something like this:

1) Start an Audio Forum with a few colleagues to help with the scheme;
2) Have the owner run large amounts of audio gear through their room for very short auditions to create the "appearance" of a knowledge-base to be used, in turn, to create the "appearance" of credibility regarding the advice offered by the Owner on the forum;
3) Have the Owner's colleagues play the role of shills, cheering the Owner's advice and the unsuspecting member's purchases from the store-front, as the Owner goes about denigrating the product he doesn't sell and lauding the product he does; 
4) Run the Forum in a manner that immediately quashes anyone who challenges the absurdity of the Owner's comments by shutting down threads and banning all challengers to the absurdity under the guise of keeping the forum a friendly place to exchange objective views.

I obviously consider this business model to be.....(well I won't use the words I am thinking). I would like to say, however, I do find humor in the ignorance of the approach strictly as a commercial enterprise.  

Sadly, I believe these types of business practices are often used on less sophisticated customers in today's retail world, but high priced audio gear is typically purchased by fairly astute individuals. As such, the model I describe above is the opposite of what an intelligent business person would develop to serve a sophisticated customer base. Yet we see this kind of nonsense employed in an attempt to sell sophisticated products to sophisticated people.

Maybe it just shows brains, business acumen, and ethics go hand-in-hand.

In the mean-time, a word of caution to all those fellow hobbyists looking for an objective advice on line; it is more important than ever to remember the time-tested cliches:

--caveat emptor
--follow the money
--things are not always as they appear

and so on.






wattsperchannel
I wonder where you got your info. You clearly have an axe to grind against someone in particular but don’t have the guts to stand behind your claims, accusations and assumptions. I’m betting that you are the shill trying to hurt someone for whatever advantage you or your cohorts may gain.....Or maybe you are just bitter and trying to get even.
blb, 

As my OP states, these are personal thoughts based on personal observations; my objectives are awareness and open, honest discussion among hobbyists--pure and simple. Also in the OP, I ask if I might be seeing things wrong. Based on many of the posts, I am not.

My decision to not be specific has been explained---namely, I prefer pursuit of the objectives stated above as opposed to wasting time arguing with the source of the problem.  

You are correct, there is no doubt I abhor the behavior I describe (I certainly have made that clear). However, I have no interest in "getting even" with anyone (this is also why I have no interest in focussing on any particular forum). 

I have no idea why you think I am a shill.  To the contrary,  I am proposing an alternative approach to the "dealer-controlled forum" that would intentionally exclude such industry participants. I am am strictly a hobbyist with a bug up my bottom when it comes to candor.

I feel I have made my interests clear--I am sorry you find this so troublesome.
Watts,
Start a forum of suspect forums. See if those get shut down or not.

Caveat Emptor, well said. In one of my writing courses in college I'll never forget a professor talking about "nothing is objective, if you think one source has the straight story, you're wrong. You need to read both sides...the extremes, then form your own conclusion."
New York Times balanced with the Wall Street Journal, National Review balanced with Mother Jones etc. 
Its my ears my money my wallet and my system don't care about forums