My Thoughts re: Dealers Posting on Audiogon


I originally posted this in a thread in the Speakers forum.  It's more appropriate here:

As a former audio dealer and long time Audiogon member who has walked the tightrope I will say that, while I do not have a problem with dealers posting on Audiogon, I do feel that there are some basic rules that should be observed, both by the dealer and by everyone else:

For dealers:
1- Clearly announce that you are a dealer
2- Try to be helpful, objective and educational
3- Understand that an Audiogon forum IS NOT a sales venue
4- If you mention or recommend on of your products, mention again that you are a dealer for this product so that it's clearly understood that you have a finalcial interest in your recommendation
5- Don't trash the competition or other brands

For Audiogon members:
6- Don't complain about dealers posting in Audiogon forums. They are A'gon members like anyone else. If you don't want to read dealer posts them just don't read them
7- Just because a dealer makes a recommendation in which he/she has a financial interest does not automatically make it a bad recommendation. If the dealer comment is in the spirit of the discussion and or answers a question then it's probably appropriate, IMO
8- Dealers, well *many* dealers, have a lot of experience that most just audiophiles do not have. If a dealer is posting to be helpful to the group and not just trying to sell stuff then take advantage of that experience. Their answers to your questions will guide you as to whether they are interested in being helpful members of the Audiogon community or just pushing gear.

I hope that this is helpful guidance. Just my opinions...
br3098
Wow this is killer info i just popped my cookies!!
@ebm , was wondering where all the crumbs came from!
ebm, Thanks (I think), although I admit that I'm not sure what you are trying to say it sounds vaguely supportive.

These seem like reasonable suggestions. It is annoying to read certain users who repeatedly complain about dealers who post here. Audiogon rules clearly allow dealer participation. While there may be some dealers whose advice is not especially useful, the same can be said of some of the hobbyists here. And I'm being kind.
What the OP says....+1.
The Gold Standard of dealer posts is Audiokinesis aka Duke Lejuene who is always extraordinarily informative, on point, and modest to a fault. Even after I figured out he was the owner of Audiokinesis it was hard to believe because even when covering subjects directly related to his products he talks about the principles and only mentions his own when its relevant, ie someone has brought it up first.

Its kind of surprising dealers post at all. It seems to me it can hardly be worth it for the flak they take. When in fact we would be smart to encourage them and study what they have to say. Even if for whatever reason we disagree. I'll use an example from something completely different so you can see how its exactly the same.

Porschephiles have RennList. When it comes to Porsche engine reliability, power and engineering probably no one in the country has more hands on knowledge than Jake Raby. Do a search, see what I mean. Yet when he takes the time to tell us what's really going on inside our engine's what happens? He gets dumped on. 

It should be clear I'm not talking about professionals hawking their wares. Anyone doing that deserves as much criticism as we can throw at him. As long as they're providing info to the best of their abilities though I say thank you sir, thank you very much.
The gold standard of dealer posts is Ralph. But IMHO, all dealers should be banned from the forums.
millercarbon

It should be clear I’m not talking about professionals hawking their wares. Anyone doing that deserves as much criticism as we can throw at him.
And those posts - "as much criticism as we can throw at them" - are often deleted by the moderators, and rightly so. What you describe is abusive. This is a forum where everyone gets to express their views, within the rules established by Audiogon.

Complaints about users here should be directed to the moderators, either by flagging the posts or directly through the "Contact Us" link. Either way, I have found them quite responsive.
But IMHO, all dealers should be banned from the forums.
viridian, why is that?


Ralph, BTW, is not a dealer, he is a manufacturer, but I lump them in with the dealers and would ban the lot.

 It’s impossible, for me, to discern where the commercial interests start and the sage advice ends. And my sense is, rightly or wrongly, that the manufacturers and dealers don’t even know when they are being tainted by commercial interests.
Dealers should offer their advice- which I hope is based on experience, but should not try to promote the brands they sell.
Though the brands they sell might be superior, listing it as superior just isn't right.
It's kind of like saying 'Everything I say is the truth and everyone who disagrees is a wrong'.
Bob
It’s impossible, for me, to discern where the commercial interests start and the sage advice ends.
viridian, I understand your concern but I thing that banning all dealers is a bit of an overreaction.  Sure, some dealers cross the line.  So so some hobbyists a la "buy the same speakers I own.  I've never listened to anything else but they're the best in the world!"  So who gets to decide what is good advise and what's not?  I say that each one of us does.  As I said in my post, if a dealer clearly identifies him/her self (I'm still waiting to meet the her) then you can decide to read the comment or not.  Isn't that better than an outright ban?

If a dealer posts without identifying themselves as such that's another matter and probably warrants action from the forum moderators.  Again, all in my opinion.
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I completely respect your position. We simply have a difference of opinion.

BTW, dealers can post without identifying themselves in a thread and it is not cause for moderation. It is completely within the current rules.
I understand and I respect your opinion.  I simply listed my suggestions for user guidelines that I thought were ethical and made common sense.
Sound advice/ suggestions from the OP.

I personally have no problem with dealers posting here at all especially if offering some of their actual equipment hands on/ ears on experience.

Some do push the boundaries I admit and from what I have seen they rightfully get pushback for it so all's fair.
I would add being honest and open minded is a precursor to establishing this two way venue.  
How can anybody compare rennlist to a dealer that promotes their wares on agon? 
Rennlist is much more than a dealer. If you other than a Porsche, why would you visit Rennlist. I bet they would recommend a Porsche for most things and the audience would accept that. If an audio dealer offered what rennlist for over 20 years (forums, troubleshooting, classifieds, huge car events and more) then I’d be for them on agon.
There are a couple of dealers here that everything they recommend is the best of the best and it just happens to be a product they carry, which I think is wrong.
Dealers should never trash a line they do not sell.  And try not to have an I know it ALL attitude and you lowly aficionados should believe whatever I say because I aell things.
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Sorry. New here. I had no idea dealers and manufactures posted here. How would I know? I never saw any ID that said so and so was.... whatever. If that's true, or I'm slow to the game, there should be some sort of ID upfront to discern. Thanks.
I think dealers, such as AudioTroy and others, add real value to the conversation.   They have experiences that we can not duplicate, or at least I can’t, as I do not have access to the equipment they do.   I find their contributions for the most part fair and balanced.   I also will point out that AudioTroy is recurrently stating that he is a dealer so there should be no confusion.

If they post something self serving, then I always have the option of ignoring their post.
It is not difficult to spot dealers who are arrogant, condescending and want to push their products. They state their wisdom? and experience as so much more valuable than whatever information anyone else is adding to a thread. The funny thing for me, when a few of these arrogant dealers (not all and I think some are very informative and cool) post, I take note to NOT BUY ANYTHING from them, even if it is a product they sell that is a good product. I would find another dealer selling that good product.  I just don’t like bullying and conceit. I don’t understand why other audiophiles like to be TOLD what sounds good and why moderators let these dealers derail a thread?
br3098
... who gets to decide what is good advise and what’s not? I say that each one of us does ...
Exactly! And that’s just the way things are supposed to work in the real world. I read a variety of news sources from around the world and with a variety of political leanings. That all gets factored in to how I interpret what they publish. None of the sources are perfect and I don’t accept anything they report strictly at face value. But neither would I try to silence any of them.

It’s the same here. After a while, it’s obvious that some contributors to this site simply do not know what they are talking about, or are trying to further some agenda or belief system, or are simply confused and looking for argument. The worst offenders here aren’t even the dealers, imo.
If a product is not promoted vigorously something terrible happens. Nothing. - PT Barnum

😛

“There’s a fine line between shilling and enthusiasm.” - Old audio axiom 
@br3098  my questions since you were a dealer at one time are:

1 were you an honest dealer or only pushed your products
2  why did you decide to carry one brand over another were you trying to offer the best products you heard or something else
3 do you value any dealers opinions

I repair and manufacturer audio components.  I believe that I am an honest person.  All of the the product I manufacturer would not be in the price ranges of most of the audiogon members so I hope I can give honest advice.  I have offered a few times to build a preamp or an amp for a few people looking in a specific price range with a in home trial period.  No one has taken me up on my offer so I don't do that any longer.  In repairing components I get to see the build quality, why they failed, how upgrades sound and get to compare them to many units that I have in for repair plus what I build.  I hate it when I see comments like "built like a tank".  To me a company using a circuit board is not built like a tank.  Or when I look inside to see average audio grade parts on products that sell for $5k and more.  So I hope and can offer sound advice.  I stay away from commenting on what I don't know also.

I would like Audiogon to have a notification on my user name where it would indicate manufacturer and for dealers, dealer.

I agree with you post and hopefully some people get the message that we are all hear to help one another and to provide good sound advice without prejudice.

Happy Listening and thanks for your post.

I think the best policy would was suggested by the original poster
For dealers:
1- Clearly announce that you are a dealer

Obviously people do buy equipment based on advise given at Audiogon. I do go to trusted brick and mortar stores for information and purchases. However, I know they are a dealer and are employed to sale their products primarily, which is fine because I can check out other products elsewhere. Some dealers are very honest and helpful here, others are not. I would think trustworthy dealers would be fine with a disclosure policy.
bigkidz
I would like Audiogon to have a notification on my user name where it would indicate manufacturer and for dealers, dealer.
That seems like a great idea. Wouldn't that make pretty much everyone happy?
Dealers and manufacturers can be a great resource.  They can and should know a lot more than the average enthusiast.  All the dealers I've met with near me have been very helpful and they are all enthusiasts who love music and this hobby.  I went on a record crawl with one of our local dealers last weekend and had a lot of fun.

It's great when they make time to share their knowledge and educate people.  These are givers.  When all they do is talk up their products and use these forums to aggressively push their products, they are takers.  If someone is a giver, I'm more likely to trust them and reach out to them if I'm considering a purchase.  I don't trust takers.  I actively avoid them. 

That may not bother you, but by the tone of numerous posts I've seen about this issue, it clearly rubs many forum members the wrong way.  And for every person that actively posts, there are probably 10 more (at least) that only read the forums and have the same thoughts.  I don't know what the ratio of forum users are that mainly browse vs. posting, but my guess is that there are a lot.

I don't think there should be any restrictions beyond those that already exist for dealers and manufacturers. 

The OP's set of guidelines are very good in my opinion.  Dealers that ignore them run the risk of alienating prospective buyers and damaging their reputation.  You'll notice that very few dealers actually post here.  Most are smart enough to figure out that there's more risk than reward.  Some aren't.
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Requiring them to list their affiliation is enough. 
I defend the right for anyone to post on this forum. I especially enjoy when a manufacturer will post info about his/her build or design process, technical information, future plans, show engagements etc....I also appreciate dealers that occasionally offer info on system matching, brands they are familiar with or to answer a question a poster asks. What I don’t care for is when a dealer searches the forum DAILY looking for an opportunity to make money.

I only know of one dealer that continually breaks #’s 3 and 5 of the ’suggested dealer guidelines’ you have so thoughtfully provided. This dealer will search the forum looking for someone that is looking to buy a piece of equipment and is asking for suggestions. The dealer will then POLITELY discount any suggestions of gear that have been recommended (that are not carried by this dealer) then offer products they carry as a much better choice. If anyone objects to the dealers advice, the dealer will then argue relentlessly defending their suggestion. Some posters are OK with this dealer. Some say just try to avoid or skip over their posts, while others can’t stand the pushy ’sales pitch’ nature of their posts. It seems as though whichever thread this dealer decides to contribute to, controversy follows, along with deleted posts from angry posters objecting to the way the dealer tries to conduct business in the forum.

To me, this is using the forum as a sales platform.....which I don’t think it should be used for.
I agree with 2psyop and rbach.  There's a huge difference between the two contributing dealers from New Jersey, and part of it also is a question of tone and attitude.  2psyop's adjectives are right on the money.
1 were you an honest dealer or only pushed your products
2 why did you decide to carry one brand over another were you trying to offer the best products you heard or something else
3 do you value any dealers opinions
1. I think so. I did it differently - I only posted advise on Audiogon that included recommendations for gear I sold under my dealer handle.  At that time I avoided mentioning any products I sold from my personal handle.

2. This is a complicated question that is outside the scope of this topic and one I can't fully succinctly.  Let me say in short that selecting brands to represent are not just a matter of what I like or know.  It's a delicate balancing act between what I think my customers will want (or that I can make them want), finding products that are under represented in my market and economics.  What products, for a variety of reasons, will make my business successful and which won't.

3. Sure.  Why would I value a dealer's opinion less than an audiophile?  Both sets have great ideas, opinions and experience and both have great potential to cross the line and provide tainted or valueless information.

OK, so you're coming at this topic as an ex-dealer yourself??
OK, so you're coming at this topic as an ex-dealer yourself??
@twolefttears, I clearly identified myself as a FORMER dealer in the first sentence of the opening post.

Are you asking me if I am biased?  I don't think so.  And what constitutes bias, exactly - that, as a FORMER dealer I made suggestions for full disclosure and fair conversation on these forums?

IMO an unhelpful, uneducated or clearly biased comment is equal whether it came from a dealer or from an audiophile.  Isn't blanket vilification one set of participants biased and prejudicial?


You gotta love the purity tests being advocated here. Nothing more than a perfect example of political correctness gone amok. As long as a dealer stays within the guidelines proposed by the OP (which had always been the de facto approach here), then there's nothing amiss. 

To put such strictures on a dealer, what about someone who has all the knowledge and experience of a dealer who's not one? That would apply to many a poster here. How would their advice differ from that of a dealer who abides by the rules?

A closer look would likely reveal an animus between advocates who want to deny a voice to those who may have crossed their paths in the past.

All the best,
Nonoise
nonoise
As long as a dealer stays within the guidelines proposed by the OP (which had always been the de facto approach here), then there's nothing amiss.
Quite so. But it might be nice for dealers to have the option of an identifying symbol.
Quite so. But it might be nice for dealers to have the option of an identifying symbol.
A very good point and one that I believe has been advocated before. It would inherently put a poster and those who read them on notice and would be self policing.

And to any alarmists out there, it wouldn't be a modern day Scarlet Letter and should be looked at no differently than the avatars we presently use.

All the best,
Nonoise


Picture this.  An OP posts stating his dissatisfaction with a certain model of a certain brand of loudspeaker.  A dealer who sells that brand jumps in and, instead of recommending he upgrade three models higher up the line or change to a (more expensive) different brand, he offers to talk him through optimal set up of the speakers he owns.
That's why dealers should continue to be welcome and to post.
(And, btw, yes, that happened just today.)
“”That seems like a great idea. Wouldn't that make pretty much everyone happy?” No, I will respectfully demur. It would not be my preferred solution.
I have no problem with dealers or manufacturers posting.  Duke is a great guy and never comes off shilling his stuff.  There are only a couple of dealers who shill hard no matter how they spin things.  Rutan is also very good as he usually answers specific questions for folks who ask for it.
@br3098 thanks for that info.  I understand where you might have been coming from as a dealer,  Happy Listening.
I applaud someone who has gotten the guts to at least breach this subject.  

They did not connect the dots until I made several comments about how wonderful SALK Audio speakers sound.  Dealers certainly do not like to hear the words “sell direct”.  

However, I do want dealers to participate.  It would be helpful if they identify themselves should we all know where they are coming from.

There are only two worthwhile independent dealers in Denver.  However, even they stock abbreviated lines and assume their customers will not spend the money for the good stuff.  If they don’t have the good stuff, how will they know what sounds better without hearing them and comparing them?  This is where the manufacture comes in to play.  They need to choose the dealers who are selling their volume and reward them with either consignment or special terms on their high line speakers.

Dealers are an asset to this group and just need to be identified.  We should require them to be listed alphabetically by dealer name so we know who they are.

i think most of us in this group just want an unbiased opinion.
I meant to add.  I decided to go with REL rather than go with Rythmic subwoofers.  Because Rythmik only sells direct, I was unable to hear them.  Here, the dealers scored 100 and Rythmik scored 10. 

People Les do not buy $300,000 Bentley’s without buying them first.  
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Elizabeth sez:

  • And for the black goo thread (though I DO have to say the black goo thread has totally cooled it jets for the previous way it was going. Primarily because IMO one person (o’papa) who was gangbusters finally seemed to realize it was just over the top? (I do also believe the person running the company told them to stop the overkill. Just IMO.


I don’t recall anyone asking you for your opinion, Elizabeth. With that said, your post where it relates to me is so far off base, its downright laughable.

Frank
And...

The elephant in the room/thread is Troy.

Right?

DeKay

And now open warfare will ensue......
i wondered how long it would take.