I joined the Hard forums to get some advice on a graphing calculator. When I was finding the correct category to post my question, I noticed a recently active thread about what kind of computer bags everyone was using - a thread that included URLs to the bags that the different posters had, not just photographs. I had recently gotten a new bag that I was absolutely in love with, and had turned out to have more functionality than expected. So before I started off asking a question, I thought it was better forum etiquette to offer some advice first, and write a post explaining why the bag works so well for me, and how I gauged the quality of the bag - including the fact that you can put 17.3" laptop in it, a rare find for a reasonable priced bag.
And yes, before I posted I read through the forum rules and made sure I was following them. I also looked for any signs of "introduce yourselves" threads, or other places you are supposed to post, before you post in the general forums. As someone who has socialized on large online forums, and been an administrator for them, I know what to review and check for, before I make my first post as a new user.
My post about the bag - which only had a simple, single URL to the bag, and no affiliate links or anything else that benefits me - was deleted in about an hour and I was banned for Spam. The banning messages told me to contact an Administrator if I questioned the decision. There were no instructions for contacting an administrator, so I went to the forums main site in incognito mode and used the Contact form. Because with a banned account on their forums, you can't even access the Terms and Rules lists, much less the Contact Us form.
I wrote a very polite email, explaining that I was in no way trying to post spam, I was simply doing what everyone else on the thread did - posting what kind of bag I had, with a link to the product page, and explaining why I loved the bag and found it very functional. I did mention a few other bags in the same line I have owned, but I gave honest evaluations of the pros AND cons of those other bags. I offered to rewrite the post if there had been a rule I missed that I violated, and I even offered to send them a picture of me, and my laptop, in my new bag, so they knew I was sharing my own personal genuine experiences with a product, not shilling for a company. Because SPAM requires intent to distribute to people without their consent for your own profit or benefit, not just speaking in a positive way about a product you personally used and enjoyed, which you have no affiliation with. I asked as politely what I had done wrong and how I could correct it. I also mentioned that I was still composing the question about calculators that originally prompted me to join the forum, so they knew I didn't join just to praise my computer bag. Here's exactly what I got back from the "Editor in Chief," in response to my message...
"We consider that spam. Please do not post on our forums again. "
No explanation for what made my post was spam, when none of the others on the thread were treated as such, or any specific rules I broke in my post. No offer of a way to address their concerns or assure them that I wasn't trying to profit off of posting on their forums. No courtesy whatsoever. Just a curt and highly rude blow-off.
Let me be clear - NO forum leader owes it to anyone to override a ban. That's a given in the world of moderating or posting on a forum. But it is good practice, when people are polite and honest, that you don't treat them the same as you would that jerk who writes you a message of, "Hey, why did you ban me?! Fix it!" It's good practice to meet courtesy and respect with courtesy and respect.
But apparently that isn't the norm at this company. And if that's the attitude and behavior of this site's administrators, I will not be reading/sharing any articles for the site, or doing anything else to recommend or patronize them in any fashion. Though based in their reputation on other forums I frequent, for people (like myself) with an IT background, I wouldn't trust their site to give unbiased and viable information about hardware anyway.