For several weeks We the Moderators have been talking about the future of the Trading Post and how we need to address some issues of posting. We tried to see if allowing "ALL" items for sale to be mentioned without the prices and conducting business in Private Messaging, but of course that opened the door for STORE-FRONTING (members who buy things in bulk to sell at list thus turning a profit or posters equipped to build to order items, which makes our forum a show room for their products.) Neither of those were what the Trading Post was designed for, but as we grow we have seen more and more of store-fronting and it needs to stop.
It seemed like a good idea UNTIL we have seen a few new members come in to POST that they build (from scratch) or that they got a great deal buy buying in bulk and want to split up the equipment which they had no intention to use, only to sell at a profit. Whether custom built equipment, or breaking up bulk sales for the intent of profit, we are getting an influx of people posting messages that is miles away in concept of a member in good standing wanting to get rid of rarely used or no longer need equipment for a fair dollar or swap it for other equipment.
a few new members posted items they have "made for sale" or state they can build any woodware to order, and never returned to the forum, as if we are only a bulletin board to hang their flyer on, that is too insulting and is being handled.
They likely attached a NOTIFY REQUEST in the posting box and will simply follow your PM in their regular email service, that way they NO LONGER have to POST in our forum, they have used Trading Post for a FREE AD SPACE to their business with no intent of being an active member here. Similar situations (especially as quickly we have grown lately are popping up and keeping too many MAN-HOURS of Mod time related to fixing or removing posts that are nothing but a COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE.
This then goes against a very important rule here of no advertising and it needs addressing. I tell you all this because I do my best to always inform you of changes that occur and the meanings behind them - when ever possible of course.
So after debating this issue, it is time to implement our decisions. It is VERY IMPORTANT that all members stick to these measures, I'd like to give two examples why this is an important (but needed change) to make us stick by our rules and also make it fair to all.
a) Some of this comes from the old "I recommend a great restaurant theory" where you went to a place a few nights ago and had a wonderful meal and couldn't wait to tell others about it, so you recommend it to someone... They try it a week later and EVERYTHING was awful, different servers, different cooks and a crappy meal experience - and suddenly your "taste in food" and your reputation of pointing people toward quality service is in question. We do not endorse or recommend any member in the trading post - although I'm sure members will quickly let you know if they had good or bad experience with the poster.
B) We never want anyone to come back and say WE lead them into a scam or were ripped off by someone, or that another member did not make good on a sale - we emphasize we have no way of knowing anything about the person selling except what we know about someone who is a member in good standing and THAT is not a recommendation, and we will stay away from recommending anyone in the Trading Post because Beemaster.com will not be liable for transactions made in private forum and no transaction is allowed in open forum. All and any purchased or swaps is strictly on a BUYER BEWARE BASIS. As much as the Mod staff is a team, it is Beemaster who this would all fall back on, I don't want to disappoint anyone here so endorsing a member selling anything is a place I shy away from.
MODIFIED RULES to THE TRADING POST.
Starting today, 2- 20-09, the 5th anniversary of the forum, we have chosen to make the following changes to Trading Post.
1) We need to recognise the difference between having items a member purchased with the intent to use items or/and wanting to trade or sell excess equipment they no longer need - this compared to promoting that you have nucs, packaged bees, queens, woodware and other products that you MAKE for SALE or even custom order and/or you have bought in bulk purposely to sell at a profit. In tough economic times, having to reduce your rarely used equipment could help ease the burden of tough times, that is fine for the trading post and could very well be the thing others are looking for.
Selling off items you no longer need is not being commercial and you may not have a need for anything that anyone has to trade and would just like to recoup the price of an item you bought and no longer have use for. This is logical, and is still very welcome with other members, but again in private messaging only.
2) It is always allowed to announce you are "looking for" a specific item(s) and then members can contact you again via PM if they think they might have that item you are looking for. Looking for a specific item or part to fix or replace your equipment is a service that can be very helpful to the members, but again announce what you are looking for and request to be contacted in Private Messaging.
3) To "Take orders" or "Build custom equipment, or have inventory (such as buying 100 of something with the intent of selling off the items at near or below the list price is ONLINE STORE FRONTING and THAT must stop. Again, that is what Ebay is for, Not Beemaster Forums.
4) And this was the toughest part to work out for us, we will be reviewing all posts in the Trading Post and removing ANY that fall into Store-fronting or older posts which show prices will be modified or removed.
The posts that remain will be posts which keep the theme of trading or getting a FAIR cash value for an item which WAS NOT created or bought with the intent to resell for profit. Posts falling in the latter category are by all intent commercial and will be removed as we weed through the posts over the next few days.
5) Any new post will be removed immediately that appears to be Store-Fronting and the member will receive one warning that this is not allowed - banishment will likely follow if re-posting or further posting similar sale items by this warned member will lead to banishment.
6) Repeated offenses once a member has been warned of the rule change could have severe membership consequences - so it important to understand the difference between getting rid of "your no longer needed stock items" which was purchase for your own use, and store-fronting ads which is the main topic of this rule change.
We had thought of Grandfathering older posts and starting with the new rule on this date, but after weighing all sides on this issue, it seemed fairest that we clean the Trading Post of any post, no matter how old and no matter from who (there is no favoritism here) so what will be left is simply members trading, swapping and downsizing their own equipment which they may no longer need. I am sorry if you see a post of your disappear from the Trading Post, if and when possible we will reword the topic rather then remove it if your intentions are good, but blatant posts regarding new sales will just go away.
7) We also recognise that some members are getting out of beekeeping and have more than a few items at that time to list - these members should announce that they're leaving the hobby and that they have a large group of supplies which they will happily tell you about in PM.
I suggest that the seller have a list prepared to make available when PMed by members interested in equipment. giving a short generic description of the equipment is fine, but please stay away from saying "I have 3 of this 7 of that" just state you are getting out of beekeeping and have a list of products that I would like to sell - please contact me in PM.
Recently here in the forums, a new member, one who has never posted before or since tosses in that they sell made to order equipment, we strongly let you know we have no way of knowing if this sale is even real. I get scared when someone off the street comes in with a list of stuff they are wanting to sell and gladly will take your PAYPAL or other credit account numbers - please note Beemaster.com does not in anyway guarantee the quality or reliability of any Trade or purchase in the trading post - the buyer is at risk of Internet Fraud with any on-line purchases and personal data threat comes in a million forms. To best describe this, we are NOT a secure Shopping Site, there is NO encryption and your personal information has a risk of being stolen.
So the 2009 bylaws are going to be slightly rewritten in the Trading Section to reflect the new terms here and any future posts concerning Store-Fronting will go away without explanation except to the member who posted it. We cannot claim being commercial free when people are making money building custom items for sale or selling of inventory that was purposely bought in quantity with the intent to sell for profit. This is especially true with bees, queens and packages, the health of a hive can be jeopardized if the seller is not a reputable bee farm monitored and regulated by local and state laws. Surely you can see the possibilities if you buy bees from someone who claims to be a seller and in truth is only packaging up what they have no matter what the health condition of the bees.
That is it, we want to STOP store-fronting in its place before it goes wild and we are growing in record numbers which is wonderful, but it also means that we have more members who can either abuse Trading Post Rules or be ripped of by someone with a malicious agenda.
Moderators have worked hard on this, the terms and points of interest here are written by me and limited to my abilities as a writer. I hope that the interpretation is clear and that we can stop on-line store fronts from invading the trading post - it is strictly for our members use, even in these hard economic times - we cannot let people setup shop here, that is not a service to our members, but a disservice to them. Thank you for reading this. If I have missed any points, I will modify this as needed.
Founder of Beemaster.com