An Open Letter to Garage Journal Members and Moderators
I have personally been a member since 2007 and I 100% believe this is the single best garage flooring forum in the industry.
We have been watching with great interest the thread posted by Ryan about what to do with Garage Flooring vendors. We greatly appreciate the fact that somewhere between 70-80% of members believe vendors should have some involvement. Ryan asked that those of us in the business refrain from commenting on that thread. And we have.
Paid Membership Only for Vendors
First, let me say that there has been a communication issue, and we take the blame. We were not proactive enough in becoming an Alliance Member and advertising. We have tried, but there were legitimate issues and it did not happen. Ryan knows where I stand on this and I can give him a credit card number today. But this is not about money.
If the forum becomes pay to play, companies like ours, and others, who are well established will have no issue participating. The forum will become unintentionally biased towards those with the money to participate as opposed to those who might have the best information. That does not benefit the forum or its users at all.
Getting Rid of Vendors All Together
You have heard the expression that if you outlaw guns, only criminals have guns. Even at present with vendors being welcome, there are sneaky people who are pretending to be an average Joe that actually have agendas and products to promote. If you get rid of vendors all-together, only those who are willing to be dishonest, and who are good at being dishonest will be represented.
There also becomes the question of reputation protection. I know Ryan has mentioned a vendor who was going to sue him and I happen to know who that is and why it came up. I think the idea of suing the forum is ludicrous. I also think at times there is the appearance of favoritism. I don’t believe any actually exists, I just think because some larger companies are better at getting away with things than smaller companies, it can appear that way at times.
Prove it? Well I can’t prove it because as I said I do not really believe it exists. I just think it appears that way, at times, to someone who is trying to protect their interests. For example, if I was a garage floor tile manufacturer, and I was told to stop pushing people to give testimonials, while another manufacturer’s customers give testimonials all the time, I might feel slighted. BUT, the truth is, that other manufacturer has been building up its testimonials in the forum for years by servicing each and every customer. Frankly, this is another reason vendors can’t go away. How many times have we seen a specific tile manufacturer fix a customer’s issue on the forum? Others too. I know we have done it. I know Legacy has done it and I know Epoxy Coat has done it.
In an example that I was involved in, we had a customer post a thread about their experience with our product. A competing manufacturer chimed in with all the reasons my products should not be used. I do not believe one company should ever say anything negative about a product that is the subject of an experience or testimonial thread — good or bad. But, it was allowed to remain. Whose fault is that though? Instead of hitting the report button, I sent a PM to the offending individual and they did nothing. I should have followed procedure and hit the report button. So again, while bias may appear to be there, its not.
Shortly after that thread, there was a customer thread regarding the use of a specific product. A vendor felt a primer coat should be done. Another vendor did not and told the customer to disregard the other vendors advice. I feel that discussions over proper application, are proper in the forum and that people should be respectful when disagreeing. It gives the forum members the ability to see both sides of an issue from experienced individuals. In this case, both vendors were posts were stripped. The moderator inserted his link to his garage which appeared to benefit one of the two of the vendors. Bias? Probably not. The moderator was likely trying to turn the conversation into something useful for the consumer. BUT, you could see how it might feel that way.
How many times have we seen some person put a product down, completely wrong, or in the wrong application and then go to a forum to shame a vendor into helping them fix their issue. If a vendor or manufacturer has no way to reply, it forces them to look at other methods of protecting their reputation. Unfortunately, the most effective way people have found to do this is with the use of DMCA Notifications. In short, they send a notice to the site owner. If the site owner does not respond, the hosting company can be obligated to pull the site down for a period of time or until the issue is ‘fixed’.
There are a lot of senior members on the forum who are very well educated and who have used the products themselves. They often chime in with great advice. But there is also an abundance of BAD advice and bad applications.
A few months ago their was a post from a guy who was installing a product in such a way that was completely wrong and he was telling others how to do the same. There is likely not another individual on the forum with the experience with this product line that we have.
We politely advised the customer that this was not the right way to install this product, and in all honesty, even though its a product we sell, it was not the right product. He proceeded with his job anyway and we gave him some ideas on how to minimize his risks.
VCT is another area. We were able to get the leading VCT manufacturer to post into the forum about the issues with using VCT in a garage. People still do it, but, the information that needs to be out there is out there.
Consumers can give raving reviews about how a 75% water based product with no prep is an outstanding way to coat a shop floor….. Sometimes vendors need to clarify that, even on their own product.
We recently gave 6 floors to customers at cost. It was only to forum members. One of those 6 put the floor down wrong and they knew it. We were able to help them fix it. We provide discounts to members at all times.
Sometimes gray area issues are fixed by vendors as a customer service where they might not normally do so.
Many times the user finds a better way to do things.
But What About Rules and Regulations
Vendors should never be allowed to bash each each other or even other manufacturers or vendors that are not present on the forum.
Competing vendors should stay off testimonial and experience threads.
Discussions about proper technique should be done properly and respectfully.
Telling vendors they can’t talk about their specific brand is useless and dangerous. For example, if I changed every mention of Rust Bullet to Moisture Cured Urethane, I would be giving dangerous advice to consumers. There are very few urethane products that can do what Rust Bullet does.
One link in your signature
From within posts you can link to a product or an article if it is specifically necessary to the thread and improves it OR if you are adding a benefit or promotion to GJ members only. Those drive new users.
No hijacking threads
No personal or corporate attacks
You must disclose PROFESSIONAL affiliations.
Race Deck and I have had an agreement since 2012 to basically stay off each others threads. If there is a thread that is JUST about Race Deck, I leave it alone. He leaves threads about my products alone. To my knowledge we had one major difference of opinion since that time and it was handled via PM. We still don’t agree on the issue, but in the end it really doesn’t matter, does it? It really does not need to be public, does it?
The Golden Rule: If your post benefits you more than the user, don’t post it.
The Paid Stuff
It is important for legal and ethical reasons that any benefits of trade or paid promotions be stated. As an example, If I trade a free floor to the moderator in exchange for advertising and alliance benefits, and the moderator makes a post about that floor, he should disclose that he got the floor for free or in trade. I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO KNOWLEDGE OF ANYTHING LIKE THAT EVER HAPPENING.
If I am allowed to promote my product more because I am an alliance member, my signature should state This vendor has paid a fee to participate at a greater level in this forum.
At The End of The Day
The garage journal is a private business and has a right to do business as they see fit. To many lives have been lost to protect the freedoms we have in this country to minimize those freedoms by stating that GJ does not have the right to do what it is they want to do.