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.

mapman13,321 posts05-24-2016 8:26amHow about a spin free zone here like that nice unbiased O’Reilly guy does?

But what I propose is a program run by its Non-Shill members, not a central authority with their own agenda. In the case I refer the Owner/Dealer is all about a spin-full not spin-free zone.

watts, I was being a bit facetious.   The no spin zone seems to be such in name only really, a marketing ploy.   Is such a thing even possible on an open website?

I suppose high end audio forums could be regulated like the financial industry that I work in to help assure integrity. Sounds like a good idea on paper maybe but probably won’t happen it that it usually cost money to enforce anything. I’d like to think that a more transparent site would be good for business but who knows?   It is what it is and up to the individual to find their way.   Is that such a bad thing?  

geoffkait3,473 posts05-24-2016 8:39amShill Free Zone? There is no discernible difference between shilling and enthusiasm. Get over it. Maybe we should have name tags for Shills, Trolls, Pseudo Skeptics and Enthusiasts.


As mapman points out you could not be further form the truth with that comment. Honest enthusiasts are exactly of what the forum I propose would consist: like-minded hobbyist looking for experience based feedback void of deception and profiteering by flimflam men and their cadre of helpful charlatans. 

Maybe rather than directing me to "get over it," you could be so kind as to offer a logical position as to why such a thing would be bad for hobbyist whom want to participate. Oh wait, other than the fact it would make life more difficult for the scammers.

Peter (pdnaudio),

Please let me be very clear, if you read my OP carefully I am absolutely not impugning reputable dealers, manufacturers and/or others whom make a living from our hobby. These people play a very important role on forums. They disclose their roles and engage in meaningful discourse regarding differences of opinion and experience. There is a wide crevasse between these folks and the other stuff I reference. They have very little in common.

I feel your pain. What I fail to understand is the argument that says "well that's just the way the system works." First, that is simply not true; that's the way the rigged system works and that is the position championed hardest by those that don't want it changed.

When the architect of the rigged system is also the governor of the forum, its simple to halt reform by just hitting the ban button and the charade is maintained for the next innocent victim whom stumbles along in search of objectivity. Instead they get a well choreographed bag of doo-doo.