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.






wattsperchannel
I guess I didn't see the post before it was deleted.

Work: Against.
Music: For.
Women: For.
Golf: For.
Religion: Against.
Politics: Against.
Environment: For.
Pretty remarkable; you could be my twin brother.

I must confess though I actually enjoy a challenging political discourse but it must be with an intelligent counterparty.  
I had a bad experience with a very small audio boutique company. I trusted forum reviews, a few magazine reviews and thought? this company was a great small audio outfit. After many many months of trying to get three pieces of equipment fixed which I had purchased the owner/engineer ignored me. Finally he took the stuff back and never admitted the hum and spurious had come from his equipment. I took a big $$ loss on selling back to him! He has a forum, I posted my experience. Now I am banned from posting on his forum.
Funny, he never banned the positive comments. Mostly, I suppose it was great advertising for his company. So I agree, many forums are there for advertising, not for an honest exchange of opinion and experiences shared by owners. Most are for fanboys and really helping the audio company sell more stuff. What was the comment that got me banned from this guys forum? I said I agree he is almost impossible to get in contact with. A completely truthful experience.

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