Top Document: Misc.FS+Biz.Mktplc ADVERTISING FAQ--INFO FOR NEW USERS
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Businesses, entrepreneurs, not-for-profit organizations, and other commercial entities must follow additional guidelines when posting to newsgroups, including the Usenet Marketplace. Many users frown on the use of the Internet for commercial purposes because of rampant commercial abuse in the past. Because of this prior misuse, it is especially important that you help us to change this image in order to allow continued commercial use of the Usenet Marketplace. The rest of this section, while tailored to the biz.marketplace hierarchy, pertains to many other newsgroups as well. If you would like to know more about why commercial ads are under such restrictions, I highly recommend Joel Furr's FAQ on advertising, "Advertising on Usenet: How To Do It, How Not To Do It" posted regularly to news.misc. Commercial entities may post advertisements to the appropriate biz.marketplace.* newsgroups as long as they satisfy the criteria detailed below. These criteria have been designed to conserve bandwidth, minimize noise, and provide the best value for potential customers while providing you with the best audience for your wares or services. If you follow these criteria, you will receive the most positive response possible; your sales will grow and your organization will maintain a good public image. If your marketing tactics compromise the integrity of these newsgroups, you can expect loss of sales, loss of privileges, and a poor reputation among Internet users. You can also expect a nasty message from the biz.marketplace moderator announcing that your article has been deleted as inappropriate. ***Junk e-mail alert!*** These newsgroups are about posting ads for readers to browse through at their leisure. Some companies have recently tried to mass-market by culling e-mail addresses from newsgroup posts, and sending these posters unsolicited e-mail. Sending unsolicited e-mail advertisements over the Internet is against the policy of most Internet service providers, including AOL and other major online services. This practice is not tolerated by the Usenet audience, and sometimes results in revocation of Internet access. You may, however, send an e-mail reply to the poster of a question about services or products you can provide. Inappropriate commercial use of the Internet is watched by many users, and recorded for posterity. If you would like more information, check out the Blacklist of Internet Advertisers posted regularly to news.answers to see who has ruined their reputation recently. ***About the biz.marketplace moderated newsgroups*** The biz.marketplace newsgroups are retro-moderated, which means that the moderator routinely cancels inappropriate posts after-the-fact. At present, several robots analyze the biz.marketplace groups and automatically cancel most articles which don't adhere to the suggestions in this FAQ. The robots try to be lenient and have been running greater than 99% accuracy. However, because they are only as stupid as the idiot who programmed them, the moderator reserves the right to cancel any article which does not follow the suggestions for advertising listed in this FAQ. From time to time, biological entities may also intervene to cancel articles which the robots miss. It is possible, in the rarest of cases, that a totally appropriate article would be cancelled. If your article follows all of the suggestions and is still cancelled, please work with us to resolve the problem. If your article is cancelled and you included a valid e-mail address in the From: or Sender: header, you'll receive notification. The following quote from the biz.marketplace charter should help you understand our purpose: "Because the propagation and storage resources of this hierarchy are supported primarily by the customers, all posters to this hierarchy must recognize that a heavy emphasis is placed on end-user value. Every post to any biz.marketplace group should demonstrate, in a concise manner, its value to the customers. This value should not be easily obtained except through these newsgroups. This value may be monetary, or it may be in the form of services which are not prolifically advertised and are of general interest to the readership." ***Acceptable commercial offerings*** All commercial offerings must provide end-user value as stated above. These offerings are welcome in biz.marketplace newsgroups: Discounted merchandise</STRONG> You may post an ad if everything in your post is offered at a price significantly lower than the lowest price available for the same first-quality merchandise through retail stores, mail-order catalogs, national advertising campaigns, and other nationally-distributed media including TV, magazines, or large discount chains. For computer items in the U.S., the litmus test is the lowest current, not published, price offered by dealers in Computer Shopper magazine. Bulk offerings and offerings not open to the general public must provide an equivalent value to corporate customers. The discount from the best nationally-available prices should be at least 10% for items/lots $500 or more, 12-15% in the $200-500 range, and at least $20 for items/lots under $200. It is your responsibility to research prices before posting. A few examples: Refurbished goods Overstocks Factory seconds Closeouts Offerings to individuals at or near wholesale Bulk offerings for export below wholesale Hard-to-find services or merchandise You offer services or tangible goods that would not otherwise be available nationally, and are of widespread interest to the readers. You still must offer very competitive pricing. A few more examples: Home handiwork Freelance services: writing, programming, photography Language translation services Consulting services Internet t-shirts and coffee mugs Small-company developed software Escrow services Internet service providers Self-published fiction These offerings should not be posted: Entire catalogs Only those items in your inventory which satisfy the above criteria may be advertised. Because catalogs use a lot of resources, it is better to pick a few choice items to advertise, briefly describe the rest of your inventory, and solicit e-mail requests for your catalog or announce a web link to it. Please keep your ad to fewer than 40 lines in the interest of bandwidth. Distributorships, investment opportunities, sales positions, and multi-level marketing You may offer your merchandise if it would otherwise be acceptable, but marketing or investment opportunities are not included in the Marketplace scope of facilitating the sale of goods and services. Job offerings, except for specific solicitation of contract/freelance workers in the services groups, fall under the same category. In the interest of international trade, limited specific "corporate distributors wanted" advertising will be allowed in the international group, but _only_ if its presentation follows the highest Marketplace standards. NO soliciting for individuals internationally. Items of limited interest to the audience All offerings should be of interest to a large number of the readers. In general, most computer-related items or services are appropriate, as are everyday items, furniture, decorations, and other items used by a large percentage of the population. The largest parts of the Usenet audience come from all corners of the world, and include computer-related business employees, high-school and university students, professors, top scientific researchers, and the occasional computer-literate family. Most readers have advanced educations. If your item is not of widespread interest to these populations, then please don't advertise on the newsgroups. A few examples of usually inappropriate offerings: Psychic, sex, and similar telephone services Herbal and experimental medications and diet supplements Money making opportunities of most sorts Immigration and trial law services ***Commercial ad copy requirements*** When writing your ad, please keep in mind the suggestions for ads written by individuals. Many of the suggestions are enforced for commercial ads, especially pertaining to effective subject lines [HINT!!! ;-]. Once you understand how to write an ad from an individual's point of view, modify your commercial ad to follow a few additional guidelines: State exact items, services, and prices in detail. Stating that you offer a certain product line is not enough. You must provide specific examples. Any reader knowledgeable about your products should be able to read your ad and easily see the end-user value. Be certain you include model numbers, special conditions, and, most importantly, prices. Also include shipping and payment information. We repeat: failure to include prices for merchandise _will_ make your article eligible for cancellation. Keep your ad reasonably short, but not _too_ short. As a general guide, if you are offering one item, you will rarely need more than 12 lines. If you have 12 items, try to use no more than 2 lines per item. 40 items, no more than 1 line per item. If your list of qualifying offerings won't fit in 50 lines, list a few representative items or services, then offer to send the full list by e-mail to interested parties. Alternatively, include a link to your catalog on the World-Wide-Web. But be sure to include the requisite examples to prove that your ad is appropriate! Very few readers will scroll past the second page of your article, so be brief, don't waste space, but say what you need to. Post much more than 50 lines and the robots will automatically cancel your ad. Also, don't include blank forms in your posts. Present facts, eliminate hype. When you write your ad, just present technical information and facts. Do not include commentary or marketing hype. Because of the high level of education of most of the readers, marketing hype only wastes bandwidth and invites questions about your reputability. Present your product in a serious technical light and you will sell more in these newsgroups than if you present it as the biggest innovation since the atom bomb. Also, the laws of various consumer protection agencies about truth in advertising apply and are strictly enforced in their own way on the newsgroups. Please tailor your posts to each newsgroup. If you offer items which belong in different newsgroups, such as a variety of PC and Macintosh hardware, then please write a separate article for each of the intended groups. PC users do not like to sort through listings of Macintosh items, nor should computers or computer services be posted to the non-computer groups. Instead separate PC and Macintosh hardware into separate posts. You will lose sales if a PC user has to skip over a group of Macintosh hardware before finding your PC section. Posting to multiple biz.marketplace groups is another criteria for cancellation. Include _your_ e-mail address. If your e-mail host sends automatic replies, or if you don't regularly read mail in the account from which you are posting, please include an e-mail address in your ad where you, personally, can be reached. Autoresponders work well for responding to large numbers of catalog requests, but they don't work well when people have questions, comments, or complaints. Some Usenet Marketplace users will not do business with companies who refuse to make a live person easily accessible for questions. We also urge you to respond to such questions, comments, or complaints, as users will often complain to your system administrator if you cannot be reached. Post your ad once a month. If your offerings are continuous, please maintain a 1-month interval between posts, unless you need to make a correction. If someone posts a request in a *.discussion group for a service you provide, respond to her by e-mail rather than reposting your stock ad. Your ad may disappear at your site in a couple of days, but it will remain at other sites for 2 weeks or more. The one-month interval has been determined to be a reasonable compromise because of limitations on bandwidth and storage at most sites. Enforcement will be included in future robots. Learn how to cancel articles before you post. If your post escapes with an error, or if it needs a price correction, please cancel your original post before posting the update. See the section on cancelling articles for more information. Limit distribution of your post When you post to the Usenet Marketplace, your article is sent to thousands of news servers worldwide. If you don't want to deal internationally, or if your items are too large to ship, please limit your article distribution when posting. For more information, see the section on advanced posting topics. Finally, if you are unclear on any of these issues, please ask. It might save a lot of headaches later. ***A short guide to cancelling articles*** If you make a mistake when posting, or should you need to revise your ad, it is imperative that you be able to cancel it quickly. The most universal way to correct such problems is to post a corrected ad with a Supersedes: header at the top of your new message. To do this, you need the Message-ID: from your original article. Go into your newsreader, find your article, and look at the headers (you may need to type 'h' to see them). The top of your article should look similar to: Newsgroups: misc.forsale.non-computer Subject: BooBoo For Sale From: email@example.com [other headers] Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> [Article text after a blank space] In your new article, include the following line in your header: Supersedes: email@example.com An easier way if you use rn, trn, or nn as your newsreader is to type a capital 'C' while you are reading your original article. Then, post your new article (if any). Hitting 'C' cancels the original article and erases the text, although the subject line may not be removed at all sites. Some sites have other ways of cancelling articles. Talk to a local system administrator for help. -*-*-*-*-End ad-posting FAQ-*-*-*-*-