Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges


Completely off the Topic of Tea

Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby tenuki » May 21st, '13, 17:03

This is a proposal to add a feature to teachat forums and IM.

There are so many vendors on here it's difficult sometimes to distinguish the regular users from vendors. I think it would be very helpful to add a 'vendor' badge or ribbon across the corner of the icons of users who are vendors both in instant messenger and in the forums. This may be similar to the 'online' badge or a small colored frame around their picture or whatever.

Comments by vendors on all sorts of topics have an entirely different context and weight than comments by regular users, and I think knowing who is a vendor would be very very helpful in filtering information and giving it proper context.
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby SilentChaos » May 21st, '13, 18:02

I agree and disagree. If I'm writing in my role as a vendor, sure slap a vendor badge on I don't mind. However, if you do, I would demand some way for me to appear in personal capacity. Fair?
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby Chip » May 21st, '13, 20:31

This is a bit of a sticky wicket. TeaChat in its determination to repel spam has not permitted vendors to use their business name nor logo as part of their user name not as their avatar. (an exception being TeawareArtisans) Of course then their is the ultra covert vendor who posts the false testimonials. :roll:

Adding a banner or whatever counters this long standing tradition.

Also, as SC has alluded to, some vendors may not really want the designation ... they come here to discuss tea for the sake of tea. While others might appreciate the designation.

Perhaps TeaChat has evolved a bit or is in the process of evolving ... or we have accumulated quite a few vendor members slowly but surely. Where once upon a time, we could easily list the vendor members with only a few fingers. Now even I have lost track.

Perhaps a vendor member list in a seperate topic. Or a topic where vendors would announce their vendor affiliation? This way members could visit the topic and know who is who.
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby tenuki » May 21st, '13, 21:29

So in order to prevent vendor misbehavior we hide who the vendors are? Seems a bit counter intuitive to me. :?

I was thinking more thinking it was a positive, ie people in the tea business usually have more/better information to share due to being closer to the action but I guess this is the internet where everything is inverted from common sense?
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby wyardley » May 21st, '13, 22:10

I agree with Chip about the policy issues. But also, I do think that vendors don't really "get" to speak purely as a private person. If people know you run a business, in a sense, you're always representing it, whether you like it or not

Also, I think with tea vendors, a lot of the time, whether intentionally or not, their opinions shape their sales agendas and vice-versa -- and sometimes it's hard to know which for sure. I don't mean that in a really cynical way (and I know that a lot of the tea knowledge we have access to comes to us via vendors, not to mention that being a professional often gives someone certain advantages), just... I think that if you want to keep your ability to speak as a private individual, don't start a tea-related business in the first place.
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby gingkoseto » May 22nd, '13, 00:00

I think it's worth consideration and also requires caution. Some forums (mostly English language forums) openly encourage vendor to include affiliation in ID. For example, my ID on another forum is like, "gingko (manager of blabla)"

But some forums (mostly Chinese language forums, because there are millions of tea sellers in China :mrgreen: ) strictly ban this ID thing, because this could potentially serve as a form of advertising - sometimes highly efficient or highly annoying, depending on the context.

However generally on teachat, I don't see much of concern on either side (but I'm blunt...). In fact, sometimes people (whom are knownly non-sellers) hold very different opinions as mine, which almost made me feel they sound like sellers (I mean, opinions like "you should have one teapot for each type of tea", "the more expensive teas are better", kind of things... :mrgreen: )
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby SilentChaos » May 22nd, '13, 00:33

wyardley wrote:But also, I do think that vendors don't really "get" to speak purely as a private person. If people know you run a business, in a sense, you're always representing it, whether you like it or not. ... I think that if you want to keep your ability to speak as a private individual, don't start a tea-related business in the first place.


But tea is a rather broad topic... Would that mean I shouldn't really be allowed to keep my ability to speak as a private individual about jpy tea?

Also, I'm just thinking to myself here that if I were to have my vendor hat on all the time, I would in large measures cease to be critical in talking about teas. After all, teas in question ultimately come from other vendors....
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby victoria3 » May 22nd, '13, 01:20

For me this question brings up something I've been wishing for, that each member have their own page, in an expanded version of what presently exists, that includes their info, posts and images in an easily accessible visual format. Right now, if I read a post and am curious where the comment is coming from, I have to wade through back and forth clicks to get info on that member, to better understand where the comment is coming from. If you like I can post an example. Parallel to this line of thought, I also wish categories and subcategories were better organized - I have noticed multiple reposting of the same category or question that can only be found in a search - these could be placed in specific folders. I enjoy the depth and breadth of this site, and realize that this involves a change in its visual structure, at any rate I thought I'd throw my two cents in.
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby Evan Draper » May 22nd, '13, 11:37

People are allowed to list their websites, whether they are commercial or not. So by checking out someone's website, it's not difficult to see if they're a vendor or not. I think if we are going to highlight vendors for truthiness purposes, it should affect how any commercial URL displays, and not the member's overall identity. Perhaps a green border around the badge of any website that is commercial? It's a lot of work for Chip--perhaps if people can volunteer that their website is commercial, Chip only has to double-check the others.

Though with all the gray-market business going on, it's tough to draw a distinction between who is a vendor and who isn't....

Overall, I'm happy with profile pages, and dislike forcing conversations into sticky topics.
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby sherubtse » May 22nd, '13, 11:40

tenuki wrote:This is a proposal to add a feature to teachat forums and IM.

There are so many vendors on here it's difficult sometimes to distinguish the regular users from vendors. I think it would be very helpful to add a 'vendor' badge or ribbon across the corner of the icons of users who are vendors both in instant messenger and in the forums. This may be similar to the 'online' badge or a small colored frame around their picture or whatever.

Comments by vendors on all sorts of topics have an entirely different context and weight than comments by regular users, and I think knowing who is a vendor would be very very helpful in filtering information and giving it proper context.


Very good point, this.

I absolutely agree that there should be some indication of vendors on TeaChat. We need to know who may have a conflict of interest in their posts.

I know some of the vendors, but I am sure there are others whom I don't know. And of course newcomers may not know any.

In order to properly assess vendors' comments regarding a potential conflict of interest, it is important to know that they are in fact vendors of particular tea(s).

How to do this is of course another issue entirely. Perhaps each vendor could have a simple statement to that effect in a signature which would always be appended to their posts.

For example:

John Doe
Owner, Happy Tea Co.
[website URL]

Having said all of this, I really like comments from vendors and would hate to lose them. Hopefully a solution acceptable to all can be reached.

Best wishes,
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby Chip » May 22nd, '13, 13:32

(pardon my ramblings ... )

One thing that I do encourage vendors to do, include there www in their profile which then shows up as a clickable link in each of their posts. I do not ask vendors to hide their vendor affiliation. However, a fundamental of TeaChat is that it does not become a haven for spam/spammers.

I go on some forums, and I see the abuse of signatures which were disabled a long time ago (one of the very few things a former mod and I actually strongly agreen upon). What happened was posters would just do a ton of nonsense posts just to have their www in their signature posted repeatedly ... never mind how idiotic and obvious it made them appear.

Unfortunately (I think), vendors sometimes hide their identity completely. Sometimes I can play detective when they leave some telltale signs. Although I endeavor to befriend vendors as much as possible, I soon realized I will not be able to befriend all as I often stand between them and free license to advertise on TeaChat.

It is not uncommon for a vendor to join with their business as their username. Since this has been a no no for 6-7 years, they are notified and a new name is required. After changing their name to something more ... personal, they soon realize that TeaChat is not going to be an easy place to advertise and score google points ... they often never post.

Seeing the literal plethora of vendors today, you can imagine how often this happens.

I do see both legitimate sides to this coin. A way will have to figured out to stand the coin on its edge so as to not offend one side or the other. Transparency without being easily abused.
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby Devoted135 » May 22nd, '13, 13:37

I like the idea of being able to figure out who is a vendor, but also agree that ideally vendors should be able to participate both as a tea lover and a representative of their company. To me, this is akin to how sometimes Chip posts as a member, and sometimes he has to put his "moderator hat" on.

Perhaps it could be as simple as a "vendor" notation under the avatar, exactly where Chip's says "moderator"? The suggestion of a sort of profile page is a nice one too.
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby tenuki » May 22nd, '13, 14:10

Spam can take all sorts of forms. A friend of mine was once hired by a company as 'Net Presence', which basically meant he hung out on forums and promoted them subtly and outside the context of actually working for them. This was back in the mid 90s, things have evolved way past that nowadays. Youtube personas promoting products under the guise of regular people having regular lives ( who don't actually exist ), paid product placement in movies and TV, etc, the list of illusions for dollars is endless. It's not as simple as obvious spam anymore, it never really was. The real danger is when you think you are in a safe place ( like teachat ) and you let your guard down.

Don't get me wrong - I love being able to talk to vendors here - the increased number of vendors in the past few years is one of the reasons I came back after a long hiatus. There are a lot of really great, generous and ethical vendors on here who share their knowledge and love of tea with the rest of us and we all benefit.

I don't think it is black and white - using vendor badges may actually make teachat seem more 'safe', and 'sock puppet' accounts would then have more power. My proposal was less because I believe it's 'required' or 'best' and more because I was aware of a problem and thinking a conversation about it would be productive. Maybe there is a solution we haven't thought about yet. Maybe make it available and voluntary?
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby SilentChaos » May 23rd, '13, 04:03

Devoted135 wrote:I like the idea of being able to figure out who is a vendor, but also agree that ideally vendors should be able to participate both as a tea lover and a representative of their company. To me, this is akin to how sometimes Chip posts as a member, and sometimes he has to put his "moderator hat" on.


Although I would prefer to have the option to participate both as a vendor and as a tea lover, ...... are most vendors CAPABLE OF or WILLING TO separate themselves in this way? Although I disagree with Wyardley's conclusion, I do agree with him that:
wyardley wrote: tea vendors, a lot of the time, whether intentionally or not, their opinions shape their sales agendas and vice-versa -- and sometimes it's hard to know which for sure.
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Re: Teachat feature proposal - vendor badges

Postby MEversbergII » May 23rd, '13, 11:29

Isn't it a little weird that Adagio would be for letting what are essentially competitors promote themselves on their forum?

M.
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