There are two types of commercial issues that we have to deal with as a community.

The first is a commercial solicitation that has nothing to do with Classroom 2.0, or Web/collaborative tools in education. Any individual or organization coming to our network who is clearly here to advertise a service unrelated to our common discussions will immediately be removed ("banned" in Ning terms) from the network. If you see a member record or come across any material that you feel falls into this category, please email steve@hargadon.com and I'll remove the account responsible. You can also do this privately by sending an email through http://classroom20.ning.com/main/index/report, which is also linked at the bottom of every page.

The second type of commercial solicitation requires a more nuanced, but no less definitive policy. These are individuals or companies who have created products or services which are in fact related to our discussions here. We need to have room for these folks to be active participants in the network--not to "pitch" their services, but because they have an interest in helping education and are often former educators who have seen a need that they are trying to fill. We want to encourage their participation because they can both add to regular discussions and can answer questions about their products or services better than anyone else.

If you are representing a commercial product or service that falls in this category, we ask first that you use your real name, and that you join as an individual an not as the "company." We also ask you not to post descriptions or pricing of your services in regular forum discussions or blogs, or in unsolicited personal messages or wall comments. Members who believe they are receiving such messages are encouraged to email me so that I can investigate.

Skip Zilla has set up a "group" for "shameless vendor promotions" where vendors can talk about product or service with all the gusto that you would like. However, if you post this material in the regular public areas, I will remove your account, which also removes all contributions you ever made to the network.

In no circumstance should a commercial entity or ever "friend" someone they are not already in contact with.

Hopefully, this policy balances the role of vendors in a healthy way. Please remember that we do want to encourage you to bring your experience, expertise, and thoughtful contributions to the rich array of discussions here. If a vendor is looking for a way to participate financially or to advertise, there are sponsorship opportunities for the virtual conferences--contact steve@hargadon.com for more information.

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I've received some additional complaints about Allen's use of Classroom 2.0 to promote his product. This is what I have sent to him today:

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Allen:

I've gotten a couple of complaints about your "commercial" posts, and I have to say I agree with them. I looked at your postings, and they are all attempts to promote your product. I think you are going to find that is going to really annoy the educators.

I think it is important to have vendors in the network, but your contributions need to be substantive additions to the dialog. I don't want to have to delete your account, but will do so if I get any more complaints. I would suggest you might consider deleting your existing commercial comments in forum threads.

Thanks,

Steve
Spot on. I was more than a little put off by the commercial aspects of the posting under discussion. Thank you for your vigilance.

Great teaching ideas can always become commercial properties. But the exchange of the idea, or the sharing of perspectives or variations on the idea, how sad that someone wants to put $$ on that!
I've also added a permanent link on the right side of the network pages to this thread called "Policies on commercial solicitations."
If you are a commercial vendor, I'd like to ask that you not initiate friend requests with people you don't know or haven't been in discussion with. It gives the appearance that you are abusing the system to get people to your commercial site.

I do receive complaints about this.
I'm new, and I'd rather not be the messenger shot... I agree with nonsolicitation policies for open forums like this. What I'm curious how you reconcile is the prominent advertising included on what looks like... every page. I'm not advocating accepting solicitations in posts (that's called "Spam"), but how do others feel about promoting the advertisers here?
That's a legitimate question. It's advertising my company's services (K12Computers.com), and before I did so I started a discussion forum and asked people how they would feel about it. You can read the dialog here: http://classroom20.ning.com/forum/topic/show?id=649749%3ATopic%3A4632

Ning is advertising driven, and when I paid the $20/month to get rid of the Google ads on the right, it just leaves a big blank space on the page. Having our ad there instead of the Google ads actually seems to make the site slightly faster loading. I honestly don't think we can track any sales to the ad on the site, but it has been my way of justifying my time in running the site... :)
The "wants to be your friend" emails have brought me one that I think really does reflect the interests I mentioned and five that I don't want to offend but don't know what to do about... it's nice, in a way, to be written to, so "decline" seems too brutal.

I really think this whole "friends" thing is a pseudo aspect of the software behind the site and that Classroom 2.0 would be none the worse without it. I think (on the analogy of the google-free speed) that it would cut unnecessary technical overload and make the really stimulating or challenging or supporting stuff more obvious.

So there you have a totally illogical combination of British reserve and my own shooting-my-mouth-off. Am really quite an aimiable person ... sez she. And I do appreciate people's labours of love and the amazing way thoughts can be shared here!
A fair and honest reply, and truly - its up to you to decide these policies and users decide whether they like them or not. You're certainly on the right track with an AUP that excludes overtly commercial postings and aggressively managing them... and if the advertising is controlled (i.e. the users/readers have a reasonable expectation as to what they'll see), it seems very manageable to me... all advice worth the price paid, of course (grin).
Steve,
I think you are on the right track. Is there some sort of AUP posted for Classroom 2.0
You'll see a link on the right above the K12Computers ad for this blog post. I guess we'll end up expanding it over time... :)
I agree with your comments Steve. There are many OTHER places for these types of messages.
Thank you! Gotten a couple of solicitations, both business and someone looking for a relationship - ICK!

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