Commercial transactions on the forums

Discussion in 'Forum Announcements and Feedback' started by Daniel Mosquin, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    NOTE: To read the thread that initiated this discussion, please see:

    As this discussion actually goes beyond the folks interested in Maples, I've moved it here since it pertains to the entire forums.

    Thanks, Michael, for the comment. My general guide is that if someone is actively seeking a plant, I'm alright with a nurseryperson stepping in to say they have it or another person recommending a place where they've seen it. I certainly don't want the forums to become an avenue for flogging someone's business, but if the person takes the time to participate and contribute in discussions, I'm more charitable in allowing potential "win-wins" in the public discussion part of the forum - person seeking plant finds plant, nurseryowner sells plant.

    On the other hand, I also feel that the Maples area of the forums is shared ownership with all of its contributors and in particular folks in the Maple Society - and if the general consensus is that things will get messy if people can promote their own nurseries publicly in any way (e.g., dueling nurseries discounting prices, or an assessment of another nursery without revealing bias: "Why would you shop there? I never would. Try Mel's Merry Maples instead!" from another nurseryowner), then the policy of keeping transactions to private correspondence is a far better one.

    What do people think?
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2005
  2. Andre

    Andre Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Bordeaux, France
    Re: Acer palmatum 'Tiger Rose'

    I think that nursery owners are welcomed here but all transactions questions must be done by private messaging and keep the forum for general informations directly linked to maple species.
  3. Andre

    Andre Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Bordeaux, France
    Re: Acer palmatum 'Tiger Rose'

    That means also that all private questions should not be asked on the forum ;-)
  4. mjh1676

    mjh1676 Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Southern Oregon
    Re: Acer palmatum 'Tiger Rose'

    Thanks for your thoughts Daniel.

    I have a number of concerns with regard to the fourm being used to facillitate the sale of plant material. The primary concern being that it detracts from the fourm, or specifically, from the "tread" the transaction occurs in. For example, look how many posts there are in this thread that do not further the information about the plant. Those viewing the thread must sort through all of the plant sale stuff to find the pertinent information.

    Secondly, and it may not be my place to say it, but those with nursery operations will be putting themselves at risk by conducting their business here. There may be people in this forum and other fourms that make a living propagating plants or reselling them, but you do not see them making it known. Actually the opposit in most cases, they try to conceal the who, what, and where of their bussinesses and employment. There is a reason for that.

    I think that if someone has plants to sell or a business to promote it is best done behind the scenes. In doing so, it keeps the forum on a professional and educational level and prevents "situations" from developing. I am greatful for the pictures yweride is posting but if it was to become apparant that anyone was using the forum for blatant financial gain or their motives are percieved to be less than respectable, then exchange in the forum really becomes inhibited. The information that we share about maples will not be readily shared in that environment.

    This is just one inquiry about the sale of a plant and that is no big deal, I just don't what things to get out of hand. I would even welcome the sharing of yweride's experiences with the nursery and the larger plants sizes he has. We do not see large plants of a newer cultivar like Tiger Rose available too often. But I also got a very large Will D and a large Enkan that all look like they came from the same grower. That is pretty unique to see that sort of thing in a world of liners and 1gal plants. So there is room for the nursery if he wants to share his experiences. The rest can happen in email and private messages.

    I think you have a good question about why people are not buying the larger more collectible trees like the Tiger Rose you have pictured. If you want to post it in the main forum, I would love to comment.

  5. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Re: Acer palmatum 'Tiger Rose'

    I have no objections to people letting others
    know of their inventories but I do question
    the merit of having people promote their
    plants for sale. The problem as I see it is
    that with so many Maples available for
    sale that we have in effect diluted these
    plants when few people to no one of any
    consequence seems to know what the plant
    is supposed to look like. Trust me, I get
    fooled as well and I've been around some
    of these plants longer than most of the
    members of the Maple Society have. That
    is not meant to be a put down by any means
    but there has to be a time when someone
    will stand up for the plant as so many others
    have not done it. I have about 7 pioneers in
    Maples to stand up for and I wish they were
    still around as we all could benefit from their
    knowledge of Maples, even when we may
    disagree with them at times.

    As one that has had photo images of some
    of the misses Maples snagged from this
    forum and used for commercial purposes
    outside of this forum from people that
    are not members to my knowledge of the
    UBC, I think I have the right to stand up
    and say that isn't kosher fellas. At least
    join these forums if you choose to take
    others photos online just to promote the
    sale of some of your plants or plants of
    others you brought in to sell!

    Andre, you ask any question you want as it
    pertains to Maples. Even challenge us or
    me if you see or read something that you
    are not sure about. I've posted information
    on cultivars of Maples not readily known by
    very many people alive or deceased and at
    times I have made comments that are contrary
    to what we see written in the books, so if you
    have a problem with some of my written content
    I am not going to get overly upset if you come
    back at me. I will take issue with any sass or a
    predisposed attitude from most anyone coming
    at me however.

    I started a thread a way back as I envisioned
    just how important this forum could become
    in time in that I was worried that we might have
    a certain online auction forum become an
    issue in this forum. We've seen evidence
    already of that online entity with sellers not
    selling true to name Maples and with some
    of those sellers having no real background in
    Maples whatsoever. Truthfully, I'd rather
    have yweride selling Maples, even through
    this forum if his nursery is legitimate rather
    than to have people that are nothing more
    than backyard growing shysters that will
    never be or become accountable for the
    plants they are selling online. I think we
    could use a few bona fide nursery people to
    help settle the issue of selling Maples online
    but I have not seen enough of them that I can
    trust to sell others or sell to me for that matter
    the right plant given the name they are selling
    the plant as being.

    How far do we go in letting others use this
    forum as their portal for selling? Then what
    happens when someone is not pleased with
    their plant they have purchased? There is
    no way then that a negative situation can
    be prevented from being perceived as being
    personal or become a regrettable matter for
    all of us to read in this forum without parental
    supervision or strict moderation from you and
    Eric, Daniel.

  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    WA USA (Z8)
    Re: Acer palmatum 'Tiger Rose'

    On another site with gardening forums they don't allow self-promotion because they sell ads and directory space. This site is non-commercial. However, I do agree that transactions conducted here would be a bore for everyone but the two participants. Like every type of discussion that would interest or amuse them only, those entering into a narrowly focused ("private") discussion might best be encouraged to take it up off the forum.

    There could also be the problem of other commercial interests objecting to a public entity (UBC Botancial Garden) "endorsing" a particular business by allowing them to describe or identify their wares on the forums.
  7. yweride

    yweride Active Member 10 Years

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    Portland, Oregon
    Re: Acer palmatum 'Tiger Rose'

    Wow, thanks for all the comments. I never expected my post to bring such a response.

    First of all, I would just like to say that I’m sorry if I have stepped beyond the boundaries or intentions of this forum. I’ am new and still getting the feel for it. Additionally, I do enjoy the forum very much and I will do what ever is necessary to see it continue to provide what it has for me, to other people.

    Secondly, I did not post our inventory I hopes of making sales. Instead, I hoped that it would provide people with some insight of the plant material, especially maples, which we carry. My pictures are posted with similar intentions; In addition they provide an education to their viewers. When I first got into maples I knew little about them, it was the people in the nursery business that helped me learn what I know now about them today. I have had great experiences learning from such people, people that spent the time with me showing me their nursery and their plants. After all, this is the reason that we are able to enjoy the cultivars that we all love. I hope whether a person comes out to our nursery or not, I am able to cycle some of the information that I have learned to inquiring plant lovers.

  8. Gomero

    Gomero Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Southwest France
    Re: Acer palmatum 'Tiger Rose'

    For the European forum users, and, among other things, since we cannot make commercial transactions across the Atlantic, we would rather see commercial issues outside threads that are intended to promote knowledge. It is a distraction that uses precious time. I trust that UBC does not regard their forum as only North American.

    Maybe UBC may consider a section where nurseries can promote their wares and thus only interested viewers will participate.

  9. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Re: Acer palmatum 'Tiger Rose'

    Even with the Sourcing Plants forum there is a liability
    as people are wanting seeds from various plants in which
    they have been told or have read "pie in the sky" ideas
    that the seeds will be true to the parent from fruit in
    which the parent was a grafted plant. I've seen enough
    just with the Citrus posts to know that online there are
    people more than willing to spread their BS around to
    others and at the same time benefit from it. People that
    have been around Citrus in any real capacity know that
    the game people are playing with so called true to name
    seed are just fooling themselves and unfortunately are
    hoodwinking others in the process. If the plants were
    cutting grown that produced a Grapefruit that we bought
    in a store then we may be in business growing seed from
    that fruit but even that is not a certainty that the seed
    will be true. People want the easy way out of not paying
    any money but to get seed instead thinking they have
    something special in the works. We know that is not true
    with Japanese Maples as well but we cannot convince
    everyone of that. People today have no clue as to how
    long some of our older Maples were around before they
    were ever named. 'Red Select' was around for almost 20
    years before it was named and then named by a fellow
    nurseryman in Oregon, not in California, where the plant
    was raised and first grown.

    I do not approve of anyone trying to sell plants through
    the UBC forums. I am not a nurseryman now but I am
    still in a horticultural consultant capacity in Oregon and
    if I feel the Maple or other plant is not what the source
    is selling it as being I can have what I write in this forum
    or in a private message come back to bite me.

    By letting others use this forum as a vehicle for selling
    we may perpetuate or encourage a sense of deception
    whether it was meant to be intentional or not. The
    excuse of I did not know the plant was not what I was
    selling it as being gets old and suspect rather fast.

    Last edited: Jun 5, 2005
  10. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Re: Acer palmatum 'Tiger Rose'

    Hi Eric:

    Don't get nervous I am not coming after you in the
    Tiger Rose thread. Although many people do not
    realize this yet we are all pretty much family in these
    forums. Sure, a brotherly spat may come about at
    times when some of us do not see things eye to eye.
    As long as we have good intentions there are times
    when some of us may disagree on fine points or details
    in which our comments can be quite beneficial to others.
    There are many subjects that have arisen in these forums
    that probably should be opened up for debate and actively
    discussed more than they are.

    In regards to the Citrus subject in my former post it is
    more of a matter that we, myself included, have not
    done a good job of educating people. Even then there
    will be some detractors just for the sake of being
    obstinate as they are right and the rest of us are

    I agree with Michael that if someone wants to inquire
    about the availability of a plant or pricing that they
    should conduct their business away from the forums.
    Inasmuch as I do not like private messaging at times
    all due to so many of the newer members that have
    not even posted in these forums writing me and asking
    questions about various plants, I still see the value
    of people asking such questions. I am not so sure
    that two parties working out a deal will be all that
    much of a bore for others to see but the mechanics
    of online selling through a forum does have some
    possible negative ramifications. We have to be select
    about it, steadfast in how we work it or things can
    get out of control fast. "Go to this link on eBay and
    see my auction" is exactly what I will not want to
    see happen in these forums.

    Last edited: Jun 5, 2005
  11. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Ok, my initial few comments, although more will follow:

    1) Although UBC BG initiated the forums and hosts them, discussion forums are interesting entities. At least in some ways, the discussion forums become the property of the community that emerges. What I'm seeing is a general consensus that the direction of the forums ought to tack toward being less permissive of anyone attempting to promote their own business (or others' business). I'm fine with this, so it then becomes a matter of how to support this (more on this in a bit).

    2) Ron B is absolutely right about being boring. Boring == death on the Internet (i.e., if something is boring, people will go elsewhere).

    3) Gomero is also bang on about international site users. The forums are intended for an international (English-speaking) audience - it's the nature of the Internet, after all.

    4) Eric - no problem. I personally don't think any less of you for your responses in that thread, and I'm glad to address the resulting discussion. I agree with Michael's and Jim's replies to your comments, and I would like to see the discussion that Michael wishes to occur happen somewhere in the forums.

    5) I recall reading somewhere that museums receive amongst the highest ratings by the public as trustworthy institutions. Botanical gardens, I imagine, likely have a similar regard. I always try to keep that in mind whenever I answer something on the forums, or post on the garden's weblogs, or correspond in emails - don't abuse the trust.

    Having open discussion forums does create potential for "scandal", and we've made some missteps along the way, but I'm of the belief that attempting to create a safe, non-commercial place to discuss plants is worth the hassle. I'm glad that so many of you have made comments along the lines of keeping UBC's nose clean of anything that appears untoward. With that kind of support from the community, I feel comfortable making a few policy changes for the forums that will decrease the chances of people abusing or trading off of UBC's reputation.

    To whit:

    i) We'll phase out the Sourcing Plants forum. Most of the answers on that forum can be addressed by a) providing people with guides on how to perform targetted local
    searches using tips and tricks with search engines b) providing people with a link to that site that has customer reviews of nurseries (with a statement of caution that anonymous contributions to such sites need to be taken with a grain of salt) and c) a statement of "buyer beware"

    ii) Creating an explicit policy statement that UBC bears no responsibility for the results of any private communications (email, private messaging) through the software on the UBC site, along with a guide on how to turn off private messaging, turn off emails and use the ignore functions

    iii) Working toward a no (or low) commercial transactions or promotions in public discussion forums policy. There are parts of it that are a bit grey in my mind still (e.g., a link to one's business site in a signature).

    Two next-to-final comments in response to Jim:

    A) Feel free to initiate any of those discussions up for debate in this forum

    B) The issue of image theft is perhaps the next one of those discussions? In response to your private message, no, UBC did not give them permission to use your images. If you want to start a discussion on how best to handle this, please move it to a new thread, though (also, you may want to copy and paste some of what you wrote here back into the original post about 'Tiger Rose', I can then erase those parts from here to make this thread more on target).

    My final comment is this: in one word, these forums are about "Plants". In ten words or less, these forums are about "Plants, and people who enjoy learning about and growing plants." As long as we view the issues or disagreements that creep up from time to time through that lens, I think we've got a good base to start from for the ensuing discussions (e.g., this thread!).
  12. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Vancouver BC Canada
    Hi, Daniel. While I recognize and agree with the need to address the commercialization of these forums, I believe the removal of the Sourcing Plants forum would be a loss of a valuable resource.

    While the Internet is a good tool for locating plants, it is but only one source. Nothing will replace that of a large number of ears and eyeballs, that of human intelligence. Note this also applies to net entries as search engines are not foolproof. And while a net search will locate sources worldwide it will not reveal those that are unwired and unconnected. This applies in particular to searches in a localized area. Even when sources are found, they may be international and unviable because of importation costs or restrictions.

    I would like to respectfully propose a compromise with the Sourcing Plants forum: Add a pinned thread to the top of the forum with information and hints on how to perform a net search. Change the forum description to encourage users to perform their own searches before requesting assistance via a posting. Monitor the situation and revisit if necessary.
  13. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Likes Received:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    I have not participated much or at all in the Sourcing
    Plants forum as I felt many people could have done
    their own searches to learn where some of these
    plants are or may be online. I also know that there
    are sources not online yet to be referenced as well.
    Personally, I would not want to see that forum go by
    the wayside just because of what I wrote above of a
    possible liability involved. Then again those same
    queries can be asked in other forums such as the
    Magnolia subforum in regards to does anyone know
    who carries a ‘Star Wars’ or where can I get that
    Magnolia? I'll be honest that for some plants I
    would like to know where to get them myself and
    I have checked online to search them out on my own.
    What we cannot do is force continued moderation
    of each and every online web site and have them
    checked out just to fulfill someone's question either
    as to the validity of the recommendation.

    The moderators cannot be expected to be married
    to the forums 24 hours a day. We have to take some
    responsibility in the types of questions we are asking
    and have some idea as to what the ramifications can
    be in regards of what the answers may be. If someone
    were to ask about sources for Michelias in British
    Columbia I would have no problem when jimmyq and
    junglekeeper cite sources they know are good, honest
    and professional. The area of concern will be the
    sources that none of us know of or the ones that are
    online today and may be gone tomorrow. How do we
    monitor or keep track of them if we do not know if
    they are legitimate or not just because we found them
    through a search engine? It is not the moderators
    job to check each one of the web sites cited by us
    to see if those sources are on the up and up or not.
    That is mainly our responsibility with our replies
    to the original question.

    A lot of people have joined the UBC forum just to
    ask where they can go to find or buy a specific plant
    they have been wanting. This is a delicate subject
    as I do not want to see anyone whose interest is
    genuine be turned away just because we have not
    figured out how to work things or due to abuse of
    a few posters acting on their own to promote their
    plants for sale or someone else’s that are obtainable.
    Seed sources are quite popular and if seed were
    widely available I can think of quite a few plants I
    would be wanting to grow but how can we separate
    what may lead to trouble later and still offer sound,
    friendly advice?

    I think in a few days time we may see a solution can
    be reached in that any attempt at commercialization
    in this forum will not be allowed, not solely due to
    choice but due to necessity. The Sourcing Plant
    forum may have to be viewed by us and others as
    being a service provided by the Botanical Garden
    as an online host exclusively for its registered
    members but that any subsequent recommendations
    made by us in no way reflects the viewpoints and/or
    the endorsement of the Botanical Garden. It all
    does become a real shame as friends of ours, even
    to the Botanical Garden itself that may be our first
    choices to recommend as sources for plant material
    may not get their due credit for years of outstanding
    service in the nursery trade and to others elsewhere
    as well. I kind of wish I had not mentioned the
    Sourcing Plant forum in my former post now.

  14. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    We may be able to keep the Sourcing Plants Forum, but we may need to change the rules. I have used the Forum to locate plants myself, so I see its value. Some people do seem to request sources for plants that are readily available. I think it should be a members only forum; people should be encouraged to do their own thorough search first, and use the forum as a last resort; and only private or email responses should be allowed.

    As far as the moderators checking on the links, I do this now. I read every post on the Forums and follow every link. I want to make sure they work and are on topic. We can not monitor 24 hours a day but someone is always watching. If members see anything inappropriate on the Forums they should send private messages or/and emails to me and Daniel.

    Barring information on commercial enterprises on the Forums would be very difficult. Sometimes it is what people need to know. Sometimes businesses are the ones doing the research and making the introductions. Caveat emptor needs to be kept in mind by all. I feel that discussion of business and market issues related to plants may be appropriate; many Forum members/readers are involved in some aspect of plant business. I do not think it is appropriate to discuss price, inventory or make any recommendations or judements about particular businesses. That should be discussed in private.

    These are just my thoughts. I think the issue needs more discussion and the thread is open.
  15. fourd

    fourd Active Member 10 Years

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    X-maryland now New Mexico
    At first glance this seemed straight forward to me -- if it is something of interest to all then post in forum and if it is private then use private. The original post could have been provate and we would have this thread. Or the sourcing forum seems adequate for thoes seeking a type of plant and shouldn't effect the other forums. But now that the host of issues have been posted, I see that it isn't so simple, but maybe something for the FAQs to address?
  16. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Just a small update re: one part of this topic. I've made the Sourcing Plants forum to be "Registered Members" only, which accomplishes a few things that make me more comfortable with having it - 1) search engines will not pick up new posts in the forum (and eventually lose old ones) and 2) people who post to the Sourcing Plants forum will have a valid email address, which is a minor bit of protection for UBC re: being able to contact all people involved

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