How impartial are magazine forums?

  [DELETED] 15:19 06 Jun 2006

How impartial are magazine forums? As someone who has beening viewing this forum for a month before joining i got to see interesting mini battles appear. Are magazine forums free from the pressure of not writing bad reviews about their main sponsors or those who advertise a lot with them.

An example would be: Mesh Computers, yes a lot of negative things are written about them here & yes a magazine forum has to make sure nothing is said on their forum that is deemed to be slander or libel. But other forums let a more agresive approach to those voicing their views & those who are not tied to a magazine may well have more freedom.

Now we only hear probably from those who have an axe to grind against mesh. As it's natural to complain if something does not work, but to have a balanced virew on a company you need to hear a balanced view of both happy & unhappy customers to guage a good balanced view of a company.

I do hope that this post will be allowed as it would be interesting to see if others feel the same way or may have a different view on what they feel a forum should allow.

  [DELETED] 15:28 06 Jun 2006

I'm afraid I don't understand the question. "How impartial are magazine forums". The views expressed in this forum (for example) are those of the members, not the magazine. Except for when the FE exercises his editorial judgement. So, I have to ask, impartial to whom or what?

  [DELETED] 15:30 06 Jun 2006

but then agressive doesn't necessarily mean correct.

I have been a forum member for a long time and have also read the complaint strings. However, I also remember strings where the version of events initially posted wasn't exactly accurate and left out some important information which altered my perception of who was in the wrong. I always now remember that we are only seeing one person's perspective of a dispute and, to alter a phrase, it takes two to have a dispute and therefore at least 2 points of view.

I have never been concerned about FEs impatiality and have noticed many strings where he will support a reasoned complaint and help all he can - after all that is why this forum exists. One case in point is the issue recently highlighted with a certain brand of laptops/notebooks where the hinges [or whatever] were cracking and breaking.

No, I believe that this forum is just about perfect. The people who contribute do so in an adult [professional?] manner and I am proud to be an active member. I've seen other sites - possibly some of those you refer to - where a free-for-all can quickly become personal attacks on people. Not for me, I'm afraid1



  [DELETED] 15:30 06 Jun 2006

click here for the Forum rules (i.e. what is and what is not allowed).

How impartial? As impartial as 192,334 different members make it.

  [DELETED] 15:31 06 Jun 2006

folder4mags when a thread appears condemning a particular supplier you do see pro and con replies.

Unfortunately there is a minority who like to carry out a vendetta.

As far as the FE (essentially representing the magazine) is concerned I've always found him to be impartial; except justifiably (imho) in the case of those minority vitriolic writers.

  [DELETED] 15:35 06 Jun 2006

OK on other forums that are not connected to a magazine or are constrained by advertising revenue to certain companies. What happens if one of those comanies start to get heavily critisised for making bad pc's or for offering poor support does pressure or do people think pressure is put on FE's to clamp down on what negative posts can or can not be allowed as those who contribute to a magazine through advertising revenue may take a dim view of bad views.

  [DELETED] 15:40 06 Jun 2006

FE will remind you that he has no knowledge of who pays what in relation to advertising revenue and that PCA gives him free reign - and has done for a number of years - to run this forum as he believes fit.

I guess it lies with HIS impartiality. If someone oversteps the mark, they are told so either personally by email or on open forum [usually the first] and the chain can then be blocked or deleted, depending how serious the infringement is in the eyes of the FE.

And I have no problem with that at all!

  [DELETED] 16:17 06 Jun 2006

I was after peoples views on the subject, i'm not after stiring up a hornets nest, just interested on views of forum users.

  oresome 17:12 06 Jun 2006

Any supplier would be understandably miffed if they were constantly being portrayed in an unfair manner with no right of reply. Especially so if they were a major advertiser with the parent magazine.

To that end the FE has to ensure as far as possible that posters comments are fair and accurate.

Events are often challenged both by the FE and others, not because the poster isn't beleived, but to ensure all relevant facts are laid on the table.

There is an inevitable bias towards poor service, because people expect good service and don't feel the need to comment on it to the same extent.

  Forum Editor 18:21 06 Jun 2006

if I managed the forum threads on the basis of bias - there are too many people who have been here a long time, and they would certainly detect such an approach, and complain loud and long - and rightly so.

Over the years that I've been involved with the forum I've been accused of bias towards advertisers on a fairly regular basis - it goes with the territory. I'm never particularly worried by these allegations, because in my own mind I know that they're unfounded. I didn't apply for this job, I was invited to do it by the magazine. I am not a salaried employee, although I am paid a fee for writing a regular column, and as far as the forum is concerned the magazine's management allows me a free rein when it comes to editorial policy. and as far as I am concerned that's just the way I like it. The day that the magazine's management told me to give special treatment to an advertiser, or dictated to me about editorial policy would be the day that I walked away from the forum for good - I simply wouldn't be interested in working that way. To their eternal credit the magazine management have never done that, and I know that at times I have expressed views that were not exactly favourable as far as some advertisers were concerned.

That's life, and in my view if we set out to run a serious computer and consumer help forum there's only one way to do it, and that's professionally. I can't stand those forums which pretend to be there to help people, but are in truth simply vehicles for unfettered and misinformed rants about almost anything and everything. There are people who believe that simply because a member of the public posts a vehement condemnation of a company we must all stop what we're doing and allow such stuff to roll on. Nothing could be further from the truth. In my experience the customer isn't always right, in fact he/she is often wrong, and we sometimes see wildly innacurate posts about suppliers and products. I'm not prepared to sit there and allow anyone to say just about anything and get away with it - simply because he/she is a 'consumer'.

I believe that we are far more likely to get a better deal for consumers if suppliers perceive us to be fair-minded and reasonable, rather than sycophantic supporters of every complaint that is posted. That's my view, and time has proved me right, more often than it's shown me to be wrong. Sometimes I smell a vendetta - people who jump into every and any thread about a supplier because they hold a grudge. I'm not prepared to provide those people with a platform on which they can vent their anger gratuitously - there has to be a point to it.

All in all I don't think we do too badly - we've helped thousands of people to get the fair treatment they deserve. Of course I've made mistakes - and sometimes I've probably treated somebody with a little less understanding than they deserved. It's bound to happen, but I don't think it happens too often. We've made some valuable allies with suppliers, and there quite a few companies who will listen to me if I make a personal approach on behalf of a forum member. They'll do that because over time they've learned we'll give them a fair hearing too, rather than blindly accepting everything that gets posted in our threads at face value.

I think there are quite a few other forums who would like to be as busy as we are, and I know lots of people who tell me we're far from being the worst magazine forum around. If I have anything to do with it we're going to carry on running our forum with honesty and integrity, and if some people don't like my methods I'm sorry - I'm not going to lower our standards in any way, just to become a bit more popular.

  [DELETED] 18:31 06 Jun 2006

FE the reason to start this thread was not to start anything or to grind an axe at anyone company. Purely to see what others & yourself viewed how this and other forums act.

It is refreshing to see all the comments that have been aired on this subject and to see that this is run in such a professonial way, it's a credit to the yourself & the other forum users.

And I for one hope i have a long stay as a member of this forum & can become someone who can contribute and help others along the sometimes rocky path of IT

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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