Home > business, smugmug > Phil Askey has a point

Phil Askey has a point

June 23, 2006

While I’m still upset about the tone and method of dpreview’s message to us, I have to admit, after thinking about it a little bit and exchanging some private emails with Phil, he has a point.

We’re a ‘no ads, no spam‘ company, and would hate for our brand to be associated with any sort of spammy tactics. On the other hand, we feel like people should be able to recommend products they enjoy. I love the Canon 30D, for example, and I’m not afraid to tell everyone I meet. But there’s a line, and it looks like some of our customers may have crossed it. (Why on earth a few customers crossing the line results in the banning of an entire photo community, I don’t know, though.)

To that end, we’ve added some language to our referral information in our users’s Control Panel, and in the referrals help section on SmugMug. Specifically, the text reads: “Please: As you know, SmugMug hates spam, as we’re sure you do. We know you’re thrilled with SmugMug, but please refrain from using your coupon code in a pushy way that could be construed as spam. Thanks!”. I think that about sums it up, and it helps us and our customers be better Internet citizens.

To be clear: We never intended for our referral program to be some ‘free ride’ on forums or anything. The original intent was for friends and families to hook each other up. We’re happy to pay for advertising on message forums and websites.

I guess we’re just cursed with zealot customers. Oh darn. 🙂

Categories: business, smugmug
  1. June 23, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    Hi, I’m coming to this party late as I wasn’t aware of what dpreview was doing. While I think it’s commendable that you added that language to your referrals help section, I don’t think it was necessary. I read the original post that you linked to at the top, and it doesn’t seem like members were going overboard with their links. Posting similar things in forum signatures and so forth has been going on for ages. As long as there’s no pushiness on the part of the existing customers (sending private messages and emails to other forum members saying, “Hey did you sign up under my link yet?”) then everything should be ok. Too bad dpreview suddenly decided to take the opposite view on this one.

  2. June 23, 2006 at 6:50 pm

    You may recall that I was involved in the Dpreview thread before it was yanked. I think the verbage you added about coupon code usage is weak. It is far too vague as it sits. It should contain some language that gives an example(s) of what is pushy usage. Perhaps something like this, “For example, please do not include your coupon code in signatures on other forums.”

    If your intent is friends and family, then you really don’t want people including coupon codes in their online signatures.

  3. June 23, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    There’s got to be some reasonable technical solution besides Phil’s over-reaction.

    If Phil is amenable, you could probably put together a few perl scripts to spider his site and check every 13-digit word against your coupon database. Or feed all your coupon codes to Google site search. If you get a hit, you could contact the users involved and ask them to refrain, or just automatically change their coupon code, invalidating the old one.

    In fact, maybe you could change the coupon code every time it’s used. This would make each coupon a token that is only good for one transaction. Coupons on forum postings would then become invalid after they are used, which would discourage people from using them, which would discourage the practice of posting them. You could throttle the rate at which users get new tokens. E.g. 5 at sign-up, then one per month thereafter. That should be enough for friends and family.

  4. Joseph S.
    June 23, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    One thing you didn’t mention: did you and Phil discuss becoming an advertiser on dpreview.com? It was hard to imagine that smugmug asked and was ignored previously.

  5. emandi
    June 24, 2006 at 1:39 am

    Joseph, in the original thread that was removed at dpreview I read SmugMug has tried for several years to advertise at dpreview and Phil replied that he don’t want any money from SmugMug.

    It sounds like this is going to be solved soon though, but my respect for Phil is gone now. Not because of this but also because some other thinngs I have seen at dpreview earlier (imo immature censorship, lack of objectivity etc.).

    It feels like dpreview has become to big and that Phil thinks he can do as he please. Perhaps he can now, but if other treated dpreview as Phil now treats other it would never has become so big.

  6. June 24, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    It just proves that Smugmug & Dgrin are far, far better and more democratic than DPreview.

    One of the small points that I like about Dgrin is that discussions on the merits of other photo sharing sites are allowed to run their course without interference from the moderators and this blog often mentions competitors sites and praises them when it is appropriate. Mr. Askey should spend some time browsing through dgrin, he may get some hints on how to run a proper site.

    DPreview doesn’t have moderators for it’s forums and trolling is rife. Ugly flame wars are rampant yet his only concern is that smugmug offers a discount voucher?

    I have deleted his site from my bookmarks.

  7. WS
    June 26, 2006 at 11:01 pm

    Why not do this? Create a new alias for your referral program. So e.g., create referral.smugmug.com/accountid=xxxxx
    Explain to Phil that he can block all referral.smugmug.com. That will effectively kills all links that would be considered as advertising.
    Having dpreview block smugmug is a BIG deal for many users, including me. I really hope you can solve this ASAP.

  8. none
    July 23, 2006 at 11:45 am

    You had it coming. You folks are plain intense marketeers. You recognized its spam, but did nothing about it till dpreview threatened to block you ,which would be a loss to your business. So please don’t turn around acting like saints.

    The only reason you are reacting is because you fear lack of referrals.
    i hope you have the courage to let my post through.

  9. J-Mac
    August 2, 2006 at 12:32 pm


    Courage? To let you post your drivel? What on earth are you afraid of “none”? (Nice self-descriptive name!).

    I can see if people are using the referral link at a direct competitor’s website, like Flickr or Club Photo. That would be tacky. But using it at Dpreview doesn’t seem to such an offensive thing as some folks would have us believe.

  10. September 11, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    so how did you solve your problem?

  11. December 7, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    mlm business lead

  12. November 15, 2009 at 10:16 am

    LOL! these are great!

  1. July 12, 2006 at 3:54 pm
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: