In regards to your first point about the poll. I don't personally think sending a private poll would have delivered different results. With over 140 members reading that poll while it was active, plenty had an opportunity to share their thoughts, but decided for whatever reason, simply not to. If we had of sent the same people the same question, I don't see why we would have gotten a different result personally.
In regards to people on the forum always looking for suppliers, that is of course correct and one of the driving reasons that I was pushing to have the new layer of suppliers introduced for members. As to why people ask for suppliers on the forum, well they are quite varied. Because we have a strict application process to go through, no every supplier is approved, which in turn means that we don't have an approved supplier for every product or for every country. The application process is ongoing and over time we hope to have a much greater range of suppliers for both countries and products, but our main focus is on providing safety first.
Having said that, one of the biggest reasons that members look for other supply options is specifically for eBay. It's a very common error for new members to make, thinking that everyone on eBay is a dropshipper and then not being able to work out why some eBay prices are the same or even a little cheaper than from some of the suppliers. Of course in many cases, what members are doing is comparing a seller on eBay who is buying in high volume wholesale, then selling at a highly reduced margin to create market dominance, against a dropshippers price. No matter how many suppliers you have in a directory, no one will ever be able to deliver that sort of value and keep everyone happy. That is a matter of educating members on what is realistic and what isn't, that's not an issue with the directory as such.
As a back up service for members who do struggle to find a supplier to suit their exact needs, we also offer to search outside of our own directory and verify a supplier for them to use where ever possible. So in regards to matching supplier inquiries with usable resources, no body puts in more effort than us.Link hidden: Login to view
To your second point, it's only meant personally if that is in fact what you are doing. I'm not aware of what you are sharing through PMs with members, but if you are in fact marketing your own products, then that does has to stop. The rule isn't aimed at you personally of course, we simply can't have a situation where a supplier's application is rejected, only to have them come onto the forum and market products via PM. We reject applications based on what we consider to be safety concerns, so to permit the supplier to then market to our members (who expect any supplier contact to have been fully verified by us) through other means would defeat the entire verification process.
I have no issues with the sharing of general information, in fact I absolutely welcome it. That said, my first responsibility is to maintain the safety of that information being shared for members and that is something I won't apologize for. Information of any sort, other that the sharing of supplier links or product information, is welcomed to be sent via PM between members. Information regarding suppliers or products is still welcomed by members to share, but we have to have them share it openly on the forum where everyone can share in the information and we can monitor it to ensure we can ensure the safety of such information.
Now I don't personally see why anyone would have a problem with that. The idea of sharing information such as suppliers or products should be to actually share it with anyone that might benefit, and that can be best done openly in the forum, not behind closed doors via PM.
Just to focus on your point about a moderator's role. It is in fact to maintain the integrity of the forum and ensure the guidelines are followed. That's exactly what I am doing, however I must inform members that if they disagree with any decision I make, they are able to formally complain to admin at Link hidden: Login to view
In regards to forum posting rules being stated upfront before members pay any membership money. We have a very generous refund policy in place for any new member to cancel their membership if they are in fact unhappy with any aspect of SaleHoo whatsoever, so that would include being unhappy with such a forum regulation. To be completely honest, I can't really imagine why this would be an issue for a member to start with. We market ourselves as a safe trading platform, one that watches out for it's members where ever at all possible (such as this situation)
In relation to you getting your value for your membership. You use the word "perceived" and of course I can't commit on what your perceived value is. Any advice you want to share is most welcome, including supplier or product information, so long as that is done on the forum and it is of course not related to your website or to your products. If you perceive your value in marketing your products to other members, then as a non approved supplier, we can't of course permit that.
In relation to the forum being diluted. I would say not at all, in fact if you or anyone else is aware of a better site for the sharing and learning of information about the world of e-commerce, then feel free to post it for others to make up their own mind.
In relation to being shackled. I just want to clarify one more more time that any information you are willing to share with other members is most welcome, so long as it falls within the forum posting guidelines as I've discussed above. The trading safety for members is paramount, and my decisions will always be made with that in mind because that is my charter as the forum manager.