Buy/sell/trade on SFF Forum - A first draft for the community

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PlayfulPhoenix

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Update:

Buy/Sell/Trade section is now open: https://smallformfactor.net/forum/category/buy-sell-trade/

Please leave any thoughts or feedback here: https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/buy-sell-trade-feedback-thread.846


Hey all,

As has been mentioned in this thread, we've been discussing internally whether or not we want to provide a buy/sell/trade section on the forum given the interest expressed - and we've additionally been debating the best way to provide such a thing given the particular moderating and other challenges it tends to invite. We're at a place where we've written up rules and guidelines, and as such we want to continue talking through it in a public place so that the community can participate.

The current "draft" for the rules and guidelines is below. We are looking for feedback across all aspects, including things we many not have thought about and captured. That said, an abbreviated version highlighting the most important bits would be as follows:
  • SFF Forum would have a buy/sell/trade section that functions in much the same way newspaper classifieds or Craigslist does, with some rules that look to maintain decorum and restrict certain items from being sold or bartered. SFF Forum would have no liability whatsoever for these transactions, and total discretion for what is posted, though we will provide moderation and guidance in order to make the section as safe and friendly as possible
  • As an anti-spam measure, only forum members with supporter status would be allowed to create new threads soliciting buy/sell/trade transactions (the reasoning for which you should read below). That said, all forum members would be allowed to post on threads created by others, and reach out to complete transactions - we would only require those initiating the 'buy/looking to sell/looking to trade' transaction (i.e. the thread starter) to be a supporter, and only at the moment they create the thread.
  • SFF Forum will moderate posts, and will require all negotiation or discussion of a post to occur on the forum itself, either through posts or private conversations. This enables us to moderate as much of the exchange as possible, even while preserving privacy when things go swimmingly (see rule 9 for an explainer).
  • Finally, and not mentioned below, we'd create an additional "Community Deals" section, where members can share links and information regarding good deals on products that are available online or otherwise. We'll have rules and such for that section drafted soon.
We sincerely believe that the draft as-is represents one of the best possible implementations of a buy/sell/trade section that can plausibly and practically exist, but we also recognize that some of the restrictions and decisions are open to debate in terms of how beneficial they are. We also know that the community as a whole is going to be a bit more thoughtful about some things than the mindshare of just a few people. So to do this right, we want to have the community voice their opinion, and build on that feedback, before we finalize anything and build this feature out.

Our thanks upfront for reading, considering, and participating in the creation of this feature. We look forward to having a productive conversation about the best way to provide a marketplace to the community!

- Joshua

-----

Marketplace Section Rules:
  1. SFF Forum reserves the right to edit or delete threads and posts; block or ban users and IP addresses; and otherwise retains complete control and discretion with respect to what can be submitted and published, at all times, for all posts and threads.
  2. The public is allowed to read all threads and posts; all SFF Forum members are allowed to submit posts in response to a thread; as an anti-spam measure, only forum members who are supporters can post a thread and begin/initiate solicitations for transactions (non-supporters can purchase a one-month Bronze Supporter subscription to qualify - see below for an explainer as to why we do this).
  3. All threads must be tagged as [Selling], [Buying], [Trading] or [Trading For], and the title and descriptions for all threads must be honest and representative of the item; for [Selling] and [Buying] threads, a price must be specified; for [Trading] and [Trading For] threads, the item(s) being traded and/or desired must be specified.
  4. All threads and posts must be civil and meet the level of decorum of the site as a whole, and all posts in response to a thread must pertain to the thread itself.
  5. All posted items must be 100% legally owned by the user, and the sale or transaction of such items must be in accordance with all EULAs, contracts, or other binding agreements with the manufacturer/developer/creator.
  6. Posts can only be for buying, selling, or trading - meaning that contests, raffles, gift payments, auctions, or any other means of transaction are not allowed.
  7. The following items are blacklisted: alcohol, tobacco, coupons, weapons, pharmaceuticals, currency, securities, financial instruments, MLM products/membership, pornography, and services of any kind.
  8. Pictures and/or video may be posted, but they must be representative of the item.
  9. If two parties decide they are interested in transacting with one another, they must use SFF Forum's private messaging functionality for communication between each other to negotiate and decide upon terms (SFF Forum respects user privacy, and cannot see these exchanges unless we are invited to the conversation, or a participant reports the conversation to us - we require communication within the forum so that rule violations can be reported and appropriately dealt with).

-

Why only supporters can post threads:

Most other forums use a member's number of posts as a filter with respect to who can post buy/sell/trade solicitations. These same forums, by their own admission, recognize that this is a poor method of filtering out 'bad' folks from 'good' folks. We don't want to use a method that's known to be bad. So instead, we require that thread starters be 'supporters' of the forum. Those who are already supporters already qualify to post threads (and thus initiate solicitations); for those who are not, this effectively requires that such users spend $2 on a one-month Bronze Supporter subscription, at the time that they post. Here's why we do this:
  1. Post counts, or account age, do not prevent spammers from polluting buy/sell/trade sections. Making posts or waiting a while costs next-to-nothing and scales nearly infinitely. Furthermore, such a policy also blocks out a substantial portion of genuine users, because of its imprecision. Requiring that thread starters be forum supporters, comparatively, places a very low cost on genuine users, but makes the cost of spamming SFF Forum prohibitively high for bad actors.
  2. $2 shouldn't be a burdensome cost for individuals looking to transact things on the forum. It's also substantially lower than fees charged by eBay or other commerce websites.
  3. To become a forum supporter, individuals must have a PayPal account, or provide PayPal with a valid credit/debit card and address, thus verifying that all solicitors have these.
  4. As a bonus, you get all the perks of being a Bronze Supporter.
To be clear, this policy is not going to be a substantial revenue-driver for SFF Forum. Furthermore, this only prevents non-supporters from creating threads that initiate buy/sell/trade transactions - all members are able to post on threads (if they want to purchase an item someone is selling, for example).

We've chosen to implement this policy because we believe it will lead to a better buy/sell/trade section, simply put. We may be rare among forums in having a cost of entry to initiate buy/sell/trade, but we're not rare at all in pointing out that all the other methods of keeping such a section healthy don't work at all. We just seem to be the only forum that's choosing to not do what we know doesn't work.

-

Transaction Guidelines:

For sellers:
  1. If you post an item and it is eventually sold, close the thread you've made.
  2. If anything about your item changes after you have created a thread for it - including price - update your thread ASAP to reflect as such.
  3. Always wait to send an item until you have received payment from the buyer.
  4. Never accept a wire or a check as payment. Accept cash in-person, or digital payments via PayPal or similar services when shipping your item, and nothing else.

For buyers:
  1. If you buy an item you were looking for, close the thread you've made (if you made one).
  2. Always use PayPal or another payment service that provides anti-fraud, transaction dispute, or other such forms of recourse.
  3. Always demand that an item being shipped is tracked, and always ask for the tracking number. Request insurance or certified mail if you desire it.

For traders:
  1. If you post an item for trade or an item you want to trade for, and you've conducted the trade, close the thread you've made.
  2. If anything about your item changes after you have created a thread for it, update your thread ASAP to reflect as such.
  3. Always demand that an item being shipped is tracked, and always ask for the tracking number. Request insurance or certified mail if you desire it.

-----
 
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Phuncz

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Very nice opening post @PlayfulPhoenix and @Aibohphobia , that took a good chunk of your time. Well done, I'm hoping the people will give us a lot of feedback.
 
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EdZ

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May 11, 2015
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All threads must be tagged as [Selling], [Buying], [Trading] or [Trading For], and the title and descriptions for all threads must be honest and representative of the item;
Might also be a good idea to mandate tagging for item location (either by country, or at least by region). Unlike (for example) Bit-Tech, SFFN has a pretty worldwide userbase, and one that is probably more familiar than the norm with international shipping.

If you post an item and it is eventually sold, close the thread you've made.
Some clarification may be needed for handling multi-item sales. Maybe that the thread title and OP post must be modified if an item is sold, and closed once all items are sold.

One thing that might not be a hard-rule but a recommended/courtesy would be to leave in place the sale price of items after they are sold. This makes it easier for people selling a similar item to gauge its resale price.
 
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danielbatmanj

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May 16, 2016
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Very happy to see this, mostly because I am looking to downsize my build and would like to sell the old parts.
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
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Feb 22, 2015
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Might also be a good idea to mandate tagging for item location (either by country, or at least by region). Unlike (for example) Bit-Tech, SFFN has a pretty worldwide userbase, and one that is probably more familiar than the norm with international shipping.

That's a good idea.
 

PlayfulPhoenix

Founder of SFF.N
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Feb 22, 2015
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Some clarification may be needed for handling multi-item sales. Maybe that the thread title and OP post must be modified if an item is sold, and closed once all items are sold.

I think we'll start by having folks do separate posts or roll-ups (all items in one post), and update the rules from there. I suspect we won't have a massive wave of listings, so in the short term I don't think imposing a post limit is necessary.
 

iFreilicht

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Very nice! I think the rationale behind only allowing supporters to post is sound and the rules are sensible and clear for the most part.

This one is a little washy, though:

7. The following items are blacklisted: alcohol, tobacco, coupons, weapons, pharmaceuticals, currency, securities, financial instruments, MLM products/membership, pornography, and services of any kind.

As an edge case, what about someone selling a case with an airbrush of a pin-up girl on the side panel? Is that pornography?

"Services of any kind", does that mean that customisable items are not allowed to be sold? For example, if one is selling a short Zotac 970 and offers to cut the front of the fan shroud off to shorten it, are they allowed to do that or not? If one is selling a case, are they allowed to offer doing modifications to that case by buyer specification? Or is this just about selling "just" a service with no product attached?

I also saw no rules about self-made items, so I guess someone could sell their custom case design through SFFn, correct?

You might also want to revise the wording of rule 3:

All threads must be tagged as [Selling], [Buying], [Trading] or [Trading For], and the title and descriptions for all threads must be honest and representative of the item; for [Selling] and [Buying] threads, a price must be specified; for [Trading] and [Trading For] threads, the item(s) being traded and/or desired must be specified.

Does that mean that I have to add "[Selling]" to the tags of my post? Or does it mean that I have to put "[Selling]" in the title? Or both? Might there be a mechanism in Xenforo that allows you to force the user to choose a title-tag?

Also:

If two parties decide they are interested in transacting with one another, they must use SFF Forum's private messaging functionality for communication between each other to negotiate and decide upon terms (SFF Forum respects user privacy, and cannot see these exchanges unless we are invited to the conversation, or a participant reports the conversation to us - we require communication within the forum so that rule violations can be reported and appropriately dealt with).

I think it should be specified that this is only the case if the two parties found each other through the post on SFFn. There is (and should be) no rule that prohibits posting the same item on a different forum, and if that is the case, it isn't required that the two users communicate on here.
 
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EdZ

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May 11, 2015
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I think we'll start by having folks do separate posts or roll-ups (all items in one post), and update the rules from there. I suspect we won't have a massive wave of listings, so in the short term I don't think imposing a post limit is necessary.
The only issue here is system-breaking: if you have a set of components you would prefer to offer as a bundle, but with the option open for selling the individual parts separately if there is demand.
"Services of any kind", does that mean that customisable items are not allowed to be sold? For example, if one is selling a short Zotac 970 and offers to cut the front of the fan shroud off to shorten it, are they allowed to do that or not? If one is selling a case, are they allowed to offer doing modifications to that case by buyer specification? Or is this just about selling "just" a service with no product attached?
A separate forum for 'services offered' could work, but that starts verging a little more towards a commercial marketplace.
 

PlayfulPhoenix

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As an edge case, what about someone selling a case with an airbrush of a pin-up girl on the side panel? Is that pornography?

It's an infamously ambiguous label, but we probably won't specify beyond it since what we see as 'pornography' is contextual, subject to change, and is at any particular moment an interpretation that others might not share.

When in doubt, users should ask us if something would be afoul of the rules - I'll add that to the above list.


"Services of any kind", does that mean that customisable items are not allowed to be sold? For example, if one is selling a short Zotac 970 and offers to cut the front of the fan shroud off to shorten it, are they allowed to do that or not? If one is selling a case, are they allowed to offer doing modifications to that case by buyer specification? Or is this just about selling "just" a service with no product attached?

In those cases, they're selling products with the option that they are modified, but they're still products. Without the item up for sale, there is nothing to be sold. They would be allowed.

If such a person instead offered to receive someone's already-owned graphics card, modify it for them, and then ship it back, that would be a service, and would not be allowed. They are not providing a tangible good, they are only providing a transformation of a good, which is a service.


Does that mean that I have to add "[Selling]" to the tags of my post? Or does it mean that I have to put "[Selling]" in the title? Or both? Might there be a mechanism in Xenforo that allows you to force the user to choose a title-tag?

We'll have to explore what's possible and clarify. I'll get back to you on this.


I think it should be specified that this is only the case if the two parties found each other through the post on SFFn. There is (and should be) no rule that prohibits posting the same item on a different forum, and if that is the case, it isn't required that the two users communicate on here.

I'll update Rule 9 to reflect that the requirement only applies to negotiation over posts on our forum - though this is implied since the rules only pertain to posts/threads on this forum anyhow.


The only issue here is system-breaking: if you have a set of components you would prefer to offer as a bundle, but with the option open for selling the individual parts separately if there is demand.

Some forums have rules requiring that users bundle all 'items' into one thread, in order to decrease the number of threads and overall clutter. We will not have this rule to start because we don't think thread volume will be an issue. However, we may decide to introduce such a rule, or similar rules, if we decide down the line that it is necessary to keep the section healthy.

We would never not allow items to be posted together - I don't see a good rationale for ever imposing such a limitation. Currently, it's up to the individual to separate out items or bundle them together.


A separate forum for 'services offered' could work, but that starts verging a little more towards a commercial marketplace.

I also saw no rules about self-made items, so I guess someone could sell their custom case design through SFFn, correct?

We see an opportunity to provide a "commercial marketplace" that's more structured, where we're more involved, and where services and projects meant to sell bespoke products can exist. However, that's beyond the scope of the buy/sell/trade section.

We will not allow services of any kind because they are more prone to fraud, and because SFF Forum would be subject to other liability concerns that would complicate many things for us. "Projects" would be allowed presently, since they don't really break any rules we think are important to implement, but the intention of the busy/sell/trade section is to support individual-to-individual transactions. We may later on decide that they shouldn't be present in the buy/sell/trade section, if we believe that they ultimately detract from the section as a whole.
 

danielbatmanj

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May 16, 2016
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Does the thread starter really have to be paying? I'm 14 and will be looking to sell in the near future and my parents are like why would you pay for a forum that you already use for free??
 

iFreilicht

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Does the thread starter really have to be paying? I'm 14 and will be looking to sell in the near future and my parents are like why would you pay for a forum that you already use for free??

I think the rationale is very clear. If you are 14, you are in a grey area in terms of selling and making contracts anyway. If you have your own debit/credit card, you can use that to pay with paypal. If you don't, how would you receive the money anyway?

If your parents ask you, it's very simple to explain: You want to sell items that are probably worth a good deal more than 100$. To make sure that you're legitimate, the forum requires you to pay a fee of 2$ first, this is a safety-measure against automated spam and verifies that you are able to pay/receive money. If you want to sell lemonade, you've got to buy lemons first.

On the other hand, you can also just look out for [Buying] threads where someone is searching for an item that you sell. That way you won't have to pay the fee, but it will take longer for you to sell your items.
 
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PlayfulPhoenix

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Does the thread starter really have to be paying? I'm 14 and will be looking to sell in the near future and my parents are like why would you pay for a forum that you already use for free??

Well, beyond the buy/sell/trade section, the two reasons would be:
  1. Because forums cost money to keep alive, especially when they choose not to rely on crummy ads.
  2. Because you get perks that you otherwise wouldn't get.
Specific to the buy/sell/trade section, I'd say:
  1. Because the forum uses supporter subscriptions as a means to filter out spammers, which makes the section better for everyone, which means more people will use it.
  2. Because it enables me to sell desirable items to the exact community that values those items and would want to buy them.
  3. Because $2 is still a lot less than what eBay or a similar site would charge me.
To be sure, using supporter subscriptions as the 'filter' for starting threads was something we deliberated internally before sharing anything with you all. As I wrote in the rationale for it, we're rare in having that rule - but we think in balance it makes a lot of sense. Anyone selling $100 or more in items shouldn't really notice $2, but they will certainly notice a spam-free section enabled by way of the fact that spammers aren't going to provide a CC/address or PayPal account to us.

We do want to hear from you all with respect to why that policy is a good or bad idea, though, as well as any alternatives we might not have considered. Please do express those thoughts if you have any!
 
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iFreilicht

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We do want to hear from you all with respect to why that policy is a good or bad idea, though, as well as any alternatives we might not have considered. Please do express those thoughts if you have any!

I think it is a great idea. Other forums don't have this option because Account Upgrades aren't build into the forum software, but I think more of them should use something similar.

It is much more effective at spam prevention than any other method I could come up with and scales much better than any sort of manual moderation. Preventing spam is the most important aspect of a trading-section in a forum, as it maximises the exposure of your post to people that are interested in it, which is the whole point of posting here instead of ebay.
 

Josh | NFC

Not From Concentrate
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Jun 12, 2015
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Thank you so much for all the time spent on this. I am super excited about having a buy/sell subforum on SFF.net!!!

I do have two comments/suggestions/wishes

1. Can we clarify self-bumping rules? Put down 1 per week (or whatever it is)
2. Let's delve deeper into the "NO SERVICES" rule. I think what makes this forum particularly exciting is the ability to offer services attached to products. Can this be allowed? AKA...everything I do (built-to-order/mod-to-order).

Specifically, could I sell cables/powersupplies modded exactly to the buyer's specification, or offer to paint GPU shrouds as part of the sale, or let customers know to EMAIL me for more info?

What say you, forum elders? XD
 

iFreilicht

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2. Let's delve deeper into the "NO SERVICES" rule. I think what makes this forum particularly exciting is the ability to offer services attached to products. Can this be allowed? AKA...everything I do (built-to-order/mod-to-order).

In those cases, they're selling products with the option that they are modified, but they're still products. [...] They would be allowed.

I think that pretty much answers the question. Your mods-to-order were actually the reason why I asked :)
 

PlayfulPhoenix

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1. Can we clarify self-bumping rules? Put down 1 per week (or whatever it is)

What do you all think this should look like?


2. Let's delve deeper into the "NO SERVICES" rule. I think what makes this forum particularly exciting is the ability to offer services attached to products. Can this be allowed? AKA...everything I do (built-to-order/mod-to-order).

That would be fine, as iFreilicht above mentions. You're selling a modified product.
 

Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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Feb 1, 2016
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Yeah I'd be super keen to pay for modding services. I suck ass at sleeving.
 

Phuncz

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What do you all think this should look like?
I like the idea of the "bump" (keeping the topic alive), I hate the execution of it (making a post with "bump" in it). I'd like for a way that allows a topic to be resurfaced without it needing 5-10 bump posts in it's life.
 
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