APUG has occasionally been the target of underground marketing campaigns over the years, and generally we've worked behind the scenes to suppress them, because it is unfair to our members, who assume that unless otherwise specified, most people giving their opinions on various products have no material interest in the success of those products and aren't receiving any perks from manufacturers or dealers, and it is unfair to our legitimate paying advertisers, who support APUG and agree to abide by certain rules with regard to commercial posts. As this seems to be a recurring issue lately, and we have seen the kind of damage it has done to other forums, we would like for everyone to be a bit more aware of the fact that this sort of thing goes on, and if you think you see it, please don't hesitate to report posts that look like they may be part of an underground, guerrilla, viral, or undercover marketing campaign.
The paradigm of underground marketing comes from the record industry. Record companies would identify kids that everyone else thought was cool as "tastemakers" and give them benefits like free records, backstage passes, and free concert tickets as a way of promoting their product very effectively without having to do something as blatant or as expensive as buying print ads, billboards, etc. The tastemakers may have already been fans, so they weren't being coerced, and they may not have even realized that they were being used as instruments of a marketing campaign, but the record company would cultivate their loyalty, because everyone wants to listen to the records that the cool kids listen to, and for a rather modest investment in product, they could reap quite significant rewards in word-of-mouth advertising or viral marketing.
We don't object to underground marketing in general, particularly if it gets more people out there involved in film photography, but we don't want to see it happening on APUG, because it violates the mutual presumption of trust that members have for each other in the forum.
We also have no objection to the products that are being marketed in this way and would and do welcome the manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of these products as legitimate, paying, above board advertisers who abide by the same rules as all other paying advertisers on the site.
To report a suspicious post, just click on the black triangle with the exclamation point, and it sends an e-mail to all the moderators with the URL of the post and your comment on it, so that we can take a look at it.