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Guidelines for Swapmeet Moderation (for Moderators)

Discussion in 'Swapmeet Talk' started by AA7BQ, Jan 6, 2018.

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  1. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder Administrator Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Welcome to the QRZ Volunteer Staff. You have been appointed as a moderator of the QRZ Online Swapmeet. This posting will outline some basic guidelines for you to follow when moderating.

    First, let's begin with a mission statement. The Role of the QRZ Swapmeet Moderator

    The role of a swapmeet moderator is to assist sellers in advertising their sales, and to assist buyers by helping to identify fraud, misuse, and misunderstanding. These goals are most often met by the application of a number of posting rules that sellers must follow in order to participate. Buyers and prospective buyers must also observe certain posting rules.

    The first order of business and the prime directive of a swapmeet moderator is to identify and, where possible, discourage and/or prevent fraud and abuse on the site. While every effort is made to codify the rules in a simple and straightforward manner, not every rule will be appropriate to every listing. As a moderator, you will be called upon to exercise your own judgment in many cases, where the rules are not quite right for the situation, or, when the users push the envelope. Almost every decision can be made by asking yourself "is this a likely fraud or misrepresentation?" If the answer is YES then you're on the right track. If it's a "don't know" or a "maybe" then you should take another look at the posting. Even though QRZ IS NOT RESPONSIBLE for the independent transactions that take place between our members in this forum, it is our desire to provide positive, helpful assistance whenever possible.

    Also, you should be acutely aware of your appearance and visibility on the site, and how your actions reflect on QRZ's management and philosophy. If people think that you're a great guy, the perception extends to QRZ as a whole. Our aim is to be as helpful and as friendly to the entire ham radio community. You must embody these ideals as you may be the only person at QRZ that the user ever interacts with. We've appointed you to help us maintain and execute a positive, helpful website. Please help us with these goals.

    Rules of the Swapmeet

    As a swapmeet moderator, you will need to understand not only the rules but the reasons that they exist. Every rule has a specific reason behind it that is based on decades of experience. Once you understand these reasons you'll find it easy to make moderating decisions.

    1. Photo must include call sign
    Sounds simple, right? Unbelievably, it's our most commonly broken rule. Stated simply, at least one photo in the seller's listing must include their call sign alongside the item being offered for sale. Not every picture, just one will do. The call sign must have been photographed along with the merchandise. This means that it is not permitted (and is highly suspicious) when the call sign is digitally added after the picture was taken.

    This rule exists because thieves find random gear photos on the internet and then post them in fake for sale ads.

    2. Item must include a photo
    You would expect that rule #1 would have made this rule irrelevant. Not so. People post expensive gear for sale every day with no photo whatsoever. These ads must be deleted at once, without hesitation. We expect a clear photograph of the item being offered, with a call sign visible in the picture, preferably written on a piece of paper.

    This rule exists because without any photos, scammers will simply have a heyday. Now that nearly every single person has a camera equipped phone, there can be no excuse for not providing a picture. Some folks will have difficulty resizing their photos or will not understand the process. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide one on one help for these members and hopefully, they can find some local community help.

    3. Discussions are not allowed
    People do not understand this. This is a free country right? We have freedom of speech! Why can't we say our piece in the For Sale forums? It's because the Swapmeet isn't a discussion forum. It is a live sales event where people show their goods and negotiate with buyers. Third party interlopers are generally unwelcome, even if they offer encouragement. Price police are particularly unwelcome.

    This rule exists because a large contingent of QRZ users apparently can't control themselves on social media for they can't help themselves and must comment on everything. QRZ staffers, on the other hand, don't have enough hours in the day to read all of the remarks, which, by most accounts, are nonsense to begin with.

    Discussions within a for-sale posting can be innocent, like, "Those are fine radios, I used to own one", but true to form, someone else will chime in with a contrary opinion and before you know it, a 10 page discussion erupts on the merits of a particular style of VFO knob all the while the seller is left wondering "Hey, is anyone going to buy this HT?".

    The rule can be boiled down to the following: Unless you are the seller, or a truly interested potential buyer, then you may not post into any for sale article. That's it.

    3. Email Sent messages
    You've probably seen listings where a potential buyer posts "email sent" as a reply to a for-sale listing. These are unfair. Yes, that's right, unfair. It's unfair because 1) other potential buyers are discouraged from further consideration of the item, 2) it may or may not have been an offer, and 3) it makes no sense. Of those, "it makes no sense" rings particularly true because it is a message about a message. You should delete postings that say "Email sent" or something similar. It would be different if there is/was an email problem, but short of that, it's stupid.

    4. Maximum number of listings / re-listings
    There are users who would, if they could, completely fill the entire swapmeet page with their merchandise and re-post it on a daily basis. If you want to see an example of this, look no further than Craigslist. We have a simple rule for this as well: No user may have more than 3 active listings on the QRZ swapmeet at any time. An active listing is one that is less than 7 days old. After 7 days, they can re-post their 3 items. Note that everybody should realize that a "listing" is a swapmeet thread, not an item. A user may post as many ite
    ms as he wishes per listing. Any updates which follow must be accomplished by the seller making a Reply to his own listing.

    When a user exceeds the 3 listing limit, delete the NEWEST listing that he has made and send him a note.

    5. Prohibited payments / terms
    Delete any ad that asks for PayPal's Friends and Family payments. This is a solicitation to defraud PayPal, which is unethical, and possibly illegal. In addition, F&F payments come with zero buyer protection so if you use this method to save the BUYER 3%, know that if anything goes wrong that your money is bye-bye gone. It is also against PayPal's own rules to upcharge to use their service. In other words, if an ad quotes two prices, one for PayPal and another for other methods, then they're upcharging. The buyer isn't serious if he claims that the PayPal fee is significant. If it comes to that point, it's about PayPal and not price.

    6. Want to Buy listings
    QRZ is a great place to find odds and ends that are otherwise difficult to find. Transceivers aren't difficult to find and we have a "No WTB Transceivers" policy. Why, you ask? Because 100% of WTB Transciever ads are targeted by scammers. A WTB ad basically says that you have money and are motivated to spend it. It's just too juicy of a target for a scammer to ignore. People get taken every day on WTB's and QRZ doesn't want any part of it. Delete any WTB that seeks a modern transceiver. If they're looking for an old boat anchor or tube operated radio, this rule may be relaxed. Any modern transceiver, however, is prohibited as a WTB.

    7. No Editing, No-Delete Policy
    This policy says that QRZ does not delete swapmeet listings on request. There are several reasons for this, some having to do with security, some with revisionism, and for the historical value of the data. QRZ's swapmeet archives go back to 2002 and they provide a valuable insight into the used gear marketplace.

    The No Editing policy means that once posted, a seller may not change his ad. The system provides for 30 minutes of user editing on a posted ad, after which time it becomes locked to further updates. So, if there's a typo, it must be corrected by the seller within 30 minutes. After that, sellers must post Reply's to their article to add or update the information in the ad.

    8. Email Only contact requests
    Some sellers state that they must be contacted by Email Only. Some buyers will ignore this and post into the for sale thread anyway. Swapmeet moderators must ignore this and not say anything or take any action. Communications preferences are the seller's purview and we just don't care that people ignore them.

    9. Peanut gallery comments
    Although we alluded to this in rule #3 above, it bears repeating. When you're looking at a listing with comments, ask yourself just one question: is the commentor interested in buying the item? If the answer is NO, then delete the comment. We have a Swapmeet Talk forum for that.

    10. Helpfulness is your job
    You must remember this every time you visit the section to moderate. Your assignment is to help buyers by keeping the sales discussions pure and unpolluted by unwanted commentary and, importantly, help identify and thwart unscrupulous activities. You are a representative of QRZ and your actions reflect directly upon the management of QRZ.COM. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and imagine your reaction if you were being treated this way. Advice is always better than admonition. Be helpful but be firm, and always make your words elicit a smile.

    Swapmeet Listing Moderation Examples

    Listing Titles - Every listing must have a title, right? Yes, that's right, and in the Swapmeet the title should always contain the name or model of the item being offered. Extra words, text decorations, and condition descriptions are discouraged. This rule exists to keep search results meaningful when looking for specific items in the database.

    Our general policy is that within a listing, a user can say what they wish about the item(s) being offered. The title of the listing, however, is subject to editing to suit QRZ's needs. This is necessary to preserve and/or maintain a useful name index within the database.

    Below are some example titles and the recommended moderator action to take. Note that of particular concern are so-called "noise words" that should not appear in the thread index. Noise words include but are not limited to things like: For Sale, FS, MINT, NEW IN BOX, UNOPENED, Sale/Trade, NIB... Noise words may be used abundantly in the listing text. The title of a listing should NAME the item being offered, preferably by MODEL NUMBER. The item's price should not be part of the listing title.

    Example: ICOM 706 Mark 3, new in box, MINT
    Problem: noise words, i.e. "new in box, MINT"
    Solution: Edit the title and remove the noise words

    Example: ICOM 706 Mark 3 FOR SALE
    Problem: Noise words: "FOR SALE"
    Solution: remove "FOR SALE" from the title (because, everything is for sale here)

    Example: Ham Radio
    Problem: Title doesn't identify the item
    Solution: Read the listing and pick out the names of the items, edit the title

    Example: FS: Yaesu FT-1000D
    Problem: Noise words "FS:" (also, WTB, FS/FT, etc.)
    Solution: edit to remove "FS:" Seller can use listing text to provide more detail.

    Example: Shack Cleaning
    Problem: Doesn't identify what is being offered. Somewhat unfair because "shack cleaning" threads garner more curiosity attention than is deserved.
    Solution: Read the article and create a new title listing multiple items such as "Keyer, Mic, MFJ Tuner, and more..." . OK to add "and more..." if necessary

    Example: *** L00K HERE ** Yaesu FT-990
    Problem: Decorative text (**L00K HERE**)
    Solution: Edit title and remove decorations

    Example: Cobra GTX-27 SSB CB
    Problem: Non-ham radio gear (CB)
    Solution: Move thread to General Merchandise section

    Example: HP Inspirion D560 Laptop
    Problem: Non-ham radio gear
    Solution: Move thread to General Merchandise section

    CAUTION Thread Tags
    The CAUTION thread tag was designed to provide a friendlier way of dealing with people who either can't read the rules or would otherwise ignore them. In the past, when an listing thread failed to conform to our rules, we would delete the thread. This led to anger, frustration, and occasionally, confused buyers who, after making an offer on an item, saw it disappear.

    So, our solution was to identify non conforming listings with the CAUTION tag. This lets the seller know that he made a mistake and it is vitally important that the moderator post the CAUTION reason into the thread as a Reply. Then, the seller is given an opportunity to post additional material (usually photos or a call sign) at which time the moderator should remove the CAUTION tag.

    Listing Photos
    Missing photos is considered a serious rule violation, and listings which contain NO photos should be immediately deleted.

    Pictures are the number one defense against fake and/or bogus listings. The requirement for having the CALL SIGN appear in the photo is extremely important. Please bear in mind that only ONE photo needs to show the call sign, and that call sign must appear in the same frame as the article being offered.

    The photo and the callsign-in-photo requirements may be WAIVED in some cases. Low value items (anything being offered for under $200) don't need a photo. ANY ITEM which is offered exclusively for in-person pickup doesn't need a photo. Most boat anchors don't need a photo, however this is rare. Most antennas and towers don't need a photo. As a moderator, you are expected to look at the entire listing and use your best judgment to assess whether or not the offer is potentially fraudulent. Remember, your primary job is to help prevent fraud and when you are faced with a decision on an item, your primary weighting factor should whether or not you believe the listing to be false, as opposed to a technical violation of the QRZ rules. In other words, fraud prevention is more important than rules adherence.

    Errors and Omissions
    Note that it is specifically NOT the moderator's job to correct factually incorrect information within the listing text. For example, if the seller says "email only" but then fails to provide an email address, that's his problem, not yours. If the listing says "email only" and a buyer posts a Reply with a question or comment, ignore that. It's not your problem if the buyer can't read.

    Duplicate Threads / Posts
    Frequently, a seller will discover a typo and not know that the thread can be edited within 30 minutes of the first post. Then, he will repost the entire listing leaving a duplicate listing. One of the listings must be deleted, but, which one? Generally, the urge is to delete the NEWER listing, otherwise some sellers could abuse or game the system. Depending on the situation, including whether the older post has replies, you may delete either one. Just don't let the sellers fool you into conducting a running add/delete circus. To summarize, do the right thing, the thing that helps the seller and maintains the integrity of the QRZ swapmeet rules.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
    KJ4VTH, KF5FEI, KC8VWM and 3 others like this.
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