Cayman Time

Cayman Blog from The Reef Resort in Grand Cayman

Cayman Message forum censorship :(

I’ve just had my wrist slapped (posts deleted/ heavily censored) twice in 24 hours by two of the most visited Cayman message boards, and I am upset.

I may be new to this blog stuff, but I’ve been hanging around on internet message boards for a long time indeed. Am I hanging out because it is my job to do this ? No. I’m doing it because I enjoy it, and I enjoy interacting with people and sharing information about Cayman. If that happens to benefit my business, then great, but I am not ever going to recommend something to someone unless I think it is right for them.

Now, I also know very well the old fashioned rules about “plugging” and otherwise being commercial on message boards, so I try hard to avoid it… but sometimes people ask questions specifically about The Reef, so am I supposed to ignore them ?

It is indeed a tough balance to strike, so one of the things I have always, always done is to make my email public and use a consistent username wherever I post. In other words, people know who I am and where I work, so they can always put anything I post in context.

What’s my point here ? I guess I am just annoyed at being reprimanded by both of these message boards, who (IMHO) have lost the spirit of internet forums/message boards. In one case I was told :

management doesn’t want you promoting YOUR company on OUR website

That one was in reaction to me making an innocuous post replying to someone who was going to be staying at The Reef already asking about information about getting married in Cayman…. sigh.

In the other case I was told :

When you have information to share, it must be shared here – pictures and all, with no links or Google search suggestions

Now on THAT one, I was simply posting a link to my blog to link to pictures of the Flowers Sea Swim, plus suggesting to people how they could Google RSS to find out how to get RSS feeds for their news… because I have just discovered RSS and I think it is cool, nothing more.

I guess to me message boards and forums are supposed to be about open communication. Yes, they can be commercially minded by their owners, but they should not censor out information of value to readers unless it is a) offensive, or b) blatantly promoting a specific business over another.

Right… off my soapbox now

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11 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    Posted June 21, 2005 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I hear you Tom. But try not to take it personally. I come to your blog everyday and can do links and such here. Not all message forums are the same. Sometimes in some places, it is better to have some rules and overseeing in order to be better for the masses. I can see room for more than one type of board. Keep on blogging! OK?

  2. abby
    Posted June 21, 2005 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Tom!
    I think that I know one of the forums, but don’t dispare! We have read and are following you where you go! Please keep posting on all of the boards, I love to hear and read everything that you write! We all have our ways about getting around things…….don’t worry and fret!

  3. Erik Stafford
    Posted June 21, 2005 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I have told you about a hundred times that I understand where you are coming from, but I could easily put together an email containing about 40 thinly veiled references or promotional plugs for the Reef that you have posted on our forums over the last year.

    You work at the Reef, it is natural that you would be proud of the resort and your efforts since Hurricane Ivan… I just need you to keep it off the Morritt’s website!

    I understand that you are trying to promote tourism in the Cayman Islands, and your information is great to have, and your posts are fun. I will even post a link for our owners so that they can read this website, as I see it as another great resource.

    How can I be more fair or get my point across in any other way?

    I have always liked you, and obviously wish you the best… but I honestly think that what I am asking is fair and reasonable. Pepsi would not want Coke employees posting about Coke on the Pepsi website, would they?

    No.

    Regards,

    Erik

  4. Anonymous
    Posted June 22, 2005 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    Competing economic interests disguised in the form of an internet forum?

  5. TomCayman
    Posted June 22, 2005 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    Erik, thanks for your reply… and I won’t edit or remove YOUR post to MY website :)

    Hand on heart I have never gone on your or any other website to “plug” my resort…. have I sometimes made reference to The Reef or recommended it ? Sure… but only where relevant.

    Nonetheless, I know how sensitive Morritts management are… they have (so far) always felt somewhat threatened by our presence nearby, and have reacted by doing everything they can to prevent any attempts to co-operate between (eg) the actitivies directors and restaurants… I hope this will change under the new Resort Manager, who seems to be a good guy… and I am doing my part by answering whatever questions he has and assisting him on various issues.

    Anyway, in the words of the motto of the Royal Artillery regiment “Nil Illegitimum Carborundum”

  6. Erik Stafford
    Posted June 22, 2005 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    You have never gone to our website to plug your resort? Let’s see… a quick search brings up about a hundred examples… let’s look at the most recent three:

    Rental offer from The Reef… “soon done”
    Posted by TomCayman, January 5th, 2005, 05:18 PM
    —————————-
    As many of you know, at The Reef we offered a special discount for all Grand Cayman timeshare owners who still wanted to visit Grand Cayman in 2005….

    Posted by TomCayman, October 18th, 2003, 07:15 PM
    —————————-
    If you visit http://www.thereef.com.ky and go to our weather page we have a link to the East End weather station…

    Posted by TomCayman, October 31st, 2004, 08:46 PM
    —————————-
    The Reef is offering all Grand Cayman timeshare owners (as they are all closed for the winter season) special deals on rentals, see http://www.thereef.com.ky for more information…

    Right. So yeah, I think I close my case. It didn’t have to be this way, but I have given you several warnings… if the companies were reversed and it was me posting Morritt’s offers on the Reef website you would not like it, or allow it.

    I am going to let this rest now, and I wish you the best in all that you do… but I will not have you soliciting your resorts on our website.

    Regards,

    Erik

  7. TomCayman
    Posted June 22, 2005 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Erik… you say tomayto, I say tomahto… to be honest, the posts you clipped in their actually prove my point, not yours.

    2 of those examples you used were me offering a special rate to displaced Grand Cayman timeshare owners… which was at a commercial COST to me, as I gave them (I’ll disclose it now, I couldn’t at the time, for contractual reasons, make it public) a 25% discount off winter rates… that was significantly lower than anybody else got, so it COST me money to offer this… I was genuinely trying to help owners at other timeshare resorts come back to Cayman.

    The 3rd post you reference was linking to a weather station… how is that commercial ?

    Anyway, you are a great guy… and I hope Morritts give you an opportunity to get back down to Cayman full time, as I know you were settling in here well… and I will definitely buy you a Red Stripe or two at our beach bar when you next come down !

  8. Lee
    Posted June 22, 2005 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Interesting… I can see both sides on this one. But, most common forum rules do prohibit solicitaion and even if you are giving useful information, if you are _affiliated_ with the reference in question (thats the distinguishing difference), then you are doomed to have it deemed a “plug”. The best way to handle this is to tell the person in the post to contact you in email if they would like to know more information about…. I know you are doing a great service and you should continue to provide the info! And as far as doing it on a competitor’s website forum, its always going to be treated with extra scrutiny… By the way… Reef need its own forum again. I know it kind of died on the vine but it was very useful and I think a lot of people were lurking… consider bringing it back!

  9. TomCayman
    Posted June 22, 2005 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Lee.. well put…

    Re our Forums… we have well over 3,000 people on our email list for newsletters, but when we had our forums, we only ever had about 10 or 15 active posters… there just really isn’t that much to say about a small resort… it doesn’t change that often.

    For now I’ll keep blogging, plus try to distill Reef stuff from the blog plus other news more Reef specific to our e-newsletter and try to keep sending one out every couple of months.

    BTW, I am sure this is obvious to those who already dive with them, but sign up for the Ocean Frontiers newsletter even if you don’t dive, their monthly newsletters are fun to read !

  10. bbgrsp
    Posted June 22, 2005 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Tom/Erik

    I am bbgrsp, that made the post asking for information about wedding sites.

    The reason I found Morritt’s website/forum was because I am an RCI member and use to find it very informative before it was dwindle to a private membership. Not a whole lot of usefull information anymore. Really too bad, I use to enjoy it and found out a great deal to learn about place/things in Cayman.

    I didn’t find Tom’s post to be anything but helpful, I am glad I got a chance to read it before it was pulled.

    If you don’t want someone like Tom posting and are going to sensor it they why give him rights to post at all. All seems trival to me…

    It was great to know there were other options while most of the RCI resort that I am affilated with will not be up and running to full capacity and availabilty for our Wedding in Dec 2005. (Hey Tom, don’t forget our discount!!!)

    Honestly, there is more than enought room and business for both.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted June 26, 2005 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Eric,We Morritt owners see this issue as just a smoke screen to distract us. How many times do we have to ask about the hurricane donations we all sent in for the employees. $27,000 was the last figure on the forum. The Cayman compass article telling all employees to pick up their 50 dollar food gift certicate was pointed out by Tom in your forum and you did not like that. Eric tell us please where is the rest of the money?

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