Q: Why was I banned from your forum?
It's possible you were banned by mistake, in which case you should read this page and then contact us explaining your situation. If you were banned intentionally, this page tells you why.
You apparently broke our forum rules. In fact almost all bans are due to a violation of one particular rule—the rule about posting a product or website recommendation. The key point is that you're not allowed to post such a message "until you have been registered at least one week AND posted at least 5 other genuine messages. Anyone who breaks this rule will be permanently banned with no warning" (see below for the reasons why we have this rule).
We know that nobody reads the rules. That's a shame but it's not our fault. In any case we know that our banning rule is unusually harsh, which is why we make it obvious before you register. Remember the summary of rules you agreed to (screenshot below)? Notice in particular the large bold red type...
The Banning FAQ
Why have such a harsh rule, and why ban people without warning them?
In a nutshell, the spam problem is so bad we have no choice. Forum-spam works in a similar way to email spam, except that the spammers post messages in forums.
In the good old days, forum spammers were mostly automated so email validation and CAPTCHA security kept most of them out. These days the spammers employ real people to manually post spam messages. No amount of automated tests can stop them because they are just as real as genuine members.
Forum spam is often quite sophisticated. For example, a spammer may post a message that appears to be a genuine question such as "I've heard about this product and it seems to have good reviews. Does anyone know anything about it?" Sometimes the spammer registers two or three additional usernames in order to reply to their own question with glowing recommendations.
Another common trick is to post a "helpful tutorial" that just happens to include links to the spammer's products.
All of this wouldn't be so bad if the products were good, but they usually aren't. Often they are complete scams. We need to protect our genuine members—not to mention the fact that our forum would die anyway if we let spammers loose.
We can't warn spammers because they don't want to post anything other than spam, so they just post as much as they can until we ban them.
Other forums don't do this, so why do you need to?
Most forums aren't targeted by spammers as much as we are, or in the same way. Although our forum is relatively small, this website overall enjoys a relatively high volume of traffic, good search rankings and general reputation. We also have an audience in the high-ticket market (electronics etc) which is attractive to rip-off merchants.
We have operated a number of different forums at different websites, including one with over a thousand posts per day, and we've never had as much trouble with spammers as we do at mediacollege.com. We've tried everything — this rule is a last resort.
But my message wasn't spam, it was just [insert description here]
We deal with so much spam that some genuine messages get wrongly identified, just like email spam filters. Let us know what your message was about and we'll talk.
What if I have a genuine product or website that your visitors would like to know about?
We do make exceptions (e.g. relevant competitions with decent prizes) so feel free to contact us and discuss it. However in most cases we will ask you to follow the normal protocol that everyone else uses. Here's how it works....
Many of our members promote themselves through our forums by putting their URL in their signature link. We also allow regular contributors to recommend their own websites and products (within reason). Those who participate a lot and have good websites get good traffic from us. The catch is that you have to be a genuine participant. You need to get involved in the forum, help answer questions or just chat in the discussions. This shows that you are are a genuine person, willing to make a fair contribution in return for the promotion you'll get. If this doesn't sound like a good deal, we're sorry to have wasted your time but that's just how it is.
By the way, don't think that you can get away with posting a few messages saying nothing more than "me too" or "yes, I agree". This is a common spammer trick to get their post count up. Unless we've agreed to an exception, only genuine participants can promote themselves.
Other questions & comments answered
Here are a few pre-packaged responses to many of the comments we get. It's a fictitious conversation between a user called "Banned Bob" and us. Maybe it's a bit harsh and smug but forum spam makes us grumpy. You decide if any of it applies to you.
Banned Bob: You'll never make your site work with this attitude.
Us: This site already works, which is why it's such a spam target.
Banned Bob: I'm a big player and you've just lost an opportunity to be on my side.
Us: We're not interested in pandering to big players. We also aren't too concerned about missing out on your business proposal or network of industry contacts.
Banned Bob: I was going to do give you a big donation but now I'm not going to.
Us: It's funny how many spammers say that.
Banned Bob: I was going to hire you for a big project but now I'm not going to.
Us: We're not available for hire, not even for the million dollars you were planning to pay us before you got banned.
Banned Bob: I was going to give you a link from my PR8 website but now I'm not going to.
Us: Each month we get referrals from tens of thousands of websites and blogs. We'll survive without your "PR8" link.
Banned Bob: I don't see what's wrong with joining forums to promote my product.
Us: Think how many businesses there are in the world, and what would happen if they were all able to get free promotion at any forum. Do the numbers. Spam kills forums—it's that simple.
Either none of this applies to me, or I made a genuine mistake and I'm sorry
Cool. If you still want to be part of the forum, contact us with your username and we'll talk. Despite the tone of this page, we're actually quite nice people. We understand that you may have just been really excited about your shiny new website and you couldn't wait to tell everyone, so you forgot to read the rules properly. If you say sorry and you're willing to abide by our rules, we'll reinstate you and forget this ever happened.