What was Rider's Discount's compaint about the PowerTripp thread?
I'm of two minds on the whole thing. I agree with Scott that it is hard to find new shinies for our bikes, so I'm disinclined to discourage folks from coming here with stuff to sell.
But I also agree that our vendors pay their dues for the right to advertise here and should enjoy special priviledges because of that.
My initial thought was that we should allow the little guys to do their stuff, but only if they are offering products that our other vendors do not. But that becomes hard to police and discourages competition. Just because they pay their dues, does not mean our vendors get to have a monopoly after all. And, with the scarcity of stuff for our bikes', it likely would be a monopoly. So we'd potentially be doing a disservice to our users.
So, what if we do this? On SVRider.com (another forum managed by our Canuckistani overlords), they have a set of forums clearly focused on each paying vendor. It is a separate section - just like we have the general area, off topic, racing, ladies, etc. - and each vendor has its own sub-forum in that area that they run. They get an extra hit of advertising because everyone can see their name on the main forum page (currently, they are hidden in the US Vendor, UK Vendor, etc. sub-forums in the marketplace section).
The other guys can set up threads in the groupbuys or classifieds section, as appropriate, to hawk their wares. Just like any other user, and subject to the same rules (i.e. no bumping of threads, no price policing, etc.) We can amend the rules of the classifieds to add a line in there about how, at our discretion, if we see undue activity from a single commercial user of the classifieds section, we may encourage (by way of disabling their ability to post in the classifieds) them to consider ponying up for advertising space.
I think something like this would require much less oversight from us than implementing a 1-thread/month rule and whatnot. If we implement a hard and fast rule, that means we have to police it. If we kind of put a loosy goosey guideline out there, we can enforce as necessary.
I'd also throw out that I don't see any reason why we should restrict them to only selling things our current vendors do not. I.e. if someone has a really good deal on Pazzos and can undercut our vendors by 10%, they should be able to post that up. Our paying vendors can either drop their price to compete, or suck it up. The whole monopoly and competition, thang.
I also think people's signatures are their signatures. So long as they abide by the general 'must be SFW' guideline, I don't think we should over-regulate them. Shoot, hardly ever look at 'em anyway.