Commerce - questions, violations, and reporting them

Discuss the policies of ePlaya here.

Postby spectabillis » Sat Jun 11, 2005 11:20 am

So my fellow eplaya worker bees get all abuzz about commerce and such, I create this topic to address it, ask jeffreybenner to repost and give us his view, ask Actiongrl to jump in with official org policy, mention the TOS is open to revisit, then step back to let others discuss what the eplaya community policy should be...

... and now no one has anything to say?


You people are lame. I hope you're just too busy building art and/or getting ready for the event.
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Postby Chai Guy » Sat Jun 11, 2005 2:03 pm

I hope you're just too busy building art and/or getting ready for the event.


Well, that would be my hope as well, but I think we know what's really going on.

Those "other" boards are filled with activity and posts, and discussions and planning.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of mis-information, rumors and half-truths going on there as well.

I had hoped that this would be a place where people could get good information. I had hoped that the eplaya would have become a priority for the LLC. This is where people supposedly come to learn about the event, the acculturation begins here.

Or it begins somewhere else. Or not at all.
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Postby Ranger Genius » Sat Jun 11, 2005 9:11 pm

Thanks, jeffreybenner, for reposting that.

Much as some might hate to hear me say it, it seems like this should be something we should allow to be posted in the "Other events" forum. Either that, or we need to restrict that forum to bona fide regional events To this point, it seems that the standard on what was allowed there is a little wishywashy. The standard that makes the most sense to me is limiting posting to events that are substantially (that is, both significantly anddirectly) related to Burning Man.

Just for my own edification: in what quantifiable way does a "psy party" differ from a rave?
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Postby HughMungus » Sat Jun 11, 2005 9:38 pm

I don't know if anyone else posted this, but, I think the question here is: is anyone making money on it? It seems that if anyone is being paid to spin there, that it would not be a be a burning man type event (as opposed to a burning man type event where the people spinning are doing so to be part of the event).

To the person trying to advertise the event: I think the other problem is that we'd have a hard time figuring out where to draw the line on what's appropriate and what's not.

To the mods: How about a Commerce board? Someone posted earlier today or yesterday about making costumes for people. I would love to have someone make me a costume (as I don't know how to sew) and I'm prettty sure no one is going to just gift me one. So that, it seems, would be appropriate for this message board, no?
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Postby jeffreybenner » Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:22 am

DallasPlaya wrote:I don't know if anyone else posted this, but, I think the question here is: is anyone making money on it?


Suppose the venue needed to be rented for an event. Then the venue is making money. Does that count? And do you get special events insurance? In that case the insurance company is making money. I think that would disqualify many decompression events immediately.

Further, suppose an artist is reimbursed travel expenses. Does that count as "making money"?

I find it hard to believe there is not some kind of honoraria involved in bringing in financially stressed artists occasionally at local Burning Man events.
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Postby HughMungus » Sun Jun 12, 2005 3:25 pm

Sorry, I meant the people participating.

Like I said, it seems that if most of the people involved are donating their time/effort then it's more likely to pass the sniff test. (And, by the way, I'm not in the anti-raver camp.)

jeffreybenner wrote:
DallasPlaya wrote:I don't know if anyone else posted this, but, I think the question here is: is anyone making money on it?


Suppose the venue needed to be rented for an event. Then the venue is making money. Does that count? And do you get special events insurance? In that case the insurance company is making money. I think that would disqualify many decompression events immediately.

Further, suppose an artist is reimbursed travel expenses. Does that count as "making money"?

I find it hard to believe there is not some kind of honoraria involved in bringing in financially stressed artists occasionally at local Burning Man events.
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no commerce, means no fucking commerce, you fuckwits!

Postby joel the ornery » Mon Jun 13, 2005 2:05 pm

viewtopic.php?t=8883

selling raffle tickets on the e-playa?

un-fucking-believable.
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Postby swampdog » Mon Jun 13, 2005 4:30 pm

my .02 on the non-BM related party promotion on E-playa. I think that a consideration you might want to make is that any rule needs to be easily applied by the mods. So jefferybenner makes a very convincing case that his party is not for profit and the party is perhaps a burning man fellow traveler while not actually directly related to burning man. But that's not obvious from the original post and has come out wiht a lot of discussion. For a rule that includes this party to hold, any party that posts needs to be reviewed, data gathered, judgement made. That's a lot of analysis to ask of a mod.

I think the rule should be simple and consistently enforced: All in or all out. All in seems like asking for trouble, so my vote would be for all out.

That said, I don't know if the rules (as I understand them) are necessarily logically consistent:

Fund raising events for people to support their group to go to the playa to enjoy a commerce free zone can advertise on this commerce free zone. You kinda have to squinch at it for it to make sense.
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Postby LeChatNoir » Mon Jun 13, 2005 4:40 pm

To the mods: How about a Commerce board? Someone posted earlier today or yesterday about making costumes for people. I would love to have someone make me a costume...


Here's the link to the topic DallasPlaya was refering to:

viewtopic.php?t=8866

Since the subtopic here seems to currently be on the idea of events, and the other seemed relevant, I thought it proper to list the link here.
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Postby Chai Guy » Mon Jun 13, 2005 5:03 pm

My personal opinion is this:

If it's not cool on the Playa, then it's not cool on the eplaya?

Would you sell your "art-car" on the playa for money? NO?
Then don't sell your "art-car" on the eplaya.

Nice, simple easy to follow rule there.

For all "fundraising" Set up a single thread for it. If anyone posts anything on fundraising outside that thread, it's get deleted or moved.

Regardless, the Admins need to step up and make a decision based upon user input so that we can move past this confusion.
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Postby LeChatNoir » Mon Jun 13, 2005 5:15 pm

If it's not cool on the Playa, then it's not cool on the eplaya?



And commerce ain't cool on the playa.

I agree with that completely, ChaiGuy, and I think you put it in nice, concise terms.

Though I wouldn’t have any problem with some sort of commerce zone/site/whatever for things such as this. After all, each of us must function within some form of commerce in order to make it to Burning Man and shed the burdens of it.
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Postby Isotopia » Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:00 pm

I'm in Cahi's corner on this one.

BTW,

DJ Wolfie posts needs to be looked at here: http://eplaya.burningman.com/viewtopic.php?t=8854
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Postby Kinetic IV » Mon Jun 13, 2005 7:03 pm

Not that I'm siding with Iso but after looking at that link, does anyone see anything to link this to Burning Man? ANYTHING? Did the word fundraiser appear even once? Not that I can see.

That one smacks of pure commerce with no redeeming qualities and IMHO deserves to be spiked.
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Postby Ranger Genius » Tue Jun 14, 2005 12:09 am

Ummm, line five of that post:

BRANE VILLAGE FUND RAISER
(gratuitous use of capitalization original.)

Should really learn to use that whole Ctrl+F thing. If JB's post was kosher, this one seems to be as well. I know for a fact that Wolfie has been playing at some Regional events (such as Dark Skies) recently. Whether that makes one of his events substantially related to BM, I can't really say at this point.
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Postby Kinetic IV » Tue Jun 14, 2005 6:27 am

I missed that one. It's not the first time, won't be the last.

But if I missed it I wonder how many others did too? Perhaps the post should be CLEARLY flagged as a fundraiser, a BM fundraiser. You know...underline it, use bold, larger fonts....make it crystal clear to all. For all I know this could be fundraising for one of the myriad other events that I keep hearing about instead of for an on playa experience.
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Postby Isotopia » Tue Jun 14, 2005 8:38 am

More of the slippery slope.

http://eplaya.burningman.com/viewtopic.php?p=161745#161745

Either the board gets overrun with this stuff the closer to the event things get or it starts getting dealt with.

It seems time to deal with it. The options: 1) maintain a NO COMMERCE position that's anchored in much the same way that Chai Guy pointed out 2) have NO COMMERCE POSTINGS whatsoever 3) create a single thread that allows for such things but ONLY after it has been allowed input from the boar community or 4) <fill in the blank>

I'm just kinda surprised this dragon hasn't been speared one way or another. A 'murder dinner' not yet held. The ugly subject brought out into the light and weighed in on. Seems to me that this is something that the web team should have jumped in on a while back.
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Postby Ranger Genius » Tue Jun 14, 2005 9:32 am

Iso wrote:input from the boar community



In the quite words of the Virgin Mary: "Come again?" I presume you meant board, but boor is equally plausible.

Perhaps the "other events" section should be pre-moderated, requiring approval of a moderator or one of several moderators before the post can be made?

Or (my pet idea) limit posting privileges within that section to a specific usergroup, membership to which is limited to users who've been on the board for a certain length of time (or number of posts), or who have specifically requested it from a mod or admin. The person wishing to post a message in that area would contact a moderator with the specific details of the post he wishes to make, the moderator could ask questions about the nature of the event, give the poster stipulations on the posting (such as clearly labeling it as a fundraiser and for what cause), and then add them to a user group that allows posting in that area (adding them for a limited time? Adding them to another usergroup a few minutes later that allows them only to reply to threads in that forum, not create them?)

(edited for brevity, clarity, and charity)
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Postby Chai Guy » Tue Jun 14, 2005 10:11 am

I'm on board with both Iso's and Ranger Genius' suggestions.

I'm just kinda surprised this dragon hasn't been speared one way or another. A 'murder dinner' not yet held. The ugly subject brought out into the light and weighed in on. Seems to me that this is something that the web team should have jumped in on a while back.


I'm not. The Admins don't read this board, and they don't particpate in this community (by that I mean specifically eplaya).
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Postby Kinetic IV » Tue Jun 14, 2005 11:16 am

The Admins don't read this board, and they don't particpate in this community (by that I mean specifically eplaya).


That statement made me stop for a second. If it's true, then what good are the admins? Perhaps the current moderators who are active here need to be bumped up in status or given more authority to change things.
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Postby LeChatNoir » Tue Jun 14, 2005 1:18 pm

Oh, boy... but ain’t this getting’ sticky?

Ok, peoples... I wrote this out last night, slept on it and reread it today. I still think it’s relevant and so I’m posting it in this thread. Sorry for the length, but you should all know by now that I’m good for that from time to time.





Now... first and foremost, don’t think I’m disagreeing with any of you, I am instead offering my thoughts in order to attempt to see this in as many lights possible. I am putting out ideas to all of you, people whom I respect as good thinkers, in order to help myself come to a conclusion and perhaps affect the whole of us in a positive way to boot.

Yes...At first the link Iso posted seems like it might be an event for profit but it does list itself as a fundraiser for a camp. And “regionals” charge ticket prices, I reckon so could anyone else. Then again I’ve not seen the regionals list their ticket prices or promote (other than a link) on this board. There in lies the difference, perhaps? If the poster were to have said only that there was a get together and to check a provided link in order to get specifics, then I think it might have been different.

Good Lord... so now we get into the area of approved commerce, I guess. Which goes back to intent.


Now, on the thought of commerce in general:


To me, Burning Man (and by proxy the Eplaya) is a place I’m more and more coming to escape the rampant consumerism of our current version of society. But it’s silly for me to tell myself that it exists solely outside of that society and is completely untied to it. The server that supports this website could not operate merely on our cumulative good looks... it takes money. Granted for the week I'm in the desert, I may exist outside of that structure in a place closer to what I ascribe to be on the whole, but... it takes some degree of prosperity to get there, and the current gauge of prosperity that humans use, on the macro scale at least, is money.

Commerce happens on the eplaya all the time, but it’s in context. For instance, lets say for the sake of argument, that poster "A" knows poster "B" here, knows what they do for a living and decides that they could use a little bit of what "B" makes. And conversely, "A" produces something that "B" would like to have too, but doesn’t have the time to make her/himself. They PM and talk back and forth, then swap and there you have it... commerce. But it’s behind the scenes and done with respect to everybody else here (And remember... often money takes the place of goods that someone else wants, but that we do not produce ourselves).

Now I must say that, with the majority of you, I’m as green as new growth when it comes to being involved in this event. But I believe in it... and I'm starting to believe in it on a scale larger than just one week.

Having shelters from something is a good thing. Defining a place where some things are not allowed is a healthy practice that should be encouraged and respected. But Burning Man could not function all year round, nor would I want it to. Somewhere in between that world and the default world, I must strike a balance in my perspective. Should one fool one’s self into thinking that the only place we can pull together and make it happen is in the desert? Is it realistic to think that there is a way to promote a conscientious form of commerce that affects a positive change in the world we must live in the other 51 weeks?




Some weeks ago, I offered up the use of my shop to my friends, in order that we might all work together and finish a dome that they would be using at Interfuse the very next day. And we did it better than we ever thought we could because we all worked together. But underneath all of that team work was thousands of dollars worth of equipment that I have sweated for year upon year in front of a hot damn forge to be able to acquire. So you see? Commerce is a tool that allowed me to effect a result that money can’t buy. Our friendship and Love for each other was made all the more strong and hopefully they will keep that good vibe flowing on to the people they meet in life. Knowing them, I’m sure they already have.

It seems in my, albeit short, time here that things are growing and changing. I’m starting to see this event as not only a place to escape my day to day, but also a catalyst to alter how my day to day is structured. And since we all must work to get by in life, my questions are these:

Is there a way to promote the commerce that is happening already, by viewing it as a tool, and still keep it isolated from the majority (or even all) of the eplaya and especially the real playa?

Is there a way that we can do it together that’s not only acceptable to what we’re talking about here, but making a difference in the world too?

Can we define the commerce happening around us on terms we decide, or must it define itself?

Am I just looking with too wide a lense and being idealistic? Seriously...To quote another here, Maybe it is just a "fucking/camping/trip"


I don’t think I know yet... I’m asking you for your thoughts and appreciate your time.

Let me add here, that this is not simply a zealous newbie talking. I'm genuinely curious about these things. Burning Man has certainly amplified me, but I have been who I am since long before I ever knew any of you or this event existed.
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Postby Isotopia » Tue Jun 14, 2005 3:28 pm

Is there a way to promote the commerce that is happening already, by viewing it as a tool, and still keep it isolated from the majority (or even all) of the eplaya and especially the real playa?

Is there a way that we can do it together that’s not only acceptable to what we’re talking about here, but making a difference in the world too?

Can we define the commerce happening around us on terms we decide, or must it define itself?

Am I just looking with too wide a lense and being idealistic? Seriously...To quote another here, Maybe it is just a "fucking/camping/trip"

I don’t think I know yet... I’m asking you for your thoughts and appreciate your time.


All really good points to ponder. As I posted above I put out several potential scenarios/directions that I believe the whole commerce issue might be directed and left the fourth point open hoping that someone would step up to the plate. You did that quite nicely LaChat.

I think this is an issue in which the board community should be engaged in. Do it much like the re-model of the e-playa few months ago and solicite folks on their feelings, ideas, perceptions, etc. on what they think is either acceptable or not so as far as commerce goes. I believe that we'd be able to forge something that we all could live with.

Fundraisers are a sticky one to deal with but in some was not quite as vague and nebulous as some other instances of commerce. To that I'd suggest a a folder 'Fundraisers' specifically for the purpose of notifying members of the community of an event that is being held to raise funds SPECIFICALLY for the event. If possible have a series of questions to be put to the person actually in charge of the event to determine how much and how the event will be pulled off. For example, will there be opportunities for folks not having the funds to still attend? Does that matter? Is it necessary? I'm not sure but I think it important to ask if only as a subjective gague of intent on the part of the people putting the thing together. Have they had fundraisers in the past? If so, what was the outcome? Are they using the BM as a draw (name, logos, etc.)? I guess the questions are endless and I'm not suggesting an Inquisition. I think the board admins have a decent idea of what to ask and how to gague replies as to the appropriateness of such things.

Outright commerce. Selling blinky lights, furry pimp coats, and other items by persons not interested in any way with attending (or contributing to) the event is a no brainer. Even if that coat matches my new Dior handbag perfectly it shouldn't be allowed.

Trade/barter: Is barter really commerce? I have a 60' foot dome and I want to trade it for your two 20' domes and oh, yeah, I'll take $30 in ramen noodles for the 60' foot parachute that'll fit quite well over my dome. I don't know...more slippery slope?? Our opinions may differ.

Is it commerce if I ask for $20 bucks to pay for fuel to haul your dome up to the playa because you're driving your Chevy Vega and I happened into a 30' panel truck?

Maybe I'm opening more worm cans than anything here. Maybe it'll piggyback on LaChat's post. Maybe not. What I do think is that the issue needs to brought to the fore so that we can look at the various facets of what is (and isn't) commerce and perhaps proceed. It'd be nice to see it taken up by the board admins in part because it seems to me that the issue is being ignored by others within the BM project and some direction/input might be needed for whatever resolution comes about.

Sorry for the rushed nature of this post...
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Postby HughMungus » Tue Jun 14, 2005 3:59 pm

Isotopia wrote:Outright commerce. Selling blinky lights, furry pimp coats, and other items by persons not interested in any way with attending (or contributing to) the event is a no brainer. Even if that coat matches my new Dior handbag perfectly it shouldn't be allowed.


The problem here is when it is someone who is involved in Burning Man offering something to the community -- just not for free. For example, what if I wanted a costume made and you said you'd make it if I paid for the material? Is it commerce if you're not making any money on it?

Trade/barter: Is barter really commerce? I have a 60' foot dome and I want to trade it for your two 20' domes and oh, yeah, I'll take $30 in ramen noodles for the 60' foot parachute that'll fit quite well over my dome. I don't know...more slippery slope?? Our opinions may differ.


I wish people would get off their high horses about bartering. We need to barter just like we need to buy stuff.

I stand by my original suggestion: a "Commerce" board to which all commerce-related activities can be moved. The ePlaya is not Burning Man. Let's not make it less useful than it should be.
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Postby emily sparkle » Wed Jun 15, 2005 5:26 am

I'm not. The Admins don't read this board, and they don't particpate in this community (by that I mean specifically eplaya).


this is not true for this admin. i *do* read this board, and a couple of others.
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Postby falk » Wed Jun 15, 2005 8:53 am

I think I could be ok with fund raisers, as long as the money went 100% back into Burning Man.

Advertising for clothing, etc. belongs on Craig's List or similar venue.

Maybe this thread should have been a poll?
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Postby LeChatNoir » Wed Jun 15, 2005 10:02 am

Trade/barter: Is barter really commerce?


Sure... I think it is. It’s just that in present society, we tend to think of commerce as involving the exchange of currency. Money has taken the place of hard goods, such as produce, tools, or materials. I might need some lumber, but I don’t have a sawmill, although... I can trade what I can make for money in order to buy lumber.

Outright commerce. Selling blinky lights, furry pimp coats, and other items by persons not interested in any way with attending (or contributing to) the event is a no brainer.


I agree 100% with that statement.

But what about someone who decides to work for themselves that does participate? I’m gonna buy blinky lights from somewhere... I could do it at MalWart or I could do it with someone who is putting their efforts back into the event (and what I’m starting to feel the event is expanding outward to become). I'm using blinky lights as an example here, but by and large I'm thinking much bigger... I'm just not sure exactly what yet. I'm not quite getting my mind around the thoughts I'm having.

I think the playa is sacred ground. Both on the newer idea of it being a gathering spot for the Burn, and on the fact that it's a special place. It’s magic, for lack of a better word, seems to run much deeper and be much older. So commerce, in the current definition, should not be allowed there... no if’s and’s or but’s about it.

But there are networks that form while there, that come to play in the default world. Could this be fostered, around here somewhere, in a way that kept it in context? I mean, it is happening and pretending it doesn’t exist will only mean that it defines itself and stands a better chance of being swayed by the default world’s values.

The Seattle crowd in the first Chronicle articleare somehow implementing their values into their daily work. I don't know how and would like to learn more. What if they offer a service that I might need? What if I want to start a school like the folks in Arizona mentioned in the article? I guess what I’m rolling around in my mind, here is networking with a common direction in order to effect the world with positive change. You and I could help each other get through life and maybe leave it better when we’re gone... or I can keep relying on MalWart.

Advertising for clothing, etc. belongs on Craig's List or similar venue.


Perhaps all of what I'm talking about is already going on to some extent there. But it seems to lack a sense of direction in some way. How do I find the burner on that list who also wants positive change? Boy, this really is a slippery type of thing, huh?

I think I could be ok with fund raisers, as long as the money went 100% back into Burning Man.


Yeah, I'd have no problem in any way with a fund raiser thread, assuming there were some criteria for it being a fundraiser other than just a word.

Ok... I've REALLY got to get back to work. Ya'll have just got my brain spinning.
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Postby Lassen Forge » Wed Jun 15, 2005 12:19 pm

Maybe it should have been a poll topic...

I could see a separate subsection of the ePlaya, maybe titled "Classified Ads" - where things like Fundraisers, burners making stuff for other burners and bartering/selling the stuff, Swap goods stuff, Vehicles, etc... And then limit *all* "commercial activity" to that. That way, if someone *wanted* to participate in that kind of a scenario, they could, and if they didn't, well, they wouldn't have to open the main folder.

Make few rules - (1) it *must* be related to Burning Man or BRC And not like "Burning Man Special" then goes on to sell Vacations in Aruba... if the link ain't blatant, off it goes. Hmm... and (2) No spam or multi-message-marketing (3M) stuff. If you post something that's it - don't flood the board with crap. Violations of either get 86'd from the whole kitten kaboodle. Maybe a third and final - it has a 14 day maximum life, after which the message is *automatically* deleted, poofed into the ether, never to be seen again. Keeps the list clean and free of a huge waste of bandwidth.

That way, say, I'm looking for someone who can improve on my costume collection, or can rebuild my bullwhip, or trying to off my spare tent to a burner for CampArtica funds, or am looking for that killer '62 VW microbus to live out of (or a D-6 Cat to tow behind it after it's turned into an art-tank) I'm not fighting the craigsluist jumble when I'm, looking for purely burner related stuff. That way it serves the community without becoming a "storage tank for a JOTS unit"...

I agree, it *is* a slippery slope, but at least this way it's limited as to where the slope is, how slippery it gets, and how long it is...

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Postby HughMungus » Wed Jun 15, 2005 11:02 pm

Is this commerce?

viewtopic.php?t=8830&highlight=

I don't think it is, myself, but I wonder what others think.
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Postby Chai Guy » Wed Jun 15, 2005 11:37 pm

I'm going to say no, I don't believe it's commerce.

My reasoning is that it would appear no different than a person establishing a theme camp and asking for a donation to share the costs of the theme camp (as many theme camps do).
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Postby Kinetic IV » Thu Jun 16, 2005 9:06 am

IMHO, definitely NOT commerce.
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Postby Lassen Forge » Thu Jun 16, 2005 10:00 am

With my fourth we could do golf...

IMHO, it's not commerce - It's more of setting up a rideshare arrangement. Kinda like any other rideshare-share costs kinda thing. Not meant for personal gain, but to get to and from BRC.

So... if I were the Referee...

>>FWEEEEET!!!<< No harm, no foul. No change in yardage, and the game continues, 4th down.

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Beware the slippery... um... "slope".
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