General Housekeeping – Community Guidelines, FAQS And Resources

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It's a community management best practice to publish a “good housekeeping” post from time to time, intended as a refresher to help keep the forums positive and productive. In this post, we’ll cover the Community Guidelines, reporting a problem, answer some questions, and point you to resources to help enhance your experience in the forums. 

Guidelines and the Terms and Conditions 
In order to keep the forums productive, and in some cases to avoid potential legal issues, we have a set of guidelines in place. Before posting, please browse the Solution Center Community Guidelines and the Terms and Conditions. While there is more to the guidelines, here are a few of the “usual suspects” that pop up in the forums (please refer to the guidelines for additional details):

Promotion. The Solution Center is a gathering place where members have the opportunity to connect, discuss challenges, and receive bona fide advice and perspective from peers. It is not a marketing platform. Any posts that fall within the realm of a sales pitch or marketing will be edited or removed. This includes, but is not limited to, press releases, sales pitches and market research. Any posts that resemble a promotion post will be removed. 

Pricing. Discussing specific prices falls under the anti-trust umbrella. All references to specific prices and discounts, compensation, etc. will be removed as appropriate; any discussion centered on pricing/discounts will be deleted altogether. This is one of those areas where a violation can be costly and therefore, we’re treading carefully. 

Naming of names. Asking about, or giving a negative review of, any specific person or entity can be construed as anti-trust behavior (collusion/boycott). This includes hypothetical mentioning. Posts of this nature will be edited or removed as appropriate.

If you have a question about a specific company, it’s best to be general (e.g. “I’m looking to partner with a large distributor in the Northeast and I was hoping to get some advice as to what to do/expect” instead of “Does anyone here have experience working with XYZ?”) Not only are you staying within the guidelines, you’re actually opening up a comprehensive discussion and will likely receive even better insight from other members. 

As the forums evolve, we’ll revise the Community Guidelines as needed, so please make a point to review them periodically.

Thanks for your cooperation!

Bug Reports
If you see something go wrong, or an element seems off in the Solution Center, please send an e-mail to community@specialtyfood.com with a quick description of the issue, approximately when it occurred, as well as the browser you are using. The more information we have, the better able we are to assist.

Some FAQs
There are often questions that pop up offline, and my philosophy is that if someone is asking, chances are, others have the same question. Here are a few questions that you might also have:

“I’m new to community forums—is there a navigation/user guide?” Of course! We have a handy-dandy how-to guide here. You can also send me a PM or e-mail me at community@specialtyfood.com with any questions, or if you would like to schedule a virtual tour. 

“How can I promote my company/products/services in the Solution Center?” The long and short of it is, you can’t. But all is not lost! You’re more than welcome to respond to questions with resources and advice—but no sales pitches. Here is a great example. Members then have the option of reaching out if they choose. You may also post to the Introduce Yourself thread and introduce yourself and your company in a conversational, non-pitch way. 

“A member asked for recommendations for a specific service vendor. My company fits the bill perfectly! How can I respond?” If a member asks for a specific recommendation (here’s an example) you may send a one-time e-mail or private message to that member alone introducing yourself. The member then has the option of responding if they choose. Any marketing pitches in that thread will be removed.

Using a thread as a prospecting list goes against forum etiquette. If another member responds to a discussion with a recommendation for another company, please don’t market to that member, whether through private message or e-mail. Essentially, we need to foster an environment where members can freely share their recommendations and expertise without having to worry about being solicited. Any member who uses a discussion as a prospecting list will be warned, and risks losing access to the Q&A Forum and User Directory.

“Is the Solution Center private?” Yes and no. The Q&A Forum and the User Directory are private and accessible solely to registered Solution Center members. The SFA Blog and the Announcements Board are public and fully shareable on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. So, share away!

“Are the forums moderated by humans, and how often?” Let’s just say that I’m all-too-human, and that I live here and see just about everything. And what I might initially miss, I see later. wink

Make It Count
The specialty food industry is ever-growing and changing, and no matter what your role, your calendar is packed and your time is at a premium. I know it, you know it, and everyone knows it! The Solution Center can be an excellent time-saver, when used regularly and the right way. Here are some resources to help make the most of your time in the forums:

8 Ways to Maximize Your Experience in the Solution Center
Deep Dive: The Art of Composing a Question

I hope that you find this helpful! If you have any questions, again, please feel free to reach out to me at community@specialtyfood.com, or via the private message feature in the Solution Center. 

Happy Posting!
Posted by Andrea Meyer on Nov 10, 2016 4:00 PM America/New_York