TrailVoy/VerticalScope Scamming Members and Advertisers

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Jman423

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Here are the topics covered here:

3,000+ active/unregistered users
Overwhelming Advertisements
Old, inactive member accounts suddenly active
Heavy handed moderation
Incorrect information being disseminated to members in need of help
Staff shill accounts to pad their activity stats
Staff reading "Private" messages
Many, many, members are moderated, also known as "global ignore"
Supporting/Subscribing members are being banned for questioning actions, no refunds

Here is the breakdown:

3,000+ active/unregistered users
During the previous staff's tenure on TrailVoy, the average number of guests online was typically between 300 and 700 on a normal day. As soon as the old staff started a new site and VerticalScope caught on, the number of guests jumped to a STEADY 3,000 to 4,000 at all times. That is some coincidence that can't be ignored. It would appear that either this is a typical practice for VerticalScope on their sites and they just neglected to do it on TrailVoy until they noticed the shit hitting the fan OR they just realized that they stood to lose a lot of money when their members chose a site funded and run by enthusiasts of the community, and this was a last ditch effort to save someone's job (or someone not doing their job) and maintain revenue.

These numbers are important to their marketing efforts, they need these numbers to be high so they can sell the lie to potential advertisers at ridiculously high rates. Both the members and the advertisers are being scammed by the blatant lies. This has nothing to do with the moderation staff, it is all the site's parent company, VerticalScope.

Overwhelming Advertisements
With the previous topic in mind, this is where it gets a little messy. If VerticalScope claims that their numbers are not artificially inflated, which they obviously are, then their other claims that most of the community isn't bombarded with advertisements is also busted. As a guest, of which they claim a steady 3,000+ on a daily basis, it is almost impossible to navigate the site to find the information one is looking for. While it is a common practice to get people to actually sign up on a forum to get more access to information and resources, in this case it is strictly about profit and has nothing to do with the community. Again, the moderation staff has nothing to do with this.

Old, inactive member accounts suddenly active
Most of the former staff has been around for several years. During that time, we have banned many spammers and members that didn't follow the site rules (whether we supported the rules or not). After the new site was started and the old staff was banned (roughly a week before VerticalScope noticed, by the way), lots of old, inactive accounts started popping up mysteriously. It should be noted that even accounts that I personally banned were all of the sudden again showing up as active... as well as accounts belonging to friends of mine that I know are not active on the site anymore. This is just another way to keep their numbers up so they can sell more advertising space. While it is not likely that the moderation staff is behind this, it is quite possible that they could contribute to this project.

Heavy handed moderation
Simply put... if they "THINK" you are a former staff member, or a member that resides on the new site, you'll be put into a moderated usergroup and none of your content will be visible to anyone but their current (hidden) staff members. Challenge them, ask where the old staff went, ask why their pagination is messed up, ask why so many people are banned (or "no longer with us")... anything along those lines and you'll find that your account is either banned, or more likely globally ignored. Typically, they are sticking to putting members into this global ignore state so they don't show as banned. Why? Well, profit again, of course. They can't sell advertising space to people if half the population of the site is banned. By putting people in a globally ignored state, they still appear to be active members of the site... another lie VerticalScope wants potential advertisers and new members to believe since they don't know any better. These actions are carried out by both the site's management and the moderation team.

Incorrect information being disseminated to members in need of help
Technical information that the staff is not able to find (from the people that made that site what it WAS... resource-wise), they wing it and the info is generally wrong. Who suffers? The community. What happens when you try to tell those misinformed members where to get the correct information? They change your URL through the use of "filtered words" so it points to a non-existent thread on their site instead of the actual thread on the new site that can help them. While the moderation staff cannot change this setting and didn't implement it, they are supporting the method even though they "claim" they are against it. Actions speak louder than words.

Staff shill accounts to pad their activity stats
It was recently admitted that the site's management and moderation team has been actively creating shill accounts to catch members that are trying to actively help people find the information they are looking for. So again, we have the staff artificially padding the statistics for nothing other than to protect their greedy profit model. While the profit likely doesn't affect the moderation team, they should still be mature enough to know when they are being used... and yet they choose to stay and enforce/support these actions, even joining in.

Staff reading "Private" messages
For those members that are trying to spread the word throughout the community about where to find the knowledgeable members that made TrailVoy what it is today, they are greeted with account restrictions or bans. Why? Because VerticalScope is reading those Private Messages. Is it possible that new members are busted via reported PMs in some cases? Yes. Is it more likely that they are reading PMs of suspect members to prevent the word from being spread about the new site, and the reasoning behind the exit of the old staff? Absolutely! Hell, one their moderators even admitted to this practice by site management. It is extremely unlikely that the moderation team are the ones reading the PMs.

Many, many, members are moderated, also known as "global ignore"
As mentioned above, there are a LOT of members on a global ignore because they are trying to reach their friends and acquaintances to tell them where to find the old crew and where the authors of most of the relevant, correct information that was posted on TrailVoy can be found. Global Ignore allows VerticalScope to pretend that all of the members that show up in the active user list are actually able to use the site. They are not, but VS will let their advertisers and new members believe it. The fact is, it is pretty easy to see that when a new, legit member asks a question and hardly anyone views, or better yet, answers the question... the lack of assistance is proof that quality is more useful than quantity. Their "quantities" help them get paid, but our quality helps the members of the community. While it is most likely a directive given by the site's management, the moderation team is responsible for, and guilty of carrying out these practices.

Supporting/Subscribing members are being banned for questioning actions, no refunds
For some unlucky members that actually financially supported VerticalScope without knowing the whole story, they've found themselves banned with no access to their premium account, or any resources on the site to which they donated. This is a horrible way to treat supporters, and those unlucky members have been refused refunds. Why? Because that would affect their profits! While said members are banned by the moderation team in most cases, they are not responsible for the financial aspects of the site and would not have any control over giving refunds.
 
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Jman423

Jman423

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Q: Why do the staff members of GMTNation insist on trying to redirect TrailVoy members to this site?
A: Our goal is, and always has been to help members of the community. We are determined to help members with accurate and detailed information. When we see the piss poor answers from other misinformed "newbies" or staff members, it is counterproductive to not step in and help where we can.

Q: Why does the management and moderation team on TrailVoy not allow mention of this site, or discussion about its members?
A: 100% of the staff here on GMTN (at the time of this post) were long term members, and in most cases, long term staff members on the old site. ALL of us left when we realized we were fighting a loosing battle with VerticalScope. We felt it was in our best interest, and the best interest of the community to start fresh. It wasn't easy walking away from all of the information and resources that we built over there, but it was the right choice. It is obviously a threat to VerticalScope... if we did it once, we can do it again. And since WE own the site this time, we can do it RIGHT! VerticalScope doesn't care about the community, they care about profits. You can't mention our site over there because that would take members from them, and they are loosing profit.

Q: Doesn't GMTNation make profits?
A: Yes and no. While we do serve minimal advertisements and accept voluntary donations, we don't profit personally from it. The revenue generated pays for the domain names, hosting, software licensing, merchandise give-aways, and the most recent upgrades we've rolled out. We also plan to have the biggest and baddest Carlisle bash each year, but the suffering economy prevents attendance from reaching our desired levels (due to fuel and travel costs). There are two founders and several site staff members. None of us have gained financially since this site was started (the site does cover related expenses), and the intent is that 100% of all profits are to be either used to support the site or to give back to the community.

Q: Is there any resentment for members that choose to use TrailVoy instead of, or alongside GMTNation?
A: While we can't speak for individual members, it is the staff's position that members are more than welcome to do what ever needs to be done to find the information they need. Resentment, no... confusion, yes. What we don't understand is that with all of the information that we have revealed, and with the ongoing efforts to make this site bigger and better, why people are actively contributing to the business model on TrailVoy (greed). It's not that we don't want people to help other members of the community, we just feel that your contributions will be much more helpful and valuable on a community oriented site as opposed to a billboard pretending to be a community website.

Q: What is the reasoning behind why the old staff left and started a new site?
A: All of the information, and more, is right here in this thread.

Q: Does GMTNation filter or censor words or URLs?
A: No, not at all. The only content that will be edited, deleted, or blocked is content that violates our policies and terms of service. Illegal, copyrighted, or off topic content will be managed by our moderation team in a professional manner.

Q: Does GMTNation charge vendors and advertisers?
A: No. We don't see the need to charge people that advertise for the benefit of the community. We allow all topic related advertising from vendors because we feel that it should be easy to find parts and services that are relevant to your vehicle. While we can't control what Google displays in your browser (targeted ads), we won't ever display irrelevant advertisements as many people saw on TrailVoy in the final days before the old staff got fed up and left. I am referencing the Jaguar and Toyota ads that were purposely placed on the site as static content by the VS techies.

Q: Do you make profit on your merchandise (Decals and T-Shirts)?
A: No. While we do control who has permission to distribute our logo, we do not charge those vendors any fees, nor do we collect any profit from any sales. This allows the pricing to be more attractive to those members that want to help us market our image by displaying our logo.
 
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