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-   -   Attn: disclosure policy (http://forum.videofitness.com/showthread.php?t=58711)

WWWendy 11-08-04 11:55 AM

Attn: disclosure policy
 
Hi everyone,

The past week or two I have been working with the moderators on a disclosure policy that will now be in effect for all VF members, myself included. We have tried to be as fair as possible with this policy, while acknowledging that, as this community and the Internet have grown, the consumer power of the VF community and the potential for conflicts of interest also have grown.

In the User Profile area (accessible via the My VF screen, Edit Profile) there is now a "Disclosure Statement" area. I have created this field so that any potential biases or conflicts of interest such as those below can be listed as part of your profile. This area should be used by (for example):
  • video instructors/producers of fitness videos
  • owners, employees or contractors of a company that sells any of the types of products we discuss (workout videos/DVDs, fitness equipment, gear, clothing)
  • those who have appeared in an infomercial for a product (e.g. the FIRM)
  • those who have appeared as a cast member in a video (e.g. the VF Spinerval)
  • those who are moderators on vendor or instructor-owned forums
  • close personal friends, colleagues, or family members of video instructors or vendors
  • those who do unpaid work for a company/vendor
  • those who have received free workouts or other merchandise from a fitness-related vendor

[Edited to add that last bulleted item]

If one of the above situations applies to you, or if you feel there are any other factors that might potentially affect your objectivity, please use the Disclosure Statement area to describe the situation. For example "I was a cast member in Enter the Red Zone with Team VF, and received a free copy of the DVD for my participation" or "I am a volunteer moderator at Instructor X's forum" or "I designed Instructor X's Web site." This field allows up to 250 characters.

In addition, if you are an employee, contractor, or receive regular and/or significant compensation (e.g. money, merchandise, travel) from companies that sell the products we discuss or if you own such a company, please put this small GENERIC disclosure at the bottom of your signature block:

Quote:

DISCLOSURE: I have a professional relationship with a seller or producer of fitness videos or products. For details, please see my profile.
I have added this disclosure to my own signature block, since VF belongs to a number of vendors' affiliate programs (affiliate commissions help pay for hosting this Web site).

Those who were cast members in a video who received no compensation other than a free copy of that video do not need to use this signature disclosure, however if they are participating in a thread about the video in which they participated, I would ask that they work a small disclaimer into their first post in the thread (e.g. "FYI, I am a background exerciser in this workout").

I hope you will understand that this policy is not meant to be punitive and is not meant to suggest that someone can't be objective even in cases where there are potential conflicts of interest. The intent is just to make relationships with vendors as transparent as possible without interrupting the flow of discussion any more than is necessary. Please pm or email me if you have any questions.

Thanks,

Wendy

Loretta S. 11-08-04 01:46 PM

Thanks Wendy! (Hug of appreciation)

Seabush 11-08-04 01:50 PM

Wendy,

Suppose I participated in a contest and won a rather significant prize from the instructor, should I disclose that information? I'm glad to see this policy. I think it is important to disclose paid or unpaid involvement with a company.

dnk 11-08-04 01:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Seabush
Wendy,

Suppose I participated in a contest and won a rather significant prize from the instructor, should I disclose that information? I'm glad to see this policy. I think it is important to disclose paid or unpaid involvement with a company.

Crystal

I'm curious about contests too. I won shoes from Petra Kolber a while back, and I'd be lying if I said that didn't contribute to the warm and fuzzy :D It doesn't feel like a conflict of interest, but I'll be happy to "disclose" if necessary.

Thank you for your hard work!

Deb

Seabush 11-08-04 02:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dnk
I'm curious about contests too. I won shoes from Petra Kolber a while back, and I'd be lying if I said that didn't contribute to the warm and fuzzy :D It doesn't feel like a conflict of interest, but I'll be happy to "disclose" if necessary.

Thank you for your hard work!

Deb

Deb,

I guess it's a judgment call in some cases. For example, before I swore off BBF workouts, I made several suggestions (Extreme Challenge, 100 Reps Compilation) for workouts which Wendilee had agreed to create in the future. If she adopts your suggestion, you get the workout for free. I would imagine that disclosing this information would be important if I choose to participate in a discussion about that particular workout?

Lucysql 11-08-04 02:36 PM

WWWendy - great job of striking just the right balance!

WWWendy 11-08-04 02:43 PM

prizes
 
If you've won a prize from a vendor, I think it comes down to a personal judgement call whether or not to add it to your profile disclosure statement. Do you think it affects your opinion of the instructor/vendor? If it's a significant prize, I would probably choose to disclose it. There would not be a need for any sig disclosure in the case of a prize.

Carol_is_fit 11-08-04 02:49 PM

AWESOME job, Wendy!!!!

Carol
:)

Mollie F. 11-08-04 04:14 PM

Thank you, WWWendy.

Where's the big-sigh-of-relief smiley?

Jane C 11-08-04 04:25 PM

great job, WWWendy, et. al. Thanks for the hard work - really.

I got a very sweet email from Eoin Finn today, and felt I had to make full disclosure - below.

Stephanie_B 11-08-04 04:54 PM

Contests I think depend
 
For example when I had my letter published in Fitness magazine years ago Cathe sent me a VERY nice handwritten note and a VHS tape (see it was awhile ago as she didn't make DVDs then LOL); but, I thought she was quality before she did that and after.

Whereas I tend not to comment on the T-Tapp threads, namely since Lannette IMO does a great job!

Susan 11-08-04 05:12 PM

I like the new policy; it's very well-structured and fair to all.

THANK YOU!!!

Susan

lfcjasp 11-08-04 05:14 PM

Thanks, Wendy and moderators!!!
 
The new guidelines seem very balanced, fair and sensible. And Crystal, thanks for asking about the contests. I won a nice bathrobe from Wendilee, but, while it's nice, it doesn't make me any more inclined to add BBF to my list of favs.

Job well done, ladies!!!

Seabush 11-08-04 05:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lfcjasp
The new guidelines seem very balanced, fair and sensible. And Crystal, thanks for asking about the contests. I won a nice bathrobe from Wendilee, but, while it's nice, it doesn't make me any more inclined to add BBF to my list of favs.

Job well done, ladies!!!

Lydia,

I personally don't believe that winning a contest translates into a conflict of interest that requires you to disclose anything or make the winner's posts suspect. However, I believed it was important to raise the question due to increasing numbers of contests that seem to be cropping up from various instructors.

Crystal

lfcjasp 11-08-04 05:55 PM

Good point...this could be a problem for some, but so far the prizes aren't really big...I can see where winning a trip to workout with a favorite instructor could be a problem???? But things like bathrobes or free dvds, I don't think so.

Joe 11-08-04 05:58 PM

Big Thanks To The Mods
 
Since I seemed to be at the center of much of the controversy and part of the reason for the changes, I must give a huge thank you to all the moderators for the hard work they put into the policy change. It's something that I wholeheartedly is much better balanced for absolutely everybody on here. I feel much better about being here with the new policy.

((((((((((((MODERATORS))))))))))))

gypsygirl64 11-08-04 09:12 PM

Thanks WWWendy for all of your hard work! This place is a GREAT place to be and it is because of all of your hard work (and the mods).

Thank you.

PamelaP 11-08-04 09:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joe
((((((((((((MODERATORS))))))))))))

At the risk of sounding like Elmo, hugs feel good! LOL

meggie 11-08-04 10:36 PM

Wendy & The Mods:

:love: :love: :love:

Great work. Love the policy. Kudos to all of you for keeping the board a civil and informative and warm place to visit.

xxoo
Meg

Joanna 11-08-04 11:33 PM

I have added this to my profile and sig as per guidelines. Question: I did not see mention in these guideliens about rules regarding posting. Do these still apply? I am just wondering because there at times posts that ask a question I might have an answer to. In the past you had requested that I use the report to moderator function and reply to the moderators. Does this rule still apply, or does the disclosure statement cover me if I want to reply to factual questions such as shipping or emails for customer service for example. If so, that's fine and I'll abide of course.

Joanna

Pebbles 11-09-04 12:31 AM

I actually did win a trip to workout with an instructor, worth a few hundred dollars at least. I will include this information in my profile, although I do feel that I can be objective about said instructor's workouts, as I have posted both positive and negative comments about her workouts/customer service before. I will no longer comment on that instructor's workouts, though, because I feel that people may question my motives (I can certainly understand why they might).

I think the new disclosure policy is a very good idea. :)

Debbie M 11-09-04 01:10 AM

Thank you!
 
This is a fantastic, inclusive and fair policy that I feel will go a long way to making everyone more comfortable at VF, whether those involved directly or those who wanted to see a consistent policy applied.

I know that you struggled with this Wendy, and I just wanted to show my appreciation to yourself and the moderators for such a great job.

Thanks again! :love:

Deb

WWWendy 11-09-04 06:41 AM

Good question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Joanna
Question: I did not see mention in these guideliens about rules regarding posting. Do these still apply? I am just wondering because there at times posts that ask a question I might have an answer to. In the past you had requested that I use the report to moderator function and reply to the moderators. Does this rule still apply, or does the disclosure statement cover me if I want to reply to factual questions such as shipping or emails for customer service for example. If so, that's fine and I'll abide of course.

Joanna

The disclosure policy is an addendum to the commercial posting policy, not a replacement for it, so yes, posting rules still apply. Good question, though.

I still need to add in links to this policy in the logical places (on the forum registration form, commercial posting page, etc.) and will try to make it clearer.

SharonNYC 11-09-04 07:12 AM

WWWendy & the Mods -- great solution! :music:

RuthNYC 11-09-04 08:08 AM

WWWendy and mods.....
 
This is a very well thought, fair and intelligent plan.

RuthNYC

Joe 11-09-04 09:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PamelaP
At the risk of sounding like Elmo, hugs feel good! LOL

Okay, here's another one then....

(((PamelaP)))

PamelaP 11-09-04 09:30 AM

People are going to start to talk, Joe. ;) :p

Debbie S. 11-09-04 10:54 AM

Thank you Wendy and Mods. You've put a lot of thought and time behind this policy and I'm glad it's finally behind you. Great job!

Joe 11-09-04 11:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PamelaP
People are going to start to talk, Joe. ;) :p

So we need to keep this in PM? Okay. :(

lounsbury 11-09-04 09:51 PM

WWWendy, thanks to you and the moderators for your hard work on this. I realize that as VF trips, etc. bring us all closer together with the instructors that we "work out with" at home, a lot of gray areas begin to appear. This seems like a very good solution to me. I'll update my profile now!

P.S. I think many VFers have been bitten by the "become an instructor" bug as well! It's all good. :)

caligurl 02-02-05 02:55 PM

i must have missed something.. cuz i don't ge the big deal with the whole "i was in a video" or "i won a prize" thing.. we are all amateur work out gals! plus i've never noticed any disclosures at any other boards (fitness or not) that do this.. i just take what i read here the same way i do at other places... (and don't pay any attention to the disclosures here!)

by the way.. i've bought and paid for all my dvd's and supplies and i've never won anything fitness related.. all my opinions come from DOING the workouts!

editstein 08-05-11 10:58 AM

Great job Wendy !!!

VainJane 09-30-11 03:22 PM

I just joined the forum and was wondering if being employed by Amazon qualifies as a "professional relationship with a seller of fitness videos". We sell all kinds of products, and my job is not specific to the DVD/streaming video product line.

Elise7 09-30-11 04:53 PM

I think you don't need to post a disclosure, but I'm not a moderator so I'm not absolutely sure.

WWWendy 09-30-11 06:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VainJane (Post 1895439)
I just joined the forum and was wondering if being employed by Amazon qualifies as a "professional relationship with a seller of fitness videos". We sell all kinds of products, and my job is not specific to the DVD/streaming video product line.

If you want to be completely transparent you could put a note that you are employed by Amazon in your profile disclosure (i usually say "when in doubt disclose") but I don't think you need a disclosure in your signature. It is sort of like if someone works for Target, which sells fitness videos and equipment but a whole lot of other stuff, too.

VainJane 10-02-11 10:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WWWendy (Post 1895583)
If you want to be completely transparent you could put a note that you are employed by Amazon in your profile disclosure (i usually say "when in doubt disclose") but I don't think you need a disclosure in your signature. It is sort of like if someone works for Target, which sells fitness videos and equipment but a whole lot of other stuff, too.

Thank you, Wendy! That's what I thought, but just wanted to make sure I understood the disclosure policy correctly.


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