With The Shakeup At ABestWeb Will The Forum Thrive Or Die?

Big days in our lives stick out, and one that’s stuck with me is the day I received an email from 1-800-Pet-Meds telling me to take a look at ABestWeb (ABW).

1-800-Pet-Meds asked me to join their affiliate program at a time when the LinkShare affiliate network seemed unaware it needed to respond to affiliate help tickets.  Given my past experience, I explained that I had no interest in putting a link to any LinkShare merchant on my site. That’s when their affiliate manager told me that other affiliates who felt the same way had joined ABW, an affiliate forum dedicated to industry discussions.

Our Camelot

ABW showed me that I wasn’t alone. I knew there were other ethical affiliates out there, but the networks, like LinkShare and Commission Junction, didn’t provide a means to find them. ABW proved life changing. It provided a community, a sense of belonging, a place to share knowledge. I’ve always stated that every penny I’ve earned over the last 20 years came as a direct result of either ABW, Affiliate Summit (which I discovered through ABW), and my own entrepreneurial skills.

Remember the first time you made your own test sale and it didn’t track? Do you remember thinking if your own sale didn’t track, how many others exist that you’ll never know about? For me, it was like being punched in the stomach. At ABW all of us with that feeling were brought together to focus as a group on improving industry standards.

Back then ABW was the only affiliate-oriented forum. Run by Haiko de Poel, it operated on very black and white terms. Everything was divided into two buckets: ethical or thievery. There was no gray area.

Through ABW, affiliates gained a voice with the networks. Due to sheer numbers and tenacity, merchants and networks were forced to listen. As a group, we were relentless and on numerous occasions we were able to bring about reluctant change to the industry.

For example, it’s simple for merchants to cut an affiliate’s commissions. And if smart affiliates drop a merchant that doesn’t pay for every referral there are always hundreds more naive affiliates ready to place the merchant’s links.

An ethical affiliate  would complain to the network in addition to dropping the merchant. But remember who pays the network: the merchant. And so it used to be that the network always sided with the merchant.

It was only through ABW that affiliates finally had a combined voice with the authority to force the networks to monitor tracking and compliance. De Poel understood that creating “technical support trouble tickets” wasn’t enough to get the networks’ attention. He encouraged ABW members to be outspoken and boisterous against those who weren’t playing fair.  On the flip side he squashed external sources and insisted that ABW be the sole sanctioned source of affiliate discourse. Such moves made him a polarizing figure in our industry.

Roundtable Goes Corporate

Two years ago, de Poel sold ABW to iNet. While only he knows the real reason, several theories exist:

  1. He saw the writing on the wall about the growing influence of Facebook and Twitter and cashed out while he could get top dollar.
  2. Affiliates as a group became too loud, too much of an unruly mob, so we weren’t being taken seriously anymore.
  3. My personal take: The Performance Marketing Association (PMA) was formed around the time of the sale. If it succeeded, there could be serious industry discussions somewhere other than ABW, and that was taboo. In my experience, discussions on ABW voicing support for the PMA or their intent to fight the fledgling nexus tax movement led to public push back, criticism, and eventual banishment from ABW.

Despite his polarizing influence, de Poel firmly believed in outing the baddies. He will always have everyone’s respect for his unswerving philosophy but, he sold to a for-profit corporation.

After the sale, it was immediately clear that iNet didn’t care about the members. Instead they focused on creating content to sell advertising space. Rather than contributing to a cause (e.g., improving conditions for affiliates), we were posting and iNet was profiting from our words. Between the people who were banned and those that didn’t want to post for a corporation’s profits, participation in ABW dropped and the content value of the posts dropped dramatically.

iNet chose Michael Coley as de Poel’s replacement. Coley is probably tied with Brian Littleton, President of ShareASale, as the most respected, grounded, and above-board person in the affiliate industry. It was a great choice and probably the only choice. His presence modified the forum and the pendulum swung 180 degrees to, “No yelling. No name calling.” Even if you posted video proof of someone stealing your commissions, you had to say it professionally.

In theory, the friendly, professional route should have worked. In practice, without fear of intimidation, merchants and networks went back to walking all over their affiliate base and the forum became bland.

Coley unbanned myself and most of the others, but reading the occasional post showed a lot of, “Hi, I’m New Here,” threads and merchant spam. I started a few threads that said, “‘Merchant A’ screwed me and here’s why,” but the only responses were, “You should work with a different merchant. That will show ‘Merchant A’ he was wrong!” Unfortunately, unless there’s a load roar, there’s no reason for Merchant A  to change or even come to ABW to respond.

A few days ago, iNet fired Coley and replaced him with Chuck Hamrick, an Outsourced Program Manager (OPM). I’ve known Hamrick for many years and have nothing against him. And he’s only been on the job two days, so no one has the right to say what he will or won’t do at the helm.

But an OPM as the admin for an affiliate forum is a blatant conflict of interest. If iNet doesn’t see that, then they should not own an affiliate forum. If they do see it, then there’s even more reason to run away. It’s not about Hamrick: it’s about his conflicting job titles.

Our Very Own Watergate Tapes

Within moments of iNet posting the change chaos rained down in the forum and emails started hitting my inbox. People were IP blocked. Resignation posts were apparently deleted. The color green, indicating someone is a moderator, wasn’t changed even though they has posted their resignation from the forum in places other than ABW.

By chance, I was viewing the thread when the “Snowfinch” email was posted. This is our version of the Watergate Tapes or WikiLeaks. Snowfinch consists of purported emails from Hamrick to iNet planning a coup to overthrow Coley and admitting that iNet creates and uses forum content for its own profit. The emails go on to admit that iNet hired what it calls an editor to create controversial content and then hand it over to a member to post, thereby creating instant content. For them, more content equals more advertising equals higher profits. Of course, the post was deleted almost immediately, but many people got screenshots and it’s already all over the Internet. Besides deleting the post, the new ABW leadership closed the thread completely thereby stopping any discussion about “The New ABW” on their own forum.

Of course Coley’s final post is very telling of just how far things of changed.

All of this makes me wonder if the new ABW lied about IP-blocking members whose posts they didn’t like (there were allegations but all were denied)? Did they lie about the current status of moderators? Did Hamrick plot against Coley? And does it matter? iNet has shown time and again they don’t have the affiliate’s best interest at heart. And they’ve shown that bullying, deleting, and blocking are how they want to run their new vision of open discussions to further affiliate marketing.

And so it all comes back to how ethics play in the affiliate channel. If affiliates like the current ABW model, they will post, the forum will thrive, and iNet will recoup their investment. And if affiliates don’t like iNet’s control and business practices, they will find other forums.

Like many who owe their success to ABW, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for them and will always root for them. But they need to learn  to adapt to the rapidly changing web.

About Billy Kay

You can find Billy Kay on Twitter @billykay.

100 Responses to With The Shakeup At ABestWeb Will The Forum Thrive Or Die?

  1. I haven’t really been to ABW in ages, ever since Haiko sold it to iNet, actually.

    For me, it served it’s purpose as a support group that helped me grow in this industry and more importantly, as a person some time ago,(I was 15 or 16 when I first joined ABW, just after the CJU forums closed)  but I knew, even after the sale to iNet, that with Michael Coley in charge of things, the forum was in safe hands and will continue to be a medium of inspiration, help and a voice for many.

    It is really disturbing to read now that things have gone so bad over there. i don’t know of any other affiliate marketing community on the internet that has ever or ever can provide as good a platform as ABW – I know there is affiliate summit, but I’ve never been to one, – it’s one of the disbenifits of not residing in the US, plus the affiliate summit only takes place twice a year whereas ABW has been an ongoing platform. This is disappointing news.

    • I am the 7th member of ABW and one of the all time top posters.  I found abw to be a great resource in the beginning (early days) but I feel it fell apart back in 2004 when massive numbers of new members, new moderators and sissy attitudes took over. 

      I went AWOL lol at that time and moved on to other things.  I made two attempts to come back to the community since and both times found the community had too many members many of whom I didn’t want to associate with and that some of these members had found their way into levels of leadership within the community.

      I.M.O. A.B.W.’s flaws are as follows

      1.  Too many members
      2.  Moved from an affiliate forum into a merchant’s outreach program
      3.  Paid merchant forums
      4.  Too many members
      5.  Private messaging system
      6.  Behind the scenes forums and deal making
      7.  Too many members.
      8.  Too many socialization forums or categories having little or nothing to do with business.

      It (ABW) started out Kick ass and turned into a sissy affair mid-life because of the reasons above.

      I always thought Haiko could have monetized the site by charging the affiliates and merchants equally on a monthly basis ie $29.95/month and that merchants should only be allowed to advertise on the site through email & display ads and participate as members to answer questions etc. rather than running their own show promoting themselves.

      By charging affiliates it would have reduced tons of the BS and for the most part only serious affilaites would have remained after a few months.  By ridding the forum of the trolling trouble makers and other undesirables the forum may have reached an even higher climax before its eventual demise.

      All things net grow, flower and then die eventually.

      AKA Heyder

  2. Not a Ham Fan! says:

    With the King of Mediocrity at the helm, ABW is destined to be just that, mediocre. 

  3. As to “thrive or die…” ~ ABW won’t “die”. The current events will only result in yet another one of a never-ending string of attrition episodes. There will always be some value that is brought by upstanding members. And of course there will always be the handful of blind loyalists who think that ABW *is* “the affiliate community”, because in their shortsightedness they cannot see that there is a whole big world out there beyond the streetcorner that they happen to hang out on.

    I predict that there will be more member attrition over the coming weeks, as it won’t take long for people to tire of the potshots that are injected into thread titles about changes that are being made. Yes, the “powers that be” there are not nearly done vilifying the scapegoats; though plenty of “shill” labels have been applied to those who were either being driven off or had the backbone to step up and question somebody’s impetus, they have not yet had the opportunity to vilify anybody as a “recruiter” or “parasite” yet, because they have not discovered the new forum yet. And Mr. Coley has not yet been accused of a DOS attack lol. I know the drill 🙂

  4. Excellent post Billy.  I won’t use this to promote the “other forum” but I will say that all of the above is true.  IP blocking, not showing moderators that resigned, the sudden return of Haiko and the bashing of anyone that left.  I had already “left” ABW and was “beat up” because I came back to post my opinion.  Yes our IP was blocked, even though it was denied by iNet.  There have been posts removed, people emailed them to me.  The thread about the new admin was closed because it became a “name calling” thread of no value.

    iNet should be paying attention to what was posted, by who and for what reasons. Because I run another forum my opinion was dismissed.  Like Billy, I learned and grew because of ABW, made friends for life there and then through Affiliate Summit got to meet my virtual friends in person.

    ABW is not the forum it was 3 years ago and it can’t be that way again.  There are other places that affiliates can talk and get attention and band together.  And it doesn’t involve screaming and shouting and discrediting people.  Either to their face or behind their back.

  5. Interesting they put an OPM person in charge…I don’t think that’s very objective and how does he have the time? lol I hope it goes well though, maybe some contests and sweepstakes to get people interested and posting would liven things up? It’s all about the people there and how people are helped with their affiliate marketing, so if thats still the case then it will be fine.

    • The fact that Chuck is an OPM has no bearing on whether he is a qualified to be in charge of ABW.  He isn’t qualified, as I pointed out in my thread that got split off the main discussion. If Chuck had such great ideas why didn’t he work WITH Michael and the other admins rather than bad mouthing me every chance he got and arguing with everyone?  How does the man no one wanted in charge get to be in charge?  And as Michael pointed out, where is the post about the 4 moderators that resigned and why are they still listed as moderators?

      Fortunately none of this is my problem anymore, since it was made very clear to me that iNet was not interested in my content and saw me as a competitor with my affiliate and merchant training sites.  Not because I had a forum, but because I was teaching affiliates how to be better affiliates.  Tell me how that makes sense?

  6. Michael Coley says:

    Thanks for writing about this, Billy!  It’s good to hear the perspective from an unbiased, long-term member.

    My “Kinder and Gentler” direction for ABW was never intended to prevent people from pointing out wrong, only to have it done civilly, professionally and factually.  Calling someone an ass, saying that people are just shills for another forum if they disagree with you, sarcastic comments veiled as humor and mocking newbies (all things that have returned to ABW since Chuck was put in charge) does nothing to further the conversation or effect change.  It just runs people off.

    ABW faced significant challenges over the past 18 months, with social fragmentation, the loss of an outspoken founder/leader (whose shoes couldn’t have been filled by anyone), the emergence of competing forums, and an attempt to find the right balance between sales and community.  These challenges were exasperated with continual dissent from Haiko and Trust and blatant undermining from Chuck.

    In April, it was revealed to me that Chuck had been in direct communication with Snowfinch, revealing private details from the moderator forum and giving specific advice on how to stir up strife and dissent.  This wasn’t the first time.  I immediately contacted iNET to get advice on how to relieve Chuck as a moderator with the least impact on the community.  They refused to let me do it.

    Fast forward three months, and now iNET has now tasked the one who had been systematically doing everything within his power to tear down the community with the job of rebuilding it.  It’s unbelievable.

    I’m proud of what has been accomplished at ABW over the past 18 months.  Many relationships have been rebuilt and valuable members have been brought back.  We upgraded to a much newer version of vBulletin.  A newsletter was developed and we were just about to increase the frequency.  Other developments are in the pipeline (which the new Admin will undoubtedly lay claim on).  We’ve become the go to place for information on the Affiliate Tax legislation.  Merchant activity and education has increased dramatically.  Traffic has been increasing.  The quality of activity has been higher.  We’ve welcomed dozens of new Inner Circle members.  We’ve had several large (100+ people) gatherings.

    I’m concerned about the perceived and real conflict of interest of having an OPM as the administrator of ABestWeb, but frankly I’m much more concerned about Chuck’s ethics as displayed by undermining ABW while he was a moderator, and the change in direction that he brings.  Since the turnover, there has been a return to the thuggery that existed in the past, and many long-term members have stopped being active.  There’s been almost no substantive activity.  After the initial flurry of activity, things have essentially died.  Most posts have been from Chuck, Haiko, Trust and newbies, and most of those have been nothing but fluff.  The only new thread featured on the home page from the past week is about taking down sticky threads – really?

    I’m obviously not the only one with concerns about Chuck.  Within hours of the announcement that Chuck had been appointed Administrator, four of the five active moderators had resigned.

    I will not be active in any substantial way on ABestWeb as long as Chuck is in any position of power and as long as Haiko and Trust are allowed their free reign of thuggery.

    Michael Coley
    Former ABestWeb Administrator

    • While I agree that having an OPM as the head admin of ABW is a conflict of interest and I do sympathize with your plight Michael…I think characterizing Haiko’s and Trust’s input into ABW as thuggery is closer hyperbole than fact.

      • Did you see what happened to Milan/Decorative Ceiling Tiles (a valued and highly-respected member of the community, and PAYING CUSTOMER to iNet/ABW)? Because he had the nerve and the decency to step up and ask questions – little more than a “hey, what the heck is going on here?” – instead of lining up to stand behind the pied piper, he was berated, belittled, insulted, and accused. If that is not “thuggery”, then what is?

  7. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    “I will not be active in any substantial way on ABestWeb as long as Chuck
    is in any position of power and as long as Haiko and Trust are allowed
    their free reign of thuggery.”

    Thuggery?  Oh brother.  If you felt that way, you would have demodded me.  I demodded myself because of the way you were doing things. You leave out a lot of facts like you removing a poll saying ABW was going in the wrong direction, under your leadership.  Participation levels going down.  Or lying/bs’ing members, like hundreds of thousands of lurkers, etc. You have not once taken any responsibility.  It’s always somebody else.  Chuck, Haiko, now me, INET, Facebook, Twitter………

    It really comes down to one major thing.  You big brothering the forum to death and treating other adults like children.  It’s never worked with affiliate forums in the past, hasn’t worked here, won’t ever work in the future.  This business is more entrepreneurial in spirit, open minded and you had this need to try to control.  But this has all been gone over already.  The forum has moved on.  But at least this topic is good for views here and elsewhere.

    • That’s funny Trust. Michael is the least controlling person I know in this industry. As Billy said he is tied with  “Brian Littleton, President of ShareASale, as the most respected, grounded, and above-board person in the affiliate industry.”

      Of course you have every right not to like Michael’s tenure as Admin. My gut says it is because you like to scrap and don’t like it when someone tries to make you be civil.

      • Jonathan (Trust) says:

        Angel, completely off and you’re not really qualified to make that assessment since you didn’t post there while Michael was admin.  I also find it a little odd, some people here and Twitter, liked the way Michael admin so much, they never/hardly posted there while he was in charge. If you read that 19 page thread, read what other members were posting.  You’ll see example given of the big brothering.  Fact is, there was a poll removed where ABW members saying ABW was going in the wrong direction.  A poll is the closest you’ll get to the truth on forums.  Has nothing to do with me liking to scrap.  It’s simply me liking an open forum where people can discuss what they want.  There have been regular discussions going on where Michael felt the need to give big bold green warning to adults having conversation.  An example – http://www.abestweb.com/forums/1066700-post53.html  It’s ridiculous.

        • I already explained my absence and it was not my choice to stop posting educational information that I post several other places.  Once you are censored somewhere, you don’t look kindly on going back and giving them any kind of free content. iNet was doing the “big brothering” and will continue to do so from their actions the past few days.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

             That wasn’t directed at you.  Some other people who haven’t been active while Michael was admin.  You figure once it went “kinder and gentler”, participation would have flourished instead of decreasing.  Fact of the matter is the members have always been generally nice to each other.  And Michael  knows a discussion we had on this.  It was a typical day and I asked Michael to go find all this bad stuff, he couldn’t.  We had people helping each other out, people asking questions, people joking around etc.  Typical day.  Are there going to be instances every now and then?  Of course, it’s a forum, but those are few and far between and they don’t define a place, even tho want it to.

          • Guest says:

            Trust, you ruined ABW, that’s it lol.

        • That’s not quite true. I did post there about half a dozen times during Michael’s tenure. Just not as active as in the past due to bandwidth more than anything else.

          But personalities aside, let’s bring it back down to Billy’s main point. I would love to hear whether you feel having an OPM as Admin of ABW is a conflict of interest.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

             1 post every 3 months Angel. To your other question, maybe but somebody needed to be an admin and we’re all in this business one way or another so.  It seems to be more of an issue with people who don’t even participate there. How about conflict of interest of you’re an OPM and a mod?  Mods can pretty much see most of what an admin can see.  In the end if this opens the place up more, then good.  That’s really my big issue and all I’ve ever wanted.  You have rules, enforce the rules.  But after that, just basically leave people alone, and let it be a forum.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

             And just a general comment.  I hear people saying I hate drama, this and that.  But we have this here, Twitter, other people like Bill floating rumors about ABW etc. About me being a mod again, when he could have simply asked (answer would be no)  When there was a thread about change of admin, it ran it’s course and that was it on ABW.  But all the people who hate drama, seem to be wanting to start it everywhere else.  Little hypocritical.

          • Michael Coley says:

            No, the thread didn’t run it’s course.  It got shut down my the one remaining moderator.  If it had run it’s course, nobody would have anything to say here.

            And now that it’s been shut down, it’s taboo on ABW because if someone discusses it they can face a ban for publicly questioning moderation.  Nice.

          • Thanks for counting 🙂

            It “maybe” a conflict of interest? I think that’s the least definitive opinion I’ve ever heard from you. Unless things have greatly changed the Admin role isn’t like the role of a moderator, unless mods are suddenly taking part in iNet business meetings.

            Seems to me an OPM is very beholden to their merchants AND the networks they work with. Combine that with being beholden to iNet and it is hardly a neutral position.

            Plus lets define something clearly. ABW is and has always been a “moderated” forum. By definition that requires oversight and comes with responsibilities beyond simply enforcing the rules. Moderators are not there just to “leave people alone.”

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

            Yes, Angel, I know forums have mods :)  Again to enforce rules and other things.  Not to go into conversations and warn people when there is no reason too.  Michael actually tries defending this practice.  Again, it’s all right here – http://www.abestweb.com/forums/abestweb-com-suggestions-problems-205/direction-abw-141068.html  Already been gone thru.  End of the day, a change was made. That’s it.  And if you’re at the helm of something for 1.5+ years plus and things aren’t working out, you make a change.  Common sense stuff.  It’s happened to people here at Revenews as well.

    • Michael Coley says:

      I left you as a Moderator for as long as you were willing because I greatly valued your (often dissenting) opinion (I didn’t want just “yes men”), you did not (as far as I know) attempt to publicly or privately undermine ABW, and while I was Administrator you were civil.  For your service and those things, I am eternally grateful and have great respect for you.  But now that Chuck’s in charge, you’ve been acting like a bully / thug.

      • Jonathan (Trust) says:

         How Michael?  You’ve said that but give me an actual example, a link. A thug? Where?

  8. For better or for worse Haiko was the heart and soul of ABW. If ABW is to forge a new direction there are bound to be some growing pains. However, reading the threads on ABW there are several things that I find very telling:

    -Even Haiko feels ABW is in trouble: “IMO ABW is dying,
    people see it, they feel it and are saying it, I’m posting to try to
    make the powers that be also see it and fell it so they can repair it. Not for any other purpose.” (http://www.abestweb.com/forums/1065583-post355.html)
    -That although Haiko also feels that being OPM is a conflict of interest: “because I was on a mission and since I wasn’t an…OPM I was not beholden to any network nor merchant.” (http://www.abestweb.com/forums/1064243-post99.html) but apparently iNet doesn’t see that way.

    iNet bought ABW to make a profit. They will not let Haiko’s, Trust’s, Zeus’s, Donut’s, Kellie’s, Billy’s, or any other ABW veteran’s ideals get in the way of securing that profit.

    • Without those big posters driving the conversation, the activity will drop off, so if it’s not a place where anyone can discuss issues and you have to be an “accepted” member to post freely then the traffic will suffer, not to mention turn people off that don’t like drama or conflict. Keeping a positive outlook on the industry should always be the focus with all the stuff going on. People need answers and resolutions, not to mention direction in the affiliate space. Why have any conflict at all, don’t we all need to band together in the affiliate industry or am I off base with that. Great discussion though!

  9. One of the things Michael was “called out” for was splitting threads and closing threads.  Oh gee look what happened in the very first thread under Chuck’s Administration:

    This thread:

    was split from this thread:

    And now that thread is closed due to “name calling” after members were trying to get answers to questions about the new admin.  The Loxly split off was preplanned and happened at the same time as my IP ban.  It’s supposed to be because I have a personal vendetta of some kind with Chuck.  The truth is I know too much to be allowed to stick around.  I still would like to see the answers to my questions without the “look at my 5000 posts” trite answer.

    If you have so many good things planned, why did you not participate instead of fight, and start all your brilliant threads in the last two years?  You talk a good game, but there isn’t much in writing anywhere on the web to back up your talking.  Oh right, you don’t like putting things in writing because most of what you have written has blown up on you. 

    Yes, I have copies of emails, yes I have stories from affiliates, yes Mr. H I know a lot of your skeletons and even Haiko couldn’t save you if some of this info went public.  Instead I would like you to point us to posts and places on the internet where you educated affiliates and merchants, in public and not in a controversial way.

    From my final post:
    “I stopped being a mod because of the backstabbing in the mod corner and
    the politics that were bad for my health and bad for the board. I was
    tired of the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night I
    was banning bots from China, India and Taiwan and other places. I spent
    more time banning and deleting that I did posting because I no longer
    had time to post. I didn’t renew my forums because one was seen as
    competition for initiatives that iNet is supposed to be starting and
    because I was not longer seeing engagement and ROI from my OPM forum presence here.

    Why did I come back to post today? Because ABW
    is becoming a platform for clueless people and turning them into
    perceived “authorities”. I can’t stand by and listen to all the people
    that contacted ME today and all the hush hush we can’t come out and say
    what we need to about Chuck. This is in no way a personal attack on
    Chuck, this is a “people do your homework” before you blindly follow a
    supposed new path.

    And with that, I’m logging out. Do NOT send me PMs, I will not log back
    in to read them, if anyone wants to reach me my Skype is affiliateabcs
    and my email is affiliates at teamloxly.com”

  10. “Fact is, there was a poll removed where ABW members saying ABW was going in the wrong direction.  A poll is the closest you’ll get to the truth on forums.”

    Are you talking about this poll (that’s still there & not removed) http://www.abestweb.com/forums/abestweb-voting-booth-6/direction-abw-poll-141414.html or maybe this thread (that’s still there as well) http://www.abestweb.com/forums/abestweb-com-suggestions-problems-205/direction-abw-141068.html

    Oh wait, those would be some of the threads by Snowfinch started at the encouragement of Chuck to stir up dissension in the community and discredit Michael as the admin. 

    For me personally, I have a bigger problem with someone involved in intentionally creating riffs in the community as an admin than the solitary fact they are an OPM. There are certainly OPMs who are very affiliate friendly. But to encourage an affiliate (granted Snowfinch shouldn’t have allowed himself to be lead like that) who was very active for a program with a forum on ABW & would most definitely result in a ban from the community is certainly not a very affiliate friendly thing. Nor do I consider it ethical.

    • Jonathan (Trust) says:

      No Kellie, it’s not something you can link too, since Michael completely removed it.  You can ask Michael himself, he’ll verify he did that. It was a poll where people voted if ABW was going in the wrong direction.  It overwhelmingly said yes.  If it said no, I’m sure it would still be there so you can link to it.

      • Jonathan (Trust) says:

         In fact, here’s the post –
        “No, I removed it because it was unfairly worded and meaningless, many
        people refused to participate and the discussion was far more important.


        • By your own count in that thread the poll results when they were removed were:
          Yes – 7

          No – 0

          Neutral – 2

          That was after two days of people asking what the point of the poll was and for the poll to be better defined. And that was a total of 9 votes out of 99,844 members. Hardly “overwhelming” or statistically significant.

          Now I wouldn’t have removed that thread. But it wasn’t my call. And it being removed is hardly a sign of some kind of power trip from Michael. In fact in reading that thread, personalities aside, Michael seems to be trying to encourage actual dialogue that Snowfinch sparked.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

            “99,844 members” There are no 99,000 members.  Anybody with a forum knows there are registered members and real life active members. Plus it’s hard to vote when a poll is removed.  But if those votes were going in the other direction, I’m pretty sure that poll would have stayed.  There’s a lot more, it’s why even with those votes that got in before it was deleted, it was headed in one direction.  Again, that’s old news.  If things were improving at ABW, participation growing, Michael would still be there.  Once you take emotion out, the numbers don’t lie.  The post count doesn’t lie, the poll even with those few votes, don’t lie.

        • Michael Coley says:

          Kellie hit the nail on the head when she pointed out that the poll was likely started at the encouragement of Chuck, to stir up dissention.  It was an incredibly biased poll, and was a distraction to the actual discussion (which resulted in changes).  Perhaps it was a mistake to remove the poll, but I don’t think so.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

            “which resulted in changes” No, it did not, hence my death to vigor post.  I thought it would.  I thought after all that, things would get better.  There was an excitement in the forum, threads on that.  How it felt good again. Literally the very next day, you were back to unnecessary warnings. It felt like you had this fear that people would disagree and you wanted to keep a tight hold on that.   When discussion, disagreement is a part of forum life. You’re thanking Billy for the post but he said:
            “In theory, the friendly, professional route should have worked. In
            practice, without fear of intimidation, merchants and networks went back
            to walking all over their affiliate base and the forum became bland.”

            Forum became bland.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

             And I find this interesting, there seems to be a few people all torn up about this change but where were you when Michael was admin? It seems like he was your dream admin, except you hardly or if at all, posted. How come you didn’t support him? If you did, he would still be there.

          • That’s funny Trust. You seem to forget that not you or any other veteran has a say in who stays or goes as admin at ABW. There was no community vote to replace one admin with another.

            It was iNet’s choice. It is iNet’s forum. You’re just there rattling chains.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

            Which has what to do with anything I just said?  Yes, I know who owns the forum. Again, you measure forum participation by post count.  It did nothing but decline. There was a community vote, it got deleted.  They had community input, like surveys.  You wouldn’t know that because you have no genuine interest in ABW based on your lack of participation there, just the comments you get from posting about them, here.  Yet again, same thing happens here at Revenews.  You have some past people in charge that pretty much drove this place into the ground.  They were outta there.

          • You say you know who owns ABW but you haven’t said what you think of them. How have they improved the forum? What are their grand plans?

            Forum participation at ABW will not grow after this move in admins because iNet has no real interest in the beliefs that ABW was founded upon.

            Ever wonder why the traffic rank for ABW has skyrocketed up while actual forum participation is down? Just think of it as iNet’s overall SEO strategy.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

            I guess time will tell. I know IMOG and have spoke to him many times.  Great, knowledgeable guy.  You make it seem like a forum or blog wanting more participation is a bad thing or something. Yes, they’re a business.  Obviously more participation helps business.  That’s not exactly breaking news. Is Revenews a charity?  Of course not.  Are you loving all these extra comments on the topic?  You’re loving the hell out of it.  That’s how blogs/forums work.

            “Ever wonder why the traffic rank for ABW has skyrocketed up while actual forum participation is down?”

            Actually, I’ve never wondered that.  I go there to talk about affiliate marketing.  Do you worry about it?  Just temporarily?  You’re talking about ABW like you’re a regular contributing member.  I think your only interest, again, is comment count.  It’ll probably be the most you’ve had here this year.  Talking about some other forum.

          • Mcoley says:

            I’m just glad there’s SOMEWHERE that we CAN have this conversation.  The thread got closed on ABW and it’s now a taboo topic.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

            I think it was more people getting tired of the Michael get at Chuck thread.  Most people don’t care about this stuff anyway.  They just want to talk affiliate marketing.  There is a time to move on.  But obviously some people actually like the drama. And Angle, please fix this.  It keeps getting skinnier and skinnier. 

          • Michael Coley says:

            I do believe that this change will have a negative effect on engagement at ABW, but I disagree about iNET.  I think they do want engagement.  I think they’re indifferent on the beliefs that ABW was founded upon, but I do believe they’re committed to giving the community what it wants.  We just have to make sure they know what we want.

          • Michael Coley says:

            The last substantial growth ABW saw was in 2005 and the decline in posting levels started in 2008.  The largest historical decline took place from March 2008 through October 2009.  (How well did controversy work for increasing activity during that time period?)  Lest you forget, I was Administrator from November 2009 through June 2011.  If you’re looking for someone to vilify, I suggest you look back a little further.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

             Whenever you took ABW over, it was at X.  If the things you were doing, were working, it would more than X, not less.  It was less.  That’s a fact.  You’ve taken no responsibility for it. At all. It’s always somebody else.  You were the admin.  So did your way work?  No.  And this really sums it up, something you’ve never addressed – http://www.abestweb.com/forums/1066700-post53.html

            Why Michael, did you feel you needed to do that?  Warn adults that when they have a conversation, they might disagree?  Seriously?  The only thing I can think of is some type of fear.  Fear of disagreement, fear that things might get out of control, if you didn’t constantly warn people.  Am I wrong in that?  If so, what was it? 

          • Mcoley says:

            One of the primary rules of ABW is to be polite:

            “We take the “Be Polite” rule very seriously. We do not tolerate rudeness. Any member who is intentionally unpleasant or disruptive may be banned without warning. Attack the problem, not the person.”

            The <a href="http://www.abestweb.com/forums/shareasale-64/so-sick-temporary-offline-141596.html"thread you reference was starting to become pretentious, with people emphatically stating their views and suggesting that anyone who didn’t feel exactly the same way was completely wrong.  Some members weren’t being respectful.

            I posted that friendly reminder of the rules.  (You appear to the only one who got offended by that, and apparently are still offended 5 months later.)  In any case, the discussion resumed and people realized that different solutions would work better for different affiliates, and that an OPTION would be helpful.

            But what does any of this have to do with Chuck undermining ABW and then being put in charge of rebuilding it?

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

            The thread was fine Michael.  And no, I wasn’t the only person who had a problem with it.  As far as Chuck, you think that’s why you’re not there? Really??  You’re in such denial.  Now having said that, since I haven’t seen the actual emails.  If Snowfinch was used to start trouble, of course that’s wrong.  But that’s not the main issue.

  11. flamingogirl says:

    I don’t think putting someone in charge who on a panel at Affiliate Summit stated he works with unethical affiliates because they bring in the money is good for an “affiliate” forum. I really have nothing else to say because I lost interest in ABW a while ago. It isn’t relevant anymore and really doesn’t matter.

    • Billy Kay says:

      THIS is how you spend your Honeymoon??? Tell Dave I couldn’t help noticing he signed his life away over INDEPENDENCE day weekend 🙂

      The first time I met you was at one of the ThinkTanks. I remember thinking why would Brian invite you, since you were on the ABW list of people never to associate with.

      The same year I met Loxly at Affiliate Summit, which we had to do “on the sly” because Missy was on the list.

      In one of his replies to Angel below, Trust states that mods and admins just moderate the rules. I beg to differ. For 6 years I was told who I could and could not associate with.

      If it weren’t for Coley, I’d still be on the list – and technically I couldn’t associate with myself 🙂

      At one point, I was told who I could date and who I couldn’t – LOL – but that’s another article 🙂

      Odd… no matter what the turmoil, and who was currently banned or worshiped (there was never a middle ground)… the friendships I made there have stood the test of time.


      • “ABW list of people never to associate with” – seriously?

        • Jonathan (Trust) says:

          I’ve never seen such a list. I think I would have since I used to be a mod. And Connie on that list?  That doesn’t even make sense.  She was in there fighting against the parasites.  One of the people who got the visit.  Actually the first person to bring up Ebates and what they were doing, when we were all talking about Morpheus.

          • I think Billy is referring to a “list” in a metaphorical sense. At times, like in any forum, it was a case of whose on the “outs” this week? For Connie I remember there was the “when is it alright for couponers to set cookies” debate. Same debate that made Uncle Scooter leave the forum.

            And Connie not only brought up Ebates she has been our industry’s champion against the nexus tax in her state.

            Kellie Stevens was a pariah for a long time due to personality issues with Haiko. Like you said, Trust, that doesn’t even make sense. Especially considering the volume of work Kellie has done over the years against parasites.

            Same is true for many others (Donuts, etc).

          • Billy Kay says:

             Angel, yes that was what I was referring to re Connie. As for Missy, it was because of who she worked for prior to teaming with Shawn (who became guilty by association.) As for PMA, whatever year they had their first booth at Summit, I wasn’t allowed to say I visited the booth (no less manned it while Brad Waller had cigarette breaks or whatever) because Rebecca was a “baddie” as she previously worked hi up at CJ.

            But we’re spending a lot of time on “history”, which doesn’t forward our goals of advancing affiliate’s voice in affiliate marketing.

            I’d comment on the KellieAFP banning, but it never made any sense. And something has to make some small kind of sense to debate it 🙂

          • Actually I was never banned that I am aware of. My posts to affiliate managers were put into moderation (gasp…I couldn’t share information with them without my posts being screened first), but if I was ever truly banned I hadn’t logged back in to know it. So if it did happen, it was a wasted ban. I just wasn’t wanted there.

          • Michael Coley says:

            I’m pretty sure you were never banned.  Many members were just run off – not banned.  Many were burned very badly, and I’m surprised as many came back as did.

            As for your posts in the AM Only forum being put into moderation, that was a configuration problem that affected a lot of people.  I found and fixed that problem, not long after becoming Administrator.

            I had several people who told me they would never come back because they were afraid that Haiko and the thuggery would return.  I told them that it would never happen on my watch.  I guess they were right to be concerned.  🙁

            I’m afraid that the impact of this mistake is going to very quickly become irreversible (if it’s not there already), because many of those people gave ABW a second chance when I took over, but they’re much less likely to give it a third chance.

          • In my case, I’m certain it wasn’t a configuration problem. 🙂 But that was long before you were Admin and is long past history for me. 

            The way I view it Michael is that you can only take responsibility for your own actions, not the actions of others. I’ve seen nothing to make me think you went into the Admin position with anything but good faith.

          • Leeann says:

            You weren’t banned, but you were stalked. 

          • Do I get a pariah tiara? 🙂 I’m probably still one to some. But I did learn a lot from those experiences. My own personal experiences probably have a lot to do with how strongly I feel with regards to the attacks against Michael. I just don’t see how those types of things can truly build a “community.” And Michael’s appeals to me was the ONLY reason I gave it a second chance. I don’t think anyone else could have even made me consider it. 

        • You were on that list too, remember Con Shawnlins? I actually *was* banned for one day after posting that Affiliate Summit is an event we should be able to talk about since it was for affiliates.  But the company I worked for purchased a forum, and I was made a green moderator instead, after having a LONG talk with Haiko.

          Trust the list was never in writing all in one place, it was scattered amongst posts and sent via PMs.

  12. Milan Jara says:

    All I have to say is that as long as the profit is the single most important thing for the forum owners, any real change just ain’t happening.  But I am also happy to find a place where things are different and people respect each other, place where helping others is #1  .  http://forum.affiliatesummit.com/

  13. Billy Kay says:


    You’re stating 2 competing arguments to make your point – and they cancel each other out. Regarding the drama at ABW, you state “Most people don’t care about this stuff anyway.” Yet that thread IS the most read thread of the year. SOMEONE obviously cares! But ABW decided to close it and stifle any discussion.

    You state “There is a time to move on.” And it’s clear iNet decided that your own members aren’t capable of making that decision on their own. They closed the discussion.

    Then in the next breath you tell Angel “you have no genuine interest in ABW based on your lack of participation there, just the comments you get from posting about them, here”. Are there comments here on ReveNews? YES! Why???? Because it’s not allowed to be discussed at ABW.

    It’s crystal clear – even to people with glaucoma – that people want to discuss the direction of ABW.

    In every field, there are leaders and followers. LOOK at the names of the posters here. Every one of them is an important player in our industry.

    A lot of people are referring to this a “drama” – and I’m sure it is. But the people who are actually posting are carers (is that a word? People who CARE about what happens at ABW).

    When we were prohibited from discussing PMA and nexus at ABW, I started Affspot. You saw the number of ABW members that came over. And they were all under a ban threat for posting there. (Remember what ABW did do HecticDMC/Daniel)?

    That should have been a wake-up call that there were members who were unhappy. No one did anything about it – other then mass banning and bullying.

    Since Affspot made the original crack, other forums have sprung up. Again, if ABW had been doing it’s job, there would have been no need for other forums.

    I hope you see this… back then ABW wouldn’t let anyone say there were other places to go. The affiliate world started and ended at ABW. Even now, it’s still narcissistic. Here (Revenews) is a place where the discussion is continuing – because apparently it isn’t done – yet neither the admin nor the owner of ABW is contributing to the discussion, which is about them. (If it’s not happening on ABW, it’s not relevant).

    You keep stating that Coley had to go because he deleted a thread, and warned people about being adults. Were you not paying attention during the pre-Coley era? Threads were deleted/moved to mod forum on an hourly basis! KellieAFP would come in at 2am and get everything back to normal.

    As for his warning to rematt, at least he gave a warning. In the old days, people would just “disappear” and it wasn’t until weeks later that we found out they were temp or perm banned.

    When Coley took over, most of the vocal members were already banned and gone. Some never returned out of principal. Others… have you ever been dumped by a woman and a year later she calls and says she made a mistake and wants to get back together?

    IF you do get back together, you don’t give it 100% anymore because in your mind she’s already shown you she can dump you at any time in the future. Usually, the best that happens is you “remain friendly”, which IMO is why the movers and shakers didn’t return en masse when Coley took over.

    As for the bickering and name calling currently happening at ABW… yes, we did that during it’s heyday! But it was all directed at the enemy – “You blithering idiot! How can you not see this merchant is screwing us! Are you sleeping with the merchant’s daughter?”

    Now, the rancor is simply directed at each other with no ultimate purpose. All the bullying posts are “You blithering idiot! How dare you question ABW!” It doesn’t serve the implied reason for its existence – to further AFFILIATE marketing.

    I’m not writing this to contribute to any “drama”. I’m writing this because it is how I feel. I have no vendetta. I have no conflicting interest.

    I firmly believe that without a place like (the old) ABW, we affiliates will be taken advantage of by the two people we refer to as our partners – Networks and merchants. And even tho it’s been a week, ABW has not stated what they plan to do to have an impact on affiliate marketing.

    All the new discussions are about moving the “who’s viewing this thread” from the bottom to the top, stcky notes, and revealing “thank you names” or making a link to view the actual people who said “thanks for this post”. None of this is relevant to helping me in my fight against bad networks, merchants and parasites.


    • Jonathan (Trust) says:


      “Yet that thread IS the most read thread of the year”

      Any thread going over a page is in contention for most read thread of the year.  It’e been dead there.

      “They closed the discussion.”

      Discussion?  It was basically an I hate Chuck thread at that point.  

      “Then in the next breath you tell Angel “you have no genuine interest in ABW based on your lack of participation there, just the comments you get from posting about them, here”. Are there comments here on ReveNews? YES! Why???? Because it’s not allowed to be discussed at ABW.”

      Billy, I’m talking about the 1.5 years Michael was in charge.  Angel could have came by anytime.  1 post in 3 months is not really participating. Same with you, thought the place was bland.  

      “When we were prohibited from discussing PMA and nexus at ABW, I started Affspot. You saw the number of ABW members that came over. And they were all under a ban threat for posting there. (Remember what ABW did do HecticDMC/Daniel)?”

      That’s false.  People could discuss the PMA, they just didn’t like what other people had to say about it.  Welcome to forum life.  As far as Daniel, that was one I disagreed with and Daniel knows that.   As far as Affspot, it pretty much died.  Sam got tired of you all because all you would do is fight.  The mods.  I read one mod who actually said they were going to go in and edit anybody who ever posted a cuss word. Again, too controlling, it’s why it didn’t work out.

      You had another forum you started as well, dead.

      The new forum I see you posting at, check out this rule:

      “You will not use this forum as a venue for resolving issues with moderators, affiliates, merchants, networks, agencies or other service providers;”

      How do you like that one?   You have a problem with a network or merchant screwing you over, don’t take it there.  It’s against the rules.

      “mass banning”

      That’s basically a lie that keeps getting reposted.  Some people were never banned.  Some only temp but the way it’s setup, the system doesn’t tell you the difference between a 7 day and permanent.

      “I hope you see this… back then ABW wouldn’t let anyone say there were other places to go”

      That was under Michael as well.  That’s on the domain forums I hang out as well.  That’s a general rule lots of forums have.

      “KellieAFP would come in at 2am and get everything back to normal.”

      It was so horrible back then, you posted on a daily basis.  Kellie was not only there and active, she was a mod.  I think you remember the bad and let that define ABW for you. And not the overall.  I see all these complaints but look at when you guys were actually active over there.  It wasn’t under Michael.

      “None of this is relevant to helping me in my fight against bad networks, merchants and parasites.”

      Right, and none of that stops you from doing that.  You can still do that at ABW.  Go ahead and try starting some of those conversations elsewhere.

      • Billy Kay says:

         Trust, let’s take the word “ABW” out for a second, and just say “any ol’ forum” just to get any emotional attachment out of the equation.

        Remember all the times Linkshare would announce the annual “Golden Link Award” winner, and withing microseconds someone would post proof the winner was an bad affiliate. Linkshare would post “We are unable to duplicate the error” or other lame excuses, until at some point (due to our relentlessness) they would reluctantly change the winner. (Wasn’t there a year when their 2nd choice was also a bad player. As was their 3rd choice. That shows ME the Network isn’t on OUR side)

        That’s just one example, and you know there were countless examples where we came together as a group and made changes that benefited affiliates.

        How do we get back to that? Do affiliates even want that? (Again, not about ABW, just a general question)

        • Jonathan (Trust) says:

           Yes, I remember Linkshare kept awarding the bad players the prize.  I pointed out one of them.  One site had 1 backlink, from doxdesk.  Took me a whopping 30 seconds.  How do we get back to that?  Not sure.  I’m not sure affiliates care really care anymore or are even interested. But something you just pointed out.  You’re talking about Linkshare and how the network wasn’t on our side.  Well, that was my biggest issue with the association.  You have these problems with these networks but ok if they sit on the board and make rules for how things should be done?  Didn’t make sense to me.  And having said that, I do appreciate what they’re doing as far as the tax issue and I really do love, that they’re suing somebody.  I’m a big fan of actual action.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

            “How do we get back to that?”  Just wanted to add this and I’ll even use a Revenews reference.  There was a post here about Best Buy and leaks and if affiliates care. I said, I guess not since Buy.com keeps winning awards and they have to be one of the leakiest merchants I’ve ever seen. I posted that here at Revenews.  It was removed.  A lot of people are afraid to have open, honest discussions about issues.  Maybe somebody liked or was a friend of the AM and handled it for them.  I see a lot of people that don’t like people, and for good reason, now buddy up to them because maybe they need a retweet or a nice review for a book or ebook etc.  It’s become very fake.

          • Trust I think you mean this article:

            Your comment is in there with a date stamp of 5 months ago. CT even replied to you.

          • Billy Kay says:

            “But something you just pointed out.  You’re talking about Linkshare and
            how the network wasn’t on our side.  Well, that was my biggest issue
            with the association.”

            Agree 100%! But the zillions of affiliates weren’t ponying up the $25 or $50 each that was needed. It takes wads of money to fight City Hall. I looked at it as a foot in the door

            LOL… whatever committee I was assigned to, was headed up by someone at Pepperjam. You shoulda saw my reply 🙂

            But PMA is doing what they were designed to do. And if you admit there is life outside ABW, they DID spread the word to people who wouldn’t have heard it had it been limited to just ABW.

          • Billy Kay says:

            “I’m not sure affiliates care really care anymore or are even interested’

            Boy! I hope you’re wrong on that one. I firmly believe that if we don’t keep our voices heard – in a steady and loud manner – we’ll be walked all over.

            My last post (that mattered) on ABW was about Sam Ash. A music organization asked me to teach musicians how to affiliate their band websites. I thought “Easy! Tell them to link to a store that sells guitars, recording equipment, etc”

            I got the generic denied email from Linkshare. I pushed for an actual reason (as 380 musicians pushing SamAsh was a match made in heaven to me), and the response I got was “we have filters in place to weed out pink noise” (or something similar)

            I posted that on ABW expecting an uproar! Instead, I got “You should promote their competitor and teach them a lesson”

            It was unfathomable that no one questioned what “pink noise” was? That no one commented that there are “hidden” rules of acceptance into a program.

            No one from either Linkshare or SamAsh even felt the need to post a rebuttal or explanation/excuse. And I sent both a link to the thread.

            It let the wind out of me (compared to the old days).

            That was they day I saw either ABW lost it’s relevance or affiliates don’t care. Whichever one is correct, it hurts us all.

      • Michael Coley says:

        I’ll repeat again that the single largest decline in activity happened at ABW in the 18 month period from March 2008 through September 2009 (the month before Haiko sold to iNET, and before I became Administrator).  During that time, there was PLENTY of drama.  How did that work out?

        The period from November 2009 through June 2010 (when I was Administrator) had mixed results (9 months were higher than before, 9 months were lower), but in my mind it was a considerable improvement over the the previous 18 months.  There was still a considerable amount of drama (encouraged by Chuck) and I feel that was a large reason that ABW didn’t fare better over that time.

        Unless the strategy changes considerably from what has been revealed this first week, the next 18 months are destined to be very disappointing for ABW.  Drama builds short term traffic, but it hurts long-term results.

        • Jonathan (Trust) says:

          Well, maybe people will just talk about affiliate marketing?  Today, california tax, apps for sites, merchant promotion, crowdsourcing, the ole is affiliate marketing dead etc.  Typical day.  You keep pointing at Chuck and if in fact that’s all true, not good.  But, you still haven’t owned any of it whatsoever.  I think you’re a great, knowledgeable affiliate but you tried to control freak a forum full of independent types.  People who are a little more ambitious than the typical person, a little more a type personality, in charge types.  I really don’t need a big, bold, green warning that people disagree sometimes when they have conversations.  I sure you don’t go around in real life doing that to other adults?

          • Billy Kay says:

            Trust, you just posted:

            “Yet that thread IS the most read thread of the year
            Any thread going over a page is in contention for most read thread of the year.  It’e been dead there.
            “They closed the discussion.”
            Discussion?  It was basically an I hate Chuck thread at that point. 

            Isn’t that exactly what you’re accusing Coley of having done??? To you, Coley telling to be civil is cause for dismissal.

            But closing a thread/discussion because someone says people are being uncivil is acceptable???

            If you’re trying to prove Coley was “controlling”, a rational person would conclude warning is a lot less controlling then stifling

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

            No.  There’s having conversations about affiliate marketing and such and then there’s trolling.  They’re not the same.  Trolling should be handled, conversation left alone. The poll was the closes you’ll get to the truth.  It’s why it was removed.

          • Michael Coley says:

            So we’re back to this…  Anyone who disagrees is a troll, is shilling for other forums, or is just a Chuck hater.

          • Johnnie – You know as well as anybody else who has been around on the ABW scene for a while that I am one of the most likely to wind up getting “warnings” or at least “poked back at” on a forum, ABW in particular. And I’m sure that Michael himself will be the first to tell you that he and I have rarely ever been “on the same page” as anything. There have been plenty of instances of static on the board during Micheal’s tenure, and I can honestly say that I have NEVER, not even once, felt even the slightest twinge of any of this “control freak” behaviour that you allude to here. Michael has always been respectful and compassionate in disagreement, whereas [name not even need to be mentioned] will freak and take a leak and start swinging the hammer of Thor at anybody who dares to disagree or otherwise make waves that go against the current of the party line. MIchael is a good guy, period, and that alone commands respect even in disagreement. The same cannot be said for the con artists who have managed to snakecharm iNet into letting them take control of the block again.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

             That’s you and of course people will feel differently as evidenced by that long, long thread.  You had the poll and you had people posting some the same stuff, on both sides of the issue. Time will tell.  If it doesn’t work out, then it’s on to the next one. 

          • Ok, my turn to do a little bit of policing. Like him or not, calling Chuck a “con artist” is way out of line. And it’s not like iNet was duped.

          • I didn’t name names 😉 And no, I didn’t mean Chuck at all… IMO he is just another pawn in the game, and quite likely the next scapegoat when the need arises. I do believe that iNet has been hoodwinked into ousting Michael; certain parties had been planting seeds to discredit and undermine him all along.

  14. BTW everyone, apologies for the skinniness of long reply threads. It is a Disqus “feature” and we’re looking to see if there is a way not to shift things over so far. For now if a threaded reply conversation gets to skinny the only answer is to shift it over by hitting “comment” not “reply”.

  15. This topic is on fire! WOW, blowing up my inbox! 🙂

  16. Tee says:

    Thanks for the write up…been heavily considering advertising on there but this makes me unsure now :/ Keep us posted!!

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  18. Existing ABW Member says:

    Good post Billy!

    I tell you from a newbie’s prospect what ABW is becoming. I joined the forum a couple of years ago to see if I could learn something about Affiliate Marketing. No doubts, I did learn a few things. I expected the place to be filled with affiliate marketers who had loads of experience. I joined when Haiko was still moderating forums and things were very well under control. I was enthusiastic and started indulging in conversations, asking questions and helping other marketers where ever I could.

    Some of the people there were so COOL! Specially, Michael, Bill, Jill, WriterGuy, Jaquelin, etc. These are just a few names that I can think at the top of the head (most of these peeps have left forum now). But then a big change, Haiko sold the forums to iNet. Since I was new, the change didn’t bother me much and I thought things would be alright. But then the whole place started getting trashed. I saw senior members (and even moderators) throwing trash, fighting, editing their posts, others’ posts, deleting posts and what not. I really didn’t expect that sort of behavior from senior members on one of the best affiliate marketing forum (it used to be the best, not anymore IMO). Trust rightly said in one of the comments above, post-count doesn’t matter. The “quantity over quality” thing. But Trust, as a moderator, all that doesn’t look good on you what you have been doing at ABW. I know, you can justify anything. But the point here is not what you have been doing, I’m just giving my opinion about what ABW has become.

    Now I don’t like visiting that forum because the place is filled with so much negativity. Mainly because of some mods who are ready to pounce on you. You never know when your post will be edited or deleted and you never know when someone will start attacking you. The board is definitely shaken because of senior members empowering the board in a negative way. No matter what you say about Michael, I respect him.

    Now all of those who I loved or respected, have left the forum. Do I have a reason to go back there? I don’t thing so … Time to move on and find a better place.

    • Jonathan (Trust) says:

      Oh brother, is this Michael pretending to be some other member.  Odd you posted at the exact time here as you did at ABW.  Nice try.  This post doesn’t even make sense.

      “newbie’s prospect” but sounds like somebody that’s been there for awhile.

      So let’s count some of the nonsense in the post:

      “But then the whole place started getting trashed.”  So when Michael tool over, the whole place started getting trashed?  Well, thanks for making the point for removing Michael.  More of that:

      “I saw senior members (and even moderators) throwing trash, fighting,
      editing their posts, others’ posts, deleting posts and what not. I
      really didn’t expect that sort of behavior from senior members on one of
      the best affiliate marketing forum”

      Doesn’t sound very good under Michael.

      “But Trust, as a moderator, all that doesn’t look good on you what you have been doing at ABW.”

      Oh the horror, I’ve been so bad that – http://www.abestweb.com/forums/best-2009-588/vote-best-moderator-09-a-129257.html

      Mod of the year. And I don’t ever care about that kind of thing, think we always had great mods but just had to point out some of your bs.

      “Now I don’t like visiting that forum because the place is filled with so
      much negativity. Mainly because of some mods who are ready to pounce on
      you. You never know when your post will be edited or deleted and you
      never know when someone will start attacking you. The board is
      definitely shaken because of senior members empowering the board in a
      negative way.”

      Negativity. Now watch how easy this is.  Go ahead and link to a negative thread.  Since this poster can’t becaue the reality is ABW has always been nice.  A few like to pick out a fight here and there to define the place, which is ridiculous.  Today is a typical day, with typical affiliate marketing conversations, people helping out, learning, joking around etc. 

      And of course the poster won’t give the name they post under, I wonder why.  Next troll post, at least try to make sense.

      • Michael Coley says:

        Nope, not me.  I have nothing to hide.  If I have something to say, I’ll use my own name.

        • Jonathan (Trust) says:

          It was just kind of odd, this topic died down and then the exact same early morning hour, you post at ABW and then this post.  That you’ve been gone all day at ABW since that morning post, I then I see you online over at ABW, then I come to Revenews and not a surprise a post.  And not a surprise that you and this person even end your first sentence the same way – Billy!  I guess all a coincidence.

          • Michael Coley says:

            The post from “Existing ABW Member” looks like it was about two hours before my post on ABW (in the Inner Circle) and about an hour before I woke up this morning.

            If you don’t believe me, Flag it or ask Angel to compare IP addresses.  It wasn’t me.

            FWIW, I don’t have an alibi for 11/22/63, either.

          • Jonathan (Trust) says:

            Yes, because you don’t know how to use a proxy.  The funny thing is this “person” actually was making an argument against you.  It’s funny you both say the same thing, even tho Chuck has only been an admin like 3 weeks, as if overnight all the members at ABW turned into horrible people once the torch was passed.  Chuck hasn’t done anything out there to stifle the conversation, it’s actually nice for a change.  You’re really the one at this point that hasn’t moved on.

  19. Mark Welch says:

    I’m afraid the end does appear near.  As Michael knows, I had some disagreements with him, and with other moderators on ABW (enough that I chose to take some breaks from the site to cool off), but I never questioned his integrity nor his dedication to the ABW community. 

    Unfortunately, I think ABW’s owners have made some horrific decisions over the past few weeks, and I’m not sure the forum could recover, even if the changes were reversed.

    I’ve made the decision today to take another “break” from ABW.  In the past, I’ve done this with confidence that eventually I’d return, and that there would still be a healthy, active community to return to. Today, I seriously doubt this.

    • Jonathan (Trust) says:

      The end is not near. In fact Mark, you’ve posted almost twice as much since Chuck took over (about 60 posts).  Fact.

      I don’t see any horrific decisions whatsoever.  If participation goes down for a year straight, then you make a change.  You don’t keep doing, what’s not working.  It’s not logical.

      I think just in the short amount of time, ABW is a little more mature, open, nicer overall.  Some members have left, some new members have joined.

      I think the mistake a lot of people make is thinking communities are just comprised of a few people and if those few don’t post anymore, the community caves.  You’re an affiliate, opm, affiliate manager, just like all the other members are.  Not better than, more important than anybody else.  Participation, members online etc, hasn’t dropped off at all.  Still a lot of great people there.  Affiliate marketing is an ever expanding business, new people starting up every day.

      • Mark Welch says:

        Of course the loss of one, twenty, or a hundred individuals from a community as large and diverse and robust as ABW is survivable, even if they aren’t soon replaced by new folks of “equal stature.” 

        And of course change is inevitable — and some change was surely needed, when participation declined after the sale.  Firing Michael was a difficult decision, and a risky decision, and maybe even the wrong decision, but ultimately it was the owners’ decision to make. Likewise, the owners could decide who to hire to replace Michael, and they’re entitled to some deference. But members of the community are entitled to decide how much deference to allow, and what they’ll tolerate.First, hiring an OPM (any OPM) to manage the community was a very poor decision.  I doubt any OPM might be able to serve well in this role, but I believe Chuck was an especially awful choice. Chuck isn’t a bad person, and he has contributed greatly to the ABW community and the industry.  I don’t know whether some of the negative claims made here and elsewhere are accurate or fair, so I’ve just ignored them.My concern is that Chuck a bad “fit” for this role. Chuck is significantly less diplomatic, courteous, supportive, open-minded, and tolerant than the position requires. He’s made many thoughtless, discourteous comments on ABW, and I doubt many folks would view him as “nurturing.”In fact, he has been quite successful at inspiring many people to dislike him (just as I have proven quite skillful at inspiring dislike from many folks).  Worse, he has inspired many folks to *distrust* him. Sure, Haiko often wasn’t very diplomatic or tolerant or supportive (just as I recognize that I was pretty antagonistic when I managed my own web site about web site advertising from 1996-1999). But Haiko was also quite “nurturing,” and his brashness was a strength when he stood firmly as an advocate for publishers and consumers, and as an opponents of “Bad Guys” in the industry.  I don’t perceive Chuck as fitting a similar role, and indeed there’s some evidence that he tolerates (or perhaps supports or embraces) some “Bad Guys.”  I don’t recall Chuck being a “leader” on any issues or controversies, but he probably has, and some reticence might arise from his role as an OPM.Finally, it’s critical to keep in mind that no matter what happens, even if useful or meaningful activity stopped completely (which I don’t expect), ABW would continue to be an anchor in search results for years to come.  It will continue to be useful, just as many other “webmaster” forums continue to provide benefits to many participants for years after their most active participants have left.

        The real test is what happens when the next “big issues” arise: will publishers converge at ABW to discuss the issues and debate what actions to take? Will ABW rise to the challenge and take an advocacy role? If so, will ABW lead or follow?

        I don’t know the answer. And as I mentioned in my post, I’m taking a break from ABW, as I’ve done before (at least once because of your action and statements).  I’ll certainly be tempted to return, and maybe there will be a vibrant community to return to.  I worry that there might not be — and I believe that there’s little prospect of that happening with Chuck at the helm.

        Again, that’s not because Chuck is a bad guy, but because he’s not a good fit for this role. (Yes, he’s probably a better fit than I would be, and surely I don’t want you in the role either.  And Michael has re-burnt any scattered timber that remained after ABW’s new owners burned that bridge, as have some other folks, so I don’t know where ABW’s new owners will turn.)

        • Mark Welch says:

          (Wow, I’m not sure why so many of my paragraphs were collapsed into one.)

        • Jonathan (Trust) says:

          “First, hiring an OPM (any OPM) to manage the community was a very poor decision.”

          Whoever gets hired is going to be somebody in this business.  Not too many people want to be admin, so it cuts down on who to choose from.  And you can make the same argument against an OPM being a mod.  They see the same things.  Also want to point out Andy is still in green and he’s an OPM.  Not really an issue at all.  It’s more of a strawman argument.

          “I’m taking a break from ABW, as I’ve done before (at least once because of your action and statements).”

          That was because we had a disagreement on some advice you gave to a newbie about Linkshare.  People are going to disagree on forums. I’ve seen you disagree pretty strongly with other people as well.  Normal stuff. Yes, you’ve left before, a few times now.  Under all admins for different reasons.  The last one you said was because of your health.

          You might not like Chuck for whatever reason but he’s not out there hindering the conversation whatsoever, evidenced by what I just posted above.  You’ve been pretty active lately.  Hope to see you back in the future.

  20. leeann says:


    Maybe I never really understood the purpose of ABW. In 2005
    when I first logged in I felt I had found a fellowship of sorts. There were
    many hardcore affiliates fighting for our rights. There was a collective,
    powerful voice that helped change the industry for the better.

    Then a lot of fighting broke out, dissention, and many of
    the strongest voices were gone.  Not
    being privy to all the private discussions, I did not know who the good guys
    were – whose “word” could be trusted.

    ABW seemed to struggle to regain its relevance, but it never
    really got back the zest and the push that once existed. Then Haiko sold it and
    it went through more changes.

    I was one of the outspoken members who did not like the
    censoring. This did not mean that I did not respect or like Michael. He,
    Loxley, Kellie, Zeus, 2Busy and Trust (when he isn’t being the accountability
    police) and of course some others continued to be what I considered as
    intelligent, helpful and valued members.

    ABW always seemed so full of secrets for a forum that made its
    mark for disclosing the good, bad and the ugly.  And it isn’t that I like fighting – that is
    not what bothered me about the censoring. It was because it removed the
    opportunity for me to see a person’s qualities and make my own decision if that
    was a person I wanted to let into my own personal “circle”.  IF everyone behaved like Michael, how would I get
    a feel for their “real” character?

    But, a realization hit when Google made their big changes
    and only a few not hurt by those changes went to bat for those affiliates that
    did get hurt. It was at that point that I realized that business had become so
    tough for so many, that they simply weren’t willing or interested in fighting
    and risking a relationship that earned them money. Times had indeed changed.

    I believe for ABW to be the voice of the affiliate is over,
    because a website cannot do that without people willing to become that voice
    and business is just too tight for it to happen. Maybe it is battle fatigue or
    the loss of the top guns that no longer fight for the betterment of the
    industry. Maybe there is a lack of trust since many ABWers prefer to be
    anonymous and no longer know if the environment can really BE trusted.

    As far as Chuck heading ABW goes – again I am not privy to
    much. I can only comment on my own concerns and I think to sum it up I’d have
    to go back to a thread from 2009 –


    (Am I allowed to post ABW threads here?)

    This is why I am concerned that Chuck or any OPM cannot be
    my voice.  They see things from a different
    side of the street.

    Can he hire a team to monitor the forum? Try to open up
    discussions that may draw people in? Hire an editor to post evergreen articles?
    Sure. But the blood that once ran through ABW has dissolved and the fact that
    an OPM is now in charge only verifies that fact even more.

    I’m not sure where to go now. I’m sure I’ll still go to ABW –
    but not for the reasons that I have been going for all of these years, but
    because it is more of a habit.

    • Jonathan (Trust) says:

      “I was one of the outspoken members who did not like the censoring.”

      I didn’t like it myself.  A lot of other people didn’t like either.  Of course when they spoke via poll, it was censored as well, completely removed.  It’s one of the reasons I quit being a mod.  One of the reasons I took a 3 month “break”.  I got tired of it and all the tricks for posts ideas they were trying to come with it when it was the big brothering that was the main issue.

      So with this – “I believe for ABW to be the voice of the affiliate is over,” It actually at least has a chance now.  You can say this or that about Chuck but he isn’t out there interfering with conversation.

      • leeann says:

        Actually Michael reached out to many of us and we found a middle ground that worked out nicely. After a few times of checking w/me about renaming a post, etc., I started to feel like a big baby for having complained. Naming posts isn’t my strong area and his suggestions always said what I meant to say.

        I’m also a lazy forum participant. I don’t do much digging around to find the appropriate place to always post, so if he felt a post was better in another area of the forum it was fine with me.

        I mean really? How much sleep do people want to lose over this crap?? And why in the world would it cost us losing one of the most respected affiliates in the business over an OPM that doesn’t mind supporting one of the biggest coupon swipers on the Internet? That alone makes me wonder where ABW will be a year from now.

        Also, I like transparency. If Chuck had issues w/ Michael, why didn’t he speak up about it openly?

        What I do find interesting is the trend of closing discussions now. I don’t remember that happening before unless it turned into a big mud sling. A discussion might have been split off, but closed all together? Given a deadline to post? That’s a first… I don’t see that direction working as a plus for long.

        Trust, everyone knew that you and I did not support censorship. But was it worth someone who obviously worked night and day to try to create a positive learning environment for all affiliates to benefit from, worth him being fired and replaced with an OPM? I really don’t think so and I do believe more and more people will drift away.

        He was trying to grow in quality, not quantity, plus keep the people he worked for happy. Some liked it, some sorta liked it, some who wanted to control it – did not. Personally, if Michael opened another affiliate forum I’d sign up in a heartbeat.

        • Jonathanhitchens says:

          “What I do find interesting is the trend of closing discussions now”

          There is no such trend.  The ones you are talking about is nothing but trolling. Nobody is really even reading that thread anymore, most people are tired of it.  It’s been a month since the change, it’s time to move on.

          Leann, people come to ABW and it’s usually for one of these things:



          to talk about affiliate marketing

          The affiliate marketing part is the one that’s going to be more open.  That’s the one where there was all kinds of heavy handed admin style.

          Spamming and trolling should get handled, as it is on any good forum. So if those type of threads get closed, that’s a good thing, that’s what you’re supposed to do. 

          I know he was trying.  Lots of people try things, they don’t always work out.  When participation goes down for a year straight, it’s time to make a change.  Weekends are usually slower than weekdays and there have been times I’ve went to ABW and saw post counts in the 30’s over a 24 hour period.  Not threads, post counts.  That’s a little over 1 per hour. That’s the worst ABW has even been. You don’t keep doing what’s not working.

        • Michael Coley says:

          Thanks, Leeann!  That really means a lot to me.  You were critical of me at times, but always respectful and constructive, and I think we were able to make ABW a better place as a result.

          You’re right that I was focusing on quality rather than quantity.

    • Since ReveNews is not a forum but is a blog you can post links to ABW
      and anywhere else, as long as the link provides legitimate information (ie not spam).

  21. truty says:

    abestweb is so biased, the owner chuck hamrick has an attitude and nasty person. He feels he needs to state his opinions which dont make sense half the time.

  22. Thomas says:

    Ha, I also got banned for posting my opinion on the gan network closing down. I just wrote that I thought it was good that google closed down because they are controlling too much and leave no space for the smaller affiliates anymore. Google is basicly the slave of the big corporations now.