Affiliate Union

ThePOGG

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As promised, I'm now distributing a proposal for how I think an affiliate union of sorts may work. There are a couple of points I would stress before I go any further:

i) This structure is not intended to appeal to everyone. In fact for this structure to work too many participants would be just as detrimental as too few. The concept behind this would be to gather 50-100 like-minded affiliates NOT to get thousands of affiliates to agree.

ii) With the best will in the world I simply do not have time to debate whether or not people like the idea of a union. We have a major new tool launching imminently and with the UKGC's new advertising rules coming into place I'm buried helping operators adjust their promotions and ensuring our own content is compliant. I would ask anyone considering responding to ensure that if you're highlighting what you see as flaws in the system, to put forward constructive feedback in the form of potential work arounds. Let's try and keep this positive or let it fail through lack of interest if it's going to.

iii) I have spoken to a number of people I have respect for before posting this. The response has encompassed the full spectrum, from those who stopped the conversation at sentence one because a union could never work to those who thought it sounded like a very workable idea with views in between as well. This post is NOT targeted at everyone. It's targeted at those who read through the idea and come away thinking 'this seems like a good idea'. If you don't have that warm fuzzy feeling at the end of this post then this project isn't for you. If not enough people think it's a good idea, I'm fine with that. I'd rather move on than try to convince people who are lukewarm of the merits as they are unlikely to ever be fully sold and if you don't buy-in intellectually the system breaks.




Proposal

There is one main issue that confronts affiliates time and time again when dealing with programs that simply decide to change the terms of their agreements - many affiliates are simply not in a financial position to attempt to challenge via the legal system actions taken by an affiliate program that are to their detriment and may not be legally sound. Court action can be very expensive and while there are some affiliates who have deep enough pockets to be comfortable dealing with the expenses themselves, most of us are not. Affiliate programs know this and selectively enforce detrimental changes, allowing the larger affiliates with more clout to do as they wish while ruthlessly altering the contracts of the smaller affiliates who they feel cannot viably pursue them.

In my opinion smaller affiliates working together could address this issue. There are two fundamental barriers that have prevented this from ever happening:

i) Historic efforts to put together a union have fallen at the first hurdle. In each case the union has suggested that 'we all agree not to work with certain programs'. Affiliates have vastly differing standards in what they consider a 'good' or 'bad' program. Even between sites with significant synergy there will be programs that differ in their standing. Simply put, most affiliates cannot allow someone else to dictate who they work with as this can have serious financial implications for the affiliate's business. Even if all members were to agree to this in principal, policing it would be effectively unmanageable.

ii) Affiliate Unions are difficult to organise primarily because many affiliates would be put off by the idea of having to pay upfront fees to a body administered by someone else. Who should be trusted with this role? What are reasonable fees? How would it be decided what the fees are spent on. Affiliates tend to be entrepreneurial individuals that do not like being told what they can and can't do. The idea of signing up to a group where someone else gets to make the decisions does not appeal to many of us.

Both of these issues are actually closely related - why would I hand over control of a significant area of MY business to someone who may not have our best interest at heart?


Here's what I would suggest to address these issues.



Basic outlines of the structure:

- Each member would be assigned one vote.

- At no point will the union dictate which programs any member can work with.

- Any member can approach the union to request a review of an issue. The union would then prepare an overview of the key facts of the case, including what the affiliate feels is the problem and in which jurisdictions legal action could potentially be pursued. The overview would be distributed to all members. There are then multiple options, but each would require a vote. Before action would be taken, a majority of 55% of the membership would have to be in favour of it.

Potential actions:

i) The union membership would have a vote on issuing a public statement/press release asserting the position of the membership with regard to the actions of the program. Much like you see with petitions published in news papers, if 50-100 affiliates all publicly condemned the actions of the program it would create a lot of negative press and pressure on the program. Those in favour of action would be asked to publish a statement on their respective sites. If managed correctly there is the potential to create a 'link wheel' like structure between the published articles to ensure that the articles rank well and even give some SEO benefits to the participating members.

If this type of action was pursued pre-publication legal review of any statement would have to be engaged. Expectations of cost for this would not be likely to exceed £500 (far less based on my own prior experience).

ii) The union membership would be asked to vote on whether to move forward with taking legal advice on any legal action that could potentially be taken.

If the majority (55%) are in favour of taking legal advice the union then looks to engage a legal firm in the relevant jurisdiction and undertake a review of the case. The cost for this would be split equally amongst all members. This means ALL members, not just those in favour. While it would be fine for an affiliate to decline to publish the press statement if it was critical of a program they worked closely with, funding any legal action has to be shared equally to avoid free rolling members who look to get the union membership to fund their actions, but opt-out any time another member would like the union to consider action.

To this end each affiliate who wanted to join the union would have to sign a legally binding contract on behalf of their business when they join agreeing to fund their part of any legal action the union's membership decides to take.

If the vote is to take legal advice on a case, once legal advice has been taken, the advice is then distributed to all members who are then asked again to vote on whether or not to pursue further action. Again if the majority are in favour of taking further action the costs would be split equally amongst all members.

At each point where new information becomes available a new vote on any potential action has to be taken to ensure that the majority (55%) are still committed to moving forward.

- To ensure that votes are conducted in a fair and transparent manner all members would be issued with a four digit 'membership number' that would be confidential and only known to them and the vote coordinator. At the conclusion of any vote a spreadsheet of all membership numbers alongside the direction of their vote would be distributed to all members. In this manner each member can confirm that their vote was counted correctly while no member would be able to identify another member's voting direction.



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ThePOGG

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To me, the advantages of this system are clear – with 100 members the potential to deliver a widely distributed press release that would turn up regularly in the rankings highlighting the issues is a significant disincentive to any program considering making unfair changes in the first instance.

If a case was serious enough to warrant taking legal action (imo Affiliate Edge would have been worth at least engaging legal advice for), even if case cost an outrageous amount of £200k, every member would only be liable to pay £2k. The larger the number of participants the smaller the individual contributions would be.

Yes it is likely that we would all end up contributing to cases that don’t impact us from time to time, but this approach would make members of the union a far more dangerous target for programs to implement arbitrary contract change tactics against. Most cases aren’t going to come to anywhere near £100k. If Dave had taken legal representation and lost in this manner, with 100 members it’s unlikely the bill would have come to £300 each and I’m sure most of us would have thought that small price to pay to challenge this type of blanket ‘we can change anything at any time’ term. The upside if the case had been won would have been huge for all affiliates.

There will unquestionably be affiliates who decide not to honour their commitment when a call is issued to contribute to legal fees. The union can take a separate vote on whether to pursue such breaches of contract via the court system or simply revoke the membership of said affiliates.

I’d also suggest that it might be worthwhile to have a small monthly membership fee (€5-10) that could be collected as a ‘war chest’ in case the union approves action on an issue. In this manner there would already be a bank to draw down on before anyone is asked for extra. It also means that all members have some degree of stake in the enterprise meaning active participation is more likely.

And this is the point where I’d throw the idea open for discussion – who can see problems? I would like to keep this positive so if you’re going to criticise I’d appreciate it if you could suggest potential solutions you see.

If you are interested in participating I would ask you to email me at webmaster@thepogg.com. If, by the end of March, we have 50+ affiliates all interested in participating then I'll contact all interested parties about moving forward. If there are less than 50 I'd suggest we're too small to be effective.

If you do like this idea, please spread the word to other affiliates. I have limited reach with affiliates at the present time and the more affiliates who read this the greater the chance of finding enough affiliates that think it's a good idea.

TP
 

maxd

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Of course now that I've been kicking this around for the last 20 minutes I have a question or two. Let's kick off with this:

What's the plan for handling "union busting" efforts by the casinos? I can easily imagine the following conversation:
Casino XYZ: Hey Fine Young Affiliate (FYA)! Great to meet you! We love what you're doing out there! We can do good business together! Here 's our contract for you to sign any time in the next five minutes!

FYA: Cool. Nice to meet you. (glances over contract) What's this clause here? The one that says "you are not now nor will you become a member of any collective bargaining group that has or will take action against us"?

XYZ: That's nothing! You're not a Commie are you? You're a business man! We're doing business! Forget that silly stuff, unions are just for weaklings anyway. Am I right? Am I right! Of course I'm right! Here, have a cigar. You guys are gonna do great!
Of course shit like that is illegal in a good many places but does our Fine Young Affiliate want to start out trying to bring a case against XYZ for it? I don't think so. So what might be the plan here?
 

Simmo!

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Really well presented if I may say so.

I'd add in one thing just to mull over: is it a good idea using the term "union" a) because of how many perceive the term and b) because in regulated markets, operators are going to be much more careful about which affiliates they work with... anything that creates a sense of "them and us" might best be avoided in the new world, even if done with the best of intentions.
 

ThePOGG

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Can't see the quote button right now. Must be having a blonde moment.

With regard to union busting - there are two aspects to this. Firstly the FYA is not at that stage under any obligation to sign any deal with Casino XYZ. If the program included that term and FYA was not aware of it then the program would have to be actively intent on pursuing the affiliate via the courts to make this even vaguely threatening. My intention would also be to include a membership list. This serves the duel purpose of firstly making a clear statement to the industry the scope and extent of the membership (alongside providing a link to members) and secondly, if Casino XYZ was to specifically solicit a member of said union, knowing that they'd written terms to prohibit membership of such a group I think there would be a rather strong argument they've engaged in entrapment. The FYA wouldn't necessarily have to take any action against the program as they're not involved with the program yet.

The second effort on this front would involve my efforts for POGGWebmasters. I review aff program terms and conditions regularly. We're currently in the process of putting together a tool specifically to keep an eye on terms pages. I personally would be inclined to bring to the collective any program we found including such a term for consideration of a press release due to unethical behaviour. If programs start getting rough treatment for trying that sort of strategy I can't see it proliferating and the only point where this would become seriously problematic is if large numbers of programs started including this type of term.

I'd also add that all of these efforts are really geared towards mid-level affiliates. Big affiliates will take care of themselves. Small affiliates, as much as they deserve protection, probably aren't in a position to afford even 1% of legal bills associated with any actions. With 100 mid-level affiliates participating, how many programs are going to want to put in place terms that would immediately alienate them from that many mid-sized affiliates?

TP
 

dunover

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Yes, the idea is sound but as said some affiliate programmes may be highly suspicious and view it as some kind of collective bargaining tool, even though it isn't. Then there's the prospect of programmes believing the members are all aware of each others' specific deals with that group and using that as a battering ram. The membership being obligated to contribute money to legal cases (as the POGG inferred, to fights those members maybe don't have a dog in) will create issues.

Bear in mind also that many programmes will have no assets in the UK or even the EU so will be nearly impossible to fight in that way.

The idea is sound but maybe more of a focus group, a collective voice only which is funded by a small subscription and gains respect due to the weight of its membership rather than the cudgel of legal funds - although as we've seen unfortunately cases do arise whereby people believe that's justified.
 

ThePOGG

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"Union" - I'm not fixed on the term. Personally I'm very much of a socialist bent so I have strong positive associations with the word. But I realise not everyone feels that way. My thoughts on this are fairly simplistic though - can you provide another term that will make the nature of this organisation immediately recognisable for what it is?

I'm entirely open to suggestions on this front, so please don't take the above as an effort to shut that line of questioning down.

As to the 'us and them' mentality, I'm afraid years of operator acting in unethical fashions has already create that sentiment. Imo most affiliates already feel like that. And the only operators that should feel threatened by the creation of such a group would be those that actively see changing their contract to reduce how much they pay their affiliates as a right. The good programs out there - and there are plenty of them that have not done this and have no intention of doing so in the future - are unlikely to ever have any contact with such a collective.

TP
 
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ThePOGG

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Yes, the idea is sound but as said some affiliate programmes may be highly suspicious and view it as some kind of collective bargaining tool, even though it isn't. Then there's the prospect of programmes believing the members are all aware of each others' specific deals with that group and using that as a battering ram. The membership being obligated to contribute money to legal cases (as the POGG inferred, to fights those members maybe don't have a dog in) will create issues.

Bear in mind also that many programmes will have no assets in the UK or even the EU so will be nearly impossible to fight in that way.

The idea is sound but maybe more of a focus group, a collective voice only which is funded by a small subscription and gains respect due to the weight of its membership rather than the cudgel of legal funds - although as we've seen unfortunately cases do arise whereby people believe that's justified.

Found the quote button again!

1) This model is not intended to gain mass participation - too many members would make coordination of voting challenging, gathering of contributions a nightmare and gaining any majority consensus on action next to impossible. The idea here isn't to 'bring all affiliates in', it's to gather a reasonable number of reasonably sized affiliates who share a perspective and see the benefits of this approach. There will be issue with a few members who decide after the fact that they don't want to contribute any longer. That would be a fact of life that had to be lived with. Those members would be dropped from membership to make room for those that are happy to respect the democratic will of the group.

2) The major strength of this model is not the threat of legal action. That's a nice extra in cases of an extremely serious nature. The major strength of the model is in the press releases. This costs next to nothing but creates huge pressure in of itself. I can think of one program that only last week announced that they will be adding NCO. We'll be dropping them due to this action. Doesn't cost us much to do so in this situation and I really do not like programs that think that changing the contract in this manner is acceptable. I entirely understand that some of their affiliates will have their hands tied - they will not be able to afford to drop them. This system gives those affiliates with too much to lose the 'opt-out' for having to say anything negative about the program, whilst the rest of the membership posts about the issue. How many -ve articles have to be posted before the program starts to sweat? And how much more impact would our statement on this programs policy changes have had if it had also been mirrored by 30, 40, 50 or more other affiliate sites?

TP
 
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Simmo!

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I'd consider terms like Collective or Association to have more positive connotations myself. You're right about "them and us" although I see that as the forum mentality, not the general rule.

Now this is not a criticism or anything more than just some insight into another perspective: as a mid-size affiliate previously, I tended not to see it like that: I saw it as one business doing what is right for their business and my challenge was to adapt, change or persuade them to see my side. I spread my risk so that when these things happened, they had minimal impact because I expected them to happen. Business models change, people change, management changes, industry changes, financial pressures change...the world evolves and nothing stays the same for ever so you have to change with it.

I think there is real value in what you are proposing and I believe it can be achieved if the mentality of the group as a whole is positive and recognises that business is a two-way street, so rather than just work to find solutions that suit an affiliate, they work to propose solutions that suit both sides, with or without compromises.
 

ThePOGG

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I'd consider terms like Collective or Association to have more positive connotations myself. You're right about "them and us" although I see that as the forum mentality, not the general rule.

I've been using the word 'collective' a lot myself while discussing this issue. If that's what people wanted that's what we'd go with.

as a mid-size affiliate previously, I tended not to see it like that: I saw it as one business doing what is right for their business and my challenge was to adapt, change or persuade them to see my side. I spread my risk so that when these things happened, they had minimal impact because I expected them to happen. Business models change, people change, management changes, industry changes, financial pressures change...the world evolves and nothing stays the same for ever so you have to change with it.

I agree with you on this front. To a degree. There are clear and basic justifications for programs having to change their contract. For example, with the implementation of the UKGC license operators were exposed to a new and significant tax. There's absolutely sound reason to have to adjust affiliate contracts to adjust for this. Personally I have absolutely no problem what-so-ever with this type of change and reasonableness has to be pursued in the face of such changes. However, where a program simply decides that they are adding in NCO, or a Minimum Activity Quota, this isn't a situation where the program has to do anything. In fact, this is a situation where the program has actively engaged in misleading advertisement. They've brought affiliates on board with promises of 'No NCO' or 'lifetime revenue on referrals' and after the affiliate fulfils their end of the deal and provides traffic the program then decided they don't want to hold up their end. If a business choose to do that they absolutely should be singled out for their poor practices. Imagine if I signed a 12 month contract for £15/month for my mobile phone and a month into the contract and the provider contacted me as said 'you remain tied to our contract, but we've decided you're not paying enough so it's now going to cost you £30' - that would never be deemed acceptable practice by any objective observer. For some programs this type of strategy is considered both acceptable and strategically sound.

I think there is real value in what you are proposing and I believe it can be achieved if the mentality of the group as a whole is positive and recognises that business is a two-way street, so rather than just work to find solutions that suit an affiliate, they work to propose solutions that suit both sides, with or without compromises.

And again I'd agree with this. Affiliates have to realise that this cannot be a militant organisation that will quibble over every change to contract without regard for how the regulatory environment is changing and how the business necessarily HAS to change. But it should be there to represent affiliates when programs are simply engaging in a cash grab by reneging on paying affiliates revenue they'd committed to paying to secure the affiliate's traffic.

TP
 
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Simmo!

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Oh incidentally and just as an aside on the subject of compliance, although as we all know the UKGC holds operators responsible for their affiliates, the ICO and ASA don't and will be fining affiliates directly in the near future. It won't be for stuff like an old bonus or missing T&C's, more for deliberately misleading advertising practices but I mention it because it could destroy the trust between that affiliate and the programs and if that affiliate is in your collective, it could have a knock-on effect. Just might be something that should be considered in the T&Cs of the collective's agreements, especially if the affiliates are contributing financially.
 

ThePOGG

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I spoke to several programs about this in London - the ASA will start fining affiliates in the near future. It's going to happen and it's going to come as a huge shock to many affiliates.

Sadly I actually think some affiliates need this......

TP
 

dunover

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I've been using the word 'collective' a lot myself while discussing this issue. If that's what people wanted that's what we'd go with.

**********

I agree with you on this front. To a degree.********* Imagine if I signed a 12 month contract for £15/month for my mobile phone and a month into the contract and the provider contacted me as said 'you remain tied to our contract, but we've decided you're not paying enough so it's now going to cost you £30' - that would never be deemed acceptable practice by any objective observer. For some programs this type of strategy is considered both acceptable and strategically sound.


affiliate's traffic.

TP

You've never been a Virgin Media customer then?

On a more serious note, fining affiliates may be justified as some are plain dishonest and use scandalous claims and false news etc. despite the clampdowns. This is why I just stick to the scripts provided by the affiliate programmes, only using their links and media.
 

Simmo!

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I spoke to several programs about this in London - the ASA will start fining affiliates in the near future. It's going to happen and it's going to come as a huge shock to many affiliates.

Sadly I actually think some affiliates need this......

TP

They totally do - in fact, it's in other affiliates best interests too. I only mention it because it could be a problem if said affiliate is a member of a collective who are trying to convince operators of their professionalism. It just needs a procedure to deal with it if it happens, that's all really.
 

Nicola

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Personally, I welcome this and if managed well the 'Collective' would provide an extra safeguard for established affiliates. There are a couple of points I would like to throw out there :)

1. Would the 'Collective' only welcome UK and / or European affiliates? As laws differ country to country and 'Brexit' underway I see lots of issues arising if cases are taken on from countries where there are inadequacies in Gambling law.

2. A monthly member fee. Good idea, but €5-10 I feel would be inadequate. If this was made to €50 a month it would appeal to established affiliates more - a better, knowledgeable 'Collective' and afterall, I'm not aware of many mid-sized affiliates that make less than €2000+ a month.

3. If a fee of €50 a month was in place, this money could be placed in a high-interest bank account (yes they still exist 2.5%-5.0%) and would overtime grow and if funds were required for legal reasons it would be a lot easier taking it from here than asking €2k up front from each member of the 'Collective' Of course, if a member leaves they are entitled to their money back.

4. Whether the 'Collective' is 50 or 100 members strong there would need to be strict guidelines on who is apart of it. IMO each affiliate would have to adhere to rules on what operators they do business with and follow marketing regulations etc. If they don't, they will not be accepted or kicked out. Simple as.

5. There would be operational costs to run a 'Collective' of this size so all members would also have to contribute. Maybe a joining fee?
 

neilw

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Could you clarify something for me please.

After reading the OP initial post I counted myself as someone that wouldn't want to get involved in a "Union". The term itself sends shivers down my spine!

From the way I interpreted the OP it looked very much like the "Union" would only react when something bad happens. There doesn't seem to be anything Proactive about the group, or am I missing something?
 

ThePOGG

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1. Would the 'Collective' only welcome UK and / or European affiliates? As laws differ country to country and 'Brexit' underway I see lots of issues arising if cases are taken on from countries where there are inadequacies in Gambling law.

I don't see a need to restrict the location of the member. It's the location of the program that matters for legal challenges. It's normal for the defending party's location to be the jurisdiction to hear the case, though that's not always the case.

2. A monthly member fee. Good idea, but €5-10 I feel would be inadequate. If this was made to €50 a month it would appeal to established affiliates more - a better, knowledgeable 'Collective' and afterall, I'm not aware of many mid-sized affiliates that make less than €2000+ a month.

The membership fee is something that is very much open for discussion as far as I'm concerned. My intention is a) not to put people off with higher fees and b) to have some fee to ensure that members are actually active. What we don't want is to send out voting requests and see a 20% return rate with 80% not engaging. At that point any action becomes moot due to the lack of participation.

3. If a fee of €50 a month was in place, this money could be placed in a high-interest bank account (yes they still exist 2.5%-5.0%) and would overtime grow and if funds were required for legal reasons it would be a lot easier taking it from here than asking €2k up front from each member of the 'Collective' Of course, if a member leaves they are entitled to their money back.

My concern with this is that you start to enter into 'company' territory and accounting and taxation become an issue. As long as no profit is derived this issue is avoided.

4. Whether the 'Collective' is 50 or 100 members strong there would need to be strict guidelines on who is apart of it. IMO each affiliate would have to adhere to rules on what operators they do business with and follow marketing regulations etc. If they don't, they will not be accepted or kicked out. Simple as.

While I think Simmo has a point regarding members being required to follow marketing regulations (none of us want to be associated with affiliate advertising gambling to under agers or as a way of getting out of debt), stipulating which programs members can work with simply won't work. Even between ThePOGG and CasinoMeister, who have huge synergy, there are programs we view very differently. If one of us drew a line in the sand round one of those programs the other could not participate. Any successful organisation would have to expect the members to meet acceptable marketing standards, but could not dictate which programs members could work with. That's where every other effort at forming any form of collective action has failed.

5. There would be operational costs to run a 'Collective' of this size so all members would also have to contribute. Maybe a joining fee?

With regard to operational costs - and this is something I haven't really touched on yet - I'd be happy for ThePOGG to cover setting up a website and helping get the structures in place to get everyone working together. After that though I would prefer to see responsibilities rotate via either a core group of members or through the whole membership, with each member taking on certain responsibilities for a month before passing them on. In this way power isn't seen to reside with one person, which has historically been another point of contention when these discussions have come up.

TP
 
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ThePOGG

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Could you clarify something for me please.

After reading the OP initial post I counted myself as someone that wouldn't want to get involved in a "Union". The term itself sends shivers down my spine!

From the way I interpreted the OP it looked very much like the "Union" would only react when something bad happens. There doesn't seem to be anything Proactive about the group, or am I missing something?

You're not missing anything. The function of this group would be to respond/protect affiliates when programs decide to do something unethical, not to try and negotiate deals for members or in any way interfere with the members personal and private business.

TP
 
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ThePOGG

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This conversation seems to have petered out, as such I'd like to get it moving again.

At this stage it would be great to firm up numbers of who would be interested in taking part in this type of organisation, so if you would be interested can you please provide an email address that you can be contacted on. I will be doing some press related to this endeavour over this next few days so hopefully we can get enough like minded affiliates together to achieve something worthwhile.

On a related note, we've just published an article on the recent changes that Genting Affiliates have made to their contract. You can read it
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. This is exactly the type of issue where this type of collective could have made a difference. Imagine how much more effective this type of post would be if it had been complimented by dozens of other affiliates posting similar articles.....

TP
 

Nicola

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Have you replied to e-mails that have been sent directly to you? A couple of people I know have contacted you in the past week or so expressing interest.

You can count me in anyways :)
 

dunover

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It may be worth PM'ing Tom Galanis who has had something like this mooted for a year or two now, to ascertain if your ideas are similar or there is a wholly separate purpose to your proposition?
 

ThePOGG

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Have you replied to e-mails that have been sent directly to you? A couple of people I know have contacted you in the past week or so expressing interest.

You can count me in anyways :)

Sorry guys - I never saw your posts as they moved on to pg2!!

Nicola - I have responded to every email I'm aware of. If you know people that have not heard from me then can you pass them the message to email again or get me their details via PM? On that note could you provide me an email address so I can ensure you're on the list?
 

ThePOGG

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It may be worth PM'ing Tom Galanis who has had something like this mooted for a year or two now, to ascertain if your ideas are similar or there is a wholly separate purpose to your proposition?

Given that some people here seem to actually know TG directly, it may be better received if he's approached by someone he's familiar with. Anyone like to volunteer?

TP
 

ThePOGG

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UK
Revised organisational structure:

The conversation at AGD has made clear there's a demand for an option for affiliates who want to participate in a press release type structure without being tied to contributing to potential legal action. As such I'm changing a couple of thing that were originally suggested to accommodate the desire for those who would not be willing to participate in collective legal action to have a space at the table in terms of press releases. The more I think about it the more I feel this is actually the far more important group. So here goes:

The collective will now be split into two tiers as detailed below:

First Tier: These are the affiliates that are willing to participate in press released to cover programs that change their terms for the reason of reducing the revenue they pay affiliates.

The system works the same as previously suggested - all members get a vote all votes are counted equally. Any member can table an issue for consideration, a brief is distributed to members, members vote on the issue. A majority of 55% is required before any action is taken. If a majority is achieved a template press release is put together and distributed to members who can base their own articles on it. All members who voted in favour of the action will be expected to post an article.

Each participating member will be asked to link to one other member's article within their post. Order would be randomised each time so you're not always giving/receiving links for the same site.

Upper Tier: As discussed before - those members that are willing to engage in the socialising of legal fees when a serious enough case arises that the membership considers it worthwhile. Only Upper Tier members would be eligible to request help with legal fees.

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A few other musings:

- A potential issue with the First Tier membership is affiliates that are also operators consistently voting against action simply to frustrate the union. Personally I think that most operators are self-interested enough that they would likely vote FOR action against one of their competitors. Regardless, I suspect that they are unlikely to represent a large enough proportion of the membership to prevent action in any case that was even close to clear cut.

- With a cleverly designed interface voting could actually be coordinated easily. As could reporting on the vote, distribution of the template press releases and ensuring everyone links to the right site in the chain. In short, I'm not sure I see a need for an upper bound on membership for the First Tier.

- ThePOGG is currently seeing a steadily increasing number of affiliate complaints coming through. Mostly about slow/no payment and often about smaller affiliate programs. It does occur to me that this organisation might be better placed to deal with these issues rather than ThePOGG. Where an affiliate just isn't getting paid the threat of a mass PR release is likely going to be far more significant in pressure terms than just ThePOGG putting out a complaint report. However, managing these issues is time consuming and requires resources. For a start, a conversation with the operator has to take place before information could be distributed to members to ensure that any subsequent public statement is factually accurate. I have no strong preference on this, I simply think that the affiliate union would likely have greater leverage on these issues, but if the union were to take this up there would have to be some degree of funding given to the party responsible for coordination. ThePOGG is happy to fund the initial set up of the site and perhaps maintenance of the site, but long term staffing's an entirely different thing. A small membership fee as suggested previously (€5/month) could be put towards maintenance and coordination.

- Initially my hopes had been that administration could be rotated between members. With the introduction of the two tier membership the numbers of members involved could quickly rise beyond what I'd initially anticipated. Coordination then becomes more of an issue and I do have to agree with some of the feedback, if there isn't clear leadership directing the efforts it's unlikely to maintain momentum. There likely would have to be some type of elective system reviewed annually to allow the membership to select the people coordinating the project.

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What does everyone think?

TP


P.S. this idea's received some media coverage over the last few days -
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