Posted by William Charles on October 5, 2017
Site News

Published on October 5th, 2017 | by William Charles

105

We Need To Have A Serious Talk About Referral Links

I don’t usually get angry, but I’m actually quite upset at the moment. Unlike a lot of other websites we allow our readers to post their referral links in the comments of specific ‘referral only’ posts. Unfortunately it seems that a lot of readers are just treating this as their right rather than a privilege. For example in our recent SPG business post about 20 readers decided it was a good idea to just post their referral links there even though we never said that was allowed. Several readers said things along the lines of “not sure if this is allowed here, just delete it if not”. Other readers can’t seem to even read and follow basic rules when we do post referral specific threads.

We spend a lot of time on this site, finding & compiling deals and data points. We are not your personal servants. I know readers aren’t stupid enough to think that referrals are just allowed where ever they want. What makes things actually worse is that readers were saying that they were actually using these links. You should be shaming this bad behavior and not encouraging it.

The vast majority of readers use and share their referral links appropriately, it’s a shame that a few readers are deciding to ruin it for everybody else. I really love the fact that readers can share their links on this site and I really want other readers to support people who provide useful comments and deals by using their referral links. Unfortunately a lot of readers seem to only contribute/comment when they can share their links (you look at their comment history and it’s nothing but their referral links) and readers who are using referral links seem to be indiscriminately using them rather than trying to pick out a link from somebody that provides helpful comments.

I’m asking readers to do a few things:

  1. Please only share your referral links when we specifically state they are allowed
  2. Make sure you read and follow the rules when sharing your links 
  3. When you’re using a referral link, make an effort to find a link from a reader you recognize as providing helpful comments. Also make sure you don’t reward bad behavior by using links shared in the wrong place

The reason I care about having referral only posts is because if we don’t then any discussion about a deal/post just gets drowned out by useful referral link posts “thanks in advance for using my link!!!”. If things don’t improve then we will simply stop allowing referral links on the site at all. I think that would be a real shame because I do think readers that provide helpful insight deserve to be rewarded. Thanks to all the readers who do do the right things and make positive contributions, if it wasn’t for you I’d just stop blogging altogether.



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Matthew

For some reason, I do find your site much easier to participate in vs reddit. I don’t have enough “karma” to post referral links. So I do really appreciate the opportunity. I know it must be frustrating dealing with this, especially people who don’t post regularly. I must admit that I sometimes make mistakes in comments, but I really appreciate being able to comment and refer on this site. Especially since I don’t have elite status on reddit, haha. <3

John

The referral link specific posts are great – thank you for including them.

I can understand your frustration and would completely understand if you end them – I scrolled through recently posted SPG Bus Referral post (as I do with all of them) and so many were replies to top comments and/or missing the twitter handle and/or including other text besides the link and twitter handle.

I think the one’s that seemed ridiculous to me were the ones where someone would comment with a link to a completely different card like Platinum and then comment again and “oops, her is the SPG bus link” – seems like a blatant attempt to get referral points from multiple cards (obviously there could be some honest mistakes).

Tyler
Tyler

You’re referring to my posts regarding the Platinum referral. It was an honest mistake that I made using the wrong link and not following instructions. I got a little too excited about sharing my link, but hopefully it was deleted (I would have done it myself if there was an edit or delete function). If you look further down I followed the instructions after I got past the initial excitement.
I didn’t mean to cause any extra work the the guys at DOC. Sorry again…

Peter
Peter

When I occasionally post a referral I simply post the URL itself or perhaps what card it is for as well. Maybe a quick thanks for using the link and please reply if you use it so we all know when it’s capped out.

I DON’T use Twitter so that isn’t included in my comment. No need to. Will and Chuck can check out my comment history and see I’m not spamming referrals. Not going to create a bunch of fake Twitter accounts just to post a username here. I’d rather Twitter go out of business than artificially inflate their value.

Sarah
Sarah

There are rules, you have to use Twitter. If you don’t want to use Twitter then don’t post your referral link.

Peter
Peter

No. I’ve why stated my returns including a Twitter username in my referral posts. Will or Chuck can delete them if for some reason they don’t want me posting. But as I’ve stated before I don’t spam and they can review my email based comment history and make the decision. I refuse to create Twitter accounts for comments here and increase the market value of Twitter when I am opposed to the service.

Peter
Peter

Stated why my referrals*

Peter
Peter

I’ve stated why I’m not including a Twitter username in my referral posts. *

Glenn
Glenn

Peter says:
I’ve stated why I should be banned in the future.

TomC
TomC

I’d disallow referral links other than your own, good Doctor.

Bhanna
Bhanna

That is a nice suggestion, but it would go against what they stand for from my understanding.He rarely posts his own referral links in the actual article because he believes that it may cause him to be more biased in the way he reviews the card/product… Makes him more trustworthy since he doesn’t have a direct benefit all the time… thats the big difference between this site and many other forums… Hence this is the first site I wake up to in the morning a and the last site I look at before I sleep.

Keep up the good work DoC– you & chunk are the men!

DaWoodMan1
DaWoodMan1

+1

Dave
Dave

Chunk? ..lol. Nice post tho. DoC team is the best.

Amy
Amy

She was probably watching Bull when she posted. 😉

Dan
Dan

Why are there no usernames on this site like on reddit? There are multiple people who use the same names and if I want I can pose as anyone I want. Wouldnt suprise me if you say use the links of specific commenters and then people’s names start getting hijacked for referral linking purposes. I know you often do the twitter thing but still, the process seems less than ideal. For what its worth, I never use a referral link unless its from someone i know. I find the whole referral link self-promotion thing to be kinda annoyance.

Dev
Dev

+1

I have my group of friends and get referrals there. I have always assumed that people are just duplicating their referral links here and on Reddit because like Chuck says above, who honestly has the time or patience to sift through those?

Dan
Dan

I don’t understand your point.

Wong
Wong

I believe Dev was trying to promote unique username-based commenting abilities like on reddit in order to prevent people from duplicating someone else’s name for referral purchases – say, using sirtheta’s name and avatar and reputation to earn referral bonuses. Having a unique username policy prevents this.

Dan
Dan

I know right? Totally irrelevant.

Satellite
Satellite

How difficult is it to implement a bot to automatically remove links from comments for posts where referrals are not allowed?

BB
BB

Looks like the site is built on WordPress…rather than a bot actively monitoring the site it would make more sense to filter the comments on creation / edit.

Probably a regular expression looking for certain URL formats. Unfortunately, this does mean they’d need to keep a list of patterns for referral links. And some could definitely get through for lesser known cards / patterns.

daeofcal
daeofcal

Sounds like a case of the tragedy of the commons. Ban referrals except in referral threads.

Brad
Brad

Personally, just kill them. We have this discussion over at reddit and I’m in favor of just ending it.

TheOtherCarl
TheOtherCarl

Frequent reader, very infrequent commenter here: Will and Team — you’ve turned this site into an amazing resaource for me and lots of other readers, and I think it’s high time you guys figure out how to incorporate referral links that will earn you some well-deserved $$ recognition. I realize this is off topic because you’re venting about readers’ misuse of referrals, but I’d be so so so happy to use YOUR links when I apply for cards – I’d be happier knowing you guys pocket the banks’ cash than even some of the best-of-the-rest blogs out there. I know you’re concerned about the perception of lost objectivity. Who among your readers agrees with me that you’ve earned our respect and our trust enough so that shouldn’t be a concern any longer??

Vic Jang
Vic Jang

I think Will has made the decision not to have credit card affiliation link and it’s not going to change. I asked for referral links from Will privately (twice, in 2015 and 2016), and he just said no, no link for you, find someone else you support, lol.

I am a firm believer in DoC.

Chris F.

I feel the same way. I get why you all don’t use them, but I still wish you would.

stvr
stvr

I wouldn’t allow referral links. Just my two cents.

E. Norena
E. Norena

Thank you for this post. As a long time reader and first time poster, I think people’s behavior with referral links on here and Reddit is horrible.

I thank you for what you do and how you help the community. Let’s hope this gets through to those offenders.

Trippy
Trippy

I vote for username. I don’t have twitter so I don’t know whats the stuff to do with that but everytime I did post a link it got published anyway.

On a related note, would the doctor have a dedicated page for all the doctor’s referrals? Earlier today I was looking to sign up for Xoom, a money remittance service, and did search here hoping to find a referral link but there was not. I would rather use referral links from here (the least I could do), so a page would be nice.

JasonP
JasonP

You can block these guys’ IP addresses…sometimes, a mandatory action is needed to make the peace.

I sometimes don’t like some of your posts, nor do I like the way you post it, but your website is still a very good one and I read every single one of your posts, even when I know from the topic that I am not interested.

I just think you can do whatever on your own website. You know, bad guys never turned good by nice words based on the history; bad guys need punishment to be forced to be good.

JT
JT

It’s interesting how much trouble/drama referral links cause. I say this because /r/churning is currently embroiled in their own referral link debacle as well. It seemed like one link just opened the floodgates on that SPG post. I try not to get too worked up about referrals since I feel the chance of mine being used by a random person on the internet are fairly low. I stick with trying to refer friends and family, although that can have its own issues. “You just want me to open the card because you’ll get some money from it!” No, it’s actually because you’ve been using a Chase Slate exclusively for the past 4+ years and a little part of me dies inside every time you pull it out.

Vic Jang
Vic Jang

I haven’t seen any Slate in the wild, but wow, people really love debit cards don’t they. Zero protection plus zero rewards, it’s intimidating just to think about it.

Back on topic, I can understand the rules in churning. It’s an effective way to stop spammer and non-contributor.

As for here on DoC, I think some kind of autonomous (bot) removing referral links in non-referral posts is the way to go for. It’ll definitely take efforts to accomplish though.
I personally think there Always will be people who ruin the fun for others. I’m pessimistic on this, but that’s how the world works :/

Ryan
Ryan

I’m pessimistic too. (M&T—sigh)

zalmy
zalmy

LMFAO

ScottS
ScottS

You do a tremendous job offering unbiased information in a way other bloggers fail to do. If the referral links are a hassle for you, please just disallow them since you don’t deserve the headaches!

Rick
Rick

Hey DOC, love your site and big supporter through your Amazon affiliate link. I was one of the ones that posted my referral link. Usually when I have commented (usually helpful) information in the past it goes to you to approve. I noticed a bunch of referrals link comments were getting approved so I thought that you decided to let readers casually post their referral links on that post. Unfortunately, the referral comment I made was auto approved and realized the mistake right away. Maybe others did the same.

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