Official ResPower Reaction to Locked Thread Controversy...

About a week ago, a thread I posted was locked by one of the elysiun.com administrators, Timothy, because we had previously engaged in the use of pseudonyms in order to draw attention to some posts.

Our first honest-to-goodness Blender subscriber responded to a “feedback” email that I sent him and suggested that we respond here. We had previously not responded because we were trying to engage the moderator in a discussion about how to proceed. Since that attempt was met with silence, we have decided to respond here at our customer’s suggestion.

We were of course unaware that this tactic is frowned upon in this community and are terribly sorry for any offense it has caused. It was done at my direction, and I am personally very sorry for any offense my actions and the actions of my employees has caused. We sincerely hope that our actions since then will be viewed in a favorable light, regardless of whether community members can look past this and become our customers. Furthermore, I have issued a new corporate-wide policy that all ResPower employees are only to post on forums as themselves (this includes ALL forums, not just elysiun.com).

Here is our official response, which I sent to Bart Veldhuizen at his request, and part of which he posted here:

http://www.vrotvrot.com/blog/2006/01/10/respower-reaction/

– History –
In this section I’m presenting some facts in the hopes that you, the Blender user, can research this issue and decide for yourself.

The two threads in question are:

https://blenderartists.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=57824
https://blenderartists.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=56971

Since then we have posted a tutorial for newbies, available here:
http://www.respower.com/page_blender_tutorial_fat_boss_01

And our lead Blender developer, Cory King has signed up to the dev list with the intent of getting some bugfixes we had to implement to get Blender up-and-running back into the main source tree.

Here is the complete text of our private message to Timothy. Having never tripped over a self-layed landmine before, my wording may not have been correct or may not have come across the way I intended. If anybody has suggestions on how I could have worded it better, please let me know. As a programmer, my political skills suck, so feedback and constructive criticism are always welcome. In any event, he did not respond. Without that response, we were concerned about posting a response here - we didn’t want to further offend the Blender community.

As you can see, a part of our attempt to engage Timothy in a discussion about our tactics was an offer of a 3-month Super/Blender Bronze subscription, which I now instead offer to the first person not affiliated with ResPower to respond to this thread.

I am hopeful that the community is forgiving and will accept us into the fold, especially as we continue to bring improved functionality to our rendering service and to Blender itself. I look forward to the opportunity to respond to any questions you might have about this situation.

Best Regards,
Early Ehlinger, President, ResPower, Inc.

We were of course unaware that this tactic is frowned upon in this community

Actually, it is pretty much frowned on everywhere outside the ranks of corporate marketeers. The fact that you consider astro-turfing ( creating a fake grass-roots campaign ) to be a normal part of doing business is one reason that people regard marketing as the domain of lying crapweasels.

IMHO, anything more than a short announcement directing people to your corporate website is in-appropriate.

I disagree with that, to the extent that each situation is a little different. A good business goes to where the customers are. That means posting, in this case. For instance, let’s say someone posts, “Gee whiz it is taking me a long time to render this scene,” someone from ResPower could appropriately respond, “Hey, give us a try.”

Now, the astro-turfing thing is kinda corny. :slight_smile: But not terribly offensive to me in this situation, since it wasn’t over-done.

Just MHO, of course. :thumbs:

Ouch. “Lying crapweasels.” Very hurtful.

However, I did say that the first person to respond would get a 3 month Blender Bronze subscription, and I did not have the foresight to say “first person to respond kindly…”. So if you don’t mind getting access to up to 700 render nodes at a time from a lying crapweasel corporate marketeer, and I’ll add pure-bred capitalist swine for good measure :), please send me a PM with your ResPower user name and I’ll hook up your account.

Who knows? Maybe after using the service, you might end up liking it in spite of my ignorant use of poorly-regarded tactics. Of course, you may decide that it totally sucks and we’re not only lying crapweasels, but bottom-feeding sewer scum as well.

– Early Ehlinger, President, ResPower, Inc.

I second that. They could have introduced their services in a better way, but I think it’s important that a company is willing to add blender to their rendering services.
It shows that blender is maturing and is yet another step towards getting more professional. For companies it is important that these kind of services are available. Not to mention that it is a good solution for an amateur who is wondering how to render that 1500 frame animation at 20 minutes a frame.

ResPower supporting Blender in their farms; I think thats great, this is actually news to me about this locking controversy, I know that there has been a lot of locking of threads lately, maybe Elysiun is going on red alert since we are reaching a critical point in Blender as a program and Community. There have been a lot of threads lately (never was many before in my time here) that were just automatic posting spam. I must admit I was always careful when I read a post in News and Chat which was something close to an Ad. But in this case I beleive the right to post for awareness of the oppertunity would be fine, was it mistaken?

Having one thread to make this service aware of and also for asking questions could be great, that will make it a nice concentrated place for people to discuss things (was that the one already mentioned that exists?) If it was no more then this, I think its fine! Wasn’t done as marketing scam I assume but to tell people blender have a renderfarm handy! =)

Well, exuse my loss of information in this, I really havnt been able to keep up with all the threads around. Maybe I’ll correct myself as I look into it more (I’m actually interested, when I get home i dont want my PC to suffer much with my huge renders)

Cheers.
Lee

EDIT: ohhhhh same person different names for replies, gah. Heh, people don’t need them (and can tell them strait away unfortunately), things like that can be used for some very eivl things, which is why even though it may have been harmless, these things are not seen in such a nice light. I can recommend an apology to Timothy and hope (as personal opinion btw) that this can be put past. =)

First of all, what controvercy? I doubt you’ll get a great deal of support for resorting to such tactics.

Secondly, nobody likes pushy salesmen, particularally ones that use less-than-hosest approaches to marketing their product. You probably would have gotten more positive feedback if you’d been more discerning in the tactics you employed. Keep people informed of your product by all means, make offers to promote interest even, but when you pull stunts such as creating fake accounts to try and give the impression that more people are interested than actually are it makes you come across as shifty and untrustworthy. Would you buy a used car from this man?

In the business you’re in, trust is everything… especially when people are sending you their proprietary design data (in the form of .blend files) and expecting that you abide by your word in your “handling” of said data. Pulling stunts like this and then posting lame excuses like “we didn’t know that was frowned upon” doesn’t engender much trust on this end.

Controversy or no, (…another “tactic”?) I wasn’t that interested in the service because, as good a deal as it may be to some, its still beyond the means of the average part-time enthusiast (like myself.) I can’t afford to get stuck with $20 a month for something I’ll only use very occasionally, and which I can get for free elsewhere (for my level of usage, eg. RenderPlanet or the upcoming BURP project - or even PCs at work during off hours.)

But, if this $20/mo fee only hit when you used it - on months that you didn’t render there would be no charge - or if you charged on a per-job basis with rates low enough to attract the average elYsiun hobbyist, then yeah, you probably would’ve garnered much more interest. As is? Well the response you got was about what I’d expect.

Have you investigated an ad-supported or some other much-more-limited free service? What about contributing your spare cycles to a project like BURP?

earlye, you sure are a businessman if I ever saw one. And, yeah, I agree with mzungu, if you keep doing stuff like this, some guy will come along with a need for a nice renderfarm, and not want to use your services, cause he doesn’t know if he can trust you. And take his money elsewere. Sure, that’s the way marketing is done. I mean, look at Microsoft, Bill Gates sold a operating system he didn’t own and became a million/billionare over-night. But, when your doing something like this, were there’s a good and easy possibility that they could steal your money, then you can’t do that.

But, whatever. I don’t really care.

i have no issues with people posting news about services.
his can only benefit the blender comunity, specificly those who earn
money with it.

the thing i wonder is this:

guenevere_rags2, earlye, hurdygurdy and blender_phan posted from the same IP address.

Locked this thread.

we don’t appreciate spamming.

i had some fun with a company called pixels and they used similar things.

i agree with that those marketing tactics rather make me rethink to send sensible data to a service i am not sure i could trust.

claas

As I said, my political skills suck. I did not intend for the mention of our ignorance to come aross as an excuse. It may be why we didn’t think it would be a bad idea to “astro-turf,” but as they say, “ignorance is no excuse.” As I quickly stated before, I am personally very sorry for any offense my actions or those of my employees has caused.

I hope that addressing this openly and honestly, and contributing to the community in a positive way, will help to heal those wounds, but I do realise that for some people reading this there is nothing I can say or do to convince them that this “stunt” is not indicative of our trustworthiness or character. That is unfortunate for all involved, and I will continue to try to re-earn their trust as well.

Actually, the $20/mo fee is cancellable at any time. So you could sign up and immediately tell us that you didn’t want to renew for next month. When we first announced it we had a minimum 1yr commitment, but quickly decided to reduce that to a monthly one. Per-job rates are not a particularly bad idea, especially if they’re priced in such a way that if you use it nearly daily you’re better off with a subscription. We’ll definitely consider it.

– Early Ehlinger, President, ResPower, Inc.

Really the only thing they did ‘wrong’ was get caught. These kind of tactics are a sad but effective (providing people don’t catch on) reality in marketing in every sector. We all know that no advertising really reflects the truth… when’s the last time frozen food looked as good as it does on tv? or anyone was so happy with a tupperware set? In fact, we have come to expect and even demand this kind of ‘false’ representation. This is a consumer driven market and unfortunately, honest marketing doesn’t seem to sell.

Thats a whole new debate right there.

Regardless, I accept earlye’s apology and appreciate his attempts to make right and to be honest. The service he offers sounds excellent, and I would love to hear some real responses. (:P)

Even though this statement seems kind of favorable to ResPower, I’m going to have to disagree. “Getting caught” was not one of the things we did wrong at all. It was merely a painful side effect.

We should have known that “astro-turfing” was frowned upon and avoided its use altogether.

– Early Ehlinger, President, ResPower, Inc.

Hi,

I only recently learned about the astroturfing incident, and once I learned of it I also felt it was ‘inappropriate’ though as stivs notes ‘standard marketing behavior’ (alas Blenderheads also are not immune such behavior either - we get quite a bit of ‘wow Blender looks amazing I’ll definitely have to download that’ from regular Blender users in some forums too when we have new releases…).

I think you are doing the right thing in publicly apologizing and ‘taking your lumps’.

I also think it is great that you are supporting Blender on your renderfarm.

LetterRip

i have to agree and put stress to letterips last sentense!

guenevere_rags2, earlye, hurdygurdy and blender_phan posted from the same IP address.

That’s why it was locked and consider spam, someone else try that here and got a big warning. Sure I may think it would be fun to play someone else and talk to myself, but I don’t do that because the mod would trace my IP anyways.

Playing a sellsman and a comsumer to convince people that the product is great is missleading and dishonest. It’s no different then saleing snake oil.

I think that’s called fraud.

Best punishment for this: Some sort of Flash animation satire of this whole thing, by Wu.

(Really, I’m not casting stones, I just think it would be a good ending to the situation ;))

Hey everyone,

I just want to apologize to respower for the viciously ungrateful and arrogant attitude of some of the posters (posers) above. I’m not kidding, it’s actually really embarrassing that this is how some blender users have chosen to welcome you to our community, especially in the light of how useful and generous what you are offering to us is.

Now I know I’m cheesing off a bunch of people here (probably the loud nasty ones too) but I don’t care. Honestly guys, these people are making thousands of dollars of render farming available to us for 20$ a month, and all you can do is foam at the mouth about how they made a few dodgy posts to try and make their announcement look a bit better.

I can only imagine that the people above simply have no concept of how much what respower is offering is worth. Do I work for respower? No. Have I used them before. Yes. At my job I have to do stupidly huge technical animations in stupidly short timeframes, and the only way I’ve got any chance in hell of getting them rendered in time is with a renderfarm like respower. It’s also worth pointing out that these renders usually cost around the $700 - $800 AU mark (I use max at work), but that I can do the same sort of rendering in blender for $20 US per month. Hello???

So to respower, again I apologize profusely - please don’t be put off our wonderful app by a couple of bad (stupid) apples.

And to the hissy fitters above… your proctologist called, they’ve found your head.

(Calmly dons napalm resistant dinner suit)

It’s always painful eating humble pie, crow, whatever you want to call it, but when you arm and place the landmine yourself prior to stepping on it, it’s to be expected…

Well, hopefully tomorrow will be a much better day than today!

Please, before reading this, put at the front of your mind that I am not defending our behavior in any way. I understand that astroturfing is unacceptable and as I have mentioned, I have issued a don’t-do-it-or-you’re-fired style edict at ResPower to prevent it from happening again. And as this thread clearly shows, we at ResPower are extremely sorry for engaging in this behavior and are subjecting ourselves openly to a public flogging.

However, I cannot accept a flogging in the form of an accusation of fraud. This is not fraud. Fraud is theft by deception. “Selling snake oil” is a perfect example of fraud, and generally refers to any practice of selling any salve or tonic that is supposed to provide some sort of health benefit without any demonstrable evidence thereof, just prior to leaving town.

Our subscription service really does give you unlimited access to our farm at the priority levels outlined on our site. And not one or two computers, but all of the computers that aren’t currently BSOD or in use by “higher priority” jobs. We’ve never claimed that it would do more than that, just that it was somebody else saying it would.

Yes, we chose a poor approach for sharing this fact with the community, deeply regret it, and are apologising here and as one person said, taking our lumps for it. Believe me, it’s painful and I won’t soon repeat that mistake.

However, we have not made any attempt to defraud anybody. I’ve got a katana upstairs (ok, a replica, I think it was made by Remington, but it is steel and it is sharp - I got it at the Remington store in the New Orleans Riverwalk on my honeymoon, and I’ve played slice-the-flying-orange with it on several occasions). In the event I ever defraud any body, I’ll pull that sucker out and run it straight through my gut in ritual suicide.

Now, if anybody wants to continue telling me how evil we are for astroturfing, please be my guest. We did astroturf and we deserve a righteous smack in the head for it. I’ll develop a taste for humble pie yet!

– Early Ehlinger, President, ResPower, Inc.