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Poll: SM Classifieds: A good idea?
I would like a subforum for buying/selling/trading amateur chem supplies --- 45 (73.77%)
I think it is a bad idea to involve SM in such activities --- 12 (19.67%)
I see no use for it --- 3 (4.92%)
Other (Plaese specify) --- 1 (1.64%)

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Author: Subject: SM Classifieds: A good idea?
Praxichys
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[*] posted on 16-5-2014 at 10:30
SM Classifieds: A good idea?


Hi everyone,

It has come to my attention recently that there are an awful lot of threads in "Reagents and Apparatus Acquisiton" that relate to people buying or selling reagents and apparatus to other SM members.

I think it might be beneficial to SM to have a subforum designed to contain such listings in a strictly organized manner - a classifieds section.

Such a system might work by the following example:

[FOR SALE] Adamantane

Threads labeled "for sale" contain lists or links to lists of items for sale. Links to outside websites are permitted but only one thread is allowed per site.

[WANTED] Tetrahydrothiophene

Threads labeled "wanted" will specify the demand for a certain item and a quantity, and perhaps an asking price. Sellers will then be able to complete the transaction through U2U.

Stickies will be made for buyers/sellers who pay a fee to SM to get the thread stickied, perhaps something like $5-10/mo. This would allow high-volume suppliers to keep their threads at the top. It will allow SM to turn a small profit to help offset the costs of keeping the board alive.

Some points:

Customers will be encouraged to bump a thread when a product is bought or sold, simply with a message "I bought this" or something like that, to keep active or "hot" listings at the top.

Ideally the subforum is auto-pruned to delete all non-stickied threads after one month of inactivity. Alternatively, when a seller/buyer wants to take down the thread (out of stock/purchase complete), the thread owner simply makes a post in the thread declaring it obsolete and ready for deletion. The mod for the classified subforum will then delete the thread.

A product/website can only be relisted after the original listing has been deleted. Failure to do so may result in all buy/sell threads by that user being deleted.

For sellers of multiple or inventoried items, the url to an image or a spreadsheet file can be posted in the original thread. The thread cannot be edited through SM but the file can still be updated on the remote server, allowing an up-to-date inventory to be maintained on the first post in that thread.

I have lots of other ideas about how such a system should work, and I would be glad to draft up a "Thread Rules" type sticky in the event that this subforum comes into being.

Let me know that you think!

Prax




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Mailinmypocket
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[*] posted on 16-5-2014 at 10:50


I think this is a great idea!
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[*] posted on 16-5-2014 at 12:06


I am a member of several other forums that include a "commercial section", either an informal swapping & selling area, or a more organized type where some members are considered professionals and help pay for the site in return for a place to do business with people of whatever type that forum attracts.

I will say that these sales areas somehow end up causing the most moderator work and stress, as well as bad feeling between members of all the various sections on these sites. If sciencemadness.org has a culture such that the members will put their reputation as square dealers and other members best interests before their individual financial self interest, it might work without too much friction. I've seen some long standing glass and equipment sales threads here that seem to show such a good attitude.

I trade frequently on one site where most members place their reputation and camaraderie above profit, it is WONDERFUL to have a community like that! http://castboolits.gunloads.com/forumdisplay.php?18-Swappin-...

But what happens when a (non hobbyist) salesman from glass "X" joins and starts to sell a bunch of profit driven/questionable stuff, or a con/ripoff burns a bunch of members?

Or there is just a disagreement, due to honest misunderstandings between members?

Or someone offers or transacts in a forbidden/watched item, deliberately violates hazmat shipping regulations or accidentally abets an underground for profit chem lab, violent political extremist or other legally "radioactive" type of customer... And this becomes known to intelligence, regulatory & law enforcement organizations? There are so many jurisdictions and rules, it could take several full time specialists to vet all the transactions for legality at both end and during shipping. One of the reasons lots of the major chem suppliers are hard to approach and expensive...

And who will take the time to ride herd on the proposed section- In my experience, it needs a close watch and constant attention to keep such an area working satisfactorily.




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Zyklon-A
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[*] posted on 16-5-2014 at 12:14


Quote: Originally posted by Bert  
But what happens when a (non hobbyist) salesman from glass "X" joins and starts to sell a bunch of profit driven/questionable stuff, or a con/ripoff burns a bunch of members?

An idea I had is to have this sub-forum (should it ever exist) require special permission, like Whimsy and References. That way, nobody will be able to simply join the board to sell stuff, but rather become a legitimate member, before even knowing such a sub-forum exists on this board.




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[*] posted on 16-5-2014 at 16:10


Quote: Originally posted by Zyklonb  

An idea I had is to have this sub-forum (should it ever exist) require special permission, like Whimsy and References. That way, nobody will be able to simply join the board to sell stuff, but rather become a legitimate member, before even knowing such a sub-forum exists on this board.


I like that idea.
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elementcollector1
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[*] posted on 16-5-2014 at 16:14


Agreed, it should be closed off as References is.
As for moderation, I would certainly be willing to try, if necessary.

[Edited on 5-17-2014 by elementcollector1]




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[*] posted on 16-5-2014 at 16:33


I think that a subforum would be a good idea. Those just starting chemistry would be able to purchace materials without uncertainty.
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[*] posted on 16-5-2014 at 17:10


There should also be a stickied trade outcome thread (I've seen this on the Where's George forums) where reports can be looked at by mods if needed.

And, of course, not just a rules thread, but a general guidelines thread (including information about how to pay for things, etc.)

Polverone should really look at this, because there is potential to make money with stickied threads.




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[*] posted on 16-5-2014 at 17:48


I like the online flea-market idea :) would be nice for members in different sectors of the world to be able to get stuff from near by/same country without having to resort to ebay. no change in laws, or import export issues could make area transactions much more fun. couple things to consider of course...

1) members just have to realize, small private sellers aren't going to buy 5 lbs of material X to part it out and make nothing off it, or simply keep a small portion free. but they shouldn't try to get richy rich off others either.

2) price shopping ebay for comparison, or other high volume locales could cause some frustration when, "but it was only this much here", starts getting thrown around like rice at a wedding.

3) solid legal defensive standpoint for sciencemadness.org to not get sued,.. for anything that might transpire! be it mailed out disclaimers/waivers that are signed and returned, some online release of liability or what have you.

4) moderators will have limited ability to do ANYTHING about money/product not showing up. except perhaps ban a ruthless seller/buyer. so I strongly second a rules/guidelines page and the "don't spend it if you can't pay bills without it" mentality upfront and center.

just my two cents here. it sounds fun, and possible if we act like adults in a community instead of anonymous internet dicks. I hope this happens, but it sure seems like it could be a lot of work, so I have my doubts it will get off the ground. I'm an optimist though :)
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[*] posted on 16-5-2014 at 19:08


I saw this in stats, and said "YES" to the title. I'd been thinking about this, but more as a separate site and more trade oriented, but this is good too. BUT there are problems, and they seem to be focused on one type of item: Chemicals. This'd be great for books, equipment, and glassware, but no chemicals. The only way I can see them fitting in is if everything is redirected to e-bay accounts, so the sales technically don't happen on this site, they're just negotiated for on here.
Just throwing stuff around.




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[*] posted on 17-5-2014 at 03:37


For me, I might sell chemicals at cost. There have been instances where I wanted 50g of something but the only solution was to order a kg from overseas for something like $250. (Cyanuric trichloride comes to mind) I would probably sell like 75% of it to members, without profit (except to recuperate shipping, etc) just so I wouldn't have to shell out that much for a single chemical.

This could also bridge the gap between those who have accounts at major chemical suppliers and those who need chemicals but cannot get them drop-shipped to a residential address.

I agree that the subforum should be locked to keep the conmen and the riffraff out.

There could also be a sub-sub forum where each thread is about a seller, where feedback is left. That way you can read about the seller before you buy.

Just thoughts




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[*] posted on 17-5-2014 at 06:47


Or rather, sub-sub forums by region so everyone can easily find their local sellers
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[*] posted on 17-5-2014 at 07:22


Yes, it would be interesting to have a sub-forum for those types of things, but consider this:

Shipping: No matter the country, there are regulations about what can be shipped and how it must be packaged. Many of the 'good' chemicals that would be sold on that forum would no doubt be shipped illegally. Unfortunately ignorance is not a valid excuse in the eyes of the law for these sorts of offenses. Flaunting the law is one thing but there have been plenty of genuine disasters where chemicals were shipped improperly labeled. You don't even want to try this with international shipping.

Retroactive liability: At least in the US you can be held liable for the end use of a product you sell if you had reason to believe that your product may have been used or could be used to break the law. Pyrotechnic companies get the hassle enough and I was part of one of those shakedowns by the Department of Justice. In that instance I had purchased potassium perchlorate and aluminum powder. I was using the aluminum powder for aluminothermic reductions and the potassium perchlorate to make perchloric acid, but... I could have been using those things to make flashpowder. The company that I had purchased those chemicals from suffered the brunt of that attack and folded. Unfortunately chemicals are very versatile and even if you are not selling a schedule 1 chemical or the like your chemical might be used somewhere along the way and come back to bite you in the end.

Increased risk for the SM forum: Currently there is no prohibition on posting chemicals for sale on the forum but such posts are infrequent. But if they did become frequent enough that the subforum thrived then you now have two pieces of data in one easy place, a record of the reactions and discussions are person is taking place in as well as a record of chemicals they are purchasing. Technically speaking that would be putting all your eggs in one basket. Law enforcement loves information and if you provide them with both of these pieces of information they might have enough to determine probable cause.

These are my hurdles towards embracing this as a sub forum. In the past people have focused more on exchanges via U2U. I know I have had several good experiences with members posting about getting a new chemical and trying something out then contacting them and purchasing it from them via U2U. I have also responded to posts for things for sale via U2U, but making threads of purchases, reviews of buyers, that might be going a bit far and legitimizing things to the point of bringing scrutiny.




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[*] posted on 17-5-2014 at 08:42


i know there is no way to avoid the legal issues of shipping...or at least if you are intelligent, you wouldn't try, but, as far as liability goes, particularly concerning the end use of products you may distribute, what if those chemicals were given as a gift? i know that few are going to part with many things of value with nothing in return, but stranger things have happened.
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[*] posted on 17-5-2014 at 15:03


Quote: Originally posted by BromicAcid  
Yes, it would be interesting to have a sub-forum for those types of things, but consider this:

Shipping: No matter the country, there are regulations about what can be shipped and how it must be packaged. Many of the 'good' chemicals that would be sold on that forum would no doubt be shipped illegally. Unfortunately ignorance is not a valid excuse in the eyes of the law for these sorts of offenses. Flaunting the law is one thing but there have been plenty of genuine disasters where chemicals were shipped improperly labeled. You don't even want to try this with international shipping.

Retroactive liability: At least in the US you can be held liable for the end use of a product you sell if you had reason to believe that your product may have been used or could be used to break the law. Pyrotechnic companies get the hassle enough and I was part of one of those shakedowns by the Department of Justice. In that instance I had purchased potassium perchlorate and aluminum powder. I was using the aluminum powder for aluminothermic reductions and the potassium perchlorate to make perchloric acid, but... I could have been using those things to make flashpowder. The company that I had purchased those chemicals from suffered the brunt of that attack and folded. Unfortunately chemicals are very versatile and even if you are not selling a schedule 1 chemical or the like your chemical might be used somewhere along the way and come back to bite you in the end.

Increased risk for the SM forum: Currently there is no prohibition on posting chemicals for sale on the forum but such posts are infrequent. But if they did become frequent enough that the subforum thrived then you now have two pieces of data in one easy place, a record of the reactions and discussions are person is taking place in as well as a record of chemicals they are purchasing. Technically speaking that would be putting all your eggs in one basket. Law enforcement loves information and if you provide them with both of these pieces of information they might have enough to determine probable cause.

These are my hurdles towards embracing this as a sub forum. In the past people have focused more on exchanges via U2U. I know I have had several good experiences with members posting about getting a new chemical and trying something out then contacting them and purchasing it from them via U2U. I have also responded to posts for things for sale via U2U, but making threads of purchases, reviews of buyers, that might be going a bit far and legitimizing things to the point of bringing scrutiny.

This is why I think it should be used solely for glassware and equipment, and not chemicals. With this restriction, I think the above Idea might work. This would mean that the old chemical sales would have to take pace in reagent acquisition forum, while normal sales could now take place in the new forum.




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[*] posted on 17-5-2014 at 19:55


I don't really see the problem with having anything that might be sold in R&A in the new forum. It just seems like a more organized way of selling and buying. If anything, it makes us look better. Then again, I am not very experienced with buying and selling in general, and also tend to be overly optimistic about the logic of government watchers.
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[*] posted on 17-5-2014 at 20:00


You'd think they'd look at the content of the site before making decisions... yet several raided chemists know otherwise.



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[*] posted on 18-5-2014 at 08:39


I do not think selling chemicals will be a problem if such a forum emerges, after all, such transactions already exist. However we must obviously be careful not to sell any suspect chemicals, even if one has a legitimate use.

I think this is a great idea and I believe it will help home chemists immensely.

[Edited on 5-18-2014 by Pinkhippo11]




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[*] posted on 18-5-2014 at 09:01


Quote: Originally posted by Pinkhippo11  
However we must obviously be careful not to sell any suspect chemicals, even if one has a legitimate use.


I feel that if there is indeed a LEGITIMATE use then banning their sale is no different from the current commercial reality for amatuers. Legitimate uses of watched chemicals should not suffer from the illegitimate uses.
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[*] posted on 18-5-2014 at 13:15


Agreed, I have some restricted chemicals I own, and would be glad to help just keeping a records of the sells for my own back up, but else then that, restricted chems are the main problematic in many country.



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[*] posted on 19-5-2014 at 06:38


I don't really see the need for this. What would such a sub-forum accomplish that isn't already taken care of in Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition? Almost all of the concerns raised here regarding shipping, liability, etc. already exist regardless of where on the forum the transaction takes place. The only new features I see proposed here are a "vendor credibility" metric and paying to have your thread stickied. The former is taken care of by buyer responses in the seller's thread, and the latter seems unfair to "small-time" sellers that don't have the cash to sticky their items (that's why they are selling in the first place!). (Also people could just repeatedly bump their own threads for free.)

There have been a couple calls for sub-sub-sub forums lately, when the amount of traffic on this board doesn't really warrant it. In the last 2 days there have been 37 new posts, with only about 5 of these being new threads. I could see the need for more forums if we had 100 new threads per day, but at this rate there isn't any overcrowding (pushing topics off page 1 quickly) at all. I think the level of segregation we have now is just fine.
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The Volatile Chemist
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[*] posted on 19-5-2014 at 07:09


I still think there should be no chemical sales in this new forum, that if they are to exist, they should take place in chemical acquisition. Hardware should be the only thing sold.



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[*] posted on 19-5-2014 at 08:54


The Volatile Chemist , why? If you don't want to buy or sell chemicals - then by all means don't. But for me and lots of other people here, that's the most important thing we'll be selling probably. Chemicals are what's hard to get, and may require you to buy a Kg of the stuff when you only need 100 grams. Nobody complains because he was had to buy 10 distillation setups, when he only wanted 1. Sure, you could get a 10 pack of them, and get a better deal. So I'm sure people will do his too, and make a little profit by selling them individually to others on this forum. Chemicals are already being sold on this site anyway, and such a forum would make it easier, and faster.



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[*] posted on 19-5-2014 at 09:20


Quote: Originally posted by Zyklonb  
The Volatile Chemist , why? If you don't want to buy or sell chemicals - then by all means don't. But for me and lots of other people here, that's the most important thing we'll be selling probably. Chemicals are what's hard to get, and may require you to buy a Kg of the stuff when you only need 100 grams. Nobody complains because he was had to buy 10 distillation setups, when he only wanted 1. Sure, you could get a 10 pack of them, and get a better deal. So I'm sure people will do his too, and make a little profit by selling them individually to others on this forum. Chemicals are already being sold on this site anyway, and such a forum would make it easier, and faster.

I was just worried about governmental stuff. Maybe I've read too many stories of arrested home chemists accused of ordering chemicals illegally. I was afraid it would affect the site itself. But I guess it wouldn't matter. Though I do think there should be at least two different sub-forums, one for hardware, one for chemicals, just to keep them separate. I guess I'm just not too trustworthy of my own government. I may buy chemicals from the site, but in America, there are so many shipping regulations I don't think it'd be too safe. What i was trying to say was that chemicals should be continued to be sold on this site, but where they have been sold, not under a new forum. This way we aren't drawing attention to the fact that chemicals are being sold onsite. Not that it's necessarily illegal, but it's better not to get attention.

This is just my opinion, I think it'd be fine to buy/sell chemicals, but if it were under a forum title in bold declaring chemical sales were taking place there, I wouldn't do it myself. I don't want to be on a list for buying chemicals that were un-necessarily labeled hazardous when I could have bought them under a hidden title (AKA under Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition) so that lists aren't compiled of our names.
Nathan




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[*] posted on 19-5-2014 at 11:08


The site owner's liability for member activities is a key question from the legal standpoint. I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know the legal precedents or jurisdictional differences in such involved. If the liabilities can't be clarified, common sense says stay away. Ignorance is NEVER a good argument in court.

The amount of moderator time required to RUN the new section/sub forum is the key question from a practical point of view.

I DO understand (hands on experience!) adding this is going to require significant amounts of time if it's going to succeed- And absolutely will require additional moderators be taken on.

The old guard of moderators likely have too much on their plates already to add this time sink on now, between professional lives and other demands on their waking hours & attention (Personal time? Family life? What mean these strange words, outlander..)

So, where is the next generation of dedicated, knowledgeable sciencemadness.org moderators coming from... For gosh sake, they were desperate enough to ask ME, this is clearly a labor crunch!;)




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