Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordy Wednesday Public Service Announcement: Catster's sold out to Nutro!

Attn:  All Catster/Dogster members
Re:  Catster's new policy regarding advertisers


Catster HQ has been kenneling (temporarily taking offline) member pages that post links to recalls, update others on kenneling of friends' pages, inform others of poison food (by brand name, i.e. Nutro, or in general) that advertises on Catster/Dogster, and/or post testimonials of adverse reactions to poison food that is advertised on Catster/Dogster.

By the new community guidelines, you cannot post anything that could turn someone else away from an advertiser.  See the post that Dogster founder/Top Dog/Top Cat Ted R. wrote here.  Notice that all comments will be moderated first?  They're scared, and they have a right to be!

Catster Hazel Lucy, of the famous Tranquility Blankets and the Purr List, had her diary "cleaned up" (aka censored) by HQ for listing recalls and telling others plainly about Nutro's poison food.  She has also been put on warning that she may be kenneled if she keeps this up.

Other Catsters and a few Dogsters saw this and complained to HQ about it.  Over the weekend, many names on Catster were appended with "who loves Hazel Lucy".  Cats wrote diary entries about her, and some wrote about their experiences with poison food of various brands (mostly recalled).  One cat wrote about her doggie brother who ate Nutro after winning it in a Dogster-sponsored contest (free Nutro for a year).

Over the past day and a half, the diaries that were anti-poison food were either kenneled or put on notice, and many of the cats who had changed their names were either kenneled or warned as well.  Some of the cats who had commented on censored diaries were also kenneled for commenting and agreeing with what was posted.

Catster/Dogster has prohibited anyone from commenting there on what is going on, but many have been making the new policy known other places.  There is a group on Facebook for Concerned Catsters/Dogsters.  Some of us have been posting on our non-Catster blogs.  Many people have been using their FB status updates to keep others apprised of the situation as well.

Some Catsters/Dogsters are leaving because of this.  Some have chosen to stay but not participate as much.  Some have chosen to stay and defy the new rules.  So far, only a few e-mails have been answered, of the many sent to Ted R. about the whole situation.  None of the answers are good; most state that since advertisers pay the bills, they must be respected at all costs, and anyone who speaks out against them is defying the terms of service and will be kicked off the site.

User-friendly?  Community?  Definitely not!

19 comments:

meowmeowmans said...

Thanks for the heads-up. So sad that such politics always seem to come into play!

Lilly Lu, Iris and Maxwell Mufsa Millon said...

yup this is what happened to me i am in the kennle too i no longer like caster it used to be about love, peace and freindship now that they sold out it nolonger fun

Lilly in the kennle Lu

The Island Cats said...

We're on Catster, but we don't really use it that much. But this just doesn't seem far at all!!

Ikaika said...

We knew when they changed their website a while back that it didn't portend well for the future of Catster/Dogster ... shame ... the corporations have their greedy fat fingers in everything! Hisssss!combec

Sweet Praline said...

I'm on Catster, but I really don't use it.

Ted Rheingold said...

Hi,

This is Ted from Catster HQ. I saw this and wanted to offer some confirmations from our side.

We entirely allow for members to discuss product recalls. We allow for people to share their factual information about products and services. Listing of ingredients? That's fine. Links to FDA? That's fine. Proven facts are not suppressed.

Here's the relevant section from our community guidelines that ensures this:

"we do not allow for anyone to write things that slander, berate or attack the advertiser (as determined by Dogster Inc and our moderators) in any public places on our sites. We also do not allow statements that will insult, belittle or discourage other users who may use or be considering that advertiser's product or service. We do allow civil discussion (as determined by Dogster Inc and our moderators) as long as it is helpful, informational and kind."

There was some misinformation about this so we made sure to clarify it on our community blog

Importantly is the confirmation

"content posted with the intent to provide information and education about product recalls, or content in which members shared their personal experience with that product (positive or negative), that keep with the “Spirit of Catster; fun, friendly, or helpful,” at all times is always fine and valued."

I'm sorry if I didn't get anyone's email. I've been looking for them. You can always call the office at 415.934.0400. We're a very small group that all work in the same room and take these concerns very seriously.

Many meows

Jan's Funny Farm said...

We're on Catster/Dogster but don't really use it either. It's a shame advertisers are more important than truth.

Eric and Flynn said...

We are on Catster too but haven't been there for ages.

Sparkle said...

Although I have a Catster account, I am not really active there. I think the attitude towards its community explains why. Bottom line: the only reason a website gets advertising is because of its community. So community comes first. Once a company puts the advertisers above the community, they risk losing the community, which will eventually cause them to lose ads. Too bad that Catster does not understand this. If I were in Catster's shoes, I would be working with advertisers that were in the best interest of the community, not trying to appease those that the community is complaining about.

Alex (Jet's sister) said...

Hello,

My boys are fairly active on the Catster and Dogster sites. I use it primarily to keep a record of their lives and I've got so many friends there, I'm loathed to go, although I don't like the new site.

We live in the UK so the situation with Nutro and other advertisers on there is nothing to do with us. We can't comment on any of their products as they don't trade in the UK.

I just wanted to say we read your Spooky's diary because he was the Diary of the Day and commented on it. Our boy, Jet, is also totally black and also died suddenly at 11 months. Their stories are so alike.

Pay us a visit if you can: www.catster.com/cats/991433

Anonymous said...

We have obligations to keep up several, groups or we would seriously be considering leaving also. The latest round of kenneling was absurd to say the least and their treatment of Hazel Lucy is something they should really be ashamed of. She deserves a PUBLIC apology. The site changes ruined the Catster we once knew, now it looks like any other advertiser over-run site, not unique anymore and definitely the friendly feel is long lost. Really saddens us, we are still mourning the loss of Old Catster.
Wanda, Norman and family

Anonymous said...

"We also do not allow statements that will insult, belittle or discourage other users who may use or be considering that advertiser's product or service"

So you allow links to FDA sites about recalls, but we can't SAY anything about it because it may discourage someone from buying it? But diaries about recalls were what was deleted... think I'm getting dizzy. And aren't opinons covered under free speech? If you don't like it or don't agree, don't read it or listen to it? Pretty sure that's how that goes...

Snugglebits said...

Catster has jumped the shark. It started with the sh*tty redesign and burying the community. No one who goes to Catster.com can tell there's a social network behind it. It looks like just another generic web 2.0-ified content site -- although it's so poorly organized that you can't navigate through the content - there is no content directory. I knew something was up when they replaced the Catster Blog with a news feed. Perhaps because THe Cat's Meow broadcast one too many cat food recall notices?? It was one of the reasons I went to Catster almost every morning. And with all my friends abandoning Catster, there's really no point in hanging out there any longer. And who can trust Ted -- the genius behind that horrific moarrawr site that glorified dead animals.

HL said...

Interesting that there are no comments under the Hear & Meow post about the Guidelines. All comments are checked before posting so I can assume they were either negative or that no one felt commenting was worth it. If they don't want comments, don't offer that feature.

Spanky Tigerpants said...

The Catster blog hasn't been replaced, although it looks like they're fazing it out in favor of straight (boring) news. You can't get there from Catster's home page, which leads me to blelieve it's beeen kennelled too!

PDX pride said...

Actually, HL, we commented on the Catster blog post, but were sent an e-mail from Ted in response instead of having the comment posted officially on their blog. :P So I think that's what they must be doing with all the comments.

Loki's Mom said...

Yesterday Ted & Lori gave me the boot... let me back up a bit:

On Sept. 16, I logged in to Catster after an extended break. I noticed that my cat pages had been "re-arranged". Though I thought it odd (because they had been compliant with the OLD policy), I re-set them back the way I had them. I checked my P-mail, nothing; I checked the No to Nutro Group, there were some comments about HL & censorship and a proposal to change the name. Curious, I searched around the forums and friends diaries to see what had happened. I found nothing that shed any light on it. So I figured the comments were in regards to the GROUP.

So, I wrote a note to the admins of the GROUP regarding my feelings on the proposed name change. In that note, I SPECULATED on the reasons that Catster might be censoring things... Keep in mind, I still didn't know for sure what had actually happened. By this time, it was very late for me, and I was too tired to pursue the matter any further.

I logged in the next couple days, picked up a P-mail from one of the other GROUP admins, but had RL issues that needed attention; so again, I did not investigate any further.

Then my car broke down, and both of my computers died. Needless to say, I was pre-occupied.

When the dust had settled a bit, I had the BRILLIANT idea of checking my Catster specific e-mail.

THAT is when I FINALLY saw Lori's notice (Sept 7) that they were "cleaning up" my personal pages because they were implementing a new policy change. There were also a couple of strongly worded follow up admonishments (Sept 23) for my actions of re-setting the pages.

After canceling my CatsterPlus subscription, I replied to both Lori & Ted that I had acted BEFORE I actually SAW the policy change. They came back saying they didn't believe me because of the (private) note I had written to the GROUP admins. They then said flat out that I was unwelcome and removed my account.

I've replied that their assumptions regarding that note are incorrect, but I doubt it will make any difference to them. They seem to have their minds made up.

I was a member for 2 years. I initially came to Catster because one of my cats was going through serious liver issues, and I found a very supportive and knowledgeable community. I did my best to return that support and knowledge and I will miss that interaction.

Loki's Mom said...

Skylar, I don't know if my previous comment went through... I got a "too large" notice. Also, I don't know if you still have my e-mail address, but if you'd like to contact me, it's furmonsters@hotmail.com. You know that during the anti-Nutro protest, I always made the effort to keep my communications as respectful as possible... passionate, but respectful. I really feel like I've just been sucker-punched.

Nikita Cat said...

Wow!

I have not used my catster for most of the year, what with all that has happened in our house, but have been thinking of deleting my account after making sure to track down the blogs, or diaries, of my Kitties/Dogs in the Stroller club, for a new sidebar collection I have in mind on my blog.