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So this is likely a lead up for a guide but I wanted to discuss it a little bit as its a moderately common practice for RPers to change affiliates buttons whether this be size or color (color being the biggest offender).

 

Something the Initiative has outright banned for practice is altering our button in size/shape/color. We don't care if you re-host it or not but our button is our brand and it is how you recognize us across any site that lists in our directory. As such, I've also banned the same practice on my affiliate buttons for the sites I run.

 

Now, I've heard the excuses "Well it matches my theme", "it looks better", "they are distracting" and many other reasons that this practice is in use but it calls to question, is the button the issue or the use of affiliates?

 

Now I've been roleplaying since the ancient time of AOL and MUD dinosaurs where affiliate links weren't even a thing but when I delved into forum RP as it began it was a sacred art of becoming friends and only promoting sites that you actually felt friendly with. People that you knew, that you trusted. People that you felt that you could redirect members to when they may not have been right for your site.

 

Since then Affiliates has become diluted and a game of numbers. The more affiliates you have the more people will see your button the more likely they will visit and the more members you can potentially get! This is part of where my question starts. If you have to mass advertise on this scale and your button is recognizable then your button isn't being edited. Because a clutch of 20-50 grey buttons a single button will not win over the rest or be recognizable over many sites. And... if your button isn't being altered on the other sites, why are you altering your own just to have a mass amount of buttons?

 

Affiliate, by definition, is not how we use it but in the spirit of terms you are associating your site with another site and therefore promoting their site and they are promoting yours. However, when you disrespect your affiliate by not exchanging identically or even in the same way, are you really fulfilling your side of the affiliation? You are promoting yourself while degrading that of your partner by not giving them the same value that you, in turn, expect them to give you. Every site/person/etc have put time or asked someone to put time into the creation of that button that represents their link, by changing it you are devaluing the other person's effort/time/site by not using it in its original form.

 

So.... another excuse I've heard is:

Well that's the way the theme works!

Its a poor excuse of a lazy admin. If you respected your affiliates the way that you expect to be respected you would either find a way to revert that "so pleasing aesthetic change" or request assistance from the theme developer to help you undo it.

 

The other excuse I hear regularly is "It just looks ugly". And yes, you're correct. Your 50 affiliates that you chose to throw at the bottom of your site that looks like Joseph and his technicolor dream coat:

Happy Dance GIF by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Will be an eyesore. This is where moderation is key. You don't need 50 affiliates to get tons of members. You need to make a decision. 50 sites that you respect and give their just chance to be seen by someone on your site or moderate yourself so that you only have a certain amount so the technicolor buttons don't distract from your overall site.

 

So this seems more like a rant and I'm not sure I'm done discussing it as you can see that I have strong feelings but lets get the discussion questions out there:

  • How many affiliates does your site have now?
  • What is your maximum amount of affiliates that you feel comfortable with having on your site (including or not including listing sites like the Initiative)?
  • Do you modify the look or appearance of your affiliates?
  • If you do? Why do you?
  • Do you vet or otherwise choose affiliates based on specific criteria?
  • What is that criteria if so?
  • What are your reasons to change the appearance of a button that defines another person's work/effort?

 

I'm sure if you have actually read this that you may have more to input but I would love to discuss further! Let me know!

 

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2 minutes ago, SithLordOfSnark said:

Personally, I don't go out of my way to look for affs. If someone wants to aff with my site, they can post to the aff topic (if i have one), but I don't go around to find them myself.

Not really the question, but thank you for your honesty.

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At the moment, my sites don't have any affiliates because they are both private. But! When they did, I went max 1 line, usually around 8-10, that was as high as I would go. Depending on the theme sometimes I'd have two lines, but I didn't want a huge block of buttons at the end of the site. It felt like it detracted from the site itself. And honestly made the site kind of look like a doorknob, you know, everyone gets a turn.

 

I do not and never will modify affiliate appearances because honestly, what your button looks like does not matter to me. It's the same with ads. -shrug- like if you mess up your ad coding, I won't fix it for you. That's not my circus. I also come from ye olden dayes where we actually affiliated with sites on a personal level, so here's the thing, I need to not find anything truly abhorrent or objectionable in your rules, your theme must be tolerable to me, and I need to like your premise. Knowing some of the staff is also a good solid thing. If I'm friends with you, my chances of signal boosting your site goes up exponentially.

 

Oh, sometimes I will add some embellishments to buttons, like fancy borders, but that's the only time I've ever changed buttons and it was more of an OCD thing lol like I wanted them evenly spaced out and then I was like heck let's make them look cool too, because just spacing them out by itself looked weird to me. Also, the borders kind of blended it into the theme a bit more. Yeah. Idk. Strange are the fickle ways of the mind.

 

Edit: Wait, one exception. I *will* modify buttons that are moving gifs if there isn't a non-moving gif option already available, and freeze them on the first frame. Because gif buttons tend to be poorly made and give me a headache and I ain't about that life.

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How many affiliates does your site have now? I do keep a few on my site but they're generally broken into three groups. The first is those directory ones you have to have. The next is those in the same genre that my site is in. The last one is those outside the genre that have requested to affiliate. I couldn't give a number though. 


What is your maximum amount of affiliates that you feel comfortable with having on your site (including or not including listing sites like the Initiative)? I couldn't say really. Though I do go through them often and remove those that are closed/private or removed my button. It doesn't take long most times. 


Do you modify the look or appearance of your affiliates? Nope. I wouldn't do that in the least. Though the gif ones can be annoying, they are at the bottom and can be ignored for the most part. I don't alter any of them. I feel that it should work both ways, but sometimes that isn't always the case.


If you do? Why do you?  n/a


Do you vet or otherwise choose affiliates based on specific criteria? I do try to make sure they have our button, they're still open/public, and that it can be seen. I also look at the length of time since the last post. I've started doing that recently as some places just give up and never do anything so the button is there and crickets.


What is that criteria if so? See above answer. (had a blonde moment)


What are your reasons to change the appearance of a button that defines another person's work/effort? I see no reason because that is their issue. I handle my own and have used the same button in various colors for the last 3 years. I see no reason to toy with someone else's work. I'm not that great at art/graphics so I know how I feel when I can do one myself and I won't take that away from someone else that's like me.

 

Hopefully this answers from one perspective.

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How many affiliates does your site have now?

Currently my site just has RPG Initiative since I just started a major rework on it. 

 

What is your maximum amount of affiliates that you feel comfortable with having on your site (including or not including listing sites like the Initiative)?
I think 10-15 affiliates is a good amount for my site. Like you mentioned anything more and everything gets sort of cluttered and lost. I like to keep everything organized and a large amount of clustered images can be distracting. 

 

Do you modify the look or appearance of your affiliates?

No, I leave them as is. 

 

If you do? Why do you?

N/A

 

Do you vet or otherwise choose affiliates based on specific criteria? 
I do vet affiliates. If I can going to advertise another or site or be advertised on one I want it be one I am comfortable with. 

 

What is that criteria if so?

When looking for affiliates there are two major things I look at. I like them to be related to my RP unless they are a really good friend  and I want to really help to promote their site. Then I’ll be happy to affiliate. 

 

The second criteria is I look for is a no GIF button. I try to limit the amount of  GIFs on the main pages of the site or use very subtle ones. Many people have different health conditions and moving images can be an issue. I try and make my site accessible to all.


What are your reasons to change the appearance of a button that defines another person's work/effort?

I don’t change anything about other sites affiliate buttons. Someone has taken the site to create that button and the admin believes it accurately portrays the image of their site. It is not my place to choose how someone’s site it being advertised. 

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  • How many affiliates does your site have now? We only have a couple of directory/voting sites now, after abandoning the whole practice a couple of years ago due to sites constantly going inactive and having to replace them.
  • What is your maximum amount of affiliates that you feel comfortable with having on your site (including or not including listing sites like the Initiative)? When we had a full hand, it was 20 in two lines across the footer of our site because that was how many could comfortably fit there without being overwhelming.
  • Do you modify the look or appearance of your affiliates? No.
  • Do you vet or otherwise choose affiliates based on specific criteria? We generally tried to go for sites that either shared our fandom (that we could refer people to if our site didn't work for them) or sites that shared our ethos (no wcs, low lore, super casual, older memberbase, etc).
  • What are your reasons to change the appearance of a button that defines another person's work/effort? I wouldn't modify it myself, but I'd ask if they had or could make a non-gif option. I can't deal with things moving in my peripheral vision and our affiliates appear on every single page. Otherwise, I'd leave it as it is.
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  • How many affiliates does your site have now?   At the moment we only have a couple of directory/listing sites now, as we are just finishing setting up.
  • What is your maximum amount of affiliates that you feel comfortable with having on your site (including or not including listing sites like the Initiative)?  I've never really had a specific set number. But I've never been a fan of row upon row of buttons just for the sake of it. So right now, we are sticking with 20 static in two lines across the footer of our site because that is how many fit neatly.  And one scrolling line.
  • Do you modify the look or appearance of your affiliates? No.
  • Do you vet or otherwise choose affiliates based on specific criteria?  Sort of. Personally I do have a definite preference for affiliates being within the same/similar sort of genre, or that share the same values and ethos. As being old school, I tend to think of affiliations as being something that share a connection or link. But I'm not always finicky on it. Particularly if it's a site I know of, and have been a fan of/respected from afar wishing to affiliate.
  • What are your reasons to change the appearance of a button that defines another person's work/effort?  I wouldn't change it, so n/a.  Altering other people's brand, or their work, without their permission is a big no-no as far as I'm concerned. 
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  • How many affiliates does your site have now? >> Let me see i have 3 rows which hold 11 buttons. I then have a scrolling one. Though I don't plan to give anymore space to static, it seems to be a good amount for me. Since it doesn't seem to clutter my bottom page to much. 
     
  • What is your maximum amount of affiliates that you feel comfortable with having on your site (including or not including listing sites like the Initiative)? >> I give directories a whole line to themselves. But I tend to view them different, so they aren't really counted me to as affies, since I don't have to clean them out every month if the site dies or things like that.
     
  • Do you modify the look or appearance of your affiliates? >> God no. I mean the person who created that button took their time creating it. Those who make gif sat there and created it, as did regular buttons. Touching that is like messing around with someone graphics. That is a huge no no for me.
     
  • Do you vet or otherwise choose affiliates based on specific criteria? >> I do not. I look at the site, if it seems like a nice site then I will ask to be their affy. I do not even check on the sites that ask to be my affy, I only go on to make sure the button is in place.

I personally adore the buttons. I like to putting them up on my site and I love seeing mine on others. I think its kind of like handing people a pretty little business card xD

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How many affiliates does your site have now?

7 exclusing directories and topsites

 

What is your maximum amount of affiliates that you feel comfortable with having on your site (including or not including listing sites like the Initiative)?

10-ish. I don't like massive blocks of blinking images. 

 

Do you modify the look or appearance of your affiliates?

No. But I re-host their buttons and remove all code to redo myself. I also have a special personal pet peeve for people who put emojis in the hover text. I am editing that out. XD 

 

If you do? Why do you?

Low tolerance for broken code and rendering issues I s'ppose

 

Do you vet or otherwise choose affiliates based on specific criteria?

Yes

 

What is that criteria if so?

I try to have a spread of same genre and cross genre. Site must work. Site must be active and site must not be a what I consider a pile of mess. I regularly remove people who remove their link back. I will not take people who have a button with a tacky animation. 

 

What are your reasons to change the appearance of a button that defines another person's work/effort?

If I have an issue with their button for whatever reason I don't affiliate in the first place. See tacky  animations above 🙂

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13 hours ago, Royal_Poet said:

 

Do you modify the look or appearance of your affiliates?

No. But I re-host their buttons and remove all code to redo myself. I also have a special personal pet peeve for people who put emojis in the hover text. I am editing that out. XD 


I have never believed rehosting is changing a button. It’s actually good practice IMHO.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for posting this topic, as I feel like it's taught me a lot in the scheme of obtaining affiliates. 

 

  • How many affiliates does your site have now?

None at this time, but we are new to jcink. We've been running on another site host for 3 years, and recently made the jump to jcink due to it having a far better set of controls for us to manage the forums and groups we want to advertise to. 

  • What is your maximum amount of affiliates that you feel comfortable with having on your site (including or not including listing sites like the Initiative)?

I think 10 is a great number, but we're open to more than that. I'd rather not have a massive wall, as I've seen on some sites, because it becomes entirely distracting and just ends up looking like a popularity contest over how many you can get all at once. I'd rather have truly dedicated affiliations over a multitude of ones that have no real contribution to a site. 

  • Do you modify the look or appearance of your affiliates?

Originally I had planned on doing so, but I've read through your article and made immediate changes. An affiliate button is a link and a brand's logo to their community. I'd rather not take away from that and instead honour it properly. 

  • Do you vet or otherwise choose affiliates based on specific criteria?

I'd say right now that the only affiliations I'm willing to work with are ones where there's a connection between the site owners and our site as well. Mutual benefit of joining sites together, and enjoying stories together. I'd be a little put off at someone asking to affiliate with me and having absolutely no connection to my site or their site by any means at all. 

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How many affiliates does your site have now?
Probably about four or five (I haven't counted recently). We don't tend to have a lot of affiliates at any given time (and this was true even when we weren't applying the greyscale; I don't seek it out all that often).

 

What is your maximum amount of affiliates that you feel comfortable with having on your site (including or not including listing sites like the Initiative)?
It depends on the skin and what I can manage to appropriately check. Right now we have room for 30 static affiliates and however many scrolling we like, but realistically we might not even fill those static ones and have virtually no scrolling affiliates. I don't really hunt for affiliates too much (much like I don't really actively engage in site-to-site advertising). They're tools that are there, but if I have them or not doesn't super matter to me. I usually connect with sites I respect or where I'd recommend people look if our site isn't the best fit for them.

 

Do you modify the look or appearance of your affiliates?
I will often greyscale affiliate buttons (they colour on hover). I do also have a coded resize to make all images 88x31.

 

If you do? Why do you?
In the case of both it's about uniformity and appearance, for the most part; nobody gets more appearance time than anyone else because nobody is brighter and draws the eye more than anyone else, and when scrolling near the bottom of the site you're not shocked with a sudden flash of colour. I've intentionally coded the skin that way. I find that greyscale looks nicer and is less intrusive, and if someone's button link breaks, having it automatically resized means that my board doesn't stretch. Incidentally, I've found that we don't have to discriminate against gif-based affiliate buttons with greyscale because it dulls the flashiness of transitions (something I have major issues with, especially if the flashing is between brighter colours).

 

Another reason (which is more a personal thing and a purely selfish reason but also one that I wouldn't care so much about if it went away) is that my computer will sometimes lag and while my mouse is on the left hand side of the screen, it thinks it's on the right. It's nice having a visual of where it thinks it is.

 

That being said, in the case of directory buttons I don't alter usually (I ended up separating them out because they were caught up in it previously and it's easier to make an exception for a whole section rather than an exception on a button by button basis). In part, this is because directory buttons either have a muted (not bright) option or they're pretty uniform and neat in and of themselves. Also, for a directory site it's more a brand whereas most roleplaying sites have rather generic buttons that don't even really convey what the site is about 90% of the time beyond "insert supernatural site here".

 

Do you vet or otherwise choose affiliates based on specific criteria?
Yep.

 

What is that criteria if so?
Mainly just ensuring they don't have objectionable rules and, if they are a static affiliate, they are of a genre that has a chance of sharing members. Then again, I don't think affiliates are all that useful so I don't put a ton of effort into them and sometimes things will slide.

 

What are your reasons to change the appearance of a button that defines another person's work/effort?
In short for me, roleplaying site affiliate buttons aren't really a brand in the way a literal logo is; I'm not looking at an affiliate button and going "oh my god I need to look at that site". Why? Simply put, most affiliate buttons cannot convey enough information to do that because there's such a finite amount of space. That being said, if someone has an objection to it, that's fine, I just won't affiliate with them. It's personal preference and while I disagree with the premise you outlined in your first post (I have never found it disrespectful when someone did it to me nor do I think it disrespectful to do it), I also believe it's any given person's right to object to such things. I also don't object if people recolour mine either though, there are much more important things to be worrying about in my opinion.

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  • 5 months later...

I had 4 rows of affiliates: Directories, Historical RPGs, Members' RPGs and Affiliates. I did not deny anyone who wanted to affiliate with me, and I modified only the buttons which were bigger than our norm, to make them standard dimensions. I don't remember now, 31 or 33 X....

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