Taking referral links off the Community, to make discussions easier — Bulb Community

Taking referral links off the Community, to make discussions easier

We absolutely love when people share Bulb with their family, friends and followers, but we’ve had a lot of feedback from members that referral links on the Community are making it difficult to see and participate in all the other helpful discussions. So from now on, we will remove member posts that include their referral link.

We discussed in a previous post that we would limit referral link posting on Bulb’s Community, Facebook page, and review sites. We’re still waiting to finalise these terms and conditions, but we're going to forge ahead with the Community change from today onward.

If someone accidentally breaks one of these rules, we’ll remove the post from the community and send them a private message explaining why.
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Comments

  • I think that's a great idea to make the community more relevant. Referral links should be for friends and family only.
  • ... you need to take them off Trust Pilot too as it makes the reviews seem biased.
  • @brooky_agb, I'd recommend having a read of the other thread if you've got a bit of time. There are plans for more than just removal off these forums but there are significant complications with places like TrustPilot as Bulb don't and can't actually control what is posted there.

    I don't quite agree that referrals should be for friends and family. If you want to take it upon yourself to wander around trying to convert random people to join Bulb, I don't think anyone should stop you doing that. Posting on the internet hoping that people click on your link is not something I'd personally consider to be referring though. Blogs and reviews are a bit in between, but if you write a post that convinces a load of people to join, should you not be compensated like someone referring in person?
  • I've run a community forum for my company for about 15 years. Managing a community has a lot of challenges.
  • edited December 2017
    What if an indirect referral link is used, such as **** - will it still get removed?...
  • @Bulbilicious, the issue is with the intent, not whether you decide to obscure your link.
    Obscuring your link like this, would still be posting it.

    (Perhaps you want to edit your comment, you could have made your point without the actual link)
  • edited December 2017

    What if an indirect referral link is used, such as **** - will it still get removed?...

    ..... as I said.. managing a community is challenging.
  • ..... as I said.. managing a community is challenging.

    Yeah...
  • edited January 2018
    mowcius said:

    (Perhaps you want to edit your comment, you could have made your point without the actual link)

    The point was to test if an indirect link would be removed. Your 'like this' link is just a direct link, so easily detected and removed by software.
  • edited December 2017

    The point was to test if an indirect link would be removed. Your 'like this' link is just a direct link, so easily detected and removed by software.

    There is no software automatically deleting links. It's being done manually (presumably just when Bulb team members are at work) so however you obsure it makes no difference.

    Constantly posting your link in the thread that specifically tells you not to, is probabably a good way to upset people.
  • mowcius said:

    presumably

    So you don't actually know that what you are saying is accurate. I was merely testing the system, which is always more accurate. My original comment was not about what posters are allowed to do, it was about what they might get away with.
  • edited November 2017

    So you don't actually know that what you are saying is accurate. I was merely testing the system, which is always more accurate.

    I know for a fact that they're being deleted manually however I don't know whether @Andrew at Bulb is going to take time out of his evenings or weekends to police things, or if he's only going to do it when he's actually working. I presume the latter.
    My original comment was not about what posters are allowed to do, it was about what they might get away with.
    Bulb as a whole appears to be built on people trying to be decent and making things better for everyone involved.
    If people are joining the forums or as a customer with the intention of "trying to get away with" things then they're probably not adding value and don't really have any place being here. Having an excellent community relies on rule 1:
    1. Always be excellent to each other.


    So far there are a very limited set of rules and you could probably get away with all sorts of things, but that will change as Bulb figure out what community guidance is required:

    But now the Bulb Community is growing to such a size that more guidance is going to be a good thing, so we'll create a proper Community set of rules.

  • mowcius said:

    Always be excellent to each other.

    That is admirable, but totally naive for the web. If posts with referral links are being deleted manually, then surely they are being looked for with a global search on the common part of the refer link - my point being that an indirect link would go undetected. As a web developer I would use software to detect where links actually land. That is all my original cheeky post implied and sought to test.
  • That is admirable, but totally naive for the web. If posts with referral links are being deleted manually, then surely they are being looked for with a global search on the common part of the refer link - my point being that an indirect link would go undetected. As a web developer I would use software to detect where links actually land. That is all my original cheeky post implied and sought to test.

    Perhaps.

    Most of the people on this forum are Bulb members so it's not really quite like the rest of the internet. Bulb have complete control over your ability to refer, and people might think twice about being terrible when their identity is not obscured.

    To be fair to them, it's been a very recent decision so even if they are going to implement some automated solution to remove links then it's going to take some time. :bleep_bloop:


    Now that you've made your point with your cheeky posts, perhaps you would like to edit them to actually remove the links?
  • Would a simple solution to this be to make the community pages accessible to members only?
  • edited November 2017
    @andrena98, I wondered about this. I think it's probably 99% members already but if a non-member wanted to ask the community a question before switching, restricting it wouldn't allow this.
    Whether this is much of a problem or not, I don't know.
  • edited November 2017
    Hello @Andrew at Bulb

    There's one potential change I'd recommend. There's a loop hole in the rules per @Will at Bulb 's post which is:
    16.4.9. As an exception to 16.4.8., Personal Links may be shared on Bulb platforms, or Bulb profiles on other platforms as a direct response to a non-Bulb member requesting a Personal Link, as long as the owner of the Personal Link is unaffiliated with the non-Bulb member.

    However it does potentially raise another problem. It's in good spirit (and I've even just done it this morning on a post with someone asking) - is it still leads to a lot of Spam. I think the rules need to be clearer to potentially say on the Bulb Community either a limit of one link (ie once the customer has got the response they needed, no one else is allowed to spam it) or strictly PM only.

    You can see it first hand here: https://community.bulb.co.uk/discussion/2164/anyone-want-free-100
    I was shocked to see no one replied all night, so I jumped at the chance this morning (who wouldn't say no to a chance of a free £100 and keeping within the rules and helping the prospect) - however as soon as I did the thread then got flooded with other users who also wanted to try and get their link out there.
    It should be either first come first serve (better user experience for the prospect), or forced on PM only. The only downside to the PM route is I'm pretty sure the prospect will get flooded with about 100 PM's by the end of the first day (the Referral scheme is that good people just cannot resist trying). The one benefit to people posting the reply publicly is at least then people know that users question has been answered, and that can be solved by a simple 'First to post' ruleset, there the lucky one who helps the member out first gets the link.

    What's peoples thoughts?

    I mean there is a whole other solution, which I know will not be good for referers and that's to offer the £100 (or £50 from next week) bonus to customers who sign up even without being referred. That way Referrals will only go to those who actually referred someone ;) As right now, a new customer signing up is missing out on free cash not to take a referral from a stranger!


  • edited November 2017
    @andrew1944, if it ends up as a first come first served, I beat you by about 10 hours as I sent a PM last night ;)

    I think it depends entirely on what Bulb decide the reasoning behind the limitations on posting are. If on the forum it's simply about keeping things clean, then I don't see any issue with posts being restricted to one thread.
    If it's to keep things fair, no links should be visible publically on any comments or threads on the forum as this gives an advantage to historic posters, or people who were first in threads.

    I don't believe that public requests for referral links should be allowed either, removing the hundreds of PMs/hundreds of thread posts issue.

    Bulb obviously consider it extremely good advertising (and so far it seems like it has been that) and have no issue with referrals not actually being people who were referred, but people have gone to find someone else's link to get the free signup bonus. Loads of referral posts everywhere makes the company very visible and shows that people seem happy with their decision to switch (even if some of them are simply for the prospect of free money).
    I don't personally believe that enough consideration of trying to be fair to members has been taken into account.

  • I mean there is a whole other solution, which I know will not be good for referers and that's to offer the £100 (or £50 from next week) bonus to customers who sign up even without being referred. That way Referrals will only go to those who actually referred someone ;) As right now, a new customer signing up is missing out on free cash not to take a referral from a stranger!

    I completely agree with this @andrew1944. I'm sure that was the purpose of the referral scheme anyway.

    If new customers can only get a sign on credit by using an existing member's link (and who wouldn't want £50/100?) that demand for links is what drives the touting behaviour. Take away the demand and the problem should become easier to control (in theory!).

    If Bulb is allowed to offer the credit without a referral it would seem a perfect solution, but perhaps there are regulatory reasons why it's not possible.
  • edited November 2017
    If Bulb is allowed to offer the credit without a referral it would seem a perfect solution, but perhaps there are regulatory reasons why it's not possible.
    I suspect there are no regulatory reasons but simply offering free money wouldn't provide the same incentive for existing members to encourage others to join.
  • @mowcius
    The current referral scheme would still stand, so in cases where someone referred a family member or friend (or even a stranger they accosted in the street) both parties still got the credit.

    However, if a potential member came across Bulb by other means and didn't know anyone to refer them they'd still get the £50 when they signed up.

    In those cases the new customer still benefits and Bulb saves 50% of the cost. This saving could be used towards implementing the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which benefits people who really need the help. Have you seen how many people have to choose between warmth and food in winter these days?
  • xxx said:

    In those cases the new customer still benefits and Bulb saves 50% of the cost.

    Currently in those cases the customer has likely decided to sign up on their own accord and doesn't require the temptation of a referral, saving Bulb 100%.

    The last figure I saw for member referrals was 30%. That means 70% of people signing up are getting little if any incentive to sign up other than the longer term benefits that being with Bulb may provide.
    Even comparison site referral costs are cheaper for Bulb to pay than the existing member referral system (but would be a similar cost to your £50 suggestion). There have been no percentage figures provided for those though.
  • edited November 2017
    @Andrew at Bulb, @Will at Bulb, this has maybe got a little out of hand again.

    I've also received a message on my wall from Ivano @id1 (since deleted by me). I suspect I'm not the only one.
  • @mowcius
    Could do with Mike Dean here (a not very popular football referee in case you don't know).
  • xxx said:

    Could do with Mike Dean here (a not very popular football referee in case you don't know).

    Being someone who's never watched more than a few minutes of football, I can't say I know who that is!
    I'll take your word for it that he would improve the situation though =)
  • With 200,000+ cusomers on the Bulb books now, it is time to make this a customers (or as Bulb likes to say: members) only forum!
  • Morning all. Lots for us to read this morning!

    "I don't quite agree that referrals should be for friends and family. If you want to take it upon yourself to wander around trying to convert random people to join Bulb, I don't think anyone should stop you doing that. Posting on the internet hoping that people click on your link is not something I'd personally consider to be referring though. Blogs and reviews are a bit in between, but if you write a post that convinces a load of people to join, should you not be compensated like someone referring in person?"

    This is how we feel too. We have some referrers who have been able to completely fund their own blogs, podcasts and other things through referral, which we think is really cool. And of course, in the interests of transparency, we're very happy to have more members join us too.


    "What if an indirect referral link is used, such as bit.ly/2zMIKYR - will it still get removed?..."

    We're manually removing them for now, so we'll remove them as we see them and whenever they're reported. We're improving our automated content filters with the community redesign that's on the cards too. However, link shorteners will always get around any content filters we have though, so unless we stop all bit.ly's from landing on the community, they will continue to get through, so we'll always have to do them manually. Obscured (HTMLified) links will be caught by content filters though.


    "Would a simple solution to this be to make the community pages accessible to members only?"

    I'm not a fan of communities where you have to log in to read them. It makes it a pain to browse, and you have to trust that there is something worth logging in to read before you log in. Plus, it can reduce the site's search engine optimisation, as a lot of good content isn't indexed in search engines. And if we make it visible to non-members, but only members can post, then we'd still get members posting their referral links.


    "There's one potential change I'd recommend. There's a loop hole in the rules per @Will at Bulb 's post which is:
    16.4.9. As an exception to 16.4.8., Personal Links may be shared on Bulb platforms, or Bulb profiles on other platforms as a direct response to a non-Bulb member requesting a Personal Link, as long as the owner of the Personal Link is unaffiliated with the non-Bulb member. "

    If this loop-hole is causing the community to be more difficult to navigate and use for discussion then we'll close it. We opened it in the spirit of allowing good things to happen (people getting help to a question they asked) rather than preemptively stopping due to worrying about abuse. I've had similar rules on other communities I've run have worked well. How would you feel about trying it out for a week or so with it open and see how it goes?


    "I don't personally believe that enough consideration of trying to be fair to members has been taken into account."

    I'm sorry to hear that :( What in particular do we need to take into consideration?


    "If Bulb is allowed to offer the credit without a referral it would seem a perfect solution, but perhaps there are regulatory reasons why it's not possible."

    There are no regulatory reasons, but there are financial ones, unfortunately. We already pay for non-referral sign-ups in some other capacity, either through advertising spend or by paying a price comparison website for sending traffic our way. Increasing the acquisition costs of non-referral traffic by £50 would make it too expensive.

    In some circumstances, we are able to increase our acquisition cost. The current referral reward is one of them. We wanted to give back to our community and for a limited period we can make that happen. On top of that, members who join us through a referral are more likely to stay longer and to refer themselves, so it's worthwhile for us to give people another reason to refer us for a short period.


    "This saving could be used towards implementing the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which benefits people who really need the help."

    Maybe this is a topic for another discussion, but it was mentioned here so I'll just say that we are currently working on Warm Home Discount. It's not something we can turn around over night, so we have hired someone specifically to make it happen.


  • edited November 2017
    "link shorteners will always get around any content"

    I would add a filter for the main known ones if I were you (e.g. bit.ly etc). Lots if resources to help like this https://bit.do/list-of-url-shorteners.php

    Alternatively you could manually moderate comments with links in. Nice to see these forums automatically add "nofollow" attributes to any links added.
  • edited November 2017

    Morning all. Lots for us to read this morning!

    We wouldn't want you to have a boring Monday!

    This is how we feel too. We have some referrers who have been able to completely fund their own blogs, podcasts and other things through referral, which we think is really cool. And of course, in the interests of transparency, we're very happy to have more members join us too.
    For me this relates to:
    16.4.9. As an exception to 16.4.8., Personal Links may be shared on Bulb platforms, or Bulb profiles on other platforms as a direct response to a non-Bulb member requesting a Personal Link, as long as the owner of the Personal Link is unaffiliated with the non-Bulb member.

    We opened it in the spirit of allowing good things to happen (people getting help to a question they asked)

    The question is only ever going to be "Can I haz referral link for free monies plz?". It doesn't seem to quite follow the reasons that you agree to about referrals just being for friends and family.
    As I've said before, if someone's got this far, they almost certainly want to sign up. Why should paying out more to them from the Bulb coffers be encouraged when it's probably not necessary? Those who are really determined will find a link somewhere else (and maybe read someone's blog about why Bulb is so excellent in the process of doing so).

    "Would a simple solution to this be to make the community pages accessible to members only?"

    I'm not a fan of communities where you have to log in to read them. It makes it a pain to browse, and you have to trust that there is something worth logging in to read before you log in. Plus, it can reduce the site's search engine optimisation, as a lot of good content isn't indexed in search engines. And if we make it visible to non-members, but only members can post, then we'd still get members posting their referral links.
    Me neither. There have been plenty of valid questions from non-bulb customers who would like to join but are looking to find out more about the company or clarify something about the switch.
    I do however think it should be obvious on the forums who's a Bulb customer and who's not.
    Once all Bulb members have been told that they can't post referal links on the forums and it's been drilled into them via email/notification pages (perhaps make it a permanent feature on the new post page?) then 99% of these postings will stop happening.
    At present you can still post a "question" from the main community page without seeing the post forbidding referral links.

    I'm sorry to hear that :( What in particular do we need to take into consideration?
    This was really in referrence to my comment just above that:
    mowcius said:

    If it's to keep things fair, no links should be visible publically on any comments or threads on the forum as this gives an advantage to historic posters, or people who were first in threads.


    Maybe this is a topic for another discussion, but it was mentioned here so I'll just say that we are currently working on Warm Home Discount. It's not something we can turn around over night, so we have hired someone specifically to make it happen.
    For those more interested in the WHD scheme. The main discussion is here

  • As old threads keep being dragged up and are still perfectly visible as top hits with certain searches on your search engine of choice, are there any updates this, and the fact that historic posters' links are being provided with visibility when new posters do not have such an opportunity?
  • @mowcius For the time being we are only removing new posts that are made with referral links.
  • edited December 2017
    @DanP, that's not been quite true though, there are a number of whole threads now that have been removed/cleaned up that were created sometime before this decision came in.

    What is the reasoning behind that though? Time required to tidy things up?
  • @mowcius Priority is the new comments as these usually relate to posts that are more relevant to members or more visible on the community. When new posts have brought up a whole thread and these have been removed, these have been done on an ad hoc basis. There are a lot of historic posts which would take a lot of time to screen through, so time is the reasoning for now.
  • Hi @mowcius keep flagging the historic posts that get dragged up and I'll split them off. Last few weeks have been crazy busy, but I'm back on the case now.

    I'm sorry we haven't come up with an automated way to manage this yet -- I agree with @Bulbilicious that it'd be rad if we had this policing automated. Would save me some time, and it would be faster than lil old manual me.

    Re: Trustpilot, we need to have a think about what to do. In theory, Trustpilot now removes reviews with referral links. In practice, many slip through. I can't spend all my time policing Trustpilot, but we may start disabling the referral links of the worst abusers.
  • Hi @mowcius keep flagging the historic posts that get dragged up and I'll split them off. Last few weeks have been crazy busy, but I'm back on the case now.

    Have you been training new recruits? There seem to be a few new faces on the block.
    we may start disabling the referral links of the worst abusers.
    Sounds like a plan. They know the rules (or will do).
  • @mowcius who's the best new "____ at Bulb" on the Community?
  • The best? @Clem at Bulb definitely seems to have made a difference, especially on evenings.
  • I'll let her know! :)
  • A bunch of referrals on this page, as it happens:
    https://www.trustpilot.com/review/bulb.co.uk?page=19
  • edited February 2018
    @AndrewC, I suspect 99% of the reviews on Trustpilot for Bulb include a referral link. It's going to be a long slog for someone to remove all of them (if it happens).
  • True! Though I didn't include mine in my review (aren't I an annoying smug boy!).
  • @mowcius I/Bulb need to have a think about this Trustpilot thing. My thinking at the moment:
    - There are too many reviews with referral links for me to disable the people's referral links. This would take me too much time, and because I probably won't be able to do it for everyone, there are unfairness issues. Relatedly, I view disabling referral links as a last resort.
    - I need to understand what more I can do in working with Trustpilot to remove the reviews. This seems simpler and softer-touch
  • edited February 2018
    @Andrew at Bulb Redirect based on referral URL? All clicks from trustpilot.com could go to whatever landing page you choose.
  • edited February 2018
    @phproxy, as none of them are actually clickable links (as they're not allowed on Trustpilot reviews), a lot of people will likely not end up at Bulb from Trustpilot once they've copied and pieced together the URL.
  • Ah, didn't look.
  • edited April 2018
    I notice there is one individual on TRUSTPILOT who continually deletes his review for Bulb and then submits exactly the same review with his referral details. This means he is more or less always at the top of the review listing so anyone thinking of changing to Bulb will tend to click his referral link. In fact he is currently at the top of the review listing.

    I should add that after I posted the comment above I contacted TRUSTPILOT via the "Notify Compliance" link and whilst they don't respond or give any updates on their actions to compliance requests I can say that within a very short time the review was removed from their site.
  • I imagine they're also one of the top referrers.

    https://bulb.co.uk/blog/six-reasons-to-spread-the-love-and-earn-some-cash-with-your-bulb-referral-link

    Making £45k would lead plenty of people to abuse the rules for their own financial gain. Disappointed that Bulb are celebrating those abusers rather than doing something about it.

    There's not a chance that you could refer 9000 people via means which adhere to Bulb's terms and conditions.
  • edited April 2018
    @mowcius I was also wondering about the £45,000 each paid to referrers. The person I had in mind regarding submitting TRUSTPILOT reviews with a referal link is still doing it. Today for example he uploaded the same review twice (the first upload was 24 April at approx 20:20 and the second at 24 April at approx 22:20) This means he will appear somewhere at the top of the listing so anyone interested in joining Bulb will have a good chance of using that reviewers referral link.. As an aside the 9000 people were spread amongst 10 indivudals, so on average 900 people per referrer, (900 * £50 = £45,000). still one heck of a number of people.
  • I think the top 10 must have been the very early joiners, where there was hardly anyone else with Bulb.

    At the present time, it's very hard to hit those numbers even with reposting your link numerous times. Even if that same person keeps posting on TrustPilot, there are dozens of others who are posting as well.
  • Possibly you are correct regarding the early joiners. This doesn't distract from the fact some individuals are now going against the ethos of not including their referral links on TRUSTPILOT. When first joining the rule not to post referral links on TRUSTPILOT is not necessarily known hence new joiners use their referral links in this way. But the individuals who continually submit reviews must know the rules by now. I have even seen some individual posting more then one review on TRUSTPILOT, they are not identical reviews but it means they get to publicise their referral links.

  • @Allanr, they know the rules, but Bulb aren't enforcing them, so this continues.

    The Ts&Cs also forbid everyone posting their links on Facebook posts and other social media posts by Bulb but that's not policed either (Bulb actively responds to some of the replies advertising links) so every single post consists of people spamming their links to try and get free money.

    I maintain my view that the way to resolve this is one time codes that can be regenerated from the website/android app/IOS app.

    That way it limits referrals to genuine ones, as the Ts&Cs require.
  • edited April 2018
    Edit: Duplicate
  • @mowcius @Allanr @shamsuddin Some of the main super referrers were indeed people who shared referrals well when Bulb was still a very small company. As there are many more people with links it might be hard to get those numbers again.

    It is a balancing act, trying to allow people to share Bulb whilst also making sure it is not an unfair system or one that breaks our Ts and Cs.

    Whilst we cannot remove member's referral links from places around the web, we can now block their referral link until they remove posts containing the links.
  • Whilst we cannot remove member's referral links from places around the web, we can now block their referral link until they remove posts containing the links.

    It seems like it would have been very easy to do this previously as well.

    Can you not also remove comments from your posts on Facebook?

    Has any action been taken against those serial offenders?
  • I'm sure DanP at Bulb has great problem policing the referral links on TRUSTPILOT, but just to say the individual I have been referring to has just posted the same review again plus obviously with his referral link in tow. I notice Energy Advisory Service UK in their opening introduction for Bulb reviews says:

    Please note:

    Please consider before you leave your own review for this supplier. Is your review genuine or, are you just leaving a review so you can post a referral link?

    We do not approve reviews which contain referral links!

  • Personally, I am happy that more people are joining Bulb at a faster pace due to referral links. As this injects more money into Bulb, giving them more money to develop new tech to make it a better experience as they don't have to spend as much on marketing.

    So I don't mind Bulb members posting links everywhere even on FB, Forums etc, however, yes there should be a fair system on TrustPilot not to keep reposting. But on any other platform, its fair game. Bulb would need a team just to keep track of this when they can spend that time on other important areas.

    I'm sure the early super referrers used everything in their arsenal to get more people to join, happy for them. I'm sure all of us on this thread, have made a few referrals. I don't want Bulb going very strict, where people will be afraid to post their links, in the fear that it may be blocked.

    Bulb could make a poster just to highlight, where you can post and where not too ie TrustPilot. This would make it more visible.

    What do you guys think?

    Cheers
  • The terms of Bulb are quite clear; see

    16.3.9.

    Personal Links may not be posted or shared on review platforms such as, but not limited to Trustpilot and Google reviews. This is to protect the integrity of reviews.
  • We cannot take reviews off Trustpilot and other places, only Trustpilot or the member can do that. We like to give member's chance to remove posts before we deactivate their referral link. Additionally, this is also balance of time vs fairness. We want to make the process as fair as possible but to police the whole web is not feasible.
  • edited April 2018

    Personally, I am happy that more people are joining Bulb at a faster pace due to referral links. As this injects more money into Bulb, giving them more money to develop new tech to make it a better experience as they don't have to spend as much on marketing.

    As I understand it, Bulb have removed themselves from price comparison sites to slow down their rate of growth as they couldn't hire/get new staff up to speed fast enough.

    We cannot take reviews off Trustpilot and other places

    But you can remove links from your Facebook posts right?

    Seeing as I can't hassle @Andrew at Bulb any more with questions, can we get a more official response on the situation and info on any plans/work in progress to change things if there is any?
  • @mowcius We are back on some price comparison websites to help grow bulb and share our message. We could if we wanted to remove comments from our facebook page but as these are submitted by our members from personal accounts we dont always see the need to. Trust pilot, on the other hand, is somewhere that we want people to be able to go and see genuine reviews from our members on their experience with us. We've received feedback that referral links all over this page reduce the apparent legitimacy of these reviews and this can be confusing for members or prospective ones.
  • but as these are submitted by our members from personal accounts we dont always see the need to

    Your Ts&Cs specifically forbid this, which is why I bring it up.
    16.3.10. Personal Links may not be posted or shared in reply to Bulb's platforms, or Bulb profiles on other platforms. This includes but is not limited to the Bulb Community, and Bulb social media pages. This is to ensure that these platforms remain a place for their intended content and discussions.
  • Yep, that's a good point. It's not always an easy line to draw, as we love our members promoting us, but the Community is intended to be a space to hold discussions & get questions answered. It's better and clearer with less links :)
  • @mowcius Bulb has a current offer with MSE offering new customers £55 without the need for a referral. It ends this weekend but has been running for a while.


  • edited April 2018

    Yep, that's a good point. It's not always an easy line to draw, as we love our members promoting us, but the Community is intended to be a space to hold discussions & get questions answered. It's better and clearer with less links :)

    People keep saying it's not an easy line to draw but as it's in the terms it seems like a pretty solid line has been drawn in this case.
    xxx said:

    @mowcius Bulb has a current offer with MSE offering new customers £55 without the need for a referral. It ends this weekend but has been running for a while.

    Ahh, interesting. Shows how up to date I am with things!
  • xxx said:

    offering new customers £55 without the need for a referral

    It feels a little bit like someone at Bulb should have looked at this before it was approved, and considered the community and existing members.

    Why can MSE (which has no loyalty to any company at all) refer a new member and get them more money than an existing member can?
    This just further reduces the community feel that Bulb has going for it.

    I get that it's cheaper for Bulb (~£70 to MSE rather than £100 split between two community members) but it seems like offering £45 to MSE customers would have had a very similar effect without the negative appearance to existing members.
  • @mowcius I like this idea. I suggested something on these lines to Will months ago but he discounted it.

    It's one way of attacking the Trustpilot abusers since new customers get the discount without using the illegal referral links. MSE splits its commission with the switcher so it's not getting as much as you're suggesting - they say 'roughly half' is given back but 'roughly' is not terribly specific. People can still refer their friends and family and get rewarded (as originally intended).
  • @mowcius and @xxx thanks for the feedback. We work closely with several price comparison websites and MSE in particular. This deal was part of their Big Energy switch event which is sent out to millions of people and we felt it would be a big help in our aim to spread the Bulb love.
  • xxxxxx
    edited April 2018
    Who has responsibility for taking referral links off the Community now that Andrew's not there?
  • @xxx it'll be Will and SJ, as admins - and the job of the rest of us to flag it to them :+1:
  • Ahh, @SJ at Bulb, ol' buddy ol' pal, how's things going? :lol:

    On a related note, should @ellie_at_bulb have some spaces?
  • Another blatant flouting of the Bulb T&Cs is the use of Google AdWords to promote referral links. However, the same same people do this day-in and day-out, without any sanctions.

    Do a Google search for "Bulb £50 off" or anything similar and there are always 3-6 Ads above and below the real search results.

    Why don't they have their referral codes deactivated?

    In the example below, the one that looks like it's a Bulb Ad actually goes straight to someone's personal referral link, which is very confusing and misleading.

  • Bulb has no desire to stop the abuse. Of course they could disable the links (as Will once proposed then quickly forgot about), but they don't want to.
  • Actually, @Will at Bulb have those ads been put there by genuine third parties or are they another one of Bulb's marketing experiments?
  • @xxx, if you follow the ads to the referral page, you can see they've just been created by members.

    It really is ludicrous.

    I'm starting to think that even single use codes wouldn't solve the issue. People will just get their websites to automatically update with a new code whenever someone uses the previous one.

    Anyone got any clever ideas of how they could actually limit it to friend referrals, if they were interested in changing it?
  • @mowcius But couldn't it be a dummy member account set up by Bulb to gather customers and save on referral bonuses?
  • @mowcius I see what you mean.
  • xxx said:

    @mowcius I see what you mean.

    Yeah, obviously not created by Bulb.
  • If @Will at Bulb's not too busy, perhaps he could weigh in.

    Would also be good to hear @Hayden at Bulb and @Amit at Bulb's views on the matter if they have a bit of time spare.
  • I'm fairly new to bulb. my actual transfer from my current suppliers to Bulb is on 2 May. My own observation from all the comments is that we should give the Bulb team a bit of a break from individuals on this forum telling them what to do about referrals. Yes we have the terms and condition which is quite clear regarding referral links, but if Bulb administration wish to turn a blind eye then surely that is up to them. If they seriously think there is a problem they only have to disable the referral link of any offending individual.
  • @Allanr, although I get your point, Bulb on many points have seemed very receptive to suggestions and have even made comments about how they welcome such discussion.

    There are a number of people (myself included) who are with Bulb primarily for their openness and willingness to listen to the community, not the cheap leccy or the environmental credentials. If they lose that aspect of the business, it would seem like they'd lose a large part of what makes them who they are.
  • @mowcius Thanks for highlighting the issue. I've raised this with Will so he should be chiming in soon.

    As a preliminary comment, with our growth the likelihood of referral websites being created will keep increasing, we are looking to stamp down on these websites popping up and we're working on improving how we deal with these.
  • we are looking to stamp down on these websites popping up and we're working on improving how we deal with these.

    To be honest, there’s no more than 6-8 Bulb members repeatedly using Google AdWords to promote their referral links. It’s not remotely complicated to identify them as they show up with any Bulb related searches with “Ad” written next to them. Take a screenshot, click on the link and deactivate the referral link. Job done!
  • edited May 2018
    @PSteve It's true that identifying them is simple and straightforward. We want to be fair to our members, so we look to reach out to them first to let them know about the rules we have regarding the referrals so we can steer them towards the right direction.

    In the past, we've been able to give advice to specific members on how to keep their referrals going in the right way.

    The idea of deactivating the link upon sight is a good suggestion. With the referral scheme, we want to ensure that any changes and responses we make fits the values that we set out to achieve.

    In terms of transparency, we're not happy that these websites are muddying the waters as feedback from members in the past say that it makes us look disingenuous.
  • I have two comments on what you say @SJ at Bulb .

    Firstly, the same things have been said for months now without anything changing, leading me to conclude that Bulb is happy with extending its customer base in this way. If you are, you are but just be honest about it.

    Secondly, you're right that the referral scheme reflects company values. If this is the image you want to portray fair enough; after all the company's three values are Simpler, Cheaper, Greener and nothing about behaviour.
  • @mowcius @Allanr @xxx @PSteve thanks for flagging these breaches to our terms and conditions, we've messaged those involved and if we need to their links will be blocked. While we love people sharing their referral link the use of our name and/or branding is prohibited as it can cause confusion.

    Again, we really do appreciate your help in identifying breaches like these and others that members such as yourselves have identified. It's a really important issue to us and if you spot or know about any other infractions apart from the above please let us know.

    Thanks also for all the ideas and suggestions regarding the referral programme it's great to hear what our member's think.
  • Do you wish to be advised of multi posting of Reviews on Trustpilot for Bulb?. This is where a review is removed and immediately uploaded again so that it gets to the top of the review listing, thereby making it the first port of call to anyone interested in joining Bulb via a referral link.

    It is quite easy to spot the multi reviewers.

    Obviously details of these multi reviewers would not made public via this Community forum.
  • Hi, @Allanr Trustpilot works slightly differently as we're not in control of what is and what isn't allowed and we've been working with them to address this problem. You may have seen that several reviews are under review by their compliance team.

    Again many thanks to everyone for letting us know about those advertising their link, we've already had a great response.
  • Hi, @Allanr Trustpilot works slightly differently as we're not in control of what is and what isn't allowed and we've been working with them to address this problem.

    But you still have direct control over the referral links which are being used to abuse the system. If the links didn't work, they wouldn't post on Trustpilot.
  • Again many thanks to everyone for letting us know about those advertising their link, we've already had a great response.

    Do you mean you've had a good response from those who have been using AdWords to promote their referral link? I've just had a look and nothing's changed. It's the same people that have been doing it for months, and all their referral links still work.



  • Hi, @Allanr Trustpilot works slightly differently as we're not in control of what is and what isn't allowed and we've been working with them to address this problem. You may have seen that several reviews are under review by their compliance team.

    Again many thanks to everyone for letting us know about those advertising their link, we've already had a great response.

    Thanks. Yes just looked again at Trustpilot and can see multi reviews under review by the compliance team. One downside to seeing so many under review by the compliance team is that anyone looking at the reviews for Bulb may think this was done because of poor reviews. Don't think much can be done about this other than the compliance teams undertake their reviews quickly so that the blanked out reviews can be deleted if found to be against their and Bulb T&Cs..
  • xxxxxx
    edited May 2018
    mowcius said:

    But you still have direct control over the referral links which are being used to abuse the system. If the links didn't work, they wouldn't post on Trustpilot.

    PSteve said:

    Do you mean you've had a good response from those who have been using AdWords to promote their referral link? I've just had a look and nothing's changed. It's the same people that have been doing it for months, and all their referral links still work.

    Silence from Bulb
  • edited May 2018
    Hi all,

    We've been discussing our enforcement policies here and this is how we'll deal with these in future:

    Advertising on Google, or other platforms that compete with Bulb: We'll immediately deactivate referral links and email the member to let them know why and what they need to do to get their referral link reactivated.

    Creating a site that uses our branding in a way that could confuse the viewer into thinking it's a Bulb site: We'll immediately deactivate referral links and email the member to let them know why and what they need to do to get their referral link reactivated.

    Posting referral link on Trustpilot once: We will do nothing. Many of these reviews are posted in good faith and retroactively cancelling their referral link will only give everyone a bad time while not doing anything to reduce the number of referral links on Trustpilot. It still remains against our T&Cs to post a referral link on Trustpilot, this is just our general enforcement policy. This comes after a few months of emailing these members, in which we've learned that 1) It upsets those members and 2) hasn't appreciably decreased the number of reviews with referral links.

    Posting referral link on Trustpilot more than once: We'll immediately deactivate referral links and email the member to let them know why and what they need to do to get their referral link reactivated.

    Hope this sheds some light. Let us know what you think about these policies.

    Will
  • I think this is a perfect solution, purely from my newbie to Bulb viewpoint.

    In jest on my part, there is silence from xxx
  • @Allanr That's because xxx is hoping that it's @mowcius who's going to highlight the problem with this policy.
  • edited May 2018
    xxx said:

    @Allanr That's because @xxx is hoping that it's @mowcius who's going to highlight the problem with this policy.

    :grin:

    @mowcius can't see any glaring issues with this policy.


    I would suggest however to @Will at Bulb that once a referral link has been deactivated, it cannot be reactivated.
    If a member is considered to have redeemed themselves then give them a new referral link. Abuse is likely to have not been limited to simply the observed location.

    Are you going to do any monitoring on referrals generally to detect abusers? That's probably an easy way to find out who's gaming the system.
    The personal referral link pages should also be able to tell you where the visitors are being referred from - Trustpilot abusers should be especially easy to spot.

    I suspect that Bulb will do nothing about removing credit from those who have abused the system so far which makes me a little annoyed, but whatever those users did, it's not really changed the situation for me. My balance is the same as it would have been had they not taken advantage of the system.
  • Right now it appears those advert links are still live.
  • xxxxxx
    edited May 2018

    Posting referral link on Trustpilot once: We will do nothing.

    @mowcius What about this?
    Unless someone sits making a list of referral names every day forevermore how can you tell whether a link has just been posted once or is getting reposted on a regular basis. The abusers will just increase the time before their link hits the top again to be less obvious. Trustpilot will always say it's their first post.
  • xxx said:

    Posting referral link on Trustpilot once: We will do nothing.

    @mowcius What about this?
    Unless someone sits making a list of referral names every day forevermore how can you tell whether a link has just been posted once or is getting reposted on a regular basis. The abusers will just increase the time before their link hits the top again to be less obvious. Trustpilot will always say it's their first post.
    I've never really used Trustpilot so was not really that familar with how the abuse was occurring there at present.

    If it is as you say it is, then I'd agree with you that the Trustpilot rules are going to do nothing. Sending out an email to all existing members, and all new members when they join, informing them that links are not permitted to be on Trustpilot, coupled with an instant disabling, would seem like a simple solution.

    There is then still the issue of >90% of the reviews about Bulb on Trustpilot contain links, which will all still be valid, making the whole situation unfair.

    And then there's Facebook and all of the other social platforms which are being spammed quite heavily still despite it now being against the terms. No mention of those in this update.

    Maybe it's time to have a radical rethink, scrap the referral links in their current form to make all current abuse no longer an issue, and start fresh with clearly defined rules for all members, and ideally a technical solution to limit abuse (maybe one time codes? @Will at Bulb :kissing_wink: )
  • This comes after a few months of emailing these members, in which we've learned that 1) It upsets those members and 2) hasn't appreciably decreased the number of reviews with referral links.

    @Will at Bulb The members who'd get upset are the ones who don't care if they're abusing the system. I think you'd find that disabling some links would have a less negligible effect than a few friendly emails.
  • When you first join Bulb it isn't obvious about not posting Reviews on TrustPilot with a referral link. I only became aware this was a no no action after joining in this discussion and taking time out to look at the T&Cs. I thought at the time it was a natural thing to use a link on TrustPilot to join Bulb.

    I know for a fact there is one indivual who continually submits his review to TrustPilot so that it gets to the top of the listing. it is then taken down after a period to then reappear a short while later.
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