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Author Topic: Companies paying people to say good things about their products on forums  (Read 41572 times)
mouser
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« on: February 06, 2006, 09:33:42 AM »


Article about Geurilla marketing and NVIDIA paying people to build up reputations on forums so that they can later say good things about the product:

Quote
About a week ago, The Consumerist stumbled upon claims made by various gaming websites (specifically, Elite Bastards and Beyond3D) that graphics chip manufacturer Nvidia, in cooperation with the Arbuthnot Entertainment Group (AEG), had seeded various gaming and PC hardware enthusiast sites with pro-Nvidia shills. That is to say, that AEG would hire employees to create ‘personas’ in various gaming communities, slowly building up the trust of other members by frequent posting unrelated to Nvidia, to later cash in that trust with message board postings talking up the positive qualities of Nvidia’s products.

http://www.consumerist.co...their-products-152874.php


[link from boingboing]
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2006, 09:38:00 AM »

Should this be a surprise? Given the amount of 'advertising' on the internet theses days (and the depths that some of these 'advertisers' will plumb) I would be very surprised if any possible method is not being exploited openly and covertly.

Add to that the large web-factions that have gotten 'religion' when it comes to browser wars, operating system, platform etc. then almost anything printed on a webpage should be taken with a pinch of salt!
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mouser
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2006, 09:40:55 AM »

i've posted this and made it sticky because i want everyone on this forum to pay attention to this completely outrageous technique of marketing.

the intention of DonationCoder.com is to be a helpful resource for the members of this site.
we hope also to be friendly and helpful to companies and programmers, especially small independent coders; especially donationware and freeware coders, but also to shareware authors.

i see it as a win-win situation when companies offer discounts and get some attention here, and members get a good discount.

i have my own personal opinions about software i love, and i expect many of you do as well, and we all want to hear when someone genuinely loves or hates a program.  i think the mini reviews by members are one of the great resources on the site (thanks zaine for making us give this a higher profile).


i have no reason to suspect anyone on this site would be promoting a program for reasons other than their own true feelings, but it needs to be said that if you say good things about a product and you have some connections to the company or some financial interest, and you do not reveal this fact, we would look on this in an extremely serious and negative light, and would take action to make sure that everyone knows such a company could not be trusted.

the same goes for the reviews, etc.  posting positive comments about a program in return for payment is wholly unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  there is always a danger of such things because companies try hard to get good word of mouth.  but keep in mind that if we find out such a thing has ocurred it will end up hurting your company in a much more severe way.


[note: this does not prevent authors or people affiliated with a company from posting a comment about their application or recommending it, you must simply make clear that you are affiliated with the product].
« Last Edit: March 30, 2006, 01:35:05 AM by mouser » Logged
allen
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2006, 01:31:13 PM »

Here's some followup on the story
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db90h
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2006, 02:51:05 PM »

Oh, you mean this is wrong?<g>

The number of companies doing this is larger than we could imagine.

The solution? Other than publicly castrating companies that get caught, there isn't much that can be done.
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Baseman
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2006, 12:08:30 PM »

Well...That's one way of making money from a pack of lies and dishonesty... mad...But then have you ever sat down and watched TV ads?...Especially the slimming  ads...All those beautiful girls with attractive  bodies, and body building guys... that they use in the ads? and they ask you if you'd like to look like them...by their product and you'll notice after so many days the difference... Come on give me a break...No amount of their products are going to make one look handsome, beautiful and young again like them ads on TV...So there are so many companies competing and always say their products are the best...Why not use natural, ordinary people and really get down to brass and tacks and see how the product really works?...If at all...
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2006, 01:27:04 PM »

Especially the slimming  ads...All those beautiful girls with attractive  bodies, and body building guys... that they use in the ads?

I love the ads for wrinkle creams with 12 year old models saying "I use xxxx and look I have no wrinkles" - it isn't a lie as such but ... give me a break.

It also annoys me when they use pseudo scientific jargon to sound plausible assuming that women are too stupid to realise it is complete bollocks!
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2006, 10:49:09 PM »

Tactics like these really piss me off! However, had known earlier: I probably would still have bought my NVIDIA® GeForce® 7800GTX!

Not only because it is actually CHEAPER than the competition, but because it delivers blazing frame rates and today’s most advanced features—including support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0, high dynamic-range (HDR) lighting, and NVIDIA® SLI™ multi-GPU technology. NVIDIA GeForce GPUs deliver the ultimate performance and ultra-realistic effects on today’s hottest games.
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Dell[a]
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« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2006, 10:16:17 PM »

well, i better get paid for writing that widget song....

<<giggle>>

 tongue
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Jimdoria
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« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2006, 05:01:14 PM »

This is not just a net thing, by the way, although the net certainly spawned it. It's the hottest new trend in the world of marketing. Using ordinary people to shill for products. Often the people are not paid for their "work" or are given some kind of token or pittance. Many people do it just for the thrill of it, or because it gives them some sense of power.

It happened when some marketing types observed that certain people in social networking environments (like Friendster) had more connections than others. These tended to be people who sat at the edges of un-related networks of friends. They also tended to be people whom others saw as trendsetters, and whom others looked to for advice. They were the "hubs" that connected many people.

The idea dawned: if we could get these people to push our product, it would be as powerful as having a friend recommend it, but even greater, because these people have SO MANY friends.

Now there are agencies that specialize in this kind of marketing by seeking out such individuals and offering them small incentives to push products. These stealth marketers then go around chatting up the products at family gatherings, club meetings, parties, etc. I'd guess there's an online component as well. It's surprising the number of people who have jumped at the offer. (Or maybe not surprising when you consider that the type of person who has such a large social network probably has many superficial, transient friendships rather than a few deep, abiding ones.)

There was an article in the NY Times about this a while ago. It's behind the "Times Select" wall now, but if you have access you can read it:
The Hidden (In Plain Sight) Persuaders

Many of the takers saw no problem with this relationship. Some considered it innocuous, if the product was something they liked, used and would recommend anyway. And some genuinely liked the idea of secretly influencing their friends to do things for their own benefit. I guess the spirit of Machiavelli is alive and well, even if they don't read him anymore.
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mouser
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« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2006, 08:52:50 PM »

recent blog post about bloggers getting paid to say nice things:
http://www.geeknewscentra....com/archives/006175.html

Quote
Paid Product Evangelist that hide they are getting Paid
I have a friend that is a pretty popular blogger, and I asked him today why he had been talking about a certain product so much. He confided in me that he was being paid to be a product evangelist. When I told him that I had never heard him disclose that he was getting paid to evangelize the product he said that his contract had forbid him from disclosing this.
...
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zridling
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« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2006, 02:03:46 AM »

Man I wish people would pay me to say the nice things I do about some of the software on my site, but that's exactly why I don't. I'd be like every other whore and take the money and write the glitter. What's worse than saying nice things about crappy software?

Oh yeah I forgot, this is it.

PS: Hirudin — tell us more, don't leave us hanging!
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« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2006, 08:26:09 PM »

When you narrow it down basically all it is, is a job. Do the job, get your pay (in what ever form).

People work to make money, so they do the job. This happens to be a very good job (that benifits companies alot)..  and it goes on all over the place, not to mention all the techniques involved, like brainwashing.. influence... Wink

Other than that I found this topic a good 10minutes of reading =D
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app103
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« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2006, 08:59:31 AM »

Here is a case where a company (Sprint) didn't get the great praise they had hoped for with the free phones they were giving away to bloggers:

http://www.joelonsoftware...om/items/2006/09/19b.html

Quote
Over the last six months, Sprint has been trying to get bloggers (like me) to write about their new Power Vision Network by sending us free phones and letting us download music and movies and use the phones for free.

That’s rather nice of them, but honestly, I have a really strong aversion to writing about things just because some PR person wanted me to. Basically, there’s no better way to make me not want to write about something than to ask me to write about it. I accepted the free phone because, gosh, well, it’s a free phone, but I decided that I simply wouldn’t write about it no matter how much I liked it.

As it turns out, I had the opposite problem. The phone they sent me, an LG Fusic, is really quite awful, and the service, Power Vision, is tremendously misconceived and full of dumb features that don’t work right and cost way too much. So I’m going to review the dang phone anyway, even though if anybody from Sprint is paying attention they’re going to lose their lunch and some executive bonehead over there is going to go nuts and I sincerely hope that this doesn’t put an end to the entire free-phones-for-bloggers boondoggle, because I’d hate to get beaten up at Etech next year by all the other bloggers who would hate me for spoiling all the fun.


Quote
When it finally arrived, the physical appearance of the phone was rather disappointing. If you’ve been spoiled by Motorola’s latest phones, or the seamless, screwless, elegant iPod, the LG Fusic will strike you as butt-ugly. Where a Motorola RAZR has a solid case made out of almost sensual matte-black steel that just feels great, the LG Fusic is made out of the cheapest kind of gray plastic, the same material you find on a $3 toy. Where Motorola goes to great lengths to hide the screws, and minimize bumps and seams, the LG Fusic has dozens of ugly protuberances, gaps, holes, screws, seams, etc. Worst of all, the LG Fusic has no less than three of those evil, flimsy, rubbery plug-caps that are connected to the phone by the thinnest of filaments. You know, those stupid rubber plugs that you have to pull away to plug anything into the phone, and then they just dangle there like chicken wattles (when they’re not getting in the way of the thing you’re trying to plug in) for a couple of weeks until they finally tear off. The phone is almost twice as thick as a RAZR. It comes with a break-offable front plate which can be used to change the accent color of the very front of the phone. Your choices are Barbie Pink, Barbie Green, Barbie Blue, and Black which would be the only stylish choice, if only it didn’t clash so badly with the rest of the phone. (Believe me, it is hard to make black clash with anything, but LG did it.) Overall this phone seriously looks like a Fisher Price toy, not a top-of-the-line cell phone.

Read the full review...it gets even better.  Grin

http://www.joelonsoftware...om/items/2006/09/19b.html
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dmd
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« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2007, 06:52:00 AM »

I really dont post here much but I should as I feel this is one of the better forums that I visit.
I am involved in Internet Marketing you know the guys you make fun of sometimes.   I run into this crap all the time and it gives many marketers a bad name.   I sometimes outsource work from places like script lance and elance etc.  and I constantly see jobs posted for things just like this,  I have a friend who is a writer trying to write that All American Novel and basicaly was going broke in the process.   Finaly his wife told him to either start making some money or get out (hehehe) He asked me for some help so I told him that many people are always looking for ghost writers and sent him to some of the freelancing sites.   Anyways to make a long story short  one of the jobs he had found was a Company was paying $2.00 a blog post to glorify their product.   He did this for a while because he is the type of guy that needs instant gratification and found it easier than researching and writing ebooks.  He asked me what I thought and I told him that I felt he was contributing to the trash that you find on the internet offering you to make 3000 - 5000.00 weekly.   I am not sure what he is doing now as far as work because everytime I tried to show him something it wasnt good enough and wanted to make money today.  He is basicaly lazy that way as he wants all the glory without putting in the work.   

Sorry I went off track here but, this is more common than you think, and is becoming part of SEO. There are companies that are paying people to post at forums just to gain the one way link.    Even if they say something crappy about the product and start a controversial discusssion, The company recieves the advantage of increased traffic from the forum post and the search engines pick up on it often resulting in a higher PR for the page that is the original posters sig file.   

Dennis
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TucknDar
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« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2007, 07:44:30 AM »

The sum of it is that you never know just how good or bad a product is until you've tried it yourself... huh
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« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2007, 08:27:21 AM »

That's true.

But to me it seems far more cost effective to pay a researcher to go through many communities and identify people who are already positive about your products, then once you have identified them contact them and see if you can turn them into enthusiasts, via freebies and attention. Or risk it and go for people who are opinionated and influential but indifferent to your product, and get them to try it.

Since these people could still decide to be neutral or negative about your product, I don't see why it's so wrong. Or is it that if you are a journalist for a magazine it's ok to review stuff you got for free, and keep some, but if you write on the web it's not?

I suppose the disclosure is all

PS: I alas have had to pay for every single one of my graphics cards
« Last Edit: April 06, 2007, 08:35:19 AM by iphigenie » Logged
app103
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« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2007, 09:23:48 AM »

I have been a member of a consumer testing group that does product testing & feedback for a number of companies, for a long time.

Some of these companies will even pay me to test and give them feedback, both positive & negative, about their product.

Sometimes I don't know what brand I am testing, but most of the time I do.

I recently tested some shampoo and conditioner of a very well known brand, for pay. (I am deliberately not telling what brand)

In the questionnaire I was sent, in addition to the usual product related questions that I am used to seeing and answering, there were a few more I have never seen before.

  • They wanted to know if I was an active regular participant in online chatrooms. (IRC, AOL, Yahoo, etc)
  • They wanted to know if I have ever recommended a product I have tested to people in online chatrooms.
  • They wanted to know if I would recommend theirs in an online chatroom.
  • They wanted to know if I have ever used a product on the recommendation of someone in an online chatroom.

I think in addition to getting feedback from me on their product in order to improve it, they are hoping (naturally) to turn me into a regular customer and for free advertising by planting the thought in my mind to tell people about it...specifically in online chatrooms.

Now I don't know about anybody else, but shampoo isn't something that comes up much as a conversation topic in the chatrooms I hang out in. And as far as recommending a product, I would have to really love it to recommend it to someone.

I don't see anything wrong with recommending a product you have tried and like...for free. But that is the key...you have to believe in it or your recommendation is worthless. The minute you receive pay to say nice things, your credibility will go down the drain with me, as soon as I find out about it. From that day forward, I will never trust your recommendations about anything, ever again. I don't like sneaky advertising and people that try to pull the wool over my eyes.

Being sneaky about it is worse than google ads on my kitchen table, relevant to current conversation, over coffee. It doesn't belong there.

But it did get me thinking, and a little paranoid now, about product info from friends...specifically in chatrooms. Are companies paying people to sway the topic towards their product? Are any of my friends involved in this? Would they even tell me if they were?



(if the creators of the Python programming language could stand to make a profit from chatroom endorsements, I would be giving tinjaw the evil eye, right about now.)
Grin
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« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2007, 05:00:38 PM »

This is nothing new. Many people don't know that alcohol companies pay people go into bars and order drinks and ask for a certain brand. They do it early in the night when you can still hear people talk. Then they strike up conversation and mention the drink. This is also true for cigarette companies. Night club owners are also known to send people to other clubs, strike up a conversation and then mention that they are going back to the club owner's club.

I can also say that I am taking advantage of a similar offer. I won't say what yet, because I don't want to start the conversation that will inevitably ensue just yet, but I will be reviewing some software and will have a matching post/thread on this subject.

As they say, Stay Tuned
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« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2007, 06:55:24 PM »

Internet is lovely for cheap hidden advertising/spamming. Mercedes Benz Denmark recently send out test drive invitations to handpicked bloggers - of course followed by encouragement to blog about the experience. May be just a bright idea by local marketing dep. who have noticed something about viral ads, product placement - but could be worldwide tactics. What does BMW, Samsung etc. and do?

Tech world has always been the worst, may be because it is tied so closely to internet. Not sure anyone care/pay attention to this - part of the game, to be expected. Nvidia, ATI, Microsoft or whoever - all in it together. Listen to latest TWIT 93, from about 48:55 and 1.5 minute forward, a tiny battle between 2 of them ending with "So tell me about the last time you bought a computer product Mr. Ethics". I assume he was among those who got free notebook from MS so he could review Vista. Nice that such poor people get a helping hand Wink This does not cause a stir, seen as a joke I guess. How it is in tech world.

PS: I alas have had to pay for every single one of my graphics cards

If you review hardware parts I doubt you are telling the whole truth. Ok so you pay but only 50% right? Wink Ive seen a few sites/reviewers making a big deal out of the fact they DONT review handpicked/sent items from anyone but instead go out and buy them from random shop. I think that is very uncommon.

All this reminds me of why I dumped a local tech site/forum - like a small Cnet. Started out pretty good but then someone noticed one of their advertisers were a well known convicted idiot who have cheated for years. Dodgy online shops, spamming you name it. He just asked how it could be they accepted such a sponsor and got into big trouble with ADM powers. At first they rejected any talk of a problem but after some pushing finally had to announce they did not care as long as they benefited, and then complainer, who I wished was me, got banned. They also are fast to make articles about products kindly supplied by X shop etc. etc. Same old tricks. Since much of internet works because of outside monetary influences no use in crying, cant be avoided - Google ads are here to stay. Matter of being able to look people in the eye and giving them facts - whatever they are. Full disclosure allowing enough transparency for people to see who have an interest in what or nothing - if none consider content advertising. Nvidias straw men were annoying because nobody likes the feeling of being tricked. Mercedes Benz invite got known because one of the bloggers did not have a driving license but she do have a podcast, heh. Did not like being seen as a tool. Others might see this as chance of getting nice rebate on next car.
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« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2007, 01:49:30 PM »

Where do you draw the line? If we say that you can't accept money for reviews, must we also say you can't accept anything of value for reviews? That is, is it wrong for me to accept a license to a piece of software in order to review it? I'm assuming this is OK (and I've done so myself), but how is the income I derive from free software different?

Of course, I have always disclosed any such arrangement. Is it simply the transparency that's important?
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app103
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« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2007, 03:18:19 PM »

Where do you draw the line? If we say that you can't accept money for reviews, must we also say you can't accept anything of value for reviews? That is, is it wrong for me to accept a license to a piece of software in order to review it? I'm assuming this is OK (and I've done so myself), but how is the income I derive from free software different?

Of course, I have always disclosed any such arrangement. Is it simply the transparency that's important?

If you are reviewing 20 applications in the same category, and 15 of them are shareware, and you receive 7 reviewers licenses, when it is all over and done with, how many of those 20 applications are you going to keep installed? Is the free reviewers license going to alter your opinion of the software and influence what you will say about it before you even take a look at it? Will that free reviewers license determine which you keep installed, if any? Would you represent crapware as the greatest thing since sliced bread just because you got a free reviewers license?

When I was researching screensaver software, I didn't receive any reviewers licenses. I tried many...uninstalled all when it was over...even the freeware ones.

What I ended up keeping was the one I had installed before my research began...the one I paid for a long time ago. Why? Because it is still my favorite. (mouser & I had differing opinions on which was the best...different requirements to base our opinions on)

If I had received a free reviewers license for all of them, it still would have ended up the same way. I still would have liked that same application best...and still would have uninstalled the rest. And the crappy ones would have still been crappy and I wouldn't have been afraid to say so.

I think where the line is drawn is where the intention sits.

Are they giving you the free license in exchange for good words about their product? (This is being paid)
Or are they giving you the license to enable you to give them a fair chance, to enable you to evaluate whether or not the extra features you get when you pay for their product are actually worth the price? (This is not being paid)

What about when a company doesn't know beforehand that you will be doing a review of their product, you like it and say good things about it, and when it's all over they surprise you with a free license as a 'thank you' for giving them some publicity?

You didn't say what you said in exchange for a free license...didn't say it hoping for one either. In this case I would think it would be OK to accept it. (this has happened to me only once, really surprised me, and I did add a mention of it to the thread I made about the application, which wasn't intended to be a review. I was just excited about it and wanted to share my find with the whole world.)

The bottom line is, YOU know what you are doing and why. Don't try to be sneaky and think you can fool us. Don't even think about it. You will lose all credibility and respect if it is found out that your intentions were less than pure.

Reviews should be done like a game of 'open poker', where all cards in play are on the table, face up, for everyone to see...there is nothing hidden, you can't bluff.

It shouldn't be done like a game of Bullshit, where everyone has to guess if you are telling the truth or not.
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« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2007, 10:14:40 AM »

Companies like :

Norton Antivirus
Quickheal
MS
Srilippi
Tally


Are sending thier full products in market to let user evaluate then once they get enough userbase they start doing rade on user ocmputers and ask for license payment & claim as they are not registered.This is trick to promote product.But For MS it is not working as very few people are upgrading to Vista in asia.Even MS sending their full iso for vista people can't handle vista on their low end machine.
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« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2007, 11:46:20 AM »

I don't post a lot, but when I post I am either trying to solve a problem or share solutions I have found or share my opinion about something I think is great.  I would not want to accept pay for saying I think something is great if it is not.  I also think it is bad to try to hide affiliations.  I started out on computers in programming.  Now days I do system administration.  I do sometimes post about products I love, like Directory Opus, but that is only because I truly do love the product and have been a user since the 90's when it was out for the Amiga.  It sickens me to think people would push lesser products just for cash, but I guese it all comes down to greed, plain and simple.  Very sad.  But I have found this forum to be great for finding things and the opinions here truly seem to be real.  That is great.  Thanks to everyone here for making this forum what it is; a place to be trusted, a place to call home.  Thmbsup

Leland
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mouser
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« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2007, 05:26:46 PM »

 smiley smiley smiley
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