Forum fauna: The Traveling Salesman (1 Viewer)


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The Traveling Salesman wants to sell you something. That much is obvious. Though some of them take the annoying approach of attempting to sell to you in a spammy, "hey check out this cool thing I just happened to stumble across," kind of way. This method is almost always as transparent as it is stupid.

The Traveling Salesman comes in two basic flavors, with variations and offshoots of each.

The first wants to sell you a product. A T-shirt, key chain, poster, bobblehead doll, baby bib, bottle opener, bus tour - or in some extraordinary and impressive cases, all of the above. They are easily ignored when they are up front about their motives. More often than not though, they exhibit a tendency toward obfuscation and camouflage, feeling that they can dupe the unwary observer into making a purchase based on "word of mouth."

In a bird watching forum: "Check it out, I found this great album related to bird watching, and it has some of the most awesome vocal performances on it...these people sing just like the birds!"

In a jug band forum: "This T-shirt is so cool! I'm going to wear it to the next meeting of the International Jug Band Association!"

In a beer forum: "Man, you just HAVE TO try this Teflon laser bottle opener! I used it over the weekend at the monthly meeting of the Foster Brooks Appreciation Society and everyone just loved it! I got it from this web site! <link>"​

Most people see through The Traveling Salesman and ignore or ridicule them. But in many cases they are not around to see the reaction, because their only intention was to post once in order to advertise their junk. In the rare cases where The Traveling Salesman does log in more than once, you can expect them to have a predictable reaction to any criticism:

"I DO NOT manufacture the Teflon laser bottle opener I was only trying to do you assholes a FAVOR! I will never come back here again to be abused by you weirdos!"

"What's wrong with pointing out a great item that people interested in bird watching would enjoy? I though this was a bird watchers forum??? You all just jump on anyone NEW and just because they like something you might like???"

"Yes, I make the Legends Of Jugband T-shirts, so what? I love jug bands and work tirelessly to ensure that they don't become extinct! But I guess some of you don't really care about jug band music, so I don't know why you are even here! You want to run me out but I am keeping you alive! I care! I care more than you do!!!"​

The last example illustrates the primary sub genre of The Traveling Salesman, commonly known as The Shilling Martyr.

The Shilling Martyr runs a small business whose success relies on the health of the forum topic. So, for example, naturally the jug band T-shirt maker has an interest in seeing jug band music thrive. If it dies, no one will want to buy his T-shirts. He may even have an actual interest in, and love for, jug band music. But mainly, he wants to sell you something.


The second variation of The Traveling Salesman are selling themselves.

Usually they are writers or artists, and they too often approach the forum under false pretenses, professing a love for their own work "as" someone else. What many of them fail to realize is just how easy it is to link them to their alter-ego(s). The results of such activity are predictable and fall along the same lines as the reactions to The Traveling Salesman who is shilling cheap trinkets.

They also fail to realize that if they had a genuine interest in the forum and participated, even a little, they would likely be able to openly shill and tout their own work without an adverse reaction from the home team.

In some cases this type of Traveling Salesman will enlist the aid of family or friends to extol the virtues of their work. They believe the use of this technicality protects them from accusations of pimping themselves. Sadly, the truth is a wife or sibling promoting your work without admitting their relationship to you is just more spam.

The Traveling Salesman would be well served by reading a few more "viral marketing" books and honing their incognito posting skills. Failure to do so will continue to prevent them from duping most people over the age of seven.
Are you saying that RB is not the most brilliant prison poet ever? I have been duped.



p.s. anyone know of a good bus touring company that can take me around LA next time I'm there? I can't find one anywhere... I want one that focuses on the literary side of LA, not the acting side...


"The law is wrong; I am right"
Spot on description!

They also fail to realize that if they had a genuine interest in the forum and participated, even a little, they would likely be able to openly shill and tout their own work without an adverse reaction from the home team.

Let's not give them ideas on how to sell their stuff here. :D
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mjp, you should publish these.

I see it now: Barnes & Noble staff all across the country working feverishly into the night; pulling all the vampire books off the shelves and replacing them with armloads of The Forum Fauna Encyclopedia.

Yup, it's got potential!
You get some funny travelling salesmen though. Over on literarymary there was a guy who shamelessly flaunted his plainly ridiculous work. I know he became quite offensive and pissed a lot of people off, but I found him amusing in a 'laugh at him' kind of way.

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