Home » Social Media » Dumpster Fire at KBoards?

Dumpster Fire at KBoards?

19 September 2018

PG just received a tip that a change in Terms of Service at KBoards has upset a great many long-time participants.

PG did some quick checking at this link and elsewhere and discovered a lot of people who want to delete their Kboards accounts and all their posts, but are unable to do so.

Evidently, the estate of the now-deceased founder and proprietor of KBoards sold the operation to a business group with which PG was not previously familiar. The new owners have changed the Terms of Service and several posts indicate that KBoards moderators are in the dark about what’s going on.

The new owner appears to be VerticalScope Inc., a privately-held corporation headquartered in Toronto. VerticalScope evidently purchases vertically-oriented web properties. The company’s website lists sites in the following categories:

  • Automotive
  • Powersports
  • Technology
  • Sports
  • Outdoor Equipment
  • Pets
  • Outdoor
  • Home Improvement
  • Hobbies & Collectibles
  • Health & Wellness

PG searched for KBoards on the VerticalScope website but was unable to discover into which vertical the company plans to place KBoards. PG checked the VerticalScope Press Release page but could find no mention of KBoards.

VerticalScope further describes its business strategy as follows:

We leverage our deep in-house expertise in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Internet marketing, and traffic acquisition to build highly targeted, successful online communities and websites. Our arsenal of tools includes a significant portfolio of irreplaceable, generic domain names we have acquired over the past decade. These domains drive organic type-in traffic to our web properties resulting in hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts arriving at our network every month by means of direct navigation.

Through targeted acquisitions and development, VerticalScope has built a portfolio of more than 600+ websites with more than 25 million aggregate pages of content and more than 105 Million unique visitors per month – and growing.

It appears VerticalScope lists its job openings on LinkedIn.

When PG checked, there were two job openings. Support Representative and Account Executive, (Digital).

Here’s an excerpt from the job description for the Support Representative:

Responsibilities:

Review flagged ratings, doctor verification requests, doctor profile updates and other related information
Clearly and consistently enforce RateMDs’ review standards
Respond promptly to users’ inquiries by email or phone
Triage requests and unresolved issues to the designated internal stakeholder group
Lead onboarding sessions for new clients
Troubleshoot and report site issues
Answer emails/tickets professionally
Research required information using available resources
Identify and escalate priority issues
Manage and monitor the forum for spam and user compliance
Assist with quality assurance and testing of new products and features
Contact and solicit feedback from churned organic clients
Generate and update patient, provider and internal facing usage, review and support guidelines
Generate and refine usage guidelines for forum users and staff
Take part in onboarding of new RateMDs support staff
Guide users through navigating and using the sit

Qualifications:

Post-secondary degree, diploma or equivalent
Strong interpersonal skills, tact and discretion
Customer service orientation
Ability to communicate clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing
A capacity for working well under pressure, meeting set objectives and capability to generate responsible solutions to day-to-day problems
Knowledge of customer service principles and practices
Knowledge of relevant computer applications, such as word, excel, vBulletin, internet explorer / firefox / chrome
High attention to detail and accuracy
Strong ability to prioritize and pivot as necessary
Ability to recognize and adapt to changing conditions, including re-definition of role as needed
Start-up experience, a plus
Experience in a health practice or clinic environment is an asset
Interest in IT, including internet media is an asset
Ability to learn quickly and work with minimal supervision
Understanding of forum communities an asset

And for the Account Executive (Digital) position:

We are seeking a client-facing Account Executive with responsibility for Sales Prospecting, Lead Management, Client Communication, Customer Service, and aggressive Revenue Growth for a defined Sales Territory.

Act as both a Social Media consultant and subject matter expert on our assorted products, services, tools and sponsorship programs
Manage a portfolio of new and existing clients with a view towards revenue and territory growth that meets or exceeds company targets
Interact with Ad Operations, Sales Support, Finance, Community Management and Editorial teams as required to execute successful online advertising campaigns and sponsorships for clients
Represent the company at industry events and tradeshows in order to generate new revenue opportunities and strengthen client relationships
Negotiate costs and terms of online campaigns with clients
Actively prospect for new business opportunities and ways to increase revenue
Utilize Salesforce CRM software to track daily sales activities and schedule appropriate communication activities with client base
Develop and maintain Revenue Forecasting and Sales Reporting tools as outlined by company policies and timelines

Desired Skills and Experience

2-3 years of Online sales experience, preferably in Media Sales
General understanding of Marketing, Advertising and emerging Social Media trends
University or College-level education
Proficient in MS Office, SalesForce (or other CRM) software
Above-average communication skills
Entrepreneurial skills, ability to thrive in growing organization
Willingness to travel and attend industry events/meetings across North America.
Team player with experience at collaborating with cross-functional teams
Cost negotiation skills and demonstrated ability to close business
Experience managing large and diverse portfolio of clients with varying sales cycles
Exceptionally well-organized
Interest and experience in the automotive or outdoor pursuits sector is a valuable asset

At the end of this post is a copy of the new KBoards Terms of Use and Notices evidently created by VerticalScope.

PG hasn’t had a chance to comb through this document in detail, but a quick scan revealed the following interesting (at least to PG) provisions. VerticalScope doesn’t include paragraph numbers, so if you want to see any of this in context, you’ll need to do a word search. Other than the section headings, emphasis is PG’s:

 

Submissions

By posting/sending a message in any public electronic forum on the Web Site, you agree to have that message along with your name and/or user name posted for public viewing both here and in other promotional and advertising materials and on other VerticalScope Inc. web sites, without compensation. KBOARDS.COM does not undertake to necessarily post every submission. All messages that are posted here represent the opinions of the individuals or organizations posting those messages, and do not express the ideas or opinions of KBOARDS.COM or VerticalScope Inc. You may copy the posted messages for personal use, but redistribution in any way requires the written permission of KBOARDS.COM. In consideration of this authorization, you agree that any copy you make of any message(s) located on this web site shall retain all copyright and other proprietary notices contained therein.

You represent and warrant that: (i) you own the content posted by you on or through the Web Site or otherwise have the right to grant the license set forth below, and (ii) the Posting of your content does not violate the privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, contract rights or any other rights of any person.

You agree to grant to KBOARDS.COM a non exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, transmit, sublicense, create derivative works of, publicly display, publish and perform any materials and other information you submit to any public areas, chat rooms, bulletin boards, newsgroups or forums of KBOARDS.COM or which you provide by email or any other means to KBOARDS.COM and in any media now known or hereafter developed. Further, you grant to KBOARDS.COM the right to use your name and or user name in connection with the submitted materials and other information as well as in connection with all advertising, marketing and promotional material related thereto, together with use on any other VerticalScope Inc. web sites. You agree that you shall have no recourse against VerticalScope Inc. for any alleged or actual infringement or misappropriation of any proprietary right in your communications to KBOARDS.COM.

. . . .

Preservation of Intellectual Property Rights

All material on this site, including, but not limited to images, illustrations and multimedia materials, is protected by copyrights which are owned and controlled by KBOARDS.COM or by other parties that have licensed their material to KBOARDS.COM. Material from this Web Site or from any other web site owned, operated, licensed or controlled by VerticalScope Inc. may not be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed in any way. Modification of the materials or use of the materials for any other purpose is a violation of the copyrights and other proprietary rights held by the respective providers thereof. The use of any such material on any other web site, ftp server or network environment is prohibited.

. . . .

Classified Advertising

The Web Site may include certain classified advertising services. When you submit a classified ad for publication on the Web Site, you agree that the advertisement as it appears on the Web Site becomes our property and you assign all ownership interest in the advertisement as it appears on the Web Site under copyright law or otherwise to us.

 

Here’s the entire VerticalScope TOU:

KBOARDS.COM

WEB SITE TERMS & CONDITIONS OF USE

KBOARDS.COM is owned and operated by VerticalScope Inc. of Toronto, Ontario.

KBOARDS.COM reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time, and you agree that each visit you make to KBOARDS.COM shall be subject to the current terms and conditions as published on our website at www.KBOARDS.COM (the ‘Web Site’)

General Terms of Use

By accessing KBOARDS.COM you are agreeing to be bound by these Web Site Terms & Conditions of Use and all applicable laws and regulations, and you agree that you are solely responsible for compliance with any applicable local laws. If you do not agree with any of these terms, do not use this site. Any claim relating to KBOARDS.COM shall be governed by the laws of the Province of Ontario, Canada. The materials contained on the Web Site are protected by applicable copyright and trademark laws.

Internet Etiquette

Electronic forums such as email distribution lists, web-based forums, and classified advertising lists that may be provided by KBOARDS.COM have ground rules and established etiquette for posting messages or material to these forums. Users should be considerate of the expectations and sensitivities of others on the network when posting material for electronic distribution. You may not use the Web Site to impersonate another person or misrepresent that you have authorization to act on behalf of KBOARDS.COM or any other party. All messages transmitted by you should correctly identify you as the sender. Any attempt to alter the system configuration, to breach the security of the network, to gain unauthorized access to other users. email accounts, or any other attempt at ‘hacking’, is prohibited, and will result in the immediate cancellation of all access and privileges and the possibility of criminal and/or civil charges being brought.

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

Throughout the Web Site we have provided links and pointers to Internet sites maintained by third parties, sometimes through third party advertisements. Our linking to such third-party sites does not imply an endorsement or sponsorship of such sites, or the information, products or services offered on or through the sites. In addition, neither we nor any of our respective affiliated companies operate or control in any respect any information, products or services that third parties may provide on or through the Web Site or on websites linked to by us on the Web Site.

THE INFORMATION, PRODUCTS AND SERVICES OFFERED ON OR THROUGH THE SITE AND ANY THIRD-PARTY SITES ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMISSIBLE PURSUANT TO APPLICABLE LAW, WE DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. WE DO NOT WARRANT THAT THE SITE OR ANY OF ITS FUNCTIONS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR-FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT ANY PART OF THIS SITE, INCLUDING BULLETIN BOARDS, OR THE SERVERS THAT MAKE IT AVAILABLE, ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.

WE DO NOT WARRANT OR MAKE ANY REPRESENTATIONS REGARDING THE USE OR THE RESULTS OF THE USE OF THE SITE OR MATERIALS ON THIS SITE OR ON THIRD-PARTY SITES IN TERMS OF THEIR CORRECTNESS, ACCURACY, TIMELINESS, RELIABILITY OR OTHERWISE.

You must provide and are solely responsible for all hardware and/or software necessary to access the Web Site. You assume the entire cost of and responsibility for any damage to, and all necessary maintenance, repair or correction of, that hardware and/or software.

The Web Site is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for trading or investing purposes, or for commercial use. The Web Site should not be used in any high risk activities where damage or injury to persons, property, environment, finances or business may result if an error occurs. You expressly assume all risk for such use.

Certain sections of the Web Site may allow you to purchase many different types of products and services online that are provided by third parties. We are not responsible for the quality, accuracy, timeliness, reliability or any other aspect of these products and services. If you make a purchase from a merchant on the Web Site or on a site linked to by the Web Site, the information obtained during your visit to that merchant’s online store or site, and the information that you give as part of the transaction, such as your credit card number and contact information, may be collected by both the merchant and us. A merchant may have privacy and data collection practices that are different from ours. We have no responsibility or liability for these independent policies. In addition, when you purchase products or services on or through the Web Site, you may be subject to additional terms and conditions that specifically apply to your purchase or use of such products or services. For more information regarding a merchant, its online store, its privacy policies, and/or any additional terms and conditions that may apply, visit that merchant’s website and click on its information links or contact the merchant directly. You release us and our affiliates from any damages that you incur, and agree not to assert any claims against us or them, arising from your purchase or use of any products or services made available by third parties through the Web Site.

You agree to be financially responsible for all purchases made by you or someone acting on your behalf through the Web Site. You agree to use the Web Site and to purchase services or products through the Web Site for legitimate purposes only. You also agree not to make any purchases for speculative, false or fraudulent purposes. You agree to only purchase goods or services for yourself or for another person for whom you are legally permitted to do so. When making a purchase for a third party that requires you to submit the third party’s personal information to us or a merchant, you represent that you have obtained the express consent of such third party to provide such third party’s personal information.

In no event shall KBOARDS.COM or its service providers, affiliates, associates, subsidiaries or partners be liable for any damages, including, without limitation, damages for loss of data or profit, or due to business interruption, arising out of the use of or inability to use the materials contained on the Web Site even if KBOARDS.COM has been notified of the possibility of such damage. Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion of implied warranties, so the above exclusion may not apply to you. This disclaimer of liability applies to any damages or injury caused by any failure of performance, error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, computer virus, communication line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, alteration of, or use of record, whether for breach of contract, tortious behavior, negligence, or under any other cause of action.

The information and opinions expressed in Bulletin Boards, Chat Rooms, or other electronic forums conducted on the Web Site are not necessarily those of KBOARDS.COM or its service providers, affiliates, associates, subsidiaries or partners and KBOARDS.COM makes no representations or warranties regarding that information or those opinions. Neither KBOARDS.COM or its service providers, affiliates, associates, subsidiaries or partners shall be responsible or liable to any person or entity whatsoever for any loss, damage (whether actual, consequential, punitive or otherwise), injury, claim, liability or other cause of any kind or character whatsoever based upon or resulting from any information or opinions provided in such forums.

Limited License

KBOARDS.COM hereby grants you a limited license to view on your computer, print, or download any content made available on the Web Site for which a fee is not charged, for non-commercial, personal, or educational purposes only. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing you may not make any commercial use of such content, either alone or in or with any product which you distribute, or copy or host such content on your or any other person.s web site or FTP server. Nothing contained in this limited license shall be deemed as conferring any right in any copyright, trademark, trade name or other proprietary property of KBOARDS.COM or any other party who owns or has proprietary rights to the content, information and materials provided on the Web Site.

Preservation of Intellectual Property Rights

All material on this site, including, but not limited to images, illustrations and multimedia materials, is protected by copyrights which are owned and controlled by KBOARDS.COM or by other parties that have licensed their material to KBOARDS.COM. Material from this Web Site or from any other web site owned, operated, licensed or controlled by VerticalScope Inc. may not be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed in any way. Modification of the materials or use of the materials for any other purpose is a violation of the copyrights and other proprietary rights held by the respective providers thereof. The use of any such material on any other web site, ftp server or network environment is prohibited.

Changes and Improvements

KBOARDS.COM may make changes, improvements, alterations or amendments in and to the products, services, information and materials contained on the Web Site including the terms and conditions of your use of this Web Site, without liability.

Jurisdictional Issues

Due to the nature of the Internet, it is not possible for KBOARDS.COM to restrict access to its web site only to those jurisdictions in which it does business. Some or all of the products and services offered on this web site may not be eligible for solicitation in your jurisdiction. If you are accessing this web site from such a jurisdiction, you should not consider anything on this site as an offer to sell or as a solicitation to the public to purchase any product or service from KBOARDS.COM. This site is for use only by persons residing in jurisdictions where such products and services may legally be sold.

KBOARDS.COM offers services and programs in many parts of the world. The web site may refer to certain services or programs that are not available worldwide. Without specifically limiting the offers made on this web site, reference to such services or programs does not imply that KBOARDS.COM intends to offer such service or programs in all countries or locations.

Unless otherwise specified, the materials contained on the Web Site are presented solely for the purpose of providing information to persons primarily located in Ontario, Canada. This site is controlled and operated by VerticalScope Inc. from its offices in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. KBOARDS.COM makes no representation that any of the materials contained in the Web Site are appropriate or available for use in other locations or jurisdictions. Those who choose to access this site from other locations do so on their own initiative and are responsible for compliance with local laws, if and to the extent local laws are applicable.

This agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the Province of Ontario and the laws of Canada and users of the Web Site irrevocably attorn to the jurisdiction of the courts of the Province of Ontario. Any provisions of this Agreement which are or may be rendered invalid, unenforceable or illegal, shall be ineffective only to the extent of such invalidity, unenforceability or illegality, without affecting the validity, enforceability or legality of the remaining provisions of this Agreement. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties pertaining to the subject matter hereof and supersedes all prior and contemporaneous agreements, understandings, negotiations and discussions, whether oral or written, of the parties.

Privacy

KBOARDS.COM appreciates and respects the privacy concerns of the visitors to its web site. Certain information may be recorded by VerticalScope Inc. and KBOARDS.COM as a matter of course by KBOARDS.COM.s servers in order to track the number of visitors to the Web Site and to help provide an enhanced online experience for the visitor. The type of information tracked by our servers may include the browser and operating system in use by the visitor and the domain name of the visitor.s Internet service provider. Collecting this information allows KBOARDS.COM to optimize the visitor.s web site experience. E mail addresses and other personally identifiable data about visitors to this site are known to KBOARDS.COM only if and when voluntarily submitted by the visitor, for example through the registration process. All personal information collected by KBOARDS.COM is retained by VerticalScope Inc. and/or KBOARDS.COM, and not sold or otherwise provided to third parties, unless there is a disposition of KBOARDS.COM or of part or all of VerticalScope Inc..s business. KBOARDS.COM sometimes uses email addresses and other personally identifiable information to communicate with visitors who have provided KBOARDS.COM with their email addresses. Visitors should be aware that when they voluntarily disclose personal information on bulletin boards or in chat areas, that information can be collected and used by others and may result in unsolicited messages from other parties, notwithstanding that this is expressly prohibited by these Terms and Conditions of Use.

Many of KBOARDS.COM’s web pages may place a ‘cookie’ in the browser files of a visitor’s computer. The cookie itself may not contain any personal information. Although cookies may enable KBOARDS.COM to relate a visitor’s use of the Web Site to information that the visitor may have specifically and knowingly provided, KBOARDS.COM does not do so for any sites specifically designed for and aimed at children. KBOARDS.COM believes that parents should supervise their children’s online activities and should consider using parental control tools available from online services and software manufacturers that help provide a kid-friendly online environment. These tools can also prevent children from disclosing online any personal information without parental permission.

Submissions

By posting/sending a message in any public electronic forum on the Web Site, you agree to have that message along with your name and/or user name posted for public viewing both here and in other promotional and advertising materials and on other VerticalScope Inc. web sites, without compensation. KBOARDS.COM does not undertake to necessarily post every submission. All messages that are posted here represent the opinions of the individuals or organizations posting those messages, and do not express the ideas or opinions of KBOARDS.COM or VerticalScope Inc. You may copy the posted messages for personal use, but redistribution in any way requires the written permission of KBOARDS.COM. In consideration of this authorization, you agree that any copy you make of any message(s) located on this web site shall retain all copyright and other proprietary notices contained therein.

You represent and warrant that: (i) you own the content posted by you on or through the Web Site or otherwise have the right to grant the license set forth below, and (ii) the Posting of your content does not violate the privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, contract rights or any other rights of any person.

You agree to grant to KBOARDS.COM a non exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, transmit, sublicense, create derivative works of, publicly display, publish and perform any materials and other information you submit to any public areas, chat rooms, bulletin boards, newsgroups or forums of KBOARDS.COM or which you provide by email or any other means to KBOARDS.COM and in any media now known or hereafter developed. Further, you grant to KBOARDS.COM the right to use your name and or user name in connection with the submitted materials and other information as well as in connection with all advertising, marketing and promotional material related thereto, together with use on any other VerticalScope Inc. web sites. You agree that you shall have no recourse against VerticalScope Inc. for any alleged or actual infringement or misappropriation of any proprietary right in your communications to KBOARDS.COM.

KBOARDS.COM reserves the right to overwrite or replace any affiliate, commercial, or monetizable links, posted by users of KBOARDS.COM, with our own internal tracking. You agree not to post or otherwise make available content that constitutes or contains “affiliate marketing,” “link referral code,” or “unsolicited commercial advertisement.”

In order to maintain an informative and valuable service that meets the needs of the users of the Web Site and avoids the harm that can result from disseminating statements that are false, malicious, in violation of the rights of others, or otherwise harmful, it is necessary to establish the following rules to protect against abuse.

You may not:

Restrict or inhibit any other user from using and enjoying the Web Site.
Use the Web Site to impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity.
Interfere with or disrupt any servers or networks used to provide the Web Site or its features, or disobey any requirements, procedures, policies or regulations of the networks we use to provide the Web Site.
Use the Web Site to instigate or encourage others to commit illegal activities or cause injury or property damage or interfere with business interests or contractual relations of any person.
Gain unauthorized access to the Web Site, or any account, computer system, or network connected to this Web Site, by means such as hacking, password mining or other illicit means.
Obtain or attempt to obtain any materials or information through any means not intentionally made available through this Web Site.
Use the Web Site to post or transmit any unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane or indecent information of any kind, including without limitation any transmissions constituting or encouraging conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any local, state, provincial, national or international law.
Use the Web Site to post or transmit any information, software or other material that violates or infringes upon the rights of others, including material that is an invasion of privacy or publicity rights or that is protected by copyright, trademark or other proprietary right, or derivative works with respect thereto, without first obtaining permission from the owner or rights holder.
Use the Web Site to post or transmit any information, software or other material that contains a virus or other harmful component.
Use the Web Site to post, transmit or in any way exploit any information, software or other material for commercial purposes, or that contains advertising.
Use the Web Site to advertise or solicit to anyone to buy or sell products or services, to cease using the Web Site, to visit another competing Web Site, or to make donations of any kind, without our express written approval.
Gather for marketing purposes any email addresses or other personal information that has been posted by other users of the Site.
You agree to indemnify KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. and each of its officers, directors, employees, agents, distributors and affiliates from and against any and all third party claims, demands, liabilities, costs, or expenses, including reasonable legal fees, resulting from your breach of any of the foregoing provisions.

You understand that we have no obligation to monitor any bulletin boards, chat rooms, web logs, or other areas of the Web Site through which users can supply information or material. However, we reserve the right at all times to disclose any information we believe necessary to satisfy any law, regulation or governmental request, or to refuse to post or to remove any information or materials, in whole or in part, that in our sole discretion are objectionable or in violation of these Terms and Conditions of Service. We also reserve the right to deny access to the Web Site or any features of the Web Site to anyone, for any reasons, including as a result of persons who violate these Terms and Conditions of Service or who, in our sole judgment, interferes with the ability of others to enjoy our website or infringes the rights of others.

To access certain features of the Web Site, we may ask you to provide certain demographic information including your gender, year of birth, zip code and country. In addition, if you elect to sign-up for a particular feature of the Web Site, such as chat rooms, web logs, or bulletin boards, you may also be asked to register with us on the form provided and such registration may require you to provide personally identifiable information such as your name and email address. You agree to provide true, accurate, current and complete information about yourself as prompted by the Web Site’s registration form. If we have reasonable grounds to suspect that such information is untrue, inaccurate, or incomplete, we have the right to suspend or terminate your account and refuse any and all current or future use of the Web Site (or any portion thereof). Our use of any personally identifiable information you provide to us as part of the registration process is governed by the terms of our Privacy Policy.

Copyright Infringement Policy

KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. reserve the right, but not the obligation, to terminate your license to use the Web Site if determined in the sole and absolute discretion of KBOARDS.COM or VerticalScope Inc. that you are involved in infringing activity, including alleged acts of first-time or repeat infringement, regardless of whether the material or activity is ultimately determined to be infringing. KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. accommodate and do not interfere with standard technical measures used by copyright owners to protect their materials. In addition, KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. have implemented procedures for receiving written notification of claimed infringements and for processing such claims. If you are a copyright owner who believes your copyrighted material has been reproduced, posted or distributed via the Web Site in a manner that constitutes copyright infringement, please inform our designated copyright agent by sending a written complaint that complies with the requirements below to our designated agent by registered mail or courier:

VerticalScope Legal Department
111 Peter Street, Suite 901
Toronto, ON
M5V 2H1
CANADA
mailto: legal@verticalscope.com

Please include the following information in your written notice regarding any defamatory, or infringing activity, whether of a copyright, patent, trademark or other proprietary right: (1) a detailed description of the copyrighted work that is allegedly infringed upon; (2) a description of the location of the allegedly infringing material on the Web Site; (3) your contact information, including your address, telephone number, and, if available, email address; (4) a statement by you indicating that you have a good-faith belief that the allegedly infringing use is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; (5) a statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, affirming that the information in your notice is accurate and that you are authorized to act on the copyright owner’s behalf; and (6) an electronic or physical signature of the copyright owner or someone authorized on the owner’s behalf to assert infringement of copyright and to submit the statement.

Upon the receipt of written notice compliant with the requirements set out above, it is the policy of KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. to remove the allegedly infringing material from the Web Site.

KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. will deny access to the Web Site or any features of the Web Site to anyone who is the found to be the source of allegedly infringing material and after a warning from KBOARDS.COM, continues to post allegedly infringing material.

Passwords

To use certain features of the Web Site, you will need a username and password, which you will receive through the Web Site’s registration process. You are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of the password and account, and are responsible for all activities (whether by you or by others) that occur under your password or account. You agree to notify us immediately of any unauthorized use of your password or account or any other breach of security, and to ensure that you exit from your account at the end of each session. We cannot and will not be liable for any loss or damage arising from your failure to protect your password or account information.

Classified Advertising

The Web Site may include certain classified advertising services. When you submit a classified ad for publication on the Web Site, you agree that the advertisement as it appears on the Web Site becomes our property and you assign all ownership interest in the advertisement as it appears on the Web Site under copyright law or otherwise to us. Submission of an advertisement does not constitute a commitment to publish the advertisement, and publication of an advertisement does not constitute an agreement for continued publication. We will accept only standard abbreviations and require proper punctuation. We reserve the right to edit, reclassify, revise, reject or cancel any advertisement at any time, in our sole discretion. Rates and specifications, if any, are subject to change.

Termination

We may cancel or terminate your right to use the Web Site or any part of the Web Site at any time without notice. In the event of cancellation or termination, you are no longer authorized to access the part of the Web Site affected by such cancellation or termination. The restrictions imposed on you with respect to material downloaded from the Web Site, and the disclaimers and limitations of liabilities set forth in these Terms and Conditions of Service, shall survive.

Social Media

39 Comments to “Dumpster Fire at KBoards?”

  1. The uprising, as it were, is centered in the Writer’s Cafe forum which seems to be responsible for the majority of the activity on KBoards. If that forum, which caters to authors and would-be authors, loses critical mass (i.e. there aren’t enough people participating to make it worth visiting) the entire board will likely collapse in short order. That would be a shame because I think the forum has played an important role in the emergence of the self-publishing community.

  2. As noted in one of the comments there, it might be the case that vertical scope isn’t interested in maintaining an active community forum, as they would have to hire moderators and constantly answer queries.
    Possibly, what they want is access to the 10 years of user provided data, so that when people search for kboards on Google, they will be sent to a dead end and might click on advertising which will benefit the site owners .
    A few things support this theory, firstly, they’ve told the moderators not to delete any user accounts, even if the users ask to have them deleted.
    And their customer support was, well, let’s just say it was combative.

    • They’ve been buying and killing enthusiast forums for over ten years. Talk on Kboards about getting the ToS changed or any effort to maintain the community were sadly naive.

      https://theadminzone.com/threads/verticalscope.39544/

    • One thing that occured to me is that the world of indie publishing is constantly changing, and as such it required constant updating to reflect the current world. As was pointed out up-thread, without a large number of contributing members adding new material, the forum will collapse.

      Kboards is unlike their other forums. An Automotive forum has legs as a 57 Chevy is and will always be a 57 Chevy, while the majority of the truncated material at Kboards is antiquated. Yes, its a TON of indexed content and they can leverage that into traffic that creates revenue, but unless its relative to whats happening today, its not as valuable as they might think.

      They’ll exploit the SEO for as long as possible and then let Kboards die.

  3. There are a few things in that research which might be a bit misleading if you’re not familiar with the company and some of its methods.

    First, the reference to “doctor” is not a verb, just to be clear, it’s related to the fact they host the RateMD site. I mention it because a few people out on the net found the same clause and thought it meant “doctoring paragraphs” i.e. editing with malicious intent vs. “doctor validation requests” = validation of requests by doctors to be on RateMD.

    Second, the company buys what they feel are under utilized domains along with all the existing content with the idea that if people search for X and find those pages, they’ll load the pages and see the ads that the site generates. Put a bit differently, they are actively buying pages of content that already exist and throwing ads around it to generate money. The rationale is clear — content expands hit counts. When I was under 500K words on my site, I could be in single digits for hits. When I broke 750K, my hits jumped into the 25-75 people per day range. When I broke 1M words, I’m averaging closer to the 100 mark. Not bad for mostly a personal site of interest to few. Now imagine, separate from regular visitors, how many hits they get when they start with 25K pages of content and thousands of hits per day? With each one loading advertisements and driving revenue. Free money, almost.

    Third, because they are “buying” the content of the sites and trying to monetize it, the wording of the rights grabs are probably a bit more aggressive than most, and while everyone in the Cafe may see malicious intent in the grab, and perhaps legitimately so, a slightly more innocent version is the company saying “All content is ours, so if someone goes to that page, or we move the permalink and republish it, or you wrote it 4 years ago and now want to delete it, we can say NO and you can’t sue us for the content being there.” Equally, some of these companies (this isn’t the only one doing this) like to curate the content, find some of hte popular pages, combine content into multiple new pages (equivalent of doing FAQ sheets without that heading), and publish the page. But all the contnet was already there, just repackaged, and voila, a whole new page to generate hits. But the company doesn’t want anyone coming back on them and saying “Hey, you pulled that together from a bunch of posts we wrote in teh discussion forum and now I’m suing you.” None of that necessarily violates copyright, but the lawyers for these companies have looked at what people MIGHT do to the new owners and put in wording to prevent it. The reason they’re telling moderators not to delete people is simple — when they bought the site, they bought the “intangible goodwill” that goes with it, which includes all the discussion content. Not much of a deal for them if the people delete all the forums and there’s nothing left but empty shells they could have created for free.

    None of which is to say I like them, just I know there are some companies out there doing this as legitimate business models and they’re not trying to loot helpless villages vs trying to find ways to keep communities going at lower cost while generating revenues around the content. A far cry from the scammers on Amazon, the real villains out there stealing stuff daily.

    Just some thoughts…doesn’t mean I’d post on them now. 🙂

    Paul

  4. every site ought give access to all one’s posts to delete as one wishes. Without question. I wonder why new group wont let people delete posts if they want to.

    I see the draconian content grab. That’s just wrong for all authors, commenters. Being treated like mules is not going to be good biz, just more of the me-mogul, you-yik.

    “who want to delete their Kboards accounts and all their posts, but are unable to do so.”

  5. To be fair, it started as a small trash fire, then became a dumpster fire, then a half-witted employee came on, told us we were trolls and that they didn’t have to erase anything (even with GDPR) and basically did the “nyah-nyah” we own your data dance. At that point, a truck full of high octane fuel was dumped on the dumpster fire and it’s now a five alarm blaze burning down all the houses.

    They bought the SEO. Ten years of golden, pure SEO. So…what can we do? Welllll, since you asked, many of us are going through and modifying all our posts with some statement that we don’t agree to the terms. Many are also putting a nice statement in their little profile, which now shows up on any post they ever made…including all those that get clicked by Google. Some are deleting posts individually, creating nice bounces for them.

    Honestly, once they said they owned all our data and could do anything with it, including our real names (say, for example, use Hugh Howey’s likeness and the words “I love it” to advertise a hard core porn site featuring only rape porn, because he once responded to a post about a new book cover with those words), we all knew it was danger danger territory.

    Oh, there’s so much more…so much more. But thanks PG for posting it! You’re awesome, as always.

  6. The ToS changes were snuck in and users were not notified of the change. There was no opportunity for users to decline to continue using the site with the new ToS.

  7. I had a quick look at the old terms and conditions using the Wayback Machine from about February 2017. Here is my 2 cents worth, but as PG says, the way to get legal advice is to hire a lawyer. The old terms I looked at were short and did not contain a rights grab. They did license the use of the material whilst it remained posted to the site only. Based on a very quick look and assuming I’m not missing anything it seems they will take a risk using older posts once they have been removed from the site. Anything posted after the new terms came into effect purportedly belongs to them. Every time you access the site you are purportedly agreeing to the new terms. They may even try to use this to claim copyright in the older material, though I think this would be a reach. If they don’t have assets in the European Union they’re probably not too concerned about the GDPR.

    Save and delete your posts and find another site. They’ve paid good money for this and will want to exploit it.

  8. I was wondering about what they could do with any of the material on the board. After all, it wasn’t like the writers were posting their stories.

    I’m just grateful I signed up and rarely went there. I hang out on the 20Booksto50K Facebook group, which is private and full of useful information.

  9. PG – Any thoughts on whether users who delete individual posts on Kboards will face any potential legal issues from the new owners given those TOS. I know you can’t give legal advice, but it seems to me that could be perceived as damaging an asset of theirs. Or does an individual’s ownership of what they wrote trump that?

    • Speaking as a non-legal person, it seems to me that as long as they give users the ability to go in and edit or delete our posts, they have no legal grounds to complain when we do so. If they were to remove that capability and someone hacked in to do it, they might have a case, but I can’t see any court ruling against a forum user who was using the tools the forum owner gave them, even aside from the stealth-TOS or copyright context.

    • Not a lawyer, but did have one look at this for me. Advice was to edit all posts to give nothing in terms of SEO and overwrite them by saving them using the tools provided to do so. They’ve eliminated our ability to delete our accounts, but left the tools for individual posts in place. Nothing in the TOS says you can’t modify your posts.

      Further advice was to hurry because once the posts’ accumulative value is noted to be decreasing, they might stop the bleed by taking away that ability.

      From a non-lawyer answer, I will say that research on previous board takeovers shows a remarkably consistent approach.

      IMO based on previous boards, this is all my estimate and allegedly and supposition and all of that.

      They don’t actually want us to remain. They go in, cause an implosion to people leave. Why? Because it takes employees and work to maintain the boards, but it takes far less effort to simply monetize a zombie board with golden SEO for as long as that SEO lasts.

      KB has golden SEO. Pure, long, loved by searches and recommendation engines alike.

      So, get high maintenance people to leave, but leave behind their SEO worthy material, then allow the “guest” users to find KB and see an increasing number of spammy, gross ads.

      Harvest.

      When that SEO finally runs out of juice, dump it.

      That’s the process.

      So, what do you do? Take your golden SEO with you. Overwrite your posts, or at least anything that might have search engine value, with something that clearly isn’t what the searcher wanted. Spiders will come and trawl because of the changes, see nothing good, and the SEO will go brassy and tarnished.

      • Having run and built many forums and CMSes over the years, it would be trivially easy for them to lock down the site right this second. All they have to do is remove write access to the database that contains all the information. Its one single setting.

        So, if they really didn’t want anyone to post new content, they could easily accomplish that without hurting the SEO of the site, and without needing to send employees in to “rile up people” and try to get them to leave. There has to be more to it than that.

    • Kboard User – You are correct that this is not legal advice or a legal opinion.

      I’ll also note that the new TOS designates Canadian law as governing legal disputes arising under the TOS. My comments are definitely not legal advice about Canadian law.

      Most TOS documents are designed to limit the liability of the person or entity which owns/controls the online property – “Don’t sue us if you follow advice that somebody has posted here and a disaster occurs.”

      A typical TOS will include a statement that it’s OK for the site owner to do what it has the technical capability to do, kick a troublemaker off the site and delete their nasty comments.

      As far as transferring copyright ownership of posts, comments, etc., to VerticalScope via a modified TOS, I have some substantial doubts that most US courts would recognize such a transfer as binding on both parties.

      I have even further doubts that if the TOS in place when a post or comment was made did not purport to transfer copyright ownership that a future modification of the TOS could retroactively effect a binding transfer.

      While there are numerous exceptions, under US law, a contract is typically formed when two parties come to a meeting of the minds and agree to enter into an agreement for some purpose.

      Again with exceptions, in order for a US court to enforce a contract between two parties, the contract should be in writing and signed by both parties. A party’s signature is a well-established indication that the party is agreeing to be bound by a contract. If you want to learn a bit more about this topic, you can go to Wikipedia and read the entry on Statute of Frauds – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_frauds.

      A typical TOS that just sits somewhere on a website will often have a provision that says something like, “By using this site, you agree to be bound by this TOS.”

      From the standpoint of contract law, this approach can be criticized on a couple of bases:

      1. It’s not signed by the user, indicating the user agrees to be bound by the TOS. This may be a problem under the Statute of Frauds.

      2. There is no indication that there was any sort of meeting of minds or intent to enter into that specific TOS/agreement by the user. If this is the case, a contract binding the user may not have come into existence.

      In some cases, in order to register for access to a website or post comments, the owner of the site may require some action on the part of the user – “Click here to indicate you agree to be bound by the Terms of Service” or “By typing your initials into this box, you are entering into the following agreement.”

      This approach is designed to avoid the arguments that a contract was not formed and that the user didn’t sign the contract.

      In the world of paper contracts, if a party could not write his/her name, they could execute a contract by physically making a mark with a pen, pencil to indicate their agreement to be bound by the contract. (X was commonly used)

      This same general principle applies to illegible signatures (like PG’s) on contracts.

      The argument is that hitting the Enter key or typing a user’s initials is equivalent to a valid signature or a digital signature.

      Circular 1 “Copyright Basics” published by the U.S. Copyright Office is a general summary about various aspects of U.S. Copyright Law. It is not the law itself but is a reasonable statement about the law from a reputable source.

      Here’s what Circular 1 says about the transfer of ownership of a copyright:

      “Any or all of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, or parts of those rights, can be transferred. The transfer, however, generally must be made in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or the owner’s authorized agent. Transferring a right on a nonexclusive basis does not require a written agreement.”

      Here’s a link to a PDF of Circular 1 – https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

      The U.S. Copyright Office has also issued Circular 12 – Recordation of Transfers and Other Documents

      Here is part of what Circular 12 says about transfers of copyrights:

      “Recording a transfer of copyright ownership or other document pertaining to a copyright with the Copyright Office under section 205 is voluntary. However, to encourage document recordation, the law confers certain legal advantages, including priority between conflicting transfers and “constructive notice” of the facts stated in the recorded document to the public if certain requirements are met.”

      . . . .

      “A ‘transfer of copyright ownership’ is an assignment, mortgage, grant of an exclusive license, transfer by will or intestate succession, or any other conveyance, alienation, or hypothecation of any or all of the exclusive rights in a copyright, whether or not it is limited in time or place of effect. It does not include a nonexclusive license. See 17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “transfer of copyright ownership”).

      A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance (for example, contract, bond, or deed) or a note or memorandum of the transfer is in writing and is signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or the owner’s duly authorized agent. See 17 U.S.C. § 204(a).”

      Here’s a link to a PDF of Circular 12 – https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ12.pdf

      Finally, here is the text of 17 U.S.C. § 204(a) (The Circulars described above are essentially the opinion of the Copyright Office about what the law is. The following is actually the statutory language)

      “A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner’s duly authorized agent.”

      Again, this is US copyright law, not the copyright law of Canada or another nation.

      PG has not reviewed the contents of the KBoards TOS prior to the sale to its new owners to see if there was any sort of signature process that could be construed to be a grant of the member’s copyright in and to his/her comments, posts, etc.

      On its face, the US statute cited above appears to require some sort of written instrument signed by the owner of the copyright in order transfer the copyright to someone else.

      Again, this comment is not a legal opinion or legal advice. You obtain legal advice by retaining an attorney to provide such advice to you.

  10. What does “vertically-oriented mean”?

    • Jargon for ” tageting niche groups” I guess. They do like the word.

      “What is a ‘Vertical Market’?
      A vertical market is a group of companies that serve each other’s specialized needs and do not serve a broader market. A vertical market is tightly focused on meeting the needs of one specific industry. A company serving a vertical market is focused on a single niche, for example, creating payroll software for start-up Internet companies. In contrast, a horizontal market sells its goods and services in more than one industry and is, therefore, focused on a range of business segments.”

      Read more: Vertical Market https://www.investopedia.com/terms/v/verticalmarket.asp#ixzz5Rfmr2f81
      Follow us: Investopedia on Facebook

  11. Verticalscope seems to be interested only in SEO and traffic to post ads.

    That said, they also provide content syndication, mostly on automotive news and reviews. Coincidentally, they happen to own more than 640 automotive websites, attracting “the largest group of automotive shoppers, owners and influencers in the online industry” (taken from their website, at https://www.verticalscope.com/automotive/)

    This is not to claim by any means that Verticalscope sells content from their forums, it’s just food for thought.

    Now, self-publishing is a much smaller niche. There’s no reason to suspect that they’d be interested in using the content, but the fact that Terms of service give them the rights to do so should give anyone pause.

  12. VerticalScope is a Canadian “targeted marketing” company. Their schtick is to buy web forums to “monetize” with targeted ads.

    They bought half a dozen forums I used to be a member of. Their typical MO was to do it in secret, then make a small post in the “forum help” or some other backwater area that “Mandy and Jim” or “Ellen and Steve” were the new forum support people. Eventually someone would ask who they were, and they’d give the canned “we’re VerticalScope and we’re going to make everything better” spiel. Then they’d start aggressively deleting messages asking who they were and what was going on, then locking the threads.

    I saw this happen over and over as they colonized and corrupted forums I was once an active member of. Most of those places are just dusty archives and link farms now.

    I know of two forums that managed to survive more or less intact after being Borged by VerticalScope; for most places, they’re the kiss of death.

    • Kboards now serving ads for Asian mail-order brides.

      I’m not sure that VerticalScope has a handle on the demographics of the verticals that are indy writers and Kindle owners.

  13. As previously stated, the brouhaha seems to be focused on the Writers Cafe board. How does this affect the Book Bazaar, where writers list their books?

    Way back, the Book Bazaar was promoted as a way to expose your books to readers. Figuring it couldn’t hurt, I posted about my first book, including a cover image, etc. I have now removed the information (I couldn’t remove the post itself, probably because there was a moderator reply to it), but it was available to VerticalScope up until this morning. Can they claim they own the rights to my cover image?

    Obviously, I’m confused.

    • Elise – According to their rapaciously stupid TOS, there’s an argument that they do own it. According to their rapaciously stupid Director, they *have* to own it because of liability. In reality, you’ve just overwritten it with something else, so what are they going to do about it?

  14. PG might be interested to know that the majority owner of Vertical Scope is Canadian media giant Torstar – yes, the same company that owned Harlequin, with all its infamous contract shenanigans, until its recent sale to HC.

  15. Good luck keeping it all deleted. All they have to do is restore it offline, remove user editing rights, put it back up.

    • That’s why the advice was to overwrite. An overwrite changes the data and the bin, but again, a reload would send them back to what they were before.

      While restoring an old backup pre-implosion is possible, it becomes sticky when people have deleted individual posts and loads of GDPR demands are on the server in public. It would require them to parse out which of the tens of thousands of posts were legit GDPR responses versus individuals picking through posts.

      • It is a good question what is the legal status of posts made prior to the sale vs posts made after the sale.

        I found in an SEC filing an example web site purchase agreement between VerticalScope and Crowdgather, Inc.

        https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1328670/000146929914000009/crwgex101.htm

        Posts would, I think, fall under the category of “web site content”, listed as an asset under the purchase agreement:

        “all Web Site content and databases currently associated with the Domain Name or Domain Names the “Web Site Content”);”

        yet there is no definition of “web site content” in the contract or under the list of “intellectual property”. Nor are the rights and duties of the users mentioned at all.

        • Ah, but regardless of what the sales contract between VS and the website owners says, if the owners don’t actually own the content–speaking to the copyright-protected posts of users–then they’re not included in the sale because the original owners had no right to sell them. No more than I could sell my neighbor’s house, even if I draw up a contract with a third party saying I’m selling it to them. If the TOS that the copyright owners (forum users) agreed to when signing up did not include a full transfer of ownership to the forum owner, then the new owner can’t slip in a new TOS without notifying anyone or getting anyone’s permission and suddenly have a rightful claim to the users’ words/text/images.

  16. What a trip.

    I signed up for the KBs in December of 2011, around the time I was releasing my first self-published work. And now, seven years later, going back and scrubbing myself through pages and pages of posts and threads and hopes and dreams… it’s like falling backward through my own past, old practices, old attitudes towards publishing.

    Half of my posts were from the 2012-2013 era, my “learning to walk the walk” period, and I don’t really post there very often now, but it was a big part of my formative period.

    Going through those old posts, scrubbing what I can… feels melancholic.

    • They probably bought K-Boards because it’s an e-reader device forum, and it would fit into their tech portfolio.

      https://www.verticalscope.com/technology/site-list.html

      They might not even know or care about the significance of Writer’s Cafe to the indy publishing movement. It woyld make sense to just let the most “disgruntled” users leave; they may have no awareness whatsoever of how their ToS change affects writers in particular and how much bad press they may have generated for themselves in a growing publishing sector.

  17. I’ve just been to Kboards after a long while, and the pages mostly aren’t loading. I guess their ads are fighting with my adblockers. How many users will this make give up, like me?

  18. Thank you for covering this, PG.

  19. At least it wasn’t CrowdGather who bought it. They’re the digital equivalent of slum lords, putting no effort into improving sites, doing just enough to keep them active and collect ad revenue. They turned writers.net into a ghost town and Writer’s Circle into a wasteland.

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