Policies: Commercialism on VIN
October 15, 2013 (published)

Commercialism on VIN

Statement
VIN position on Industry
Rules for Industry People posting on the Medical Message Boards
Rules for quoting or using, in any way, information posted on VIN Message Boards
VIN Industry Neutral Content

Statement

What you are about to read is an example of true DEMOCRACY on VIN. :) This set of policies on Commercialism on the VIN Medical (Vet-To-Vet) Boards has been developed, within the staff and membership. There will likely never be a final version -- as these policies always remain open to evolution and input from any member of the Community.

Please note that this is meant to be a loose definition of the MORES of the Community and is not in any way meant to inhibit interaction or interchange. Controversy is always embraced on VIN.

If you would like to comment on these guidelines, or suggest changes, please feel free to e-mail Paul@vin.com with your suggestions.


VIN position on Industry

One of the greatest features VIN provides is open discussion of products and services.

Overall, the veterinary industry, like the veterinary profession, is honorable and well meaning. However, a few situations have proven that geographic and temporal isolation can make the veterinary profession an easy target for individuals or companies with lower moral standards than the veterinary profession is used to.

For the first time in history the veterinary Community cannot be "divided and conquered" by individuals or a sales force that chooses to take advantage of veterinarians who they think are not in touch with each other.

On a more positive note, the majority of the industry and individuals have found, within VIN, a forum upon which they can put their best foot forward and make great inroads into bridging the gap toward being ONE PROFESSION, ONE COMMUNITY. A step that makes us all more powerful and effective.

As such, ongoing interaction between veterinarians and veterinary industry on VIN has proven to be a major asset for all concerned.

To date, the VIN Community has been excellent at self-policing itself in the proper conduct on the message boards. From 12 years of self-policing have arisen the following policies.

REMEMBER!!!

These policies are not intended to deter discussion or recommendation of products you believe in or think need improvement.

However, in fairness, it is suggested that one should not recommend them over products that are similar (service, etc.) without mentioning the other products and explaining the reason for the preference.

If you are affiliated with a commercial interest, you may say whatever you like within your own folder in the Industry Message Boards. However, before posting on the general message boards (which you are encouraged to do), ask yourself the following question:

"Am I providing an informed neutral response?"


Rules for Industry People posting on the Medical Message Boards

The intent of rules governing commercialism on the VIN boards is to protect the open, unbiased and frank nature of the COMMUNITY interactions.

1.  Medical boards are not for commercialism. Commercialism is defined as promotion or sale of any non-generic service or product. Generic promotions, such as suggesting a low salt diet, are allowed. Suggesting a specific brand is not allowed, if you are affiliated with that brand. Stating a personal preference or aversion is certainly allowed from individuals not associated with any company that sells, markets, or distributes the product line.

2.  Responses to specific queries by VIN members about specific products is permitted. Individuals associated with any company that sells, markets, or distributes a product line have much to offer in the way of information and, as members of the VIN Community, they are welcome to contribute this information/opinion to the interactions. However, the information must be generic and not brand name oriented. An exception in which specific brand name responses are generally acceptable is when responding to a specific question (about the brand) that was posted by an individual who is not associated with any company that sells, markets, or distributes the product line.

3.  Products can be promoted ONLY in the Industry Folders. Anyone may purchase an industry folder and promote specific products in that forum. Please contact Paul@vin.com for more information.

4.  The VIN Community is self-policing. This means that any VIN member has the right to question the appropriateness of a post from an industry-related member by:

a.  Posting public concern in the VIN boards about a post in the folder in which it was posted. Such posts should be in an educational, not attacking, tone. The assumption should always be that the offending individual was not aware of the VIN rules of conduct. The goal of the response is to educate for the good of the Community, not alienate VIN members.

b.  E-mailing the individual who posted the message, using text similar to that described above. To e-mail the individual, click his/her name on the message board or within their profile in the MyVIN Console. A copy of this e-mail should be sent to the VIN office (VINGRAM@vin.com). Alternatively, members can e-mail Dr. Paul D. Pion (Paul@vin.com) and request that the message be forwarded to the member, or that the issue be addressed with the member.

Open discussion of the appropriateness of a post is preferred over 'closed-room' e-mail, so that the VIN Community may ultimately judge democratically what it would prefer as its rule.

5.  Initial commercial posting will be dealt with politely and promptly. In judging the appropriateness of a 'commercial' post, no fear of personal or industrial retribution will be considered above the ethics of maintaining open Community and communication in the VIN boards. VIN assumes that the poster of commercial material is unaware of the VIN policy on Commercialism and will advise the poster accordingly. Repeated postings of a "commercial" nature will be dealt with by revoking posting privileges or membership.

6.  Posters with a commercial interest should identify their affiliation. Anyone representing a commercial interest (personal or corporate) is expected to identify his affiliation when posting in the VIN medical boards on any subject directly or indirectly related to products in which he has a commercial interest. Ideally, it is best to include corporate or personal affiliation in your signature line, with full contact details of the commercial interest you represent.

7.  No individual or company may solicit, without invitation, business from another VIN member -- by phone, US Mail, electronic mail, or open communication on the VIN boards -- as a result of anything read on the VIN boards.

a.  The intent of this rule is not to inhibit VIN users from sharing and acquiring information that will assist them in product purchasing and hiring (employee or consultant) decisions. On the contrary, it is hoped that VIN interactions will stimulate healthy interchange and commerce for interested and consenting parties in the form of product sales, consulting arrangements, and employment opportunities.

b.  The intent of this rule, and all rules governing commercialism on the VIN boards, is to protect the open nature of the Community interactions. As the origin of a sales lead is difficult to ascertain exactly, this policy will be enforceable only after a complaint has been filed. If VIN receives a complaint that an individual or company is soliciting uninvited business as a result of posts in the VIN boards (or 'mining' of the VIN boards for contacts), the steps followed will be as follows:

i.  The offending individual will be contacted by phone, e-mail, or USMail by a representative of VIN.

ii.  The offending individual will be made aware of the intent that VIN remain an "open Community" above all and that his/her actions endanger the safety of that Community to the VIN user and staff.

iii.  The offending individual will be made aware of his/her rights as a VIN Community member to openly voice any concern with these policies and to contribute to the process of changing them in a manner which best serves the interests of the VIN Community.

iv.  The offending individual will be made aware that the offense will be aired publicly on the VIN boards and that documentation of subsequent offenses (excluding any initiated prior to the current communication from VIN) will be deemed as appropriate grounds for expulsion and exclusion from the VIN Community.

8.   It is the responsibility and right of every VIN member to question anything he/she reads on VIN. Nothing is off limits or sacred. The integrity of the information and interchange takes priority above all! However, the discussion will remain intellectual, reasoned and impersonal.

This is not to say that the information is guaranteed accurate. No one can guarantee the accuracy of medical information. VIN strives to guarantee that information and opinion will be openly presented and that the VIN Community will self-police itself, requiring the thought process, as well as the thought or alleged fact, to be clearly stated. The ultimate legislative body, policing force, judge, and jury with domain over such policy is the VIN Community.

9.  Inappropriate content or posts can be removed from open view. Decisions regarding removal of posts deemed inappropriate in content for VIN message boards will rest with the VIN Consulting Staff. Messages deemed inappropriate will be HIDDEN, not DELETED. The person posting the message will be notified and offered the opportunity to repost in a more appropriate manner, if the member feels strongly that he/she wishes to send the message, in a manner in accordance with VIN policies and the best interest of the VIN Community. The posting individual may also argue that the message is not inappropriate and, if successful in his appeal to the VIN Staff, the message can then be released again.


Rules for quoting or using, in any way, information posted on VIN Message Boards

As stated above, it is against VIN Community rules for anyone to contact another VIN member to promote any commercial interest as a result of reading them on VIN. This includes publishing comments from message board posts.

The rationale is that members need to feel safe posting -- and that their posting will not evoke commercial contacts.

At the same time, VIN and VIN members recognize that there are many occasions when colleagues and veterinary publications find information and quotes on VIN message boards that they would like to quote in newsletters, hospital documents, and veterinary publications.

VIN is happy to to work with all VIN members, industry or otherwise, to meet their needs. However, it must be recognized that once posted on VIN, the message board information is copyrighted to VIN.

In addition, it is VIN policy to request the permission of VIN members before using their words in any other format.

Therefore, because VIN has to give copyright permission and because it is against VIN policies for any VIN member to contact another VIN member for personal gain or commercial solicitation, it is essential that anyone desiring to reuse any content on VIN contact the VIN office (VINGRAM@vin.com) or Dr. Paul Pion (Paul@vin.com) to request use of content. Such requests to either reuse the content in original form or as edited by the posting member will be handled as rapidly as possible. Additional information about Information Sharing can be found in the Policy Document on Information Sharing and Privacy.

Without exception:

a.  the posting member must not be contacted directly, without permission of the posting member, and

b.  the content/quotes may not be used for any purpose (other than personal use or limited distribution to a few colleagues for noncommercial purposes), unless VIN grants explicit permission.

These policies are not intended to deter interaction. They have been created to allow VINners as much freedom as possible, while respecting their rights to privacy.


VIN Industry Neutral Content

Some VIN content comes from sources in Industry. This content is often of educational or informational value to VIN members. VIN is careful to avoid promotional or biased material from Industry. To guarantee this, when content is submitted by Industry sources, VIN Consultants or veterinarians in the field review the content to ensure it is balanced, informative, and "Industry Neutral". VIN will attach the "Industry Neutral" logo as a way of indicating our approval. However, if any member feels that the content has been improperly assigned this status, they should contact Paul (paul@vin.com) or Mark (mrishniw@vin.com).

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Friendly Reminder to Our Colleagues: Use of VIN content is limited to personal reference by VIN members. No portion of any VIN content may be copied or distributed without the expressed written permission of VIN.

Clinicians are reminded that you are ultimately responsible for the care of your patients. Any content that concerns treatment of your cases should be deemed recommendations by colleagues for you to consider in your case management decisions. Dosages should be confirmed prior to dispensing medications unfamiliar to you. To better understand the origins and logic behind these policies, and to discuss them with your colleagues, click here.

Images posted by VIN community members and displayed via VIN should not be considered of diagnostic quality and the ultimate interpretation of the images lies with the attending clinician. Suggestions, discussions and interpretation related to posted images are only that -- suggestions and recommendations which may be based upon less than diagnostic quality information.

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