These are starting to sound like advertisements...
I have to agree, and I think it's important to address this before it becomes a problem.
I don't mind ski resort employees engaging in discussions in the DCSki Forums, for example to answer questions that readers might have. It's nice to have easy access to "official" information, so I'm pleased to see resorts getting involved in these communities, and definitely encourage that. (And kudos to SkiMass for jumping in and directly answering readers' questions.)
But advertisements are not allowed to be posted in the message forums. Not only does it blur the line between objective editorial (which readers expect to see in the forums) and advertising, but it's also unfair to advertisers who pay money to support the site and advertise through DCSki's official channels (such as banner ads).
As with many things, there's some gray area between what's appropriate and what isn't appropriate. These are my recommendations:
- If someone is a ski resort employee and is posting in that capacity, s/he should clearly indicate that (for example, by including their title and resort name in their message signature)
- If you're acting in an official resort capacity, I don't see a problem with answering questions from readers or occasionally providing informational updates (such as "we hope to start making snow again Sunday night"). But offering an editorialization on the quality of conditions, etc. will be viewed with suspicion by readers, so should be avoided. That's where the perception crosses from being "informational" to being "advertising," because ski resort employees can't be expected to offer objective commentary on conditions.
I hope that all makes sense. I'm not trying to be critical because, again, I would like to see resorts engage in these types of forums, but I do want to make sure that there remains a reasonable line between editorial and advertising and that readers are very clear when they're seeing one or the other.