Whoa, this is a HOT subject!
Just as a caveat - I have no issues with dealers joining the forum, as long as their identity and intention is made clear to everyone. We all have trusted dealers whom we are friends with. Everything is above the board for these guys, and we appreciate that.
However, I am put off by dealers who disguise themselves as interested collectors, bearing ulterior motives. Must admit that I was the victim of such a character a few months back, here in Singapore. I was asked to visit the said person's home to look at his collection and share some opinions. That was a bad mistake, but it was entertaining how he twisted and turned his view on keris (from esoteric emphasis to cultural/history/art) to fit my views on keris-collecting.
He also insisted on seeing my collection - which I firmly refused - because he wanted to take photos of my kerises (for what purpose I wonder
). He even pretended to take down some notes of my comments on why his newly-made kerises were not 'correct'. It was also very funny to burst his hot air balloon on some of his "magical" kerises which could stand by themselves (I balanced more than a few of his "magical" and "non-magical" kerises in front of him).
Anyway, my encounter was funny because the person was neither sophisticated nor knowledgeable in keris; he made a fool of himself. But had it been some else who knows his stuff, it would have been a lot harder to call the bluff.
Drawing the analogy to the forum, there are some such disguised dealers who are easy to spot. Others may not be. Some really ask questions in such details that we would have thought they were one of us. Some dealers also 'don't cr*p where they eat', to put it crudely, using the forum only as a source of info and reference. These are the bad dealers that are hardest to uncover.
However, I agree that some form of new rules would be better than no rules, and those proposed by Rick are good. I just wonder who is going to keep tabs on the 90days rule since a lot of new threads could have come and go in that period.
How about this - we can also look at a peer rating system in which fellow forumnites vote whether a fellow member is a "positive contributing member", or a possible "dealer in disguise" (there can be other categories/levels). This could require some tinkering of the forum programming. Votes can be given by each certified positive contributing member for every thread/post put up by any forumnite (members can only cast 1 vote for each post, once). Voting is anonymous. Accumulating a number of votes in certain categories would earn the poster that positive contributor or dealer in disguise tag. To prevent the rating system from being abused as a "political weapon" by factions/cliques/groups (which I don't think there are), I propose that the votes are only visible to moderators who can choose to endorse or ignore the tag. If endorsed, the tag appears below the member's avatars in every of their post/thread. To combat the possibility of the DiDs creating new IDs all the time, new IDs may be given the "stranger" tag or something, just to raise everyone's alert. The tags can be renamed to be more politically correct, but I'm just throwing up ideas.