Unfortunately, it appears I have been banned from the site.
Honestly, this decision left me quite puzzled. In the interest of being open, I'm going to share with you the e-mail exchange I had with the site's founder (my screen name is rbcyclist, though I signed my posts with my real name), then explain a few things, and you can judge for yourself:
Sent: Thu, July 14, 2011 10:40:13 AM
Subject: Spam on KNEEguru
I am very unhappy that you are using my site, which has taken 13 years for me to develop the FREE content to my readers, in order to excessively promote the sales of your own book.
I have removed your account.
If you contact Google Adwords, you will be able to pay them for an Ad that they will distribute to all relevant knee sites for you, and put the matter into a proper commercial context.
And my reply:
I'm sorry that you feel that way, and it certainly wasn't my intention to "spam" your site. I wish that you had quietly approached me and asked me not to post any more messages about my book -- I certainly would not have done so. I didn't realize this had become such an irritant.
In any event, the reason that I did post so much about my book, and about the contents, was because I think the message is important to people who suffer from knee pain. My mission is much more evangelical than marketing/promotional, I assure you. I think there will be a dramatic re-think in the next few decades about treating knee pain, and it will center around the realization that damaged cartilage can heal, under the right conditions.
In any event, I respect your decision -- it's your site, after all -- and wish you luck in building the community there. It's good for knee pain sufferers to have somewhere to go to share ideas, feelings and opinions.
Okay, what did I do that was considered so offensive? Most recently, I started two threads over there to let people know that Saving My Knees was available through Amazon and then Smashwords (the first thread in January, then the second one six months later, in July). Within those threads, I had great discussions with forum members who were curious about my story and had their own thoughts to share. Sometimes I mentioned the book, but not in a promotional, in-your-face way (e.g., "Buy my book! It will solve all your knee problems! Only $9.99!).
One more thing: As part of my signature, I included my website address. So I would sign my posts, "Richard," then on the line below I'd add, "www.savingmyknees.com." But that's common for someone who has a Web site. I doubt that's a hanging offense.
Now someone might say, "Well, why start a thread in July that the book's available on Smashwords too? Isn't that a bit much?" Two things: (1) There are a lot of e-reading devices other than Amazon's Kindle, and Smashwords distributes in pretty much all formats. (2) On another forum that I belong to (chondromalacia community) someone asked if the book would be available for her Nook (which it should be now through Smashwords, though wasn't before), and I thought others might have the same question.
Even so, I admit it might have been overstepping the bounds of good forum decorum. If Sheila had shot me an e-mail and said, "Hey, I appreciate what you bring here -- I think your message of cartilage healing deserves discussion, and readers can benefit from an inspiring story -- but I'd rather not have this forum be at all commercial, so please stop mentioning your book," I would have apologized to her and stopped mentioning the book.
Now here's why I think the spammer charge is way off-base:
I started several threads over there. I had long conversations, if you will, with other members of the forum. My first thread was called "My Success Story Beating Chronic Knee Pain" and had a large number of hits. I wanted to share a message of hope. I wanted to inspire people by telling them how I healed. I wanted to warn them about bad advice I got from my doctor and physical therapist -- bad advice that they might be getting too.
If you were to read this long, long thread, I don't think your first impression would be, "God, what a spammer." And I don't think your reaction would be, "Yeah, this guy just wants to sell a lot of books." I think (and hope) it would be more like, "Wow, this guy fully healed, and he did a helluva lot of research, and experimenting, and learned a lot -- and he wrote a book and now wants to reach out and help others." (If you don't care to buy a book, that's no problem, as I've always said -- the blog's 100% free, 24 hours a day.)
BAD CARTILAGE CAN HEAL. YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIVE IN PAIN.
That's my banner message. I'd link to all my threads on KneeGuru -- again, in a spirit of openness, to allow readers to judge for themselves whether my posted content was too promotional -- but unfortunately Sheila has deleted them.
KneeGuru has a fantastic community of people. I wouldn't not recommend it now because of spite. Go there, talk to members, learn what you can about your knee condition. It's the best knee site I know of.
I'm a little disappointed that the site's founder didn't have the courtesy to send me a warning, "Please stop talking about your book or I'll have to ban you." I am left to conclude that she feels none of my posts over there contained any value to her community -- and honestly, that really, really puzzles me.
Because it's so obviously not true.
So there you have it. That's the full story of why I'm no longer part of the KneeGuru community.