Tripme tripping up

The Tripme website says it aims to inform and educate on drug use. In some respects this is true, but by prominently promoting drugs – the use of and purchase of through advertising – it contradicts those aims, and in some respects is grossly misleading.

In reality Tripme is as it appears at first glance, a site promoting drug use. And it is dishonest about this.

From the Trip Me Rules/Disclaimer/Terms & Conditions page:

Tripme (www.tripme.co.nz) is an international website and message board that educates the public about responsible drug use by promoting free discussion. We advocate harm reduction and attempt to eliminate misinformation.

That sounds fine.

Tripme does not condone or condemn the use of illegal drugs. Tripme is a place for people to ask questions and educate themselves about drugs so they can make more informed decisions regarding their personal use. Other programs that advocate complete abstinence have had limited success, so Tripme anticipates that people will continue to use illegal drugs regardless of the potential health or legal consequences. We want to encourage people to take personal responsibility for the choices they make regarding their drug consumption.

And that seems be a very sensible and responsible approach.

Beyond harm reduction, Tripme also seeks to educate the public about drugs by summarizing whatever information is known about a subject. Tripme aims to deliver accurate information in an easy to understand manner that emphasizes safety. We also try to eliminate misinformation whether it exaggerates or understates the danger. If facts are unavailable, then honest anecdotal stories can provide useful information so people have an idea of what to expect.

Since Tripme seeks to reach the widest possible audience, we take a balanced approach that allows the discussion of both the positive and negative aspects of drug use. We believe that education and harm reduction are more effective than using scare tactics or exaggerating negative claims. Anyone looking through our site will be able to find examples of irresponsible behavior, but we believe it does not glorify recklessness but instead reinforces the idea that people need to be more cautious.

Great.

But there are a couple of major flaws tripping the website up.

Free speech

The opening paragraph of their Rules page…

Tripme…educates the public about responsible drug use by promoting free discussion.

…highlighted in Forum Rules…

Speak your mind here at Tripme. Make use of the right to free speech.

…but…

By viewing Tripme.co.nz you agree that you are not an investigator, reporter, member of any National or International government agencies or Police force that intends to disrupt the community efforts at harm minimization and drug safety.

If you do not totally agree with the above statement you MUST leave this website now.

That seems to be uttering hypocrisy. Free speech and information allowed, but only if you’re on their side.

Funding and advertising

Tripme is funded by private donations and maintained by a team of volunteers.

And…

This website is for educational and informational purposes only.

That is extremely dishonest.

The banner for the Tripme website and prominent animated advertsing on the website links to a drug sales website:

TOP QUALITY LEGAL HIGHS AND SYNTHETIC CANNABIS IN NEW ZEALAND

And pill ‘reviews’ have multiple links directly to sales sites of those pills:

Party Pill Review: Hypnotic

Okay, this is my first time on a pill with Glaucine. Glaucine is a yellow horned poppy extract said to be very mildly psychedelic and quite sedative. I dropped two of these hypnotics (which is the recommended dose for a bigger person).

Starts off more relaxed, with some stimulation. Little urge to do anything. As it first starts, I’m thinking, this is nice, smooth relaxed, and have high hopes this is smoother feeling.

As it kicks in more fully, I feel kinda spacey, waves of relaxation and stimulation, quite strong and light headed….Kinda giddy relaxed feeling hit me like a wall, couldn’t keep writing the reveiw for a bit, mangled, spacey, sedated & had to just sit! So the come up is very quick…

Click Here to Buy Online or …

Etc, to the end of the review…

You can Buy Hypnotic Party Pill Online from our Sponsor xxx

(I’ve removed the links because I’m not going to assist advertising).

It’s very obvious that Tripme is not just a drug education site funded by donations. It has prominent and direct links to drug sellers and admits being sponsored by commercial operations.

Tripme appears to be doing some things very well and responsibly, including:

  • Many of their stated aims are laudable
  • Age restriction (although it’s not prominent)
  • Warnings about the affect of drugs on young people
  • Forums on addiction and depression support

But Tripme is promoting the use of drugs by prominently advertising them. This severely compromises the site’s stated aims of education and balanced information.

 

Leave a comment

18 Comments

  1. Couple of things… all views are welcome on tripme what’s not welcome is anyone who “intends to disrupt the community efforts at harm minimization.” I believe you’ve misinterpreted that part.

    I’m also not sure their advertising is as bad as you’re making out… in the forum, the heart of the site there’s no banner taking you to PPH only the occassional” signature” advert which, considering we’re on the internet here, seems fairly non-invasive.

    Then there’s your strange claim that tripme can’t educate people while accepting sponsorship from a “legal highs” distributor. Does this also hold true for the “it’s not the drinking it’s how you’re drinking” adverts? Are they a contradiction because they’re funded with money from one of NZ’s most dangerous drug?

    I understand this article may be a reactionary piece. You seem have recently engaged in a twitter exchange with a member of the site so maybe there’s a personal angle people should be aware of here. It seems to me that you’re searching awfuly hard for something to be outraged about. Please feel free to come interact with the community a bit and I think you’ll see a lot of education and balanced information and very little product promotion.

    Frenzal
    – A forum moderator at tripme.co.nz

    Reply
    • Thanks for responding, I’m more than happy to engage.

      “I’m also not sure their advertising is as bad as you’re making out… in the forum, the heart of the site…”

      But a large banner on the site’s main pages is in your face advertising, as is the side bar animated advertising. Claiming “Tripme is funded by private donations” is misleading.

      “Then there’s your strange claim that tripme can’t educate people ”

      I didn’t claim that, I said ” that seems be a very sensible and responsible approach” and “Many of their stated aims are laudable” and I praised “Forums on addiction and depression support”.

      But Tripme is obviously not “for educational and informational purposes only.” Advertising drug sales is a prominent part of the site.

      If you modified your stated rules etc to reflect what you are actually doing, and had links to ALAC and http://www.drughelp.org.nz and http://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/ as prominent as your advertising (perhaps you could get sponsorship from them) then you would be better seen to be doing what you claim.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the reply Pete,

        First off lets clarify that I’m a forum moderator and have no commercial interest in Party Pill Highs other than them very occasionally sending me free samples in exchange for writing articles and keeping the place tidy and spam free. With the amount of time I invest I very much feel I’m one of the private donators that keep the site running.

        Apart from that I’m not sure how much PPH contributes, I don’t think it’s much more than server costs, if that. The other admin all have unrelated day jobs as far as I know. Please don’t make the place out to be an advertising billboard masquerading as a harm reduction community, that’s dishonest. Spend some time and you’ll see we’re very much a commmunity that simply has to fund itself somehow. I think Ross Bell and a couple of the other official channels have been tried but unfortunately they had their own internet community projects and not much interest in cooperation with an unofficial and rough around the edges forum like ours.

        So, I disagree that the advertising is “in your face” or a prominent part of the site. It’s certainly more subtle than the general tone of internet advertising and as I’ve already noted most users of the site interact striclty through the forums, where if you come visit you can see that the part PPH plays in funding the site is pretty transparent and doesn’t “compromise” their ability to educate and inform people as you seemed to infer.

        As Jack points out below, I think you’ve got the wrong idea of the site if you think we’re worried about being seen to be doing what we claim. We’re a much more practical bunch than that and the proof is in the community not the about section or the rules or the fine print at the bottom of the front page. Those things are window dressing.

        Thanks for the menton, I can only imagine that your blog audience doesn’t much overlap with tripme’s usual demographic and if this discussion promotes some trade of ideas and a visit or two from people who otherwise wouldn’t of known we existed then it can only be good for all involved.

        Reply
      • I take accept word that most activity on tripme is on the forums, rather than the front end (and what I’ve seen supports this).

        But anyone looking at Trip me for the first time is likely to have a look at the front end and will see what I say, a clear connect between discussing drugs and selling them, despite what how the site describes itself. If I’ve got the wrong idea it’s because of how the site is presented.

        It may be that how the site is operated has evolved from what it was. If so perhaps the site description sould be updated.

        You’re probably right that there’s little overlap between our online bubbles. My blog has a small audience but my activity extends out into the wider political blogosphere and social media so I’ve got wider reach that way.

        There’s been a lot of discussion there on alcohol use, legislation and problems, and a bit on the proposed drug law changes, some from time to time on cannabis use but not much on the use of legal highs and party pills.

        I personally think we have to have a much tougher look at alcohol use from a personal, family and community level (expecting Government to fix things is an excuse to not deal with things). And I think it’s time to have a major discussion on the laws on and use of cannabis and other drugs. So perhaps if there’s topics on Tripme that would benefit from a wider audience then I’d possibly look at assisting that. I hadn’t been aware of Tripme, now if I have time I’ll keep an eye on it.

        I have minor connections in politics but I operate online independently. My main aim is to promote better debate and a better connection between people and politicians, and a better use of our democracy.

        This exchange started because of what I still think was a half arsed attack and subsequent “alcohol is crap and these other drugs are better so we should trash alcohol and anyone connected with it and promote what we like” approach. I don’t think that’s helpful for decent debate and for making progress where it matters, it’s detrimental.

        So I look for good topics to debate and try and deal with them robustly but reasonably. But I’ll also call crap as I see as it, as I did in this case.

        Reply
  2. Jack

     /  16th December 2012

    ‘Better seen to be doing what you claim’? I have a feeling you scanned the website with your eyes firmly closed and mind made up. TripMe is a website jam packed with a whole lot of information about dangers, safety, guidelines and help. Some of the information on the site you cannot find anywhere else, it is an excellent forum for all generations.

    Also the websites you provide are helpful, i will admit that but at the same time they are intimidating and quite confusing to use, a large lack of information too …

    Oh wait i did find the part about how dangerous alcohol is bahaha
    http://www.drughelp.org.nz/a-bit-about-drugs/alcohol

    Reply
    • I’ve said about ten times that I’m well ware of the dangers of alcohol. Trashing one drug and claiming it’s proven to be worse than your own preference is a really dumb way of trying to gain approval for your own drug.

      Alcohol is a different case because of considerable historical differences and the degree it is established in modern law, society and business. It doesn’t matter if it’s more or less dangerous, it’s very different in a practical senses dealing with it compared to new drugs.

      Reply
  3. nZek54

     /  16th December 2012

    “Trashing one drug and claiming it’s proven to be worse than your own preference is a really dumb way of trying to gain approval for your own drug.”

    The thing is, no one actually mentioned other drugs in the twitter exchange, only people disagreeing with Peter Dunnes choice of words, and that he sounded hypocritical because of his history of banning substances. Along with stating the facts.

    It was you Pete, that came to this conclusion. Just because a member has a link to a site that converges in drug discussion, doesn’t mean that the objective was drug related.

    And, if you think that was an attack, then you have skewed vision.

    “Alcohol is a different case because of considerable historical differences and the degree it is established in modern law, society and business.”

    The alcohol is legal because of it’s use in history excuse, is complete shit if you ask me. Cannabis was used way before alcohol was even thought of, until the turn of racism and it was banned. This is a fact and anyone who disagrees unfortunately is ignorant.

    However, I am not getting into a cannabis debate.

    Reply
    • “The thing is, no one actually mentioned other drugs in the twitter exchange, only people disagreeing with Peter Dunnes choice of words, and that he sounded hypocritical because of his history of banning substances. Along with stating the facts.”

      You’ve contradicted yourself. And it was you, nZek54, who seem to have come to conclusions. Dunne didn’t actually mention alcohol. I presume you, like me, have no idea what the ‘end of year drinks’ consisted of. You seem to be assuming alcohol, and also comparing to his actions on ‘banning substances’ which you say no one mentioned.

      How could he be hypocritical if it was not related to other drugs?

      Reply
    • “The thing is, no one actually mentioned other drugs in the twitter exchange, ”

      There was a direct link, one of those having a hissy at Dunne, kemikal, promotes Tripme in their profile.

      Reply
  4. Jack

     /  16th December 2012

    If you are so aware of the dangers then why do you and Mr Dunne treat it with such little seriousness. You seem to be acting up like a broken record, repeating the same dribble and nonsense that you have already stated … oh wait … dribble and nonsense? I think i am starting to sound like someone.

    I do not understand your need to continually derail the topic onto other drugs. Stop before you reply next time and actually take note if your repeating the same useless bullshit.

    Reply
    • You obviously have no idea with what sort of seriousness I treat alcohol, and how I treat alcohol has nothing to do with how Dunne treats it. I can campaign however I like on alcohol online, and in how I communicate with a number of MPs. Dunne has a lot more to consider as Associate Minister of Health and a coalition partner is Government.

      I don’t know if you expect Government to ban alcohol, but I think that that would be futlile and most likely would cause more problems than it would solve, as has happened with prohibition in the past.

      Reply
  5. nZek54

     /  16th December 2012

    “You’ve contradicted yourself. And it was you, nZek54, who seem to have come to conclusions. Dunne didn’t actually mention alcohol.”

    Well, according to urban dictionary, “drinks” mean:

    “An Australian (edit: or New Zealand) term for a small amount of people at someones house to sit and chat while drinking, but without getting massively drunk. Usually on a weekend before going out or occasionally after work.” http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=drinks

    Now I reference urban dictionary is because that is what most people of our generation would define drinks, in fact I am sure most generations would interpret drinks and an alcoholic beverage. Why couldn’t have Dunne said, “end of year function, or, end of year get together”.

    Semantics aside, Dunne should have expected this reaction with the responses he chose to post on a public micro-blogging social network. Poor choice of words from an Associate Minister of Health who is suppose to lead by example. He should of been aware that what he says as a minister will more than likely be dissected by either the general public or the media.

    Reply
    • My guess is most people using a phrase like that would have no idea a couple of people might nit pick it and blow it totally out proportion to any real significance.

      It comes across as a pissy wee niggle based on nothing of substance,

      Reply
  6. “So he is Dunne’s lap dog and a religious nut, there’s no way we will be able to get through to him haha ”

    More assumptions based on zero facts.

    Everything I post online comes from me, Dunne has no influence or say in my blogging (I communicate with him occasionally but that is always me asking him for his opinion or position on something).

    I got involved in this issue myself because I saw the post on it at The Standard.

    I am not nor have I ever been religious, so there can’t be any (reliable) information online that would even hint at me being religious. To the contrary, I am openly atheist.

    Reply
  7. NameNme

     /  16th December 2012

    I’m a regular user of TripMe, and would just like to comment that both “sides” here have valid points and could do well to take the opponent’s on board.
    If nothing else, it has been very interesting to read about someones outside view on the website; especially someone who does not appear to be affiliated with the drug culture personally.

    Reply
    • I’ve taken quite a lot on board from this. There seems to be some good intent at Tripme, but it does seem to be a site that encourages drug taking, the advertising, some content and the name of the site point to this.

      It seems to have a fairly typical forum, with some prepared to discuss reasonably and some gutless twats who hide behind anonymity and make shit up and make personal attacks – nothing unusual there, same as you get on political blogs.

      The original issue, accusing Dunne of hypocrisy, still seems baseless and counterproductive.

      Reply
  8. Keith

     /  17th December 2012

    The website name should be enough to alert you to their intent. Good on you for calling their BS for what it is.

    Reply
  9. Susan Smith

     /  28th April 2013

    TripMe.co.nz Saved my Life and many of my close friends and family, Thank you http://www.tripme.co.nz !!!

    Reply

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