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JMOM.0
11-17-2018, 03:30 PM
Why does SecularHomeschool.com allow nonsecular items to be advertised on the site?

An Open Letter to SecularHomeschool.com
Words matter. The words used to name a business, website, blog, or article matter. The description words businesses use should have significance. When people read the words chosen for a business they should have a better understanding of the intent of the business. The word secular has important significance in the homeschool community. With one word, secular describes the academic materials customers do or do not want to use with their children.

In the homeschool community, if a business uses the word secular it is making a claim that the materials, products, information, ads, and recommendations given on and sold through it will be secular. Anyone can make a mistake. But to consistently and willfully label your business as secular, when in fact many of the materials, products, information, blog articles, ads, and recommendations on your site are not secular, lacks integrity.

This misinformation is a real problem, especially for new secular homeschoolers. This is the group most in need of recommendations they can trust because most people new to homeschooling are not familiar with many of the products and programs used by homeschoolers.

The companies providing non-secular products are not doing anything wrong. They have customers who like and use non-secular materials. It isn’t their fault that a website claiming to be secular is willing to mislead its customer base by allowing their non-secular products to be advertised on their site. Because let’s be clear:

My Father’s World is not a secular product, and the authors do not intend it to be.
The Apologetics Study Bible is not a secular product, and the authors do not intend it to be.
The Great Homeschool Convention is not a secular convention, and the people who put it on do not want it to be.
Real Science 4 Kids or any of the other products from Rebecca Keller and Gravitas Press are not secular, and Keller does not intend them to be.
When Bookshark chose Keller’s Intelligent Design biology course for the year classification is covered, that was a conscious choice to provide a non-secular product.
Rush Revere’s history is not secular, and that is intentional on the author’s part.
(These are just a few examples from your site. There are many more.)

Another group negatively impacted is those companies developing secular materials. The secular homeschool community is a new community compared to the non-secular homeschool community. Most companies developing materials for the secular homeschool community are start-ups, and without as much money to market their products. By not being exclusive about promoting secular businesses, these start-ups are not able to compete with companies that have been around longer.

It is expensive to run a website. We understand the need to sell advertising. But that is no excuse for the people running SecularHomeschool.com to sell ad space to any company with money, secular or not, making it appear that even non-secular products are endorsed by SecularHomeschool.com.

Instead of thinking of your own bank account, what about secular homeschoolers, the community you say you serve? What about our money? If you cannot afford to run the site honestly, it is time to delete the word secular from your name.

SecularHomeschool.com, if you leave the word secular in the name of your business and website, as secular homeschoolers, we ask you to please:

Stop taking advertising dollars for non-secular products and materials.
Stop sending out email blasts for non-secular products.
Stop advertising non-secular materials on your website.
Remove all non-secular companies from your list of secular products.
Stop allowing positive reviews for non-secular products as if they are secular.
At the very least, have the integrity to be honest with the secular homeschool community that yours is not a secular site so that secular homeschoolers can make informed decisions about the materials you promote.

mamakven
11-17-2018, 05:18 PM
Yes. I agree that this is a big problem. I like that this site is a bit more flexible than some others. I feel like, if a curriculum does not contain evolution but also does not contain religious content, then I can supplement. That’s what we do with elemental science. I appreciate that we are allowed to talk about, and decide for our own family what constitutes secular for us. However I’m seeing in the giveaway post companies that are soooo far from being secular! It concerns me for new homeschoolers that might not know better, and it’s also just a bit frustrating as a secular homeschooler who is bombarded with xtian home school companies ads on other sites. This one should be a refuge from that. Jmo...

JMOM.0
11-17-2018, 05:33 PM
I mean, is the site secular or not? The name says it all...and that’s incredibly false advertising to allow non secular resources on it, period. Otherwise, change the name to “mostly secular but sometimes religious homeschool”! Homeschoolers are inundated with religious curriculum, this should be the one place where we should be able to trust we are getting truly secular recommendations.

alexsmom
11-17-2018, 06:10 PM
Are you talking about paid advertising, like from banners, or site-supplied content? Ive got pretty severe allerjesus, and when anyone even suggests anything non-secular without the caveat, I cant help but to point that out.

I think some of the ads are based on where *you* have been recently - I know I was annoyed for several weeks when I kept seeing wool sock ads here after I had been shopping them on amazon.

But Ive seen the xtian banner ads here, too, have commented on it.

farrarwilliams
11-17-2018, 10:17 PM
They send out email blasts with non-secular items too. And place them on the front page here sometimes. The letter from the SEA people is not based on Adwords or other placement ads. These are products they are endorsing.

Aandwsmom
11-18-2018, 12:58 PM
Paid advertisements do not mean that we endorse a product... in fact I think it's pretty cool that we've convinced religious organizations to pay to support a secular community

Etznab
11-18-2018, 06:34 PM
...it's pretty cool that we've convinced religious organizations to pay to support a secular community

I think eventually your secular advertisers will suffer and you will get less overall advertisement support. This is my favorite "forum" type of homeschooling website. I normally click on lots of ads from my favorite websites and try to always buy from their affiliate links, because I realize that's how many of them make money. But after quite a few surprises from some of your advertisers, I just ignore them all. So I still visit the forums, but that's it. I'm probably missing out on some good companies, but I want my ad revenue to go elsewhere.

Topsy
11-18-2018, 09:31 PM
I would take with a grain of salt any "open letter" that one site sends to another site that they are competing for ad space with.

alexsmom
11-18-2018, 10:37 PM
Dubious nature of the open letter aside.... if SHS is offering religious products in giveaways, AND sending email ads for non-secular products, and has religious banner ads.... I dont think that’s “pretty cool”.
This site was a refuge, a haven in the sea of religious crap that has to be waded through elsewhere for homeschool parents.
Im disappointed.

Aandwsmom
11-19-2018, 10:19 AM
The Gift Guide contest was/is a contest being run across an entire network of homeschool sites. It is one guide that was created to be used by all. Secular Homeschool only promoted the non-secular items via social media. We felt that members could and would bypass the non-secular items and vote for your favorite secular items with a chance to win one of them.

farrarwilliams
11-19-2018, 12:35 PM
When a site that claims to be secular sends out an advertisement for a product, features a giveaway for a product, or features it prominently in advertising, I think that's very misleading. It's not an endorsement in the sense that you're not speaking to the quality, but is misleading in the extreme to buyers. Why should someone have to check if a product is religious if Secular Homeschool sends out ads for it? I mean, religious owned sites like Rainbow Resources and Cathy Duffy do a better job of alerting users if products are religious or secular.

Mariam
11-23-2018, 12:16 PM
Because of the ads and allowance for for non-secular products, I think that is why this site is not as popular as it once was. While a Facebook group is convenient, people will go where the most amount of information is available. It used to be here, but it has moved. I always wished we were stricter with what was allowed here. I like this group, but not having a strict policy on secular curriculum does put a challenge on the discussions and creates extra work for me to check it out.

I think for many who signed the open letter, many were not a part of this group. There is value to these forums and I would like to see more people here, but I don't think it will happen unless this site take a firm stance on the secular issues.

alexsmom
11-23-2018, 08:38 PM
Finding the religious banner ads was horrifying for me a couple months ago, and I just visit the forum part of the site, not other areas.

If I had just discovered the site, and was looking for a secular haven, I would be very leery at a site promising secular, but apparently promoting xtian materials.

I hang around because I like the regulars, and think its important to pass on the support I received when I was new to homeschooling, and thought Id have to compromise by buying something religious and fixing it.

This trend, though, is discouraging. Because I dont do FB, I havent been around the SEA people, except for incidental overlap here. I dont really care who is pointing it out, because to me its a legitimate complaint.

NZ_Mama
11-24-2018, 04:54 PM
This trend, though, is discouraging. Because I dont do FB, I havent been around the SEA people, except for incidental overlap here. I dont really care who is pointing it out, because to me its a legitimate complaint.

Same here. Very anti-FB so would not be going on there just to find homeschool info. Also very anti-advertising/marketing, so I can't say I have even noticed any of this religious advertising as I am so used to not even looking at ads. However, it is just wrong to have religious ads on here. Not cool at all – what sort of totally inappropriate comment is that, that we should feel "blessed" that the site has been bestowed with money from the exact groups that people come here to avoid.

So hopefully this site sorts it stuff out and stops this advertising if it is turning people away.

NZ_Mama
11-24-2018, 04:58 PM
And I for sure feel like one of the original admin comments in response to this said something along the lines of "thanks for the feedback, it is valuable, I will pass it on". Then next time I can on there, that comment was gone and there was the "I think its cool comment". Now maybe I went a little cuckoo after reading on here late and night after working and totally imagined that original comment. But if it did change, it seems a little like adjusting the comment to cater to the advertisers, so who exactly are you here for, the secular homeschoolers who visit this site. Or the advertisers? And then it all just makes it stink of subversive and controlling religions trying to change how this site operates.

MissLemon
12-04-2018, 03:31 AM
Paid advertisements do not mean that we endorse a product... in fact I think it's pretty cool that we've convinced religious organizations to pay to support a secular community

This is a really weird statement. The first half of it: totally disingenuous. Second half: which part of it is cool? The part where you're tricking religious organizations to pay to advertise on a sight where no one is interested in their product? Or the part where you're ok with religious organizations trying to sneaky-sneak in some good ole Christian values into the secular community?

MissLemon
12-04-2018, 03:45 AM
I would take with a grain of salt any "open letter" that one site sends to another site that they are competing for ad space with.

I take their open letter a LOT more seriously than I take the previous admin statement that just because you accept advertising dollars doesn't mean you endorse the product. The ads aren't for trucks or jeans or Fitbits or Instant pots or other random consumer good. They are for a niche product in a niche community. THIS niche community. The niche community is going to assume you've vetted that niche product. It's a huge reason why anyone still comes here.

Also, are you a member of the SEA facebook group? Because it's pretty lively, unlike here. The offer truly secular curriculum and a secular homeschool convention. I'm not sure you are really in competition with them.

NZ_Mama
12-04-2018, 04:40 PM
Also, are you a member of the SEA facebook group? Because it's pretty lively, unlike here. The offer truly secular curriculum and a secular homeschool convention. I'm not sure you are really in competition with them.

I say this as someone who truly hopes this site gets cleansed of all its religious advertisers because I like the forum, and I would just be going to homeschool in isolation if this forum did not exist (I have been FB-free for 10 years and FB is about as bad as religions in my values system, so I will never be a SEA FB member). So I 100% agree with your comments about the admin statement here and the religious advertising, but I don't know how "truly secular" the curriculum SEA offers is either. I had a small browse on their site to see what was there, and they have a membership where you get access to Sequential Literacy. Now I don't 100% know what Sequential Literacy this is, but if you Google Sequential Literary, it comes up with a site that links it with Sequential Spelling. And if this is what they are offering, then I don't believe the company behind that is secular. We tried Sequential Spelling. It is not secular. I mean its a relatively simple spelling curriculum, so you could choose to ignore and edit. But if what you are after is a curriculum from a truly secular company, this is not it. It has a number of religious words in it, ones that you would not really use at all otherwise, and a number of their example sentences for the words are religious. For example, from the Level 3 book, "Expressed – The Protestants have expressed a different opinion", "Stressed – Our minister has always stressed reading the Bible daily", "Chess – I wonder if the apostles ever played chess". Then the word lists have a lot of words like "Eve" followed by "Eve's apple", "worship", "heavens". Honestly, it annoyed me so much we gave up on it pretty rapidly.

MissLemon
12-04-2018, 05:59 PM
I say this as someone who truly hopes this site gets cleansed of all its religious advertisers because I like the forum, and I would just be going to homeschool in isolation if this forum did not exist (I have been FB-free for 10 years and FB is about as bad as religions in my values system, so I will never be a SEA FB member). So I 100% agree with your comments about the admin statement here and the religious advertising, but I don't know how "truly secular" the curriculum SEA offers is either. I had a small browse on their site to see what was there, and they have a membership where you get access to Sequential Literacy. Now I don't 100% know what Sequential Literacy this is, but if you Google Sequential Literary, it comes up with a site that links it with Sequential Spelling. And if this is what they are offering, then I don't believe the company behind that is secular. We tried Sequential Spelling. It is not secular. I mean its a relatively simple spelling curriculum, so you could choose to ignore and edit. But if what you are after is a curriculum from a truly secular company, this is not it. It has a number of religious words in it, ones that you would not really use at all otherwise, and a number of their example sentences for the words are religious. For example, from the Level 3 book, "Expressed – The Protestants have expressed a different opinion", "Stressed – Our minister has always stressed reading the Bible daily", "Chess – I wonder if the apostles ever played chess". Then the word lists have a lot of words like "Eve" followed by "Eve's apple", "worship", "heavens". Honestly, it annoyed me so much we gave up on it pretty rapidly.

I don't use any of the Sequential products, so my understand is "I read it somewhere once...", sooooo...what I remember reading about Sequential Spelling is that the older versions did have religious references. Sequential Spelling was bought by someone else who has removed those references in the newer versions, much to the irritation of the original writer. I read this a few years back on the SEA facebook group and I kind of remember Blair Lee discussing the issue with the current owner of Sequential Spelling. It's been a few years so my recollection might be a bit off, but I'm pretty certain that Blair talked with the current owner about it.

And I hear you about facebook. I am currently not a member of the SEA forum because I can't deal with the annual "I am a better parent that you because I do/do not tell my kids about Santa" argument that happens this time of year. I'll pick it back up again after the holidays are over, lol.

NZ_Mama
12-04-2018, 06:33 PM
They may still sell the old books though? I only purchased the book we have in 2016. From a reseller, so not direct from them. But I had an issue with something in the book (non-religious, it was a spelling or grammar mistake in the book), and I contacted the company directly, and they said that they agreed it was in there and they would change it on the next reprint?

MissLemon
12-04-2018, 07:44 PM
They may still sell the old books though? I only purchased the book we have in 2016. From a reseller, so not direct from them. But I had an issue with something in the book (non-religious, it was a spelling or grammar mistake in the book), and I contacted the company directly, and they said that they agreed it was in there and they would change it on the next reprint?

There are older editions still being sold. Sequential Spelling was bought by Wave 3 Learning, Inc fairly recently. In their "About Us" section, they talk about transforming the product for the 21st Century. Rainbow Resource lists Sequential Spelling "Original Classic Edition" by AVKO and a "Revised Edition" by Wave 3 Learning. Avko's facebook page said they should be able to start publishing again "soon" back in 2017. The Avko webpage is still non-functional. So at some point fairly recently, AVKO (the original publisher of Sequential Spelling) went belly up and sold the product to Wave 3, who is supposedly updating the product to make it 100% secular.


https://www.sequentialspelling.com/static/aboutus.php

alexsmom
12-05-2018, 10:38 AM
I would definitely qualify as a secular, eclectiv, and academic homeschooler... but I havent found the SEA site to be very helpful, and I dont do facebook. Is there a forum section for members? I wasnt willing to sign up to find out. I think thats where SHS does better - people new to homeschooling can see what everything is, can search archived information.
Isnt facebook just a spew of information, not organized?
It is a shame, though, about the religious ads here. And the lack of responsiveness to the people who use the site.

mamakven
12-11-2018, 10:37 PM
I don't think its cool at all. The beauty of this site, vs SEA, which i also love, is that SEA is much more dogmatic. I'd like to be able to discuss ways to adapt religious curriculum, and discuss "neutral" curriculum, both of which is banned at SEA. I liked the more casual "flavor" here, but at the same time, i'm not ok with xtian curriculum being shoved in my face like every other homeschool site. I think its time to find another way to pay the bills.

vicsmom
12-15-2018, 02:43 PM
Totally agree. And I just despise the practices of Facebook. Sure SEA may be purely secular, but why are people okay with Facebook harvesting such personal data from them and selling to others? I think that is much, much worse than religious ads. I really just check in on the forums because I love the discussions and sane advice on here.

HawaiiGeek
12-19-2018, 11:30 AM
I agree 100% with the distaste with the religious ads. I was so angry to get a Rush Limbaugh ad in my email. I get enough email junk without it coming from this website. I have loved the people and more laid back style of this forum for many years, but that Rush ad really ticked me off. I no longer use FB as I can't get over their lack of oversight with the elections and then not watching for ethnic cleansing in Myanmar because they didn't hire people who knew the languages in Myanmar to admin the site when they opened. I am so sick of the overriding capitalistic notion in everything American that we must make money and nothing else matters and I feel like this is what is happening with this site. It is too bad, because I come here less than I used to. I also really don't enjoy the SEA FB site even before I quit FB, too much arguing.

alexsmom
12-20-2018, 11:44 AM
I find it discouraging that this thread is ignored. Although it may have been started by a SEA “affiliate”, longtime members are giving feedback, and get no official response.

The niche this site has is its forum-base. If people wanted FB groups, they would be there. The forum is a trove of information, way more referrable than a continuous spew of FB feed.

But.... it is crickets from the administrators. “Oh its so cool we can put religious ads on a site that has been a refuge from such bombardment.” Not so much.

alexsmom
12-28-2018, 01:01 PM
I still havent heard anything back from the site admins.
In April. when this was previously brought up as a thread.... Google adsense was blamed for it.

In October, when rush limbaugh emails were apparently sent out, there was no response. The bible ads were pretty bad then, too.
http://www.secularhomeschool.com/roll-call/20822-roll-call-10-3-a-post232142.html#post232142

Is it apathy? Contempt?

alexsmom
12-28-2018, 07:39 PM
Really? Dr Hydrogen who lies about his degrees? (I checked with the BYU registrars office.) Cant even say the companys name, but it is an advertiser?

5201

Mariam
12-28-2018, 07:47 PM
Really? Dr Hydrogen who lies about his degrees? (I checked with the BYU registrars office.) Cant even say the companys name, but it is an advertiser?

5201

There have been some significant changes. We have gone from not talking about them at all because of the spam to accepting the ads? So is this only a financially based decision?

Aandwsmom
01-02-2019, 05:32 PM
Acellus is no longer a banned word on Secular Homeschool. This option will be revisited at a future point if needed.