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Friday, September 28, 2007

The Arrogant Corporation, The Naked Corporation, The Scandalized Public, and...

Do companies taking sneaky or heavy-handed actions not stop to think about the context of radical transparency in which they compete, sometimes too hard, for victory?

Because I work with a consumer review site, I know about how prevalent it is for some companies to try to fake reviews, post negative reviews on competitors, etc.

What's even more fun is that these efforts are often easily traceable to the head offices of the "anything to win" companies.

(This is something you can also do for click fraud, theoretically.)

Recently, a major North American provider of home repair related services - a real "poster child" for rapid growth with a very respected and hard-working rank and file staff - was caught posting false reviews not only on themselves, but malicious ones designed to harm competitor businesses.

We won't tell. We simply remove the reviews and warn the offender.

But honestly: we could tell. It could become national news. What were they thinking?

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thumbs-Up to a Blogger Code of Conduct

When Jimmy Wales and Tim O'Reilly get on the front page of the New York Times... it's news... to everyone else. There's been an outpouring of feedback on the proposal for a blogger code of conduct in the wake of rounds of blogger nastiness.

I've never been one for codes of ethics, especially not codes that emerge suddenly from particular actors in emerging industries. In search marketing I've written in the past that a "benign anarchy" can be better than a cartel-like phony codification / certification process.

That said, I like that they're talking about certain levels or standards that we could voluntarily adhere to. I think that critics like Russell Shaw are missing the point.

Just think about the clumsy treatment here of the Kathy Sierra affair, or about the lower-quality comments that wind up on this blog, for example. A recent one was "too many dumb bloggers," left of course by an anonymous coward.

Would requiring registration and identification of commenters cut into the free-flowing spontaneity of the blogosphere? I kind of doubt it. If many of us agree to agree that commenting login systems really aren't that much of a burden, then we'll partly solve the problem of anonymity that allowed someones to attack Sierra on seemingly respectable forums.

It would also discredit fake attacks meant to impugn a third or fourth party.

I probably wouldn't adhere to the certification that required me to fact-check sources in a certain way. Yes, I like facts. But part of the problem with journalism is that a quote taken out of context looks nice but can be highly misleading. The blogosphere can be incisive without that particular standard getting in the way. That part of it should be voluntary.

There's really nothing wrong with a voluntary code of standards for bloggers. I'm glad O'Reilly and Wales sparked the debate, at least.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




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