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Re: [Redacted]

> Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001 16:23:20 -0600
> From: Charley Bay <Charleyb at Cytomation_com>
> Subject: Re: [Redacted]
> > "Matt" <Crimson2 at home_com> wrote:
> > <snip, briefing from past cases>
> Thank you, Matt, for this very interesting information.

Sure, glad to be of help :)

> I would agree with this if Actwin actually created or
> directed content.  I do not believe it does, and my
> past suggestions to have moderators select authors
> to summarize threads were rejected because Actwin
> and the APD moderators do not direct content (Actwin
> and the APD moderators perform a non-content
> administrative function only.)

Maybe they already knew the potential problems of paying to much attention?

> Of course, as you stated, there is no issue as long as
> comments were truthful.

Which can be difficult to determine, I realize, but to find a solution of
determining whether or not it's true is certainly difficult, increasingly
moreso because reputations are generalizations and generalizations are not
dedecutive, but inductive, so there isn't a necessarily a right or wrong
answer, only strong or weak. All I can say is with the data available to me
over the world wide web, there appears to definitly be more negative
comments by consunmers rather then positive recommendations by consumers
about the company. However, one must realize that one who has had a bad
experience is more likely to be motivated in not recommending a company and
describing the details, unfortaintly the ones who recommend dont say much
other than 'Recommended'.

> Technically, a good/bad reputation need not correlate
> to numbers of orders or even success in the marketplace.
> In monopolies and oligopolies, there is but one or only
> a few vendors, and buyers would select among the
> least of evils.

Moreover, in the new arena of online
> shopping, a massive number of uneducated buyers
> keep many businesses running (and we are all aware
> of even fraudulent sites that are very successful for
> periods of time.)
Ebay.com :)

> I don't suggest that the online pet supply industry is
> an oligopoly (far from it), but even an absolute order
> number is (somewhat) useless.  In a given market,
> relative success would be rated based on the number
> of orders received compared to the number of orders
> not received.  It could be argued that a market appraisal
> stating a given business had the largest market share
> relative to its competitors or a "significant" total market
> percentage overall was "successful".  Still, I assert
> this is not "reputation".
Exactly. You can have a good product with bad marketing and not sell, yet
you can have a bad product with good marketing and it will sell.

> Not being an expert on NY libel law, with the burden
> of proof on the business to prove libel, the
> statements-of-events must be significantly
> mis-represented, and the opinions/assertions of the
> company's "bad" reputation must be shown untrue.
> With negative reports from the BBB and other
> organizations and individuals, including (amazing)
> quotes from actual business employees that I would
> consider harassment in their own right, including past
> documented sanctions against the business for spamming
> and other netiquette breaches in this forum and others,
> I believe the business' case to be near impossible.
> If the business' assertions of $100+K to argue this
> case are correct, then that goes both ways.  Further,
> there has already been discussion of who really pays
> if this is concluded by a judge to be a "frivolous" case.

If it's a [Redacted] which I believe it is, then the entity who [Redacted]. The libel cases I've studied in the past have mainly delt
with news publications stating false statements toward a person or company.
However, the Aquatic Plants Digest and Actwin are in no way related to be a
news service. It's information passed along by it's users helping other's
who also take an interest in the hobby or a way to learn new information.
It's not like we are giving stock quotes here. I think Mr. Wienberger would
have had a better chance stating something along the lines of "this company
is not highly recommended" or even go as far as saying "by several people on
the APD" which is an accurate and true statement. I mean come on, is it THAT
serious that if someone on a mailing-list in which only represents a small
percentage of the aquatic plant community, and says something perhaps even
slightly negative toward a company? What happens if the person THINKS he is
right but doesn't know the whole truth or facts, does he still get
prosecuted and fined? I think it was really more of an opinionated statement
rather than factual just based on the generalization. Can you really make a
factual statement just based on a generalization? No. Generalizations always
have probabilty to be black and white rather than black or white. Would this
mean that everytime someone has a negative opinion about a company, they
could be sued?

> A company does not prove a "bad" reputation is
> unwarranted based on one or more good reports
> from one or more people or organizations.  Rather,
> a "bad" reputation is not warranted based on a
> lack of evidence supporting the assertion.  If no
> sanctions were imposed in the past, if little or no
> significant public or forum evidence existed for poor
> business practices, if the BBB rating were high, and
> if third-party forums or pollsters reported only positive
> results, a person is not justified to make global
> statements of a "bad" reputation.
I didn't even notice the first post of when the comment was made, infact I
probably over looked it and didn't really pay attention until all of a
sudden Lawsuit appeard :) There are so many anti-microsoft sites, but I
wonder if microsoft even cares. http://users.aol.com/machcu/theft.html is a
great link btw. So one guy makes a possible negative comment on his website,
and then the company who it was regarded was threatning legal action even
after he had removed the link completely.

> I think one of my favorite quotes is now in order:
>   "Confidence allows one to enjoy the process."
>              (--Janice Weinberg, I think)
> The ruling has already been made.  We now get
> to sit back and relax, and merely wait for the judicial
> system to function as it has already in this area of law.
Hopefully. I've heard about some really freaky cases. I forget the name of
this one case that happened in Oregon, about '95 or '96 I think, the
babysitter had kidnapped the newborn daughter of a single mother while she
was at work. The courts had then given custody to the kidnapper on the
grounds that she had spent more time with the child then the real mother.
The mother ended up hiring an out-of-state agency to kidnap her child from
the babysitter and leave the state. I'll have to see if I can find the
documentation on it, it's been a few years since I've read it.

> Lastly, I think it's important that we not blow things
> out of proportion.  Good people have bad days, smart
> people are sometimes stupid, and reasonable people
> sometimes overreact.  This is amplified for all of us
> when the personal or financial price tag gets high
> (as is always true with any litigation.)  As long as
> we are honest with our words and ideas, it's very
> comforting to be able to make direct comments in
> our community (even if we are sometimes harsh)
> without fear of unfair repercussion.  I know I'm a jerk
> most of the time, and I most respect and admire the
> people that let me work past the mess I make after
> I screw up yet again.
> - --charley
> charleyb at cytomation_com
> BTW, I *do* speak for my company.  ;-)

I think it really became a big topic when they said people were talking
about lawsuits against the APD, I'm sure in like a week no one will care(as
long as the list is still up, grin) Well, the Freedom of Speech in the First
Amendment was originally based on the idea that people could say things
against the government and not have fear of being persecuted. During that
time in Britian you were beheaded if you had anything to say negativily
toward the Queen. Now we have to be careful what we say about a Company or
we might get 'beheaded' as well :)

- Matt