10/7/05

Deleting Accounts, Comments, etc.

As there has been a lot of misinformation spread about this subject recently, I thought I would clarify a few things about how RateItAll deals with things like comment deletion and requests to remove entire accounts.

First and foremost, I suggest that everyone read the Terms of Service. This document has been virtually unchanged since the launch of the site in 1999, and covers quite specifically issues regarding RateItAll's liability on accuracy of reviews, ownership of reviews, indemnification, and all that good stuff.

On an operational level, here is where I stand on this stuff. Once a review has been submitted to the site, I believe that it has become part of the conversation. Posts tend to reference each other, and pulling a specific review from the conversation can tend to make the entire thread difficult to follow.

For this reason, other than in extreme situations, I am not purging accounts anymore. Users that get in trouble with things like Site Rules will more often than not see their accounts disabled, as opposed to removed. In fact, as a security precaution, I have made it very difficult for even Administrators, to remove accounts.

This wasn't always the case - folks who have been around a long time on the site probably remember instances where long time users, due to repeated site rules violations, had their accounts completely erased. Fortunately, we now have a "disable" tool that allows me to shut down an account, without removing comments/helpful votes/ratings from the conversation.

That being said, there is nothing stopping a reviewer in good standing from deleting their own reviews. As much as I don't support removing a review that has been submitted to the conversation, RateItAll has never prevented anyone from removing a post that they authored. While it is conceivable that the site could decide to restore a review after it has been removed by its author, this is an unlikely scenario as far as I'm concerned - and has never happened to date.

Weblists are a different story. Because Weblists are almost always populated by reviews from lots of different members of the community, I don't think it appropriate to allow Weblist authors to simply delete Weblists and all their associated reviews from the site.

I hope that helps to clarify some of these issues. As always, feel free to email me directly (lawrence at rateitall.com) with specific questions.

7 comments:

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  4. Now that I have gotten over the good chuckle I can respond. First of all it should be noted that the RIA admins effort to simply ignore me didn't work. I am not one to be ignored. And given the fact I don't just pop off for no reason I figured eventually some defense would come. Afterall, my issues have merit. If they didn't then ignoring me would suffice.

    So I knew a response would come and none of it comes as a surprise at all. Even down to mentioning the ToS. LOL!

    The ToS is better known as a CYA. That's right. ToS are websites Cover Your Ass statements. Ultimately all do the exact same thing. Empower the site to do as it sees fit and provide a legal means by which to avoid and/or circumvent various problems.

    But one word was used SEVERAL times and was also expected...

    WHIM

    Not only were my actions not done on a whim they were calculated. The exact opposite of a whim. But I am not surprised RIA will portray it that way. He was just being a baby. He was mad. He was being "petty". And RIA will likely continue to espouse that idea. Many sheep will actually believe it.

    But rest assured, those with functional brain activity, it was not done on a whim.

    I discussed it with my wife at length over the course of 3 weeks. Does that sound like it was done on a whim?

    I considered numerous possible paths to take. Such as asking for my account to be purged, blanking my comments first, taking an extended break from the site (even though it had already been 3 FULL weeks). Does all of that sound like it was done on a whim?

    No. It was not done on a whim. Ultimately it came down to a message I received basically stating that "even though I had violated as many rules as others already purged and walked a fine line there was no interest in purging/banning me".

    Hehehe. I thought about that one a LONG time. My goal was never to get purged. That too might be directed towards me as a motivation.

    RIA never considered such a thing because my WEBLISTS BY THEMSELVES rate as #40 on the TOTAL contributions list. In fact, they rank as #4 when ordered by WEBLIST contributions.

    My involvement in the site was vast. I knew it and RIA knew it too. And RIA did not act to preserve the sanctity of lists or the users. If you buy that you must be a complete moron. Which harkens back to the ToS. RIA REALLY, REALLY doesn't want to get into a debate over the ToS.

    Unlike most on the site I know EXACTLY what the ToS says and have read it over several times. Any person who cares about their own written word would actually FEAR the contents of the ToS. And I am positive many actual writers do in fact avoid the site for that very reason.

    RIA counts on ignorance. Ignorance in the fact that users are not called that by accident. The site uses EVERYTHING on the site. For PROFIT. As I said, it call comes down to REVENUE.

    And if RIA denies that they are in fact lying and it can be proven with ease...

    Would the site exist or last very long if the site lost money? Would it survive very long if it barely made any money at all? Would the site, for the sake of providing a place to give and share opinions remain for the sole noble cause of being such a beacon?

    Those who don't have their heads buried two feet up their own wazzoo know the answer.

    So don't give me any of this noble cause crap. Or nonsense about the continuity of comments and lists. REVENUE is all that matters.

    The rights reserved to the site and NOT THE USERS OF THE SITE are extraordinary. And unlike most sites where the ToS is listed on each and every page I bet few on RIA can even find them. They are actually referenced only ONCE.

    Why? Because the site knows how ominous they are and how many might reconsider if they came across that ToS link and really READ the damn thing.

    So the ToS are not displayed anywhere. They aren't even referenced. A user actually only sees them ONCE. And only then if they click a separate link. So in all likelyhood most have never even read them.

    The site hides many things. And hides behind many things as well. Silence is a big one. How many users issue a complaint never to receive a response? It isn't always because the site is busy. The site knows that a thing ignored does indeed go away. MOST of the time.

    I could not be ignored and the site finally figured out I am not going away. I certainly won't be ignored. But silence and ignoring people and issues is a tried and true method by the site to avoid things.

    Any long time user of the site has seen signs of what I mean. And new users will see it as well over time. The site desperately wants users to believe I was an "exception". Because no matter what excuse is presented I am sure most people with a sense of principle realize the site was out of line.

    Even those who dislike my deleting MY weblists and comments would acknowledge I did not overstep MY rights.

    And who established those rights?

    RIA established the WEBLIST management rights.

    RIA routinely maintained the stance it does not decide what is a good or bad list with RARE exception and does not manage weblists.

    Yes, I took advantage of that established system. And it pissed RIA off immensely. RIA stepping in to "protect" user comments was as much a dig at me to get me back as it was to protect revenue. And no, it had nothing to do with maintaining continuity. Take that nonsense elsewhere.

    But I had already mentioned the ToS to several users prior to the site stealing my lists. And I told them I expected the site to intervene. And that the site would hide behind the ToS among other things when it did.

    That too pisses the site off. I am not a moron. I did not act on a whim at all. I knew what I was doing and I fully expected RIA to bypass established SOP. It was just one last test of integrity.

    A test the site failed miserably. And now as they try to pick up the pieces they realize that simply ignoring me would not work. That too pisses them off. And it will come as no surprise that the site will say it "isn't upset at all". LOL

    But I know and the site admin knows the truth of that. So all the others will believe what they like.

    The truth can be found in the sites actions. Not just in stealing the lists but banning ALL users now from deleting comments. I taught them a lesson and they took steps to avoid learning that lesson all over again.

    LOL. Another dagger in the integrity coffin.

    Ultimately RIA will meet one of three fates...

    1) The site admin will ride it to a wave of stardom in some internet crazed society on the west coast where the site flourishes and the money rolls in.

    2) Over time the site will simply not be worth the effort and die off slowly or be sold to someone who does have an interest in trying to make it work.

    3) The site will die quickly when profits nose dive and it becomes unviable.

    It doesn't matter to me which one occurs. I can't see the first happening. As much as the site admin is trying to achieve that there is just too much competition and big sticks already on the block.

    The second is a possiblity since a juicy offer by a compeititor to buy out a minor player would be hard to pass up. Especially if the site is not progressing as expected.

    The third possiblity is also likely. And should that third option occur how will the words about continuity and the like sit with users? LOL. It will prove on final time the goal was never to achieve anything noble. The goal is money. Plain and simple.

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  5. And just to put some perspective on the ToS issue... The BLOGGER ToS says this in regards to Content OWNERSHIP:

    "6a. CONTENT OWNERSHIP Unless stated otherwise for specific services, Member will retain copyright ownership and all related rights for information he or she publishes through Blogger or otherwise enters into Blogger-related services."


    As opposed to the RIA ToS that reserves the right to ALL CONTENT. Even though the site admin says they would never do such a thing.

    So the point remains. If that is the case then don't reserve that right and follow the lead set by BLOGGER.

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  6. Heh. At least the word WHIM was edited out along with a few other things. But I have to say that one should stick to their guns. The problem here is I don't do more than give my opinion and make observations.

    It may tend to piss people off but other than typos I rarely have any need to edit my comments.

    And one last comment on the WHIM thing... I will never forget my laughter when my wife said:

    "He wouldn't actually take your lists when the site says it won't manage them or even decide what is good or bad?"

    Yeah, I laughed and told her that users would whine and the possible loss of other pissed off users and the loss of ALL THOSE GOOD LISTS and links to them was simply too much.

    My wife agreed the lists were pretty good in many cases too. So she wasn't sure I should just delete stuff. Heh.

    But I had already asked 4 (FOUR) users about any lists they might want to take over. But I also told my wife it was unlikely the site would wait or give me the respect I probably deserved.

    Hell, the site did not even know. I didn't tell them and they didn't ask. All the site admin did was send a sarcastic message about purging the lists in full for me (at the time I was 75% done). And I told them I was handling things fine.

    Too bad really. If the site admin had a little bit of patience they could have saved a few integrity points and still had the lists. The comments would have been gone (at least until the time the site restored them).

    It is amazing to me that if you REALLY pay attention and ignore the BS how much you can see ahead of time.

    I pay attention. And as I said repeatedly to users at RIA... My goal was never to annoy other users. My goal was to eliminate any and all references to me or works by me on the site.

    Being owner and creator of those lists it was MY right to decide who, if anyone, took control of them. The fate of those lists (according to the site SOP and admins own commentary was MINE. And I had already attempted to do just that.

    But the site could not honor that. And it is no accident I placed all the "blanked and commentless" lists in the "Misc Education" section.

    LOL. I am positive the site admin got that one. I love the symmetry.

    So users can believe all the nonsense they like. I put the site admin to the test and he failed. My weblists were just that... Mine. And as I pointed out to my wife the site posts a disclaimer on weblist CREATION and management ON EVERY WEBLIST PAGE.

    In addition to the sites stance on deciding weblist fates (ie good/bad lists).

    They are elements the site admin cannot ignore neither can site users. They may not like my actions but they sure as hell can't say I overstepped my bounds.

    It all makes me laugh considering my original goal. I had actually tried to hold some amount of hope that the site might respect a LONG time user and participant enough to let them leave in peace.

    It wasn't to be. Users whined over lost comments and the site feared serious revenue losses.

    And the decision was based on revenue. The COMPLAINTS came from mostly ignorant users who neither knew who I really was nor what my motivations were.

    So the site had to choose... Bypass SOP and general principle to appease users and retain revenue or show proper respect to the systems and methods in place AND a long time user and potentially lose revenue.

    I suppose it was a no brainer but perhaps a bigger problem has come to light. In the legal system setting precedent is feared for a reason.

    And no matter what the site does now they cannot alter the precedent set.

    Make excuses for it? Sure. Be satisfied that many users remain for now because of it? Sure. Be content in staving off possible revenue loss? Absolutely.

    But it can't be undone. The best the site could do is return to the SOP and statement it stood by for so long and abandon their plans. Perhaps even apologize for violating the very SOP they themselves developed.

    But that is extremely unlikely. And with a precedent set all they can do is hope people believe I was an "exception". Until, of course, the next "exception" comes along.

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