A year-long battle to get comments removed from eBay

Timely article in the Merc considering that I wrote about reputation just today. I always find it curious that people look at Ebay’s reputation system as a model, or refer to it as sophisticated. Insofar as a true reputation system it has to be absolutely primitive because it puts far too much power in the hands of those reviewing the seller, and fails to provide any dispute resolution process. A few years back I sold something on Ebay and the woman that bought it clearly didn’t understand what she was buying because when she received the item in question she flamed me in the feedback. But I was essentially powerless to do anything about it, aside from enter a comment in response to her feedback… but that’s about as effective as getting a newspaper correction on page D36.

Take a look at Rapleaf for a reputation system that is portable, meaning you take it with you regardless of what site you are on. Ebay and others will fight this tooth and nail, but in the end I believe that portable reputation systems that are independent of a specific site make so much more sense than proprietary system in a walled garden.

UPDATE: In looking at this blog post it is evident that Ebay is planning some much needed changes to their feedback system.

MercuryNews.com | 08/08/2006 | A year-long battle to get comments removed from eBay:

Afterward, it was too late. EBay will not remove feedback unless it receives a court order finding that the disputed feedback is “slanderous, libelous, defamatory or otherwise illegal.”

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The Case Against the Business Case

It always amazed me that vendors would come out with ridiculously high ROI claims.

Andrew McAfee:

The reason companies don’t go on an IT investment binge when they see 100+% ROI business cases is that their leaders explicitly or intuitively understand these points. In fact, I think these huge ROI figures are actually counterproductive; they lead to a response of ‘Give me a break.’ Framing IT business cases in terms of costs required to acquire capabilities might lead more often to a much better response: ’Give me some technology.’

Clif Bar packing up, moving to Alameda / Berkeley’s zoning restriction prompts company’s relocation

It’s really hard to imagine any positive spin that Berkeley politicians could put on Clif Bar moving out of the city for Alameda (literally across the estuary for those of you not familiar with the Bay Area), but they are trying. This falls into the category of “you have nobody but yourself to blame” but is really systematic of the kind of government that many Bay Area cities have become, Berkeley just being exceptional in it’s extreme position. The irony is that Clif Bar is the poster child for the kind of company that Berkeley, hell any city, would want; they provide exceptional lifestyle and health benefits to employees, are eco-conscious, community involved, and perhaps most importantly, they are a growing and highly profitable company (check out the article, $1m in revenue per employee… staggering) that generates a nice pile of tax revenues. On top of all that, it’s without question that a good number of Clif Bar employees will ultimately relocate to Alameda (a really nice community) and of course, all of the employees can send their children to Alameda’s public schools, even if they don’t live there, meaning per pupil enrollment declines in Berkeley yet again and the federal/state dollars that go with enrollment.

How many businesses on Telegraph Ave. need to close and large businesses and residents leave the city before Berkeley officials do something to fix the problems? Let’s do the time warp again…. but hey, the City Council did occupy themselves with passing a resolution, perhaps several by now, calling for the impeachment of President Bush.

BERKELEY / Clif Bar packing up, moving to Alameda / Berkeley’s zoning restriction prompts company’s relocation:

But when the company wanted to build a “modest” expansion, it encountered “Berkeley’s convoluted, miserable zoning regulations,” said Dave Fogarty, the city’s community development project coordinator.

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Enterprise mashups

Okay, much to be said and written about enterprise mashups in the year ahead. For my part I am a fan, but acknowledge some big challenges ahead for vendors in this space. First and foremost, when you get beyond the “skype meets SFdC” and “Google Maps meets Houselisting.com” there are precious few examples of what mashups would look like. To some degree the problem here is created by the consumer space where process integration is nil and data integration is lightweight at best. I would speculate that enterprise mashups are probably going to look very little like their consumer cousins. This is not a bad thing, but an essential observation in order to re-calibrate thinking and expectations.

Next up is what mashups ideologically represent, on the consumer side much more likely to be loosely coupled application services with specific outputs and very light interaction, while on the enterprise side mashups will be loosely coupled workflows. The difference is meaningful because workflows imply a chain of events coming together with a specific purpose as opposed to a specific output (e.g. customer support resolution as opposed to an interactive map with your data loaded in it.)

Right now I’m thinking there are two categories, broad, of mashups that are really interesting, the first being analytics in nature and the second being smart collaboration apps that are mashups of traditional transaction or KM systems with Office 2.0 services. Of course there are others, but these in particular capture my imagination and provide some reasonable path to monetization.

Anyway, good article in InfoWorld about the subject.

Enterprise mashups | InfoWorld | Analysis | 2006-07-28 | By Galen Gruman:

But mashups are more than just annotated maps for consumer Web sites. The technology holds real promise for the enterprise, both within companies and among customers and partners. Because mashups use technology that you already have — JavaScript, XML, and DHTML, plus fast Internet connections to support graphical and functional richness — there’s no huge investment required.

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The power of networks, part 1382.2c

UPDATE: 12/2/09 I received an email from one of the subjects of this post detailing how the issue living on in search engines was causing significant problems for him personally. After much thought I decided to edit the post with two considerations in mind, the first being that yes it will live on in search caches for a long time and by following the links included anyone so interested will be able to quickly discover the names that I have redacted today but eventually my post will fall off the top search results for this persons name, and secondly, the actual names of the parties really are not that important to the overall narrative I am writing about. This has not been an easy decision for me to make but I don’t ever wish my writings to cause personal and extended harm to any individual, and in the final equation we all have to recognize that people make mistakes (who among us has not done something profoundly stupid at one time or another?) and there is nothing to be gained once the mistake has been addressed and apologies issued to those offended to let it live on.

Two seemingly unconnected events caught my attention over the last week and it was only this morning that I put them together. The first is the now well covered Photo’chopped photos that Reuters carried and then retracted, and the second was the less known case of [redacted] v. [redacted].

In the first case, a blogger uncovered a case of photo fraud at the news agency and the subsequent uproar from the blogosphere forced Reuters to withdraw all 920 images from the freelance photographer in question, although I would hope it was less about the uproar and more about restoring the integrity of Reuters’ brand. At any rate, score one more for the blogosphere.

In the second case a popular Flickr photographer, [redacted], accused [redacted] of inappropriately claiming [redacted]‘ work as his own (keep in mind that the images in question were offered under Creative Commons so it’s not like there are any monetary damages being claimed, it’s about being honest). [redacted] then sues [redacted] for defamation, and this is where it gets interesting. The subsequent comment thread attached to the attorney letter that [redacted] posted includes individuals who have identified additional cases of images being inappropriately claimed by [redacted] as his own.

Whether or not [redacted] is guilty of these offenses is unknown, but the evidence is stacking up against him pretty quick. Thomas Hawk does a great job of detailing the reputation issues in his post on the subject. The loosely coupled community around [redacted] did the investigative work for him and identified offenses that previously would have gone unknown, and then there is the whole issue of [redacted] reputation and the damage done to him (by himself apparently).

“I think I found some pretty good evidence of another plagiarism look here at a screen-shot of the guys flash page trogdoor.googlepages.com/Picture1.png ( I can’t give a link because of poor use of flash ) now look at the same photo found on flickr www.flickr.com/photos/stitch/49206156/ notice that this is “[redacted]‘” only photo with the Fuji at the top and bottom yet all of Stitche’s flicker photos have it ( from scanning in actual film? ).”

Now back to the Reuters topic, it occurred to me that the best thing that Reuters could have done in this instance was to open up their entire photo archive to scrutiny from bloggers and other photo professionals. It’s no longer enough for Reuters or anyone else to simply say “trust us” in an age where photographic evidence is less than absolute. We have all grown up in an age where photos can be cooked and reality (film, not just photos) can be created. Reputation is now the linchpin for credibility, not just a catchy photo, and reputation has to withstand peer scrutiny and review if it is to be legitimate.

My prediction is that reputation systems of all kinds will increasingly become a focus for anything in the public view, and they will rely on techniques that capture the power of community to derive trust rather than a brand manufacturing it.

Mission Research Seminar for NonProfits (not the startup kind)

Mission Research is a really interesting company that I met last year. I have been watching them from afar since and have been impressed with the customer traction they have been receiving. I’m involved with a couple of non-profits and the need for a management solution for fundraising, donor management and operations is universal. Anyway, they are hosting a 1 day seminar, if you are in the not-for-profit world at all I would recommend this to you.

GiftWorks Community Fair:

Please join us for a productive, informative and fun day as our Mission Research team and friends present an inside look at fundraising fundamentals and our favorite tool for making it easy. You’ll hear some fundamental fundraising truths, how implementation happens and what it means… what’s new and more about who we are.

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