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The Internet Privacy

NYT On Online Reputations 118

prostoalex writes "New York Times analyzes the importance of online postings for the company images and product success/failure rates. Intuit's TurboTax DRM "feature" is mentioned as one of the bad ideas, that was quickly and vociferously opposed by the Internet folk. The movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding got quite a nice cash flow even though the advertising budget was low, but opinions on the Internet regarded the movie highly. Rating systems of Epinions and Slashdot are also discussed briefly."
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NYT On Online Reputations

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  • Slashdot (Score:5, Funny)

    by MCMLXXVI ( 601095 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:09AM (#6272238)
    Thanks for the link to Slashdot [] or I may have never found it.
    • Re:Slashdot (Score:2, Funny)

      by heymjo ( 244283 )
      carefull don't click on that link or we'll ./ slashdot !
    • Re:Slashdot (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Come on, who reads Slashdot anymore? I stopped years ago.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:10AM (#6272243)
    Now that's irony. (registration required)
  • A modest proposal... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:11AM (#6272250) Homepage Journal
    For the Slashdot editors, and others:

    What about a system that would let you transfer your "karma" or "reputation" from one site to another?

    And, specifically for Slashdot: what about a system that would give you precise stats about the state of your karma, such as the number of negative karma moderation?

    Just a suggestion...
    • I'll trade you 2 Interesting karma for this lovely, slightly used, bottle cap.

      seriously, /. karma has as much worth as a Pu []. Similar, apart from the fact that it's much easier to obtain.

    • by ed.han ( 444783 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:16AM (#6272592) Journal
      while that's an interesting concept, it seems impracticable, for several reasons:

      1. most sites don't use a comparable method to rate karma. the slashdot staff describes how the karma system was homegrown in the article, and i'm sure that's true of each site's analogous feature.

      2. even if these systems used some kind of standard rating system for users, i strongly suspect that user behavior and reliability might vary from site to site. f'rex: i'm not really an IT guy, which shows in the comments i make. however, i'm a serious movie fiend. accordingly, users here should not necessarily take my thoughts on technology matters, but i can speak w/ much greater authority on IMDB.

      3. let's assume, for the sake of argument, that all the various sites whose user opinions are well regarded (slashdot, et al) agree to develop a method such as you propose. there would still be 2 separate and mutually exclusive methods: either a highly decentralized method (likely to be the favored tool here) or a highly centralized method. naturally, the latter would be susceptible to exploits, etc., and the interested site operators would therefore split into (at least) 2 camps, thereby rendering the universal solution impossible, IMHO.

      • There are now a large quantity of sites out there that use slashcode for their news-distribution.

        So about your points:
        1. most sites don't use a comparable method to rate karma. the slashdot staff describes how the karma system was homegrown in the article, and i'm sure that's true of each site's analogous feature.
        Same code=same method of determining ratings.
        2. even if these systems used some kind of standard rating system for users, i strongly suspect that user behavior and reliability might vary from s
        • yes, i suppose i am (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ed.han ( 444783 )

          you make some good points. i have a few thoughts:

          1. even though the same code may be in use, the implementation within each distinct site may very well vary and possibly enough to render an apples: apples comparison irrelevant.

          2. agreed, but this is again (IMHO) an implementation issue. all of which is to say (unclear from your response whether you're conceding this point or not): results from site to site cannot be compared apples: apples fashion, which (it would seem to me) would be the rea
    • Hmm, maybe if you ask these guys [].
    • Precise karma information will only happen if/when Rob CmdrTaco Malda is dead (most likely from sexual asphyxiation, sexual impalement, or state-sponosored electrocution).

      CmdrTaco doesn't like Karma to be a game, in his world, it's a tool to select moderators. Since he instituted a karma cap, then replaced numerical karma score with adjectives, and then replaced the number of mods to a post with percentages, anything measurable isn't likely to happen.

    • I think that the more specific the moderation statitistics, the more prone the system would be to abuse from reverse engineering. The more specific statistics would allow people to develop causal relationships between their actions and the weight of karma value increases and decreases.

      A vague value scheme (one of 5 or 6 words to descibe your karma) gives an overall impression, but does tell you whether meta-moderating or getting a post modded up as under-rated will boost your karma more. It does not let

    • With that title I assumed that you would write about raising little trolls up to 50 karma and selling them to the English for eating.
    • You fooled me!

      I thought you were going to suggest that the NYT sell it's reporters for liquor.
  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:14AM (#6272263) Journal
    Considering that a NYT article on second-superpower got outranked into oblivion by Googlewashing in just 42 days, online reputation is tough to achieve, even over a short period. Secondly, most online opinions are always critical, and outnumber 'shills' hands down.

    Try getting your hands on an article on Microsoft and Schnazzle using Google and you can see Online Reputation at work!

    And on the lighter side: Karma - Excellent; Reputation - Whore!
    • Yea, real hard to find [] info on that, took me all of 2 seconds. Nope, it is not the NYT article, but you could pay to access the NYT archive and get the original.

      When Googling second-superpower [] we now get articles about your famed "googlewash effect" that whine endlessly about people not using the "Official anti-war Sanctioned Definition by of second-superpower".

      I really fail to see the point of this complaint, unless it is an effort by a handful of people to control the language, then I see it quite well
    • Whenever I'm considering a product, I google for that product + "review", and I generally get a good idea of how well the product was received. Mountain bikes, monitors, cars ... there's almost always a review by *someone*. It's probably the case that dissatisfied customers are more likely to post than satisfied ones; still, I've seen tons of comprehensive reviews ("It's mostly good, but watch out for this aspect ...") as well as cheerleaders ("This is the best xyz ever!!!!! You must get it NOW!!!!")

    • Maybe if the NYT (registration required) allowed Google to index their stories (registration required) then Google would be able to find their article. It's not rocket science or evil conspiracies, it's just that GoogleBot doesn't have an NYT registration.
    • Considering that a NYT article on second-superpower got outranked into oblivion by Googlewashing in just 42 days

      Please. That whole Register rant was an instance of googlewhining. []

      As others have pointed out, Google ranks tend to even out fairly quickly.

  • by benito27uk ( 646600 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:15AM (#6272270)
    As I'm sure the NY Times is aware of....
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:16AM (#6272272) Homepage Journal
    The article mentions that online reviews and word of mouth are reducing the effectiveness of advertising. Advertising is what the compnay *wants* you to know about their products. Of course, a really gutsy, ethical company wants you to know the truth about their products, and enjoys the enhanced word of mouth the Internet provides, because perhaps they can save some money on advertising.

    There have already been reports about gag orders over product criticism. I wonder when the alarm bells began ringing in the advertising industry, and how their response will develop. (Astroturfing Slashdot?)
    • Remember E-Mail (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Nice2Cats ( 557310 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:47AM (#6272414)
      Gagging online sites isn't going to help, because more information is passed on by e-mail than anything else. I have about four friends with whom I regularly mail about new films and DVD releases and what to avoid: Tripple X was one of the films I seem to have saved them from. Unfortunately, they were too late to stop me from going to see 28 Days Later, because I didn't read my e-mail that day. It doesn't have to be negative: I've been recommending Hero left and right. Fight Club was a film I only rented an e-mail discussion.

      Another area where e-mail is a killer are computer games: I don't know how many people I have told not to buy Master of Orion III because it is simply a piece of crap that should have been taken out to the back lot of Infogrames (now Atari, I believe) and shot.

      Word of mouth is powerful, even if you don't stand on a soap box.

      • because more information is passed on by e-mail than anything else.

        This method is working great for you as you have a trusted group with similar interests that exchanges information but I doubt that it makes up more volume then public places like Usenet, IRC, and WWW. I take 'reviews' from friends into consideration but I always check online also before buying just about anything of value (maybe $50 or more?).
    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:55AM (#6272879) Journal
      Of course, a really gutsy, ethical company wants you to know the truth about their products, and enjoys the enhanced word of mouth the Internet provides, because perhaps they can save some money on advertising.

      Of course and UNethical company - which may be a requriement for a PR firm - will simply put one or two people to work posting through pseudonyms to create the illusion of a vast population of enthusiastic supporters. (Like the paid endorsements and fake man-on-the-street interviews in commercials and political ads, written large on the internet.)

      The term of art is "Astroturf" - for phoney grass-roots.

      And after the NYT article you can expect a sudden wash of it, polluting the net as a reputationg system for some time to come.
      • As for man-on-the-street interviews, "The Paper of Record" has one of these on perminant retainer: Greg Packer []. For example,
        Another average individual eager to get Hillary's book was Greg Packer, who was the centerpiece of the New York Times' "man on the street" interview about Hillary-mania. After being first in line for an autographed book at the Fifth Avenue Barnes & Noble, Packer gushed to the Times: "I'm a big fan of Hillary and Bill's. I want to change her mind about running for president. I want to be part of her campaign."

        It was easy for the Times to spell Packer's name right because he is apparently the entire media's designated "man on the street" for all articles ever written. He has appeared in news stories more than 100 times as a random member of the public. Packer was quoted on his reaction to military strikes against Iraq; he was quoted at the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Veterans' Day Parade. He was quoted at not one â" but two â" New Year's Eve celebrations at Times Square. He was quoted at the opening of a new "Star Wars" movie, at the opening of an H&M clothing store on Fifth Avenue and at the opening of the viewing stand at Ground Zero. He has been quoted at Yankees games, Mets games, Jets games â" even getting tickets for the Brooklyn Cyclones. He was quoted at a Clinton fund-raiser at Alec Baldwin's house in the Hamptons and the pope's visit to Giants stadium.

        --Ann Coulter
      • I think that most of the more astute /. readers quickly become pretty impervious to astroturf replies in the threads; and the rest can pretty well follow along by reading the comments of other readers.

        When I read or see something, and they are obviously selling the sizzile, not the steak, my hockey-meter goes up pretty quick; the other thing is if the online reviews and comments are just plain wrong, it gives the companies entire line bad-karma (accountants would call this crediting the Goodwill account).
  • NYTimes (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kafka_Canada ( 106443 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:18AM (#6272282)
    New York Times on reputation..... ouch.
    • Correction (Score:5, Funny)

      by sg3000 ( 87992 ) * <sg_public.mac@com> on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:26AM (#6272317)
      The New York Times issued a correction for their story on online reputations. It turns out the author has never been on the Internet and does not own a computer. Also, the reference to Amazon books was incorrect; Amazon actually is a the remnants of a forest, not an online bookseller. There is no such web site site as Slashdot.

      The New York Times regrets the error.
  • by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:18AM (#6272284) Homepage Journal
    Most people don't actually know what they want. If you look at how many people gripe about Blizzard or the RIAA, then compare it to their buying records, you figure out pretty quickly that in the end all the bitching doesn't directly add up to negative results.

    I happily continue to buy movies, music, and Blizzard games to this day because in the end, when you get through all the griping, they're quality products. What's the alternative? But if you looked at the amount of complaints online you'd think these industries had been run into the ground by upset consumers.

    I'd buy from the nice companies, but they've been run into the ground by pirates.

    • Indeed, we gripe about Blizzard and the RIAA because their practices are evil, not because their product always sucks (though in RIAA it's an often).

      When you go to and look up a car, digital camera, or whatever, you're not checking to see whether Honda/Kodak has a reputation for their execs running over small babies, you're checking on the quality/popularity of the product.

      Similarly, if I am "Joe Average" checking music, somebody ranting about the evils of the RIAA whilst I'm trying to see
  • by dylan95 ( 307651 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:20AM (#6272290) Homepage
    Thousands of college students use [] to influence their decision as to which college classes to take. Some professors complain that they don't think it is fair that their reputation is readily available online for anybody to see (especially when their reviews on is often the first thing Google links to), and there are professors that like it so much that they link their syllabus to the site, even when their reviews aren't so great (so that they can gather more good reviews, I suspect).
    • I know of at least one professor who has, um, influenced his rating at Rate My Professor []. I'd take any of the scores there with a grain of salt, and carefully read narrative comments, applying a liberal BS factor, to get the true flavor.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:12AM (#6272572)
      Your example reveals a problem with reputation-based systems: who is assigning reputation.

      This was obvious to me this weekend, when I went to a food flavor contest, and the items that won popular vote were the most bland and boring in every category.

      The problem with reputation systems--including Slashdot--is that your reputation can be based on the opinions of individuals who are not necessarily the best for assigning reputations. They may be unknowledgable, unduly biased, etc.

      In the case of classes, this gets to be a problem because students don't always like material that's necessary for them to learn. This has become painfully obvious to me as a university statistics instructor. I lecture in a department where statistics is required, but not the primary focus of the undergraduate major. My ratings tend to be good, but stats class ratings tend to be much lower than that of other classes on average, simply because the students don't want to be taking statistics. There are plenty of times when, in order to learn, the students must do something they might not want to do or not see reasons for at the time.

      And so it goes for things like food flavors, movies, music, Slashdot topics, and so forth. Even within fields you see this: the majority is not always best. Popular opinion is not always the best index of quality, just what's popular. Many of us see this on Slashdot, I'm sure--a certain opinion being reinforced because it's majority, not because it's informed or insightful.

      This isn't a new phenomenon of course--it's something people have wrestled with since the dawn of man, I'm sure--but it seems to have become more salient to me recently. It has become especially relevant with popular anti-critical-establishment inclinations in many domains of culture, such as music and movies, and also in online social sorting mechanisms such as Slashdot.
      • So students rating a teacher is bad because they could be unknowledable or bias, etc? Who else is going to do ther ratings?

        Strikes me as silly to say something like that. Students are obviously who should be rating the teachers, thats what the site is for.
        You shouldnt court the rarified 'expert' opinion all the time as it (a lot of the time) doesnt reflect what the general masses think. And its THEM who will be taking a class. I find if everyone in a class hates it, there is generally something wrong with
        • Sure, everyone has the right to rate people, and we shouldn't just listen to "experts" or we'll get drivel like modern art.

          But... You need to know whose opinions these are or you're basing your choices on the opinions of people who may be nothing like you. If I watched a sporting event I'd rate it by completely different criteria than someone who knew the rules. Similarly, two people with different goals and levels of experience could rate digital cameras differently.

          I either go by reviews with reasons at
    • by simong_oz ( 321118 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:13AM (#6272577) Journal
      I haven't checked out the site, but anyone who chooses their university on the basis of opinions posted on a website deserves everything they get. For something as serious as this ("grading" teachers), the internet is simply too anonymous to be taken on it's merits. For example, who's to say that the teacher/prof themself is not posting opinions? Or somebody with a bone to pick doesn't post lots of bad opinions? What sort of cross-checks are there that the person posting the opinion has ever been taught by that prof? etc etc

      It also encourages teachers to teach in the manner that influences their grading (ever see the episode of Malcolm in the Middle where the new teacher institutes a ranking table?), just as exaqms encourage students to memorise what's required to pass a unit rather than learn the material so they know and understand it. But I'll get off my soapbox as I'm starting to go off on a bit of a tangent. :)

      And, as is the case with almost every survey that wants opinions, negative opinions will far outweight the positive simply because people rarely bother to comment when the job is well done.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Simong - you should check out the site. Contrary to your hypothesis, most reviews are actually positive, from students who want to let other students know about their best professors.

        Could these positive reviews don't come from the professors? No - because the system has a unique verification system that other professor review sites do not have that makes it difficult to post bogus reviews without it being obviously known. Even when bogus reviews are posted, it is typically obvious when you read a gener
      • When I was an undergrad, every class had a survey at the end of the semester where the students provided feedback on the professor. I suspect many schools do this.

        The survey was performed by the dean of the department, and was somewhat anonymous (i.e., no names assigned, but certain guesses could be made by class rosters). This has the benefit of not being available for any Joe Internet user from falsely adjusting the statistics for a specific teacher, but the drawback was that the general student popu

        • I can testify from experience that what you describe is exactly the way this sort of thing goes down.

          Back in 1995, I was a clueless undergraduate at a university that shall remain nameless []. I was helping the student government get its office LAN issues straightened out, and when word got around that I knew my way around a computer they volunteered me to be the one to process the data from those very surveys you mention.

          Now, being as it was 1995 and this Web thing was still new and shiny, I had the bright idea that instead of publishing a book with the results, like they did every year (at great expense), they should put up a Web site and let people generate reports from a database instead. After tracking down a few other students who knew way more about the Web than I did, we hacked it all together and launched the puppy in short order -- the first time, as far as we could find out, that any university had provided such data through the Web (anyone have any earlier examples?). A technical triumph.

          Not, however, a political one. The faculty union went through the roof when they discovered that anybody on the planet could look up the rating of a given faculty member. They demanded that the site be completely taken down, and that disciplinary action be taken against me and my merry band of miscreant geeks.

          In the end, we managed to negotiate a compromise -- the site would be blocked by IP to anyone not on the campus network, and we would get away with a stern talking-to for having the temerity to do something innovative. After I left the project, though, the faculty leaned on the student government types hard enough to convince them to abandon the project altogether.

          That experience was what convinced me that I wanted to make a career using Web technologies; I figured that anything that frightened complacent incompetents *that much* was something worth being a part of :-)

      • I haven't checked out TeacherReview either but my reaction to your comment would be the same reason I like ePinions and really any review/comment system so much--I don't pay much weight to the average ranking or anything like that, what I find terribly useful is the content of the comments. I don't really care whether some one says "this is the best digital camera ever" or "it's the worst ever." Utterly useless--but when they say that the it uses a proprietary battery and extras are very expensive, or it
        • I agree. The text of the comments lets you know if the person's circumstances are similar enough to yours for their opinions to be of use.

          For picking a teacher you probably want to pay more attention to the opinions of people who finished a class with them and share your major. Someone's opinion of the teacher could be unfairly colored by failing, or by them taking a class they didn't really want to be in. For a digital camera you want to find someone in your rough experience range using the camera for tha
      • by weave ( 48069 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @11:47AM (#6273735) Journal
        I was a college instructor (evening) for 10 years. In the beginning, I was too easy and gave out too many A's. I rated my quality as an instructor initially as crap. I got great reviews. As time went on and I got more comfortable teaching and got better at helping students learn the topic (and graded their ability appropriately), my ratings went down into the toilet. And the ratings tended to map the distribution of my grades. That is, students who did well rated me excellent, students that did poorly rated me poorly.

        The only portion of student-submitted ratings that were helpful to me were the free-form comments where some took the time to make constuctive criticisms and suggestions. That was the feedback that helped me improve, not trying to boost my score to college's most favored instructor...

        So, to get back to topic, ratings without some sort of backing context, removal of biases and favoritism, planted comments, and consideration of reputation of reviewer, is next to worthless.

      • It also encourages teachers to teach in the manner that influences their grading

        Assumming the reviewers write fair, intelligent reviews, this is a good thing. If 'the manner that influences their grading' is quality, than the teachers will be encouranged to be better treachers by bad reviews. This is clearly a good thing.
  • by Patik ( 584959 ) * <cpatik@g m a> on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:23AM (#6272300) Homepage Journal
    Ang Lee, director of Hulk, was not going to put the main character in purple shorts until he encountered pressure from fans online []. The fans threatened to badmouth and boycott the movie if Lee didn't stick to the comic in that regard, so he switched the outfit back.
  • Moo (Score:2, Interesting)

    How does any digital opinion or rating system incorporate what Donald Rumsfeld called the "unknown unknowns?" From a Web eye view any opinion system is blind to private and noncirculated information, as well as any info that doesnt transfer well onto a digital medium (such as buzzing lights or a bad odor in an office).
  • Low ad budget?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:31AM (#6272341)
    The movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding got quite a nice cash flow even though the advertising budget was low

    I live in Winnipeg (where Nia Vardalos is from, originaly, and yes, that's in Canada). I think they spent their entire advertising budget in my city alone, if the above quote is accurate.

    I'm enough of a movie buff that I see about 2-3 movies in theatres a week, and let me tell you: 6 *months* before MBFGW was released, I was seeing trailers for it every few weeks. The month before it came out, the onslaught started. Every single movie I went to had a trailer for it, and I do mean *every*. During its run here, ditto. Of course, I could somewhat ignore this, until the TV campaign started in about 2 weeks before it premiered. Suddenly everyone I knew was talking about how 'good' this movie looked, well before seeing it. By the time it actually was making any money in theatres, very few people I knew hadn't yet heard of it (hell, even my parents were asking what all the fuss was about, and it's been several years since they've seen a new movie).

    In a city like Winnipeg, all they had to do was mention once or twice that a film created and starred in by a 'Pegger was coming out, and the local media would have done all the free promotion they needed. Instead, we were bombarded with more trailers than I saw for Spider-Man and LOTR:TT combined, and yes, that's a lot :) I didn't even know anything about Vardalos until after the movie had premiered; until that point I just figured this was the latest 'Hottest Romantic Comedy of the Year!' to be placed on the hype-mobile.

    Maybe the rest of the world was spared from this, but up here it was insane. Then again, maybe a 'low advertising budget' just means no superbowl commercial these days.
    • Re:Low ad budget?? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nevets ( 39138 )
      Being from Upstate-NY, I can confirm that in my area there really wasn't any advertising at all for this movie. So you may be right that the entire budget was spent in your home town! The movie showed only in a small "Arts Theater" and had no mention in the movie megaplex Lowes or Hoyts. The first way I heard about this movie was through the old fashion word-of-mouth. And that came from my father who happens to golf with the over 65 crowd (he himself is in that crowd too), and they all were talking about h
    • The advertising campaign you are talking about (along with nationwide Canadian distribution) was about 6 months after the film was released in the US -- long after the phenomenon described here had occured.
      • I was seeing trailers for this movie months before it was released in the US, unless there was a very, very small release in the US that never got anywhere. I was bitching about the overhype on this movie long before anyone that I knew in Canada or the US had even heard about it.

        What happened *after* it had been out for a few weeks, yes. But it's been decades since any movie has seen general release in the US *months* before Canada.
        • This movie didn't initially have a general release, and it wasn't planned to have one. While movies usually open big and get less and less business as time goes on, this one opened on just a few screens and slowly grew because of the word of mouth. Over a period of six months, more and more screens were added until it was effectively in wide distribution. At this point, the studio decided to "release" it, which meant, among other things, (a) starting the ad campaign , (b) releasing it in Canada.
    • Before the movie opened, my only knowledge of it came from having seen the QuickTime trailer on Apple's site; I think I never saw the trailer in a theater. I saw the film fairly early in its run, before it became such a monster hit; I started seeing the TV ads quite a bit later, once they realized the movie had the potential to go through the roof.
  • Regarding Epinions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Redking ( 89329 ) <stevenw@redk i n g .com> on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:34AM (#6272358) Homepage Journal
    They've been around for a while and I think it's great. I still go there to read reviews before I make any purchasing decisions and they also have helpful advice articles written by nominated Experts on different topics like credit card debt or succeeding in college.

    Read their history, they've been around since the dotcom boom and are founded by former employees at top technology companies. Unlike other dotcom companies, they've adapted and survived by making tough but sound financial decisions. When I first signed up, each review was awarded 30 cents per view by an Epinions registered visitor, but then people began abusing it. Slowly they've adjusted and lowered the payment rate and have implemented a new reward system.

    I'm not surprised that companies are starting to quote Epinions' users regarding their products. They have a well established "Web of Trust" system and top reviewers are entrusted by the general Epinions' public to give objective reviews. Check it out!
    • Hmmm, "web of trust" doesn't sound too good - I think it's that whole "being caught in a spider's web" that ruins it for me as a metaphor that works. I mean, if you're the fly, how are you going to trust a web?

      I prefer "circle of trust" because it sounds so much more caring - a circle being an unbroken line that joins itself, enclosing a given area as tightly as possible, etc. It just sounds so much warmer, cosier and friendly. Robert de Niro clearly agrees [] with me, and who's going to argue with him?

    • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Monday June 23, 2003 @11:49AM (#6273752)
      I wouldn't be upset if Epinions disapeared. In fact I would be overjoyed. My experience has been that the site sucks, most new things have a listing and no reviews, and the only advocates of the site are people who write the reviews.

      Maybe one out of a hundred things I search for reviews on has a useful epinions page. If only google would have a way to include '-epinions' in every search by default, I wouldn't waste so much time loading what seems like a good page from the search results but turns out to be yet another useless epinions listing with no reviews attached.

      For a review site to be useful they need to have access to the things they're reviewing before they go on sale so the review is available when the product comes out, or at least shortly afterward. Epinions only seems to have reviews available for things that have become common. If something has become common enough to have a epinions listing I've probably already seen one and don't need a review. Reviews about new, unseen products are the useful ones. That makes the entire Epinions concept flawed.
    • I think Redking secretly works for Epinions.
  • by banana fiend ( 611664 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:57AM (#6272476)
    Perhaps not, it's telling that the things that are popular are not microsoft, and a product that was helped was MBFGW.

    Rather than this revolutionising the current marketplace, it instead opens up a new one, based around the interests of people who have access to information, and can create their own reviews. So Open Source, and small-budget but high quality productions will do much better than they would in the "real world"

    It's only when we have no choice in the matter that "dumbing down occurs" - which alienates a section of the populace that don't benefit from blandness - they turn somewhere else - the internet.
    • I highly doubt that this will have any real impact on the importance of advertising - it'll just open up new avenues and ways for companies to advertise their wares. For example, for years clothing companies have been hiring the trendsetting kids to be their real-life product placement ads in their local schools, realizing that this is one of the most sure-fire ways to build their "street cred". It has worked fairly well in the chase to capture that lucrative teenage market (a good reference - No Logo by
  • I was reading the article and although it was nice to see /. on there id did seem to be portrayed in a kind of negative light. Yes if it something we dont like we seriously crucify it.

    like SCO for example

    And when you do look back over the new and the articles that make on here there is about 60 rant about how bad whatever x is, 30 take the piss out of whatever x is and the last 10 is good natured honest to goodness praise.

    Are we really becoming know as the cynical ass of the internet body or should we us
  • by notque ( 636838 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:10AM (#6272560) Homepage Journal
    With as much as Slashdot bashes Microsoft, It's sure to crumble to the weight of our online opinions any minute! ...

    Any minute now...
  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:15AM (#6272589) Journal
    Sucky article mention of intuit....

    1. Intuit installs crappy copy protection
    2. Users bitch. A small number of paranoid ones claim Intuit is spying on them
    3. Intuit quickly handles situation and assures everyone it's not spying on them.
    4. Everyone is happy

    Not how I remember it. No mention of the scribbling crap into your boot block or inability to install into vmware machines, etc, etc...

    I switched to Tax Cut.

    • I won't go back next year even if they fix *all* of their issues. If we want other e-sleezeballs to behave, we have to beat Intuit so hard that blood comes out their mouth.
    • That understatement of what happened with Intuit seems consistent with Intuit's own claims of a limited effect on their sales by the outcry. However, the end of this article's comment about how Intuit will eliminate the things that people complained about is a good sign. Previously, Intuit had taken a hard stance and claimed that some form of DRM was here to stay, whether their customers liked it or not.
      • The Tax thing just reinforced my opinion that Intuit does not know how to stop themselves. They drove me away from Quicken when they discovered the Internet and persistently harassed my Quicken session to try and buy their various web $ervices and partners.

        It isn't the hard stance, it is the "what can I get away with" stance.
    • But it's just something they learned from Microsoft. (go ahead an call it a troll). I'll buy music and software from companies that treat my computer like it is MY COMPUTER! Every piece of software should have a basic and advanced installation so that users can call the shots if they want to.

      I rarely complain about the install problems with Redhat or Mandrake because they enable me to go around the problems in advanced text mode. That is just smart programming. Don't mess with your base of knowledgeabl

  • doesn't always help (Score:4, Informative)

    by Random Walk ( 252043 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:32AM (#6272671)
    I remember long time ago there was a ./ story [] that was basically an advertisement for a product called FreeVeracity []. The product is dead now ...
  • Amazon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pommiekiwifruit ( 570416 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:28AM (#6273162)
    I saw a book on amazon that was in an interesting subject area and was rated five stars "the best technical book I have ever read".

    When I saw a copy in the bookshop and glanced through it, it was bulked out with badly written C code and didn't have nearly enough theory, and in one place seemed to lack the courage for an ambitious feature.

    So now this makes me wonder how so many books get high ratings. The denizens of comp.lang.c++ might disagree with Herb Schilt getting 4.5 stars for his C++ books also.

    • Re:Amazon (Score:3, Interesting)

      by swordgeek ( 112599 )
      Agreed, in a general sense. (I'm not a programmer, don't know about C books at all.)

      The secret is that people tend to push their opinions to the extreme. If they like something, they love it. If they dislike something, they're offended at the wasted time.

      If someone finds a book rotten, you can read about it at the bottom of the reviews at Amazon, or wherever. I always read these reviews, even though many of them are along the lines of, "THIS BOOK SUX0RS!!!" OR "I HATED ITS BAD LANGANGE AND IT WASNT VERY F
  • by Burlynerd ( 535250 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:40AM (#6273245)
    As this "online reputation" concept is realized by big business, more postings will be made by online employees of these businesses. We are spoiled right now by the relatively low number of paid commentators on the Internet. The future will probably include various companies' paid posters battling each other on a scale to rival the spam phenomenon. The more that companies think we can influence their sales... the more they will try to influence the postings on the Internet.
  • by MadJo ( 674225 ) on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:49AM (#6273313) Homepage Journal
    I hope that those e-commerce sites won't abuse the online fora, to increase their own sales etc, by word of mouse, as this article calls it.
    Because I think that would lead to a downfall of the quality of those services, and they would cut themselves in the fingers.

    btw, on a side note, I find this quote rather funny:
    "I think that, now, the power of the Internet is captured in the ability of everyday Americans to give their opinion on any product or event that they want," Mr. Gulbransen said.
    As if no other inhabitant of other countries in the world uses the internet to express their opinions about certain products.
    Of course I realise that this is an American Newspaper, read mostly by Americans, but still, its content is on the global internet :)

How long does it take a DEC field service engineer to change a lightbulb? It depends on how many bad ones he brought with him.