Research 2000 Sends Cease & Desist To FiveThirtyEight For Discussing DailyKos Concerns

from the wow dept

Want to know how to take a bad situation and make it significantly worse? Check this out. We were just discussing how the website DailyKos was going to sue its former pollster after an investigation turned up fairly compelling evidence that the data it presented was either faked or manipulated. Pretty quickly, a few folks sent over the news that Nate Silver, at the always fascinating FiveThirtyEight, (though, frankly, I miss his Baseball Prospectus work...) had received a cease & desist from R2K's law firm:
As Silver notes in his post, the letter, in part, credits statements made on the Kos website to Silver, which is just really bad lawyering. On top of that, it takes issue with some of Nate's Twitter messages, such as one where he clearly opines that R2K's results have "maginal quality." That's a clear opinion statement, and not defamatory at all. The whole thing is bizarre and clearly makes R2K look even worse -- especially considering the claims on Kos that it was given weeks to defend its research and chose not to for whatever reasons. But as soon as the reports come out demonstrating the likely problems with the research, R2K rushes out the cease-and-desist letter... and to a third party site that was just reporting on what folks on Kos had found? Yikes.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 8:45am

    Meet the streisand effect.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 8:52am

    Good ole' lawyering. Considering that getting a law degree costs 200k and the average starting salary is 25k, it makes sense that lawyers would try to find every which way to make money. Hell, Im sure most would be willing to work for the mafioso, except for the Triad. The Triad would probably pour hot oil in their eyes for wasting money.

     

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  3.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 8:54am

    Opinion?

    "On top of that, it takes issue with some of Nate's Twitter messages, such as one where he clearly opines that R2K's results have "maginal quality." That's a clear opinion statement, and not defamatory at all."

    Given that he has the math to back him up, I'm not even sure that's an 'opinion statement.'

    Good thing this isn't the UK!

     

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  4.  
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    Mark Blafkin (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 9:18am

    Baseball Prospectus

    Mike,

    I didn't know you were a rotogeek too :-)

    I'm sure that I just missed it, but have you ever addressed the success of paywall sites like Baseball Prospectus and Baseballhq.com ?

    In arenas like fantasy baseball (or stock trading), some information is actually valuable enough to pay for...and is made more valuable by the fact that others do NOT have it. Right?

    While there is understandable concern about general news sites turning to paywalls to survive, it appears that some types of information sites can thrive under that business model.

     

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  5.  
    icon
    interval (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 9:19am

    Re:

    @AC~DC: "Considering that getting a law degree costs 200k and the average starting salary is 25k, it makes sense that lawyers would try to find every which way to make money."

    Yeah, I get that. But wouldn't it make more sense to sue (counter sue?) DKOS or someone more directly associated with the case rather than some one who amounts to a bystander who is reporting on the action? Christ, I dunno, frankly I need to give up on second-guessing these guys.

     

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  6.  
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    xs (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re:

    Because it doesn't take a lawyer to know they don't have a leg to stand on countersuing DKOS, so they can't get the boss to sign off spending money on that effort. But trying to get some third party to foot part of the legal bill, a little bit of clever presentation might get boss to say yet.

     

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  7.  
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    slacker525600 (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 9:32am

    I just like the progression on fivethirtyeight.

    first reporting on the "investigation conducted by Grebner, Weissman and Weissman" which "confirms other oddities that [nate] had detected in Research 2000's polling"
    followed by commentary "Although I expect to proceed fairly carefully with respect to Research 2000"
    then after he is "sent a cease and desist demand by Howrey LLP, the lawfirm that Research 2000 has contracted"
    he then follows up with some of his own statistical analysis where he finds that "None of these alternate hypothesis exactly speaks well for Research 2000, as all would imply significant departures from what we ordinarily think of as sound and scientific polling practice."

    awesome. serves them right.

     

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  8.  
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    iamtheky (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 9:36am

    i would like to think that "maginal quality" is a typo for "vaginal quality" making it a flattering statement.

     

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  9.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 9:51am

    Re:

    Depends on the vaginal host....

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 10:12am

    Re: Baseball Prospectus

    "and is made more valuable by the fact that others do NOT have it. Right?"

    Value and price are not the same thing.

    "it appears that some types of information sites can thrive under that business model."

    The fact that a monopolist can survive, or even make more money, with a monopoly does not justify the government granting monopolies (ie: copy protections).

    The question to be asked isn't, "can monopolies make money and survive" it's, "what's better for society as a whole" and the lack of monopolies is better both for innovation and aggregate output and consumer surplus.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 10:18am

    Re: Baseball Prospectus

    and another thing to note, MLB unfairly benefits from things like being delivered over government sanctioned monopolized broadcasting spectra and being televised over government sanctioned monopolized cableco infrastructure, so of course it naturally has more notoriety, especially since it's benefited from this unfairly unlevel playing field for quite some time and so it has a first mover kinda advantage being that markets take time to change and adapt once people are used to and familiar with certain things. It will take time for alternatives to gain recognition, provided the government doesn't step in and ruin it due to incumbent lobbying efforts, MLB had plenty of time to gain recognition and is benefiting from its past and present unethically unfair unlevel playing field. This is why the government should NEVER EVER grant a monopoly on both the information distribution channels and the content. This is absolutely unacceptable and absurdly unethical.

     

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  12.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 30th, 2010 @ 10:22am

    Re: Baseball Prospectus

    I'm sure that I just missed it, but have you ever addressed the success of paywall sites like Baseball Prospectus and Baseballhq.com ?

    Amusingly, I just made my decision to drop my BP subscription, because I get just as good info from other sites for free these days and have pretty much stopped using BP.

    In arenas like fantasy baseball (or stock trading), some information is actually valuable enough to pay for...and is made more valuable by the fact that others do NOT have it. Right?

    It's not about value. As we've described plenty of times before, value and price are not the same thing. It's about supply. And, yes, we've said that with things like great financial information obviously there's value in the scarcity of being first to have it, so people will pay for it. But with things like BP, that only worked when there wasn't serious free competition. With fantastic commentary for free on blogs these days, and sites like THT, there's less and less reason to pay for BP. On top of that, it seems like other projection systems, many of which are available for free in some format, are more reliable than PECOTA (Silver's original contribution).

    While there is understandable concern about general news sites turning to paywalls to survive, it appears that some types of information sites can thrive under that business model.

    Sure. I've always said that it's about supply and demand. If you really have unique information that has direct value, you can get people to pay for it. But you have to be sure that you can retain that lead in the marketplace. BP hasn't... and there's now lots of free competition that makes BP subscriptions not worth the money any more.

    I actually think the site could do much better these days as a free site.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    interval, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm not crawling into THAT kettle of fish...

     

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  14.  
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    Niall (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 4:46am

    Re: Re: Baseball Prospectus

    Mike, have you ever thought about having a little glossary/primer for those of us who aren't so up on economic theory, and who don't have the time vto trawl back through millions of comments explaining this stuff? I for one would love a quick, simple pointer on value/price/supply that I can easily check when these discussions head that way.

     

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  15.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 10:56am

    ...Insert both feet fully in mouth to the knees

    You know, if I was lawyering or advising R2K just about the last person I'd want to cross is Nate Silver.

    Not because he'd blast back with both barrels, not his style, but because the odds are what he did fire would hit and sink me on the first shot.

    For the life of me I can't think of anyone in the polling business or who follows and reports on polling with more credibility than Silver and well deserved at that.

    This is a perfect example of NOT how to threaten someone with a SLAP suit in the hopes of shutting them up.

    In the words of Bugs Bunny: "What a maroon!!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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