from the companies-behaving-badly dept
Lots of companies competing to be the most ridiculous this week, it seems, and our top comments certainly reflect that. In first place on the insightful side, we've got Rich Kulawiec exposing the staggering irony of a copyright industry report about the dangers of using pirate websites:
"The report was commissioned by the Industry Trust for Intellectual Property Awareness, whose members include Amazon, BBC Worldwide, HMV, BSkyB, Sony and Walt Disney."
So...if I only go to sites operated/owned by those companies, then I won't have to deal with malware, spyware, toolbars, data breaches, or anything else unpleasant? Fabulous. Sign me right up for that.
I'm sure those were all completely isolated incidents, though, and there is no possibility whatsoever that they'll be repeated in the future.
For second place, we head to the story of a textbook publisher attempting to apply DRM principles to physical books. A law professor has started a petition in response, but That One Guy pointed out that stronger market-based responses are probably necessary to fix problems like this:
Forget the petition, the schools just need to tell the company that thanks to their actions, the school will now be looking for other sources for their course books, and then follow through with it.
Suddenly going from decent profits to none will get their attention much better than some pathetic petition('Looks like a whole bunch of people signed the petition asking us to re-consider out choice regarding the book licensing.' 'Did they still purchase the books?' 'Yes.' 'Then why should we care?'), as well as serve as a pointed lesson to any other companies considered following their example.
For editor's choice on the insightful side, following the latest example of a company suing over negative online reviews, we've got two comments making important points about the issue as a whole. First up is timmaguire42 who notes that it's a few negative reviews are unlikely to matter in the first place, but attacking them is very likely to backfire:
The irony is, people don't expect all the reviews to be positive. Things happen, some customers are unreasonable. We get that. If 90% are positive, the product is probably pretty good, and vice versa.
But if a company threatens negative reviewers, then I don't care if the reviews are 99% positive. I'm not buying from a company that begrudges unhappy customers the right to vent.
Next we've got DB who goes a step further and points out that "bad" or "undeserved" negative reviews are usually easy to spot and even serve as a sort of endorsement:
I usually go straight for the negative reviews.
If the negative reviews are questionable or bogus, I then consider the product features.
I was recently looking at waffle makers. Many of the positive reviews were "I like waffles" or "made a great gift". Perhaps those are useful if you are clueless about food or what makes a good gift (perfume == good gift, deodorant == bad gift). But really.. no, useless.
The negative reviews are the ones that point out the flaws. Getting one star for an opened package or bad shipping is easily distinguished from one star for a non-stick coating that flakes off starting with the first use. Things like "awkward to store" and "ugly" are even better, because I can decide if they are important to me.
When a company can suppress or promote reviews, I can't trust anything. They are likely trying to hide substantial flaws, and I can't tell if they succeeded.
Over on the funny side of things, both our top comments came in response to the news that Amazon has patented a process for taking photos on a white background, which stirred up a lot of mockery in the comments. In first place we've got fogbugzd who came in early with a solid quip:
At first I was surprised that the patent omitted the phrase "one click" of the camera. Then I realized they already had a patent on that part of the process.
Later, a photographer stopped by to point out that he (like many people, probably) had been using this exact method for decades, "right down to the curved join between floor and wall." Michael won second place for funny when he realized he couldn't let that slide:
Your studio has ROUNDED CORNERS?
Since we're riffing on Amazon, and since Apple has now been dragged into it, we'll open up the editor's choice for funny with one more joke, this time from an anonymous commenter:
Didn't Apple invent white?
And finally, since they seem to have gotten off easy this week, we'll change subjects for the last editor's choice and head to our post accusing Congress of proactively voting to remain clueless about technology. Generally that's not too surprising, but even though ignorance was the endgame, Michael got stuck on the approach:
This can't be true. I don't believe Congress has done anything proactive.
Truly, it's a paradox for the ages — Congress is stunningly effective when it comes to being ineffective, and laudably efficient at accomplishing nothing.