Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How to Santitize Good Comments on a Message Board: MeasuredUp.com and Rip Off Report - Case Studies

As you know I have a thing about message boards.  Are some anything more than advertisements?  Are some feigning critical analysis, but really just allow the posting of its agenda?  Are some just venues for people to post nasty comments?

Well, today I had a very interesting thing happen.  I was contacted by a company, Hearthside Distributors, which I used to purchase two rather hard to find sizes of gas fireplace log units for my then home: a 1901 built classic overlooking the New York skyline.  The selection, advise and pricing was very good and I was pleased.  (I mean these units were not stripped down to fit, they were designed to fit and were beautiful to look at.)

Fast forward to today and I received an email from Hearthside seeking assistance from its satisfied customers because there was this website http://www.measuredup.com/ that seemed to have posted mostly negative comments from people and it just didn't make sense.

Because I am happy to support excellent service, I logged onto MeasuredUp and wrote a very nice testimonial.  I received a note that it would be reviewed and, if approved, it would be posted.  OK. 

But then I received a second email stating it was rejected for one of a host of possible reasons.  So I enquired as to what the specific reason was and was told it was "incomplete" (like that would ever happen with me! LOL) and seemed like spam.

After going back and forth, and to make a long story short, despite my justifying myself and my post, I was told I would have to resubmit it because its automatic spam filter deletes any suspect post.  That's right:  A glowingly positive post was deleted because it was considered spam...while the brutally negative posts were considered legitimate.  (Now, why would it be deleted rather than archived so that it could be reviewed?  Curious, isn't it?)

The result is anyone anyone who looks up the Hearthside Distributors on the site would get the absolutely false impression that it was a bad company to do business with when, in fact, it is quite the opposite.  Imagine the damage done to the company because MeasuredUp has programmed its site to be negative.  (We all know controversy is more interesting.)  Supposedly after I brought this to the attention of Hearthside the spam filter has been adjusted, but who knows and for how long?

Another example, if you Google my name you will find one of the top listing being from a site called Rip Off Report concerning a 2003 (that's right 7 years ago) incident. This is a site which is similarly (it seems) designed to post only negative comments. If you were to read the post, it would seem like I was a pretty unsavory character and would have no idea that every court, including the New Jersey Supreme Court, rejected the poster's assertions as being false and without merit.  A few years later on a whim I wrote a rebuttal...which you only see if you scroll down (i.e. there is no notice of there being a rebuttal unless you look for it!).  The owner of the site wrote back in part that I should be happy that I was given the ability to write a rebuttal.  (Forgetting the rebuttal is pretty much hidden and doesn't show up on Google.)  He has no regrets or believe that the truth is important to his site...just keeping it up and running.  (Seriously, you can read his post too.)

As you know, I have noted for years that Cruise Critic has become virtually a wasteland of negativism and misinformation controlled by but a few and the luxury boards (Seabourn, Regent, Silversea, etc.) moderated by a host that is so arrogant that he admits moderating and making inappropriate comments when he drank too much...and Cruise Critic accepts that and defends him.  Not my words or an unsupported allegation.  You can read his words admitting it.

Hopefully by providing you with a number of examples of how the Internet is being used in ways you probably never thought of to advance negative comment rather than all factual truths (whether positive or negative) you can better measure up whether your that cruise criticism you just read is a rip-off.

It is, in part, why I started The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum.  There is a presently a discussion about whether my comments concerning Regent Seven Sea Cruises' handling of compensation for the cancelled Voyager cruises was fair or skewed toward Celebrity.  I am not perfect and I will never sanitize or block a differing view. that might show that imperfection...or differing perception.  You need all the information to make your own decisions.