Lawyers, Reviews and Web 2.0


In the current culture of user generated content in a web 2.0 world, many people look to review based websites to generate income, as Google's current algorithm demonstrates a clear informational over product bias.

In a case that's clearly destined for the courts, Lawyers are suing a Lawyer review site Avvo, claiming that the ranking system can be gamed. However Duncan Riley writing for TechCrunch has a deeper insight how this could unravel like a big ball of yarn Lawyers Sue Lawyer Ratings Site

The crux of the suit is about calculations and ratings; the only people who would be deeply concerned with the suit are Web 2.0 startups that use proprietary ratings system. The thin end of the wedge could be a precedent where service providers with negative ratings on review sites could sue those sites on the basis that the rating system itself was deceptive or unfair, and that could mean just about all of them.

It will be interesting to see how far it goes and what the ramifications will be to people who are running review based websites.


Who didn't see the lawsuit

Who didn't see the lawsuit coming? That was the FIRST thing I thought of when I read about the site on Mashable and Techcrunch. If you piss off Tony Soprano, you're going to get whacked. If you piss off a lawyer, you're going to get sued.

And sure, the same logic could potentially apply to all user rating websites. But that means all of the companies would have to be as "sue-happy" as the world of attorneys which isn't necessarily true.

Next thing it may be PR

At least, that's where a real boatload of money could be had, if a lawsuit should turn out successful.

Review or libel

When a judge can sue a dry cleaner for $65 million over a pair of pants, then every user generated review site is fair game.

I think virtually all of

I think virtually all of their marketing dollars were tied with public relations tied to this lawsuit. Not a surprise that they got what they wanted.

Precedents already set in Australia

At the end of last week Fairfax newspapers was successfully sued in Australia for a defamatory restaurant review.

It would definitely send a shudder down the spine of any review-based website owner.

Yep - it would send me running..

..for the nearest non-US location to relocate my business to.

to relocate my business

Think you can really escape the Masters of the Universe? :-)

I think the lawyers actually

I think the lawyers actually have a point here. They didn't ask to be included in the site and in order to 'claim' their profile they have to pay $1 non-refundable credit card fee. Once you have a verified profile your rating improves. I'd be thinking it was a bit of a scam too. Number of lawyers in the US x $1, sounds quite a business.

Is this the future then? Where you're constantly paying off every new rating site in order to avoid bad search results? Not being able to opt-out and automatic opt-in? Not so much Web 2.0. more like Extortion 1.0.1.

Interesting to see two other sites in the comments of that TechCrunch article - and Take this example (which was one of the nice ones). Maybe once there is a ratemywebdesigner/ratemyprogrammer site more web-heads will come round to seeing the dangerous side of this.

I'm all up for freedom of information but it would be good to know the people compiling it are neutral and fair. The sources should be more solid than anonymous user comments considering that people's careers are on the line here.

Still it's another pointer to the rise of online reputation management, we've already started working in that area and it looks set to sky rocket. Pity none of these teachers or professors will be able to afford us eh?


I'll gladly do some reputation management today for an ".edu" link next tuesday :-)

Friends Re-united

I recollect a load of defamatory comment on Friends Re-United mostly about teachers that was all wiped a few years ago.

'll gladly do some

'll gladly do some reputation management today for an ".edu" link next tuesday :-)

Ha! How did I miss that one :-)

Yes I remember something about FriendsReunited having this problem. Seems fair to take this material down. There's always been rules for employers when it comes to giving references to ex-employees and IMO those should apply here too. Covering this over with a Web 2.0. sheen shouldn't bypass the legal protections we have in place.


Think you can really escape the Masters of the Universe? :-)

No, but all you need to do is make it difficult and unprofitable for them - like a pool of feeding piranhas they'll go for an easier meal.

Quote: I'll gladly do some

I'll gladly do some reputation management today for an ".edu" link next tuesday :-)

There is something very unsettling about that statement...

More Bluto than Wimpy

well if you were really clever I guess you could create the reputation management problem in the first place

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