The Nutty Professor

Following on from my previous post, the following article appeared in Arstechnica.

‘Video Professor upset by criticism, sues 100 anonymous critics’.

I hadn’t seen the Video Professor previously, but it seems he’s well-known for hawking ‘Computing for Dummies’ style CDs on late-night infomercials. The CDs are ‘free’, but you end up being locked into some sort of Time-Warner affair whereby they keep sending you the rest of the series, or trying to upsell you. Unless you return the subsequent CDs in a timely fashion they will charge you for them (kind of like the old book club memberships if you remember those).

Anyway, seems like the Prof (aka John Scherer) has been angered by a series of less than complimentary comments on his product and services on various websites – particularly Infomercial Scams – and has decided to sue. He’s going after the website operators for a list of IP addresses and user-details for these ‘anonymous’ annoyed people. Luckily for the websites themselves there’s ‘safe harbor’ protection, but Scherer is pushing on for those user details with some gusto.

Welcome to the Interweb professor, you must be new around here! Firstly, internet or no there’s probably some sort of First Amendment protection of free speech that applies here. Secondly, well, see my post below: this is exactly what happens in our massively interconnected world. And thanks to that, this story – and even more negative comments – feature prominently on sites like Digg, and probably Slashdot, Reddit and who knows where else.

I’ll say it again, if your product or service sucks, you’d better be prepared to be exemplary in fixing the issues, or be prepared to have a whole lot more people than you’d like find out about it!

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