Scott Hardie | January 25, 2003
If a lawyer ever doubts why his profession is so despised, he should open his eyes to how lawsuits take the fun out of everything they touch. According to this article, a man is suing eBay because the negative feedback against him has damaged his reputation, and they won't change it. Besides money, he's demanding several things:
That eBay allow you to retract and edit feedback that you leave.That eBay retract negative feedback that isn't true.That the words "fraud, liar, cheater, scam artist, con man" not be permitted in feedback.That eBay warn users that they can be sued if they leave negative feedback.That users have to register their usernames as business names in California (where eBay is located).That eBay collect California state sales tax from its users.

Before I rant, I do want to say that I'm with the guy on the first point. There's nothing stopping eBay from changing their system so that you can edit feedback you've already left. I have participated in auctions, and seen friends participate in auctions, where negative feedback was left, but the problem got resolved afterwards. For an honest user, those red marks are a permanent wound, and it's ridiculous that eBay won't let you edit those comments when there's no good reason.

But that's where my support for this motherfucker ends. He wants eBay to warn users that they can be sued for negative feedback? Does he realize what kind of damage that would do? The amount of negative feedback would plummet to a fraction of what it was. People would be too scared to leave a red mark or possibly even a black mark. As one analyst says in the article, this would lead to a serious breakdown in the system, since much of eBay's success is based on the feedback system. Maybe I'm predicting a snowball effect that wouldn't occur, but I know that I would think twice before leaving a red mark even if it was deserved, and I'm less afraid of litigation than a lot of people.

As for the word filters, I don't think they're a bad idea, but they're not necessary. It's true that people should give specific details when they get screwed, not call the other person names - but there's no need to force them.

And the state sales tax thing is ludicrous. It flies in the face of precedents concerning the collection of taxes online, and it will be tossed out of court.

I guess it was inevitable that this kind of lawsuit would be filed. I've been burned by negative feedback, as have most of you, so we all know that it stings. Is it any surprise how an attorney from Los Angeles responded to negative feedback?

Jackie Mason | January 25, 2003
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Erik Nelson | January 26, 2003
This is just another example of citizens and lawyers of the Republic of California imposing itself on the other 49 states of that small thing it's a part of, whatever that is. There is a reason why federal courts overturn a distinct majority of California circuit court decions.

Scott Hardie | January 27, 2003
Erik: Hear, hear.

Jackie: It's a hobby that involves watching trains. Literally. You get lawn chairs, you get your camera, you sit in front of train tracks and watch trains come and go. And you talk to other rainfans across the country and track trains across the country, and you pay a lot of attention to train schedules. (Erik, I first heard of this hobby through Chris #1, so feel free to append what I wrote.)

Jackie Mason | January 27, 2003
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Lori Lancaster | January 27, 2003
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