Saturday, March 23, 2013

Discussion Post: When you do everything right and it isn't enough

This is a post I was really hoping I wouldn't have to write. I mean, I was *really* hoping I wouldn't have to write it. Because, frankly, the entire situation is not fun.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that a review posted to the Barnes & Noble website contained content from a review I'd written. This post isn't about plagiarism, though. This post is about how B&N responded to my request to have the review removed.

Or didn't respond, as the case may be.

In case you're wondering, B&N has a handy page that details out what is and isn't allowed in reviews. You might notice that the opening section states that "By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party." (emphasis mine)

Guys, I went through the channels. I flagged the review for violation of their Terms of Use. Nothing happened. I contacted their customer support with the specifics of what parts of the review were lifted from mine. The email response I received said they would forward "your suggestion to the individuals responsible for NOOK Books for consideration and possible implementation" which doesn't address the issue I had contacted them with at all. I contacted their online chat and was given a review moderation email address to contact. I emailed the review moderation address with all the specifics, including links to the review in question and links to my review that the content was lifted from. Nothing happened.

Two weeks after I originally flagged the review, it was still up on their site.

Am I angry that I was plagiarized? Yes. But what I'm more upset about is that I went through all the steps. I provided the information to several different departments within B&N showing that the content was not original. And nothing was done.

As I was writing up this post Thursday morning, Amanda suggested tweeting @BN_care as a final step. I did this and was given yet another email address to send the specifics of the issue to. Well, I sent off the email and, surprisingly, the review was down within 30 minutes. Am I pleased by this? Yes. Does it negate everything that came before? No.

In the end, it took two weeks and five contact points before anything was done. My trust in what B&N is willing to do to counteract plagiarism -- no matter the type -- is virtually non-existent at this point. I wasn't asking for the moon. I was simply asking that the words that were stolen from me be removed from their site. I presented the facts, provided links to the reviews in question, and asked for resolution.

Here are my questions for you: How do you think that sites such as B&N, Amazon, and the like should deal with plagiarism in "user submitted" content, such as reviews? What responsibility do they have in maintaining and moderating this content once it has been submitted by a user?


12 comments:

  1. First off, that whole situation sucks. The plagiarism (come on, people! Write your own damn content!) and then the B&N response to it. WTH? It shouldn't have been *that* hard.

    From what I've heard, it's easier to get a take-down from Amazon but I haven't had any first-hand experience dealing with this (knock on wood). It's definitely the site's responsibility to deal with any issues that arise, especially if it's stated in their policy. Of course, getting them to acknowledge that responsibility is something else entirely.

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    1. I had heard that Amazon is pretty proactive about taking care of plagiarism in reviews issues, but I don't have any first hand knowledge. As an aside, B&N has a line in their Terms of Use stating that they're not obligated to remove content even after it's been brought to their attention - which seems like a total cop-out to me.

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  2. B&N dropped the ball on this one. There's no reason you should have had to resort to tweeting. I'm doing a bit of head shaking over here.

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    1. You and me, both. I'm just glad you thought of it, to be honest.

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  3. It's a real shame. All the burden of proof was on your heads. You did it. It would have took B&N next to no effort to rectify the problem with the first email. Highlight. Delete. Email to the thief. The end.

    Customer-Not-Service of this Day & Age drives me crazy. It's sad that I react with a gleeful SQUEE everytime I find someone willing to help me, which happens to be their job.

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    1. Yeah, the entire situation left me disillusioned. It was frustrating and I felt like I was jumping through hoops.

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  4. What complete BS. It should not have taken that much to get something done. They should have started investigating as soon as you sent your first email.

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    1. I agree. It was very upsetting and annoying to have to relay the specifics of what happened several different times.

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  5. That's absolutely terrible. Plagiarism happens, big companies should do their bit to stamp it out.. *huggles*

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    1. Thanks, Hannah. It wasn't fun and it took a long time, but it did get taken care of. Eventually.

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  6. Did you change your header? I like it!

    I think that if you had sent not only the link to the plagiarized review, but also a link to your own review, it should have been handled there. The fact that you were continually told to contact someone else is terrible customer service. If they want to allow people to post reviews, they need to be able to monitor them.

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    1. I did change my header! Thank you!

      Honestly, that was the frustrating part. I gave them all the information they needed to take care of it and nothing was done. Added plus, the review in question lifted content from the review directly below it on the product page. This is something I pointed out in every email I sent. So even if they didn't want to deal with the fact that MY review was posted elsewhere, they allowed a review to stand that plagiarized from another review on their site ON THE SAME PAGE.

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