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A word from the editor
Copyright © 1998 to Bruce Simpson, syndication rights available
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21 Apr 1998

Have Your Say

Today's online edition of @IDG carries an interesting (and as usual, well researched and written) story by Russell Brown about the operations of a company called "the web directory".

As regular Aardvark readers will be aware, I first mentioned this company in an Aardvark story published on April 8th.

I think it is important to address a couple of points raised in the story published by @IDG and the comments attributed to "the web directory".

In particular:

"Webb admits that a CD-Rom version was referred to on the company's former Website, but claims it was not being considered until next year's edition of the directory"

In the past few days, "the web directory" have had a new web site built which is significantly different to the original. I suspect many of the comments they made to IDG for this article were made in the mistaken assumption that the old site was gone forever. Unfortunately, that's just not the way the Web works. For the benefit of those who never saw the old "the web directory" site, it's still online and accessible at this location.

Looking at this page from that original site, it is very clear that the CDROM was being strongly promoted. It was mainly because of the proposed existence of this CDROM that I initially made inquiries regarding the activities of "the web directory". These initial inquiries were in response to several emails I received from concerned Aardvark readers who had been approached by "the web directory's" telemarketers and were not at all impressed. When, in my call to "the web directory", I suggested that a print-directory would quickly become outdated, I was advised that the CDROM would be updated quarterly and it would be readily available through stores such as Whitcouls. They may have decided to withdraw the CDROM now but on the original site there was no mention of "maybe" or "later we plan" - it was, at the time I wrote my comments, clearly promoted as part of the package on offer.

Another comment attributed to "the web directory" says:

"Webb says when Simpson called "a 17 year old girl answered the phone and he said `is your company Australian'? Looking at his previous articles, I think he might have a bit of a problem with that. It's an easy shot, I suppose - this Australian scam company comes in and stitches everybody up."

Well the "17 year old girl" I spoke with identified herself as none other than Kylie Thompsen, who "the web directory's" original site billed as "pretty impressive" and "our Corporate Advertising specialist ... with many years proven experience in print advertising". Work that one out for yourself, perhaps the reason her real picture doesn't appear on this page from their original site is now apparent?

Working out exactly what's going on here is left as an exercise for the reader.

Ms Webb from "the web directory" seems to make a big deal about the simple fact that some 10 minutes into my call I asked Kylie whether she was Australian. Webb appears very defensive about this and implies that it was my opening comment, when in reality I simply asked because I thought I detected an Australian accent. At no time did I suggest or imply that Australian businesses were any less or more reputable than their local peers and no mention was made of this in any of my articles. Do I detect a strawman?

I assert that my original warnings to exercise care over buying listings in any directory which professes to specialise in listing Internet businesses and which offers to include your email address on a CDROM is valid. This is particularly true when that company does not intend to offer an update service through the Web - indicating that they clearly do not understand either the market or the medium.

I refuse to be held responsible for the actions of any others who may have decided to contact "the web directory" to voice their own concerns.

I most certainly will not be publishing any form of retraction and I invite "the web directory" to take legal action if they feel they have grounds for such action. I shall be delighted to defend any such actions and bring countersuit for damages and costs.

Perhaps "the web directory" thought that by putting up a new Web site and then revealing that Kylie was just "a 17 year old girl" rather than the "Corporate Advertising specialist" she'd been previously billed as would strengthen their case and make me look silly.

Unfortunately for "the web directory" they have once again demonstrated that they still don't understand the Net. Surprise, surprise - their old site hasn't gone away just because they built a new one. I wonder if this is embarrassing for them?

"The web directory" exercised their Aardvark Right of Reply just 5 days ago and they raised none of the issues referred to in the @IDG article. Could that be that they were waiting for the embarrassing evidence on their old site to be replaced first?

Cut your losses "the web directory". If you believe you've got a good product and a valuable service to offer then get on with the business of developing, promoting and delivering that product. Your continued threats of legal action, backpedalling over things such as the CDROM and apparent embarrassing contradictions over the qualification and experience of your staff do you no favours.

Have I been unfair in my comments?

Readers are invited to voice their opinions.

Have Your Say

Relevant Links:

The Original "the web directory" site
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