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Sorry Julian, But your Comment will Stand

A few minutes ago, I received an email from "Dave S" of "ReputationDefender, Inc." In short, the email requested that I remove a comment by Julian on a very old entry. I was asked to make this change because "he considers his comments to be outdated" and that complying would "go a long way to help make the Internet a more civil place."

As someone who wishes he could "undo" a few of the things he's done publicly, I wish that fixing one's reputation was as simple as asking nicely in the name of civility. It just doesn't work that way, folks.

What's funny is that this isn't even a case of a damaged reputation: the comment is nearly three years old. Clearly people researching Julian will see that his comment is "outdated." I responded by saying:

No thanks. He said it, the comment and post are dated, and it will stand. I think "honesty" is more valuable than whatever gains may be made - or presumed to be made - to make the Internet "more civil."

I may change my mind - and I may certainly feel differently if the person had actually said something that made them look bad - but for now, I'm standing on principle.

The original email, with Julian's "Lastname" removed, goes as follows:

ReputationDefender, Inc.
2023 Cherokee Parkway
Suite #18
Louisville, KY 40204

February 22, 2007

Dear Mr. Barzeski,

We are writing to you on behalf of Julian Lastname. He has asked us to
contact you to see if you will consider removing the content posted by
him at:

http://nslog.com/2004/05/07/v600_bluetooth_and_isync_a_bust/

Please allow us to introduce ourselves. We are ReputationDefender,
Inc., a company dedicated to helping our clients preserve their good
name on the Internet. Our founders and employees are all regular
Internet users. Like our clients, and perhaps like you, we think the
Internet is sometimes unnecessarily hurtful to the privacy and
reputations of everyday people. Even content that is meant to be
informative can sometimes have a significant and negative impact on
someone's job prospects, student applications, and personal life. We
invite you to learn more about who we are, at
www.reputationdefender.com.

When our clients sign up with our service, we undertake deep research
about them on the Internet to see what the Web is saying about them. We
find sites where they are discussed, and we ask our clients how they
feel about those sites. Sometimes our clients express strong
reservations about the content on particular websites. They may feel
hurt, ashamed, or "invaded" by the content about them on those sites.

As you may know, more and more prospective employers, universities, and
newfound friends and romantic interests undertake Internet research, and
the material they find can strongly impact their impressions of the
people they are getting to know. When people apply for jobs, apply for
college or graduate school, apply for loans, begin dating, or seek to do
any number of other things with their lives, hurtful content about them
on the Internet can have a negative impact on their opportunities. At
some point or another, most of us say things about ourselves or our
friends and acquaintances we later regret. We're all human, and we all
do it!

We are writing to you today because our client, Julian Lastname, has told
us that he would like the content about him on your website to be
removed as he considers his comments to be outdated. Would you be
willing to remove or alter the content? It would mean so much to Mr.
Lastname, and to us. Considerate actions such as these will go a long way
to help make the Internet a more civil place.

Thank you very much for your consideration. We are mindful that matters
like these can be sensitive. We appreciate your time.

Please let us know if you have removed or changed the content on this
site by sending an e-mail to: [removed]. If another
individual would be more appropriate to contact on this matter, we'd be
grateful if you could forward this message to him or her.

Yours sincerely,

Dave S.
ReputationDefender Service Team

19 Responses to "Sorry Julian, But your Comment will Stand"

  1. i'm lolling so hard that my side hurts. lol.

    check the reputationdefender website.. its funny stuff

  2. You know, come to think of it, if his comment had been "bad" for his reputation, I might be more likely to keep it. Gee, $15.95 to email you the results of a Google search every month and allow you to generate form emails. Wish I'd thought of that!

  3. So now, not only will his name find the comment, but also the attempt at retraction. At least he's getting his money's worth.

  4. His comment was totally harmless, I wonder why he's so up in arms. Perhaps his problem is that he used his full name.

  5. Wow, an honest to god Mencia moment!

  6. I saw a "news story" last night about these guys on the local news. I put "news story" in quotes, because it was a 3 minute infomercial in news format carried on the local ABC affiliate's news broadcast. My wife and I are both well versed in "the internets," so we find crap like this hilarious.

    It started off talking about people's photos and videos of them getting drunk and doing stupid stuff while in college, and how companies are searching sites like MySpace and Facebook before hiring people.

    Common sense would tell you that if you would be embarrassed by something, you shouldn't do it. You don't want people to see you bonging a 40 and then spewing all over the place? Don't freaking do it in the first place.

  7. That's too funny.

    But, I wonder why the guy cares about this particular comment - there was nothing wrong with it.

  8. *chuckle* . maybe you could actually charge him to correct/remove the comment. I'm sure just billing him for your time would be fair ...

  9. Owen said on February 23, 2007:

    *chuckle* . maybe you could actually charge him to correct/remove the comment. I'm sure just billing him for your time would be fair ...

    Yeah, how long do you think it'd take to remove it? A few hours? I mean, I've gotta scrub every darn pixel off my screen. His comment was pretty long, so that's a lot of scrubbing. I'll have to charge him for supplies (all the erasers I'll go through) too. Hmmm… :-D

  10. How about 5c to make the change, and $19.95 in "administrative charges" ?

  11. how about doing what he asked, because it's being nice?

    i asked one blog to remove my comment once, not because it was bad, but because i like to clean up my online "image".

    and then to make a fool of him online for asking, i'm sorry, that's childish. anyone, including him, deserves better than that.

    it's your blog, you can do what you want, but it would be a nice gesture. :)

    Just my 2 cents.

  12. Tom said on February 23, 2007:

    how about doing what he asked, because it's being nice?

    Because it's dishonest and pointless, basically.

  13. [...] an interesting thing happening on NSLog, apparently I company called “ReputationDefender”, go around looking for your name, and [...]

  14. I think we're better people when we say online the same as what we would say in person.

  15. [...] work, and I followed one of the links to NSLog(); - the Weblog of Erik J. Barzeski. There I found an article about someone who had employed a company to ask him to remove a harmless comment from a [...]

  16. Heard of the saying "ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU IN ANY COURT OF LAW"

    Also, that the original UCE and IEEE states that too.Applies to the BBS world back in 1994.

    I know cos we are always reminded of what we said.Even if we remove, there is always an archive somewhere.

    Azrin @ http://www.azrin.info

  17. [...] remembed back in February the dragging over the coals a person got by Erik Barzeski for sending this dumb dog after him. It did not help that the WordPress King Alex [...]

  18. Neat article with some examples of how ReputationDefender can actually make things worse - like Professor Ivan Perry for whom "It has merely generated additional publicity," he said. Firms Tidy Up Clients' Bad Online Reputations

  19. It is good that we have archive.org. I would be more worried about someone if there is no trace of him/her on google.

    There is always a copy of a copy so reputationdefender is useless.

    Peter


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