Instant Reputation: Help for Failing Enterprise Search Vendors

September 16, 2015

I know the economy is booming for marijuana vendors in Colorado. In other business sectors, the economic weights hang heavy.

One sector which has suffered for many years is what I call search and content processing. As a result, many vendors have magically changed from search into something else entirely. My textbook example is Vivisimo, the metasearch and on-the-fly clustering outfit spawned at a university in Pittsburgh. Yes, it is a high tech center. Uber bought a schools’ robotics department.

Vivisimo morphed from clustering and pretty good de-duplication to enterprise search. The search thing was okay but it required lots of fiddling with scripts and there was an annoying limit on the size of the indexes, but, hey, the company was trying. After years of effort and hitting more than $15 million in revenues, Vivisimo and its investors sold the company to IBM. Presto. Chango. Vivisimo became a Big Data outfit.

A single example selected from many search transmogrifications.

I read “I Created a Fake Business and Bought It an Amazing Online Reputation.” This service, which I assume works like a champ, is ideal for the search and content processing sector.

Gasping vendors of proprietary search systems can sign up, create a subsidiary, and charge the marketplace with an outstanding reputation. Imagine the value of Fast Search & Transfer’s indicted executive when he innovates. What about the surge of interest in Fast-Search derived systems, when those are repositioned. Think of the possibilities for these applications:

  • Mid tier consulting firms can shake allegations of hanky panky and enjoy a great reputation
  • Failed webmasters promoting “real” news can join the ranks of the publishers disseminating information via Facebook and Twitter
  • Unemployed sales and marketing professionals can reinvent themselves as something more marketable than a former CEO with a track record of failed companies stapled to an Island cotton shirt

I learned in the write up:

I’m not the first to set up a fake business as a honey pot for fake reviews. In 2013, the New York attorney general’s office went undercover for “Operation Clean Turf.” Pretending to be a fro-yo place in Brooklyn plagued with negative reviews, the office called up “SEO shops” asking for help burnishing its online reputation. Many of them wrote fake reviews, using IP maskers and cheap freelancers abroad. At the end of that investigation, the attorney general fined 19 companies from $2,500 to $100,000 each for breaking business laws. Yes, writing fake reviews is illegal. False advertising is a misdemeanor crime. You can be fined up to $5,000 for it and spend six months in jail, or more if it’s your second offense. Even writing a real review where you don’t reveal that you were compensated to do it violates guidelines set forth by the Federal Trade Commission, which is one of the reasons why it wasn’t kosher for Kim Kardashian to pose on Instagram with her favorite morning sickness pills. But lots of people are still doing it. Technology research firm Gartner thinks that 10-15% of all reviews online are fake.

Does this mean that mid tier consulting firms, unemployed middle school teachers, and struggling search vendors will not use the service?

Good question probably best answered by the outfits who have pumped tens of millions of dollars into search and content processing companies.

Stephen E Arnold, September 16, 2015


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