poly: inaccurate neighborhood reputations

From: Richard Schroeppel <rcs@cheltenham.cs.arizona.edu>
Date: Tue Nov 24 1998 - 11:35:50 PST

Hal Finney is right about realtors & their reputations, but
doesn't address the temporary damage done to the property
values in the falsely derogated areas.

In practice, with any "directory" system, the recourse is to
complain to the compiler and he fixes it. Fortunately, it's a
lot easier to fix a web page than a printed directory.

But suppose the compiler is disinclined to fix the problem:
say he doesn't believe your neighborhood is low crime, or
has simply spent too many hours editing and wants a vacation.
[Perhaps he thought he was doing a public service in building
the directory, and has served his time.] In the real world,
you have a problem: there will be a letter from a lawyer, and
it will cost someone (probably you) some money to set right.
A truly intransigent case will involve a judge, and more money.

In one of my alternative worlds, there are no libel laws, just
recursive rating agencies, consumer complaint files, etc.
Free speech reigns.
The problem above causes trouble for my alternate world.

This kind of problem used to be (is still?) a problem with
credit reports: TRW can libel you in very subtle ways, causing
you not to be offered credit cards, and you might never find out.
The customers of TRW are happy, since excluding a few credit
worthy potential customers is no big deal to them-- their
incentive is to avoid the opposite error. TRW has no incentive
to spend money purging false negative reports from the database.

Rich Schroeppel rcs@cs.arizona.edu
Received on Tue Nov 24 19:40:10 1998

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