Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently put to the Goon Central board:
Some words appeared today on a discussion board I follow that I think you Goons need to see because of what it suggests re your lawsuit concerns.My site is hosted by a company called “SiteSell.” SiteSell had a system that it used to help its customers rank well in Google. I never used it because it does not work for my type of site (it only works for niche sites and my site covers pretty much any personal finance topic). But I can testify that it provided very good results for a good number of people for a long time.Now that the system has failed, there is a growing amount of criticism on the internet. Lots of people saw their businesses destroyed overnight. They are understandably quite emotional. A number have taken to criticizing SiteSell in very harsh terms in webmaster forums. The owner of SiteSell is very upset about this. He put forward the following words today:
We are pushed into a corner that is unfortunate. As much as
This is clearly a threat to sue these people.
Perhaps he won’t follow through. Perhaps the suits will not be successful if he does follow through. Perhaps he will be widely criticized for bringing lawsuits and will live to regret having done so. No one knows where this path will lead.
The point I aim to make with this post is — this sort of thing was inevitably going to happen sooner or later.
A good number of the people who came to the internet in its early days came to view it as their private playground. They came to believe that you can say anything you please on the internet and not be held accountable. That was never a realistic take. The laws on defamation were adopted for an important purpose. You cannot do harm to someone’s business through malice and not expect to be held accountable. There is no internet exception to the defamation laws.
The key to a successful lawsuit, of course, is a showing of malice. In non-internet circumstances, malice is hard to prove. It’s NOT hard on the internet. The exact words of each poster are stored in Post Archives. The sorts of words that are needed to show malice can be quoted years later with precision because they still exist in lines of code. And you can show that these types of words were not spoken once or twice in a heated moment but many, many times over the course of a long period of time.
My guess is that you all see what I am getting at here.
I mention the lawsuits regularly not in an effort to intimidate you. I do it in an effort to help you. I am bringing lawsuits as soon as it becomes a realistic option for me to do so (that is, after the next price crash). There has never in the history of the United States been a defamation case in which the hard-to-prove element of malice has been proven so many times over.
You Goons will no doubt continue to do what Goons do. I will continue to do what Normals do — I will do all in my power to lead things in a constructive and positive direction and then play the cards that have been dealt me in the event that I am shown once again that my efforts to lead things in a constructive and positive direction have not brought forth good fruit.
I naturally wish you all the best that this life as to offer.
Rob the Loser