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Bad mouthing pet food companies - Please read - please comment

marko
May 22nd, 2007, 09:41 AM
This is a touchy subject for members because of the dedication they have to feeding their pets well and to educating new and regular members - both of which are commendable. :highfive:

The slander rules on this site though need to be followed for all companies including pet food companies. Why - because when members let their passions get the best of them by posting slanderous or potentially slanderous comments ADMINS take the heat 100% of the time. Once again slanderous comments INCLUDE those comments that members think are true but have not been proven so in a court of law.

So where is the balance? Where is the middle ground?

The balance is in the wording. Saying comany X produces garbage or poison or has no regard for animals is slander.
HOWEVER, It is perfectly legitimate to say that company X produces a lower quality food than comapny Y or Z when you explain yourself diplomatically.

Everyone has their own different 'truth'. For some members feeding raw is the ultimate, for others super premium brands rock, and others are content feeding lower quality food saying their last cat or dog lived a long time on that food.

As ADMINS all we want is for the dialogue to continue WITHOUT MODS stepping in and closing threads.

Due to the fact that this is really important issue and has come up a few times already, and wheras normally this would be a locked sticky, for now we're leaving this thread open to members to comment.

Thanks in advance,

Marko
ADMIN

technodoll
May 22nd, 2007, 10:43 AM
Thank you for the head's up, Marko :)

Just curious as to what the boundaries are in naming companies and products in threads? we've all mentioned "Ol'Roy" countless times in relation to... well you know. The stuff in trash bins, LOL!

Can we say "O.R" dog food, for example? or is even that not safe?

If the lines are loud and clear they will be easier to follow, IMO. Also, if in some posts company and product names are allowed but deleted in other posts, it's :confused:

Not sure, also, how we're supposed to convey information about X and Y products if we can't name them -is where a workaround solution for this? (to me, saying it's an inferior product just doesn't cut it... sometimes, things need stronger descriptives to get the message through)

Thank you! :dog:

Scott_B
May 22nd, 2007, 10:51 AM
You can name names, you just cant say they're garbage or poisen. Call them low quality all you want though.

technodoll
May 22nd, 2007, 10:56 AM
but that's just it... in which deleted or closed thread was any food called poison or garbage? :confused: and why aren't posts edited rather than just cancelled out or locked?...

Scott_B
May 22nd, 2007, 12:12 PM
I know I've called iams or hills or medical crap food in the past. Cant do that now.i have to say they're low quality :p

Mypetsrmykids
May 22nd, 2007, 01:26 PM
Can you say "Personally I would never feed (whatever brand) to my pets" ?

Scott_B
May 22nd, 2007, 01:30 PM
I'm gonna say yes. All hes saying is don't go overboard with your wording about companies. Call them poor quality, low quality, say you'd never feed em, your pet did terrible on them, whatever, just don't say its made of poison or crap, etc.

Mypetsrmykids
May 22nd, 2007, 01:32 PM
Got it! Thanks for clearing that up :)

Shamrock
May 22nd, 2007, 04:22 PM
This is a very grey area,Marko.. a lot of confusion surrounding what "can" be said and what goes too far.:shrug:

My interpretation of this has been that members could state their open beliefs discussing specifc brands of pet foods - as long as they added the all-important disclaimer..."IMO".
This clarifies that its not a proven fact or a view shared by everyone.
Omitting this, on the other hand, conveys that the statement is factual and perhaps even endorsed by ADMIN, leaving it open for slander issues.

" Brand X is crap, IMO"
"I believe that The ___ Corporation shows callous disgregard for animals"

To me, these seem acceptable comments - they're not presented as any particular "truth", but an opinion only.
Another method I've used - "Brand X is "widely considered" to be a low quality poor food." This is not a conclusive nor untrue statement.

My belief was that the ADMIN couldnt be held liable for any member's individual opinons, as long as they are presented as such.

If I offered.. "H___ Flea Products are dangerous to use and dont work, IMO".
I wouldnt feel I had committed any site infraction, or that slander problems would arise for the ADMIN.
It's just what "I" think.
I dont see any difference when it comes to pet food input. :shrug::confused:

Maya
May 22nd, 2007, 05:04 PM
but that's just it... in which deleted or closed thread was any food called poison or garbage? and why aren't posts edited rather than just cancelled out or locked?...All you said was that the food was retarded and idiotic. Nothing about poisen.

What I find rude is that threads are closed with remarks like slander and no other explanation or warning. It makes the person out to be nuisance when they often have only been misinterpreted. New people that come to the board will see that and probably think the person actually said something awful.

mafiaprincess
May 22nd, 2007, 05:15 PM
What I find rude is that threads are closed with remarks like slander and no other explanation or warning. It makes the person out to be nuisance when they often have only been misinterpreted. New people that come to the board will see that and probably think the person actually said something awful.

I find that in any section of the board honestly. No other board I'm on is as freaked out about libel, because they've made it clear if something legal were to happen it's our issue and our opinion, we wrote it, not the board owners.

I'm tired of being edited or deleted and being slanderous.. few times yeah I get it sometimes, it was overkill, and you wonder what people think of you..

Scott_B
May 22nd, 2007, 05:43 PM
I agree. I dislike the slander censorship as well.

Shamrock
May 22nd, 2007, 06:02 PM
What I find rude is that threads are closed with remarks like slander and no other explanation or warning. It makes the person out to be nuisance when they often have only been misinterpreted. New people that come to the board will see that and probably think the person actually said something awful.

I agree that this has the potential to embarrass or offend. No one can see what was posted - could be a tirade rant. or a simple dropping of a company name.

"Slander" is a pretty harsh term to my ear and eye, and has always struck me as too critical, to be honest. :shrug:

I'm not questioning the many hard calls for the mods when editing posts, but when for this reason, I'd personally like to see something like..."Site legal concerns".or even "Potential slander issues' used.

To me, this conveys an important difference in meaning.. it acknowledges that it wasnt any type of "deliberate" slander.. or even necessarily "was" slander.:shrug:, but is a safeguard measure for the site.

Prin
May 22nd, 2007, 06:20 PM
Ok, so poison and garbage are out. But what about crap? Can food companies really sue you for "crap"? Obviously we don't intend for it to mean that the food is made of dung (which it might very well be), so how can they argue what our intentions for the word "crap" are? Crap is just low-class slang for "stuff", right?

It's definitely grey. And honestly, since the mods are obviously so black and white on this subject, let them censor us. Why should we censor ourselves? Isn't that the mods' job? We're all passionate posters, and if crap is the word to get the point across...

In the end, the poster is about helping or explaining their position on a particular subject. It's not the poster's place to mod themselves. :shrug: Otherwise, all we will have on this board is flowers and butterflies and most of the regulars will quickly lose interest. We don't come here for flowers and butterflies. There are plenty of sites already out there that fill that niche.

And really, whatever did happen to modding out names instead of deleting or closing entire threads? Too much effort? Or are we being made an example of?

technodoll
May 22nd, 2007, 08:21 PM
Good points everyone... guess many of us are scratching their heads too.. i thought i was the only one LOL! :eek: :o I like the suggestion of modding out potentially libellous stuff in a post, rather than just locking or deleting the thread, or being more descriptive than just "slander". how else can we learn and know the "rules", specially when it's a grey zone..?

Prin
May 22nd, 2007, 08:55 PM
But what about ingredients that ARE poison? Like BHT. It has been proven time and time again to be, basically, poison. Or ingredients that are garbage. Like the pus-filled absess the vet talks about in his youtube movie. It's garbage of the food industry, literally. :shrug:

Blurry, blurry lines.

ChancesMom
May 22nd, 2007, 09:17 PM
IMO, it would be a good idea for this site to have a disclaimer printed on the face of the forums page that states something to the effect of:

==========
The views and opinions expressed in our forums are strictly that of our individual members. The contents of this forum have not been approved by the owners of pets.ca and are not necessarily the same views and opinions held by us.

We do not endorse any views expressed by our members nor does any of the views or opinions expressed here take the place of the views expressed by your trusted veterinarian.
==========

To me, and I am not a lawyer, this is a gathering place where individuals share thoughts and feelings. I would not expect for a pet food company to be interested in a bunch of "anonymous" individuals have to say, as far as it relates to their sales any more than one of those pet food company heads would have a lawyer on speed dial to call in a lawsuit anytime he happens to hear one of more individuals "trashing" their name in a public or private place.

While I do believe that it is better to try not to come across too strongly against a particular product in order to preserve a friendly community, unless such an individual is bullying of harassing other members or otherwise making the conversation or board inhospitable, I do not believe that censorship is the way to go.

IMO, if I see several people really heatedly against a certain product I am going to go out and do some research on my own to see if what they say holds any water... and certainly I would be unlikely to purchase such a product. In a conversation about pet food disallowing the name of a food or passionate accounts of bad experiences to be relayed without the proof of a case document of a lawsuit that has been won, it would only hurt the pets (not saying that this site would go this far... just saying I think it would be bad).

As individuals, I think that most of us know how to take the opinions of others to aid them in their quest for the proper pet food... and although I feel that many have helped pet owners to find a better food, it isn't like this forum is a well known and endorsed 1-800-Pet-Food (or similar number) for people to call for help with finding the right pet food for their pet where they have to worry about X company calling up and getting all riled up because 9 out of 10 operators when prompted call their food crap.

Even then... if 1-800-PET-FOOD can show that they believe that the food is crap and they are not maliciously targeting one company, X company may not have a case.

Just my opinion...
ChancesMom

Maya
May 22nd, 2007, 10:15 PM
But what about ingredients that ARE poison? Like BHT. It has been proven time and time again to be, basically, poison. Or ingredients that are garbage. Like the pus-filled absess the vet talks about in his youtube movie. It's garbage of the food industry, literally. Blurry, blurry lines.

That was my next question. We are not supposed to say something is poison when in fact it is? There is scientific proof that these ingredients are poisen which is a more acurate description than saying "low quality". What if you say the pet food in question has an ingredient in it that is scientifically proven to be poisenous. This is silly.:o

A disclaimer is a good idea.:thumbs up

Also I notice quite often threads that are locked have nothing that would warrant them being closed. When it is just chatting it can go on indefinitely.:confused: Is there a reason why more serious discussions are prohibited?

marko
May 22nd, 2007, 11:50 PM
We appreciate the comments and please keep them coming.

Legally all websites owners are responsible for the content on them even with a disclaimer. Members can choose to roll eyes at our legal concerns, but ONLY ADMINS pay the legal bills when they come - NOT members. We will not air past legal troubles - but have had several. Unless you've been sued - and especially if you have been sued for something that you didn't do but are still responsible for...only then can you understand why we need to take these matters so seriously. We want the board to be open forever. In general our experience with lawyers has shown that they are not friendly and not fun to deal with.

I would just like to also add that Mods volunteer their services to this board for free - and do a fantastic job. They deserve loads of respect because it's a hard job, often thankless. There IS A LOT of passion on this board, a lot to moderate, and lots of grey areas. Mods use the best judgement they have to make their decisions. Their decisions are NOT AGAINST individual members. Their goal, like the ADMINS' goal is helping pet owners by having one of the best pet community information websites on the Net.

Thanks all,

Marko

technodoll
May 23rd, 2007, 08:31 AM
Just a thought... have you consulted with a lawyer who's specialized in "online communities and corporate laws" or something like that? Are there applicable guidelines enforceable by law we (this forum) could follow?

There are other forums who are much, much more liberal on matters from bad-mouthing companies to politics, etc and they're still up and running (think about iamscruelty.com :eek: ) - doubt they have alot of money for court matters...

Just curious to see why this forum is "targeted" by petfood companies, and not other forums? :confused:

geisha
May 24th, 2007, 02:40 PM
Hi there. This is an interesting thread. May I make a suggestion??
By posting the ingredients of the "crap" :yuck: dog food and making people aware they can then form their own opinion. Most people who buy the :evil: "bad" food just pick it up off the shelf not knowing what's inside. Who has time or energy to read labels? I do and of course all of you but if we say something is "crap" and don't give a reason then who will take us seriously. Okay now bring on the flames. :footinmouth: or whatever it's called.

loopoo
May 25th, 2007, 01:21 AM
alot of good points, made me think though, especially what techno said, why this forum? so much for freedom of speech haha... interesting though, itchmo forums have the same similar post.. re slander, accusing pet food companies etc.:crazy:

wmarcello
May 25th, 2007, 07:30 AM
If I was censored more than a couple times, I would stop posting here. A forum is only as good as its members. A legally abiding forum with nobody posting is of no use to anyone, so I guess you have to pick your battles.

badger
May 25th, 2007, 08:22 AM
Maybe we should be flattered that the site is so popular. The food companies probably assign people to troll the net and comments like ours definitely drive down sales, particularly since this thing with China. Too bad for them. I'll measure my words - we don't want to drive Marko into destitution - but will go on cursing companies that seek maximum profit at the expense of pet health. I just won't name them. They know who they are:crazy: :crazy: :crazy:

marko
May 25th, 2007, 10:08 AM
Dear members,

We are working on a sticky for this forum based partially on suggestions in this thread. We hope that it will be clearer for everyone and we hope to have it up this weekend.

Thanks for your help everyone!

Marko
ADMIN

papillonmama
May 25th, 2007, 10:45 AM
Hey all, I understand the stickiness of the situation.

I just wanted to say, I think that the reason that food companies are watching this site is because people listen to you all, regular folks listen to what you have to say, they come to you all for insight because someone told someone else that you have great advice.

I see this site as one of the few bulletin boards that is very active, a lot that I have joined fizzle out and conversation is weak, but this site always has interesting things going on and lots of members with excellent advice.

I'm just saying whenever something is big, big companies pay attention.


I'm not really active in the food thread, why not a disclaimer like the one in the health, something like, "our members are not animal dieticians, the opinions expressed are not neccessarily shared by the moderators or administrators of the site, this area is for research purposes,....." I don't know, something along those lines. :shrug:

wmarcello
May 25th, 2007, 10:58 AM
I just wanted to say, I think that the reason that food companies are watching this site is because people listen to you all, regular folks listen to what you have to say, they come to you all for insight because someone told someone else that you have great advice.

I agree, but in the end, whether we say a food is "crap" or has "low quality ingredients", the result is the same. The companies will not be happy either way.

papillonmama
May 25th, 2007, 11:09 AM
I can't help it if they don't like what people think, I mean, really, everyone has an opinion on something, it should be okay to have an opinion, especially as a consumer.

If these companies really thought about it, they could use the comments to create better products. Everyone has to take some constructive criticism at some point in their lives. Companies too, right?

mafiaprincess
May 25th, 2007, 11:11 AM
If I was censored more than a couple times, I would stop posting here. A forum is only as good as its members. A legally abiding forum with nobody posting is of no use to anyone, so I guess you have to pick your battles.

If you look around, some people are backing off. Lot of regular members I love sure aren't posting as much anymore if they come around. I post a lot more on other forums now. Makes it a lot less fun and makes one cranky to be censored often and in a way you look like a tool.

marko
May 26th, 2007, 10:37 AM
Thanks for the input everyone - clearer sticky for this forum coming this morning.

Even though we love our community of members, every good forum needs to have rules or the forum descends into chaos. Every forum decides its own level of risk with regard to free speech (which is only an ideal and doesn't really exist anywhere public - not on TV, or print or the radio etc) Racism, slander, rudeness etc. are all serious issues that are modded on most boards, despite the ideal of free speech.

We are trying to find the balance, and we hope that members work with us.

Thanks again for the input. (This thread will now be closed)

As always, I invite members to contact me via PM or email me at anytime if you have any issues that concern you.

Thanks!

Marko
ADMIN