Revised Policies: Non-Desirables

Bob Hubbard

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Revised Policy
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Our goal is not to be a site for witch hunts, fraud busting, and inquisition. There are other sites who enjoy those games and view themselves at guardians of the arts, when it's often little more than "if they like you you're ok, if they don't they will say whatever to defame your character". We hold to a higher standard. In the same vein however, being one of the largest general arts communities on the Internet, brings with it some responsibility to a higher standard of being, and to allow our members the ability to ask consumer oriented questions and report on misadventures. With that, we announce the following policy changes and clarifications:

Consumer Complaints
Members may make consumer complaints, and consumer warning posts. If you are complaining about someone, it must be based on first hand experience. What happened to a complete stranger half a country away doesn't count. All content must comply to our existing policy rules.

Fraud Reports
MartialTalk has an existing fraud busting policy. It's intent is to avoid site disruptions, juvenile games, and mud fests. Members may report on verifiable cases of fraud and criminal behavior in the Horror Stories section. All content must comply to our existing policy rules.

Non-Desirable's
In some cases, non-desirable individuals might attempt to join our community. When found, they are subject to ban.
Who do we deem as non-desirable here?

1- Convicted Sex Offenders.
2- Convicted Frauds
3- Anyone falsifying their rank, achievements or experience for the purpose of misleading clients and prospects.
4- Anyone selling, issuing or otherwise distributing falsified, counterfeit or unauthorized modified credentials such as diplomas, certificates and rank.
5- Anyone impersonating a lawyer, law enforcement or government official.
6- Anyone falsifying their identity under our RealName policy.
7- Anyone falsifying military experience in a verifiable manner.

Acceptable proof of wrong here is:
1- Verifiable Court Documents such as court orders and court decisions.
2- Newspaper articles in credible papers
3- News releases direct from credible organizations
4- Government Records

Unacceptable Proof
1- Threads on so called "advocate" sites that are little more than sloppy research and angry teen angst
2- Emailed notes stating "hey so and so is a liar"

An accusation of wrong doing is not sufficient, proof must be presented. While we are aware that there are many many individuals and websites who view themselves as consumer advocates and guardians of the truth, our criteria must be set higher than the often sloppy detective work done by amateurs.

Information presented may be submitted to law enforcement or other government agencies for verification, and those submitting falsified evidence turned over for possible prosecution.

We may modify the acceptable and unacceptable proof, and this policy at any time. Proof should be presented in public, not emailed to our Staff. Those who choose to post evidence are subject to site policy and the law, and are solely responsible for their postings. Neither MartialTalk nor it's Staff will be held accountable.

Abuse of this policy is subject to administrative action.

Opinions, advice, statements, offers, or other information or content made available through MartialTalk are those of their respective authors and not of MartialTalk, and should not necessarily be relied upon. Such authors are solely responsible for the accuracy of such content. MartialTalk does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information on MartialTalk and neither adopts nor endorses nor is responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any opinion, advice or statement made. Under no circumstances will MartialTalk be responsible for any loss or damage resulting from anyone's reliance on information or other content posted on MartialTalk. 47 U.S.C. 禮 230(c)(1)

We will comply with all properly served court orders for information, assistance and data.

========

An example of a "News Release from a Credible Organization" would mean it is posted on their website, or sent out in a news release.

"I was at the camp and Sensei gave the nod to remove X from our ranks" is NOT acceptable. If it's important, it will be posted or otherwise published.

"X doesn't show up on their org list. That means he's lying".
No, it means he doesn't show up on the list. There are many reasons why this could be. A falling out, an old list, left that organization and was removed. Proof here is a public announcement of being stripped of rank with a reason that doesn't involve "Didn't pay his annual fees/Left the organization".
 
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Bob Hubbard

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One of the goals of this will be to develop some resources that can be used to check various claims against, as well as help consumers get satisfaction against scammers, frauds, and rip off artists. Exposing them is good, but more needs to be done to stop them from continuing to victimize people. Over the next few weeks you will see some minor changes under Horror Stories that will hopefully help aid victims in getting justice, and save new people from being victimized. You might see some new faces pop in here to inform of ongoing and completed investigations, news from law enforcement on on going prosecutions, and hopefully news of scammer convictions and victim restitution. This is new ground, I'm excited and nervous at the same time.

So, keep watching and as always keep sending in your feedback.
 

Steve

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One of the goals of this will be to develop some resources that can be used to check various claims against, as well as help consumers get satisfaction against scammers, frauds, and rip off artists. Exposing them is good, but more needs to be done to stop them from continuing to victimize people. Over the next few weeks you will see some minor changes under Horror Stories that will hopefully help aid victims in getting justice, and save new people from being victimized. You might see some new faces pop in here to inform of ongoing and completed investigations, news from law enforcement on on going prosecutions, and hopefully news of scammer convictions and victim restitution. This is new ground, I'm excited and nervous at the same time.

So, keep watching and as always keep sending in your feedback.
I'll admit that I was curious how you guys were going to handle this situation. I'm glad that you're taking steps, although I might remove the snarky digs toward Bullshido and other organizations. In my opinion, it's totally okay that the purpose or intent of this site is not investigation or fraudbusting. At the same time, regardless of where the information comes from, once a question has been raised, it's not going overboard to pursue a reasonable answer or show the poster the virtual door.

If anything, you guys might have overdefined "acceptable" vs "unnacceptable" proof and your policy would be stronger if you struck those passages. This would eliminate what reads like a backhanded dig to other sites, as well as allow you the latitude to pursue questionable claims whether the issues come from an affiliate site or not. It would also allow you to take a harder stance when issues like this come up.

I like it here, but I also like Bullshido.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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It's something being considered as we move forward with this. The overall intent is to filter out heresay and unsubstantiated witch hunts while allowing for serious proof to be presented.
 

Archangel M

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I would think that some guideline or definition of what "fraud" (or at least acceptable targets) is will need to be laid down.
 

Makalakumu

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I think the key is civility. Fraud-busting in the martial arts is a NEEDED service. There is way too much BS out there and there has to be some avenue to check up on claims and clear the air. MT can have a fraud busting section, however, I think it should be done without the peepeetalk and generally sophomoric behavior that is engaged elsewhere. If it can be done at a professional and serious level, I don't see a general problem with it.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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This is a rough draft work in progress, so I expect we'll have some major imput from members to define things. I don't intend to be a mini-Bullshido. Different rules/guidelines/etc. Any thing done here needs to comply with our existing policies. Our last major fraudbuster brewup here back in 04/05 turned the site into a war zone. I've got no intention on letting that happen again. We are a polite site, I want it to remain such, which means that some folks will have to modify their methods if they want to come here and work with us.

In the end though, I want our doors shut to the scammers, rip off artists, liars and other such people who give the arts a black mark and prey on those who don't know any better. I believe we can do this, without losing our identity, and without compromising our mission of being a friendly martial arts forum.
 

Makalakumu

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One of the things that make the legitimate action of fraud busting impolite and ultimately ineffective is the "my art is better then your art" weenie waging chest beating bit. If guidelines can be drawn up to separate those two, I think the site would be well on its way in differentiating itself from Bullshido.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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One thing that will differentiate MartialTalk from Bullshido is when proven we won't keep the frauds around. Seems they don't mind letting known frauds keep active accounts on their site. I find that an rather odd concept for a fraud busting site. One of their admins a rather funny guy going by Cy said it this way "We don't NEED to ban them. We EXPOSE them.". Nice, then what? Seems odd to me.

Another thing is than many of the fraud buster sites allow and even actively encourage questionable legal behavior such as bullying, stalking, browbeating and such. We aren't going to allow that type of behavior here. Every day, hundreds of honest cops investigate cases with stricter handcuffs than we have, and do their jobs quite well. Every day hundreds of honest courts hear hundreds of cases with stricter evidence rules than we have and can reach decisions and render judgments. I see no reason why we can't do the same.

The amateur sites also don't seem to have a penalty for lying or fabricating evidence in investigations. MT's official policy will be if you make crap up to bust someone, you'll be the one banned and we'll offer that evidence to your victim should they pursue legal action.

So, don't break the law, don't break the rules and stay honest when investigating issues. Keeps all our butts covered.

Now, on the subject of resources, I'm looking for some good ones to use, not just for reference, but also so that when someone is breaking the law (and yes fraud is a crime), it can be reported to the proper authorities for investigation and possible prosecution.
 

arnisador

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The overall intent is to filter out heresay

I hope you mean "hearsay" and not "heresy". :uh-oh:

I remember when I was an admin here and one of these started up and people started e-mailing me scans of documents in foreign languages proving claims and counter-claims. Someone may have been a fraud, but I was in no position to judge the matter.

And "Bullshido" is no longer filtered?
 

Archangel M

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I'm looking for some good ones to use, not just for reference, but also so that when someone is breaking the law (and yes fraud is a crime), it can be reported to the proper authorities for investigation and possible prosecution.

Unless it's a "humdinger" of a case, I dont see many prosecutors going after most of the fraud incidents I see in MA. Cop's are not going to care if the corner McDojo is being run by some guy who trained in his basement or is hanging some made-up rank certs. If anything it's civil suits that will have the power. If a martial arts org finds out someone is claiming rank and making money, that will probably get some attention.
 

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I think the key is civility. Fraud-busting in the martial arts is a NEEDED service. There is way too much BS out there and there has to be some avenue to check up on claims and clear the air. MT can have a fraud busting section, however, I think it should be done without the peepeetalk and generally sophomoric behavior that is engaged elsewhere. If it can be done at a professional and serious level, I don't see a general problem with it.
Just for the record, Bullshido is very serious and respectful in their investigations forums (overall... a few jackasses sometimes chime in but they're put down pretty fast). YMAS is the locker room and MABS is the board room. Two very, very different tones which is often overlooked.

Of course, when someone comes on and seems to be shoveling crap, they're called on it.

My belief, however, is that even were this not the case, if the allegations have merit, it doesn't matter where they come from. Once raise, while I don't really think everyone needs to pull out the pitch forks and torches, we should at least passively support (if not actively pursue) answers.

And really, most of the investigations end amicably with the person having a fully vetted record. For example, a guy locally started up a BJJ school and there were some questions about his rank. He came on the board himself and cleared his name. It was relatively painless.

In Matt's case, he was asked to provide some documentation and even now, after everything has played out as it has, mtripp posted an open letter on Bullshido extending an olive branch and the USJA seems to have left open the possibility of at some point legitimizing Matt's rank.

Edit to add: Regarding banning, I can see both sides. Bullshido seems to distinguish between people who violate the board policies and people who are frauds. The general idea is that Bullshido would rather get as much online documentation by the fraud as possible... the more they post, the more their own words condemn them, so to speak. Seems reasonable to me.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Our difference here is that we have done the same here, as any investigation of Horror Stories and it's subsection will show. Unfortunately there are those on Bullshido who feel that not allowing them to ask the same question 100 times, to not be allowed to sign up 1-shot accounts for the sole purpose of disrupting -this- site and harassing their target (harassment btw is usually an illegal activity), to not allow them to blanket MartialTalk with sock puppets to gang up on people, is somehow sheltering the frauds. I'm sure they also feel the police should be allowed to use shot filled hoses to beat suspects too, but that's thankfully not legal in the US at least. That's why they have made the empty and unsubstantiated claim time and time again against us that we're nothing but a safe haven for frauds. Can't provide names, and they are demanding that I violate law and turn over to them our member list. Not going to happen. Even Bullshido admits that their own goal is simply to -expose- the fraud.

While Bullshido has done a good number of investigations, the great majority of those they exposed are still actively out there, doing what they do. As they used the child molester example in reference to us when they awarded MartialTalk their famous Douchebag of the Month award (something I honestly find very amusing I might add), I have to ask: What good is identifying the scumbag if you still allow them to victimize others? In my own dealings with a certified fraud, I dealt with the FBI, the BBB, other victims, and a large network was created that eventually ran him to ground. Bullshido can keep them around to toy with. I prefer the idea that if you are in fact guilty, you don't need to be around my honest members any longer.

I don't want Bullshido style investigations here. I question the legality of vigilante justice such as that. What I do welcome is the raising of legitimate questions and concerns, requests for proof (as our policies have long stated, if you claim something it's your responsibility to back it up, not our staffs job to play CSI), and results of investigations.

If Bullshido is investigating someone, they are welcome to make an announcement here, post regular updates, and their final results. They aren't welcome to continue their game playing, little board crashes, or continued unauthorized hotlinking to our images however. They also aren't welcome to come here and bully our members. As they themselves have stated, they have no legal enforcement powers.

If in the course of any fraud or criminal investigation it is found that a MartialTalk member is guilty, then in most cases we will most likely suspend their access to the site. Why most and not all? Because we reserve the right to decide on a case by case means and do our best to be as humanly fair as we possibly can be, as we always have done. Some on Bullshido will read this as soft. I prefer to see it as sticking with the American idea of "Innocent until proven guilty" and other related principles.

As to Bullshido itself, I'm removing the filter ban on their sites for the purpose of being able to link to their investigations. I've also sent Phrost an email suggesting that rather than us beat each other up over and over again, that we cooperate to expand the coverage of fraud reports and make it harder for them to gain new victims. So far, no reply, but the olive branch is there.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Investigations forum is open. It's located under Horror Stories.
 

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As to Bullshido itself, I'm removing the filter ban on their sites for the purpose of being able to link to their investigations. I've also sent Phrost an email suggesting that rather than us beat each other up over and over again, that we cooperate to expand the coverage of fraud reports and make it harder for them to gain new victims. So far, no reply, but the olive branch is there.
I hope that works out.. It is a shame there is such an apparent level of antipathy between the sites there are good people on both despite how prejudices advise our perceptions. I mean it is like supporting your local team.. you are not exactly supposed to adore supporters of the other town's team [that is a given] yet I do not understand the animosity I have read.. Anyways sorry I do not mean to interrupt just I hope there is something positive.. yours is good "Aikido" dear Bob.. Jenna
 
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Bob Hubbard

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The animosity goes back years, and is mostly 1 sided. We've long preferred to be left alone, and have never supported or condoned going to other sites and causing trouble. They've been doing it to us for years though often with staff or now former staff involved. Personally, I never got it.
 

Tames D

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Our difference here is that we have done the same here, as any investigation of Horror Stories and it's subsection will show. Unfortunately there are those on Bullshido who feel that not allowing them to ask the same question 100 times, to not be allowed to sign up 1-shot accounts for the sole purpose of disrupting -this- site and harassing their target (harassment btw is usually an illegal activity), to not allow them to blanket MartialTalk with sock puppets to gang up on people, is somehow sheltering the frauds. I'm sure they also feel the police should be allowed to use shot filled hoses to beat suspects too, but that's thankfully not legal in the US at least. That's why they have made the empty and unsubstantiated claim time and time again against us that we're nothing but a safe haven for frauds. Can't provide names, and they are demanding that I violate law and turn over to them our member list. Not going to happen. Even Bullshido admits that their own goal is simply to -expose- the fraud.

While Bullshido has done a good number of investigations, the great majority of those they exposed are still actively out there, doing what they do. As they used the child molester example in reference to us when they awarded MartialTalk their famous Douchebag of the Month award (something I honestly find very amusing I might add), I have to ask: What good is identifying the scumbag if you still allow them to victimize others? In my own dealings with a certified fraud, I dealt with the FBI, the BBB, other victims, and a large network was created that eventually ran him to ground. Bullshido can keep them around to toy with. I prefer the idea that if you are in fact guilty, you don't need to be around my honest members any longer.

I don't want Bullshido style investigations here. I question the legality of vigilante justice such as that. What I do welcome is the raising of legitimate questions and concerns, requests for proof (as our policies have long stated, if you claim something it's your responsibility to back it up, not our staffs job to play CSI), and results of investigations.

If Bullshido is investigating someone, they are welcome to make an announcement here, post regular updates, and their final results. They aren't welcome to continue their game playing, little board crashes, or continued unauthorized hotlinking to our images however. They also aren't welcome to come here and bully our members. As they themselves have stated, they have no legal enforcement powers.

If in the course of any fraud or criminal investigation it is found that a MartialTalk member is guilty, then in most cases we will most likely suspend their access to the site. Why most and not all? Because we reserve the right to decide on a case by case means and do our best to be as humanly fair as we possibly can be, as we always have done. Some on Bullshido will read this as soft. I prefer to see it as sticking with the American idea of "Innocent until proven guilty" and other related principles.

As to Bullshido itself, I'm removing the filter ban on their sites for the purpose of being able to link to their investigations. I've also sent Phrost an email suggesting that rather than us beat each other up over and over again, that we cooperate to expand the coverage of fraud reports and make it harder for them to gain new victims. So far, no reply, but the olive branch is there.

After reading this, I have even more respect for you Bob.
 

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Bullshido? Isn't that the site that put Ashida Kim out of business?

What's that, you say? He's still operating? Oh no!
 

Rich Parsons

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One thing that will differentiate MartialTalk from Bullshido is when proven we won't keep the frauds around. Seems they don't mind letting known frauds keep active accounts on their site. I find that an rather odd concept for a fraud busting site. One of their admins a rather funny guy going by Cy said it this way "We don't NEED to ban them. We EXPOSE them.". Nice, then what? Seems odd to me.

Another thing is than many of the fraud buster sites allow and even actively encourage questionable legal behavior such as bullying, stalking, browbeating and such. We aren't going to allow that type of behavior here. Every day, hundreds of honest cops investigate cases with stricter handcuffs than we have, and do their jobs quite well. Every day hundreds of honest courts hear hundreds of cases with stricter evidence rules than we have and can reach decisions and render judgments. I see no reason why we can't do the same.

The amateur sites also don't seem to have a penalty for lying or fabricating evidence in investigations. MT's official policy will be if you make crap up to bust someone, you'll be the one banned and we'll offer that evidence to your victim should they pursue legal action.

So, don't break the law, don't break the rules and stay honest when investigating issues. Keeps all our butts covered.

Now, on the subject of resources, I'm looking for some good ones to use, not just for reference, but also so that when someone is breaking the law (and yes fraud is a crime), it can be reported to the proper authorities for investigation and possible prosecution.


Bob,

What you mention here is a problem I have with Bullshido. They allow in the past (* I have not been there to browse in a long while *) anyone to raise the question and the sharks to circle the water and someone's business or event is hit hard financially. In the end there may not have been anything bad about the person being acused, but the acusor are still positng members and throwing more under the bus for their financial and personal agendas.

If a club splits up or an organization splits or someone leaves then this gives lots of people the fuel they think they need to destroy someone else.

I am not sure how this can be added into what you already have planned, but it is something that I prefer not to get involved with unless, I am allowed to say, "Meet me here, so we talk about it is person." And not have the other person take as a death threat.

Thanks
 

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If you pay any attention to investigations on Bullshido, the "sharks" that you complain about are very quick to turn on those who raise BS complaints against innocent people. Our posters are extremely quick to demand proof of claims and allegations, and make a great effort to distinguish between "I don't like how this person teaches" issues and "this person is legitimately ripping people off".

We do not ban posters who are frauds or full of ddong. We allow them to continue to expose themselves. We give them as much rope as they wish to hang themselves with.

We allow for no-holds barred discussion. This means that yes, some people get potty-mouthed. Some people prefer to make personal attacks, rather than discuss issues. In investigation threads, these people are very quickly dealt with, and removed from the investigation.

Despite MartialTalk's claim of being the polite forum, I have witnessed the same behavior here, from several long time posters. It is not only Bullshido that allows people to make unlimited and unwarranted personal attacks, to spout close-minded views, ignore rational discussion, and continue to support their own ego. This is found on nearly every internet forum on nearly every subject.

On the other hand, I have had several in-depth and intelligent discussions with posters here on MartialTalk, who are very knowledgable in their subject matter. People of this nature are also found on Bullshido, so I understand how MartialTalk members could see one side of things and ignore the other. It would be easy for myself to do the same.

So, I would encourage all of you complaining about Bullshido to consider that this may be a case of plank&mote syndrome.
 

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