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Posted at 8:07 AM ET, 11/29/2010

Story pick: Creep commerce -- How the web values the vile

By Steve Hendrix

Read this riveting examination of how one (at least one) nasty opportunist is taking advantage of the Web's general inability to do what human-centered commerce has done for centuries -- sort out the worthy from the worthless. David Segal of the New York Times bores deeply into the tale of an E-scam, an on-line eyewear vendor who allegedly cheats, abuses and threatens his customers as a way of generating complaints and screeds against him. The negative on-line buzz, in turn, drives up his Google relevance and boasts him higher and higher in search results.

After describing the truly harrowing experience of one shopper who ended up being nearly stalked by the owner of the company, Segal, a former Washington Post music critic and all-around terrific writer, tries to answer what he calls "the most important question..is it true that Google is unable to distinguish between adulatory buzz and scathing critiques when it scours the digital universe and ranks the best and the brightest?"

The strange part is that Google is intimately familiar with the rage inspired by DecorMyEyes. If you type the company’s name in a Google Shopping search, you’ll see a collection of more than 300 reviews, many of them arias sung in the key of livid.

“Robbery!” wrote one reviewer. Another wonders if primates are running the place. Another quotes a DecorMyEyes e-mail to a disgruntled customer which included this pungent adieu: “do you think I would think twice about urinating all over your frame and then returning it? Common.”

Makes a trip to the neighborhood optometrist seem more than worth "the trouble."

By Steve Hendrix  | November 29, 2010; 8:07 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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Next: Story pick: Writers got game(s)

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