Why Your Website Might Need an ‘Idiot Disclaimer’


You may have heard about the woman who’s suing Match.com for $10 million after she was attacked by a man with whom the site matched her. If you aren’t familiar with the story, well, there’s a woman who’s suing Match.com for $10 million after she was attacked by a man whom she met through the popular dating site. Great, now you’re up to speed. After the dating site matched the two together, the couple knew each other for eight days before the woman, Mary Kay Beckman, ended the relationship. (Is it considered a relationship after only eight days? In any case, she severed ties.) Four months after she broke up with her Match.com buddy, Wade Ridley, he attacked her, stabbing her 10 times and stomping her head.

Ridley is dead–he killed himself in prison after being convicted of murdering a woman in Arizona. Ms. Beckman, meanwhile, underwent multiple surgeries to correct her numerous injuries and is understandably wary of trying online dating again. However, her decision to sue Match.com for $10 million is a bit of a head-scratcher. According to Beckman’s attorney, she’s pursuing a lawsuit because Match.com is “absolutely not safe” and implements advertising tactics that “[lull] women and men into a false sense of security.”

Unsurprisingly, Match.com finds the lawsuit “absurd.” After all, Ridley had no known criminal record so it’s not like they knowingly paired Ms. Beckman with a dangerous man. (I can’t imagine one of the features they list in a partner is “Enthusiasm for stabbing.”) Besides, meeting someone via an online dating site who turns out to be dangerous is irrelevant–she could have just as easily been set up with Ridley via a friend or family member, or met him at work. The risk factor in dating a complete stranger is the same whether you were set up with that individual in person or online.

Beckman’s angle with her lawsuit is that Match.com advertises how fun and awesome online dating is without highlighting the risks, which is pretty “no duh” considering we’re talking about advertising here. If companies were forced to disclose the drawbacks or risks associated with their products, Budweiser would have to show gruesome drunk driver-induced car crashes, McDonald’s would show morbidly obese people getting their feet lopped off due to type-2 diabetes, and the NFL would air spots highlighting the damaged brain scans of former athletes who can barely remember their names. The entire point of advertising is to polish up your turd of a product or service. You make everything seem sexier or more awesome than it actually is. Welcome to marketing.

Now, clearly Match.com has some pretty legit lawyers who should be able to handle this lawsuit handily. However, if you’re operating a business and you don’t have “popular dating site” levels of cash, you may need to implement a few “idiot disclaimers” on your site. Match.com actually lists some safety tips on their website that point out ways to stay secure when interacting with someone online and offline, and I’m sure their signup process includes various waivers and disclaimers. (I don’t have a Match.com account because I’ve had the same ball and chain for the past 8+ years–errr, I mean, Jason, if you’re reading this, I love you! Please don’t stomp my head.) I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know how legally effective these disclaimers, terms of service, and words of caution are, but they can’t hurt.

I know that sticking “idiot disclaimers” on your site are a bit of a buzzkill, especially if the tone of your site is more light-hearted and fun. But in such litigation-happy times, it’s better to beat a dead horse and be extra-cautious when spelling out potential risks or drawbacks associated with your products or services. Even if you cram them into the footer, at least you can readily point to something should a customer or user come complaining. That way, you’re doing the bare minimum to try and cover your ass in case shit goes south.

What sort of ridiculous complaints have you received from your users? Do you have any “idiot disclaimers” in place on your site? If so, did they quell the gripes or were they largely ignored?

(photo credit: Daquella manera via photopin cc)

Reminder: Raven Tools Imports, Historical Data, and Wildcards

We’re quickly coming up on Raven Tools’ deadline for getting rank tracking out of their system. If you haven’t already, make sure to send over your API keys so that we can import your keywords and domains before the API is shut off.

Historical Data

If you haven’t already, make sure you export a copy of your historical data from Raven. Info on how to do that can be found here. Our importer for the historical data is going through some final testing today and the interface for allowing you to upload the zip file from Raven Tools will go live in the next couple of days. Since we elected to do these imports from the zip file rather than the API, we’re not limited by the January 2nd deadline to get this data in. With the number of people coming over from Raven Tools and the amount of data that will be imported, doing the imports via API wasn’t a safe and reliable option. You do need to make sure to get the export file from Raven though.


For those who have had data imported from Raven, you may have noticed some URLs containing “((!wild!))” at the beginning. These are URLs that were being tracked in Raven’s system as “*.” so that all subdomains were being picked up. Since our system can track as granular of a URL as you would like, we can’t reliably use the “*” to indicate a wildcard. By allowing this wildcard to be used in place of subdomains, subfolders, or file names, everyone ends up with much more flexibility in what they are able to track and separate out in their tracking. We’ll be refining the display and use of those “((!wild!))” indicators over the next week and we’re pretty sure everyone will find the flexibility to be invaluable.

Communicating When Working Remotely

Last week at PubCon, Wil Reynolds and I were talking after lunch and he mentioned that he preferred having his team all in the same office. I can respect that and in some cases it’s a necessity. On the other hand, I feel that if you have a great team, it really doesn’t matter where they are when they’re getting sh*t done. They will excel regardless of the environment.

Over the past 14 years, I’ve worked at least 80% of my time from somewhere other than an office. Sometimes it’s on a road trip or “vacation” (do any of us really go on vacation anymore?) and sometimes it’s from home. The biggest obstacle each team I’ve worked with has always been communication. It sounds like that is Wil’s biggest concern when it comes to his team. I don’t blame him for that concern. It’s perfectly legitimate and in some cases, there’s no reasonable solution for it.

Here at AuthorityLabs, we’re all increasingly working remotely. Our CTO is now in Raleigh, NC (we’re based in Chandler, AZ), two of us are home almost all of the time, and the rest of the team knows they’re free to work from wherever they feel necessary. With the increased separation, there have been some growing pains for sure. At this point though, we’re more efficient than we have ever been and communication has been great. [Read more...]

8 Tips To Get More From Our Partner API

Our Partner API currently serves up hundreds of millions of requests per month. Not only are our partners, such as Raven Tools, using it, we are taking advantage of it for getting data into our new interface. Whether you’re new to our Partner API or you’ve been using it for a while, there’s a good chance some of the following tips will help you get more out of our API.

Go Fast

Many people that start out on our API are afraid to POST keywords at full speed. I’ve seen people put 30 second delays between POSTing keywords. The API was built to handle just about anything that can be thrown at it and scales to accommodate the needs of our users. The only real restrictions on how fast you should post are your hourly limits and how fast your servers can process callbacks.

Use Custom Callback URLs

When adding keywords to either our delayed queue or immediate queue, you have the option to send a custom callback URL for us to hit when we have data on that keyword. For the sake of improved performance and easier tracking of callbacks, we recommend passing a URL with an ID that matches up to an ID in your system. This can be a keyword ID or just a POST ID to track which callback matches which post. Running data at scale pretty much makes this a requirement. [Read more...]

Manage Your SEO Tools Budget Without Losing Your Mind

Budgeting for analytics is always tricky, especially when the tools you need can take a healthy bite out of your budget. Making sure your SEO budget includes the right product and app for the job is important. Tracking sales and ROI is a vital part of any tool, and there are some big name SEO tools that will get the job done. Spending your SEO budget on tools that will get results and deliver the kind of data you need will lead to increased profitability for your business in the long and short term, if used correctly. But you don’t have to reach for the vodka, like choosing the right tool is some kind of game of Russian roulette. Try to think of it more like Jell-O shots and a friendly game of darts. (An unlucky shot the first time doesn’t mean game over.)

Party it Up

Spending Money on Powerhouse SEO Tools

AuthorityLabs is an all-in-one rank monitoring tool which can track a few, thousands, or even millions of keywords. They offer a free trial with no credit card required, and an in depth tour of the site. The setup is quick and easy, and doesn’t require a degree in marketing or IT to figure out. They make everything simple to understand, while still delivering amazingly powerful, detailed, and easy to analyze results. They can sync domains, track your business’ competition, offer daily graphs and trends, as well as the ability to track results local to your business. Overall, AuthorityLabs is a great value for the power behind it, and the knowledge and skill of their team shines through. The free trial can help you determine whether or not it’s worth your investment.

[Read more...]

GoDaddy Can Go to Hell. Stop Hosting Your Sites There.

Just stop using GoDaddy for hosting. Seriously. They’re no good. If you’re running a site for business and you’re still hosting at GoDaddy, it’s time to hire someone to make your technical decisions for you.