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Bear411: A personal e-mail from Greg, and the Ultimate "Fuck You"
Mike - Face pic
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Yesterday I was surprised to receive a personal e-mail from Greg, the webmaster of Bear411.  Apparently he's been reading all the hubbub on LiveJournal (I'm not surprised).  It seemed like perhaps he was reaching-out... maybe he wanted to respond to recent criticism.

Greg noted that I was the only one he saw that defended him (on any level) throughout the firestorm of LiveJournal posts against Bear411.  (I guess he saw my one post where I defended his right to run a business.)

This e-mail was an unexpected turn; it seemed that perhaps Greg was changing his attitude a bit.  I thought, for a brief moment, that I had his direct attention... and perhaps this was an opportunity to get through to him... to explain why we are all so frustrated.  Greg even conceded to stop blocking words like "ugly" and "faggot" from Bear411 instant messages.

But my little spark of optimism was effectively destroyed as Greg continued to brush-off criticism, clutching to his status of being the "#1 bear site."  He then proceeded to delete my Bear411 profile without any e-mail or notification.  (And all of this on the eve of February 14th, so I won't get the satisfaction of deleting the profile myself.  Ahh, well...)

For a moment I thought maybe Greg was listening.  Instead what I got from him was one big, giant "FUCK YOU."

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Below is the e-mail exchange between Greg and me.  The e-mails are copied and pasted exactly as they occurred.  I have not changed or omitted anything (except that I have removed both of our e-mail addresses.)

The e-mail stream is presented top-to-bottom.


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From: Greg
Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 8:38 AM
To: Mike
Subject: Hello Mike


As you have the only reasonable blog i read about the crisis about bear411 I want to tell you some things and explanations because i think that all that is really not fair at all. And anyway for some guys whatever i can say they are against bear411.

1) I started bear411 not as a business, it became one because people likes it and when you have thousands of gigabytes a month of image transferts and 14 computers to buy you have no choice to make pay people.

2) There are much non paying members than paying members, i don t think i am greedy compared to gaydar, manhunt or other website where you can t connect even you don't pay. So if i was greedy i would block the site to non paying people.

3) About bearwww.com,  Fred the webmaster of bearwww.com, was a bear411 member. When he created bearwww.com he didn t scratch his head a lot, he went to the same hosting company like bear411.com, he used the 'priority access' term and since he copy cat the guestbook, the card members, and so on... The big difference is that he started his site by saying it is free to use and he knew that in the future he will have to make people to pay.... that s now a marketing  but me i never started bear411 in a commercial goal, i was the pionneer who figured it out it could be viable and other sites followed.... no risk for them.

The big difference also on bearwww is he accepts everybody, bears or non bears, whatever.... a member for him is a potential guy who can pay...  me i always wanted to keep a real bear site with real people showing their face.

About the bearww.com :  as this guy bored me and marketed his site on bear411 that's just an eye for an eye.

4) bearciti.com :  the creator of bearciti spammed bear411 on december 29th 2006. i have proofs of that and the messages sent by him are saved.

5) bobaloo crisis : this guys appeared on bear411 last october... and why ... well to promote his shows...

6) Filters: "ugly"..."faggot"  why those words are filtered? because when i started bear411 i figured it out there were homophobic people who tried to create profiles to insult members. and now i ve got complaints because my intention was to protect people against that?

After 10 years i ve got any problems, and suddenly, this crisis appeared... you just wonder why now, why after 10 years ?

The response is simple. The bear community seems juicy for many businesses and they don't want a #1 site which doesn t promote them. Look in every gay web sites policy they do all bear411 does to protect people against spam and bad guys and no one posts blogs against that.

Every other sites wait that you act like this. We are not lemmings but bears.

Greg.



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De : Mike
Envoyé : 13 février 2007 15:07
À : Greg
Objet : RE: Hello Mike

Greg,

Thank you for your e-mail.

I understand that you need to run a business and you need to pay for your servers and hosting.  (These things aren't free!)  I don't have a problem paying for a site if it gives me value.  Many people pay for your site because they like it.  I think you have done many things RIGHT.  You mentioned, as an example, that you require that every profile has a real face.  This is an important feature, and it's a big reason why your site is so successful.  Your site offers many, many other great features.

I think I am upset over a few, very important things:

1 – My biggest concern is that messages disappear.  This makes me so frustrated I can't even tell you!!  I don't know what words you are filtering, and you don't say anything about it on your website.  Every time I send messages to friends, I wonder if they'll ever see it.  Now it feels like I have to be careful to word my messages properly.  Many other people don't even KNOW about this.  I know that I have lost contact with people because Bear411 messages disappeared with no warning.  This causes real miscommunications for your users, every day.  When people don't get responses, they think they're being ignored or brushed-off... or that they've offended someone.  I understand that words like "ugly" and "faggot" might be hurtful... but these are words that can also be used in MANY other non-hurtful ways.  You are punishing thousands of legitimate users for the potential of just a small number of malicious people who might abuse your system.  I think you should find different ways of protecting your customers.  Most of them are simply on your site to chat.  They should be allowed to say what they want.  Go after the very, very small number of people who genuinely abuse it.

2 – If someone updates their profile in an unacceptable way, don't CHANGE the words in their profiles... instead, send an e-mail and ask them to update their profiles themselves.  Tell them why their words aren't acceptable (for example: event promotion, personal promotion, spam, personal attack.)  Change their profile back to the last approved version, and advise them that the profile won't be updated until they fix it.  (I've seen many other websites do it this way.)  I don't know how this is perceived around the world, but I think Americans are quite sensitive to having someone else change their words.

3 – When people open e-Support tickets, you need to respond.  Many people (including myself) have felt that you don't reply to problems at all.  You must respond to problems quickly and try to help your customers... especially if they are paid members!  I myself have reported several real problems to you, but you ignored them, or dismissed them as user error.  Since your site has grown so large, perhaps you might need to hire additional people to help you.

4 – When you delete profiles, you should send an e-mail notification to the person, giving them a reason WHY they were deleted.

5 - You should have a "Terms of Service" section which clearly outlines your policies.  If you are going to reject non-bears, then you need to clearly state this on your website.  (Though I don't know how you could possibly have criteria for "what is a bear" that would be consistent or fair.  And if you're going to reject a certain type of person, be ready for some angry users.)  If you don't allow promotion of people's personal businesses (massage service, comedy shows, restaurants, other websites, whatever), then you need to state this clearly.

I would also spend less time worrying about BearWWW, BearCiti, Beardar and all those other sites.  You may have been a pioneer with Bear411, and yes, your site is the largest right now.  Certainly you have been successful because of many good features.  But let's be honest... you did not invent chat sites, nor did you invent profiles, or photo publishing.  Someone else invented those long before you.  You must accept that you will always have competitors, and they may offer features which could be similar to yours.  Unless you have legal copyright, patent or trademark, then you don't own these things exclusively.  Don't spend so much time being negative to your competitors (blocking their URL's in messages, suing them, hijacking similar URL's, etc.)  Please, just concentrate on making your site good.  Your customers will appreciate it more.

Someone else has posted additional suggestions for you.  I think there is some real value here.  If you haven't already seen it, here is a link:

http://sultmhoor.livejournal.com/437805.html

Greg, your customers feel they have some valid concerns.  I would suggest that you really listen to them.  I must be honest with you: while your intentions may be good, as a customer I feel that some of your business decisions have been absolutely deplorable.  Perhaps you will take this crisis as an opportunity to re-think things.

I consider myself a person who has some business sense.  I will never criticize you for running a business.  Right now I would simply suggest you address your customer's concerns directly and communicate your intentions clearly.  I think you should consider making some major changes to make your customers happy again.

Though for some people, it may just be too late.

--Mike



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From: Greg
Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 12:27 PM
To: 'Mike'
Subject: RE: Hello Mike


People acts freely. But why i ve got 600 testimonials thanks bear411 ... huh? because i read blogs and many anonymous web sites saying bad words about bear411 but nobody balances that except you.

Bear411 will stay the bear site where there are real bears and for me a drag queen is not a bear. did you hear the intro of bearpodcast.com and tell me if it is the voice of a bear is. ?..

People just sees the visible part of the iceberg... people just sees the site and browse the pictures, they don t imagine to display
only bears and not fake i receive hundreds of new profile with animals, landscapes, even baby and women on them...

it s a real and huge work.

About the esupport i guess you noticed it changed for now two months and now people can contact me directly so i don t miss a message.

about the ugly and other bad words i will remove them. i always listened people that s why bear411 became #1

i just added a new criteria to seach by firstname and soon with a keyword among all profile texts.

I don t think if i have to blame those blogs and blabla as i get a high number of new profile creations these days, finally it s a good publicity.



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From: Mike
Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 12:53 PM
To: 'Greg'
Subject: RE: Hello Mike

Greg,

I'm glad to hear you will be updating the filters, adding new features, and improving e-Support.  (I would be interested to know if any other words will still be blocked?  BearWWW?  BearCiti?)

I'm also glad to hear you are catching profiles with animals, babies and women.  I'm sure most customers don't realize how much work you put into the site.  You must deal with difficult situations often.  Still, I don't understand how babies, women or drag queens are relevant to the discussion at hand?  These things are not related to my concerns, nor to the majority of complaints I'm hearing about.

Sadly, it sounds like you are still rejecting the concerns of your customers.  I'm sorry to hear that.  I am trying to be reasonable with you, but I think your dismissive approach has already turned many people off, including myself.

--Mike

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After that, I did not hear back from him again.  I e-mailed him again a few hours later and asked if he had anything else to say.  No response.  And shortly after midnight, I was not able to log-on to Bear411 at all.

Thanks Greg for turning your back on us.  As far as I'm concerned, you've burned this bridge forever.


He deleted it, not me.
Tags:

4) bearciti.com : the creator of bearciti spammed bear411 on december 29th 2006. i have proofs of that and the messages sent by him are saved.

Does this creep anyone else out besides me? This is a bald faced admission that he reads and keeps other peoples 'private' messages.
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He didn't have the "report as spam" link back then, but maybe people complained anyway?

Maybe.
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I thought exactly the same thing when I read it.
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I didn't even grasp the meaning of it until I read it through a second time.
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LOL, I did not manage to join bear411 so I stick to BearCity, they do accept and bears and chubs and chasers.
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I had been a member of bear411 for several years, up until this past weekend. Over the weekend I had chatted off and on, Sunday, Jan 27th, I log on and I get "PROFILE NAME UNKNOWN" so im thinking my finger slipped somewhere hit the wrong key something...I try again...same message. A friend calls me asking why I deleted my profile? WHAT?? I didn't delete it. So, I created another, knowing it would take a couple of days to process...I checked periodically, getting the message "PROFILE NEW PLEASE ALLOW US TO REVIEW"...today, I try it, just to see, "PROFILE NAME UNKNOWN"...it got deleted again
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