Friday, June 01, 2007

Gotta ask. Gotta tell.

I recall, a few years ago when the latest disability legalisation came out, getting a bunch of what amounted to extortion emails from 'consultants', who had 'noted' that our site was not as compliant as it could be and would, for a fee, not report us.

I got rid of them all by pointing out that it had been briefed from the outset to be as all-embracing as possible (with a Bobby rating taboot), and if there were areas we could improve would appreciate being told where they were so we might address them. Why would I not? Reaching out in any way practicable - note that - simply improves our audience base. Never heard back.

So I must say that at the time, and still, the way it all got inspired, imposed and handed over to such folk with legislative backing really p*ssed me off. I even recall a poster on the topic, with a wheelchair-bound individual in a judge's wig, waving a gavel, saying 'We're out to get you!'. Not, I felt, the most engaging way to inspire cooperation.

And with a website, especially one that is user-driven, there are many factors afoot, from design considerations to how editorial may or may not get perceived by the majority of the audience, who can take a number-penalising hike if one panders to some demands.

Hence this struck a chord: eHarmony sued in California for excluding gays

Now I could care less what you orientation is, and our site is not configured to exclude anyone, save for the consequences of some disabilities that we really are in no position to address.

So, in many ways, should anyone choose to ignore the possible reaction of other users by failing to be all-inclusive, this simply seems a matter of 'why not?', closely followed by 'more fool them,' topped off by 'ignore the silly so and so's'.

eHarmony can obviously afford the changes required, but for a site of our size a failure to offer certain additional options can be financially punitive, especially when we are free to kick off. So demanding we add stuff at our expense would seem... unfair.

But it's more the principle of the thing, and now a gay bar in Australia has won the right to exclude heterosexuals it looks like there may be a slight unravelling taking place.

I'm all for protection from abuse, but this all simply smacks of a bunch of chancers trying to make a fast buck in the name of what should have been something noble, by abusing a poorly-considered bit of PC legislation (which seems to be most of them).

I fear there will be few winners bar the lawyers. As always.

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