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  1. #1
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    Web Hosting Ethics

    Are there any specific ethical issues that you think need to be addressed by the web hosting industry as a whole?
    What do you think about unethical business practise and customer service? Should there be a multinational industry organisation to address such issues?
    Registration of web hosts to prevent fly-by-nighters?

  2. #2
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    A few thoughts:

    #1) Statements hosts make on their website should be treated just like printed advertising and contracts. If they are false, the host needs to be held accountable.

    Prime examples include:

    - If you claim 24/7 support, you need to answer support requests every hour of the day, not just "accept" them
    - If you claim 99.9% uptime, have the stats to prove it or remove it.
    - If you say "our" on your site, it should refer to your people, bandwidth and hardware, not those of your host or datacenter. If it's not your service, state who's it is.


    #2) Hosts should be required to be licensed by the state/province they do business in and be held legally accountable for their actions like any other industry. The problem with this is nobody (rightfully) wants to "regulate" the internet, so no matter what states or the industry does, in the end it's still up to the consumer to learn what to look for (or look out for).


    Of course, someone here on WHT made a great statement recently (sorry, can't recall the thread) that most people wouldn't buy food from some unknown vendor selling it dirt cheap on the street. Why do people purchase hosting from hosts they've never heard of and/or can't validate from a trusted source?
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  3. #3
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    I thoroughly agree. There are a great number of hosts who claim to have 24/7 support but only accept support requests 24/7, answering them when next online.

  4. #4
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    #2) Hosts should be required to be licensed by the state/province they do business in and be held legally accountable for their actions like any other industry. The problem with this is nobody (rightfully) wants to "regulate" the internet, so no matter what states or the industry does, in the end it's still up to the consumer to learn what to look for (or look out for).
    I don't agree at all with this one. Almost every medium of communication in the world is regulated and controlled, usually very strictly and unforgivingly. The Internet is a great place, and it would be totally different if there were governing bodies, and this is not something we should even consider supporting if we want our current privileges to remain intact.

  5. #5
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    Well I am not sure about regulating the internet bar what the law enforcement do already to stop piracy, child porn etc.

    But I do agree that the hosting industry badly needs regulation. :-)

  6. #6
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    I agree that internet buisnesses should need to be registered with the state they run from.

  7. #7
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    Originally posted by SniperDevil
    I don't agree at all with this one.
    Then maybe you didn't read it right. I'm talking about regulating the hosting businesses and the people running them, not the medium they use to transmit data. I specifically said nobody (rightfully) wants to "regulate" the internet. That means we/they are RIGHT in not wanting to regulate the internet.

    Regulation has nothing to do with the medium. Banks, realtors, medical professionals, auto shops, restaurants, etc, are all held to certain standards by the locality they do business in. All I'm saying is hosting businesses should be regulated and governed in exactly the same way.
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  8. #8
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    Then maybe you didn't read it right. I'm talking about regulating the hosting businesses and the people running them, not the medium they use to transmit data. I specifically said nobody (rightfully) wants to "regulate" the internet. That means we/they are RIGHT in not wanting to regulate the internet.

    Regulation has nothing to do with the medium. Banks, realtors, medical professionals, auto shops, restaurants, etc, are all held to certain standards by the locality they do business in. All I'm saying is hosting businesses should be regulated and governed in exactly the same way.
    All things lead up to greater things. By governing the hosting business specifically, you are in effect regulating the Internet as a whole, and this should not be acceptable. This will turn into regulating other types of Internet businesses, and eventually even controversial sites. That's where things like this (exceptions to the rule) end up.

  9. #9
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    I think the point of the poster was not to so much govern hosts in terms of what they can and cant do... but more so making sure that fly by night hosts dont steal peoples money, and that hosting companies are legal business's instead of some teenager with a reseller account. Just my 2 cents.

  10. #10
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    I agree with SniperDevil. I hardly picture regulations placed on hosting businesses without consequences of affecting other online industries.

    This is where "freedom of internet" will end...

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  11. #11
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    Originally posted by TheWalrus
    I think the point of the poster was not to so much govern hosts in terms of what they can and cant do... but more so making sure that fly by night hosts dont steal peoples money, and that hosting companies are legal business's instead of some teenager with a reseller account. Just my 2 cents.

    Only two things will save you from "fly by night hosts":

    1) Costly barriers to entering hosting industry

    2) Online users running background checks on hosts before purchasing plan


    As far I know, neither one exists right now. And to be honest, I don't think they will in the near future.

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  12. #12
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    Originally posted by SniperDevil
    All things lead up to greater things. By governing the hosting business specifically, you are in effect regulating the Internet as a whole, and this should not be acceptable. This will turn into regulating other types of Internet businesses, and eventually even controversial sites. That's where things like this (exceptions to the rule) end up.
    So, because it's a virtual business it's somehow exempt? A business is a business, it shouldn't be granted an exception simply based on it's venue. The regulations should be placed on the business itself, NOT on the customers. To give an example, when you go to a restaurant, that restaurant is subject to regulations. Those affect the business practices of that establishment (serving spoiled food, keeping clean kitchens, etc), not the choices of food you can select. This equates directly back into the web hosting market, because a regulatory body should exist to guarantee that a hosting business maintains certain standards for service and support levels. That is what is being requested, not some sort of organization policing the content of sites on the net...
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  13. #13
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    Maybe there should be, instead of a legal umbrella for web hosts, a sort of moral umbrella that credible web hosts could join.

  14. #14
    Just My Opinion,

    but regulating the hosting industry, if at all possible, wouldnt be such a bad idea. However, regulating the entire internet would be near impossible, and even if an organization could manage to do it, the internet would never be the same.

  15. #15
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    I agree. Maybe WHT users could start a moral organisation that promotes web ethics and regulates the hosting industry?

  16. #16
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    I saw a topic like this in other forum on the board. There is something like this, run by one of the web host directories. I think it could be a good start if it's standardized more. The problem is, it's fine for us all to say this is a good idea, but can any host really start something like this? Seems a bit contradictory, at least
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  17. #17
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    Contradictory? Hows that? I think I am proposing an umbrella organisation that incorporates hosting comapnies both big and small which would aim to regulate the industry to combat fly-by-night hosts, try to stamp out fraud and maybe make the umbrella organisation have a quality assurance program or something similiar. An umbrella organisation that is run by webhosts for webhosts that helps regulate webhosts.

  18. #18
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    A few hosting companies getting together to push others out of the market? Even if it's in good interest, that is the textbook definition of a cartel

    In all seriousness, I think it's a great idea, but needs a third party involved somehow. That would boost the reputability of the organization greatly.
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  19. #19
    A few hosting companies getting together to push others out of the market? Even if it's in good interest, that is the textbook definition of a cartel
    Something like confideration

  20. #20
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    Well personally I'm not a big fan of regulatory organisations and tend to prefer to let the market sort itself out. It usually does eventually, although there is undoubtedly some suffering while it goes through the process of doing so.

    There are laws against fraud, false advertising etc. and these apply equally to all businesses. I don't believe there's any need for additional (or lesser) controls on web hosting than for any other business. These laws do, perhaps, need to be applied more frequently to the web hosting industry than they currently are and, in fact, I believe the trend is that they are being applied more than they were as the industry's profile increases.

    I'll agree that some regulatory organisations have a certain degree of success but others - particularly here in the UK - often just nanny things to justify their own existence and interfere with what would otherwise be a relatively happy 'free' market.

  21. #21
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    By governing the hosting business specifically, you are in effect regulating the Internet as a whole, and this should not be acceptable. This will turn into regulating other types of Internet businesses, and eventually even controversial sites.
    That kind of attitude is exactly what's been keeping internet businesses from being properly regulated (exactly as other businesses are) for years. Stop trying to bring site content or constitutional issues into this because they have nothing to do with it.

    This isn't about site content or freedom of speech, it is about the business practices of an individual or company operating in a specific location. In the US and most of Europe, states or territories regulate insurance companies, auto shops, restaurants, hospitals, grocery stores and more, all for consumer protection. The reason you can (for the most part) walk into an unknown restaurant or hospital and expect a certain level of service (not that you'll get it, but you can expect it) is because regulations specific to those industries exist and are enforced by local government.

    There is no reason whatsoever that a web host should be exempt from regulations protecting consumers from blatant false advertising, theft or fraud, but legislators and enforcement agencies are afraid to take firm action because "it's the internet".
    Last edited by SROHost; 05-31-2004 at 01:06 PM.
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  22. #22
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    Originally posted by SROHost
    There is no reason whatsoever that a web host should be exempt from regulations protecting consumers from blatant false advertising, theft or fraud, but legislators and enforcement agencies are afraid to take firm action because "it's the internet".
    Agreed, but isn't that just application of the law? All business is and should be subject to the trading laws etc. Does hosting (or the internet) need a specicific regulatory body to control it? I don't believe so.

  23. #23
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    So, because it's a virtual business it's somehow exempt? A business is a business, it shouldn't be granted an exception simply based on it's venue. The regulations should be placed on the business itself, NOT on the customers. To give an example, when you go to a restaurant, that restaurant is subject to regulations. Those affect the business practices of that establishment (serving spoiled food, keeping clean kitchens, etc), not the choices of food you can select. This equates directly back into the web hosting market, because a regulatory body should exist to guarantee that a hosting business maintains certain standards for service and support levels. That is what is being requested, not some sort of organization policing the content of sites on the net...
    Obviously its venue DOES matter, that's why there are different regulations for selling food, at say, the street corner in a big city, or at a sit-down, more formal restaurant.

    The Internet is the Internet, and if we want it to remain in its current state (relaxed, capitalistic, and encouraging of new businesses), regulatory institutions should not be introduced. There are countless examples of things like this happening, and you can apply it to other mediums as well, such as television (which the FTC regulates here in America; they are getting stricter and stricter until entertaining comedians and shows won't be able to say 'darn' on Cable).

    That kind of attitude is exactly what's been keeping internet businesses from being properly regulated (exactly as other businesses are) for years. Stop trying to bring site content or constitutional issues into this because they have nothing to do with it.
    Uh... what do you think they are, if not constitutional issues, here in the USA? You are proposing that a legal authority govern the practices of business on-line. That will, in effect, also govern zine subscriptions on-line, hell even porn subscription (even if for purely legal porn), and then what will happen? They will introduce something like the Patriot Act for the Internet, which claims that they can request credit card information and personal details of customers of said industries, such as they are doing at privatized airports worldwide.

  24. #24
    Originally posted by timdorr
    A few hosting companies getting together to push others out of the market? Even if it's in good interest, that is the textbook definition of a cartel

    In all seriousness, I think it's a great idea, but needs a third party involved somehow. That would boost the reputability of the organization greatly.
    I like the idea. However, it would make it too hard for hosts who are just starting out.

  25. #25
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    we need something not like icann but some solid guide lines this is something hopefully only time will tell and maybe we best watch our reseller accounts

    just a thought
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  26. #26
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    The Internet is the Internet, and if we want it to remain in its current state (relaxed, capitalistic, and encouraging of new businesses), regulatory institutions should not be introduced. There are countless examples of things like this happening, and you can apply it to other mediums as well, such as television (which the FTC regulates here in America; they are getting stricter and stricter until entertaining comedians and shows won't be able to say 'darn' on Cable).
    Very well said indeed save that last part there.

    Point is, I think some sort of regulation for the industry would be bad for anyone new IMHO. I personally believe strongly in free enterprise and don't think trying to regulate things is the right way to go about it.

    Honestly every industry has the good and the bad. Our industry does have some bad apples, but IMHO for every bad one there is a good one.

    There is a great way to weed these guys out and it's known most commonly as competition.

    These cheap hosts don't make it long at all. A strong host that works hard in service and support is no much for any cheap host - time will always see to that. While I do feel sorry for many of those that are sucked into the schemes, you have to use a little common sense as a consumer. When investing in anything you first need to research it a bit which would drastically cut down the chances of you being swindled. I mean honestly, how many people here go out and pick random stocks for their portfolio or pick up the cheapest stock they see without some type of research?

  27. #27
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    Originally posted by SniperDevil
    You are proposing that a legal authority govern the practices of business on-line.
    You keep saying that, but I don't know why, since I have never, ever proposed any such thing. How many times must I repeat myself? Once more for the hard of seeing: This is not about online content. All I ask is that hosts be held to the same standards of accountability as any other business. What is so difficult to understand about this?

    If any other business (be it a laundry or a bank) publicly promises they have certain facilities, a high level of service and 100% money back guarantee; yet they actually don't own the facilities, provide almost no services and won't give customers back a dime, then the city or state they do business in can (and most certainly will) shut them down by enforcing existing laws governing commerce and advertising.

    Anyone who would suggest that hosts should not be held to the same standards as other businesses based purely on the rediculous paranoia that legislating a business who happens to hang their storefront online will somehow restrict free speech is just plain wrong. Do you exempt online banks or Amazon.com from the laws other institutions or retailers must follow regarding truth in advertising and contracts simply because they operate online? Certainly not.


    While I very certainly agree that standards will always be far better than laws, the ability to hide behind anonymity online has created an industry with unprecidented fraud which I believe standards alone will never stop.
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  28. #28
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    I agree it would lead to a cartel of sorts and effect the smaller start-ups with this org. would bring a *fee* for memebrship that *fee* would incress anually and before you know it the new start-ups would no longer be feasable (resellers are no longer an option as the costs would be very high)

    Honestly I have no idea of how to solve the current problems with unnethical hosts but agree it is a serious problem that gives all a bad name ( in general fear of being scammed)

    But to be governed by an organization I dont feel is really in the best intrest of the consumers or hosts as prices will be raised for all. Someones got to pay for the fees I know it wont be hosts but our customers through price incresses.

    I know I know "Well you pay for quality" but that doesnt mean we need to raise costs over something like joining an organization that in the end will not have much authority other then saying you are a part of it or issuing fines to a company that failed and wouldnt pay the fines anyway..

    Just my .02

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    PS: Please dont get me wrong if there was a good model established that would actually help without making costs for consumers / Host or cutting out the resellers I would be all for it
    something needs to be done as long as it is effecient and stays that way...
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  29. #29
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    Its not an organisation to regulate the industry, just provide a symbol or system that recognises ethical and quality hosts.

  30. #30
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    Originally posted by nzbm
    Its not an organisation to regulate the industry, just provide a symbol or system that recognises ethical and quality hosts.
    I agree with brennan..

  31. #31
    I can't see what the problem is:
    This is not about online content. All I ask is that hosts be held to the same standards of accountability as any other business. What is so difficult to understand about this?
    this is not difficult to understand, however I think a lot of people here don't understand or realize the plain truth of the matter is, hosting - companies/business's/partnerships/sole proprietors etc. are held to the same standards and accountability as any other company/business/partnership/sole proprietorship etc.

    Just like any other business they must abide by the local and international laws that govern business's world wide, and clients/customers/fellow businessmen can and should bring to the notice of these law agencies and relevant authorities anything that a host does that is outside or above the boundaries set by the previously mentioned authorities.

    Why bring in another regulatory body when the ones that are in place are underutilized already, and please don't say that in itself is a good enough reason, because the complainants still need to lodge the complaint first before a authority can act and it is obvious that too many people are just saying "ahhh well just chalk it up as another lousy host and move on" when they should be lodging complaints no matter how minor the amount of cash that is involved.

    Too many times have I seen fellow hosts advise a victim of one of these lousy hosts, to just forget your $4 and move on pal.

    Excuse me if this seems like a rave however this has been thrashed about for so long and yet it is ultimately up to all of us hosts, clients, datacenters, forum members and mods etc. to regulate the industry by making sure that people don't just forget their $4 and move on pal.
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  32. #32
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    Originally posted by nzbm
    Its not an organisation to regulate the industry, just provide a symbol or system that recognises ethical and quality hosts.
    So basiclly what is being proposed is a organization that we will ultimatly have to pay (if you think otherwise you are setting yourself up for heartach) for a cute symbol? That will in the end really mean nothing if the said host decides to pick up and move out anyway?


    I agree with Bright-Byte there are still several organization already in place that are not being used as they should, Until they are no reason to start another that will unltimatly be useless.

    Just my .02

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  33. #33
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    Originally posted by nzbm
    Its not an organisation to regulate the industry, just provide a symbol or system that recognises ethical and quality hosts.
    We've already had a couple of rubberstamp efforts like that. They were a complete waste of time for hosts and consumers. Some of them were even shady themselves!

    Kevin

  34. #34
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    Many people agree...
    But not many would be prepared to implement it unless it had some substantial vocal and financial backing.

  35. #35
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    Originally posted by nzbm
    Many people agree...
    But not many would be prepared to implement it unless it had some substantial vocal and financial backing.
    And with that will come the big fee to join such a scheme.
    Whilst that will not bother the big boys who have been at this for years with some cash behind them, the small startups will struggle.

    Yes this will keep the occassion scam hosts starting up, but it will also keep the honest ones from starting..

    I started this games years ago - getting hooked after my first shared plan I had and now run three dedicated servers (yes only three but not bad for somethig that started at the beginning of the year) with 2 other chaps - regulating in this umbrella way will kill it off in my opinion.

    It has been said that if just one host under this umbrella goes bad then no one trust the umbrella hosts anymore - on big waste.

    Anyway, just like WHT isn't the be all and end all of hosting places, the umbrella wouldnt be the difinitive guide for hosts.

    Some of the blame for dodgy hosts must hang with customers who base everything on price and quantity. If everyone wasn't after the 5gb space 100Gb bandwidth a month for $3 then the dodgy adavantage taking hosts would not pop up.

    People have to do some severe background checking - and not just here, Google is your friend. I searched for a company owners name before signing up a while back for a reseller account. Nothing came up here, but Google found 3 or 4 instances of this chaps name and a few nasty reports that saved me a few quid.

    6 of one, half dozen of the other.
    Yes we have to keep the scammers out, but then people have got to learn that its quality not quantity - help them help themselves I say.

    Ry

  36. #36
    Atleast people must visit WHT before buying Web Hosting
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