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Amazon Sues Alexaholic

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  • Thanks Tim (Score:3, Funny)

    by cyphercell (843398) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @08:05PM (#18806531) Homepage Journal
    Keep up the good work.
  • Alexa (Score:2, Funny)

    by iminplaya (723125)
    Why does that name sound so familiar?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      You're either thinking of an excellent line of tech books, or you're thinking of a far-right-wing Fox pundit infamous for cutting the mic of his guests, his sometimes uncontrollable temper, his misinformative Talking Points, and his outrageous, illogical, irresponsible, and despicable "opinions", showcased by, for example, his blaming immigration policy for a drink driving incident and his general insensitivity and partisan agenda-pushing.

      Either is good.
      • That oughta teach me to pay more attention to subject lines.... Whoops ...
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        Nope, now I remember after reading farther down. Toolbar...Spyware. Didn't know they were still around. Or maybe I just used to pay more attention when I was removing them manually, before I started using Adaware.
      • by Redlazer (786403)
        No....

        Im thinking its probably AlexRelated, everyones favourite piece of spyware.

        -Red

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why does that name sound so familiar?

      perhaps this will refresh your memory ? [google.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        Yep, caught in the article too. Surprise, surprise...Spyware company tries to stamp out anything even closely resembling competition. I find spyware to be very educational. It taught me a lot about the Windows Registry.
    • Can you say, "malware"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @08:15PM (#18806603)
    Another generation learns the old truth... the upstarts always seem to start as the Good Guys taking on the Big Faceless Corporate Machines. Their CEOs are hip and appear smiling, sharp but casually dressed, on magazine covers. Even after they go public, they maintain that halo for awhile, give lip service to idea of making the world a better place instead of just making a buck. Why not make a little less, and give something back to the people?

    Then one day, the upstarts turn into the Big Bad Guys. There's just no way to tell the difference. The need to dominate the industry is overriding, and the end justifies every means.
    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      Another generation learns the old truth... the upstarts always seem to start as the Good Guys taking on the Big Faceless Corporate Machines. [..] Then one day, the upstarts turn into the Big Bad Guys. There's just no way to tell the difference. The need to dominate the industry is overriding, and the end justifies every means.

      Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    • This is an ancient story, my friends, that existed long before the internets. A lot of grteat entrepreneurs start off as idealistic young types with a idea and a dream. And pretty soon the money, and power gets a hold of them and they end up paranoid, dictatorial, vicious businessmen. One day you're a curious young inventor named Thomas Edison, but pretty soon you're a wealthy shark trying to personally destroy Tesla and Westinghouse to defend your giant corporation.
    • by danpsmith (922127)

      Another generation learns the old truth... the upstarts always seem to start as the Good Guys taking on the Big Faceless Corporate Machines. Their CEOs are hip and appear smiling, sharp but casually dressed, on magazine covers. Even after they go public, they maintain that halo for awhile, give lip service to idea of making the world a better place instead of just making a buck. Why not make a little less, and give something back to the people?

      Every company does seem to undergo this transition. And honest

  • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @08:20PM (#18806651)
    From an excerpt in the article titled "Reasons to like Alexa" a response to the claim that Alexa's data is not representative was Statistical significance is attainable with only a small subset of the population - ask a pollster or a high school math teacher..

    That is a mistake, or rather a mistaken response to the claim. Yes, statistical significance is attainable but only if the sample is representative (i.e.) is random. The critics' claim is that Alexa's data is not representative, in other words the sites that choose to give Alexa their data are somehow don't represent a random sample of all the websites out there. It isn't a question of size but rather of quality.

    • by Assassin bug (835070) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @08:47PM (#18806895) Journal
      True, representation is reliant on how the samples are obtained and the response variable used for the estimate. However, representation and the randomness of the data are not necessarily related. There are different "kinds" of random-sampling techniques (e.g., systematic or arbitrary). Also, the data itself has its own measure of randomness [wikipedia.org]. You can have a non-random, representative data set. You can even have non-random data with heterogenious variance and have it be representative. What matters, in statistics, is that the assumptions for whatever statistical test is used are checked and that corrections to the analysis are made to accomodate for violations of the assumptions.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The critics' claim is that Alexa's data is not representative, in other words the sites that choose to give Alexa their data are somehow don't represent a random sample of all the websites out there. It isn't a question of size but rather of quality.

      AFAIK, Alexa statistics are generated from the browsing habits of Alexa Toolbar users and from nothing else.

      In other words, the sites browsed do not talk to Alexa or Amazon.

      Read what Alexa has to say in their Disclaimer [72.14.209.104].
      I'll give you the quick version: Sites wit

    • by suv4x4 (956391) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:17AM (#18809021)
      Yes, statistical significance is attainable but only if the sample is representative (i.e.) is random.

      Actually "random" would be the opposite of "representative", as long as statistics are concerned. Represenative means the same proportions of the subgroups in the samples are the same as the whole. The subgroups should be carefully chosen to represent properly what could bias or change the outcome of the results.

      As an extremely simple example, you want in the sample to have the same proportions of age, gender, income, professions etc (some of those categories may not matter in certain studies).
      • by drgonzo59 (747139)
        To have representation you have to sample your population in a random manner. Otherwise you get all kinds of biases. For example, if a study a out illegal drug use in U.S. somehow only sampled college students, that would not be very random. The results would not be representative of the whole U.S. population. Contrary to common sense it is in fact very difficult to get a truly random sampling without having any cohort effect. A good way to do random sampling is to sample from a fairly uniform ID database t
      • by ritborg (1083607)
        Actually "random" would be the opposite of "representative", as long as statistics are concerned

        Right track, wrong train:

        Actually random does not mean the opposite of representative. Representative samples may or may not be selected randomly. Random samples may or may not be representative.

        A classic example:

        If I want to test the average lifetime of incandescent light bulbs; I would not go to GE and simply randomly test how long until light bulbs burn out. Reasoning being, this is random; but
      • Random is the only way to be sure that all proportions of subgroups are accurately represented (well, other than sampling every member). What you describe is a way to have the same proportions of subgroups that you think there are. Another way of describing random is that it's out of phase with everything, thus won't encounter any aliasing errors (an example of in-phase is sampling the temerature on Earth every 24 hours).
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @08:22PM (#18806667) Journal
    The folks at Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe beg to differ.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @08:31PM (#18806753)
    It has been shown in multiple studies that statsahol use is a gateway to statsajuana and statsamphetamine. Good for Bezos!
    • by eclectro (227083)
      Good for Bezos!

      Except that Bezos is on crack himself.
    • by hxnwix (652290)
      But, Bezos is on benzos - and for good reason:

      Bezos's net worth:

      * 1999 - $10.1 billion, ranked no. 19
      * 2000 - $6.0 billion, ranked no. 23
      * 2001 - $2.0 billion, ranked no. 234
      * 2002 - $1.5 billion, ranked no. 293
      * 2003 - $2.5 billion, ranked no. 147
      * 2004 - $5.1 billion, ranked no. 82
      * 2005 - $4.8 billion, ranked no. 41
      * 2006 - $4.3 billion, ranked no. 147 (shared with others)
      * 2006 - $3.6 billion, ranked no. 70 (shared with 2 others)

      Poor frickin' bastard. And don't think it's "ok" because he has 3.6 thousand million dollars; it's not ok. Nothing could make it ok. Benzos for Bezos make it less not ok and that's a start.

      *I personally have no idea whether Bezos uses benzodiazepines. In the same vein, I should say that I don't know whether he shoots heroin. And because there's no smoke where there could be a very hot fire, I should also point out that I have no knowledge of his crack-rela

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Alexaholic hot links images from Alexa using javascript, that's all it does. It's not a mashup. It doesn't create any graphs, all it does is pulls images from Alexa behinds the scenes and displays them on a page full of ads.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jeffrey Baker (6191)
      This is a gross misrepresentation of what Alexaholic does. It does not "pull images" from Alexa. Ever. It just constructs a URI and tells your browser about it. Then your browser pulls the image directly from Alexa.
  • I suspect nearly everyone here has experienced the "joy" of helping someone succeed - and then have that person take it all as their own with no benefit to the people who made it possible. If you haven't experienced this yet - you will.

    So Alexa built their business on the backs of the volunteers that provided the data they now claim as their proprietary data. Building on that ethical triumph, they see someone else make good use of the same data and proceed to sue them into oblivion - but not before taking

    • by Anonymous Coward

      OK, here's the real truth about the big Amazon catalog. It's the ISBN catalog; they just borrowed that data and imported it into their database.

      It is the ISBN catalog, only with extended data from users (popularity, rank, reviews). Amazon is only trying to avoid being the next Bowker's [bowker.com] in the chain. If you read the Amazon Web Services EULA, they basically state you can cut down the information you pull off of Amazon, but you cannot extend or add to it in any way.

      captcha: blowers

  • Seems to me that Alexa would have done best by offering him a job - he's obviously bright, highly motivated by their technology and an expert in their problem domain.

  • I've never been to Statsaholic until just a few minutes ago. There's nothing good about this site at all. I guess it might have been relatively better than Alexa before the Alexa redesign a few months back, but now it seems to be pretty broken.
    • by kalbzayn (927509)
      The biggest redesign that happened on Alexa recently is the ability to chart multiple domains in one chart...which was originally seen on Alexaholic. That was the main reason people went their originally, the ability to compare multiple domains at one time.
  • by xENoLocO (773565) * on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:15AM (#18809015) Homepage
    ...not using the APIs.

    He was "avoiding an API fee", but the data he wanted was not available through the API anyways, so he screen scraped alexa. If alexa had wanted that data available they would have made it available through the API.

    The guy (hornbaker) admittedly says he wants to turn this into a PR battle. And I remember him explicitly trying to stick it to amazon before he changed the site name.

    I don't really know who the hell to cheer for here, so I'm just gonna sit back and watch.
    • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Friday April 20, 2007 @10:35AM (#18811459)
      If alexa had wanted that data available they would have made it available through the API.

      But if they HADN'T wanted that data available, there wouldn't exist a URL through which anybody could access it.
      • by xENoLocO (773565) *
        That's like saying "I see the car on the lot... I can drive it whenever I want!".

        It's simply untrue. There are terms of service on websites for a reason, and not everything is free reign.
        • by Mr2001 (90979)

          That's like saying "I see the car on the lot... I can drive it whenever I want!".
          Actually, it's more like "I see the car on the lot, and whenever I ask the salesman about driving it, he gives me the keys and tells me to have fun." People aren't breaking into the web server to get content; they're asking for a page and the server is happily returning it.
          • by xENoLocO (773565) *
            So that means you're free to disect that data and rebuild it into your own app?

            "Google does it" isn't really an excuse, either... google has been sued over it too.
            • by Mr2001 (90979)

              So that means you're free to disect that data and rebuild it into your own app?
              As I understand it, no one was dissecting anything. He was serving a page that referenced a chart produced by Amazon, served directly from Amazon's server.
  • Oh my god... a business behaving like a business rather than like a friendly community contributor? I can't believe it! Why on earth would this business behave as if its only concern is making money?
    • Did you even read the summary, for God's sake? This is about a conference where Bezos is trying to get a bunch of web 2.0 developers to buy into using his APIs while his company, Alexa, gave tacit permission to Alexaholic, who are paying them for data, to use their API. Then Alexa steals all Alexaholic's ideas and plans to sue them into oblivion.

      "Yeah, dudes, web 2.0 is totally open. Sharing is caring. Oh by the way, if you get big enough, we'll steal all your ideas and sue the pants off you."

      As consumers w
      • by c0d3h4x0r (604141)
        You aren't being in any way insightful or wise when you point out that businesses want to make money. By presenting it in such a simplistic manner, you are offering up an excuse for immoral behavior on the part of these companies and simultaneously denigrating those of us who do not enjoy doing business with scoundrels as naive fools who don't know how the real world works.

        You obviously don't understand the difference between an explanation and an excuse. I wasn't in any way excusing Amazon's behavior. I
        • by spun (1352)
          You obviously don't understand the difference between an explanation and an excuse.

          Oh man, I'm sorry. That's exactly the same line I use on my wife ;-). It was a knee-jerk reaction on my part. I've just seen far to many apologists for the status quo here lately and it irks me. I thought you were one of them. Anyway, I agree with you, we need to make companies bear the real social and economic costs of their unethical behavior before they will stop behaving unethically.

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