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Amazon Sues Alexaholic 124

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the at-last-it's-time dept.
theodp writes "ZDNet reports that as Jeff Bezos tap-danced out of a cringe moment at Web 2.0 Expo prompted by Tim O'Reilly's questioning of why Amazon couldn't get along with Alexaholic (now Statsaholic), Amazon had already filed a lawsuit to legally spank the tiny company into oblivion."
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Amazon Sues Alexaholic

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  • 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.

  • Re:Alexa (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @08:29PM (#18806731)
    Why does that name sound so familiar?

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

  • Re:Thanks Tim (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shemmie (909181) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @08:46PM (#18806881)
    http://www.tomrafteryit.net/oreilly-trademarks-web -20-and-sets-lawyers-on-itcork/ [tomrafteryit.net]

    I seem to remember hearing this, way back when.
  • Re:Thanks Tim (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animaether (411575) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @08:46PM (#18806883) Journal
    I'm not GP, but here you go:
    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/26/12 38245 [slashdot.org] - O'Reilly and CMP Exercise Trademark on 'Web 2.0'
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @08:59PM (#18806989)

    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 with less than 1,000 monthly visitors are likely to have poor statistics backing up their ranking.

    I imagine Alexa has people smarter than the both of us combined working on their stats. I doubt you're going to catch them in a "gotcha!" moment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:08PM (#18807053)
    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:Thanks Tim (Score:2, Informative)

    by fimion (890504) * <fimion AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:16PM (#18807115) Homepage
    It was a Cease and Desist order. no one was sued.
  • Re:Thanks Tim (Score:4, Informative)

    by maxume (22995) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:16PM (#18807609)
    http://www.tomrafteryit.net/sorry-tim/ [tomrafteryit.net]

    In short, O'Reilly is partnered with CMP and CMP has the mark and sent the letter.
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @11:33PM (#18808217) Homepage Journal
    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 all the good ideas this person had for their own. Of course, we're talking about Amazon; the people with that "one click" patent that they've used against competitors more than once.

    I'd say something about this being good reason to avoid Amazon in the future - but I already came to that conclusion a long time back. There was a book I'd heard about and I wanted a copy. Nobody seemed to have it in stock - but Amazon did, and they took my order for a copy. After a week I was wondering where my book was and checked Amazon's website for order status. Backordered. But they should have it for me in 5 to 7 days.

    After a couple of months of this I finally contacted the publisher of the book to see what was going on. What was going on is the book that Amazon was selling me was OUT OF PRINT and had been for a few years. You'd think Amazon might communicate that little detail to me, wouldn't you? Nope; they maintained the fiction of "it'll be here in 5 to 7 days" right up until I cancelled my order. You should see how their attitude changes at that point; I must have been transferred to a "customer retention" specialist.

    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.

    I'm expecting someone from Amazon to jump up and say "I stole it fair and square, it's MINE now."

  • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Friday April 20, 2007 @12:14AM (#18808463)
    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.
  • 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 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).

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