But the part that interests me is the argument that Avvo is doing something wrong by ranking lawyers without their permission (not to mention getting things wrong along the way, as a CNet story describes). One commenter on the Avvo blog equates this to <a href="http://avvoblog.com/2007/06/14/defending-avvo%e2%80%99s-right-to-provide-information-and-guidance-to-consumers/#comment-59“>being conscripted by the company into modifying his own profile, because not doing so would mean a lower ranking:
“Of course, Avvo welcomes me to correct their misleading post â€¦ yes, if I work for Avvo and increase the value of their database, I can correct their misinformation.”
“Now thatâ€™s a great business model: publish very limited (essentially disparaging) information about people that conscripts them into being your researchers and data-entry employees (and do it as a surprise to them)!”
Do people have a right not to be indexed by such a service, or should they have such a right? It’s an interesting question. Avvo uses publicly-available information about lawyers, drawn from attorney associations and other databases, in much the same way that Zillow.com (also started by a former Expedia exec) indexes all the info about houses.
Houses can’t sue, however, nor can homeowners sue because they don’t like the value of their house. Lawyers, as we all know, can sue over just about anything. It will be interesting to see how this one shakes out — and if I was running a site like RateMyTeachers.com, I would be watching closely.