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Xmas Wishes Illegal?

On 12 January 2003 a message posted by Rixster to the Apple discussion forums was removed by Apple.

The message explained that Rixster only wanted to keep his mac.com email addresses. It explained that he had paid for three addresses for the first year, but that he had never used them, either before the $99 annual subscription rate was initiated, or afterward, and that he had no intention of ever using them either - but that he wanted to keep them anyway. His objection was having to pay to keep them.

He had no interest in any of the iTools. He was not into file sharing or any of the other dubious benefits of the .Mac subscription. He only wanted the email addresses.

Owning a Mac, Rixster wrote, was a cool thing, and having a mac.com email address was a matter of prestige; and he would be happy if his mac.com addresses only forwarded his mail, so that the Apple servers did not need to reserve storage for his benefit - just so long as he could keep the addresses he'd had all along, and without paying the $99 annual subscription fee.

Apple Strike

Rixster received the following letter from Apple at the end of the week.

Subject: Removed Post
From: tsosendr@apple.com
Date: Sun, 12 Jan 2003 23:46:45 -0800 (PST)

Rixster,

Your post titled 'All I Want for Xmas...' has been removed from Apple Discussions. Posts including (but not limited to) any of the following are not appropriate:

* Discussions of Apple policies and procedures (including pricing and repair policies)
* Speculations about future Apple decisions
* Questions about unreleased products
* Posts in the technical forums that are not directly related to a technical support issue
* Polls, petitions, auctions, or advertisements
* Posts that are only complaints
* Posts which contain or imply abusive or obscene language
* Posts which are abusive to other Discussions users

Please see the Overview section at http://discussions.info.apple.com/WebX/help for more information on the purpose of the Apple discussion forums, as well as the terms and conditions for posting on Apple Discussions. Each Discussion user is required to agree to these terms before gaining posting privileges. You reserve the right to not post on Apple Discussions should you disagree with these terms.

Sometimes you have comments or concerns for which there is no technical response. If you need the kind of help that a troubleshooting expert can't provide, you can call Apple's Customer Relations group.

++++++++++

This message is sent from a send-only email account. Any replies sent to this address are deleted automatically by the system.

If you have a technical support question about Apple products, please go to the appropriate area of Apple's support offering on the Web at http://www.apple.com/support

Freedom of Speech?

It was clearly the first point - 'Discussions of Apple policies and procedures' - that did it.

  • 'Speculations about future Apple decisions' - there was no such speculation.

  • 'Questions about unreleased products' - there were no such questions.

  • 'Posts in the technical forums that are not directly related to a technical support issue' - this wasn't posted in a technical forum, so it doesn't apply either.

  • 'Polls, petitions, auctions, or advertisements' - there was no poll, there were no petitions, there certainly was no auction, and as for advertisements, the Rixstep AppleCore software product is mentioned elsewhere on the Apple site and wouldn't have been even considered for inclusion in such as personal post.

  • 'Posts that are only complaints' - the post was not 'only' a complaint. Maybe it should have been, but it was not. Inadvertently, it made the nod to Cupertino, praising the company for fine products, and speaking of what prestige there was in just having - and not even using - a mac.com email address.

  • 'Posts which contain or imply abusive or obscene language' - this is impossible, as there is an automated Nazi to take care of this before posts are even entered. Call it childish, especially from the avant-garde of Apple, but that's the way it is. For example, the phrase 'Windows sucks' will not make it past the Nazi Apple automaton, because the word 'suck' is considered to be objectionable.

  • 'Posts which are abusive to other Discussions users' - the post did not mention other discussion users at all.

Conclusions

One thing is very evident and should be noted right away: Apple monitor their own discussion forums closely. Like Jim Jones & Co.

Perhaps visitors should take this into account and think twice about posting anything there. The spectre of having Big Brother watching over one's shoulder all the time is quite enough ruin the experience.

Andy Orlowski of the Register spoke of how Apple 'blew it' when they started charging for the .Mac addresses. They'd had the most lucrative mailing list in the world. By suddenly charging for the addresses, they lost the confidence and the contact with millions who didn't much like the idea.

Apple do not tolerate to criticism, and will not have anyone know some voices are critical. Questioning their policies, questioning what one as a customer of Apple has to put up with: these are prohibited actions. Whether or not they appear at the Apple site is immaterial - if Apple really had their ear to the consumer, they would be glad that such things came to light. Outside Cupertino it's called 'feedback'.

But evidently Apple are bent on pursuit of 'image' and will allow nothing to stand in their way - certainly not dissatisfied customers.

It makes you want to surf back to the Apple forums to post 'Apple sucks'.

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