While some of us push for genuine and tangible change in the way Donedeal manages sellers, as it puts in place measures to make them legally responsible for the content they publish and assumes full responsibility for the policing of said ads itself rather than using the free labour of concerned activists (not that it has agreed to do any of that yet but hey, I’m an optimist), the issue of how the ads can be most effectively policed remains a pressing one.
It is clear that whatever ad monitoring Donedeal claims to be doing itself still isn’t working.
— Alex Kingofpaws (@kingofpaws) June 12, 2014
It is also clear that in the absence of any solution for this from either the ISPCA, Dogs Trust Ireland or even Donedeal for the past 4 years, there needs to be some fresh thinking here. So, I have a suggestion, but first some background.
As mentioned above, due to necessity, a community of Donedeal policing activists has grown up. I can’t think of any other situation where members of the public are willing to do the work a private company should be doing itself, 100% for free while that company continues to earn and grow. So it is quite apparent that people aren’t doing this for any personal gain, but rather because of their genuine care for animals – you know, the kind that Donedeal claims to have itself. Well, I believe the efforts of those people should be directly and publicly rewarded rather than Donedeal, particularly as many of these people are now becoming so demoralised from continuing to see a never ending stream of these ads with no over all tangible progress being made to stem it. Since it is clear that they are not doing the work for personal gain, I am sure they would be agreeable to having their reward passed back into the cause of bettering life for all Irish animals. So, here’s the idea.
Immediately, using its substantial, existing web development resources, Donedeal would re-purpose petaware.ie from the perceived lowest budget possible, self-serving, cynical PR exercise aimed primarily at improving it’s own image around the area of animal welfare concerns, into a hub for crowd-sourcing the policing of its pet ads. The site would basically gamify locating ads for removal based on a clear and simple list of published, pre-defined problem listing indicators and for each ad found, the finder would be publicly acknowledged on the site and be able to nominate a standard donation fee to an animal welfare charity of their choice. I would also like to see an accompanying phone app for this purpose, so folk could participate when commuting etc.
I would see this standard donation fee being sourced from all the funds that Donedeal is currently spending, arguably on its own image enhancing efforts such as spayaware.ie, a basically good initiative who’s credibility they are clearly now damaging, as they should be cleaning up their own mess before they go out preaching to the public about how they should be treating their pets. The donation amount should be high enough to encourage public participation beyond the core current activists as well as to strongly incentivise Donedeal to make tangible progress in reducing the problems it has failed to address to date – I would suggest €100 per find.
The problematic indicators for ads that people would check against could include but not necessarily be limited to:
- Ads for illegal events such as horse fairs / road-races.
- Ads with images showing inappropriate treatment of animals including unsuitable living conditions for bitches and pups.
- Ads from sellers advertising multiple animals and litters of puppies.
- Ads offering restricted veterinary medicines.
- Ads selling questionable dog training/deterrent devices.
- Ads selling puppies/dogs with illegally mutilated body parts such as docked tails.
- Ads for guard dogs.
- Ads for animal trapping equipment.
This gamified DoneDeal pet ad policing site would have a different ad display interface so that users could more quickly review the ads. It could have badges for users, e.g. – find 5 ads, get the “I’m now house trained” badge!
Just to be clear, I do not see this idea as a long-term solution to the problem of these ads. I believe that the only realistic long term, and indeed, fair solution, involves making sellers legally accountable for the ads they publish and Donedeal responsible for bringing them to account as the one who is profiting from providing the platform they are using.
As always, comments are more than welcome. Keep up to date or have your say on Twitter using the #petsb4profit hashtag.