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Dan of tdaxp, long a blogfriend of Zenpundit is locked in a consumer complaint battle with an internet information company known as NationMaster. In the day of the dead tree media, there was a saying about the power of big city newspapers ” Don’t get in a pissing contest with somebody who buys ink by the barrel”. Today, an updated version might go like this ” Don’t get in a pissing contest with somebody who is part of a scale free network”

In addition to Dan’s most recent post he has previously posted here ( where you can read Nationmaster’s bullying, psuedo-legal email correspondence) and here ( the original post that ticked off Nationmaster’s executives, including one ” John Steinmetz“).

By choosing to needlessly go the adversarial path with with Dan, a grad student who just wanted his money back, NationMaster ended up getting panned by:

Curzon at Coming Anarchy

Adam at The Metropolis Times

Bill at Dawn’s Early Light

Ryne from Ryne McClaren

Brendan at I hate Linux

Simon at Simon World

NationMaster Watch – a blog established by Dan to do nothing but follow the permutations of Nationmaster’s highly unusual customer relations policy.

Technorati leads with this dispute if you type in ” NationMaster” for your search.

And now I am posting on this story. This is how a network functions. While Curzon and Simon are also blogfriends of mine as well as Dan’s I was not familiar with the other blogs except I hate Linux which I had more heard of than visited. Dan is a ” hub” that connects otherwise unrelated bloggers. For that matter, I’d barely heard of NationMaster either.

Given the number of readers these blogs have I have to wonder about the strategic thinking that went into NationMaster’s response to Dan. Bloggers, I would think, would be a key customer demographic for this corporation and making gestures that engendered good will rather than bad in the blogging community would be the way I would have advised to go.

It is theoretically possible that Dan is a clever but psychotic con man posing as a grad student simply to bilk helpless corporations out of fairly earned dollars – but I kind of doubt it. It seems more likely that some arrogant a-hole in a corner office at NationMaster reacted dismissively when Dan asked for his money back and then decided that Dan ” could be rolled” by pressuring him with a frivolous lawsuit.

Looks like a mistaken premise on NationMaster’s part.

Moreover, in a network situation like this it isn’t just how many people are reading but also whom. I really don’t know who reads these other blogs (though some smart attorneys seem to read tdaxp) but I know who reads mine. Lots of academics, nationally known experts, think tank types, journalists and employees of numerous U.S. Government agencies. Some of these people are exceptionally bright and well-connected – I know this because they send me email – and now they are reading this post, clicking links and reading a heck of a lot about NationMaster.

Not much that’s good, unfortunately.

Just think of how a gracious initial- or even belated – response by NationMaster to Dan’s complaint would have gone over instead. It might still go over well at this late date. No skin off my nose to post that a company decided to do the right thing.

Because Zenpundit is eminently fair and I have goodwill toward one and all, I’m going to do my part to stop a corporation that should know better from continuing to dig a needless hole for itself. Here’s a book recommendation for John Steinmetz of NationMaster – it’s a quick read but it might help prevent customer relations problems like this in the future.

And here’s another.

2 Responses to “”

  1. Dan tdaxp Says:


    Thank you very much I can’t tell you how much these kind words mean to me. Thank you.

    But you should have warned me! It was nearly the end of tdaxp when I read

    It is theoretically possible that Dan is a clever but psychotic con man posing as a grad student simply to bilk helpless corporations out of fairly earned dollars – but I kind of doubt it.

    while eating a cracker! :-0

    I also wanted to thank Aaron, the Sioux Falls/Madison SD society blog that is tdaxp‘s godfather.

    Ryne’s a fellow South Dakotan living in Nebraska, Adam’s a progressive Republican, and Bill’s DEL is very highly recommended.

    What’s odd is that I’d given up on my requests to get my money back. The original three tdaxp posts on nationmaster are all months old and hadn’t been updated. I got the email with Mr. Steinmetz spontaneously — shortly after I added my email address to the tdaxp blog. So I wouldn’t even be thinking of nationmaster except for the fact they re-contacted me.

    A network pertubation caused by a “big bang” strategy…

    Just so folks don’t think I have a hostility to statistics from the web… I want to thank Dr. Angus Maddison. I acknowledged him in my thesis too. Dr. Maddison went far out of his way to help a grad student who he never met or even talked to on the phone. (For all he knew I was cynically using him to enmesh an innocent website in a complicated internet protection racket 😉 ).

    So much of what I am proud of is based on the generosity of people like that.

  2. Simon Says:

    It is interesting how various coalitions can rapidly form amongst blogs. That’s both their power and weakness. I feel I should say something about 4GW, but I don’t know the first thing about it.

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