Amazon has a popular feature that allows users to post questions about a product, and then anyone can then post an answer. But is that really such a good idea?
Should literally anyone be allowed to post a comment? Allow me to introduce you to Cindy C., who recently purchased an ice machine and is (I think) trying to be helpful to others who are considering purchasing the same brand of ice machine:
Thank you Cindy. Not a helpful comment. If you decide to try the extension cord, first get out of the bathtub. Otherwise, the next post containing your name could be here.
Then there’s Amy N., who has neither Alexa nor an ounce of common sense:
Thank you Amy N. It’s really nice to hear from you and, best of all, now I know what to get you for Christmas!
Then there’s my favorite user comment, courtesy of kris:
Dear kris, we didn’t think that you did. And we still don’t. Not this thing or any other thing. You may resume finger painting.
Amazon is not the only democratic institution that invites all living, breathing creatures to provide public comments.
As we’ve written here, the NLRB is pursuing the administrative rulemaking process to craft a new definition of “joint employment.” As part of that process, there is a public comment period, during which anyone (even kris) can post a comment about the proposed rule.
So far, there have been about 8,000 comments posted, many cribbed from a cut-and-paste pro-union comment drive that invites adherents to write, “Dear _, I strongly oppose….” Many other comments, fortunately, include well-considered and thoughtful opinions, both for and against the rule. It’s the thoughtful comments that are the most helpful, kris.
The NLRB has extended the comment period through January 14, 2019, with an additional reply period through January 22 in which people can reply to a previously posted comment.
If Amy N. asks, comments may only be submitted via Alexa.
© 2018 Todd Lebowitz, posted on WhoIsMyEmployee.com, Exploring Issues of Independent Contractor Misclassification and Joint Employment. All rights reserved.