Some Questions and thoughts on Investigations.
First let me say sorry if this isn't the right place for this thread, I've lurker here for a long long time, and probably should know for sure, but i think this is on topic enough to be here, if not mods please move it to the appropriate place.
Having read many of the serious thread investigations, i have noticed a common theme in them with regards to how exactly a legitimate investigation is started. Among the early questions posed to any person who brings attention upon a club is: Do they know the owner of the club/what is their relationship with the club? i understand the importance of these questions, Bullshido doesn't want to get pulled into a petty mud slinging attempt by one coach on his nearby rival, however this does bring me to my questions/point.
Would Bullshido, and in particular those that often contribute and get involved in the investigations, ever consider offering it's services for coaches who are concerned, but cannot get involved personally due to their proximity and prior relationship with said club, and be willing to keep the name of the concerned coach out of the investigation?
To share my own example, i have in the past had clubs in my local area that have made outrageous claims in their advertising, truly cringe-worthy examples of 'empty empowerment' about small women easily defeating 8 attackers, or over exaggerated competition claims, etc. however because i don't find any integrity in advertising myself in this fashion, i am burdened with a sense of honesty in advertising that my competitors aren't. I have found myself secretly hoping that someone would spot it and raise the issue on here, in the hope that the ominous spectre of an official bullshido investigation might convince them to play fair. But as yet this has been to no avail, and i refuse to try to raise awareness to it anonymously as for me there is no integrity in going down that avenue, and that is exactly the kind of thing Bullshido is trying to avoid. That leaves me with approaching the coaches directly, and so far i have had no luck this way, apparently "hyperbole and over exaggeration are a marketing tool" "everyone's doing it" and " [I] should get with the times". bringing something like this to a public forum openly as myself would also potential ruin any relationship built up between clubs, sometimes local clubs in small communities band together for interclub competition or to gain enough numbers to be able to afford to bring over a guest instructor for a seminar, and in situations like this you can't always afford to be choosy about who you join forces with.
To get away from specifics and back to a more general view point, the only other avenue i could see open for coaches in a similar position, would be if they could bring matters of concern to a impartial person/group privately who could then set the standard for a fair investigation. They could do this without revealing who has made the complaint, but because they have full knowledge of who did raise the issue or concern, they could make some preliminary digging before bringing it to the public forum, indeed they need only bring it to the public forum if there was a cause to do so. And because they know that the person who has raised the issue is a local coach, they are pre-warned that there might be a personal bias and the investigator can approach the subject accordingly. Coaches who had then benefited from being able to call in outside assistance and hadn't misused it, might well be willing to acts at the unbiased party for another coach and in that way the investigation team grows.
In my own case, due to the close nature of my local martial arts scene, the fact that i have several of the other local coaches on my facebook, and i often see them on a night out while i'm working the door, it makes it almost impossible for me to rock the boat without it having serious repercussions on my students, they might lose invitations to upcoming seminars or might no longer be welcome at the other clubs open mat sessions. or their students might not participate in our events, meaning we probably couldn't afford to put on as many.
I might be over thinking it, but i am torn between my responsibility as a coach to foster a good working relationship with nearby clubs for the benefit of my students, and my responsibility to the public with regards to the potentially sub standard practices or irresponsible advertising of (some of) my peers.
This is only a hypothetical really, as the kind of behavior i am talking about has really quieted down in my own area recently, but i imagine it is only a matter of time before it starts up again, perhaps once the rush of new years resolutionist's quiets down and the gyms start to empty again with the drop off those whose good intentions are not matched by their willpower. And i can imagine that i am not the only one in this situation.
Do you mean as a paid service?
One of the legal difficulties in the states is that in some jurisdictions, New York State, to charge for investigations one needs a Private Investigator Licence, or alternatively, a law license. Newspapers get around this because their subscribers are not paying for a particular action but rather a broader service. I don't know what the law is like on this matter in the UK.
It also depends if an organization such as Bullshido has a reliable member in that particular area. If we don't any such project would be very risky.
Finally Bullshido usually has its members provide content for which we are not legally responsible under US law. (we are not commisisoning their work and controlling it) To be paid to conduct investigations would make Bullshido your agent, with the resulting legal risk for generating content. (British Libel laws are world known for being plaintiff friendly)
So the short answer is no.
You would be better off putting the information together yourself and posting it on a board.
In UK legal terms false claims in advertising could be seen as Misrepresentation. Maybe not the hyperbole about possible self-defence abilities, but certainly falsified competition records would fall into that area.
If it goes beyond just mildly bigging themselves up it's something that Trading Standards may be interested in - they have the powers to prosecute under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and a warning letter from them should be enough to curtail any BS advertising.
As far as an investigation on here goes, if you have examples of false advertising or sharp practices I'd be happy to have a look at them with you. You can send a private message to me on here but I think you need to get 10 (?) posts to your name first.
One other thing - if your aim is to maintain some anonymity it's maybe not so wise to have your real name as your username. If any of your fellow IOM school owners come on here and do a search for "Isle of Man" this thread will show in the search listings. It would probably be wise to ask a moderator to arrange getting your username changed.
I see, thanks for the clarification regarding the legal matters, i did wonder if perhaps payment would be required but i can see from your post that in fact money changing hands makes an investigation too risky.
really i'm just curious to know if there is any protocol or rules in place for investigations whereby bullshido poster x can bring awareness of an issue and then poster Y runs with the investigation, or is poster x always expected to continue with the investigation, even if they are in a situation where they might not want to continue the investigation because they want to preserve their annonymity.
For example if a person just started training in the martial arts and a few things started to raise red flags for them within their own club, and they came here asking about it, would they be expected to continue answering questions about the club on the forum in public, even if those questions could lead to the coach of the club being able to identify them by what was said in their posts. And if they were not willing to continue down that line would the investigation be dropped?
I remember being slightly involved in an investigation that was done on the EFNSports, regarding a coach in my area who was supposedly claiming a high rank in BJJ, but this was not actually the case, I had know him a long while and he was always open about his qualification and that it was in JJJ, however when he had joined forces with a local Karate coach, both of them teaching their separate styles in the same facility, the Karate coach had put down the JJJ coaches rank as BJJ on the website because he "thought it was all the same thing" (either that or he was trying to cash in on its popularity) in doing so it looked like the JJJ coach was the one claiming the rank and as such he came under fire online, and i was able to go on the forums and explain that in the time i had known him he had never misrepresented himself, and that he was demanding that the Karate coach change the website immediately. However had it been the case that he was misrepresenting himself i would have been less inclined to get involved as all i would have done was created a bunch of detractors (him and his students) who would have badmouthed me and my business in our hometown, the fact that they would have been at fault wouldn't have done much for my reputation.
Regardless of how these things have to be done, i greatly value the work done and feel that the investigations are vitally important for the martial arts community.
Cheers Sam, that answers a lot of my questions.
Originally Posted by Sam Browning
One last thing, if a member of the site wishes to join in and help in any of the ongoing investigations, do they have to meet a certain criteria? do they have to have a certain respectability within the bullshido community, a certain number of posts or reputation, or is it essential that they have something to do with the investigation such as know the parties involved or be associated geographically?
I accidently closed this thread and then reopened it, if by chance I've screwed up and its still closed, staff please reopen it.
Any regular member can participate unless they prove themselves incapable of participating productively. But their information should be reliable, attached is a guide for investigations we put together years ago.