I’d never heard of Hanlon’s razor before. Apparently it is an adage that reads “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”. I rather like that; I’ll have to remember it. It is a nice way to look at the world, as we can all be stupid sometimes. Take for example the new company Clinical Reader. The company has an online product that basically seems to be an RSS reader but that they decide which RSS feeds they’re going to track, not you. I came across it a few days ago as some clinicians were discussing what a good service it was on some mailing list. Well, I thought, that’s clinicians for you. The product didn’t seem bad enough to comment on, but likewise certainly didn’t seem interesting enough to comment on either – at least not from my point of view. So I thought to myself “well, our handsome and fragrant readership will probably come across it soon enough, and they can make their own perfectly balanced minds up about it…”, and left it there.
But today I see another twist on the Clinical Reader story, and what happens when you get involved in social networking tools without really knowing what you’re doing. The thing was that Nicole Dettmar (evidently a fan of The Prisoner) had pointed out in her blog that Clinical Reader were implying that they had been awarded ‘five stars’ by institutions such as the British Library, the NLM, Imperial College, The Lancet etc. She pointed out to them on Twitter than the NLM does not endorse anything, and that they ought to do something about it, and promptly received a reply threatening legal action (I love the use of ‘kindly’):
I mean to say, what a stupid (or malicious) thing to do. Of course everyone picked up on it and they received a barrage of tweets and blog commentary. As of writing they have since backed down, which they should do because they are plainly in the wrong, saying “We are keen to engage the twitter community the tweet made by a junior member of the team was poor judgment”. However the “five stars according to…” graphic remains throughout their site once you get past the first page.
Malicious or stupid? You decide. Either way it doesn’t reflect well on Clinical Reader.