January 1, 2019

The Daily News and algorithm hell

By glencadia2  

Hello. I am the owner of Glencadia Dog Camp, Will Pflaum. In 2013, or about 8 years ago as I write this (I am editing in December 2021 in fact although I’m leaving the original publication date due to the algorithm), a woman named Melissa Cusick, now Melissa Weiss, a publicist at Nonesuch Records, managed to get an article in the Daily News about her dog getting in a fight at Glencadia.

I encourage people to read the old article if they want to. Remember, this is 8 years ago (or more). I think we have had more like 20,000  boarding bookings since we started – which would be about 100 a month, and that is a very slow month. So make it 25,000 pick-ups, boardings, deliveries. Yes, 25,000 is realistically about right. Or even conservative… might well be 30,000+, since we average well over 100 per month. Think about the cases in the article too. If you consider them carefully, you might see that this article is far from balanced, interesting, or even coherent. Also, this Melissa sent her dog here 19 times herself.

There is also the situation with Timber. Eight years after the Melissa Weiss situation, these grifters showed up. I am in court with the Timber people now. Totally different case, where Joann Miller and Danielle Infantino made up an abuse allegation as part of a GoFundMe fraud. It’s outright libel – as I argue in court – and criminal fraud.

The fight was unfortunate. Melissa sent her dog here 18 times with no problem, visited the facility several times, then on the 19th time, her dog got in a fight. What happened was this: we had a bad dog here named Blue. We knew he was bad and put him in a separate and secure area. However in the night, he growled and snarled through the door. Melissa’s dog Matilda was on the other side of the door with another nice dog, a boy, uncastrated but a nice guy, and as Matilda and Henry were friends, they should have been fine at night as well. Well, the snarling through the door somehow triggered Henry. Maybe he thought Matilda was growling. Maybe just the bad energy passed through the door through the sounds made by Blue.

What I learned from this is that negative dog energy can go through a door, either by error or basic aggression. Also, unfixed males are not really necessarily okay with fixed females.

25,000 cases: that is an entire stadium full of people. If there is a fight in a sports stadium – say, the NY Knicks – could you then say the NY Knicks are a violent basketball franchise or something? What about the other 24,998 people who didn’t fight? I think the basic statistical understanding of the concept of a “population” or data set needs to be taught at the Daily News, or maybe Google.

We work hard of transportation safety. If you imagine transporting 25,000 dogs from NYC to Upstate NY you can imagine all kinds of disasters – none of which have ever occurred and we have never lost a dog in all this picking up, transferring, and releasing. It’s an incredible safety record if you really take a second to consider what it is we do.

We have an excellent safety record. After 16 years in the business and more than 25,000 dog visits, I can count the number of serious dog fights on one hand. And none, knock wood, for more than 8 years. That is incredible! Dogs playing, exploring, having fun, and not fighting: it’s miraculously fantastic.

We have also had a few dogs pass away here. As I describe below, if you are surprised by this fact, then you should consider the basic math involved. Sometimes apparently healthy humans die from previously undiagnosed conditions and sadly the same thing has happened here to a dog as well.

Melissa is a professional publicist and got the article about her dog placed back almost a decade ago in 2013 through a friend of hers at the Daily News. If you think about it, a dog fight is also not breaking news. Google still considers the Daily News a reliable news source and the article shows up in searches.

Since this article ran, the Daily News has been sold two times and is basically a shell of it’s former self and a link generating re-publisher more than a legitimate news source. In a strange looping fashion, the value of the New York Daily News brand is mostly due to the Google assumption that it is a legitimate news source in terms of ranking.

Google says a site is legit. So the site is worth something. It gets sold. It does the bare minimum to maintain it’s ranking as legit by Google. Google could pull the rug out from under this Potemkin system but hasn’t gotten around to modifying its algorithm for determining real news sites to take into account the importance of the determination by Google itself, as it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you say a site is legitimate, it can be. If you say it’s not, it will die. Facebook is the secondary actor here but acts in the same way Google does – by validating operations and thus making them valid.

So, after 25,000 or more visits by all kinds of dogs, if you happen to find this article, as a customer you should find it reassuring. First, read the article. It’s idiotic. It quotes a Yelp review. Since when is getting a bad review on Yelp breaking news? Second, if we had a dog fight in 2013, we probably learned something from it. This should be re-assuring to customers.

How could we never had a dog fight? How could it be that a dog never died? If a human drops dead in a Hilton Hotel from a heart attack, does anyone think it’s the hotel’s fault? Dogs live 12 years on average. If we have 60 dogs a day, that’s two months of dog life a day. Six days is a year. 72 days is a lifetime. We should, by probability, have a dog die here every two or three months. Yet, the number who do die is WAY less, like extremely rare. Therefore, in fact, dogs have a longer life expectancy at Glencadia than at home.

Anyway, Google’s algorithm is promoting a news source that is a shell, this source published an article placed by a friend in 2013 and is not news and full of distortions. What percent of dog businesses with 16 years and 25,000 or more individual transactions have been sued by customers? I would think most of them. What percent have had dog fights on their property? Certainly all that don’t put the dogs in solitary confinement. How many have had a dog just drop dead for unknown causes? By logic and deduction, every single business similarly situated has experienced everything this “news” story is so interested in. All dog businesses have bad Yelp reviews. If 100% of the population you are writing about experiences 100% of the phenomena you are discussing, the article or other piece of writing you are engaging in is not news.

With 187+ five-star reviews on Google, another 60 on Yelp, and some 25 more on Facebook, at the moment there are tons of great positive sources of what goes on at Glencadia. I am proud of the service we offer. However, the existence of positive experiences is no more newsworthy of a Google-Daily News permanent link than in one negative experience more than 8 years ago. Even the customer in question, Melissa, had 18 positive experiences herself!

Anyway, we turn away more customers than we can accommodate much of the year. We’re not hurting for business and if you, viewer, are swayed by an eight-year-old article which doesn’t even have any internal integrity or coherent argument, you should not send your dog here.

Here I am 8 years later with it showing up in searches. Anyway, another crazy part of doing business. Thanks for checking out this blog entry response to this situation.

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