Browsing the 2009 January archive
A long time has gone without me writing a single post, and, to be honest, I have not been thinking a lot about cosmetic surgery companies, recently. The credit crunch is already taking care of them quite well, and patients are getting smarter. What dragged me out of my silent, relaxed state is an interesting change on one of the most popular forums about cosmetic surgery. I always wanted to write, even better I wanted to scream something about the fake posts on public forums on the web, but I never did, because at the end if you are so naive that you trust them as a source of reliable information then there is very little I can do to help.
This particular forum, anyway, has always been clogged with two types of posts: on one side there were wonderful descriptions of that surgeon or that company, on the other end some very unhappy patients were writing about their sad experiences shouting offences without proof and control, often risking legal action. I’ve even heard of some surgeons asking their wives to post full time under different screen names, and apparently this ‘home-made’ promotion technique works like a charm (I am sorry if this look biased against women: I am sure the trick would work even if a female surgeon asked her husband to write fake posts from the kitchen, but the poor man would probably have to pretend to be a female, as there is almost no sign of posts from males on breast enlargement, and I don’t think they would be highly rated anyway).
For a long time, this sort of Nash equilibrium in commercial cosmetic surgery (if you are new to Game Theory you can read more about Nash equilibrium here on Wikipedia) has been happily maintained with unhappy patients shouting their complaints just to be immediately buried under 200 positive posts from the people of the very companies they were complaining about. I am assuming companies also had a lot of fun posting fake stories about each other, in a never ending battle that ended up creating a grand total of 87.199 posts (as of today). To give you an idea of how disproportionate this is to the reality of web forums, on the same web site the ‘Overweight and obesity’ forum counts only 95 posts, and the ‘Cellulitis and stretch marks’ one barely reaches 114. In my opinion, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that too many people have been spending the best part of their lives writing useless posts on the web.
Apparently, the Nash equilibrium has been recently altered, and one of the three or four big cosmetic surgery companies in the UK apparently invited the owners of the forum to remove any reference to their name, from all the posts. This is interesting, because such a suicidal move also instantly killed all the positive posts that were available on the forum. If you ask me, it was just becoming impossible to keep writing so many fake posts to cover the bad ones, or maybe one of the competitors recently hired somebody from India just to post full time against that particular company. Anything goes, really. I would kindly suggest to avoid using a public forum as a source of reliable information, but I feel that some of the posts are real fun, and an entire literature about ‘dedicated’ patient coordinators and ‘skilled’ surgeons should be saved for posterity (hopefully the Wellcome collection may decide to put them in a new exhibition, together with the Pipe of Peace or the Fakir’s sandals).