Eagle-eyed readers will have seen that Whaleoil stepped away from OMSA membership. OMSA is a voluntary organisation that purports to uphold standards of online media, similar to the Press Council for printed media.

We were nervous joining it, and at the time we felt somewhat honoured that OMSA was brave enough to take us on.  It’s not that our standards are low, but that the environment that we operate in generates friction all the time.

We didn’t publicly announce our membership for that reason.  We quietly paid our fees and put the logo up on our site.  Outlined our complaints process and indicated that if you were dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint, you could ‘elevate’ it to OMSA.

In real life, this never happened.

Of all the OMSA complaints we’ve had, except one, they were motivated either by spite, revenge or politics.  And they approached OMSA directly, not bothering to complain to us first.

This came to a perfect example when Penny Bright submitted a complaint saying that she was unable to contact Whaleoil at all.  Apparently she’s blocked from commenting (she’s not), none of the email addresses worked, and nobody answered the phone.  On top of that, she demanded OMSA tell us off for our story about her water meter irregularities.

Instead of telling Ms Bright to take a hike, OMSA took her complaint at face value and forced a huge amount of paperwork on us.  We complained bitterly that this process was broken, and it needed fixing urgently.  For no other reason that it denies natural justice to the publisher.

The word got around that OMSA could be used as a weapon this way, and next thing we know The Nation’s Tim Watkin issued a complaint against Whaleoil.   The merits of it were poor, especially in the light of a judge having been upset at Mr Watkin’s approach to court ordered suppression.

It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and we told OMSA we were no longer going to be bound by their processes.   The logo quietly disappeared from our site, as did the “you can elevate your complaint to OMSA in the event you are not satisfied with the result”.

Since then.  Blessed silence.

We told OMSA they were in for a bad time. The Social Justice Warriors only have to fill in a small form on a web site, facts optional, and OMSA triggers this investigation that takes hours and hours of productive time out of their own members as well as the media org being ‘complained’ about.

It is therefore quite satisfying to have received this today:

We are making an immediate change to our complaints process. The purpose of this change is to reduce the time spent by the Complaints Committee dealing with trivial and non-jurisdictional complaints.

From today:

1). Subject to the discretion of the Chair of the Complaints Committee, all complaints regarding online content published by OMSA’s members shall, in the first instance, be addressed via the members’ internal complaints procedures.

Complaints must still be made via the prescribed complaints form on OMSA’s website; however, the completed forms will now be automatically re-directed to the relevant publisher. A confirmation copy will be sent to the complainant.

The time limit for bringing complaints remains 14 days.

2). After their deliberations, the member must provide the complainant with a written decision and explain how, if they are unhappy with the outcome, to refer the decision to OMSA. A copy of the decision must also be sent to [email protected]

3). The complainant has 10 working days to refer the decision to OMSA. A referral must be done in writing to [email protected] All other procedures remain as set out in the Second Schedule of the Rules of OMSA.

These procedural changes are documented in the updated Rules of OMSA (copy attached) which will be published on our website later today.

Of course we take satisfaction in having predicted the future, but it continues to show that most people do not understand the way Internet culture operates. Right now, the Social Justice Warriors have turned from chewing on each other to attacking companies over the most ridiculous of reasons.

Like the name of a product, or that less than 1% of your supply comes from Talleys. Or that a few million of 30 billion of investments are placed in companies that are involved in making weapons.  These people destroy wealth, careers and lives and will weaponise organisations such as OMSA to do it.

Whaleoil is pleased to see that OMSA have taken the next step in their evolution as an Internet-based standards authority.

Incidentally, of all the OMSA complaints against us, none were upheld.  All but one were politically motivated.

We have no need to re-join OMSA, but wish them well. The framework is now a lot more sensible and provides a sufficient barrier to prevent most frivolous and vexatious complaints from ever reaching their desk.

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