Federation of Online Clubs and Aquatic Societies
organization dedicated to the promotion of the fishkeeping hobby
complaint has been received .
This (our website) is presently
based on a server in the United Kingdom and has therefore to conform with all
laws and specifications as laid down by both the UK government and the service
providers. Our service agents are providing this service at no charge. Our site also conforms
to all current United States, Canadian and Australian Federal obligations.
ALL OFFICES OF
IFOCAS ARE HONORARY - NO SALARIES ARE PAID - ANNUAL ACCOUNTS ARE PUBLISHED TO
reply posted to any complaint is expressly the view of the individual and not
that of IFOCAS.
received January 8th 2003 from JOHN DAWES
ORNAMENTAL FISH INTERNATIONAL
as follows: (Background to OFI below)
Background: OFI is a trade organization whose members have to pay a subscription
fee in excess of U.S.$400 per annum. The Secretariat is run by John Dawes from Malaga in Spain.
We have entered OFI's details on our commercial list under Spain.
Please find, below, a copy of an e-mail I sent you way back on 19 August 2002.
We have not heard from you and would welcome a response as we continue to be deeply concerned about the situation. I have, for example, checked your
website today and note that it was last updated in March 2002!
Consequently, your list of exporters, etc. - based largely on our
Directory...but without the courtesy of consulting us in advance - is now even more out of date than it was when I first wrote to you.
It is a considerable disappointment to us that an apparently responsible organisation like IFOCAS is appearing not to pay due attention to important
details, such as keeping its lists updated or, equally importantly, to the common courtesies of responding to a genuine and constructive e-mail such
as the one we sent you on 19 August. In the meantime, you are continuing to do a great disservice to your members, ours, and all those who visit your
website, by publishing incorrect information.
We therefore look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
( a copy of John's Original email follows, followed in
turn by a reply from me as the current Webmaster, to whom it was addressed. At
the bottom is a comment from our original Webmaster, Saul who wished to comment)
All other CONSTRUCTIVE commentary will be published)
19 August, 2002.
One of our members recently alerted us to the reproduction of our Members' Directory on the IFOCAS website. We were totally unaware of this and,
having consulted our Board of Advisors and visited your website, are concerned to discover that you have published a badly out-of-date list.
We are also disappointed not to have been contacted by you in advance of your intended action, purely and simply as a sign of courtesy, to ask if we
had any objections, or perhaps to explore possibilities of how best to approach such a matter. By not doing so, not only are you presenting
inaccurate data, but you are also doing our current members a disservice by not publishing up to date details. You are, of course, equally doing IFOCAS
and its members a disservice by publishing incorrect information.
Basically, we have no objection to your making our Members' Directory available to IFOCAS members and other visitors to your website. However,
your present version of the list is not only inaccurate, but also contains details of several companies which are no longer members of OFI. By
retaining their entries in the format that you do, you are therefore incorrectly and unfairly implying that they are members of our
organisation, with the undoubted prestige that that carries.
Our Members' Directory is constantly being updated, almost on a daily basis, as new members join and existing members' details change, e.g. new
personnel, tel/fax numbers, postal/e-mail addresses, URL's, etc. The only list that we, ourselves, circulate is the latest updated version, which
appears on our own website. Since this is the only version that receives official OFI approval, we suggest that:
a) you delete the version of the list which you currently carry
on your website;
b) you establish a direct link to our own website, thus ensuring that
anyone seeking details receives accurate information. This could perhaps be
preceded by appropriate text which we could agree in advance.
This step could also be seen as a valuable service offered by IFOCAS to its members and website visitors, since - in addition to providing access to a
fully updated directory - it could also provide visitors (via the link) with an insight into the modern-day worldwide industry that services all
aspects of the aquarium and pondkeeping hobby,the links which the industry enjoys with conservation and sustainable harvesting projects and
organisations...and much else besides.
We look forward to your early response.
MY REPLY (Gerald)
Prior to even commencing any attempt at dealing with your claims delineated on your email I have to point out the following:
1. We ( and this includes myself) made SEVEN attempts to communicate with you in 1999 and 2000. we even checked with Neville Carrington, David Ford and Dick Mills and several others as to whether your email and telephone numbers were correct. None of our approaches received any reply whatever,( We had intended to invite you to become a founder member) and we duly concluded that you were either (a.) dead or (b,) had "moved on"
2. We have 5,600 members of our own - this currently includes well over 500 commercial
members. How may you are "laying claim" to is unknown.
3. The service we provide is FREE and run by volunteers - many of whom have actually died this year. Others such as myself are none too well - so it
isn't surprising that some website data doesn't get upgraded very quickly.
4. I haven't the foggiest idea in technical terms of how the original website was set up. Saul, our then webmaster now resides somewhere in the Central US and has given up fishkeeping altogether.
Well, that's the background - now what to do.
1. Did you receive an acknowledgement of your letter dated August 19th?
Did you request a "Read" receipt when sending it?
If you did not then it was never received or , If it was received then I can trace as to whom was supposed to deal with it - the mere fact that my name occurs on things
doesn't mean I alone can handle this workload.
The fact that you didn't get a reply does not make us irresponsible.
"PLEASE NOTE: All INCOMING EMAIL is automatically scanned for junk and profanities. If your genuine communication is not responded to within 48 HOURS please resend using different wording and titles."
(This appears on the base of all IFOCAS emails)
I spent the whole of Christmas updating the site for 2003 and the new site will be loaded shortly. NOTE THE
There is an older site online which we cannot reach to delete just yet but we are
trying. (and it seems somebody has just uncovered the code.)
2. I shall shortly be going through all of our directories deleting all of the firms and organizations who did not respond to
our requests for updating which were issued last year. Assuming it to be the majority of people who may also be your members who have not replied they will all be deleted.
Any of your member who would like a free listing will then have to apply to join us, as opposed to automatically receiving a free advertisement.
3. To avoid spurious claims of plagiarism, I shall personally undertake a trawl through your directory and any businesses that we list who are also listed there and who are not IFOCAS members will also be deleted. Most reputable bodies within our hobby have joined us - most funnily enough do not want their data visible online.
I hope this will satisfy your concerns. I will also publish your letter in our complaints column online together with this response.
received from Saul, our "founding" webmaster.....
Gerald, Just got your memo. Who do these people think they are? I trawled the
world to give everyone in the hobby FREE adverts and they cant even be bothered
either to say thank you or to notify IFOCAS if they want something altered. The
hobby doesn't need these autocratic money grabbers - delete the lot. If they
want links then they can all pay us or join us, or shut up. If you cant afford
OFI fees you dont exist? .."word
I passed over to you we were getting about 300K hits a year - forget em.
If you think its worthwhile:(Do a
membership survey on OFI?)
by John received 10th Jan
Many thanks for your prompt response
Something has, obviousy, gone very wrong somewhere down the line, since I
never received any of the seven attempts you made to get in touch with me
during 1999 and 2000. This is a great shame...and a great mystery. I would
have responded to the very first of your communications... had I received
You refer to having checked my contact details with three gentlemen:
Neville Carrington, David Ford and Dick Mills, all of whom have had my
telephone, fax, postal and e-mail addresses for many, many years. This
makes the failure of your e-mails/faxes/letters (I don't know which means
you used to get in touch with me) to arrive even more difficult to
comprehend. I have been residing in Spain since summer 1997, so,
presumably, you attempted to contact me over here.
I can understand how, having tried on seven separate occasions to contact
me and not received any response, you came to the conclusion that I was
either: "(a) dead" or (b) had 'moved on'". You may also have
assumed that I
was just not interested. I trust that this e-mail proves that I am not
dead! As far as moving on is concerned, I moved from the UK to Andalucia
in southern Spain in July 1997 and, yes, I am interested.
I also hope that, likewise, you will understand how our failure to receive
either an acknowledgement or response from IFOCAS to our e-mail of 19
August 2002, led us to the conclusion that you might have, perhaps, not
given our comments the attention which we felt they merited.
We are therefore pleased to see that this is not the case. We would also
like to emphasise - as we did in our above-mentioned e-mail - that we have
no objection to our members being listed on the IFOCAS website. We would,
however, have appreciated being contacted in advance, something which you
probably did in one or other of your seven failed attempts.
We also felt (and feel) that any OFI member details published in your
listings should be as as up-to-date as possible and, since we update the
listings in our own website Members' Directory almost on a daily basis, we
urged you to establish a link to our Directory (which can be accessed via
our Home Page).
We hope that this e-mail helps clarify matters and we look forward to a
positive and constructive relationship with IFOCAS. We also hope that you
will put this communication alongside the others on your website to help
round things off.
With best regards,
ORNAMENTAL FISH INTERNATIONAL
OFI-IFOCAS The current position. Memo dated 3rd
internal discussions have taken place regarding the status of OFI members who
are either listed on current lists or have dual IFOCAS and OFI membership.
of all unresponsive bodies from the original world trade lists is continuing
steadily where requests for updating data are not returned. It is not incumbent
on us to pursue responses. This is lessening the problem somewhat as many OFI
members have not responded.
itself has been added to our listings under Spain.(Secretariat HQ)
applicants to membership of IFOCAS have been asked to declare OFI membership on
their application forms in order that we may determine whether or not to provide
them with our free services on an individually applied basis. It is undecided as
to whether joint membership may actually carry a conflict of interests
from non IFOCAS members to add data to the public lists will be cross-checked
against OFI membership information online. Although it is the IFOCAS concept
that our public lists are for public information and contain data on all
activities by both members and non-members it was never envisaged that this
would provide a free sales or advertising platform for larger industry
members.The answer may lay in selective or restricted published data.
is basically an Industry -oriented organization whose membership is by
subscription, whereas IFOCAS is basically an umbrella organization with
industry, manufacturing, consumer and hobbyist interests whose membership is
free. OFI's aim as we perceive it, is to produce a standardised acceptable
"product" for the aquatic market. IFOCAS's aim is simply to promote
the activity of fishkeeping worldwide. There are undoubtedly overlapping areas
is therefore a commercially - oriented body supported by the larger industry
members and the concept of IFOCAS providing such organizations with any,
or all, of its services at no charge is open to serious question and debate.
(though it would technically produce the ironic position of the hobby sponsoring
has been agreed that the status of existing joint members will remain unchanged.
discussion is continuing and in this vein I have copied our notes published
above to John Daw