Recently NAR decided to back a controversial decision made by NIBOR.  It was suggested that the best way to make your voice heard was to email Cliff Niersbach, NAR’s Vice President of Board Policy & Programs.  So I did, and since some asked, I am putting the thread here with Cliff’s permission.

My first email to Cliff:

Cliff,
I would like to state my unhappiness with NAR’s recent decision to back MIBOR’s decision to categorize Google as a “scraper” site.  I believe this is absolutely ridiculous and believe that NAR’s policy should be updated.  How can dues-paying Realtor’s go about getting this changed?

His response:

Good morning REALTOR® Beyer:
Thank you for your comments regarding the IDX policy, specifically as it relates to indexing and scraping.

I will, by copy of this email, share your thoughts with the REALTOR® leaders of the NAR Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee for their consideration.  It should be understood that NAR has not labelled Google as a “scraper site”. The issue is actually whether – and how – indexing by search engines can be accommodated while clearly and objectively distinguishing that functionality from the scraping the IDX policy prohibits to protect MLS databases from misuse and misappropriation.  Hopefully that can be accomplished with input and insight from thoughtful REALTORS like yourself.

My second email:

Cliff,
Thanks for the quick response.  Although you may not have labeled Google as a scraper you have lumped them together wtih scrapers.

Although you can easily stop a site from being indexed by Google you cannot stop scrapers.  So I am not sure what is accomplished by this latest decision.  Scraper sites still have the information you are trying to protect but useful sites such as Google do not.  So can you please tell me what the benefit of this decision is?

His response:

Braxton:
The decision was made in 2005 when the NAR Board of Directors amended the VOW policy. One of the amendments was the addition of the following requirement: “Participants must protect IDX information from misappropriation by employing reasonable efforts to monitor and to prevent ‘scraping’ or other unauthorized accessing, reproduction, or use of the MLS database.” This requirement has been in place for nearly four years. I do not have the technical expertise to say with certainty that there is no way to prevent IDX site from being scraped. If that’s the case (and I’m not saying it isn’t) it’s somewhat surprising that hundreds of MLSs have adopted  the rule cited above without anyone making the point that compliance is impossible.

I anticipate the issue will be discussed by the Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee next week and if the REALTORS® who serve on the Committee share your concerns, they have the ability to recommend a change in the policy to the NAR Board of Directors.

I appreciate your follow-up and will share it with the Committee’s leadership.

My last email:

Thanks again for the response.  I don’t think it is impossible but it
would be very difficult.  Probably to the point that it’s almost not
worthwhile.  I think that this is just the first time someone has
challenged the issue.  Anyway, thanks again for your response and I
look forward to hearing what the committee has to say about the issue.

So I think it is a fair response, but one thing I did notice was that Cliff changed the subject of the email.  When I sent him the first email, the subject read “Google Scraper Issue” but when I received his response, it read “IDX” and one of the first things he points out is that they did not label Google as a scraper.  Seems they definitely don’t want to mess with Google.

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