Email Exchange Regarding NAR’s Recent Decision to Back MIBOR

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:

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:

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:

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.

20 thoughts on “Email Exchange Regarding NAR’s Recent Decision to Back MIBOR”

  1. Braxton,

    It’s funny, but not surprising, that Cliff sent me the same exact email. It’s pretty common for government officials to send generic messages to their constituents. A very insincere “I care about your voice” email for your efforts. Looks like NAR is just like our government.

    I also sent an email to Google to let them know that NAR considers their search engine to be a scraper.

    Fight the power!

  2. Hi Braxton, thanks for posting this. What is funny is that Mr. Niersbach did in no uncertain terms lump Google in as a scraper site. See Morgan’s post with the exact language here:

    Read the whole post, but here is what it boils down to: ” Response: The CRT advises that “indexing” is a form of scraping. ”

    It doesn’t get more clear than that. NAR interprets their policiy to treat Google as a scrapper site!

  3. Hi Braxton,

    All Realtors and brokers who know/care how devastating NAR’s/’s (what’s the difference?) IDX private agenda is for paid-members need to form an action group. We need to group our financial resources and hire a top law firm to fight the monster that controls our MLS data, on a national level.

    It will be a classic good guys vs. the bad guys. Corp. Greed (NAR Cronies) v. Small Business (Realtor Members)

  4. Braxton,

    Been following this on agent genius and notorious-rob, and this snake is growing many heads. I trust – no, make that HOPE, that the NAR reverses the rectal cranial inversion approach and looks simply at their own words “….adopted in 2005.” That alone speaks volumes about the currency of policy in this age.

    Seems simple on it’s face – what best serves the client? All other issues are peripheral.

    Appreciate your articulating this to the real estate world in ways those of us of lesser intellect can understand….

  5. I’ve spoken w/ a few MLS committee members who seem very interested in the discussions. It was Jim Duncan’s suggestion to reach out to MLS Committee Members. I wrote a summary doc for follow up with them, since many will not be coming on these blogs. (Some are, though.) Here’s the PDF

  6. I haven’t been following this and I’m confused… why would anyone call Google a scraper? (or suggest it anyway)

  7. @Alex I can’t answer that but I do know that NAR reconsidered and issued a change this week that will be reviewed that excludes search engines from the scraping rule. The final vote is this Saturday, I believe.

  8. The vote is going to be tomorrow. They will add language that says search engine indexing does not qualify as scraping. I still don’t see how it could be against the client’s best interest that search engines could not find their homes. Everyone hold your breath!

  9. “Seems they definitely don’t want to mess with Google”

    I don’t blame them, Google can get you a ton of traffic but it could also take away that traffic. Do you remember the girl that sued google because a change in their algorithm took her site from the first spot on the first page to page 10-15 for most of her keywords?

  10. I vaguely remember hearing something about that case. What happened with it?

    Also, someone during this discussion in the blogosphere said they had a contact at Google and talked to them and the contact said they would be looking into this? Did anyone see that anywhere? Did anything come out of it?

  11. I would be very interested as well to hear the response from Google. But, unless they have a personal relationship with them, it may take 6-8 weeks for a response if they get one at all. That is not a knock on Google. They get millons of emails and requests daily and by their on admission they do not respond to all emails.

  12. This policy decision cracks me up! When I think about what NAR is going, the picture of a petulant child, banging his head against the wall crying out comes to mind. At every turn, NAR has simply tried to avoid the reality of the technological world we now live in. Classifying google as a scraper site is tantamount to name calling. Until the powers that be at NAR embrace technology, we will all continue to be under-served by this organization. Incidentally, I write a blog on San Diego Property Management.

  13. So what happens when Google labels as a bad neighborhood? How can they justify sticking their head in the sand as a valid business model?

  14. I agree that this issue needs to be resolved and I think it is a disgrace that the issue got pushed back another 6 months. Like San Diego Property Management said, NAR needs to become more current with technology and how we put it to use to help our businesses grow.

  15. It seems to me that this controversy is a vestige of a much earlier time where Google was still a nascent technology; a time when companies like Yahoo! and AOL were still the dominant players and ‘fed’ people what they may or may not have wanted–a true Web 1.0 approach. Opinions about how IDX should work were formed in during these times.

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