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Can You Trust This Site?

Consumer WebWatch is operated by the non-profit Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Report magazine. Virtually every American visitor will recognize the organization and the magazine, as they are the most trusted consumer advocates in the USA. I am posting their guidelines with their permission.

The site recognizes that the vast majority of Internet users do not trust the information they see on the Internet, privacy policies posted at sites, or pledges by sites to keep personal information secure. Consumer WebWatch is in a process of making sites more trustworthy and making visitors more confident about the sites they visit.

They have published a series of guidelines, minimal standards for websites to follow. Below are these guidelines (in red Times New Roman font) and TheBeadSite's policies concerning them (in black Ariel font). This information is available elsewhere on this site (hence the links), but here it is all together for your inspection. Point six below is my suggestion to them for adding to the guidelines and my policies.


We believe Web sites will promote Web credibility if they adopt these basic policies:

1. Identity:

Web sites should clearly disclose the physical location where they are produced, including an address, a telephone number or e-mail address.

We are located in Lake Placid NY USA. I do not put my email address on the site, but you can always contact me here.

Sites should clearly disclose their ownership, private or public, naming their parent company.

The parent company is the Center for Bead Research. It is entirely owned by Peter Francis, Jr., the Webmaster of

Sites should clearly disclose their purpose and mission.

The purpose of the site is to facilitate communication between the Center for Bead Research and the rest of the on-line world. Our mission is to apply the scientific method to the study of all beads, keeping in mind that beads cannot be understood without the human element involved with them. Furthermore, we bring the results of our work to the public through the site and our publications.

2. Advertising and Sponsorships:

Sites should clearly distinguish advertising from news and information, using labels or other visual means. This includes "in-house" advertising or cross-corporate ad sponsorships. Search engines, shopping tools and portals should clearly disclose paid result-placement advertising, so consumers may distinguish between objective search results and paid ads.

Our advertising is clearly distinguishable through the use of banners. Sometimes I will link to a publication of ours or others that may be of interest to someone reading a page, but that is clear form the context of the text. Our search engine is internal and does not distinguish on the basis of payments of any kind.

Sites should clearly disclose relevant business relationships, including sponsored links to other sites. For example: A site that directs a reader to another site to buy a book should clearly disclose any financial relationship between the two sites.

Our advertisers pay for placement on our pages. When you buy a book or other item from Amazon or Powell's or a magazine subscription through us we receive a commission that does not elevate the price you pay.

Some advertisers (at the moment beadroom, africaimports, and Hide) do not pay us in advance, but pay a commission on what you buy from them when you reach them through us. These are affiliate relations; this do not affect your price. Our Own Bead Store consists entirely of links to our advertisers and affiliates.

We have affiliate relations with a few other companies, whose banners or links are reached through the Bead Bazaar and the Shopping Mall. Again, our affiliate relationship does not elevate the price you pay for an item or service.

There are no financial relationships with any sites listed on any of our link pages. These are reciprocal links only.

Sites should identify sponsors. The site's sponsorship policies should be clearly noted in accompanying text or on an "About Us" or "Site Center" page.

We have no other sponsors.

3. Customer Service:

Sites engaged in consumer transactions should clearly disclose relevant financial relationships with other sites, particularly when these relationships affect the cost to a consumer.

See above. They do not affect the cost to the consumer.

Sites should clearly disclose all fees charged, including service, transaction and handling fees, and shipping costs. This information should be disclosed before the ordering process begins.

Shipping charges differ according to the destination and whether the customer orders by mail or with a credit card. The charges are spelled out here. There are no other fees.

Sites should clearly state and enforce policies for returning unwanted items or canceling transactions or reservations.

In the extremely rare case (one in about 25 years of doing business) where someone returned books, they got a full refund less out-of-pocket expenses (shipping; no restocking fee). No one has ever canceled a membership in the Center for Bead Research in mid-stream; I would pro-rate a refund.

4. Corrections:

Sites should diligently seek to correct false, misleading or incorrect information.

We do.

Sites should prominently display a page or section of the site where incorrect information is corrected or clarified.

Corrections are usually quite minor or in the form of updates. If there are any major ones, they will be posted.

Sites should strive to mark content with its published date when failing to do so could mislead consumers.

I cannot think of where this might apply. Readers can always find out the publication date by looking at the story archives. Every once in a while I go through all the archived stories to remove live links when they are no longer applicable.

Sites should clearly state their policy on a consumer's rights if a purchase is made based on incorrect information on the site.

It would be the same as our return policy.

5. Privacy:

Site privacy policies should be easy to find and clearly, simply stated.

They are, here.

Sites should clearly disclose how personal data from site visitors and customers will be used. Personal data includes name, address, phone number and credit card number.

We do not collect phone numbers. Credit card numbers are collected by ccnow; we never see them. We collect addresses only for shipping orders. We collect names and email addresses for our bEad-Mail e-newsletter and also home addresses for the
World Bead Chain. We always remove this data upon your request.

When you contact us you are asked for your location (not home address) because sometimes that helps me answer a question more easily. The information is not retained.

Sites should disclose whether they use browser-tracking mechanisms such as "cookies," and other technologies such as Web beacons, bugs and robots.

We do not use any of them.

Sites should explain how data collected from them will be used. Sites should notify customers of changes to privacy policies, and provide an easy opt-out alternative.

We do not buy, sell, or trade personal information. We may share aggregate information (X number of people visited the site; X number of people receive bEad-Mail) to advertisers and potential advertisers. Should there be any change to our policies we would let you know and give you the right to opt out easily.

6. Trustworthiness of Information on the Site (my additions)

What guarantee does a visitor have that something purchased form the site will be sent out as ordered?

Answer: A clean track record since 1979. This is my life. I have a reputation to maintain. I would not sacrifice some short term ripped-off gain for what I am happy doing as a full-time calling.

What guarantee is there that information found on the site is completely accurate?

Answer: "Completely accurate" suggests omniscience, but "accurate to the best of my knowledge" I can promise. Again, I have a reputation to protect. I am widely known both in the "bead world" and in many other disciplines (see my resume).

Beyond that, the site rather speaks for itself. It is open and straightforward. It is not an academic treatise, but much of it is referenced. The pages cover subjects within my own experience, having seen things first hand, experimented with them, or researched them thoroughly.

Additionally, there is the quality of the people who contribute to That, and my contributions to other bead--related web sites are indicative of how others regard my work.

*** We believe Web site readers should be able to find these policies easily, on an "About Us" or "Site Center" page navigable from the home and other site pages.

These guidelines are by no means exhaustive, but they re based on the results of an extensive research

Project conducted by Consumer WebWatch in December 2001 and January 2002; on expert opinion from our board of advisers and other information professionals; and other qualitative research.


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