Should manufacturers of popular services be held liable for errors?

    In this post I will consider such a concept as “cumulative responsibility”, is free competition enough to regulate the quality of socially important services, why are people not demanding on services, what is our legislation ready for and are there “free” services?

    I’ll explain right away that by manufacturers I mean not programmers, as such, respected and loved by me, but rather those people whose decision we use the services for as they are with all their pros and cons.

    Cumulative liability

    This concept has been spinning in the minds of users for a long time, but not everyone is able to realize its significance. Will explain. Suppose you are a service developer that is used by 20 million people. And you make a mistake that introduces the fury of each user into microprojects.

    I will give examples:
    1. Yandex.Mobile mobile application. The guys had excellent service, for this reason their popularity significantly exceeded the Google solution. This spring, a large release of Yandex maps was released with significant changes. They made more readable names, traffic jams looked a little better and do not conflict with the laid route. But that hellish amount of new bugs and lost functionality levels all their efforts. The most critical:
    1) The search from their own address auto-substitution does not always work - you have to use your fingers to search for the desired house, which is indicated there and click “get route”
    2) When the mobile phone restarts, the constructed route is reset
    3) When the main route is practically free, it leads along absolutely free roads, back streets or gravel roads

    2. Sticky notes embedded in HTC Sense 3.6 - great app! They programmed everything there that was possible: both photos and a voice recorder and video, seemingly even added handwriting recognition, were also added. Forgot one little thing - autosave. The note is saved only when you click on the hardkey button "Back". If you type a note during the day, minimize the application and switch to others, and at the end of the day the battery is dead and the mobile phone reboots, you will have to train the memory and restore the data yourself. At a recent exhibition of our product, he wrote useful thoughts and contacts all day, and when the next day he got into his phone to transfer data to his contact book ... In general, the Hulk rushed out and wanted to kill.

    3. Facebook - that awkward feeling when the information about the mail on your page was replaced by a Facebook postman.

    4. The Windows program “notes” does not respond to scrolling, and when inserting text, it retains the formatting of the source, making it impossible to lead to a common style.

    I think everyone can find a lot of examples of crooked programs that millions work with, nevertheless bringing the developer sufficient profit for high-quality development.

    How critical are such cases when a minor inconvenience is caused to a huge number of people? Is it worse or better than the significant suffering of one person?
    If you stick to the option that it’s better to pinch a thousand people than to hurt one, it’s a more realistic example. Who should appoint a longer prison term, for an official who stole one ruble from the people of the whole country and saved 140 million rubles from this, or a teenager who robbed a neighbor by taking out 15 thousand rubles from the apartment and leaving it without any means of subsistence? I believe that impartial legislation will take a stricter attitude towards the official. Wouldn't it be worth doing the same with providers of socially significant services? But not only the legislation, but also our consciousness is not ready for such an attitude. Most users are willing to look at it through their fingers or throw the gadget at the wall, instead of going to the feedback section.

    Natural monopolies and their regulation

    What do apps like cards, social services become for us? networks, search engines? If 10 years ago people traveled to new cities using paper maps and voice gestures of local residents, today without Yandex maps and Google maps it’s hard to imagine a comfortable trip. Some try to live without social networks, but their communicative circle is narrowing, and after another ten years, natural life processes grow so deeply in social networks that those who abandon them will look just like a religious hermit now looks like .
    Based on the fact that the service becomes necessary for a comfortable life, it can be safely attributed to natural monopolies, such as gas, electricity or heating. It is to the monopolies, since in the case of cards there is no need to talk about developed competition, where you can easily choose another supplier. Entering the market is associated with enormous costs, and it is not so easy for a user to change Yandex-cards in Moscow to Google.
    Historically, monopolies needed to be regulated either by the state or by associations called SROs (self-regulatory organizations). Regulation is necessary for the following reasons:
    1. Ensuring the quality of services. Details on the example of the US electric power industry can be found here.. So, before the start of regulation of the electricity market in the United States, manufacturers and network organizations themselves came up with a proposal to establish a tariff and quality level for them. This step insured bona fide companies investing in the development and quality of products from competitors who wanted to dump, lowering prices and not paying attention to medium and long-term consequences, without thinking about development and reputation. The fears of U.S. energy companies are picturesquely flourishing in today's unregulated market, with coupeters like Groupon and Biglion killing entire markets by throwing cheap low-quality services, pulling a large mass of demand and leaving no chance for companies that do not want to sacrifice quality to develop.
    2. The second task of regulation is to balance the price of a service - this functionality insures consumers against discriminatory high prices. For example, we have a boiler room in the village where some pensioners live. Winter is coming, and the owner of the boiler room decides to raise the price 10 times. Consumers have no choice; they will give back their last money for the sake of heat. And where are the prices if the applications are free? There is nothing free. In this case, compensation is not money as such. We benefit with every like, every click or look at an advertising banner, pay by sharing our personal data, leaving opinions and even just talking about the application. In fact, people work out what should have a monetary expression. Not understanding this is a problem in many areas. When a person thinks that he gets something for free, it does not require quality from the consumed products. The most painful example of our country is healthcare. Many believe that there is free medicine and paid. Nobody requires young and successful specialists, no queues, high-quality honey from the free one. Appliances, polite staff and renovated buildings. What can you expect from a free one? But does everyone know that from this year the deductions from each person’s income for “free” medicine is 5%? Did you calculate the amount of money you personally paid? What can you expect from a free one? But does everyone know that from this year the deductions from each person’s income for “free” medicine is 5%? Did you calculate the amount of money you personally paid? What can you expect from a free one? But does everyone know that from this year the deductions from each person’s income for “free” medicine is 5%? Did you calculate the amount of money you personally paid?


    Perhaps it would be right for large developers to create an SRO with a single independent center of competence and feedback collection. It can be a single open information space where users with minimal efforts could leave parameterized reviews. They need to be parameterized so that, on the scale of entire communities, it is possible to determine what exactly the functional does not like, what consequences it suffered, and who is responsible for the mass fluctuations. At the moment, all this data can be obtained in some form, but judging by the fact that Yandex for half a year did not fix half of the bugs that users wrote in the Google market, we can conclude that for this task we need an external control mechanism . If a few competitors will not conscientiously perform these functions, can connect government services. One thing is clear - work in this regard will not have to start today, then tomorrow, when the precedents of harming entire communities take on a global character.
    Our consumer, on the other hand, needs to cultivate exactingness and intolerance for everything of poor quality. Do not curse the heads of companies or programmers, but carry constructive to suppliers. The developers of Svyaznoy-Bank Internet Banking, the developers of ChompSMS (guys in Australia), the developers of the mobile version of Alfabank, the creators of and others have already taken my advice. After all, it is always nice to receive a letter from a grateful user who likes your product and asks for something to improve. Kind words and constructive criticism

    favor cooperation :-) If someone has skepticism regarding the topic, I suggest thinking about the following:
    I am sure that many users have experienced this exciting moment when you are driving in the left lane at a speed of 80;) and shortly before the rebuilding, the route goes astray. It’s not always possible to stop, the turn is somewhere close, and suddenly the chameleon’s vision begins to develop, when with one eye to the road, and with the second you type on the address “Maly Krestovozdvizhensky lane 4a / 43” ...
    Think about whether accident statistics are being kept somewhere due to a crash or inconvenient navigator interface? Or at least the statistics of these fatal accidents? Do developers realize what their bug or interface curvature can lead to? Who should be called to account for the terrible tragedy due to the frivolous attitude of the developer to his product?

    UPD:The conclusions that can be drawn by reading the comments are that the developers do not want to accept responsibility, which is quite expected. The main argument: "If the user is stupid and does not read the license agreement, then let him pay for his stupidity, even if the price is life"
    Thank you for your views. We are developers ourselves and take a different position. We create and will create systems where programs are tailored to the person, and not the user must learn the instructions, where we are looking for the most stupid user and arrange everything so that he never gets into a difficult situation because of his stupidity. An ideal system does not exist, but this must be sought. Look a little further than your compiler. Thinking about people, about users first. Even if they are dumber than we would like.
    Thanks for the reaction and for the cons and pros.

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