Instant Karma


Musical Director
Mar 22, 1999
Many of us buy and sell knives on-line. Some of us deal with each other via the for sale forums or via e-mail. Others use the various auction houses. And others buy from the many knife dealers who have web sites. There's always a fear of getting ripped off.

Some time ago, I agreed to buy a knife on-line. I sent the seller a cashier's check for almost $300. After a few days, I had not received the customary, "I got your check" e-mail. So, I e-mailed asking if it had come. That message bounced -- account closed. I though, "Well Chuck, it's finally happened. You've been had. Kiss that $300 good by." But, a few days later, the knife arrived in the mail with a note explaining that the seller had temporarily lost his network connection.

My story ended well. Not all do. So, how can you protect yourself? Is there any way to "check out" someone before you send them a big chunk of money or your credit card number?

The answer is yes, and one significant part of it is right here on It's the "Good, bad and ugly" forum. Hopefully, we'll get the the search function back soon and then you can search for other people's experiences with a particular individual, maker, manufacturer, or retailer. Once it's working again, the search function here will, I'm sure, again be easy, quick, and free.

Another good source is the rec.knives Usenet group. Our friends at Deja News,, archive everything that goes on there (which is a scarry thought sometimes). You can easily, quickly, and at no cost, search their data base for posts not just in rec.knives, but all over Usenet, about the individual, maker, manufacturer, or retailer that you're considering a deal with.

Next, you might try a web search with any of the popular search engines (I'm partial to, but I offer them only as one example and I'd prefer not to have a flame war about which is the best search engine, thank you.)

This whole new access to instant information about a person's business reputation was dubbed "instant karma" in a recent, and somewhat related, rec.knives thread. Being Lutheran, I don't believe in "karma", but "instant karma" is another matter. To paraphrase, "Thou shalt not steal thy neighbor's knife nor any portion of his knife budget." If you rip someone off, it can and should be all over the Internet in a matter of minutes. In this massively interconnected, 24-hour access, instant transmission world we're entering, a business or businessman has to keep clean or the whole world will quickly know.

So, before you hand over your money or your credit card, take a few minutes and do a bit of on-line searching. But, because you've received a benifit for this, you owe a debt. If you get ripped off, or if you have a good experience, help your on-line friends out by posting it. I know that this is especially difficult when you've been ripped off. It's hard to stand up and say, "I was stupid and I lost a lot of money." I applaud anyone who does so, though. You're helping everyone else out and we all thank you.

We can all help each other out by getting our experiences archived here or in Deja News via rec.knives.

And if you're a business, remember: these day, Instant Karma happens.


A word of caution: One side of a story, posted on the Internet, is hard to verify. The Net is a place where, if you shaft somebody, a lot of people will know it. It is also a place where rumor and worse flies about at the speed of light.

Note that there are a couple of locked threads here, where the owner of this forum thought the better of starting a formal instant karma service.

In a "trial by Internet," nobody is under oath, documents are hard to verify, or even the identity of witnesses, and the usual verdict is "mistrial."

You can expect the other side of a story to be posted within a day or two as a rule, and it usually becomes clear what's going on very quickly. IMHO trial by internet is about the fairest form of trial we're ever going to see in this world. You can read everything both sides of a dispute choose to say about it and make up your own mind. If you're not fair maybe you won't come to a fair decision.... If you choose to you can decide as soon as you hear one side without waiting to hear the other side, but if you do that's your choice; you haven't been forced to that by the nature of trial by internet.

Doing business on the net is safer than irl. When you go to a store or a show you usually don't have the opportunity to benefit from anyone else's experience with that dealer; you usually have to find out for yourself. If you do have any information it'll be limited; one or two people have told you their experiences; nobody got a chance to rebut what they told you....

-Cougar Allen :{)
I agree with cougar.Luthern or not, what goes around comes around.No where is this more true than on the forums.I feel very comfortable dealing with my fellow forumites.My check and their goods cross in the mail.There is a great deal of trust here, and very little bad experiance.Look at the volume.Even that has been worked in most cases that I am aware of.After a while,and many posts,I have seen people say,OK ,mea culpa I`ll make it right.As the posts dissapear,I assume that it happened.We are self policing.No one is going to get on an airplane to file suit over a knife.

When you live in a glass house... This media really opens up multi-way communications. Everyone gets to see your good news and bad news quickly.

It should make most consider their posts more carefully before clicking on the submit button. It actually might help teach personal responsibility in some cases. What a concept!

[This message has been edited by Bob Irons (edited 13 July 1999).]
Another, somewhat underutilized, resource also exists here in the "Individuals: People who sell & trade knives on a regular basis" links section, , of BF. There are currently only 25 people listed, but I always ask my trading partners to take a minute to rate me as a buyer/seller/trader. It's not perfect but, if more folks would do the same, it could be a valuable resource.



[This message has been edited by bcaffrey (edited 13 July 1999).]