It seems to me that Victor avoids the big problem: trying to define social media. That’s good, because I think defining it is a lost cause when, as he points out, almost all websites are at least minimally interactive. In a sense, though, he are suggesting that NAR punt the question to MLSs. That, too, does not generally bother me, but I think NAR feels the need to provide more guidance.
As for Victor’s proposal, I wonder about two things:
- The willingness of MLSs with constrained resources to make these site-by-site determinations. As we saw with syndication, many MLSs just signed up with a syndicator, told brokers that they were on their own, and considered the syndication problem “solved.” Turns out they were excessively optimistic, but their desire to be free of tougher decisions was understandable, given the resources required to make good decisions in this space.
- The lack of standards. Making good decisions about which sites to permit and which not is incredibly difficult without some standards. The policy might get away with this shortcoming, but if MLS board rooms are not called on to evaluate sites based on some kind of established list of standards, whether it’s provided in the policy, by industry consensus (CMLS?), or by brainy pundits, I fear a real mess (operationally and legally).
BTW, I think what Victor wrote makes me sound more comfortable with Embedded Display than I actually am. Individual Linking does not frighten me, because it’s something a consumer could do. But Embedded Display is something richer. Brokers I’ve talked to are more ambivalent about it than Individual Linking, which they generally support. (Note, though, that some states’ laws might take issue with individual linking.) Right now, I’d be inclined just to modify the existing IDX policy to say:
- Individual Linking consists of x (define it carefully, addressing concerns that Matt Cohen has expressed elsewhere).
- A broker taking part in IDX (Broker B) can individually link to another broker’s (Broker A) listing on any site, provided
- Broker A’s listing is included in IDX (i.e., it’s not a “No Internet display” listing)
- Broker A’s listing is not marked for “no third-party commentary”; the link by Broker B does not actually constitute a breach of the seller’s “no third-party commentary” restriction, but if Broker A can post the link, other visitors to that site can almost certainly comment on it there, something the seller does not want. MLS probably should not facilitate this. I admit this limitation might be hard to enforce and should probably exist only in those MLSs that refuse to syndicate such listings to sites that allow commentary.
- The link Broker B posts leads to a fully compliant IDX display operated by Broker B or any other eligible IDX broker.
I’d leave Embedded Displays in the “not allowed” category. Note, though, that if an agent wanted to offer a search interface–a place to enter search criteria (and maybe even a running count of matching listings)–in a widget on her Facebook page, with any display of the listing content requiring a new IDX-compliant browser tab or window to be spawned (or if mobile, a link to the agent’s own IDX-compliant mobile app), I doubt many listing brokers would object. Of course, that’s idle speculation without some broker conversations to back it up.