Good Citizen, Bad Citizen!

Private Property South Africa
Pieter Oosthuizen

There is no doubt that one of the hottest and most contentious topics at Private Property is the fact that we don’t want any duplicate listings on the site. This decision raises many a heated debate and not a day goes by where we don’t find ourselves “defending our position”, with good arguments on both sides of the fence. We maintain that the pros outweigh the cons and have also noted that since its inception more and more agencies have welcomed the duplication policy, but in the same breath, have been left a little disappointed by the process, in some cases. This following example will hopefully put the frustrations of duplicates into a bit more perspective.

I know that there must be tens of thousands of traffic stories, dare I say “episodes”, like this daily, but indulge me for a minute. As I drive to work, the final “hurdle” of my trip is an off-ramp that gets me on to the final stretch into the office. The off- ramp has two lanes where you can exit the highway, and the queue gets very, I mean very, long. Like any good citizen, I try to get into the inside lane as soon as possible, so that I can wait my turn in simple “first come, first served” tradition. This rule does not however seem to apply to everyone. While most of us see the solid white line at the end, as the point where you cannot take the off-ramp anymore because you have travelled too far in the wrong lane, others see it as the last chance to cross-over and push into the queue. Infuriated and frustrated you find yourself thinking the most awful things, so bad in fact that they cannot be repeated. One morning I actually saw a woman clap hands and shout in pure ecstasy as justice was served, when a traffic officer stopped a guy who was pushing in.

So what does this have to do with the Private Property website or duplicates? Well, I once heard a colleague liken our site to our public roads and he put it quite simply by saying, “there will always be good users and bad users”. When it comes to adhering to not loading duplicates, we know that some of our users play by the rules and others bend them a little more than they should, which leaves the ‘good citizens” feeling frustrated with the system when in fact, it’s the bad user who are ruining it for everyone.

I admit that it would be great if we could have an officer on every corner so that we could police all offenders instantaneously, but that is impossible and although our Community Policing forum works well, the process is quite tedious and not all duplicates are always reported, which means that duplicates seem to find their way on to the site.

So how are we going to catch the users who purposefully bend the rules and what will the consequence be? The good news is that we are working on enhancing our systems to be better at finding duplicates and we are going the make the process of removing duplicates quicker. The system will use clever methods and algorithms to find matching and similar properties which will see the site duplicate free.

It reminds me of the all-seeing-eye of Sauron in the Lord of the Rings…always vigilant, always watching.

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