Subtle title, huh? Sorry, I thought I might as well be direct about the revenue assurance industry’s leading scumbag, Rob Mattison. Yes, I know what some of you thinking: “leave it, Eric, everybody knows Mattison is a scumbag already”. Sad to say, that is not true. Not everybody knows he is a scumbag. If they knew, then nobody would waste their money on his sham qualification. My language is getting stronger because I am left dumbfounded by Mattison’s latest, brazen attempt at self-promotion. That Mattison constantly promotes himself, and that he has no sense of right or wrong is of no surprise to me. What amazes is that two years ago he was caught and stopped from doing the same thing – advertising himself on Wikipedia – yet he cannot resist trying again.
Two years ago, the Wikipedia page on revenue assurance had to be ripped down because of repeated spam from Papa Rob Mattison, owner, founder, self-appointed president and financial beneficiary of the Global Revenue Assurance Professionals Association (GRAPA), one of the publishing/consultancy/training businesses he runs with his family. At that time Papa Rob was promoting his then new international professional association. Little did he care that it is dishonest to call something international when it has no actual members. Little did he care that he was breaking the rules on Wikipedia. Little did he care that his justification for his behaviour – that he was President of a global society – has as little legitimacy as me appointing myself King of the World. But even I am amazed that he would stoop so low to wait a couple of years, and then try exactly the same trick again.
Wikipedia is a noble idea. Its mission is to give everybody in the world, no matter how poor, an encyclopedia. Whether you come from Harare, Harlem or Ho Chi Minh City, if you can get on the internet, you can get a good encyclopedia without spending thousands of dollars. At least, that is the idea. Let me say that again clearly: it is about helping the world’s poor to get access to encyclopedic reference material. It is not meant to be a free advertising site. Wikipedia has rules, and the rules are meant to discourage people from promoting their own business interests. People can break those rules, and many do. It is up to others to spot when the rules are broken and to undo the vandalism they do. So it is discouraging to see that, years after the revenue assurance page had to be torn down because of his spam, Mattison has nothing better to do than to recreate the revenue assurance page for the sole purpose of advertising his business interests.
Let us be clear about what Rob Mattison has done. Two years ago, he repeatedly broke the Wikipedia rules despite many warnings, and as a result the whole revenue assurance page had to be deleted. Now, desperate to promote himself on one of the top 10 websites in the world, he is doing it again. This is no innocent mistake, made without knowledge of Wikipedia’s rules. He knows what the rules are, and he deliberately abuses them in the hope that nobody who knows better will notice what he has done and identify which rules he has broken. He is hoping that, two years later, everybody forgot what he did and nobody will see that he is at it again. What a man to be giving lectures and handing out certificates that proclaim ‘ethics’ and ‘integrity’. He is a cheat, he got caught cheating, and now he is cheating again. Worst of all he cheats a charity (unlike Mattison’s bogus business, Wikipedia depends on genuine charitable contributions) which tries to help the world’s poor. He perverts the Wikipedia mission to spread knowledge by turning into an advert for his sham qualifications. Nobody who aspires to be a professional should have anything to do with Mattison the Maggot.
How do I know Rob Mattison created the new Wikipedia page? Well, it is not hard to tell. There are plenty of clues, such as that the person who created the new revenue assurance page has never bothered to write or edit any other Wikipedia page before. The page itself contains all those tell-tale signs that Mattison-knows-all, such as being a cut and paste from his book and containing helpful links to his business sites (none of which is allowed per Wikipedia’s rules). But if that does not convince you, let me point out that the user who created the revenue assurance page lives in Illinois, the same place as Mattison and all his businesses live, but otherwise not known for its thriving RA industry. Coincidence? I doubt it. How do I know the person lives in Illinois? The same user created both the revenue assurance page and the new ‘Global Revenue Assurance Professionals Association’ page (a page we can all agree has no place in an encyclopedia). That same person made a series of edits in the space of a few minutes. For some reason, they logged out half way through their edits. If you are not logged in to Wikipedia, then your IP address is shown instead – 126.96.36.199 in this case. That is an IP address for Illinois. Creating pages to promote yourself, creating links to your own websites, hiding behind an assumed identity to pretend no rules are broken – all against the rules, all petty, all the kind of thing you expect from a maggot, not a man.
I hold my hands up in despair. When things like this happen it makes me feel sick to the pit of my stomach. Despite (or perhaps because of) all the easy talk about ‘professionalism’ and ‘integrity’, this kind of behaviour makes me feel ashamed to work in revenue assurance. Perhaps I am unrealistic in my expectations. Perhaps revenue assurance is nothing but an exercise in how to make a quick buck. If so, there is no need to waste your money on a professional qualification, this scam will be dead long before you will see a return on your investment. If you think revenue assurance is a pathetic excuse to make yourself a few more dollars by talking a lot of nonsense, then I recommend you join GRAPA. Ask yourself, if revenue assurance is such a good way to save telcos billions, and he knows so much about how to do it, then why does Mattison work so hard to make money by selling training to other people? Why does Mattison not just make his money by doing revenue assurance? Because he sells the same things as those people who sell books that promise to make you rich – he sells empty promises and he is the only person who will get rich from them. If his training is good, and so popular and so well recognized all over the planet, then why does he resort to spamming Wikipedia as a way to promote it? Because GRAPA is failing and he is desperate and he will rape a charitable site intended to help the world’s poor if that helps him to make more money. If you promise to say how great he is, he will gladly give you a phoney title to put on your CV. He has handed out a hundred GRAPA titles already, but if you confront his former executive committee members, they sheepishly admit they did nothing to earn those titles – other than to allow their names to be used to endorse GRAPA. Do not be fooled. The people who own and run GRAPA are the family Mattison, with Papa Rob at the head. Nobody else gets a say in how it is run, and nobody else ever will.
Like Wikipedia adverts, empty titles cost nothing. You, on the other hand, will be wasting your money if you buy a certificate from Mattison. Saying that, you will get exactly what you deserve: a worthless piece of paper. Tell people you got it, and it will be even worse. You might as well write on your CV that you are a sucker. You might as well tell the world that you are not fit to do a job that may involve asking tough questions and not accepting the first, easiest answer you get in response. Be warned. Real RA professionals can tell the difference between real qualifications and joke qualifications, and are unlikely to offer work to those people who cannot.
On the other hand, if you think revenue assurance might actually become a profession one day, then do something about it. Take responsibility into your own hands, like a real professional would. Monitor Wikipedia and stop the name of revenue assurance being dragged through the gutter for the sake of endless advertising. Make sure that your colleagues know that you take a moral stand against this blatant abuse of a charitable organization and you have no respect for the people responsible. Better still, write something on Wikipedia about revenue assurance that follows the Wikipedia rules – but only if you can. That means write something that is independently referenced and of genuine academic calibre. That is not the same as something which is a promo for your business or a statement of your personal opinion, with no justification other than you think you are right. In other words, spend an hour doing what our talkRA colleague Güera Romo does every day. Güera is doing real academic study about revenue assurance. Her work is subject to proper academic review by real academics, not the tacit endorsement of a dozen people who will agree to anything if it might help them make more money. Güera is taking the long hard road to increasing the knowledge in the world, not the short cut to making a few bucks by cheating, exaggerating and lying. The job of an academic can be thankless, but it is that work, that dedication, that integrity which will eventually produce some material worthy of inclusion in an encyclopedia. If you care, I say back Güera and people like her, back the profession, back academic rigour and back integrity – and stand up against the spam and the get-rich-quick fools who would drag us all into the gutter.
Update (18th May 2009):
Over the last few days, following a series of exchanges with those wonderful volunteers who administer Wikipedia, the Wikipedia page on revenue assurance was first deleted completely, then resurrected back to a two year old version that predates Mattison’s first attempts to spam it. To prevent ongoing spam, the page is locked to prevent edits from ordinary users. It is a shame that the RA community cannot be trusted to manage its own Wikipedia page, but perhaps this is a turning point. Under the watchful supervision of the volunteer administrators of Wikipedia, who are completely impartial and whose only interest is in getting an article fit for an encyclopedia, perhaps this is an opportunity to build some consensus amongst the RA community. Users cannot make changes, but they can propose changes to the Wikipedia page. Rather than expecting the volunteer admins at Wikipedia to decide which sounds good and which sounds bad, it would be really helpful if good RA people all got involved, and commented on which proposed changes should be accepted. If you have not looked before, take a look at the page and get involved in the discussion, whilst always remembering the goal is consensus and to show how everything can be supported with a reliable reference. The Mattison spam attack might prove to be a blessing in disguise, if this proves to be a turning point in forming a genuine consensus about the core fundamentals of revenue assurance.