Ecommerce Solutions Australia: Guest Checkout Or Customer Account: Whats Your Pick For Conversion?}

Submitted by: Justine Williams

Merchants want their customers to have a seamless experience shopping with them so that they return and generate more sales and revenue for their business.

Offering guest checkout is one the most convenient ways ecommerce marketers use to ensure hassle-free shopping experiences while boosting overall revenue. The reason is quite obvious. Signing up to complete a purchase seems like a lot of work sharing personal information in a long series of steps can easily irk a potential buyer.

However, guest checkouts even being a quick and appropriate solution arent an ideal checkout alternative for every business.

Shopping as a registered customer, on the other hand, offers a more convenient and personalised experience. Not only that, marketers too benefit from customer accounts as it provides them with a loyal customer base.

So, both customer account and guest checkout have a significant role to play in the overall shopping experience. How do you decide which of the two is a right fit for your ecommerce website?

Well, we reached out to some experienced Magento developers and industry experts engaged in providing ecommerce solutions in Australia to find out how guest checkout and customer accounts benefit a Magento store separately. Here are the important conclusions from our interaction with ecommerce development experts in Australia.

Guest checkouts

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Traditionally, checking out as a guest remains of great assistance for first-time customers.

There are many buyers who dont feel comfortable sharing their personal information on their first visit to a new ecommerce store. Insisting such users to sign up for a customer account on the website to complete their purchase often becomes the reason for cart abandonments and low conversion rates.

A guest checkout requires less commitment and offers an easy and quick way to complete a purchase successfully. So, is guest checkout creates no interruption in the shopping process, takes a little time and improves conversion rates, it should be a practical option for every business. Right?

No! As much as anonymous checkout is beneficial for first-time customers, for some ecommerce businesses enabling guest checkout causes more problems than it solves. Heres how:

Difficulty in tracking, modifying and reviewing orders.

Time-consuming customer service processes due to lack of order history and details.

Inconvenient return, refund and exchange processes.

The inability to send promotional materials, newsletters and shopping cart notifications.

Difficulty in collecting feedback from buyer to make improvements.

Customer Account

Registered accounts can enjoy the convenience of having their personal information stored on the website for future reuse. They can later return to your Magento ecommerce store, view their purchase history, make purchases without having to enter the same personal details again, enjoy easy browsing and product recommendations and more.

Apart from improving the customer experience, customer accounts have significant benefits for merchants too. Have a glance at the most common of them:

Build a strong customer community and reinforce customer relationships.

Market better to customers utilising the customer purchase history and behaviours.

Establish high standards of customer loyalty and business integrity.

Improve sales and revenue through optimised operations and personalised customer experiences.

While sign up option sure has substantial benefits for merchants and customers, it is important to remember that creating an account can still be a barrier to some potential shoppers or first-time buyers.

Both customer accounts and guest checkout come with their own advantages and shortcomings. Since both the checkout options offer a user-friendly experience under certain circumstances, you dont really have to decide which one to pick.

All you have to do is implement guest checkout and customer account appropriately in your Magento ecommerce development. Make your checkout process so suer-friendly and seamless that the next time buyers come around, they dont leave without signing up.

About the Author: Justine Williams is a technical content marketer with WebCircle who also specialises in Magento and ecommerce development consulting (

webcircle.com.au/ecommerce.html

) and helps magento web design firms across Australia with her knowledgeable counsel.

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15 September

Hurricane Maria forms in Atlantic

Sunday, September 4, 2005

Tropical storm Maria intensified and became the season’s fifth hurricane on Sunday, September 4. The hurricane is currently growing stronger in the warm waters of the open Atlantic Ocean.

According to MSNBC News, at 5 AM EDT the hurricane had a maximum sustained wind of 75 MPH, which barely qualifies for category 1 hurricane status, and was centered 256 miles southeast of Bermuda. Currently it is moving north-northwest and is predicted to turn northward late Sunday or early Monday. Hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart believes that should the hurricane continue on its predicted route, “Maria should remain well to the east of Bermuda and only pose a threat to shipping interests.”

This hurricane does not appear to pose a threat comparable to the current major US disaster, Hurricane Katrina, as it is expected to move soon into cooler Atlantic waters, which will sap much of its strength.

Maria is the 13th named storm of the hurricane season, far surpassing the typical 4 or 5 named storms at this time of year. The season runs from June 1 to November 30.

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15 September

At least fifteen dead after stampede at Mali mosque

Friday, February 26, 2010

According to a government official, at least 26 people were killed in a stampede on Thursday at a historic mosque in the northwestern city of Timbuktu, Mali.

“There were 26 killed and 40 wounded,” Oumar Sangare, the Internal Ministry spokesman, told Reuters. However, other news agency reports put the death toll as low as fifteen.

An official, who requested to remain anonymous, said the accident could have begun as a result of renovation work on the Djingareyber mosque—which is made primarily of mud, and was built in the fourteenth century. Construction work blocked off some of the roads, and that could have been a factor in the incident. “The mosque is being renovated, financed by the Aga Khan, and the work is carried out by South African specialists,” the official told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.

“Because of these renovations, the passage on the north side of the mosque is closed off. On that side, to get through, the faithful found an improvised alleyway. But the alley couldn’t take the number of people using it. So there was a stampede. Somebody shouted ‘someone has died’ and panic took over,” the same official went on to say.

Others have remarked that rescue services responded “very quickly” to the stampede, and helped the “many injured.”

The Xinhua news agency reports the stampede started when an elderly woman fell in one of the town streets near the city’s main mosque, where a sermon was being conducted in front of a large crowd; a passersby then rushed to assist the woman, apparently disrupting the crowd’s movement and causing the stampede.

“People were circling the mosque, a ritual at each Mouloud [the observance of the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday] and there was a huge crowd build up,” commented Mohamed Bandjougou, one of the witnesses to the event, to AFP by telephone. “There were at least fifteen dead. The bodies were taken to the morgue.”

Authorities warned the number of injured may actually be higher than reported, saying that “we cannot rule out the fact that the number of those injured will increase because some of them are still hiding in their homes instead of coming to the hospital.” A hospital source commented that some of the people hurt were in critical condition, and needed to be evacuated to the capital, Bamako, as soon as possible.

The mosque’s imam, who gave his name as Asseyuti, commented on the incident. “We’re in mourning. What happened is a real trauma. We accept the will of God. He gives us life, he takes it away,” he said.

According to an official statement, Malian president Amandou Toumani Toure is traveling to Timbuktu from Bamako in light of the stampede.

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15 September

Wal-mart way to be revised

Wednesday, February 16, 2005 U.S. retail-chain Wal-mart Stores will revise their “everyday low price” strategy at Seiyu supermarket in Japan. Seiyu’s year-end loss in 2004 was 12.3 billion yen. The U.S. style low price selling did not appeal to Japanese consumers.

Wal-Mart bought a 6.1% share of the Seiyu company in 2002. At that time, Seiyu had lost money in 3 out of the previous 5 years. Wal-Mart introduced their “everyday low price” selling method to Seiyu, with lineup such as 900 yen fleece wear or jeans imported directly from China. Sales did not grow as expected, since consumers wanted a more varied range of products rather than just cheap prices. “We will adjust our bias to low priced items, and resume selling name-brand goods our customers like to see,” says CEO Masao Kiuchi. Seiyu will go back to their previous way of marketing through inserted fliers showing the daily specials, quite the opposite of Wal-Mart way. (The Nikkei)

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14 September

Celebrity Endorsement Is A No Emotional Encounter

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By Paul Hu

Celebrity endorsements, in fact, famous enterprises of containing a commercial activity. Nice point is that star quality and product qualities of the perfect combination, did not sound point is to spend money on a star to pop consumers help themselves ??. This law of the propagation over the world, no errors, but many have regrets, stars and hearts are steelyard business, just a name of one for the money Bale. Celebrity endorsements, in fact, one does not encounter the feelings, the gentle long, long experience, long the pale.

A successful marriage and love, the two sides need to let go of love once complete. Need money need to take time sweet need intrigue. Numerous times without sorrow and happiness, there is no friction and awkward many times, how can we do Xinkouruyi, how to create a look you can read it ten years the essence of love.

I agree and appreciate the contribution of stars of the business. I just feel that this contribution is missing something. I think the lack of enterprise and star kind of real trust between the lack of the kind of fighting with the basic principles. Everything is accelerated, and this encounter is artificial, is a commercial, is not the basis of mutual appreciation.

Enterprises looking star, will say three things: First: How much money fame. Second: can you help me sellers. Third: good going to treat you. The corporate mentality of the kind of rich characterization of fully exposed, care about money and more concerned with star effect, care about efficiency and more concerned with star qualities. But the world is just so cruel, do not you think that you get, you get that you did not expect.

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I personally invited over stars and star Erbinsimo also negotiate terms. All is the price, everything is the length of time, all that is arbitrarily arranged. Advertising a film, feeling Wai Wai, a contract that away. My research showed that compliment each other all the advertising is completed not add up to 30%, showing how this combination of reality. This time the event felt the most unfair one of the most expensive price to buy flower relationship between the shortest and most superficial relationship. And the process is also particularly cheap to buy. What is the most expensive in the 21st century, star. This is the last word.

I think celebrity endorsements is a show, a big joint show. Is the time people took part in the show. Star in the show, entrepreneurs in the performance products are also performing. Who are together all the relevant show. Boss show, show corporate responsibility and the power of the brand, star Xiu his influence and charm, the product Xiu own image and function. Show a vast scale, it is so does not count the cost of the show opened. Only show’s success was the failure of some show Bale.

I remember the first time with a star endorsement, we consider the first question is whether she and I have relations to consumers, whether it is the kind of thing can burn relationship and a fire burning uncontrolled on that. In fact, celebrities endorsement branding process, we are most concerned about three issues, one star is the real star is. We are afraid of a false star, not accepted by the people who continue to love is not, that would be our life, consumers do not want my life, owners have to clean up my last breath. The second is the star and the product fit. – Global Brand Network – the product and the star temperament temperament must fit, if not fit, just as with the excellent brother’s shaved head as Head & Shoulders, like advertising, consumers will throw us and the star feed Trimeresurus Anji bamboo forest deep not. Third, he can actively participate in the activities of our line, if not we will discount the effect of the star, and then go back to a 50% discount, consumers have not limited this time to see stars in the television, they like to see the stars in the field, in between dreams and reality find feeling. In cooperation with the star, we are most afraid of their own creative star, the advertising changes like a “three piece”, so that we’d rather die. Fortunately, we win this battle, or the kind of money to buy a cheap feel really Taiwei Qu.

Celebrity endorsements, a no emotional encounter, perhaps a little bare so, somewhat to also install equipment to also install equipment to dig. Business cooperation with celebrity endorsements as to the interests of husband and wife together, not feeling comfortable should be installed, do not have to install a happy happy, so as to show down.

Celebrity endorsements and then need to input a short time, also need to meet each other, this is a moral. Since the encounter would love one, wild point, really points, but also be a much-told story.

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12 September

U.S. restores full diplomatic relations with Libya

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The U.S. has announced full diplomatic relations will be restored with Libya and the country removed from the list of nations the U.S. considers to be state sponsors of terrorism following a 45-day open comment period.

Renewal of diplomatic relations between the two states comes after extended diplomatic efforts by both parties to end the 25-year break.

“It is a result of mutual interests, agreements and understandings,” said Abdurrahman Shalgham, Libyan’s Foreign Minister.

“We are taking these actions in recognition of Libya’s continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism and the excellent cooperation Libya has provided to the United States and other members of the international community in response to common global threats faced by the civilized world since September 11, 2001,” said Condoleezza Rice, the United States Secretary of State.

Diplomatic ties were strained between the countries following the rise to power of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi in 1969, and U.S. economic sanctions against the country beginning in the 1970s. They were severed following the U.S. removal of diplomatic personnel from Libya in 1979 after a mob set fire to the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, and the U.S. closing the Libyan embassy and expelling Libyan diplomats in 1981.

The UN removed international economic sanctions in 1999, following Libya’s acceptance of UN Security Council Resolutions regarding Pan Am Flight 103. In 2003 Libya announced efforts to dismantle military programs to develop weapons of mass destruction as well, which led directly to diplomatic negotiations with the U.S. and the opening of a diplomatic liaison office in Tripoli in 2004.

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12 September

FEMA accused of misusing trained disaster workers as public-relations workers

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is being criticized for misallocation of personnel in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. FEMA representatives said they requested volunteers from fire departments around the U.S., to handle its community relations campaign. However, a document FEMA sent to local fire departments asked for firefighters with very specific skills and who were capable of working in “austere conditions”. Fire departments around the nation responded by sending crews to the FEMA staging ground in Atlanta. Some of these crews were unaware that they were only going to be used for public relations work. Others, however, merely hoped that FEMA would allocate them to rescue and damage control operations once it saw their qualifications.

The firefighter’s objections are particularly poignant as one of FEMA public relations training seminars coincided with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin plea for firefighters on national television, to relieve his own exhausted crews. It is unclear if FEMA’s request for firefighters prevented any municipalities from responding to Mayor Nagin’s request.

Some firefighters have objected to their use as FEMA public relations officers because their municipalities must bear the cost of their salaries, as well as endure reduced firefighting capacity. FEMA has stated that it sought to use firefighters to avoid background checks required of federal employees.

Firefighters began receiving their assignments Monday, September 5th. Among these was a crew of 50 assigned to tour the devastated areas with President Bush and the press.

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12 September

World’s defense chiefs meet in Singapore

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The sixth Asia Security Conference, better known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, came to an end on Sunday in Singapore, highlighted by a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and a senior Chinese defense official, Lt. Gen. Zhang Qisheng.

Named for its venue, the five-star Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, the annual meeting of top defense officials is organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank.

The big issue at the Shangri-La gathering focused on China and its military buildup. China has announced it will boost military spending by 17.8 percent in 2007 to 350.921 billion yuan (about US$44.94 billion), the biggest increase in more than ten years. But U.S. defense officials have said they believe actual spending is up to three times higher, and they have called on China to be more transparent.

“There’s no question that the Chinese are building significant capacity,” Gates said in Honolulu before he flew to Singapore. “Our concern is over their intent.”

China’s delegation was led by Zhang, the People’s Liberation Army deputy chief of the general staff. In his address on Saturday, Zhang defended China’s reported defense-spending figures.

“In China, defense budgeting must follow a set of highly strict legal procedures, and the published Chinese defense budget is true and authentic,” he said, attributing the increase to inflation and logistical and welfare support of its troops. “Given the multiple security threats, geo-political environment,the size of the territory, and the per-capita expense, the Chinese defense expenditure is small by all judgments,” Zhang added.

Zhang said there are plans in the works to open an emergency hotline with the U.S., and that a deal to do so would be finalized in September.

At the end of the conference, Gates termed U.S.-China relations thusly: “In terms of our bilateral relationship, I wouldn’t describe it as a breakthrough but as a next step in a process of military-to-military conversations which we will continue in the future.”

For other countries in Asia, it’s China’s powerful economy that causes more concern, said Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an opening speech on Friday.

“Most Asian countries assess the challenge from China to be more economic than military,” Lee said. He added that China’s military build up is mainly a response to Taiwan, and he warned that if Taiwan seeks to further establish its independence, it could lead to “unintended and dangerous escalation of tensions between China and the U.S.”

India, too, is flexing its military muscle, with Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony giving a talk on Saturday, “China and India: Building International Stability.”

“India is ready to play its role in the shaping of this new approach to collective security,” Antony said. “Only a pluralistic security order working through a network of cooperative structures can have the legitimacy as well as the wherewithal to deal with the security challenges of the 21st century.”

Other delegations included Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Concern about Iran’s nuclear program came up in comments by Gates on Saturday, saying stronger penalties are needed against Iran “not next year or the year after, but right now.” Gates did not rule out military action to stop Iran’s nuclear research, even if it wasn’t the most attractive option. “Probably everybody in this room wants there to be a diplomatic solution to this problem,” he said. “Having to take care of this problem militarily is in no one’s interest.”

On a tour of the Asia-Pacific region, Gates also worked to assure his counterparts in other countries that the United States’ involvement in Iraq would not undermine its role in Asia. “While we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war on terror, we have no intention of neglecting Asia,” Gates said on Friday in Honolulu.

In particular, Gates said the U.S. is keen to develop better relations with Central Asian states, and he called on other countries in the region to reach out and help Afghanistan and its neighbors, such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

“Integrating these newly independent states into the fold of the greater Asian family is in the interest of every country represented in this room. Of course, the degree that Central Asian states and Afghanistan choose to integrate into greater Asia is a decision for each of those sovereign countries. We will not assume to make decisions for them, but it is important that the welcome mat be out for them. The failure to do so could ultimately have devastating results,” Gates said an address on Saturday at the Singapore meeting.

His remarks come as the U.S. is facing pressure in Kyrgyzstan over its Manas Air Base, which supports U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. The base has taken on strategic importance to the U.S. after it left Uzbekistan in 2005 after the U.S. criticized that country’s human rights record. Gates visited the air base on Sunday.

Closer to home for the Singaporeans, there was talk about piracy in the Malacca Strait, and the need to develop better communication and cooperation between the security forces of the concerned countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

With as much as 40 percent of the world’s trade passing through the Malacca Strait, the U.S. is concerned, said U.S. Navy Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. “We have discussed enhancing maritime security throughout the region. It is a matter of significance and importance to us,” Keating told the conference. “We are not satisfied with the current state but we are pleased with the progress we’ve made,” he said, noting that their security cooperation has improved and there have been no recent major incidences of piracy in the Strait.

The issue of Myanmar and its military government came up during Prime Minister Lee’s talk on Friday, with Lee saying the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, “ought not to be hostage with the problems with Myanmar.”

ASEAN has come under pressure for its admission of Myanmar, which is ruled by a junta that has refused to cede to a democratically elected government. But ASEAN has a policy of non-engagement in internal conflicts of its members. “We will leave Myanmar to work itself out,” Lee said.

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11 September

Customer Focus Teams

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By Richard D S Hill

To be more responsive to customer needs, emphasise customer satisfaction, develop closer relationships with their customers and flatten the management structure some companies have adopted Customer Teams or Customer Focus Teams. These are cross-functional, customer focused teams exist to provide customers a ‘one-stop shopping’ service.

Teams have complete ownership of their accounts, with each team empowered to decide how to work with each of their customers and bring together each service function such as accounting, sales and service into a single team structure to serve all the needs of the specific customers assigned to them based on a mindset of continuous improvement in customer experience. Teams are empowered to take corrective actions to resolve day-to-day problems and have direct access to information that allows them to plan, control and improve their operations. The teams manage themselves and work within the team is generally allocated on the basis of skills and strengths, rather than just job title. This enables a team to provide fast turnaround on all a customer’s issues and concerns. By self managing, like players on a pitch during a team game, the managers’ role becomes that of coach, developing skills and knowledge rather than simply directing and controlling actions.

Working in customer focused teams interdependence and joint responsibility for outputs become the goal and thus instead of organizing work traditionally from the top down, reducing processes to individual steps work becomes structured around whole processes. Traditional approaches reduce the required skill at every level of work leading to boring and repetitive tasks, but team based approaches are more likely to consider the fit of team members with the work to be done with those closest to the jobs agreeing the jobs specifications.

The advantages of ownership and self management include customers being more comfortable knowing who they will deal with, and teams gaining in-depth knowledge of the needs of each customer because of improved internal communications as team members understand the customer’s expectations and share information, realizing there is no advantage in hoarding knowledge – as their pay will be affected by their customers’ results on their own company’s profitability.

Self managing teams do not just happen and they are not ‘an easy answer’. Teams go through several stages on their way to self-management and it can take two or more years to achieve this objective. Comprehensive training in basic management skills such as problem solving and decision making is critical, as is functional cross training so they can manage their own processes.

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To fully realize their potential, teams need not only to be cross-functional but also need to be managed by entrepreneurial and experienced managers who understand that they exist to provide greater profitability for their company by providing better customer experience to their company’s clients or customers and to this end support and drive team initiatives, including playing an active role in building an ongoing working relationship with the customer’s management.

Teams also must not become ‘customer silos’ rather than ‘functional silos’ and must work on sharing policies, systems and processes and people so that the results of ‘winning teams – those that provide increased customer satisfaction together with superior profitability and increasing volume – are quickly tested and replicated elsewhere. To achieve this senior management needs need to fine tune structure, roles, processes and systems to meet the ever-changing needs and increasing complexity of both the customer’s business and their own.

Senior management also have to set the tone and reality – teams exist to provide greater profitability for their company by providing better customer experience to their company’s clients or customers.

To achieve these corporate goals teams must:

1. Make customer satisfaction their top priority.

2. Have a common understanding of the organization’s vision and mission and their role in that.

3. Understand the roles of individual members within the team as well as its role with the organization.

4. Work together to plan, make decisions and resolve differences and build trust.

5. Understand what is and is not possible and walk before they try to run

6. Set goals for continuous improvement in inputs, processes, outputs and measured results.

It is in this last area that CRM software such as Customer FOCUS [ http://www.e-crm.co.uk/crm/customer_focus/customer_focus.htm ] can really help.

About the Author: Richard Hill is a director of E-CRM Solutions and has spent many years in senior direct and interactive marketing roles. E-CRM –

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– helps you to grow by getting you more customers that stay with you longer. We provide practical solutions that pay for themselves. We help you to make sure that your marketing works.

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4 September

David S. Touretzky discusses Scientology, Anonymous and Tom Cruise

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

David S. Touretzky, prominent free speech activist and critic of Scientology, discussed his opinions on the recent Internet backlash against the Church of Scientology in an interview with former Scientologist and Wikinews reporter Nicholas Turnbull. The recent conflict on the Internet between critics of Scientology and the Church has been spurred on in declarations by a nebulous Internet entity using the name Anonymous that the Church of Scientology “will be destroyed”. Anonymous has directed recent protests at Scientology centres across the world, which have attracted significant numbers of individuals supporting the cause. In recent e-mail correspondence with Wikinews, a representative of the Church of Scientology declared that the Church considers the activities of Anonymous to be illegal, and that Anonymous “will be handled and stopped”.

Touretzky, a research professor in artificial intelligence and computational neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University, has been a prominent critic of the Church of Scientology since mid-1995, and has been protesting against Scientology vociferously since then; he has also run websites that publish material that Scientology wishes to keep suppressed from the public eye, such as extracts from Scientology’s formerly-confidential Operating Thetan (OT) materials. Touretzky views the actions of the Church of Scientology as being “a threat to free speech”, and has endured harassment by the Church of Scientology for his activities.

The Church of Scientology continues to suffer damage to its public reputation through increased exposure on the Internet and vocal protests by Scientology critics such as Prof. Touretzky. A recent event that focused intense attention on Scientology’s totalitarian attitude was the leak of an internal Church of Scientology propaganda video to the Internet video sharing site YouTube, in which celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise spoke heavily in Scientology’s jargon and stated that that “we [Scientology] are the authorities” on resolving the difficulties of humanity. The declaration of war by Anonymous followed shortly after this leak, in the form of a video posted to the Internet.

The ongoing dispute, cast by some as Scientology versus the Internet, brought Scientology terms such as “SP” (Suppressive Person, an enemy of Scientology) and “KSW” (Keeping Scientology Working) into general usage by non-Scientologists from the late 1990s onwards; increased attention has been drawn to Scientology by the release of the Cruise video in addition to media coverage. This focus has caused an even greater propagation of these terms across the outside world, as Touretzky comments in the interview.

Wikinews asked Prof. Touretzky about the impact that the activities of Anonymous will have on Scientology, the public relations effect of the Tom Cruise video, the recent departure of individuals from the Church of Scientology’s executive management, the strategies that Anonymous will employ and Touretzky’s experiences of picketing the Church.

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4 September