"It's not a pyramid scheme, it's multi-level marketing!"
Leaving aside for a moment the fact that I've never really heard the difference articulated in a way that I understand, if proponents of MLM feel that the label "pyramid scheme" unfairly tars them, I am perfectly happy to criticize MLM on its own merits (or lack thereof). Telling someone that their MLM endeavor is nothing more than a pyramid scheme distracts from the central issue by allowing them to protest ad hominem. I prefer to avoid the terminology dispute altogether: Make "MLM" the dirty word, and leave the antiquated phrase "pyramid scheme" in the dustbin of history.
MLM induces people to take business risks they are often not fully cognizant of, it tends to turn people into annoying evangelists for their product and encourages them to exploit their friendships for the purposes of making money (even if the exploitation is not often conscious), and it almost always results in crappy products.
The reason for the last point, in my opinion, is that with MLM the business model is the primary product. Individual profit incentives focus on selling the business model, whereas the nominal product is secondary, a placeholder. I had to say "almost always" in the previous paragraph, because I am told Avon products are pretty good - but the vast majority of everything I've ever seen sold via MLM has been utter shite.
A friend recently spammed all of his Facebook friends to try and recruit them for Herbalife. Blech. I don't want to say anything (see my Three Rules for Facebook for why I believe in basically never calling someone out on Facebook) but man, that's annoying. Why do people do that crap?
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