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Blood Boiling Blogging Practices

I’ve had one of those hours that makes my normally calm demeanor disappear – in fact my blood’s close to boiling point tonight. Warning – this could get ugly….

It happened as a result of three online interactions in quick succession:

1. Pyramid Scheme Advertising – I was IM’d by a person who was pitching me to advertise on his pixel advertising site. The system was one where I was ‘guaranteed’ traffic to my site after a $75 ‘investment’ – for life. I could also make back my money! Sounds too good to be true – and in my mind it is. The system is a pyramid scheme that gives incentive to those who advertise to click on the ads in the system. The person could not see why I wouldn’t want this type of traffic at ProBlogger (ie people who were being paid to surf here). I explained that firstly I didn’t want that type of reader and that secondly the ad programs that I use (like AdSense and Chitika) don’t allowed their publishers to engage in finding traffic through paid to surf programs.

Ironically the last time I chatted with this person on IM they were complaining of being kicked out of Chitika for no reason – even though they admitted to using traffic generators on their sites.

The IM conversation lasted close to half an hour with neither of us making any ground (ie he didn’t convince me to join his pyramid scheme and I didn’t convince him that his system seemed completely dodgy – we agreed to disagree and left it at that).

2. PR Comment Spam - Next I decided to check my inbox before heading to bed. There I found two comments left on different blogs from someone asking me to consider writing on their new technology product. The two comments were identical and outlined the benefits and features of the product. On neither post were the comments relevant to the topic.

What made me angrier was that on the weekend just gone by (Saturday – a day I try to stay away from things online) I had received a phone-call from this company who had found my number on my blog. The call did not go well. For starters the line was terrible (it sounded like he was calling from a bad voip connection or something), secondly within two seconds of me answering the phone the guy launched into a product sales pitch and then asked me to blog about it. I had never heard of him, his company or his product before and couldn’t see how it related to the topic of this Blog. There was a tenuous connection but despite me saying on a number of occasions that I didn’t think it fit the focus of ProBlogger he began to argue the case further.

Today’s comment spam on two different blogs was from the same guy with the same pitch. He also sent a comment through my contact form on one of those blogs.

Being pitched ideas for stories from strangers via comment spam and ‘phone spam’ is not the way to go about building your reputation in the blogosphere.

3. Splogs - The very next item in my inbox was from a reader asking me to recommend a good script to help him get automated posts up on his blog. The reason? It would allow him to concentrate more energy on other aspects of his blog like advertising it…. I’m not going talk any more about this one – but on top of the other two contacts to be asked to recommend a script that sounded like it would be used for creating splog content didn’t leave me feeling my normal happy, calm and self.

Ok – perhaps this is just me, maybe I’m just having a bad day (although I wasn’t aware of it until an hour ago) but the last hour highlights to me that some people just don’t get it on a number of levels including ethics – basic business sense and understanding some of the basics of blogging culture.

I’m willing to give people the benefit of the doubt when they’re just starting out and do attempt to respond to people with grace and understanding when approached in all of the above ways (none are isolated incidents). But somedays it all does get to me a bit as it makes me realize that while I spend a fair bit of time here at PB attempting to write about developing new media strategies that have standards similar to my own that really in the wider community there is such a diversity of opinions, practices and ideas on standards.

I’m unsure what the ‘solution’ is – but for now MY solution is bed and hopefully to wake up in a slightly calmer state.

PS: as is normal when I get a bit worked up – just writing it helps. So hear ends the public group therapy session! :-)

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Tim Knight says:

    Welcome to my world ;)

    Many is the day when I feel everyone “wants” something, and tend not to “give” anything. Days like that, I turn off the ‘phone and do something else.

    I know how the last point feels – I’d like to create a small “adsense empire”, but unlike some people, I have a moral conduct gene which stops me farming content to splog – so I sit in the dark and plot out original ideas, which no doubt will be ripped off and stuck on someone elses SEO optimised site.

  2. Kim says:

    I hear you.
    I offer a free service to scam weary authors so part of the frustration is working through all the baggage I naturally inherit.
    But that is the reason I started the site up, to make my little corner of the world a better place, leading by example, showing that it IS possible to have a win-win-win business arrangement.
    And that’s what you’re doing too, Darren, you’re setting the benchmark for what a problogger should be.
    Keep on plugging away and don’t let the baddies get you down!

  3. Try adding the phrase “… for Smart People” to the title of your site. Perhaps that will help. ;)

  4. Taoski says:

    The last two are the equivalent of telemarketing calls just as you are sitting down to eat your food with your family.

    Well done for keeping your head and keep up the good work.

  5. Sadly, I have been hearing from people like you mention for almost 20 years now. While my blogging efforts are less than a year old, I’ve been moderating mailing lists and forums since the days of Fidonet in the mid 1980s. There is always someone trying to sneak their ads in or proposing strange deals that no one with any moral fiber would touch.

    For example, I’ve been co-admin on a religion board with a large and popular web site since the late 1990s. I get an amazing number of very persistent people wanting to trade links with their adult site, illegal pharmacy site, or the like. Everyone one of them claims a religious connection, generally without even knowing what religion the board covers. Then we have the people who spam the board itself and have the gall to complain when their spam post is replaced with a canned meat product recipe (as our rules clearly state will happen).

    While I haven’t had many readers find my new Software Gadgets blog in the couple of months it has been open, I’ve had to turn off comments because of spam for illegal downloading sites and P2P networks. I review one “software gadget” type of program every weekday. Most of the software I select is free or very low cost, yet I’d find the comments full of “Why pay money for this software when you can get it free at [insert their pay to play illegal peer to peer network] site” spam.

    These type of folks can take all the fun out of things.

  6. Victor says:

    Writing can be very calming. I’ll agree with you on that.

    Why don’t you consider hiring someone to help filter some of the junk that I know you sift through everyday? I’m sure you could pay someone a few bucks an hour, which may end up giving you more time for relevant projects, and less time dealing with the knuckle-heads.

    Vic

  7. Martin Ralya says:

    Why do you talk to folks like this for as long as you did?

    I’m always surprised that you have your IM info on ProBlogger at all, but I know you’ve probably made some great friends and contacts that way. But when you get random BS IMs from wankers like this, why not just ignore them?

    I suspect it’s because you’re a nice guy, but it sounds like it’s messing with your zen. ;) I wouldn’t give these folks the time of day, at least not past a polite “Thanks, but I’m not interested,” followed by a trip to my block list if that didn’t do the trick.

    This isn’t meant as a dig in any way — it just seems like your easygoing attitude is getting you in trouble.. ;)

  8. brem says:

    On a side note, I have so much commetn spam about drugs and sex it’s insane. Good thing my spam filter bad behaviour does the trick for most of it.

  9. Joe says:

    Hey Darren,

    Is that why you’re not smiling in your new pic??? LOL

    Joe

  10. NetMeeting says:

    Dear Darren,

    Firstly you don’t need such type of traffic at all. Secondly I personally agree with you, your ethics as a part of blogger community and appreciate you for denying such mal-practice. Keep it up!

  11. I used to talk to telemarketers for half an hour before I could get rid of them, being a nice guy and all. Now I just hang up at the first sign of disrespect. I offer a polite refusal, and if they continue, they’ve abandoned manners so I do too.

    Also, it helps that I list a onebox.com 800 number on all of my domain names. People can call it but it goes straight to voicemail, and the voice messages are delivered by email so I can hear them and delete them – they don’t get a response unless I’m interested.

    I know the feeling, though… having dealt with about 100 trackback spams, 10 forum spams, and a few nasty comments this morning. Somehow it’s all worth it, I’m sure…

  12. Alan says:

    I treat people on IM the same way I treat people knocking on the door. If they’re trying to sell me something, even religion, I tell them I’m not interested. Straight away. I then close the door on them. In IM, I select ‘ignore’ and close their window. Problem solved.

    As someone said above, I don’t understand why you spend so much time talking to them. You’re wasting your energy on something you don’t want to do. Take back your energy and learn to say ‘no’. :-)

  13. I used to go round and round with people at the RichDad.com forums about paid to surf programs.

    I can’t believe people would waste their time going to sites they don’t care about just to get people that couldn’t give a rip, to come to their site.

    Go figure…

  14. jim says:

    Quite a triumvirate… you need a beer. :)

  15. Donovan says:

    Keep it up mate, I love your blog and what you’re doing for the blogging community.

    Everyone, no matter where, will always try and get ahead for little cost. It’s part of life. Don’t let it deter you from doing what you do best to get ahead.

    People’s supportive comments, and the incoming affiliate checks are always a welcome relief.

  16. Ben Helps says:

    The solution – join me in Z-List-blogger-land. I guarantee you’ll stop getting approached by any such people ;-)

  17. yuga says:

    Maybe the guy on the phone landed on one of your other gadget blogs and thought you were a gadget blogger. :) Never heard of pitches via phones for blog PR though. Interesting.

  18. Darren Rowse says:

    thats what I thought at first yuga but he was definately pitching the story at ProBlogger.

  19. Teli says:

    I’m thinking, Darren, that the last guy (the one trying to pitch you his product) believes that being tenacious will get him through the door.

    He’s probably trying to work you down until youjust give in (don’t think you will though).

    Remember, Darren, that you cannot change people – you can only hope to educate them and you did your best. Hope your day gets better :)

    P.S. As you may have already guessed from the previous comments, you’re not alone. I’ve received contact form spam (people literally copy/paste their offer into my contact form without any thought) for nearly a year and it still hasn’t ceased.

  20. Teli says:

    Oops, meant the second guy LOL.

  21. Darren Rowse says:

    actually – if he ‘persists’ I’ll definately write a story on him and his product – and the way he’s promoting it! :-)

  22. Josue says:

    Darren,

    With such a succesful blog like this one, it is normal (I guess) to be approached by people that only want but don’t give anything.

    I sometimes find cool things on the net and I think “oh, problogger readers would benefit from this one.” But I don’t send them to you, ’cause I’m afraid you may think I just want “link attention” or I’m spaming. That stops me from commenting often. There are probably others in the same situation, dunno.

    You could probably set an “anonynous tips center” or, as Victor said, you could hire someone to filter your inbox or so.

  23. Darren Rowse says:

    Josue – nice comment.

    Actually if someone sends me a link to something in a quick non spammy way that puts no pressure on to link up then I’m quite open to checking them out.

    I get a lot of ‘hey check out this link’ emails and I look at all of them (unless they are obviously spam) and link up to about 20% (guess) – the ones that I think are relevant to my niche (quite often in my speedlinking posts).

    So feel free to submit them if you find something you think is relevant.

    The only other thing I’ll say on this is that sometimes I get the story from multiple people (as well as finding it myself) and so giving credit can be tricky – I generally give it to the first person to let me know about it.

  24. Declan says:

    Hey Darren,

    People like this are a drain. On one of my websites which receives 8,000 – 9,000 visitors per day I can be guranteed to get at least one or two of these timewasters .I used to go to bed absolutely wound up but now I have learnt to ignore them and spend time creating value for others. Think about it – the hour you wasted with that dude could have been spent more productively.

  25. Alvin says:

    Those people who create splogs are coming from a very different place. I have a friend who claims to have created 400+ automated splogs, and is pretty darn proud of it.

    The thing is, he doesn’t want to be part of the ‘sphere, or doesn’t get it. It’s about making a quick buck, and yes, I understand it too. Who doesn’t want automated slaves working for you to make you money?

    But the part of me that loves writing and sees blogging as a great bridging tool can’t do it. I think the human touch about blogging is it’s core and it’s what makes it work. It is about connection and conversation, and no way a bot is ever going to do that.

  26. Wow, I’m sure that you must have thorougly enjoyed the experiences Darren :D! It’s really stupid in the 3rd case, automated posting. LOL! If you want to earn money from your blog, then make your blog a true bLog. LOL!

    Nice post!!

  27. Zslotyi says:

    Hello Darren,

    The “Get Paid to Read Email” AdSense ad at the end of the post is just weird and funny :-)

    I don’t know, it must have been the mentioning of “paid to surf” programs, but it seems that AS doesn’t always get it the way it was meant to be read.

    Nice post, BTW!

  28. I think I’m moving up to Q or P-list blogger, they’re going after me too :)

    I don’t mind a pleasant kind low pressure “pitch” – “like check this out, you’ve written about something similar, wanta free trial?” But persistent annoyances get ignored – quickly!

  29. DavidM says:

    I hate being rude to people who I consider are only doing their job and trying to earn a living. I’ve been lucky so far on spam, but we’ve been bombarded recently with sales phone calls from the same companies.

    I have become increasingly rude as they don’t seem to get the message. I went from listening politely then explaining why I didn’t want it, to interupting them halfway through the pitch and saying no thanks to now just putting the phone down immediately without speaking.

    I don’t like doing it but it seems the only way.

    BTW, I have learnt a few simple shut-down lines:
    “We’ve just moved into a new house” kills all home improvement calls
    “I work for BT/AT&T and get free phone line/calls/mobile” ends all phone company sales

  30. Kay Smoljak says:

    I know how you feel – as a web site developer I deal a lot with clients who think they have great ideas for promoting their businesses online – which often turn out to be spam. The reason I chose the career path I did is that I truly love being part of the web (and the blogosphere). People who want to pollute it offend and upset me! Of course, when they’re clients I have to try to educate them, which is frustrating too.