When a Blogging Community Runs Amuck


Dealing with Online Competitors, Copycats and Blogging Communities If you are an original thinker, blog a lot and have decent search engine placement, expect to have your ideas and content scrubbed, scraped and plagiarized and your good name beaten to a pulp.

It doesn’t matter if you have a copyright infringement warning on your website because nothing is sacred online. Copycats will take your ideas, content, branding and pretty much everything else you have going on and think nothing of it.  Why? – because they think they can get away with it.

The worst competitor and copycat offenders live vicariously in blogging communities. Without mentioning names, blogging communities have little cliques that band together and it can get pretty darn ugly, especially if you hone in on the turf of other established community members who believe their ‘spotlight’ is being threatened or that you might be taking business from them. My school of thought is that there is enough good to go around for everyone. Unfortunately, not everyone is in the same camp.

Up until this month, I had been blogging about WordPress and SEO blogging as a way to market my services in one of these blogging communities. I had built up over 420 subscribers in a very short period of time and yes, I got many wonderful clients from my efforts. I also gave away my knowledge base as well as tech support by phone and email without charging one thin dime. “What goes around comes around” has always been my motto and that’s how I do business and live my life.

Well, during the brief year I was hanging out in this community, I was repeatedly attacked by competitors in comment wars. Multiple Posterous blog posts filled with misconstrued facts were also written about me by one competitor/community member along with a very very very nasty Facebook thread (initiated by her husband), so their clique of community followers (more like a lynch mob) could comment while simultaneously ripping me to smithereens in a community post comment thread. Why? – because they disagreed with me about “IDX solutions” of all things.

The husband perpetrator referred to me as a “stupid pie hole” publicly on Facebook. I may be a lot of things, but one thing I am not is “stupid.”  And although hoards of emails were sent to the blogging community powers that be, stating they would never do business with these two perpetrators because of their actions, the blogging community did nothing about it.

Of course this was all denied by the husband and wife perpetrators and ignored by the community powers that be, but Facebook head shots and comments do not lie and I have the snip-its (of multiple community members) to prove it.  One of the Facebook clowns actually made the comment “have guns will travel” and I had to call the cops. Now that’s a “stupid” person.  The next day I took down the community blog post that got nailed by the community lynch mob because I didn’t want it in the index, then re-posted it one week later as is, minus the comments. I am not so easily scared off.

I can not mention names because then I would be the bad guy, but you can easily find this cyber-bully, cyber-stalker and cyber-harrasser by typing my name, my maiden name, my husband’s name, my company name and whatever else she tagged me for on Posterous.  She went after me with a vengeance to absolutely destroy me. My guess is that she has a heck of a lot of time on her hands. Her re-tagged Posterous post starts out as “Don’t call me a bully.”  Please – this perpetrator is a total cyber-bully.  Not only that, she advertises her services on the tagged posts so she comes up under everything pertaining to my name and company. Just for the record and after numerous attempts, Posterous refused to remove the perpetrator’s posts. Says a little something about the ethics of Posterous now doesn’t it? Not done with them yet.

The community crapola didn’t stop there.  A blog coaching/Realtor/whatever competitor posted my old corporate information on her community blog in an attempt to discredit my company and name.  A SEO/photographer/whatever competitor went after my branding – Get Found Now (my domain name for the past 8 1/2 years), using it in post titles and calling himself “Get Found Now.”  Both competitors link to each other’s websites and community blog – starting to get the picture? The SEO/photographer branding bandit actually started a fad and soon his clique of community followers were also using “Get Found Now” in their titles and meta tags in order to ride on my placement coat tails. My branding and niche became a free-for-all and it was really starting to hit a nerve.

You might think there are controls in place to stop this kind of craziness from happening but my experience is that they do not exist. Blogging communities and forums are supposed to have moderators that do their jobs and put a stop to the bad behavior and shenanigans of their members, but they often side with their own personal cliques and pals within the community, allowing and ‘enjoying’ toxic behavior to run amuck.

Nonetheless, I repeatedly asked to have my obsolete corporate information removed, reported the Facebook incident (even sent snip-its as proof),  the comments and the many Posterous references to said community, all the while trying to get some kind of intervention, but nothing was ever done about any of it. One would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not see the ring of mudslingers working in collusion to take me down to the ground because they were all linking, commenting and reblogging with one another.

Well, one can only take so much and I knew it was time to stop marketing my services in this community but hung in there longer than I should have because it happened to be a great avenue for new business.  My husband had also been sick for almost two months and I needed to step up to the plate and keep blogging while he recovered.

The last post I wrote was about wearing one hat and the final blow was having my entire blog removed by the moderator who sided with the mud slinging gang and said that the post was “uncivil.”  I have to admit, the post was probably more ‘edgy’ then it needed to be, but by that time, I had been pushed over the edge for months and months and months by the same clique of mudslingers.   I was totally cooked and fried and needed to get the hell out of that hornets’ nest or I was going to lose my mind.

When all was said and done, it took a memo from the community’s server to finally get them to remove the defamatory comments off the mudslinger competitors’ blogs.  Yep, I had a rude awakening about blogging communities from this experience and learned some pretty harsh lessons, and I would be a liar if I said that I didn’t leave with a bitter taste in my mouth.

I live and love to write, but I will never join another blogging community with cliques and social media gossip disguised as professional information sharing.  More online controls are needed because blogging is here to stay and those who make their living online need to be protected.

You can try and go after unscrupulous online competitors at the server level and if that fails go legal, but it takes a lot of energy and effort, and for what?  There is nothing to be gained by dragging yourself into the mud. Great blogging and business comes from inspiration and positivity, not from the perspiration of going after toxic people.  Get into a mud slinging war and there is no way you will come out of it without feeling soiled.

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About Victoria Stankard

Victoria Stankard has been an online SEO content writer for a variety of markets across the nation since 2006. Specializing in optimized content marketing strategies and owner of a successful organic search engine optimization company, Victoria writes for real people with "The Optimized Edge" - putting you on the map and more!

Comments

  1. Hi Victoria – you don’t need them anymore, and the people who were watching didn’t approve of the way it was handled. It’s seemed like sides were already taken before the penalties were accessed. I know that looking back you might have handled it differently, but it’s now just a good coaching moment.
    By the way some of my competitors are sort of in that group with the wicked witch, and one of them works in my office. She’s been stalking me for years on the web, and even followed my from one office to another. I don’t really expend any energy letting it bother me. But it is a little creepy when someone reminds me.

  2. Vic: Sorry you have had to go thru this.

    Hope Michael is OK.

    Your still my pal, and i do appreciate the online stuff you pass out.

    Keep the faith
    Gordon

  3. Hi Gordon, Yes, moving on and keeping the faith. Thank you:-)

  4. Hi Larry, I look back and see how I reacted instead of responded to the unscupulous behavior of competitors with neutrality. Another life lesson and happy to be be out of that Hornets’ nest. Thank you for commenting Larry. Means a lot!

  5. First Pro Capital says:

    Hello Victoria,

    As long as you have an online presence, always have a good attorney protecting your business, branding and online assets, not to mention cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking and cyber-harassing statutes in each state. http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=13495

    Copyright disclosures do help, since the owner disclosed not to take any content, materials or business name. Even if the material is still taken by the thief, it’s over with the stealer by the internet service providers and law enforcement.

  6. Thank you for commenting and the link. Many people online have to deal with these cyber-bullies, cyber-stalkers and cyber-harassers. We appreciate your support. Out goal is to get these predators taken down and we will not stop until it happens.

  7. Hi Victoria,
    Glad to hear why you left that community. You were a very valuable contributor and had much to offer. I have been wondering about how you were doing. Your product speaks for itself and your success will continue because you build a great blog! Hope to be able to do business with you in the future.

  8. Hi Sharon, Thank you so much and glad you found me! :-)

  9. As you know I followed this mess closely and even posted in your defense. Your input was the best and most complete and focused advice given there. Glad that now I am a client I can get your input directly.

  10. Hi Maya, You are such a joy and pleasure to work with and I love showing of your website in our portfolio. Thank you for being one of my supporters during that whole blogging community debacle. Just know that you are part of “Get Found Now’s family of friends.”

  11. Hi Victoria,
    Good for you, for taking the high road! You’re SO right- what comes around DOES go around, and it’s only a matter of time. If your heart and soul harbor deceit, malicious intent, and jealousy, you will never find true peace and happiness. Hey… that just gave me an idea for a new blog post : ) Thanks for the inspiration and all of your help in creating my dream WordPress blog!!

  12. Hi Gina, without a positive outlook and keeping one’s psyche clean of ill will and negative competition energy we can’t attract the good stuff in life. What we send out comes right back at us like a boomerang. The writing on your blog is inspirational and will help those looking for ways to put it all together – mind, body, spirit – and be successful.

  13. Hi Victoria, I saw much of that unprofessional conduct as being driven by jealousy. You were a very positive presence there for a long time and helped so many. I can’t think of anyone that gave more free technical marketing advice than you and Michael ! Keep rockin’ !!!

  14. Hi Bill, Michael and I both appreciate your support and kind words. There were quite a few months in that blogging community that were joyful and prosperous. Relentless competitive backstabbing and the lack of controls from the community powers that be spoiled a good thing. Hey, learned some valuable lessons about professional online conduct and very glad to be on the other side :-)

  15. Ron Jesser and Vic Yepello says:

    Hi Vic- I had no idea it was going on to THAT degree. I say good riddance and best of luck in new ventures. Keep us posted of what is new and we will follow.

    btw- this post from August showed up in my Google alerts today. Hod did you do that? LOL

    Vic and Ron too.

  16. Thank goodness I missed all of this drama.

  17. Hi Charita, You missed nothing. Remember Romper Room? :-)

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