A couple weeks ago I lashed out at people, places and things pretty much everywhere I went. I was so angry and later, depressed, without understanding why.

Giving Tree

tree
Most everyday I get to look at trees out my windows because I live among them and working from home gives me this gift. I consider every tree to be a Giving Tree. When I want to be strong and centered, I visualize being Grandmother Willow, only younger and without gray hair. I want to be tall, graceful, and grounded in the Mother (Earth). Instead of arms, I imagine that my branches are parts of me running around the Internet or the local food store meeting new people and learning a zillion new things. As a tree, I expect to be able to bend during harsh storms or flutter my leaves gently in silent, loving support of everything.

SPAM Lumberhacks

An elegant, wise tree is not something I’ve been lately.  After considerable time hiding and feeling miserable about my behavior and locking myself up until I could be the Tree, I came to understand one of the things that has been hurting me, and I felt that perhaps I could share that with you.

As the owner and lead Administrator for a volunteer-run, non-profit forums, I get what I thought was a birds eye view of the Internet. I figured that since Cre8asiteforums was global and targeted web development and all things related to that, I would have a constant finger on the pulse of what’s happening out there. I was wrong about that and many people corrected my thinking. I may not have responded to it all, but I was listening.

Every single day I have to check into the forums. Holidays, weekends, vacation. Sometimes there is someone to back me but I hate to bother anyone for help. It’s volunteer. Nobody HAS to be there, not even the Moderators. It’s a Community. Well, it was. In its heyday. But like a tree, there are seasons and changes. Some years there were industry well-known mentors who came often to teach and help with questions. They can’t have been expected to be there from 1998 until 2010. As much as we miss them and their contributions, they may not ever return. They have their own businesses and commitments now.

Imagine what it’s like to build something for everybody, only to be forced to tolerate a daily, non-stop barrage of people trying to break into it so they can do some type of damage.  This is what spammers do.

Every single day I am met with a minimum of 50 spammers at the forums. With a blog, most spam is caught and whatever is not can be deleted fast and easily. A blog owner can tell what is spam and kill it on sight or just let it sit there until they come in to moderate the day’s posts before they permit any of them out front to the public. With a forums, it’s different. The procedures vary. Cre8asiteforums is extremely strict about who gets in because the Community expects us to keep the conversation intelligent and productive.

So for us, every new member has to be validated before they are admitted. Of, say, 500 new member candidates every week, maybe 3 will be real people who want to be there. Of that 3, one of them will ignore our rules and spam the Community or leave a stream of 1-liners with a link to their website in the post. Funnily enough, they never complain when their posts are all removed and their account disabled. What they don’t seem to understand is that if they come to my place and break the furniture, I turn them into a spammers database to warn all the other forums out there.  I report spammers every day, including weekends.

During the past few weeks I came to understand the impact of dealing with daily SEO spam was chipping away at me .  I realized I hated the industry  I was associated with because it’s filled with people who think spam is marketing. I learned that I’m not alone in feeling that way. I stopped being able to focus on anything. I was utterly and completely spent, with nothing else to give. When you devote yourself to something for a long time, only to wake up to find there is no place for you and the house looks completely different, it hurts. Every day my blog is spammed with one-liners and url drops that never see the light of day. Who are the stupid people who think this is doing their sites any good? What myth is this one?

My idealist little brain has such a hard time accepting some of what’s happening out there in Web LA LA Land. Facebook absolutely has no interest in anything other than using members for its own gain. Google is no privacy saint.  Internet marketing has become a game of who can rip off the most and get away with it. Every fight leads to links, so that’s a good thing because links are more valuable than people.

For the last several weeks I’ve questioned everything regarding my career.  It’s an odd feeling sensing what I want, but I have no clue what that translates into in practical, making a living terms.

I want to be the tree where birds come to nest and sing.

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cre8pc

Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101

Member:

American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)