For 17 years I’ve been active in online communities and tried my best to follow one basic rule – “Is it true, necessary and kind?” – with each comment.  It doesn’t always work.

When search engines began to listen to social signals coming from Facebook, Yelp, G+, Amazon and countless other web sites where the public can leave comments, the opportunities for learning the truth about products and services was easy to find. Generally customer feedback is helpful and polite.  Language and word choices digress, however, depending on the type of product.  Apparently sex toys turn some adults into 12 year olds and all manner of blubbering and crudeness follows in product reviews.

Reputation management came to the rescue in cases where brands experienced vicious public attacks.  And of course we all know someone, or perhaps you yourself, has been the target of trolls or someone’s agenda to discredit you.  The Web has no boundaries.  A conversation of any type doesn’t have to be necessary or true and certainly not kind.  That has been my own personal guideline.

I Think I’ve Broken My Own Rule

Some time ago I started a thread at Cre8asiteforums called Seo Hall Of Shame to draw attention to the unwelcome spam from so-called Search Engine Marketing companies.  Most of it is automated, which explains why they are so terribly off the mark where they land.

GRRR!When I first began the discussion I was polite and removed names and other identifying factors.  Now I don’t.  The reason is simple.  It looks like 1996 out there!

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I can no longer sit quietly and pretend to ignore the massive amounts of SEO fraud. The first articles I ever wrote in the mid-1990′s exposed these same practices and worse. I stopped protecting the offenders and began posting entire SEO spam emails in the Cre8asiteforums thread. I’m also not preventing members from exposing names, emails, phone numbers, etc.

So while we’re not cussing out these dimwits, we’re not being kind enough to hide who they are. It’s true that we get these offensive emails. It may be debatable that it is necessary that we expose them. But when it comes to being kind, I’ve wrestled with that one. Is there a kinder way to show the world what rip-off, cheating companies do?

Maybe. But I decided that helping to prevent the damage that these scam scum cause is worth breaking my own rule for.


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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)