Here at aimClear, we’re proud of our in-house authors. Like many publications we also open our pages as a community platform to host guest bloggers. Sometimes guest posts are written by industry professionals whose practices are perceived by some as controversial.
Wait. Let’s stop right there. “Controversial.” That word can carry a negative connotation, one of altercation, agitation, even acrimony. But on the flip-side of the coin, “controversy” can be a beautiful thing. Controversy when hosted on a public, unbiased, progressive platform, such as a third-party blog, can function as an open invitation for conversation– healthy debate, passionate exchange of perspectives and core occupational beliefs. Other times, visitors with an unrelated agenda attempt to ruin the discourse.
As with all of our articles we hope such conversations germinate in the form of lively comment threads. We all thrive when readers absorb content and feel moved to take the experience to the next level by engaging the author or other commenters– right then and there. Harmonious, supportive comments are always nice… but sometimes there’s nothing better than a spicy swap of opposing points of view. Hell, we’re no strangers to a fight.
I may be stating the obvious but, when we publish a guest blog post, aimClear is not the author, or some schmaltzy endorser. We’re not saying we love or hate the blogger or topic. Think boxing: we’re not the referee breaking it up. We’re not the coach dabbing sweat and holding the spit bucket. A good blog editor is the Master of Ceremonies offering the mic. We’re hosts.
To emphasize, we’re careful to conclude each guest blog post with the same standard disclaimer: Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily aimClear. It’s crucial to note that our mission with guest blog posts is to provide a neutral platform where industry professionals can explore their perceptions, practices and principles, even… or especially… when they may be taken as contrarian.
Two weeks ago, aimClear published a guest blog post by Dennis Yu called, How To Make 45K a Day Scamming Facebook Ads. That’s a controversial sort of title, no? If you’re unfamiliar with Dennis Yu, note that there are differing opinions surrounding his work as an affiliate marketer. We have no opinion.
Back in November of 2009, Jeremy Schoemaker (@shoemoney) published a blog post that really dug into his personal and professional experiences with Dennis Yu (not all sunshine and pussy cats). This was totally Schoemaker’s prerogative as it’s his blog and he can certainly write about any topic of his choosing. The post accrued 210 comments, many of which disparaged Dennis and thanked ShoeMoney for the heads-up. This may not have been the friendliest post or comment thread, but the relationship between one and the other, the relevance, was obvious: the post was about Dennis Yu… the comments were about Dennis Yu. Everything was above board and everybody stabbed everybody else in the front. Bravo!
On the other foot, Dennis’s guest post for aimClear Blog explored the anatomy of alleged Facebook PPC ad scams. It did not address his professional work, his personal life… in fact, he barely used the words “I,” “me,” or “mine” at all. The post was about marketing! The thread amassed over a dozen comments, agreeing with the post’s perspective or opposing it… a.k.a. healthy conversation surrounding an apparent controversy. Bravo again!
That said, one comment in particular offered genuine criticism speaking to the alleged Facebook ad scheme discussed in the post. The commenter even shared that he had a sketchy past himself.
Spliced between the penultimate sentence and the final sentence of this comment, Harrison decided to add, “For all of you please see [this],” including a link to the ShoeMoney post, “to see the real dennis” (his capitalization, not ours).
Really, Harrison? Was that necessary? Doesn’t almost every affiliate and their mother know about ShoeMoney’s post? Why do our readers have to know Shoe’s vision of “the real dennis” in order to understand the main points and intent of this blog post? What value did your external dropped-link resource contribute to the topic at hand? That’s like saying you need to know about Michael Jackson’s trials to dig the song Billy Jean. Bunk!
After aimClear President, Marty Weintraub, allowed the comment, our publications manager (moi) asked herself a few salient questions and decided to trim the comment, removing the “take a look at how Dennis sucks” afterthought and irrelevant link to the ShoeMoney post. We no found redeemable merit in attacking the author. Out of respect, Harrison was notified via email.
Shortly after, Harrison left another lengthy comment, pictured below. We removed additional language where he went into some detail regarding experiences with Dennis Yu and, uh, shared unrelated matters regarding Dennis and Harrison’s mom and dad. We also thoughtfully pruned parts where Harrison reproached Dennis’s participation in various ventures and flat out called him crappy names, all the while proclaiming that he himself was simply “trying to help [us and aimClear Blog’ readers] not fall for [Dennis’s] con and just feed his reputation with free publicity.” Fail!
We contacted Harrison, again to let him know we had edited personal attacks out of the comments thread and publicly made note with an inline bracketed message. That’s just how we roll, above board.
Marty even inserted a short and general disclaimer about aimClear Blog etiquette as a separate comment. This was out of respect for Harrison and our readers. We do this in the rare occasion when we feel compelled to remove user generated content.
While we don’t reveal private exchanges that take place between our staff and readers, suffice to say that multiple individuals raised the concept of freedom of speech-impinged to us via email.
To those confused persons who believe this matter to be a freedom of speech issue, y’all could learn something from limited-time-only Miss California, Carrie Prejean. Horrified by the aftermath of her controversial (there’s that word again!) response to a pageant question about gay marriage, Ms. Prejean argued to the point of tears that her holy first amendment, her freedom of speech, had been ripped away.
Newsflash, hotshots: freedom of speech is “the right to speak, or otherwise communicate, one’s opinion without fear of harm or prosecution,” and that’s prosecution in the legal sense. If we were the government, and you typed that comment, and we trimmed it here and there, then you might consider your freedom of speech impinged. But we ain’t. We’re aimClear.
“Freedom of speech is not a blanket guarantee,” Marty pointed out the other day. “For instance, it is against the law to engage in hateful speech that results in a mob being incited to murder, even if the victim is a pedophile. You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater and it’s against to law to liable, which means saying disparaging things in public that are not true.”
Here’s a simple run-down of our blog comment-expectations, in the ever-eloquent words of Marty Weintraub (who was visibly upset) for you and the “sniveling immature monkeys who think they know about American law:”
- “If you take issues with the alleged facts, call us out. We’ll publish your comments right away and admit if there’s been a proven error. Our blog is replete with appropriate redactions, apologies and respectful discourse. Otherwise, fuck off.”
- “If you have issues with any content’s tone, hoist the flag, pal, and we’ll step right up.”
- “If all you want to do is publish some out of context bullshit case study to prove that someone sucks, go somewhere else because we’re more ethical than that.”
The Editor’s Take
To my mind it boils down to this: had the blog post been a flagrant touting or damning of Dennis’s character, Harrison’s comments would have been applicable, and therefore, remained intact. By truncating the comment, we weren’t defending Dennis Yu’s honor like some knight in shining armor- we were preserving contextual relevance. We barely know Dennis Yu but the post raised what still seem to be serious issues regarding Facebook’s ad platform.
If a blog post addresses marketing tactic, blog comments should address the tactics, and not question the personal constitution of the author. This is not “Law and Order.” You’re welcome to tell us we’re wrong. Tell us the assertions are off the mark. But discuss the freakin’ point at hand as opposed to using our pages as your personal pissing posts. Take your petty playground name calling outside and grow up, please. </rant>