If you think I’m losing faith in Web 2.0, here’s why…

images.jpgYesterday I received a link to Michael Stelzner’s blog and this post celebrating the “top 10 marketing blogs.” I don’t know Michael and had never visited his site, “Writing White Papers.” The site promotes Michael’s consulting business and his book, which puts him in a sizable club here in the blogosphere.

Clearly, the site is working for Michael, as his blog ranks among the top 10,000 on Technorati and has an authority number of 505 — nearly 10 times what my blog earns. Michael understands how to play the links game.

But Michael, I have to call you out on a very critical issue: Censorship.

Yesterday, I was one of two commenters (the other being Jenn Mattern), who questioned the selection process used for your “Top Ten Marketing Blogs 2007/2008.” I’ll admit to being more critical than Jenn, but I was tactful, as was she. (I don’t know Jenn nor do I read her blog, though I suspect I will now!)

Your readers will never know about our concerns, Michael, since Jenn’s comment and mine have been removed from the site.

So much for “the conversation,” eh?

It’s your blog, Michael. You may post whatever you like and disapprove any comments you don’t like. But when you take down comments, shouldn’t you tell your readers why? (I’ve only done it once and felt compelled to write an entire post about it!)

Jenn and I simply asked you for some detail, since your selection criteria goes directly to the credibility of your list. Do the bloggers honored in this selection know that it took only TWO nominations to make the finals? Do they know anything about the rigor of your review process? If the list represents your top-ten favorites, then just tell us that. Bloggers do this all the time to build traffic and links.

Michael, every blog in your “ten ten” is a pretty dang good one. But your policy for handling comments, apart from those that gush with praise, well, it’s more than a little suspect.

This morning I left this comment. I’ll be interested to see how long it lasts. (Update at 10:45 a.m., 11/7 — the comment below has already been removed! But this one from Markus Pirchner remains — for now! I’ve made a copy just in case it disappears, too!)

Micheal,

I see the comments questioning the selection criteria have disappeared. So, what’s up with that?

Yeah. What’s up with that?

(Update No. 2, 10:55 a.m., 11/7) — To my students: Isn’t this a great case for those researching ethical behaviors in the online world? To help you with the research, also reference this fine post by Amy Gahran. Markus includes this link in his comment over at Stelzer’s blog, but it’s very unlikely it’ll be there for long. Criticism — or conversation for that matter — isn’t welcome at Mike’s place!)

22 Responses to If you think I’m losing faith in Web 2.0, here’s why…

  1. […] das der Stelzner-Kasperl hat derklatschen wollen, Bill Sledzik, hat dazu in seinem eigenen Blog Tough Sledding ausführlich Stellung […]

  2. Methinks I question any blogger who is paranoid enough to remove comments that have already appeared. I’ve been a daily reader of your blog, Bill, and now will add Jenn to my list of items to read with my morning coffee.

  3. Hi Bill;

    First I want to apologize to both you and Jenn.

    You are absolutely correct that what I did is pretty much censorship.

    I realize it was a stupid mistake I made and I hope you accept my apology.

    Now here’s why I did it (and I know you may not believe me):

    First, I did not like the responses I had made to both you and Jenn’s comments. I found myself being defensive.

    What was a carefully crafted list of very excellent blogs was being taken off track by a discussion of the selection process.

    So I decided to delete the comments (mine and yours) and post a comment yesterday that summarized things. If you go back and look at the 3rd comment posted you will see what I did.

    As far as the selection process. I totally understand if you don’t understand the process or agree with it. But I really did poll lots of people. Some of their responses are here:
    http://www.writingwhitepapers.com/blog/2007/10/04/marketing-blog-nominations/

    Anyhow, I appreciate your opinion and thoughts.

    Mike

  4. Bill Sledzik says:

    Michael,

    What’s done is done, and I don’t plan to lose any sleep over it. But I also don’t buy your rationale, given that it comes from a veteran blogger.

    I, and others in the blogosphere, might be more forgiving if you’d put those comments back up for all to see. I’m not being combative here, just fighting for a little transparency.

    As for the selection process used in the Top Ten list, that hardly matters anymore.

  5. Bill – thanks for picking up on this. I went to Michael’s post this morning to add something to the comments left by yourself and Jenn (which I’d read yesterday), and was totally confused to see they had disappeared.

    As well as censorship, this highlights the issues of transparency and credibility. If someone is moderating or prepared to delete comments, they should make this clear. And, a site that only has gushing praise in the comments lacks credibility in my eyes.

    Personally, I couldn’t give a rat’s wotsit for cobbled together Top Ten lists – I base my blog reading on recommendations from people I value as well as serendipitous discoveries.

    Like music and movie charts, blogger lists are usually suspect in terms of methodology or reveal nothing of any great interest.

  6. Bill – I misinterpreted your response. I thought you meant my comments here. I do not have those comments any more as they were deleted. – Mike

  7. Bill Sledzik says:

    Heather,

    Not sure this sad affair is worthy of any more comment, but I made one anyway. — at Michael’s blog. After promising to put the comments back up (see above), Michael has instead issued an apology calling his actions “pretty much censorship.”‘ The comments from Jenn and me remain offline, and I suspect they will stay there. That, to quote Michael, “pretty much” says it all.

  8. Bill – What part of “they were deleted” don’t you get? If you have them, send them to me. I really am trying to make this right Bill. – Mike

  9. Bill Sledzik says:

    My apologies, Michael. My comment and yours passed in the blogosphere. Heather’s comment arrived first, and I responded. Then yours came in. Why they appear in the reverse order is a question for WordPress. But that’s how it played out.

    But thank you for the follow-up. Like most everything else in this case, it doesn’t require any more comment from me.

    I’m beginning to think Jenn was the smart one. She just ignored the whole thing. It is pretty trivial in the scheme of things, not unlike “top ten” lists.

  10. @MS – Here’s what Jenn wrote:

    Jennifer Mattern Says:
    November 6th, 2007 at 9:28 am
    Michael,

    Love the blog and the effort on creating the list. It would be great though if the post mentioned a bit about how these blogs were chosen, as there’s already a bit of rumbling around about how it’s just another subjective list that people are taking as an authority source on blog rankings, albeit a bit misguided.

    It’s certainly nice to see some of your favorites (I’m assuming that’s what we have here… if there was another process I’d love it if you clarified it for me a bit).

  11. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks, Markus. I’m afraid my comment is lost forever — “pretty much” censored from the planet, to steal a phrase from Mike.

    Here’s an ironic twist, though. I spent some time surfing Jenn’s blog (and it was fun) reading her take on the huge Debbie Weil blow-up last summer. Debbie was taken to task for asking folks within her online circle to visit a client website and to post a comment — if they felt moved to do so. Reactions from bloggers were indignant, widespread, and way out of whack.

    Yet Mike engages in this brazen censorship and it barely creates a ripple in the blogosphere. What’s up with that? I tell you, I gotta work on building my readership and authority! Thanks for dropping in and for supporting the crusade for transparency.

  12. Jenn Mattern says:

    Bill,

    In my defense for lack of public bitching, I’ve been out of state for two days house-hunting. I only commented on Michael’s blog to begin with because I received the link from Judy during a brief period of downtime. I haven’t had a chance to respond in my more “traditional” fashion.

    In this case, I’ve been a fan of Michael’s blog for quite some time, which was why I took the time to check it out immediately. However, despite the blog love, I obviously don’t approve of this particular brand of blog censorship, and plan to take it to task over on NakedPR later today.

  13. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Jenn. Glad to hear you’re keeping busy and not spending too much time in our little echo chamber, aka, the PR blogsphere. It creates a heathier perspective.

    I have enjoyed the blog a lot over these past two days and have put you on my feeder. Hope to cross paths again.

  14. Jenn Mattern says:

    I’ve finally posted: Blog Censorship: Where do You Draw the Line?

    The post includes all deleted comments that I was aware of (including yours which I was able to salvage).😉

  15. Bill Sledzik says:

    Great post, Jenn. And Mike did say he’d repost the comments if I could produce them. I didn’t. You did. So we’ll see what happens.

  16. Bill – I am a man of my word. See http://www.writingwhitepapers.com/blog/2007/11/06/top-10-marketing-blogs/

    Thanks for calling me on this! You will see much more disclosure on my next contest that is in full swing.

    Mike

  17. Greg Smith says:

    Wow. That was one of the best exchanges I’ve seen. Thanks, everyone.
    – Greg

  18. I appreciate this is several days old Bill, but I had a full plate with BlogWorld.

    I just wanted to commend you for taking the time to ask the right questions of this list. While I respect most, if not all, of the selections, the selection process was a bit of a mess. You have to read the blog, have at least two people nominate you, and then be liked by the owner. Ug!

    It’s nice to see this will receive more disclosure in the future. It’s really Writing White Papers best marketing blogs. And now that we know that, there is nothing wrong with that.

    Best,
    Rich

  19. […] an “echo-chamber” and the majority of people paying attention are other bloggers. Some of his recent posts mimic a school-yard argument and are a perfect example of how no one’s paying attention to us … […]

  20. […] use doesn’t sound very ethical to me, but then last month, as Bill Sledzik and Jenn Mattern found, Michael appeared to have censored their comments on an earlier blog […]

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