Tuesday, December 26

Stacking Online Votes

On Christmas Day, Seth Godin did something nice for a few dozen blogs. He posted them on his blog, Seth Godin, and encouraged people to visit.

By creating a plexo at Squidoo, he enabled others to include their own blog (or blogs they liked) and vote for any they felt seemed interesting. "There is no A list, so there can't be a Z list. There's just good blogs," he wrote.

Unfortunately, one blogger felt otherwise, turning the true spirit of Godin's post into a case study that is similar to the challenges Reddit experienced a few months ago when overzealous marketing types voted their articles up and other articles down. However, unlike the Reddit stacking, Kim Klaver and a handful of her readers were less than anonymous. On her blog, which I won't link to, she wrote: "If we push it to #1, I'll take a screenshot pronto and post it here. We'll be 'Queen for a day.'"

Her marketing tactic worked, driving several readers to vote and then report her blog's progress. In fact, they voted hers up and other blogs down, enough so, that one commenter on her blog finally wrote: “You know, sending an email out in order to ask for votes is really quite lame. ... Deceptive if you ask me. Isn't this the very thing you preach against?” Obviously not.

"I don't mind asking for votes though, since people can do it or not. I might even send out another email, so be forewarned...hehehe,” Klaver replied. "If the blog writers didn't tell their readers about the popularity contest, how would they know and how could they help their favorite writers?"

Klaver seems to have missed the point of the post entirely. It was never meant to be a popularity contest, especially because Squidoo doesn't track IP numbers, only e-mail addresses. This means that anyone with multiple e-mail addresses can vote for whatever blog they like as many times as they like. With Klaver's encouragement, that is exactly what her readers seemed to do.

The most basic Internet tracking reveals the story behind her empty victory; many blogs were voted down despite never being visited. It is a shame, because I visited many of those blogs today and several were worthwhile despite being voted down.

But then again, I suppose that is the difference between Klaver's "new school of marketing" and communicators like me. I subscribe to a code of ethics that includes credible communicators "engage in truthful, accurate and fair communication that facilitates respect and mutual understanding."


"ME" Liz Strauss on 12/27/06, 8:22 AM said...

The blatant self-promotion I see in some places has made me unsubscribe to some quite famous blogs. It was once said that blogs were meant for help not "hype."

Rich on 12/27/06, 10:06 AM said...

Thank you for the comment, Liz. I agree with you.

While our company includes some self promotional posts from time to time (this is a company blog after all), I do believe there is a fundamental difference between blogging as an expert observer or ego poster. I strive to be the former. Our other blog, which focuses on corporate giving by example (though it is sometimes neglected), bars self promotion.

I like yours, btw; entertaining and insightful. Delightful. A fine example of a blog that knows what it wants to be and achieves it. Cheers.

Rich on 12/28/06, 8:00 AM said...

Famous Last Words:

"As to turning it into a competition - well I guess Seth did that by encouraging people to vote for the blogs they like." — Kim Klaver, attempting to justify her actions.


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