Squidoo launches a reputation management timebomb

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  • September 23, 2009

In an extremely audacious move Squidoo has launched a new service called Brands in Public which could cause quite a few headaches for marketing departments. Squidoo plans to create hub pages about lots of brands and then populate those pages with scraped content such as blog posts, tweets, Google News, Yahoo News, Google Trends, forum posts and a whole host of other content (see example here).

Once these pages have been created Squidoo is going to allow brands to pay $400 per month for the right to add comments on them.

Here is what Seth Godin Squidoo founder has to say about the product:

If your brand has any traction at all, people are talking about you. Of course, they’ve always talked about you, but now they’re doing it in writing, in video and in public.

Today, Squidoo (a company I founded) is launching Brands in Public. It’s a neat idea and I wanted to give you an overview and a first look.

You can’t control what people are saying about you. What you can do is organize that speech. You can organize it by highlighting the good stuff and rationally responding to the not-so-good stuff. You can organize it by embracing the people who love your brand and challenging them to speak up and share the good word. And you can respond to it in a thoughtful way, leaving a trail that stands up over time.

But how?

Over the last few months, we’ve seen big brands (like Amazon and Maytag) get caught in a twitterstorm. An idea (one that’s negative to the brand) starts and spreads, and absent a response, it just spirals. Of course, Amazon can’t respond on their home page (they’re busy running a store) and they don’t have an active corporate blog that I could find, so where? How?

I’m all for brands having an outlet for things but the outlet should be something that is 100% under their control such as a blog or social media account. Answering back on a Squidoo page where they have very little control of the content is a terrible idea.

Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

  • http://www.piggynap.com Zoe

    What happens if the brand already does have a Twitter account or blog etc? They’re not going to be too happy about having their content scraped (unless Squidoo will only scrape mentions of the brand elsewhere?)

    Even so, if you’re a brand you’re already monitoring mentions of your name, right? Just interact directly with the blogger/forum poster/whatever. I think Squidoo are pretty cheeky trying to charge for the privilege when you can quite easily talk to your customers for free.

  • http://www.northernweb.co.uk Matt Saunders

    hmm, this is a cheeky idea, if not a little risky. I can see them being dragged to court quicker than you can say “squidoo”!

  • http://www.dolphinpromotions.co.uk/ jsmythe

    Sounds lucrative. Basically ensure you scrape loads of negative content about the companies then force them into paying $400 per month so they can reply!

  • Joel

    Ripping off the RipOffReport business model?

    Get people to post inflammatory comments and then charge the businesses to refute them while hiding behind the Safe Harbor Provisions of the DMCA.

    Stay classy Squidoo, stay classy.

  • http://squidoo.com/seth seth godin

    Thanks Patrick.

    I guess I see it differently. Right now, there are google search results coming up for your brand. You have no influence over those… wouldn’t it be great if you could buy a little box for your brand that would show up… oh, wait, you can.

    Now, with social media, there are already conversations going on all over. You can’t stop them or control them. So, why not create a place where they are coordinated? That’s good for the users, right? And the brand.

    We’re certainly not encouraging people to be inflammatory. Clearly, there’s a lot of that already going on in comments and tweets, etc. We’re merely trying to make it easy for companies that choose to respond.

    And if you ask, we’ll take down the page. Where’s the harm here, exactly? Not a time bomb, a totem pole.

    • http://www.blogstorm.co.uk Patrick Altoft

      Thanks Seth. I hadn’t read that brands could ask for the page to be taken down so I suppose that’s something. I’m interested to see what happens.

  • http://einfo.blogspot.com Brent Nau

    This is just a poor man’s attempt at blackmailing companies into paying $400/month. Please. Bad business move.

  • http://www.twitterthoughts.com Roger Harris

    OK. So this model rests on the assumption that prospective customers will look at this website for information about a brand. People look for information about a brand all over the Web. Godin’s site would have to rank high in searches for the specific brands. Otherwise, why should a brand care if its negativity is collected in one place.

  • Steve

    It’s an interesting idea (that anyone could do, including the individual companies themselves), but he’s taking a risk by featuring Google News feeds on the page…

    Re: From Google
    “We invite you to make NONCOMMERCIAL use of Google’s RSS feeds on your website subject to these terms…” [emphasis mine]

    So, aside from the fact the Squidoo page is obviously not ‘noncommercial’ (since they’re charging $400/month), it also doesn’t follow most or all of the remaining terms listed by Google either.


    Squidoo already took a hit from Google a couple years back, when many/most/all of their user pages fell hard in the rankings, and I doubt this will help matters much either.

  • RE Vernon

    This is going to have the same problems all the other complaint type boards have. They don’t verify shit. It’s not in their interest to do so. The more complaints the better. Even if those complaints happen to be false and filed by competitors or affiliates hoping to get some traction for their brand by trashing the other guys. The only solution is for search engines to delist this stuff until these companies start adhering to a complaint resolution process or verifying that these complaints are in fact real. There’s not a company out there now who doesn’t have false complaints filed by competitors now. Companies need to wake up and start pulling their ppc advertising dollars until the engines take a proactive stance on this type of stuff.

    I just lost ALL of the respect I had for Seth Godin. Seth, count me out of your tribe and remember the companies you’re pulling this on are owned by the people who buy your books, which I won’t be doing anymore.

  • Andy

    To me it is just a Linkbaiting strategy for improving their SEO for brands. They are probably not really willing to make money on the $400, but to get attention and links to their brand pages. We know that Brands are the some of the most valuable keywords in almost any Search Marketing Campaign.

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  • http://stever.ca Stever

    Rip off Report is what came to my mind too, except in this case they seem, from Seth’s own mouth, to be willing to take pages down upon request.

  • http://www.david-whitehouse.org/ David Whitehouse

    Come on guys, give Seth a break – did you not read his comment? Companies can ask their page to be removed – so surely its a win win situation…

    I think its genius, basically its a TripAdvisor for everyone else – it could single handedly finish off all those companies out there that are just ripping people off and providing awful service.

    Yes there will be problems with companies slagging you off, but this exists anyway – so I don’t see how his idea is hurting anyone, if anything it should help businesses respond easier with just one place they have to worry about their brand’s reputation.

  • Laura

    Google Alerts and Tweetdeck allow you to engage for free, and Salesforce, GetSatisfaction and others already provide this with a better design and less extortion-like way.

  • http://www.twitterthoughts.com Roger Harris

    Good points all. A company could spend the $400 on a mid-level reputation monitoring program and deal with the negativity directly at source where it is much likely to be read by consumers.

    @Laura: GetSatisfaction is an excellent model, since it allows brands to connect directly with consumers on specific issues.

  • http://www.rimslegend.com/wheel_finish--chrome chrome wheels

    400 a month sounds a little fishy to me that’s the let me sign up price

  • Stanley

    To quote office space, “This is a horrible, horrible idea.”

    Sad to see extortion as brand management come from such a respected name.

  • http://thenextcorner.net DennisG

    So any brand can set up a page that aggregates this content themselves.
    Hosting this on their own corporate TLD could even make it more powerful. Acknowledging that something could be said, and commenting on possible constructive or even negative feedback on your own site probably has more impact than a comment on a Squidoo page.

  • Conrad

    Why would a company choose to pay $400 a month to respond to critisicm when they could just ask for the offending page to be removed?

    I’m suprised Seth Godin can pull this sort of linkbait off with a straight face.

  • Douglas Bamlett

    Once you begin getting paid for managing potentially slanderous content you become corporately complicit with any slander that has been committed by the kind of scum that engages in that activity. The rules that govern forums and other public venues did not take into account a one-sided revenue stream. Legal challenges will surely appear once you have a vested interest. The laws that currently protect neutral parties will definitely be challenged in situations like yours where you are clearly profiting from a one sided revenue stream.

    Rip off Report was successfully sued because of its conflict of interest in promoting slander. I imagine you are quite happy to capitalize on the negative publicity this gets you. However when someone like you moves from a place of engendering ethics and creative business models that benefit everyone — and become known for believing in and fostering a win/win kind of business attitude — to profiting from the seedy underbelly of the internet — you alienate the entire audience that wrongly assumed you were more positive and ethical than you really are. However it will definitely gain you a much more combative and troublesome audience as your former believers abandon you.

    Enjoy your profit because you definitely lost the respect of many by engaging in this approach to money getting. I have bought your books and audio books before and have considered you to be one of the more forward looking type of people in the marketing industry. In one decision you destroyed the years you put into building that. Wow. This will be awesome to watch.

    A primary driver of your message has fostered inspiration for leaders and those who lead. Now providing an extortion like service that appears much like the business model of the ripoff report and other scummy sites that promote no accountability for liars and little to no ability to distinguish between them and legitimate complainers. Meanwhile you suck profit from your former audience — but by no longer inspiring them with new creative ideas and perspectives but by providing yet another platform that assembles and focuses on the dirt people want to say about your former audience of followers. There is big money in dirt. National Enquirer anyone?

    Seems like a strange twist. Like a betrayal. Seth Godin rebrands himself overnight. When you prove to your fans that they overestimated you — it is hard to reverse that because they begin to doubt their own judgment. You can’t fix that — only they can — but they won’t forget who showed them they were fools.

    As for the “take it down” aspect. “Close that barn door the horse got out”.

  • http://www.coastdigital.co.uk Ashley Fletcher

    I just see this as another method of leaching brand traffic. The good thing is the visitor is immediately represented with an ‘unofficial badge’ which means (I hope) visitors will head back out again. Would be good to know how many $400 are in the bag.

  • cornerhouse

    Consumers can quickly discern useful information on the internet and these pages will rightly not be treated by them as credible or influencial. They are being created for the benefit of an intermediary hoping to make money where there isn’t any, not for consumers.

  • richard

    it has BLACKMAILING written all over it!!

  • http://fsfsdfsdf.com Seth Fan


    This is an embarrassment. Squdoo was crap now this is extortion. Go away please.


    A former HUGE fan.

  • http://sayreonline.com Brennan Sayre

    A big fan of Seth Godin but this idea is ridiculous and basically amounts to extortion. From what I understand Squidoo will allow anyone including the competition and spammers to say negative and false things about a company and then if the company wants to respond to false accusations they must pay $400 a month. Not only will this finally make Squidoo irrelevant but it will also open it up to lawsuits. Bad move on Squidoo’s part and my clients do not have to worry as Squidoo won’t appear anywhere in the search engines when you type them in to find these pages.

  • Chris

    @Douglas Bamlett – I don’t think Squidoo is any more liable for the content they serve than the sources from which the content is scraped. They’re just aggregating, and charging corporations for the ability to add comments, not to edit or remove said content. A company who doesn’t like what they see on Brand in Public could just as easily take a minute and respond to comments in the forum in which they originally appeared. I bet those responses would also make it to Brands in Public, thereby skipping the $400.

    It’s essentially a free brand monitoring tool. I think this is a great idea – wish I had thought of it first.

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  • http://davejones.ca David Jones

    My gut reaction, without the benefit of talking with Seth about this myself, is that I’d advise all of my clients to have their pages taken down immediately. At least Wikipedia has a dispute resolution process in place with the attempt to be as factual/verifiable as possible. Aggregating content vs. curating content is a bad idea and holds very little value for anyone–Squidoo, reader, content creator, brand–involved.

  • http://www.watchingwebsites.com Sean Power

    Perhaps I’m missing something . . but this seems to me like Squidoo is simply a very late player in the GetSatisfaction / UserVoice market.

  • http://www.halsed.com halsed

    Seems like a very simple solution to this would be to make Brands in Public an Opt In model rather than an Opt Out model.

    From a bit of reading it seems obvious that Godin has a host of larger companies eager to get on board. Let them do just that and set an example for smaller companies or those not in the loop. Spread the Brands in Public message through example and allow others to come to you and opt in on your cool idea – rather than feel threatened or coerced into giving Brands in Public their attention (and cash).

  • http://pacelegal.com.au adele pace

    If you are only publishing negative content you are eliminating the context in which commentary is published. This is distortion and is depriving readers of genuine information, not to mention how it impacts on the defence of fair comment re: defamation. If you cut out all the positive comments, its not fair comment or balanced coverage anymore, even if all they say is true or substantially true.

  • Douglas Bamlett

    Opt-in model makes sense. Simple and fair. Many companies have always been happy to have negative information fragmented and only dealt with certain critical masses of complaint.

    Seth’s model forces a critical mass of otherwise fragmented and low ranking dirt to rank high and become focused — thus magnifying its relevance and impact. The opt out model Seth is using makes squidoo complicit both in any elevation of ranking of the dirt and any magnification of its relevance. Legally this is not likely to be interpreted as a passive or neutral position. Simple tort law may conclude that “except for the actions of squidoo” — this dirt would neither rank nor its relevance be magnified. Add to that the income reward for those actions and you have squidoo playing a potentially active role in defaming a brand. The fact that they require payment OR opt out AFTER the damage has been done could instantly harm a company’s brand — while rewarding Seth for doing so.

    If there were no demonstrable elevation of rank or relevance of the dirt then squidoo would not be complicit. However the opt in model would resolve that issue and relive the implied, of not, actual extortion that squidoo seems to be engaging in.

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  • Brandon

    Both here and at Lisa Barone’s blog Seth has weighed-in in the comments section, clarifying how this is a great service, akin to Google alerts, for companies who want to track and participate in the conversations about them at one page.

    But is that what the service really is? Check out the Home Depot page. It’s got some nice, subtle Google ads and at least one sidebar ad spliced into it. That tells me the plan is for the Squidoo Home Depot “in Public” page to become a high-ranking, or even the most popular, page for Google searches on “home depot”.

    So, Home Depot has a specific page out there which may eventually aggregate their news feed, show their YouTube videos, their content, and all the bad stuff people casually comment about them around the web, AND IT DOESN’T BELONG TO THEM, and it could become a more popular web destination than their own site at which some of that content originated. And to top it off, to make it go away they have to “ask nicely” or pay to participate in that “conversation” about their own company.

    Nevermind that they could be fully engaged at Twitter or elsewhere. Now they have to be engaged at Squidoo, too, and they’ll have to pay $5,000 per year to take part in the aggregated conversation at Squidoo.

    All the while, Squidoo gets the traffic, the Google ad clickthroughs, and a little revenue from the very company whose name and brand they decided to piggyback. If this were an ad-free service, or one that didn’t require a brand to actually pay to participate, it would have credibility.

  • http://pacelegal.com.au adele pace

    If you do anything to cause a page to rank higher how can you be responsible for the collateral effects in terms of what Google does in elevating PR?
    The intervening actions of users in deciding to click on a link for instance would break any chain of causation IMO.
    I don’t like what Squidoo are doing BTW
    Squidoo would have to be held liable for allowing defamatory content to be linked to. If it is defamatory to link to defamatory content, it could then be defamatory to allow someone to do that on your website?

  • Douglas Bamlett

    As long as a webs site does not show a bias toward injurious content the current laws tend to protect web site owners from liability — if it is clear that they are just providing a neutral platform for others to engage in free speech and not personally engaged in promoting the injurious content. I know of cases where web site owners were shown to have encouraged or promoted defamatory content for gain and were required to pay damages when their bias showed that they actively engaged in promoting the defamatory content of its members and profited from it.

    I think any demonstrable bias for injurious content — especially a financially rewarding one is potentially causative to the degree that you can show profit from promoting (locating, assembling, focusing, and elevating the online status of) the injurious content.

    Isn’t this is what any publisher does? Take a magazine like the National Enquirer. They pay employees to locate content, they organize it, they assemble it, then they elevate its rank and reach by publishing it in their magazine. To the degree that the content is injurious are they not potentially liable — even if all the content they published was provided by third party contacts? What about if National Enquirer gathers its content electronically — are they not still profiting from publishing content that turns out to be unjustly injurious?

    Just because a site like squidoo uses electronic means for gathering, assembling, focusing, and elevating the rank of brand related content does that excuse them from being connected to the effects of their publishing exercise? I think it may if they gain an easily segregated revenue stream from those particular publishing activities.

    Google on the other hand does not rank pages based on the degree to which content is, or could be injurious and are therefore not likely to be liable. As far as I know they have no income stream that can be tied to specifically to potentially injurious content. In fact their quality scores appear to be without any bias for truth or fiction of content — but appear to be all about congruence of message, popularity among users, relevance to topics searched for, and authority of message.

    Seth, like any web site owner, knows that any content on his site increases in page rank due to the authority already granted by the search engines to his site. That is a pre-established authority that has a known quantifiable reach and authority. As far as anyone knows — google does not increase or decrease squidoos site rank based on whether injurious content is posted there or not. However their site rank (authority) is already a known quantity and anything published through squidoo instantly inherits squidoos authority. Squidoo has a vested interest in promoting both their rank (and reach) and when they leverage their authority to develop a particular income stream — do they not become responsible to some degree for the content driving that revenue stream just as any other publisher would?

    Possibly as a result of this dialog — Seth appears to have switched to an opt-in model which immediately reverses any responsibility for content back to the brand owner. Smart move.

  • Brandon


    Not sure I’d use National Enquirer is the best example to use, but that’s not why I’m replying…

    I think you’ve taken many peoples’ comments about whether Seth should have done this or not as whether he’s now legally liable for “injurious content.” Those are two separate issues. Ethics have only a little bit to do with legal rights. I couldn’t care less if Godin is legally safe doing this. My personal comment has to do with whether people should do stuff like this. And I say they shouldn’t.

    That means, by the way, I don’t think a law should be enacted or cited or tested here. I just think people should choose not to do this, and when they do, I have no problem with them being called out for it.

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  • Douglas Bamlett

    Brandon. I don’t know anyone who claims to have been harmed by Seths latest product offering. Therefore I have no opinion about compensation.

    I enjoyed Adel Pace’s comments and since she appeared to be responding at least in part to my previous comment — and since she also appears to be an internet lawyer I wanted to respond with my theory. Her comments were directed in part to “chain of causation”. Since I have little legal knowledge but plenty of business experience I gave it my best shot — however protracted my clumsy illustration may have been.

    I hope you don’t mind my participation in this discussion — but if you do please know that I do not have any particular position regarding your comments that I care to share.

  • http://pacelegal.com.au adele pace

    Google on the other hand does not rank pages based on the degree to which content is, or could be injurious and are therefore not likely to be liable

    I realise that. That is the point I was making. I was talking about Page Rank, something. Google is indifferent to content. I was talking about users choosing to link to squidoo, the choice to do so being an intervening act which might break the chain of causation. (I realise the proximal cause is squidoo’s act of publishing the content with a view to inducing users to link)

    I think you are talking about the aggregation service or republishing of the information by squidoo in terms of potential liability for tort of injurious falsehood or defamation.

    I realise there have been court judgements but I got the impression that the law was a bit fuzzy. (not to mention unfortunately impractical for many victims to enforce) In all things IP related the courts seem far more prepared to protect business models that post IP infringing material than defamatory material. There are plenty of sites out there that really just monetisation platforms to drive traffic by posting defamatory trade mark keyword related content on their sites to attract traffic to sell their third party products. They rationalise it under the rhetoric of free speech or comparative advertising.

    Many think they are immune by virtue of:
    * safe harbour or because t
    * their content doesn’t meet the definition of defamation (whose definition depending on where the content is published)
    * they have a defence available
    * realise it is unlikely a foreign court would assume jurisdiction let alone apply local laws to them
    *that they are not able to be tracked, or judgement proof
    *that any attempt to bring legal action will turn them into instant martyrs and result in a public relations disaster for the victim…the legal system is cumbersome, slow and people associate it with thuggery

    But the Gutnick decision caused shockwaves…..Victorian law being applied by a Victorian Court to the WSJ.

    Not all online intermediaries are equal (even in the US). Search engines are usually off the hook in defamation, but it is a closer call for others.

    Anyway the US are now passed the Freedom of Speech Protection Act allowing for a declaration of incompatibility of foreign judgements in defamation friendly havens with first amendment rights and triple damages.

    Britain might be revising it’s multiple publication rule as well.

    Bloggers who post using other people’s identities in Texas with intent to harm, commit fraud etc may be liable to penalties…..

    lots of developments..

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  • http://www.tag44.com tag44

    Nice way of earning huge wealth founded by Squidoo.

  • http://www.verticalmeasures.com ralphm

    First, I don’t understand what all the hate is about…there are plenty of websites that are “scraping” content. This includes sites that rehash tweets, and others like answers.com, and even Google. That’s right! Google is just s a giant Internet scraper that rehashes content. And we let it, because it’s God.

    But Seth Godin comes along with a fabulous idea and all anyone can do is hate on him for “scraping content.” The real reason why it’s an issue is because he’s charging $400/month for it. If Seth were really smart, he wouldn’t have publicized that so much. But people’s reaction is a real contradiction in my eyes. If you don’t think Google is making a ton of money from their website scraper, then you’re foolish. The only difference is, it’s not as obvious to people that Google is making so much money. But they are; make no question about it. But you don’t see people whining that Google is “holding search results for ransom” and “forcing people to pay for top search results.” But isn’t that what they are doing?

    I’m reminded of a story I heard about Winston Churchill, who once asked a woman if she would sleep with him for $1 million. To which she said yes. Then he asked her if she would sleep with him for $1. To which she replied, “What do you think I am, a prostitute?” To which, Churchill said, “Madam, we’ve already established that, now we’re just haggling on a price.”

    That’s right, I just called Google a prostitute…

    So give Godin a break, and stop harassing him for being something that everyone else is. He’s entitled to make money off his ideas if they’re good. I think maybe some of the haters are just a little jealous because they didn’t think of it first.

  • Brandon

    From my perspective, this issue is not about legalities. And it’s not about whether there are a ton of websites doing this now.

    It’s that Seth Godin has chosen to do this. The man behind the “permission marketing” tidal wave…and the “authentic stories” wave. His position in the marketing-guru world is as the guy pushing for marketing that engages the world in a credible, genuine way. Brands in Public goes entirely against this grain. That’s why this is an issue for a lot of people.

  • Brandon

    Having said this, Seth apparently has back-tracked and is now only building these public pages when a company wants them built. Much more appropriate.

  • Douglas Bamlett

    Adele thanks for those clarifications and for your great. Using your illustration of choosing to link to squidoo being an intervening act that may break the chain of causation — I’m curious how that might be interpreted differently that someone purchasing a magazine — or even the act of picking it up? Seems that the publisher does things specifically to attract and motivate that activity. Any comments?

    Thanks for the reference to the Gutnik decision. I applaud the courts decision to uphold mass publishing laws as they currently exist. Having been involved in IS for over 26 years I tend to view most of the digital realm as just another delivery system for the same kinds of information.

    It seems the laws are rather blurry. Perhaps more than most of us would hope for :). It never dawned on me that a users choice to link to a publisher/aggregator could potentially be viewed as a break in the chain of causation. Again thanks.

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  • http://pacelegal.com.au adele pace

    Douglas I believe in the doctrine of functional neutrality.

    What happens offline should be no different to the online world.

    I agree with your analysis that this is RipOffReport revisited.

    The whole business model is to induce visitors to read the negative material which is elevated to a high rank.

    I don’t think there is anything in users making a conscious choice to do so breaking any chain of causation. The courts focus on the business model. This is republication/dissemination of false and defamatory material, whether or not it is scraped is irrelevant. The business model is set up so as to profit from this dissemination. In a lot of the litigation against RipOffReport the defendants didn’t even front and judgement was entered in default.

    It seems ironic that the Ed Magedson behind XCentric Ventures which operated RipOffReport probably needed a reputation management service to deal with his chequered past.

    There are all kinds of allegations flying around that reputation management companies have sent death threats to such services which, if true, brings the whole reputation management industry into disrepute.

  • http://pacelegal.com.au adele pace

    …just to add to this…he is actually editing, in the sense that he is selecting negative commentary. This commentary isn’t picked at random or indiscriminate. But it isn’t necessary to prove that he is being selective in the editing. It is still editorial control.

    This is an essential part of his business model. He is exercising editorial control in so I don’t see how you can hide behind safe harbour.

    Not only is he editing, he is doing so in an unethical manner, ie on a cash for comment basis and responsible for every editorial comment as a result. Message: ‘our ‘journalism’ depends on whether the person the subject of the negative (possibly defamatory content) pays us $400 per month’.

    We will let users think that this is content rather than advertising.

    Whoever made the comment that it shouldn’t be assessed on a legal basis, I do agree that it is bad for society.

    & ralph m
    “There are plenty of websites that are “scraping” content. This includes sites that rehash tweets, and others like answers.com, and even Google. That’s right! Google is just s a giant Internet scraper that rehashes content. And we let it, because it’s GodBut Seth Godin comes along with a fabulous idea and all anyone can do is hate on him for “scraping content.” The real reason why it’s an issue is because he’s charging $400/month for it. If Seth were really smart, he wouldn’t have publicized that so much. “

    But people’s reaction is a real contradiction in my eyes…yes…. Google are actually publishing it and deciding where it ranks, and have direct control over the algorithm but as we have seen Google seem to be immune on the basis that this is a ‘mechanical’ action devoid of any human intervention. There is constant human intervention at many levels. But that precedent doesn’t seem to matter at this point in time, and maybe one day it will be overturned.

    However what Seth Godin is doing is being very selective.

    More importantly, whilst Google might be just as selective, they won’t say I won’t publish things by you because you won’t pay be money. They might actually do it, but aren’t so brazen about it.

    “So give Godin a break, and stop harassing him for being something that everyone else is. He’s entitled to make money off his ideas if they’re good. I think maybe some of the haters are just a little jealous because they didn’t think of it first”

    Traditional journalism does it too and may not be being as honest about it. But they are responsible for what they re-publish. The Journalist knows they are an editor and can’t do it. Seth is doing which what some journalists do, publish all kinds of sensationalist c*** which he can’t necessarily prove and doesn’t necessarily believe is true. Every company that he slanders will have to decide whether they want to pay him off or sue him.

    I don’t see what is so novel. Journalists have done this as long as journalism has existed. They tell everyone their editiorial section is separate from their journalism section but both answer to the CEO. With respect to the typical US newspaper, the owner doesn’t necessarily interfere with the editorial section, but in Australia Murdoch is more inclined to do so. The American owners don’t do it for ideological reasons but I am sure everyone is driven by profit. The editors know not to say nasty things about the big advertisers.

    It doesn’t need to be money, but journalists always get something out of being nice to people, and have to balance how nice they are to people versus telling ‘the truth’, and it is always a compromise.

  • Douglas Bamlett

    Thanks Adele for your informative and lucid comments. I appreciate your taking the time to share your legal perspective about these issues everyone is working out.

    I’m glad to see that Seth has moved to the opt-in model and has abandoned the opt-out threat model since it seemed to contradict the good will, partner oriented, business philosophy he has been touting so far.

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  • http://pacelegal.com.au adele pace


    Thanks. Yes, I saw that he made it opt in.

    Its a more appealing model than holding a brand hostage which does destroy the goodwill.

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  • http://pacelegal.com.au adele pace

    I agree that it is shortsighted and there have been similar initiatives that have foundered.
    However this is unprecedented in the sense that Google is so powerful.
    Where does the data actually reside?
    Google would say it is in the browser.
    The legal decisions on framing, deeplinking, hyperlinking to infringing content, scraping and trespass lack clarity.

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