I have blogged in the past about how annoying Rand Fishkin’s tactic of avoiding direct questions by obfuscation is. It especially irks me because in order to work it relies on taking advantage of people’s low attention spans, and in making the conversation too painful for most to bear. Often times pursuing winning an argument with someone using those tactics runs the risk of appearing obsessive, since doing so involves repeating the same questions over and over, and to let it go is to allow the other person to appear to win.
It is a politicians trick, not one to be used in polite conversation, and it is inherently slimy. Verbally wrestling with someone who uses it to answer questions that would otherwise make them look bad can leave one with an unwashed, unwholesome feeling, and I personally much prefer to debate with someone who can simply show me that I am wrong.
Last month there was a post on the SEO Refugee blog having to do with an interview with Rand. In the comments section that followed, Yuri Filimonov of Improve The Web actually attempted to get Rand to clarify statements he had made when using that tactic, and to explain why he only answered select questions in older discussions (Rand had specifically invited any questions form readers). Rand of course shifted the focus of his answers (surprise) a couple of times, before Yuri finally pinned it down to one in which there was no room for ambiguity whatsoever. Rand made a statement to the effect that generally speaking, my arguments lack validity and merit.
“Commenting on the validity that Michael shows – I don’t think he shows validity. I think his arguments generally lack merit” -Rand Fishkin
Yuri asked Rand to back this damaging statement up with some sort of substance, to indicate why any of the arguments I had used against Rand, any at all, were in fact not worth listening to. Most do believe wholeheartedly that people should be held accountable for their words and actions, but for some reason, despite whatever he may say to the contrary, Rand Fishkin doesn’t seem to follow that particular creed.
“Michael – yes, I should be held to account for everything I say, just like anyone else.” -Rand Fishkin
He spent the next 4 comments pretending that Yuri wasn’t being specific enough, despite the fact that Yuri quoted the exact same comment that he wanted Rand to address 3 times. I refrained from being involved in the discussion with Rand, or even blogging about it, lest he use The Troll Defense as an exit strategy yet again. Finally, Yuri basically told him to put up or shut up.
“Besides, if you don’t want to backup such a damaging statement with facts, I’d really appreciate, if you retract the statement and apologize before Michael.” – Yuri Filimonov
At which point, Rand Fishkin apparently chose, finally, to simply shut up (he never replied after that).
Since Rand returned to SEORefugee (which he does whenever he discovers someone talking about him, so I know he didn’t “miss” Yuri’s last comment) and started posting again, I figured it was safe to blog about the conversation finally. It has definitely been too long for him to make up some lame excuse blaming his lack of response on something I said, and his return there indicates he can’t blame it on alien abduction. I know he was just waiting for people to forget, which is actually not a bad tactic when you are on the losing side of an argument. I was actually reminded of the whole thing by a very nice post on DailyBloggingTips.com entitled Put Honesty and Integrity Above Everything Else, and Rand’s return to SEORefugee. If not for those two things I probably would have forgotten as well. 😀