Oh Just Grow A Pair!

Danny Sullivan is actually off the hook cause I’m sick tonight, and have no energy to speak of… I was going to do a deeply involved detailed post having to do with cojones growing and owning up to events as they really happened…

Instead, I’ll just ask… can anyone at all reading this find even an inkling of “tongue in cheek” in Barry Schwartz’s article, “Get A Free Link From Wired“…? I mean in the original version, without any of Danny’s updates, which you can see via Google’s cache:

Original version of “Get A Free Link From Wired”.

Quick synopsis:

9:15am Barry says “Hey, look guys… you don’t have to be quite as bummed about Wikipedia using nofollow… I found another kickass site that doesn’t… just don’t be too evil about it, k?

Less than 4 hours later, after the shit hits the fan, Danny says “Actually, well, we were kidding…

C’mon guys… get real…

6 thoughts on “Oh Just Grow A Pair!”

  1. Michael, I did own up — it was a stupid article to write, because it cause a lot of people to hit the Wired wiki and create crappy pages — and I apologize for that.

    No, we seriously did not mean for people to create pages to get free links. Believe it or not, as suits your purposes. I think people commented nearly immediately that because of our article, Wired would quickly work to either use nofollow or monitor submissions, making the “free” links useless.

    I was actually surprised — and then felt bad — when later in the day that I could see people were slamming the site. Surprised, because c’mon, who didn’t realize the pages weren’t going last long. Bad, because I caused hassle to a site that didn’t need it nor deserved it.

    There really was no intention to say hey folks, here’s a place to get a bunch of free links. We don’t tend to write articles like that, as you should well know. So a new shift for us, or more in keeping with our usual writing about general issues. I’d hope you’d give us the benefit of the doubt. But there’s no hesitation on my part in saying we shouldn’t have done the article period, and I apologize for that.

  2. Danny, my issue is not with the fact that the article was posted in the first place. It was a link op, shared in good faith. The only reason it caused such a big problem so fast was that damn near any other blogger writing about it, and it’s the equivalent of scribbling a juicy tidbit on the bathroom wall… when SEL writes an article on it, however, it’s front page news. Still, though, Barry’s only human… he’s entitled to make a screw up now and again and not get raked too hard over the coals about it, ya know?

    No, the part that really bugged me was your complete and utter mischaracterization of the article and it’s intent after the fact. Something that you appear to be continuing even:

    There really was no intention to say hey folks, here’s a place to get a bunch of free links. We don’t tend to write articles like that, as you should well know.

    Well, Danny, SEL has written about link ops in the past in at least one occasion I know of:


    What’s the major difference between Debra’s article and Barry’s? This paragraph:

    It should go without saying that spamming these networks and associations with unrelated sites is not a good idea. You’ll be bounced as soon as they figure out what you’re doing so spend your time more productively.

    Yes, it should go without saying that spamming these opportunities will very quickly ruin them for everyone… but it doesn’t. Of course I don’t think Barry’s intent was to have a large number of people write crappy spam pages on Wired, I give him much more credit than that. His only mistake was that he gave the audience as a whole way too much credit, and just assumed they would use the info he shared wisely.

    I’m not trying to say you are evil or anything of the sort, Danny… much in the way that Dick Cheney’s friends covered for him when he shot Harry Whittington, you’re just trying to cover for a friend whose aim was a little off. I just don’t think that trying to claim the purpose behind the article was to raise awareness of the need for more stringent anti spam measures, and help promote the more widespread use of nofollow, was the way to go on this one. A simple “Whoops! Our bad!” should have sufficed just fine.

    I mean, Danny, c’mon… how the hell are you claiming that? Your own comments in an article Barry wrote titled, “Wikipedia’s Double Standard On Nofollow Rule“:

    Plenty of trusted sites have helped make Wikipedia what it is by the links we send to them. It’s not just content alone that shoots Wikipedia to the top of practically every Google search. It’s hundreds and thousands of trusted sites saying Wikipedia is a good resource. In turn, that traffic helps make it appealing for more people to participate in Wikipedia.

    In return, I think many sites would feel basic fairness would be met if Wikipedia didn’t adopt some type of “it’s them against us” attitude when it comes to external links. It can’t be that hard to start growing a list over time of sites Wikipedia considers trustworthy. That would be helpful internally for Wikipedia editors, plus removing nofollow from links to these sites might help win Wikipedia some support it has lost recently.

    You really the same guy that wrote that?

  3. Michael, I’m not covering for Barry. I’m his editor; responsibilities for stories fall to me. In particular on this one, he came across this page and wondered if we should write something, looking to me for approval and guidance. I gave it. So if you have a beef with the story, that beef resides with me — not Barry.

    Now the difference between Debra’s article on how to build links and the one on getting a “free” link from Wired. Exactly — Debra was giving advice on how to build links without trying to spam anyone. Barry wasn’t giving link building advice; he was writing up a potential issue with Wired’s Wiki. I agree, we gave the audience far too much credit and simply shouldn’t have written it.

    Your assumption that we really did mean for people to run over and get some free links from Wired this way isn’t correct. You can believe it or not. I can only tell you what we actually thought. And that is, no, Barry’s aim wasn’t off; I’m not after the fact covering. We simply don’t write articles like that as a matter of course.

    We don’t say on a regular basis — hey, spam a free link here! Go on through the archives — go through my past 12 years worth of writing — and come back and show me that this is a regular thing that I’m promoting. It’s not; it hasn’t been, and I can simply tell you that it was NOT the intent with this article.

    And as for a “Whoops, our bad.” I’ve done that. I’ve done that over and over again. I get the impression it just isn’t enough for you. I flat out apologized for the piece, any issues that it caused and didn’t roll back to say things like “but you know, the issue is real, or blah, or wiggle or whatever.” At most, I clarified we really didn’t mean it for people to actually build links this way, and if you think that’s quibbling — so be it.

    And yes, that is indeed what I wrote about nofollow and Wikipedia. Go read it again. I didn’t say Wikipedia was wrong in using nofollow. I said that Wikipedia should consider removing nofollow from links to a list of “trusted” sites. A more intelligent application.

    For example with Sphinn, we use nofollow on comments. Down the line, we might remove this for members with some history that are commenting, as we’ve discussed on the forum. In addition, we do NOT use nofollow for links to the main stories that are referenced — the idea being that if those stories are spam, we already have other ways to police them — so why not trust those with a clear link.

    Wired can use, or not use, nofollow as it likes. But as I’ve said in some other places, if this had been a Google wiki — and someone came across it and highlighted spam issues — I highly doubt folks would be critical of a write-up. Instead, there would probably be chuckles that a prominent site like Google would seeming leave things open like that.

    Wired is a prominent site. When we came across this ability to create a page on anything, plus get link credit, which appeared as spam within Barry’s RSS feeds, it seemed fair to cover it.

    It wasn’t. The Wired How To area wasn’t that well known, wasn’t being that spammed, sure was vulnerable but didn’t need the attention we gave it. I’m sorry we did. In absolutely no way did we mean for people to actually go in there and spam the site, and I unreservedly apologized for having caused that.

  4. Danny, I think the problem might be that perhaps you and Barry simply weren’t on the same page with this one. If you re-read the original article, there isn’t even an ounce of “these guys need to fix this” within it.

    If someone were to write on topic valuable articles for that wiki, and happened to gain a link to their website in the process, then that is not spam. With that in mind, there would be no reason not to share that (or any other) resource, as long as it was presented in the right light. I don’t think it was wrong of me to think that was possibly what was intended by the article (even if ultimately it wasn’t).

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