Posted January 12, 2006 9:23 am by with 14 comments

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How many of you were offended with the Forbes article that labelled bloggers as an “online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective.”

Well, contests like “Everyday Hogwash” certainly don’t help. The contest encourages bloggers to complain about businesses in hope of winning prizes. That’s terrible.

Why do we want to encourage just the complainers? Why reinforce the negative image of bloggers? Surely the sponsor SunRocket could get the same publicity by encouraging both negative AND positive comments?

I think this reflects badly on SunRocket, so, ironically, consider this my entry to the contest.

SunRocket = Everday Hogwash! If I win, I’ll donate the money to Vonage! 😉

Update: Aaron adds this is just “a link scheme sold as a contest that encourages bloggers to give companies negative plublicity.”

Update 2: Good for Steve Rubel, he’s reconsidered his position and backed-out from being a judge. What about the other judges? Chris Pirillo, still want to put your name to this? How about just scrapping the whole thing and coming up with a new contest?

Update 3: Om Malik believes “those who live in glass houses…” and lists many who have had gripes with SunRocket’s service. I wonder if any of them will win a prize? 😉

Update 4: For those of you griping that this is all about “Andy Beal”, even The Consumerist – a site dedicated to airing consumer gripes – thinks paying people to do so, is shady…“paying people to disparage the enemy is probably against some sort of law.”

Update 5: Chris Pirillo (one of the judges) weighs-in with his thoughts. He calls for Hogwash to take heed of the suggested changes to the contest.

  • Anonymous

    Good for you Andy.

  • While Andy and I exchanged a few emails, I figured it was worth sharing my perspective here as well (as one of the people running the Everyday Hogwash project), as Andy and I disagree on a few things.

    First off, this entire project is intended as comedic: the shared experience of corporate annoyance has been the stuff of watercooler stories and stand up comedy for ages. Perhaps Steve Rubel did you a slight disservice by framing the project on his blog as “prizes for kvetching”.

    That said, sharing a few chuckles with each other over those kinds of annoyances isn’t intended as an invitation to negativity: negative publicity for companies isn’t particularly entertaining for other people to read (or that entertainment can be found elsewhere.) There’s not much humor in online lynch mobs.

    So I appreciate Andy’s concerns, but humbly disagree that’s it is just promotional negativity — and neither I nor my collaborators at SunRocket have ever thought of bloggers in the kind fashion you frame your entry with via the Forbes quote.

    In fact, just the opposite — the fact that bloggers and blog readers could find a chuckle while at the same time helping to create a written tapestry of the consumer experience always, to me, seemed like one of those things the blogsphere was uniquely suited to accomplish.

  • I wonder if Brian’s opinion would change if he owned or was CEO of one of the companies being roasted on his site.

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm… kind of seems to me that your post about SunRocket and Everyday Hogwash might be seen as spouting invective. And, well, maybe it’s not a lynch mob (or not to the extent implied in the Forbes article), but aren’t you on the attack, and maybe trying to get other bloggers to attack Everyday Hogwash?

    Or maybe you just got up on the wrong side of bed with a bad hangover?

    Unlike what the Forbes articles was talking about, Everyday Hogwash isn’t a focused attack on one business or individual. Rather it’s a place where blogger can talk about some of the exasperating or funny experiences they have in the course of every day living.

    Businesses might actually benefit by reading what really annoys their customers – and then remedying the situation, or if they can’t remedy the situation find creative ways to deal with similar situations if they occur again.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if mikeok’s opinion would change if he lived in poverty, and was taken advantage of by corporations.

    Class war clearly isn’t helpful, but neither is pretending like people don’t have legitimate griefs, on both sides of the equation.

    Maybe class war is helpful: People need to air their complaints to each other, sometimes, before they can start to mend relationships.

  • My, my! Two anonymous posts both supporting the contest and both very well written…some might say a little too well written.

    Regardless, I stand by my concerns and here’s why my effort is legitimate.

    1. Encouraging bloggers to post negative comments about a company for MONEY, is scandalous. Sure, bloggers have always posted their gripes online, but they do it because they have a legitimate concern, NOT because someone is paying them.

    2. As Aaron pointed out, in order to enter, you are asked to link back to the contest site. That smells of a link scheme.

    3. If the contest must exist, change it to reward the positive comments too.

    As I mentioned, I do see the irony that goes along with me complaining about the contest and the sponsor. However, my motivation comes from my love of the blogosphere and a desire to protect the community, NOT money.

  • OK, what do you consider poverty?? I would not consider myself wealthy although I do have most everything I want. And yes, I do have big beefs with corporations. Like paying a security deposit for my hydro because of repeated late payments but never defaulted. Believe me, I could do well in your “contest”. My girlfriend is sick of me complaining about everything that is screwed up in the companies and organizations around me.
    In the end, I have greatest concerns about the LASTING negative effects of web publication. While I do see your point that companies would gain valuable input to better improve their services, what happens after they DO better the service. Are you willing to remove said post or add an adjustment to it and all other sites that might link to it??
    Lastly, I would not want to own the site that is asking for “negative” stories when you feel the full legal weight of companies like MS. Maybe then you will also be speaking from a “poverty” perspective 😉

  • Mike, I’m so glad you followed me to MarketingPilgrim, I always enjoy your comments! 🙂

  • I’m not anonymous and I’m happy to go on record as saying this is silly.

    Lemme get this straight – because the mainstream media complained that bloggers are whiners, you’re whining about a program that encourages whining?

    Too bad Forbes didn’t mention conspiracy theories. The irony would be even richer.

  • No conspiracy here and I merely used the Forbes article as a point of reference.

    As I said, it’s one thing to complain about something because you care, another thing to complain because you might get paid.

    Do you not agree that the contest could have been equally well received (or at this stage, a whole lot better received) if they had encouraged positive comments as well as negative comments?

  • I’m the “anonymous” person who asked if you got up on the wrong side of the bed. I hit the anonymous button by mistake and couldn’t back up to change it.

  • Thanks Janet!

    And, no, I didn’t get out of the wrong side of the bed. 😉

  • I’m all for holding companies accountable for their faults.

    What’s happening with everyday hogwash is nothing more than a consumer reports that’s being provided by the consumer and not a staff of overpaid writers.

    Personally I’ve enjoyed the contest so far and have jumped on board myself.

  • But what was your motivation?

    You say it’s “nothing more than a consumer reports that’s being provided by the consumer and not a staff of overpaid writers” but you have to admit that the lure of the money is probably what enticed you to enter the contest.

    I’m all for consumers having a voice. I’m against a contest that encourages people to complain for money. Besides, even Consumer Reports praises the good products alonsgide the bad.