The SEO Community – A Tale of Friends and Scorpions

This is a post that may anger you and piss you off, but hopefully it makes you think a little. But I think a lot of the people in the SEO community are short sighted and are willing to sacrifice themselves and the community as whole if they see the chance to get a link or exposure. Much like the scorpion in the tale of the frog and the scorpion, they can’t help themselves even when it means their own self destruction.

I’ve been in this field for a log time. I’ve seen a lot things and gotten a lot of help from people who came before me, and I appreciate the value they contributed in teaching me a trade that allowed me to start my own business. This is why I am so disappointed by the current trend to sacrifice yourself, someone else, a tactic, or even a whole community in exchange for a short term goal that, in the end, isn’t worth it.

I was an editor at threadwatch for a number of years. You could argue that it was at Threadwatch and WebmasterWorld where I paid my dues, cut my teeth, and got my exposure (and officially became a pain in Matt Cutt’s ass ). I learned how to write front page promotion worthy posts and how to craft click enticing titles. It was sad when Threadwatch became a victim of its own success and the site owner had to make the tough call and cut people out, but it was a necessary move. Sadly Threadwatch eventually consumed itself and needed to be shut down. To be honest it was overdue, but it was still sad and, like a self asphyxia masturbation session, the last moments weren’t pretty.

Let’s turn to sphinn: when it started out, it was great, but it too became a victim of its own success. It started to descend into a never ending stream of 2nd rate top 10 lists and a shameless dumping ground that was little more than a second RSS feed for some sites ( I love you search engine journal, but you gotta admit to being heavy on the sphinn submissions). As a result, people stopped looking and visiting and quality spiraled downward. This shouldn’t be taken as an attack on the sphinn editors: it’s hard for them to promote good stuff if no one bothers submitting it in the first place. There’s still some good valuable content there but wading through all the crap to find it is often not worth the effort. My belief that the SEO community can’t act in its own best interests was reinforced.

Recently I started playing with a new ipad app called flipboard. One of the things it does is extract content from links from your Facebook and Twitter stream and displays them in newspaper format. To be honest, I really manage both my Twitter and Facebook friends and follow lists very carefully. I try to keep them filled only with people I trust and consider friends or whose tweeted links I honestly enjoy. It may make me an elitist but, like I said, I don’t trust most of you to not spam up my timeline with your own self promotional or nepotistic crap. Some times I unfriend or stop following people who are friends because of the volume they tweet or their tendency to burst tweet (the irony of this situation isn’t lost on me).

It’s my belief that, in the long term, you can’t maintain an SEO community website without heavy moderation and trusted editors guiding the content. IMHO the best places for this currently is the subscribers section of WebmasterWorld or the paid forum on SEObook. There is still some valuable content on sphinn, I just wish it it went to editorially promoted only stories or ruthlessly culled the second rate submissions. I wish it were otherwise but most of you are simply too untrustworthy.

To be honest, there’s a reason you don’t see old timers wasting their time spamming SEO communities: they have figured out there’s more value in going after client work or focusing on their own projects. The SEO fame game is a futile one ’cause a wallet full of famous will never pay the rent.
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