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November 6, 2005

Attack Mode: Links and Controversy

When you call out large corporations it may get you sued, but that can also be a cheap form of marketing. When you call out smaller or newer competitors it can often backfire. During times of controversy it is almost always best to paint yourself as David vs Goliath. It is not good being Goliath.

Recently Jason Calcanis ranted about a similar looking blog network. By doing so he gave a lesser known competitor the podium to tell him to screw off.

The bigger issue at hand though is if people think you play dirty as TJ stated about Calacanis on his site, and as I thought of Jason on SXSW 2005 it makes it harder to spread ideas. Would you work together with Jason after he called you a thief? How would this cooperative advertising line sound?

This is a “rising tide lifts all boats” type project.

I don’t think TJ would call it honest, and I suspect other blog network owners would also be suspicious.

Short term controvercy is always surrounded in links. The thing you have to ask yourself before jumping too far into the fire is what do you have to gain by jumping in. Sometimes escalation makes no sense.

Example #1:
As a CEO with a flat trading / sinking stock Patrick Byrne talking about Sith Lord and other evil co conspiritors probably drives down the stock price, and has little purpose unless he is trying to consolidate his own shares before a good quarter.

Example #2:
Daniel Brandt claims to be a social activists, and worries about his own privacy asking questions like:

The proper question is whether publishing information on a person in a form that will be number one on the three major engines in a search for his name, is justifiable?

I have to wonder why THAT is the proper question. If you are a social activists largely using technology to cover technology companies shouldn’t you be able to ensure your message spreads? Isn’t that part of being a social activist?

Daniel included me in some of his recent rants, and so I asked of him:

If you are a social activist trying to spread information and ideas…who has done it for over 30 years… why be so anti technology? I mean, shouldn’t you learn how to get people to pass authority your way? Shouldn’t you be able to be the top result for your own name or have enough friends that help you make yourself so?

I have only been on the web less than 3 years and already I have the #1 and #4 result for your name.

I say that in a non mean manner. I am generally not a mean / mad person, and when you first contacted me you were nothing but rude when a kind email was all that was needed to get the desired result.

You forgot that when I mentioned you I was trying to help you. If you are always in attack mode you can be certain you are going to be working with limited authority.

Earlier it even sounded as though you ticked of Philipp, and I think that is kinda hard to do.

Philipp Lessen also pointed out an underlying problem with the argumentitive tone of some statements:

Maybe paranoia can truly cloud someone’s perception, even when people give that someone the benefit of a doubt. Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; if someone accuses everyone of opposing one, then slowly people will indeed oppose one – because they don’t like to be wrongly accused.

If you wish something hard enough you can make it come true, but that does not help you much if the thesis is everyone sucks or everyone hates me.

And that is an important issue with the web. The web has a long memory. Today I messaged a past friend and got no response. If you piss off your friends or heavily limit your potential friend pool eventually it haunts and hurts you.

Stepping on a few toes is a good way to get noticed, but sometimes there are better ways, and you should evaluate the best, worst, and likely outcomes of telling people off or calling people out before you do so. At the end of the day you still need some people to like you / trust you / source you or your site or you have no authority.

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