If you look back at the history of this blog, you'll find that we get excited about finding new technologies and educating our readers on them. Unless a company is doing something immoral or just plain stupid, we're typically positive in our approach. I don't want this blog to get so big that we can bury some companies while promoting others… and it honestly disappoints me when some of my other more popular colleagues take those shots publicly.
As recent as yesterday, I've received complaints from trolls. What's a troll?
In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
I would add a couple other characteristics… trolls are typically cowards and hide under anonymity. And on this blog, trolls often try to do damage to the companies that we're writing about.
I'll try a few times to respond to a troll, but when I see them resort to calling names and ignoring the facts, I stop talking to them. I let the business know that they've been criticized. If the business tries to resolve the situation and can't (which is typical due to the anonymity), I'll remove the comment.
Why? Isn't that giving a company a pass? Is it intellectually dishonest?
I don't think so. When I interview a company, get screenshots, and describe their application, I'm not trying to make a purchasing decision for you. I'm writing a brief blog post based on the company's marketing, feedback or product specifications and am sharing what the tool is and how I believe it can help a marketer. Those companies worked hard to get a product launched and take a huge risk by putting themselves out there for criticism.
Some people simply hate companies (we're seeing a lot of that lately). I have a sweetspot for them because I've worked for so many young startups. I've seen the sacrifices – in money, time and family – that people make to try to take something from an idea, to a dream to reality. That takes a ton of work… and most companies don't actually succeed. I don't want companies to collapse… watching founders and employees lose everything. No one should.
A single negative comment can put a company on the defense. I saw it happen to one of the companies that I worked for… someone criticized the business online and they never recovered since the post went viral and wound up being in every sales conversation for the next year. It was rough… and unnecessary. It's not just leaders that have the ability to do it anymore, either… one simple content could start a spark that drives a business under.
So, I feel I have a responsibility to both readers and companies by giving people the benefit of the doubt. If a commenter wants to come out of the shadows and constructively criticize a company – that's a great conversation to have. But when a troll hits and bombards the post anonymously, I'm simply not going to put up with it. I'll respond once or twice and then the conversation is done. If they continue, I'm not going to give them any more opportunities.
There are plenty of companies that I've lost respect for over the years… but I'm not going to try to destroy them. I simply don't provide them any attention on this blog. That's the opportunity I have – promote great companies and ignore the ones that need to go away. If you want to challenge me on one of my posts, I welcome the criticism! But if you're just going to scream and call names, I don't have to listen to it.
I look forward to our continued conversation!