In general, I’m fine with the debate as it sits in the philosophical realm of “is this good or is this bad.” I’m fine with the head on debates where beliefs of what’s fine or not are challenged.
When a clear display of ignorance is made by someone who should know better, also accompanied by an attitude of snobbery, that’s when I draw the line and get personally offended.
I’ve got $5 that says Matt won’t respond to this blog post or my comment over there (or perhaps he will now that I’ve blatantly called him out. I’m still leaning towards not). There have been about three or four opportunities for Matt Cutts and I to have direct interaction over the course of my 10+ year blogging career. At pretty much every opportunity, Matt has used that opportunity to snub me, unless it’s opportunistic for him to prove a point, as he’s done above.
Unfortunately, due to my inability to export Disqus from my previous defunct blogging platform, I can’t point to the direct examples of this, nor do I have documentation for the brush-off I got from him in Austin at SxSW last year (the only person I’ve ever run into in person who’s given me the brush off).
What’s even more irritating is the fact he obviously didn’t even read the freaking article – the “every link is a paid link” is not only a gross mischaracterization one of my points, it’s also a very minor point in relationship to the rest of the post in question.
It’s Also a Clueless Statement In the Context of the Functional Real Time Web
Following or not following is obviously pretty pointless when it comes down to whether or not Matt Cutts hears what I have to say, if I want him to hear it.
I can guarantee he’s going to read this post, because it’s more or less all about him. If someone’s tuned into social media and a participant in Twitter or Facebook or blogging at all, they’ve likely got ego-feeds and are paying attention to conversational threads that are relevant to them, and for most people that means threads including their names.
Of course, on Twitter, it’s as easy as going: “hey, @mattcutts, stop being an anti-sponsorship snob.”
The truth is, though, if I’m a moral relativist for saying that Google benefits when Matt opens his mouth just the same as Rackspace benefits when I open my mouth (since we’re both sponsored by or paid by those organizations respectively), then so be it. It’s a backhanded way of him looking down his nose at me because whereas I have a contractual relationship with Rackspace, he’s got a permanent employment situation with Google.
That’s pretty silly, and one of two of us looks bad because of that attitude, and it isn’t me.
A Quick Examination of Matt’s Following Behavior
Incidentally, it’s been about fifteen minutes since I responded on Louis Gray’s FF item, and still no response from Matt. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, though, since his last online missive was three hours ago – he may be offline.
It’s interesting to note, though, that his last missive three hours ago was purely in promotion of Google, and had nothing to do with anything related to webmaster rules or SEO, his area of focus at Google.
Matt also mentions that he won’t follow me because I have sponsored tweets in my stream. Generally I won’t cry over this or even make mention of it. But for the fact he was so condescending and clueless about my post, I wouldn’t even be talking about it at all.
Since he brought it up, I’m not particularly miffed that a guy who won’t talk to me in person won’t follow me on Twitter, and I’m not upset that I didn’t make the exclusive list of 185 Google employees and Silicon Valley residents he follows.
It is interesting to note that he follows around a dozen bot accounts, though, that exist strictly for the purposes of putting out Google related releases and feature updates. That’s paid tweeting – Google owns those accounts.
Gabe Rivera, another person he follows, ostensibly tweets out once or twice a month thank you’s to his sponsors. Those go out via Twitter. That makes them paid Tweets.
Matt also follows Leo Laporte and the TWiT network, both of who do the audio equivalent of inline advertisements (you should listen some time, if you don’t already. Leo does excellent paid placement, and I’ve bought several things he pitches based on his reccomendations).
Matt also follows Jason Calacanis, who suggested two TWiT episodes back to Leo that he do tweets for his sponsors, and tweeted out links for Leo’s sponsors from his own accounts.
This is pretty normal, the paid-sponsor hypocrisy and snobbery.
I don’t begrudge Matt his following habits. He’s free to follow anyone he likes. When he calls people like me out for being somehow inferior and not worthy of attention because I try to get paid, though, he can expect to get pushback like this.
It’s clear that just about everyone who’s ever looked down their noses at folks like me who do ethical sponsorship deals are just as guilty as those they accuse of promoting those they’re paid by. They set up imaginary lines as to what is “clearly unethical” and then run around branding those they disagree with as somehow bad.
There are two points to take away from my little tirade here:
1) If you’re going the sponsorship route, just don’t be spammy about it. There are people like me who push the boundaries occasionally of what’s acceptable, and then there are those who come along behind folks like me and reap the benefits. In both cases, it’s about str
iking a balance between content people like and content you can make money with.
2) It doesn’t matter. Loren Feldman put out a Monday Matters video today that pretty much says it all: everyone on twitter that’s a content producer (and that’s almost everyone) promotes themselves, people they work for, and stuff they like. Those that are smart get paid occasionally. In the end, we’re talking about 140 characters. It doesn’t matter.