Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing Help

www.theonlinemarketingguy.com by Duane Forrester

Search knowledge forums – why all the hating?

Posted on | February 21, 2007 | No Comments

OK, maybe I’m the last person on the planet to notice all this, but when the realization hit me this morning, I was sickened.

I have a routine each morning where I hit a number of search and online marketing forums and try to answer questions for folks. Admirable? Sure. But really, I do get soemthing from this to, you know, so I’m not an altruistic saint here. ;) Like everyone, there’s something in this for me, and I’m after it. Now, that obvious admission out of the way, here’s what I’ve been seeing…

The main sites I hit every day are:

Small Business Forum (SBF)
Search Engine Watch Forum (SEW)
ihelpyou Best Practices Forum (IHY)
Search Engine Forum (SEF)

I actually moderate at SEF, but regardless of the site, I try to answer a few questions each day.

Now, each has it’s own flavor…

SBF is a broad-focused place where everything is on tap. From getting an idea for what type of business to run to how to get insurance for your business is discussed. There are plenty of marketing questions, which is what attracts me. The folks are open and quick to welcome new folks. There’s also, clearly, a broad knowledge base at work in answering questions. I recently starting posting here and was so warmly welcomed I damn near had a tear in my eye. It’s not every day that you go to a new place to learn folks know who you are and are happy to see you.

SEW seems to have seen a drop off in traffic lately. I have absolutely no stats to back this up, just gut instinct based on frequency of posts across the numerous sections and the length of time between replies in threads. That said, SEW is still a great resource frequented by many on the industry side of things. I have noticed an apparent increase in self promotional type posts and link drops – certainly nothing disastrous, IMO, but something that’s occurred to me none-the-less. I’ll stress, though, that other than my own opinion here, I’m not basing this statement on anything solid like actual stats, etc. I’m not a mod at SEW, after all… I do still hold SEW as a solid industry resource – good articles (I write for them, yes) on relevant topics.

ihelpyou has been a recent addition to my list of daily haunts. Fresh off my smiles & love at SBF, I figured I’d cruise over to IHY and pitch in a bit. They are all about white hat, and so am I, so this was a perfect fit, I figured. We had a rocky start, to say the least…

My first recent post (I’ve been a member for a while, just not a frequent poster) was a request for ideas on marketing a project I was working on here at work. Within minutes the post was removed. When I asked what happened to the post in another thread, it too was removed. One of the mods PM’d me to suggest maybe the reason why it was removed was because it seemed to promote gambling. Hmmm, I asked for ideas on marketing a free sports contest (pick 25 winners in a row and win a prize) and was labeled…not a good start, but I figured, whatever, each forum has it’s limits.

I then asked if I’d over stepped the lines – no answer.

Figuring I was digging a hole, I decided to start fresh – I went to intro myself in the Intro section.

I stated that I post regularly elsewhere, that I mod elsewhere and that I’m all about white hat practices. I was immediately called on where I modded at and the notion of me being white hat was subtly called into question – nothing overt, just probing as the poster said, basically, “other than IHY and SEF they weren’t aware of any other truly white hat forums…” I then mentioned I was a mod at SEF.

Seems this was my “test” as after all that, things have been fine. My original post was put live again and I’ve had some great ideas from it (thanks folks. :) ) IHY is a useful place, just mind your manners and be careful what you say – you may well be called on it. ;) They take white hat seriously and don’t take kindly to folks offering advice that might lead people astray. Some other recent discussions I’ve had there have been great, helpful and eye-opening.

SEF has always been my first home for search marketing info and advice. It’s where I learned the basics years ago, and where I mod to help out now. There’s a zero tolerance policy on link dropping and self promotion that serves to keep the forums pretty much spam free. It also seems to be one of the busier forums in this space (I know, I know, that’s totally biased since I mod there, but I see no traffic stats from any of the forums I post at, so really, it’s open to perception, and mine is that SEF is quite busy compared to others…)

Now, what really rotted me this morning was a thread I stumbled across at IHY.

Basically the mods were discussing how poorly the HighRankings forum handled posts that differed from their own opinion and how some of the responses by the HR folks were potentially inaccurate.

I don’t frequent the HighRanking forums, but I have met Jill Whalen numerous time at the SES shows – she never struck me as unreasonable, but hey, what do I know…

The IHY folks also made mention of how SEW has become a haven for link droppers and spammers. Now, in fairness, I can’t really tell if this is the poster’s opinion or if he’s simply mentioning he saw this opinion posted elsewhere…

Now, lest you think I’m picking on the IHY crew, I’m not – they’ve just provided me with the most recent, obvious example of a big problem this industry has:

We love to rip at each other and we come off looking like kids in a sandbox as a result.

I mean what’s the issue? Just do the best you can, where you can. If folks want to go down the dark path, the wrong road, etc., then let them – no need for extended commentary on it. Having your own forum should not mean you have a space to bash others freely (express your opinions, yes, but this topic has spanned 12 pages to date…). By doing so, there’s as big a statement about yourself being made as that being made about others.

Now, I realize the folks at IHY probably won’t like me much after this posting, but the bottom line remains – if non-productive posts like the one I read this morning keep going (it was 12 pages for crying out loud), it helps no one and hurts everyone.

Sure, I sound like a Mom saying “Play nice!”…but maybe that’s needed every now and then…

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