the ghost of rmg continued:
these people are simultaneously most vulnerable and most important to defend, yet you, rusty and the editors, spectacularly fail to do so. in fact, you even have cute philosophical arguments to save yourselves from criticism for what is really just lazy stupidity.
In my diary, I gave several reason in my response to frijolito. The one relevant to the discussion at hand is as follows:
the first time someone posts something like what you see in this article, you know what that person is about and you know they have no place amongst decent people. there is no second chance. there is no possibility that it was a mistake. it is a window into the soul. you know, absolutely know, what you can expect from that person from that point on.
yet you do nothing. absolutely nothing.
it is not crapflooders or trolls or whatever else that has emptied this site of its best contributors from past years -- it is your complete indifference to the people who are engaged in making your site better. you view them as cogs in a machine that will replace themselves with time and you feel no obligation to them at all, despite what profits you make on their backs.
you have the power to stop this -- and make no mistake, no one else here does. round up a cadre of editors, say nine or ten, and tell them to eliminate this kind of garbage. send a message to all your users that this is not what kuro5hin is about, that you really are about "freedom and not freeDUMB" as your faq so inanely claims.
Finally, I want to give back to K5 because K5 has given so much to me. Both Living with Schizoaffective Disorder and Links to Tens of Thousands of Legal Downloads were first published here, and made front page - all three parts of LwSD made front page. I don't think that the copies I have on my own website would be nearly as well-known as they are if I hadn't published them here first.
I want you to think about what I just said the next time you criticize me for promoting my own writing here at K5.
It's commonly said that the solution to hate speech is not censorship, but more speech. I think the solution to the troll problem is never going to be zeroing their comments or anonymizing their accounts, but attracting more and better users to the site. I miss the K5 of old, before the trolls started running the place, and I'm happy to do everything in my power to set things right by publishing quality content here.
Quality Content That I've Published at Kuro5hin
If you don't believe me that I work hard to contribute to our community, here are all the stories I've ever published here.
I'm not whoring a single link. All these URLs are at Kuro5hin.org:
Not all of them made front page, but many did. All three parts of LwSD as well as my music downloading article made front page in just a few hours.
LwSD is the longest story ever published here: it is fifty pages in hardcopy, and took ten days to write. I'm pretty sure my music downloading article is the second longest, and took me over a month. I had to work hard to keep it short enough that it wasn't trunctated by Scoop's 64k story submission limit. It just barely fit.
Several of my stories, including the one on the front page, have Creative Commons licenses. I have also written several others published elsewhere that have the GNU Free Documentation License. One of them is Google's top hit for pointers to member functions. I've republished several of these on my own site, but as I emphasized in The Way of the White Hat SEO Ninja, any of my articles that have ever been copylefted, still are.
Then there is also my diary, whose entries often get as much tender loving care from me as many stories published on this site.
And finally, there are my comments. It should be readily apparent from looking through my comment history that I take them seriously, often laboring over a single one for as long as an hour, revising and editing meticulously. Here's a notable example. There are more others than I can even remember.
Now, I'm the first to admit that you have every reason to find me annoying. But know that I work very, very hard to do right by the Kuro5hin community. That's why I find it hard to understand why so many Kurons make it so clear that they prefer the company of those who actively seek to destroy what we have all worked so hard to achieve.
Crawford Pays the Bills Around Here
The following is not the attempt at blackmail that it appears to be. Instead, I want you to understand how I got kicked in the teeth for trying to help our community.
When I kicked off my ad campaign for GoingWare's Bag of Programming Tricks, I said in my press release:
Crawford, an avid writer whose essays have been featured on the front page of the community website Kuro5hin, says he believes in doing well by doing good: "My entire advertising budget for the month of March will be spent on text ads at Kuro5hin. I want to give back to the community that has given me so much." Crawford added that much more would ultimately be spent at Kuro5hin if his marketing campaign proved effective.
I meant what I said. Because of my cash flow, I have not yet spent as much as I intended on my K5 ads, but all of my advertising budget has been spent at K5 so far. Let me check my QuickBooks, gimme a sec... QuickBooks says I've spent $259 on K5 ads so far this year. (It's not a round number because Rusty gives us a small discount if we place more than one ad on a given day).
Now, you and I both know that my press release wasn't meant for the actual press. Instead, I spent an entire day writing and revising it, because I had the idea it might actually make front page if I did a good enough job. That would be quite a coup, don't you think? It sure would have made my ad budget go a lot farther.
pHatidic agreed. He said:
Believe it or not I will actually vote this up, but only because of it's subtle cleverness and the fact that it is extremely well written.
But others didn't. no funny stuff called me "a degenerate" and BadDoggie said:
Everything I've said about you and your blatant fucking whoring was true and you've laid it out for all to see. I'm feeling only a little bit stupid for not realising it wasn't just a load of egotistical tripe but that you were cross-linking everything to defraud Google. Then again, I never clicked on any of your damned links.
The defeat of my press release was impressive: moved to vote as I slept, it was resoundedly rejected 23 to 3. Still, I felt encouraged that of the three +1 votes, two of them were front page.
Ever since I announced my ad campaign I have been scrupulously careful not to whore any links. I kept my links to my diary, my sig and my ads, all of them well-established as acceptable places to promote oneself. I only linked my articles in actual comments a few times. Whenever I did, it was in direct response to a comment that the linked article addressed in a compelling way, and I always took care to acknowledge that I was whoring my link. I hope you can forgive me.
Still, complaints against me mounted. pwhysall took to zeroing every comment I posted anywhere, and with no explanation. At first I tolerated him, as I tolerate most trolls here at K5, but when I found out he was an editor, I complained to Rusty that pwhysall was abusing the moderation system. Rusty must have said something to him, because pwhysall's abuse mostly stopped. He's only zeroed a few of my comments since.
I felt I had to act when I got an email from one of the editors informing me that they had all been getting complaints about me. I appealed to Rusty, pointing out what I said above, about how I had actually been quite careful not to whore even a single link.
I told Bonita one night that I felt I had a real reason to fear I might get anonymized. Contemplate how I might have felt that night. Bonita understood completely.
Rusty copied me on a message broadcast to all the editors. I don't have it online, but he told them all that my activities met with his approval, and that was to be the end of it.
I meant what I said in my press release, about how I planned to drop my entire month's AdSense check into advertising my articles. Basically my strategy is to invest all the money I make from my site back into it, so that one day it will be a really sustainable business, and a better way for Bonita and I to get by than what I do now.
I've been a software consultant for seven years. It has never been anything but a miserable way to live.
I didn't really mean it when I said "I want to crush Joel Spolsky like a bug". I'm sure he's a really nice guy. I just want to get the same kind of traffic that he does now.
I couldn't say in my press release how much I was making from AdSense, but the AdSense Terms and Conditions were have been revised so that I can - see section 7.
I'm not reporting my AdSense earnings to brag or make any of you feel bad. It's to help you understand what an opportunity my website's success presents to K5. I want you to take a real close look at just how many ads are currently active at K5, and to think about the fact that a ten dollar ad placement for ten thousand impressions takes about a week to expire.
I want you to think real hard about just how much money Rusty is really earning from the advertising that is placed by K5 members, and that even the paltry sum of money I've been able to invest so far has tied me with actualtools as K5's top advertising client.
I want you to think about the fact that Rusty has had to take work as a carpenter the next time you give him crap for not working on Scoop.
For Christ's sake, the man has an infant to feed!
If it were up to me, I'd tell Rusty to go ahead and spend all that money he raised for the CMF to provide for his wife and child.
Since joining AdSense September first, I've earned two to three thousand dollars each month. Discovering the Heat Map in Google's AdSense Optimization Tips helped tremendously. Traffic is skyrocketing lately, partly because my previous efforts are now paying off in search engine referrals, and because I took the entire week off work to write new content for my site, as well as roll out Bonita's new web design to more of my articles. I might well make four grand this month.
Now, I want to make the following crystal clear:
I have only spent as little as I have so far because of the lingering effect of losing a contract a couple of months ago, and because I just paid to send Bonita on a trip to Spain with her classmates from art school. I expect to break even in May. I have two good contracts for clients who are both happy to pay me promptly. I expect to spend my entire AdSense check for June on advertising.
You thought I was already advertising heavily. No, I haven't been, not yet. All the advertisements I've placed so far have not yet been intended to boost traffic in any real way. Instead, all the ads you've seen so far have just been tests, to help me shape and refine my message so that my ads make the most impact when I finally do roll out my campaign.
From my press release:
Returning to discussion of his marketing strategy, Crawford emphasized that the six ads placed on the first day of his campaign were only published for testing purposes. "If you're going to advertise in such a way as to make a difference to your business, you have to be prepared to spend some money. There is no way to know how to reach your audience without actually paying for some test marketing. You have to be very careful and scientific about your ad campaign. If you're not, you won't get the results you hope for, and you might go broke."
I'm certain the real reason for the dot-com crash wasn't so much the "irrational exuberance" among investors that Alan Greenspan so ominously warned us all about, but a failure by the dot-coms to test their web advertising.
Crawford explained that failure to test one's marketing message is a recipe for economic suicide: "Back when Apple was struggling to stay in business, with round after round of layoffs, one reason they did such a poor job of selling their products is that they failed to test. Dave told me that they would roll out direct mail campaigns with millions of pieces, at a cost of millions of dollars in postage, printing and mailing list rental, without a single test of their offer, their message, or mailing list response."
I don't think I can spend as much as I'd like to here, because I don't think K5 gets enough pageviews to use up a whole AdSense check in a month. Rusty is welcome to prove me wrong.
What would it mean for our community here at Kuro5hin, if Rusty were able to make enough money from K5 that he could quit consulting for DailyKos, and stop swinging a hammer just to feed and shelter those he loves?
What would it mean to Kuro5hin, if Rusty were able to devote all his time to running it, and hacking Scoop?
What would it mean to Rusty, if he could make Kuro5hin a full-time job, rather than having to abandon it just to get by, while the brainchild he labored so hard to concieve, to bring to life and to grow, just whithers and dies?
I want you to think about that, the next time you give Rusty crap for not implementing comment search.
And the next time you contemplate complaining that I whore links or drone on endlessly about my mental illness, I want you to think about this:
What it would mean to you, Kuro5hin and Rusty if I took my toys and went home?
Because you know, after spending several days reading all the crap people have given me in my own FRONT PAGE article, I'm thinking pretty seriously about doing just that.
Now, I know you're all thinking: "Crawford's just trying to buy our love", but no, that's not it at all. In part I've been trying to win support among K5's hard-headed realists, and in part I've been trying to win support among the many Kurons who just don't like my writing - and there are plenty of them.
But my main point is that I'm trying to help you understand what the consequences of trying to help out around here really are. I have done my damnedest to make a positive contribution and in return have gotten nothing but abuse.
I want to explain to you why Kuro5hin's editors need to really do something about the troll problem here - a problem that's even found among K5's editors.
You see, in threatening to abandon Kuro5hin, I'm not one of those coal mine canaries, fainting at the first whiff of gas:
I'm one of the few remaining holdouts, dug into a trench, defending himself with a gatling gun, and unwilling to give up until he's shot to pieces.
That canary, you see, is already dead. He was barbecued months ago. He wasn't very filling, but the trolls had him for a light supper.
I want you to think about it.
Now, let me explain to you why you really should be worried about folks like me
leaving our community:
We Contribute Valuable Content
I am dismayed by the response I received in Earn High by Playing it Clean, but not ready to give up yet.
Not quite, but close to it:
I intended to revise The Way of the White Hat SEO Ninja so that if I submitted it, it might have some hope of making front page. Now I'm not so sure I want to, at least not yet, because all the trolls who gave me such crap in my story would bring it down in flames in the queue.
I might just keep my revision for my own website. You'll know if I do, because you'll see my text ad for it.
What that would mean to the kuro5hin community?
I bet if I put AdSense on it, you'd see ads for psychiatric medications like the Risperdal I take. All the crazy folk who visit my site looking for help would click them like there was no tomorrow and I could retire to the Caribbean.
I spent EIGHT HOURS writing that diary, editing it meticulously because I felt it was the most important thing I had written since Living with Schizoaffective Disorder. I'm prepared to spend as much time getting it ready for the queue. Imagine how much traffic it might bring, and how many new k5 members, when article with a title like that one has shows up in RSS feeds all over the Internet.
I could publish it on my own site, and all the money K5 makes from my text ad might buy a box of diapers for Rusty's kid.
I haven't decided yet. I'm not going to anytime soon.
I'm not threatening to leave if you don't vote for it. I've never asked for special treatment in the queue, and I'm not now, not for that story nor for this one. I'd be sad if it got dumped, but I wouldn't give up, I'd keep writing for K5.
No, what I'm saying is that if I decide I'm not even going to submit The Way of the White Hat SEO Ninja, well, that will be the last you ever see of me except for the occasional text ad.
Afterword: On Gratitude
I wasn't going to tell you this, because I figured you would complain I was whoring again. But the following will help me drive my point home:
When Earn High by Playing it Clean made front page, I submitted a support ticket with AdSense support in which I said:
You might enjoy my article "Earn High by Playing it Clean: Google AdSense
Tips and Tricks that aren't what you expect", that was featured this
morning on the front page of the community website Kuro5hin,
If you work for AdSense support, my ticket is #25782826.
Kuro5hin's homepage is PageRank 7. Most front page articles get 20,000
pageviews during the week or so they are on the front page, and often end
up ranking in the top ten for relevant keywords because Kuro5hin's whole
website has high pagerank.
My article is about how I'm able to earn half my income from AdSense by
operating a legitimate, well-designed, spam and popup-free content website
Here is their response:
Thank you very much for your email. We appreciate your words as we always love hearing how AdSense has positively impacted the businesses, lives, and careers of our publishers. Your email is a testimony to the strength of our advertising and publishing programs.
Take a minute to consider, how many people work at AdSense support? Since September, I have filed ten support tickets, and I am a pretty small-time operator. How many AdSense publishers do you think there might be in the entire world? How many of AdSense's support staff might have read my article here at Kuro5hin?
I've forwarded your email on to the rest of our team. Again, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us. And please never hesitate to let us know how we can improve Google AdSense for you.
The Google AdSense Team
How many of AdSense's support staff have friends that they might have sent my article's link to, or who might link to my article here from their own sites? Consider the possibility that AdSense support might even email the link to some AdSense publishers, or maybe, just maybe, link it from the AdSense website.
Mike's a great guy, don't you think?
Consider this: I posted that story's last comment about six hours ago. I've been reloading the page all night long to see if anybody responded to my response to the ghost of rmg's comment, the one with which I started this story.
My comment turned out to be the first draft of this story, the one you're looking at right now.
It's been six hours now, and not one single comment has been posted, not in response to my comments or to anyone else's.
It has been that way since the article made front page at a quarter to four Thursday morning. You know me, I've been sitting at my desk all week long reloading the page waiting for someone to post anything at all so I can respond.
Sometimes a half a day would go by without a single comment being posted anywhere in the article. This despite the fact that the article is at the very top of the front page, and has been since Thursday morning, and links to the article have been posted in RSS feeds all over the world as well.
Consider the fact that my story is still at the very top of the front page, even though it posted Thursday morning, and it's early Monday morning now.
Could it be that all the comments are mine not because I'm such an egomaniac as to fill my story with my own comments, but because no one is posting to K5 anymore?
And could it be that my story is still at the very top of the front page is because no one is contributing valuable content anymore?
Now I'll finally get to my point:
I knew from past experience with AdSense support that sending them my article might result in my mail being copied to the whole AdSense team, maybe even to everyone who works at Google.
I spent a lot of time, a lot of time, thinking about that, thinking about it very carefully. Thinking about how many more people would read my article if that happened.
And I thought about what it might mean to the success of my new business if I sent them a link to the original of the article on my own website.
Yes, I thought about that long and hard.
And do you know why I sent them the link to K5's copy instead? Here's why:
Because I wanted to give back to the community that has given me so much.
I want you to think about that, before you click the "Move to Vote" button, like you did with my press release. And I want you to consider that I have spent six hours working on this essay. I haven't simply written a lot of text but revised and edited it meticulously throughout the night. I bet I've hit the Preview button a hundred times.
How many K5 writers are willing to work so hard on nearly everything they submit to the queue?
The last thing I'll say is that you can find the reason I have always used the same email signature as I give below for the last twenty years in my diary.
Thank You For Your Attention.
Michael D. Crawford
Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow.