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Wandering nomad works 8 months a year?
November 4, 2012 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Interesting linked site might also be scammy? What do we do?

I was reading the post on traveling the world here and liking it, until it developed in the comments that the guy is bending the truth fairly hard and using his site to promote his equally truth-bendy ebook.

What's a good way for Metafilter to deal with this post, and more generally, things that generate a good discussion but which also develop to be SEO/self-promotion? Is there a way to talk about these without driving traffic to what they're promoting, or is this a non-issue?
posted by zippy to Etiquette/Policy at 12:39 PM (33 comments total)

This is one of the comments I'm talking about when I say "it developed in the comments..."
posted by zippy at 12:41 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


FIAMO?
posted by 4ster at 12:42 PM on November 4, 2012


Isn't it better to talk about this stuff and point out that it's a racket, rather than to delete posts about it and let people continue to think it's legit?

I mean, there are A LOT of things on the internet about how to make and live on passive income. This guy doesn't seem to be doing anything dangerous or malicious. I don't approve, of course, but if somebody finds that FPP and thinks critically about his promises, isn't that for the best?

It also doesn't sound like this guy is a scammer or doing anything illegal, just a sketchy bottom-feeder. I feel sad for the OP that their post is sort of polluted by that fact, and it's not going to be an awesome wonder-fest about how everybody should quit their job and travel full time. But, well, so what?
posted by Sara C. at 12:50 PM on November 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


As long as the self-promotion isn't on the part of the poster, it's not a violation of any particular rule. Feel free to flag a post like this if you think it's problematic, but I usually feel like the discussion around a post - including people talking about why they think it's less than honest - is reasonably valuable.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:58 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Surely this case should be tried by a jury of both nomadic and non-nomadic mods.

(Just kidding restless_nomad, you are doing an awesome job).
posted by oulipian at 1:02 PM on November 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


Hah!
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:03 PM on November 4, 2012


As long as the self-promotion isn't on the part of the poster, it's not a violation of any particular rule. Feel free to flag a post like this if you think it's problematic, but I usually feel like the discussion around a post - including people talking about why they think it's less than honest - is reasonably valuable

This makes sense to me. I made my post earlier because I really didn't know what to do in this situation.
posted by 4ster at 1:03 PM on November 4, 2012


I was the commenter that that fleshed out how scummy this bastard apparently is, though I kind of have mixed feelings about this.

He is plainly using that blog to drive traffic to his disgusting scheme to lie to people for money, and drive the gullible towards exploitation and servitude. However, I suspect that the attention he gets from us will cause him more trouble than any traffic increase is worth. Then again, thats not really what metafilter is for. We're supposed to be about the best of the web, which e-scammers are not, right?
posted by Blasdelb at 1:06 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Eh, the "best of the web" thing isn't really any sort of mission statement. "Interesting things on the web" is closer, and as long as people are having a mutually satisfactory discussion about it, it's not raising my outrage much - no one's being deceived. But feel free to flag stuff like this if you really find it problematic. There's a lot of stuff on this vague-sketchiness spectrum that does get deleted.

(This particular case is sort of fascinating to me because it appears to be a fairly direct Four Hour Workweek knockoff, and that particular piece of self-promotion didn't get criticized nearly enough to suit me.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:14 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I was intelligent enough to google for background before dropping all to trip off across the world, I'd rather find a thought provoking discussion thread like this than nothing at all.
posted by infini at 1:18 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Leaving it up seems consistent with how things have been handled in the past. Just make sure you use a lot of nasty google keywords in your comments :-)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:55 PM on November 4, 2012


We're supposed to be about the best of the web, which e-scammers are not, right?

If there is a scam that is interesting, talking about it is fine; we see the same thing with advertising. As r_n said, we don't hold every post up to some "Must be THIS best of the web to be posted to MetaFilter...." guideline. I sort of feel that having a conversation in the comments about how "gee this looks scammy" is the best way forward with this sort of thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:01 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting linked site might also be scammy

I'm not sure why that site is "interesting," any more than say someone's personal Amway page might be interesting. I think deletion to make room for links to worthy sites is far preferable to leaving it up as a target of Righteous Internet Vigilantism or whatever.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:02 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't really feel strongly about this, but outside of a couple of neat posts, that become significantly less neat when you realize that the poster is not really a trustworthy narrator, its not a particularly interesting blog. It seems mostly geared towards SEO keywords and advice for those who easily confuse goals for plans. What appeal it has kind of evaporates when you think through the bullshit and consider that this dude presenting his life as paradise is just an itinerant bum without much common sense living off of his friends, temp jobs, and whatever complex of scams hes got running - and the salient scam itself is not even that innovative. As r_n noted it is indeed not much more than a fairly direct knockoff of more successful scams except in that it pushes rubes into the pretty much themselves evil hands of cruise lines.

I guess one could say that the conversation is interesting, but as much as I'd like to pat myself on the back it really didn't take significant digging to find and is worded in that THIS IS A SCAM sort of way that seems almost intended to be obvious so as to scare off the potentially incredulous.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:49 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The blog was apparently featured as one of Time's 25 best travel blogs or similar: link.

So it's not an obscure thing that is getting its start through us. Given that, maybe it's useful to have the skepticism in the Mefi thread be one of the results that comes up if people search for the guy?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:55 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


He does seem a bit un-obscure for that google-wise at least, we're no where near the top
posted by Blasdelb at 3:59 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't it better to talk about this stuff and point out that it's a racket, rather than to delete posts about it and let people continue to think it's legit?

This post was deleted for the following reason: [points at post] This is a racket.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:25 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I SUPPOSE THEN THAT THIS WOULD BE AN EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FOR ANY OF THE JOURNALISTICALLY EMPLOYED/INCLINED MEFITES WHO PROCRASTINATE HERE TO GET ON THIS SHIT. This guy seems to be pretty solidly integrated into the travel blog community and only really on a leading edge of sketchy shit that is surprisingly integrated into supposedly legit stuff with name brand value.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:28 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


(It's not really a racket, though. It's just some asshole trying to sell worthless shit to suckers.)

(Also, whither netbros?)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:35 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Also, whither netbros?)

Weird timing. He had a couple of FPPs that on first read felt very promo-y to me, but I finally decided that we just had different tastes. I hope Wandering Earl didn't kidnap him and sell him to a cruise line.
posted by Forktine at 5:31 PM on November 4, 2012


We dropped netbros a line about posting iffy stuff and he decided to take a time out. He's welcome back whenever he decides to return.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:58 PM on November 4, 2012


drjimmy11: "I think deletion to make room for links to worthy sites is far preferable to leaving it up as a target of Righteous Internet Vigilantism or whatever."

Your message will cost the net hundreds if not thousands of dollars to send everywhere.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:25 PM on November 4, 2012


I started reading it, found nothing of interest, so I stopped reading it.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:24 PM on November 4, 2012


Thank you, Mefites and Modfites.
posted by zippy at 8:48 PM on November 4, 2012


"We dropped netbros a line about posting iffy stuff and he decided to take a time out. He's welcome back whenever he decides to return."

I hope he does, he has made a lot of really neat posts.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:17 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I started visiting here, I don't think the post would have been allowed to stand. I think there has been some kind of relaxation on the part of the members and the mods about what constitutes post quality. Maybe that means it's time to give Metafilter a lesser place in my browsing habits.

I think that if this post and the conversation here were to exist in 2003 or 2004, the discussion would be about "why was this post deleted?" and not "should this post be considered "scammy"?


"Eh, the "best of the web" thing isn't really any sort of mission statement"

I think it used to be a lot closer to a mission statement than it is today.

Maybe that's the growth of the site - the dumbing down of the discussion to fit a wider audience.

I just remember a time when linking to something even remotely sketchy - like an SEO pool like this one, would have been nuked within hours.

As drjimmy11 so eloquently put it:
"I think deletion to make room for links to worthy sites is far preferable to leaving it up as a target of Righteous Internet Vigilantism or whatever.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:02 PM on November 4"


I agree 100% with this sentiment.
posted by disclaimer at 6:05 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


> As drjimmy11 so eloquently put it:
"I think deletion to make room for links to worthy sites is far preferable to leaving it up as a target of Righteous Internet Vigilantism or whatever.


Eloquently but meaninglessly. To "make room for links to worthy sites"? Think about that for a minute.

MeFi has always had a range of links, from the timelessly great to the momentarily diverting and the downright stupid. There is a small list of categories that will get a post deleted. This does not fit those categories. I'm not quite sure why some people are getting so worked up about it.

Pro tip: There are lots of other posts to look at if you don't like this one.
posted by languagehat at 6:14 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Eh, the "best of the web" thing isn't really any sort of mission statement"

I'm curious when and how this perspective changed, and why if there is a reason. Does the wiki need updating? My understanding has been that while 'best of the web' is subjective, and thus fundamentally unacheivable for all readers, it is at least still the goal. I can totally see the discussion being 'best of the web' for some, and it seems to be for you guys, so I don't really feel strongly about this specific post - but I do feel strongly about the perspective with which you guys approach deletion decisions like those for this post.

"Eloquently but meaninglessly. To "make room for links to worthy sites"? Think about that for a minute."

There is more to this community than just those who are willing to obsessively read every post regardless of quality to weed out scammy or otherwise weak shit, and indeed that is the majority of those who read metafilter. If the filter part of metafilter stops working, then so does the site for the vast majority of users.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:36 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm curious when and how this perspective changed, and why if there is a reason. Does the wiki need updating?

The wiki has always been unofficial. We found that "this isn't the best of the web" was becoming a bludgeon that people would use against posts they didn't like and so we've been more careful over the last few years to try to have more fleshed out reasons for deleting stuff that are more useful to the poster and more useful to other readers. It's worth noting that even after that post has been brought to MetaTalk, it still has only a handful of flags which means the only way we'd delete it is if it fell into one of our "never okay" categories which, to us, it didn't.

And yeah, spammy SEO stuff sucks. But a post made by a longtime user (who we are fairly certain is not an SEO shill) could potentially be a post like "Hey this SEO stuff is really weird" and people can discuss that in the comments which it seems that they are doing.

When MetaFilter was started, the graphical web was just a few years old and still sort of becoming A Thing and finding neat stuff on it that you wanted to share with your friends was the general goal of having space here: Matt sharing neat stuff with Matt's friends and friends of friends. Now the web is more of a delivery mechanism for any number of things and so the discussion about what is worthwhile and what is worth sharing happens alongside the metadiscussions about whether something is spammy, fake, SEO, scammy, trying to sell you something or whatever.

And yeah if this were a first post by a brand new user we probably would have axed it. As it was, we dropped netbros a note about it and mentioned that we did that here. So I understand that people feel like this wasn't a worthy post for MetaFilter and we'll use that information to help us make decisions further down the line. If people feel that the non-deletion of this post represents some sort of encroaching awfulness that MeFi is heading towards, I respect their feelings but also disagree with their conclusion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:58 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


That sounds totally reasonable to me, thanks for clarifying. We'd certainly be losing a hell of a lot more with netbros then we would with any vaguely weaksause post, I know I've made a few that lived.

"It's worth noting that even after that post has been brought to MetaTalk, it still has only a handful of flags"

You guys have mentioned before that the purpose of flagging is for alerting you guys to things, and that clearing flags is a trivial but annoying effort, which might skew any 'community vote' function of flags with a meta open.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:37 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


On reflection, it's a good faith post from a long time user, so I am OK with it being here, but I think if a mod had deleted it on "not the best of the web" grounds, I would have been OK with that too.
posted by zippy at 9:36 AM on November 5, 2012


I started on the "keep it" side of the fence, but am now on the "it should have been deleted" side. The guy is a total sleazeball, and his stories don't even ring true. I wrote over there, but probably should have put here instead, that his stories are just long-form SEO spam. I guess that kind of thing coming out via the conversation is a good outcome (and probably not obvious on first glance; it certainly wasn't to me), but in the process it drives a lot of traffic his way and being linked on Metafilter is probably ideal for his Google rankings, sadly.
posted by Forktine at 5:34 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has anyone ever looked for a MetaFilter bump?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:58 AM on November 6, 2012


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