MyBlogLog equates SMOs with spammers

MyBlogLog just rolled out some nifty new tagging features today and in the process decided to slap some of their most ardent supporters and advocates in the face.

Thanks folks.

E tu, MyBlogLog?

In their announcement about the new tagging features, which I’ll delve more into down the road, they explained how their users can file spam reports on members using the tags:

1. Spam – If you think someone is spamming you, tag it out loud! Internally, we like to call a user who games the system a SchMOe (Social Media Optimizer). Tag anyone who spams you with the term schmoe.

While I think it is great that MyBlogLog is trying to deal with spam, this broad stereotyping of social media optimization is completely unfair.

SchMOe. How cute…

By equating SMOs with spammers, MyBlogLog is disparaging some of its biggest fans and word-of-mouth advocates. Being called a spammer on the Internet is just about as slanderous as it gets.

I think that it is pretty nuts that a company like MyBlogLog that is built entirely around an infrastructure that enables webmasters to socialize with other webmasters has such misconceptions about what social media optimization is all about. Perhaps they should bone up on Rohit Bhargava’s original “rules” for SMO. I don’t see anything there that recommends spamming per se.

Of course, this isn’t unexpected. Earlier this year Jason Calcanis launched a clueless tirade against SMO calling it “bulls$%t” and saying that:

“anyone who hires an SMO firm is an idiot. The whole point of social media is TO BE REAL NOT FAKE!!!”

The capital letters and the multiple exclamation points must mean that he really means it…

If someone wants to have long term success with social media optimization, its generally best not to “game the system” (as MyBlogLog put it) but to “use the system”. Most SMOs I’ve come across are strong advocates of social media networks and seek to add value to them through active participation.

Spamming is the coin of the realm for those seeking short-term gains at the expense of long term value. Reputation is immensely important online and is easily squandered by spamming. This doesn’t mean that some SMOs don’t spam, but it is not what I’d call a “best practice” of the industry.

Throw in a pinch of public humiliation…

It’s really odd that they chose to use tags as the method to report spam anyway. You can take a look at who’s been tagged as spammers here. Is it ethical to publicly broadcast people that have been accused of being a spammer given that many accusations will likely be false? (it should be noted that users can remove the “schmoe” tag from themselves, but that MyBlogLog has the ability to monitor the tag using internal tools even afer it has been removed)

Is MyBlogLog engaging in SMO themselves?

I first learned of this over at Cameron Olthuis’s blog. He essentially noted that MyBlogLog may be engaging in hypocrisy. They recently hired a “community manager” – Robyn Tippins of Sleepy Blogger. Apparently one of Robyn’s duties is to do community outreach and respond to questions in the blogosphere. The way I see it, these are both facets of good SMO/SMM.

Over at Robyn’s blog she said of the new tagging system that her “favorite usage is that of schmoe”. I dropped a rebuttal in her comments asking if she really means to equate social media optimization with spamming and am looking forward to seeing if she replies. Ironically, she has a category in her blog devoted to SEO, which is also commonly stereotyped as spamming.

UPDATE: Please read Robyn’s reply in the comments below.


  1. Robyn Tippins wrote:

    No offense meant whatsoever. We referred to the ‘optimizing’ part in a tongue-in-cheek way.

    As you mentioned on my blog, I am an SEO/SEM and I pride myself on my ability to network online (social networking). There is no hate for those in this industry from the team at MyBlogLog.

  2. mblair wrote:

    @Robyn – thanks for the quick clarification! It is a cute spelling of SMO, and I can see how those inside MyBlogLog might think it is a little funny. My worry though is that using ‘schmoe’ (even with the cute spelling) for spam reports may foster a misperception amongst your users that SMOs are spammers.

  3. Nia wrote:

    Robyn is doing her job. Once she figures out a better way to make a living, make a contribution to humanity or whatever it is she wants to do in life…she is out of there.

    I have no doubt.

    She is just writing is support of company policy–that is part of her job. So when you are reading her opinon” understand that it’s not always “her” opinion.

    Her employers want to sway/control the masses.

    You know the funny thing is that a lot of deep pockets still don’t get it…people that use Internt for information aren’t looking for items to swallow hook line and sinker….

    I mean most of us actively on the net who are over 30 years old are independent thinkers and there are plenty under 30 who are thinkers as well, not just followers or “swallow-it-whole-ers”

    Hey, Robyn writing is as much for her audience as for her employer…maybe more for her employer. Afterall who is buttering her bread?

    So if she says she likes blah blah blah and you don’t so be it. So what. If that makes someone in her audience like such and such because Robin has written that she likes such and such. So be it. If her readers aren’t independent thinkers, tough.

    She is just doing her job.

    And if you ever have a problem with your MBL account and contact MBL for help, she is the one who responds in short order with a solution.

    As I mentioned in a post today on one of my blogs, Robyn does “yeoman’s work” at MBL.

    I don’t blame her.
    Oh, yeah and MBL is engagin in SEO, no doubt about it. If you want to be found on Internet when someone does a search using this that or the other search engine then you do what you need to do to make that happen. You make your site easy for the search engines to find…yeah.

    Witch-hunting, scape-goating, name calling…well, how do we really want to spend our time?

    Let’s do what matters, what really matters in the time that we have left from now until that appointed hour whose date we know not.

    Let the girl do her job and let’s do ours and think for ourselves and act accordingly.

  4. mblair wrote:

    @Nia – Thanks for the detailed comment. As I said before, I am a huge advocate of MyBlogLog and wish them the best.

    I think (Robyn can correct me if I am wrong) that I can take what Robyn says at her personal blog as her own point of view, and that was what I was addressing when I called her out specifically.

    I take Robyn at her word that the MyBlogLog team means no offense by it and that it is a tounge-in-cheek term that they use.

    I do still think it is a bit unfortunate that they are using ‘schmoe’ as a tag to indicate spammers. For many bloggers MyBlogLog might be the first time they run across the term SMO or Social Media Optimization.

  5. Robyn Tippins wrote:

    I try my best to be as honest as possible. The words I write are my own. MyBlogLog and Yahoo don’t own me, though they do pay my bills.

    On orientation day at yahoo we were all told that they knew we all had multiple other job offers, and that was the case with most of us, so I do not fear losing my job, although it would sadden me. I love MyBlogLog, and have since I first placed the widget on my blog last year. I love the people at MyBlogLog. However, they don’t edit my personal blog posts and I’ve yet to have anyone attempt to tell me what to write on sleepyblogger. They’re just not like that, and I’m not a mouthpiece.

  6. Nia wrote:

    schmo, schmuck…is a fool, a jerk…to me it looks like MBL vs jerks/fools

    so now MBLers get to label each other schmucks…great….progress?

    and schmoe and schmo sound the same

    and SchMOe is a way to pull SMO out of schmoe…so it’s equating SMO with jerks.

    that’s not obvious?

    I’m not saying that’s the only interpretation, but certainly that interpretation is pretty obvious.

    I’m not so “quick”…if I get it…lots and lots of people get it.

  7. Matt Keegan wrote:

    MyBlogLog should learn to treat members with the utmost care. There are so many social networks out there, are we being taken for granted by them? Thanks for the eyeopener too — I don’t read the MyBlogLog blog, but I guess I should be prepared to lay my eyes on whatever else they are declaring.