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.