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Gini Dietrich

A Blogging Community: Why it’s Important to Have One

By: Gini Dietrich | May 14, 2013 | 
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A Blogging Community- Why it's Important to Have OneIn a couple of weeks, I am keynoting Social Capital in Ottawa (love my Canadians!) and my topic is Blogging, Community, and Making it Work.

As I begin to think about what I’ll present during that hour, I’ve been thinking about our community here and how proud I am of each and every one of you.

Last week, we had a situation where you came to the rescue. I hope she doesn’t mind my telling this story.

A Little Story

Yvette Pistorio – who is one of the very brightest colleagues I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with – had her turn here on the blog. Her topic?  Why introverts make great community managers.

It’s not a new topic. Whenever a business leader asks me who they should put in charge of social media, I always tell them to find the most introverted person in their organization.

Social media allows the human interaction we all need, but for introverts, it removes the awkwardness we feel the first time we meet someone. By the time we finally meet someone in person, we already know them and that ice breaker isn’t necessary.

It’s also something I’ve blogged about many times, which is easy to find if you do a search here for “introverts.”

If you spend any amount of time here, you also know we’re extremely ethical – ethical to a fault, I’m sometimes told.

Plagiarism is a Fireable Offense

So you can imagine our surprise when Yvette was publicly accused of stealing someone else’s blog post in the comments of her own.

Plagiarism is a fireable offense here. I won’t stand for it, nor do I want our clients to have to endure what the UPS Store did when they outsourced their content development.

We took the accusation very seriously internally.

So we dug into it and we lined up all the facts to see if the accusation – even accidentally – could be true.

What we discovered, though, is not only did Yvette not plagiarize the guy’s content, she’d never even heard of him or his blog.

In fact, if you do a search for “introverts as community managers,” his blog doesn’t come up at all. If you do a search for “introverts in social media,” his blog comes up at the end of page two.

Face Your Accuser

We counseled Yvette to publicly face her accuser and be honest in how she got to her content. Then Allen Mireles stepped in and explained she had helped Yvette with the blog post and didn’t find an impropriety.

The guy said he didn’t buy it and went on flaming her.

That’s when I stepped in. I carefully, and professionally, took apart his argument and explained why we believed she did nothing of the sort.

Why a Blogging Community is Important

But here is where the magic happened: The rest of you stepped in. You took him to task in the comments, you tweeted at him, and you made him feel very uncomfortable.

That’s when he began copying and pasting his original statement to the top of the comments. And you kept pushing those duplicate comments down with your own comments.

It was a beautiful thing to watch.

Poor Yvette, though, was left reeling and feeling scared to write anything. I told her during our one-to-one meeting yesterday that the good news is she struck a chord. The bad news, of course, is dealing with the aftermath of striking that chord. It’s pretty easy to say not to let it bother you, but it bothers you. We are, after all, just human.

I counseled her, instead, to focus on how the community came to her rescue and how all of these people were willing to go to bat for her, even though they’d never met her.

That, my friends, is community. I’m very proud of each and every one of you who stood up for her and who had her back.

Thank you.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

111 comments
SandyMcDonald
SandyMcDonald

Thank you so much for sharing this story.   It will be wise counsel indeed for the community folk I work with.   Please tell Yvette from a stranger half the way around the world that I feel for her, but she should take great comfort from your community.  And may I also say I admire you for having such a community.  Doesn't it say it all about a good gathering of good people?

dbvickery
dbvickery

Awesome story - I definitely appreciated, and commented on, Yvette's post. Your people have way too much integrity to plagiarize, and your community knows it.

Keep on writing good, original stuff, Yvette - and keep on being a tight, intelligent, community...with a dose of camaraderie...SpinSucks crew!

Andrea T.H.W.
Andrea T.H.W.

I think I missed it but I personally would have been fine having a linkback from a bigger blog. But it might be I'm biased as it has been my best day in blogging when I've been mentioned on Follow Friday, even if I'm still waiting for my badge. Just to have a companion to my Alltop one as it feels alone. :)


Anyway having a blogging community is surely important and almost everyone, except scammers probably, tries to build one. I'm doing it but I think I'm missing something especially because the social thing is my Achille's heel. Very little human beings are made to live alone, not all the times I mean. I'm an introvert too, but not always. And online sometimes it's possible to feel loner than in real life.


When everything goes well it's all flowers and rainbows but when there are problems we see who's on our side. Also seeing a leader stepping in to "defend" a correct employee is always nice to see. That's a feature of leaders. ;)

Latest blog post: Hypnosis What? Is it Real?

Helena Brantley
Helena Brantley

Hey Gini, I just read today's post about the importance of having a blogging community and well, I just really like your style (and your book)! 

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

Well, I missed this -- but good for you! BTW, if you need tips on how to handle these folks in the future, there's an Arizona bakery in the news today that seems to have figured it out. :)

djenningspr
djenningspr

It's refreshing to hear some stories actually have a happy ending.  And, great to hear that honesty pays off.  Awesome story, thanks for sharing Gini.

fieldsf
fieldsf

I happened to miss the post, but I am delighted to hear that people came to Yvette's rescue. It's like a whole classroom of kids coming together to beat off a bully.  Perhaps that's why I enjoy popping into this blog so much!

allenmireles
allenmireles

Gini's post today highlights the importance of having a strong community, as do the subsequent comments from everyone reading it. Community matters. Especially when something like this starts to develop. What this guy couldn't believe is that none of us are liars and we don't rush blindly  to support someone who has done something wrong. Which is why I stepped and commented right away to assure him he was wrong. I'm so silly. I expect to be believed when I say something.

I found myself shaking my head in disbelief as the situation developed, and I still marvel at the way the accuser has refused to back down. I ran Yvette's post through not one, but several, tools that check for plagiarism. This guy's post never showed up. So when I assured him that no such transgression had occurred, I really thought he would accept it and be appeased by the link to his post. Not so much, though and he kept going on about it. Which makes me wonder, what has happened to online use of common sense, practicality, and civility? *shakes head in wonder*

In the long run, controversy and attention may drive traffic to your website or blog. But it doesn't necessarily sell your professional services. So, this whole kerfluffle works well as a "learning experience" for those of us who are open to learning and an example of the power of a strong community.

PattiRoseKnight1
PattiRoseKnight1

Standing behind someone in the community and doing so without making the situation worse is a tricky one. I think "he" wanted attention and sometimes giving that attention just makes "him" worse to others because it worked before.  Yvette did nothing wrong by writing about a subject she feels comfortable about and I'm pretty sure once "he" said something she offered to credit him. So, if that didn't make him happy (and I don't think it did) then his issue is something more and not something we want to try to figure out - in my opinion.

Rodriguez247
Rodriguez247

Thanks for sharing this with us. The response of the community is more reflective of SpinSucks and their reputation in the field. There's a reason that so many of us in the field turn to your blog for ideas and advice, because even if we've seen it somewhere else before, you guys put it in perspective.

yearwood
yearwood

Wow. I really do learn something new everyday since I started blogging. I had no idea that accusations of this nature were a persistent issue. Given the number of blogs out there, it seems inevitable that sooner or later you will have similar story lines appearing close to each other. Rather than freaking out and getting aggressive, I would think most people would simply ask or consider imitation the sincerest form of flattery. Makes me wonder how many people visited the accuser's blog as a consequence of the exchange.

RobBiesenbach
RobBiesenbach

Wow, I go away for a few days and miss all the drama! You do have a unique community here. It's rare that a newbie can step in and join such a community and be immediately embraced (or even acknowledged). Usually it seems there's a "wait and see" or dues-paying process involved, where new commenters are held at arms' length until they prove themselves. I feel like I just spewed a half-dozen cliches there, but it doesn't make it not true.

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

To paraphrase Animal House, nobody does that to our pledges, only we do that to our pledges. Ok, nobody is a pledge here.

It is a good reminder that when you have an issue with another blogger the way to approach is calm and kind.

Being nice works wonders. Be nice until you don't have to be nice.

jenelleconner
jenelleconner

@yvettepistorio I FEEL your pain. I went through a very similar situation a few weeks ago (Honestly. I'm not just saying that to relate or make you feel better). Without going into details, I will tell you that it was rough and I learned more in that 48 hours than I have in any other PR/blogging/social media experience in my life. Luckily, I had @shonali by my side and her level-headed approach kept me grounded and focused. She went to bat for me - which was huge considering we only met as a result of this "situation." The whole experience was pretty uncomfortable but, just like yours, my community was there for support. Now that I'm no longer sleep and food deprived, I am grateful that I got to go through that hellacious situation. I learned a lot about myself and even though I came out the other side shell-shocked, I was still kicking. Keep kicking, keep writing, keep having confidence in your abilities. We're all in this together. 

terreece
terreece

@yvettepistorio This kind of thing can be jarring, but it's not unusual by any stretch. Many folks with a good idea believe that they are the only ones to every come up with something. The internet just exasperates the issue. Don't let it interrupt your writing. 

In fact, take it as a sign that you have arrived as a writer. I remember the first full on blast I got for a post, it scared me and all I could think of is "Dear Lord I'm about to become an internet footnote." Good thing just like you I had a great community that rallied and supported me. As long as you always write with integrity you'll have that support. 

"Write" on girl!

susancellura
susancellura

Oh my gosh! I had no idea this had happened! @yvettepistorio I am so sorry! I agree with many others comments below and enjoy this community very much. I'm proud that everyone stood up for you!

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

@allenmireles Too true. And also there are many kind of trolls on the internet (I'm not sure he would be considered a troll, but IMHO it definitely was close)

giesencreative
giesencreative

@yearwood It does seem inevitable. In another world, you'd think that people who think along the same lines could be friends, but intellectual property can be a tough subject. It sounds like it may have been an honest misunderstanding.


Kudos to the Spin Sucks team for handling it so well.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@yearwood It's like @allenmireles said above...the blog post was put through some software that tells us if something is too similar to another piece and his blog never even came up. I did a more manual search and didn't find his blog until far down in search results. The only time I say something to a blogger about their content is when they copy and paste my entire post and don't link to the original piece.

Rodriguez247
Rodriguez247

@yearwood I'm going through the archives to see if I can accuse them as well, and get me some readers. ;)

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

@Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Yes, calm, nice, and collected...even though on the inside I was a mess! And I have a few choice words for this guy but I"m a professional and will keep those to myself!

Shonali
Shonali

@jenelleconner What a nice thing to say! @yvettepistorio Jenelle is telling the truth, she did go through something similar - in which her integrity was questioned - and I'll tell you one thing, it was quite the bonding experience as we dealt with it. ;) I'm glad you had Gini's, Allen's and everyone's support as you dealt with your own "trial by fire," my dear.

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

@jenelleconner @yvettepistorio @shonali I'm so sorry to hear that Jenelle! It just sucks but I"m glad you had Shonali and a community to back you up. What is with people these days?! It was very uncomfortable and even still I"m a little shell-shocked, but I'm moving on :)

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