Gini Dietrich

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

By: Gini Dietrich | May 14, 2013 | 

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.

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119 responses to “A Blogging Community: Why it’s Important to Have One”

  1. bdorman264 says:

    I missed it; I’ve been out of it w/ some bad mojo bug, getting ready for a bidness trip and my vacation to the beach. HOWEVER, give me his name and I will break out the Kung Fu grip on him. Anybody messes with your peeps, there will be hell to pay. 
    BTW – I would be happy to be found on the bottom of page two…
    Chris Sale should have been a Cubbie. 
    It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing; ever.

  2. lizreusswig says:

    Oh my gosh…I was offline for the most part last week when this happened and although I read the post, I didn’t look at the comments – WOW!  What a cowardly (self-serving?!) way for this guy to handle things!
    You’re spot on ginidietrich – so glad the AD team & this amazing group had Yvette’s back!  🙂

    • ginidietrich says:

      lizreusswig The thing that bothers me the most about it is he did it so publicly. Why not send her a DM or an email? What really set me off is when he copied and pasted his comment at the top of the comment stream. You may not agree with the conclusion we came to, but we addressed it, we had a conversation about it (very publicly), and we closed it. Stop being a tool.

  3. Good heavens! How did I miss that maelstrom?

  4. belllindsay says:

    You hit the nail on the head here Gini, with the very public way he ‘addressed’ the situation (and I use that term loosely). At the MOST he could have posted a comment saying “Hey, I have some concerns about this content, could you email me at yadda yadda” – but instead, he flat out accused, and immediately began posting “I have been plagiarized!!” tweets to his followers, and in many of the comments here. All in all it was handled poorly and unprofessionally. It sure left a bad taste in my mouth. Watching the Spin Sucks community – people who KNOW Yvette and know her work – rise in her defence was truly inspiring.

    • ginidietrich says:

      belllindsay Yes, I think the lesson is there should be a private discussion first. An email. A DM. Something. For someone who writes about social media etiquette, it sure wasn’t handled well. But really, the point is in the amazing way our community stepped up. It was impressive!

  5. aimeelwest says:

    I read the article but did not follow any of the comments. What a horrible thing to accuse someone of. That is why I love talking to this group so much they really support one another even without meeting in RL.

    • ginidietrich says:

      aimeelwest If it had turned out it was plagiarized, I would have been the first one to comment back and apologize and explain what we did to fix the situation. I will always back my team, but if they screw up, I will fall on my sword for them.

  6. briantudor says:

    Like aimeelwest I just read the article and skipped the comments for some reason, but way to go Team Spin Suck and community!

  7. I don’t even know what to say. I loved that post and I related to it so much as an introvert, but I didn’t comment so totally missed what happened or I would have chimed in to help Yvette! What a great example of this community in action. I’m thrilled that this is the topic you’re covering at Social Capital because I think you’ve got one of the best communities that I’ve personally witnessed right here on Spin Sucks.
    I think this also shows great leadership, Gini – not just from you but from your entire team. You’ve got a group that has the integrity that it takes to quickly disprove such an accusation. As the big cheese, Gini, you jumped right in as soon as it was necessary and helped Yvette. Your team’s response is why you have such a strong community – you are all focused on the right things and *doing* the right thing.

  8. LisaCannon says:

    Wow. Gini, not for the first time, I am left thinking:  Should I pack my bags, move to Chicago, and beg Gini to hire me??? Fantastic example of how to be a GREAT manager, mentor, business owner. Yvette is lucky to work for you. Sorry she had to have that lousy experience, but bet she is more confident for it.

  9. ElissaFreeman says:

    Wow.  I just read through the comments. So impressed by the open, but frank, discussion. I wonder if the protagonist reads one article about, oh the President of the US in one paper, reads a similar discussion in another paper…and then phones them up  to complain that one is plagiarizing the other. It’s as if he’s the only dude with an original idea.

    • ginidietrich says:

      ElissaFreeman Right?! That was pretty much my point. I wrote about introverts in social media long before he did….should I require credit? It’s the freaking blogosphere. NO ONE has an original thought.

  10. This is interesting because I shared on Facebook the story about ‘Vin Diesel says Facebook owes me billions’. You should put it in the Google. 255,000 entries. All the major news outlets and semi major ones all have the same story. And every one of the stories are very similar in content.
    I bet when there is a narrow subject like eveypistorio had it is very easy to have similar content. If you do search the Google and someone else does you will get back similar results. And then potentially source similar content.
    ironically I have meant to read that post and never got to it. I don’t always see the afternoon posts but I saw this and had no clue this was going on. I assume that because the community has eveypistorio ‘s back ginidietrich didn’t need to get me involved because normally that I am the one who serves as the hammer to hurt mean people

  11. John_Trader1 says:

    I picked the wrong day to miss the afternoon Spin Sucks blog post. There aren’t any real words to describe the confidence and courage that comes with working for people who support you unconditionally and are willing to let you stand on your own two feet to battle adversity. I have worked with companies where senior management immediately swoops in during times of crisis and doesn’t allow the accused to have a chance to rectify the situation. That, to me, doesn’t send a positive signal to the community.
    Well done with how this whole situation was handled. It’s truly a case study that should be taught to students as an example of how the strength of a community always trumps the agenda of an individual.

    • ginidietrich says:

      John_Trader1 You know, my initial reaction was to swoop in, but I’m growing as leader (even though it killed me not to immediately defend her). I let it sit overnight before I said anything….and I’m glad I did.

  12. Tinu says:

    Community is the one thing that can bring any business adk from the dead. All the blows I’ve been hit with over the years that should have hurt my business badly were softened by the cushion of community, most of the time unintentionally.. And being part of a community is a powerful thing. The trust and the bond shared over a common interest is vastly underestimated. But people have been known to die over things they believe in, while no one ever lifts a finger to help out some generic company selling some stuff. Didn’t witness the melee, but very glad .. Proud even.. To be part of a group that doesn’t remain silent in the face of justice.

    • Tinu says:

      Or injustice. Because that makes actual sense.

    • ginidietrich says:

      Tinu You know, you bring up a really good point…there is a huge opportunity for organizations and community. I mean, we’re just a little marketing communications firm in Chicago. We don’t have the number of employees or clients the big guys have, but I’ll bet we have a stronger community. People who WILL stick up for us in situations like this. There is a lot to be said for that.

  13. I’ve never seen anything like that and was just overwhelmed by how you all stepped in (I even teared up a bit…it was an emotional roller coaster!) Thank you from the bottom of my heart…it made last week bearable. And it felt so good that you all had my back 🙂

  14. There is something so rich and rewarding in the communities we naturally grow around out blogs. In the beginning, you don’t know there’s a community there, but then the magic happens and the good people continue to read, comment, banter, and more. They even offer negation when it’s needed, but fortunately for me, it’s always been in a place with heart.
    When a community becomes as large as this one, you’re bound to get the idiot who has no idea who he’s messing with. Yvette, I can say after having experienced it myself, you have arrived. You now will have a thicker skin and be prepared to address head on the naysayers and trolls who usually are lacking in courage to identify themselves. 
    We who stick out the neck will continue to grow professionally and succeed. Congratulations on having a team and a community to back you up and having Gini right there in your corner.

    • Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Thanks Jayme 🙂 Definitely will have thicker skin and am more prepared for trolls. I can’t thank the community, Gini, Lindsay, and Allen enough.

  15. Like my dad always said.. ‘you mess with the bull, you get the horns’… My heart stopped when I saw that. Everyone knows you have to have thick skin in this industry because people are going to disagree with you but to have someone publicly do that is unacceptable and unprofessional. If you’re going to do that then you had BEST have  ironclad proof that you’re right.  You did a great job, Yvette… hopefully it will never happen again but if it does, we’ll be here for you then, too! I just hate that Josh’s comments on that guys post weren’t published, right ginidietrich?? 🙂

    • KristenDaukas ginidietrich Thanks Kristen 🙂 I loved Josh’s comments…that was freaking awesome!

      • yvettepistorio KristenDaukas ginidietrich I just wanted an excuse to wear my black Cowboy hat and speak authentic frontier gibberish. 😉
        He irked me with his approach. It was obnoxious, juvenile and wrong. It was unnecessary to come at you that way.

        • KristenDaukas ginidietrich Lol!! I like your authentic frontier gibberish 😉
          Maybe that’s what bothered me the most was his approach. Anyways, thank you for the support Josh…it means a lot 🙂

    • ginidietrich says:

      KristenDaukas I hate his comments weren’t published. And neither was mine!
      BTW…Chicago. June. Drinks will be had.

      • ginidietrich Okay but drinks in June will have to be had via HangOut cause this redhead won’t be there until July 😉 I think the dates are July 25-28?? Whatever that Thu-Sun are. I would love to meet up Thursday night because I know the BlogHer stuff will be cranking Fri/Sat and I have a couple of Brand wine & dines as well.  I just want to get back to my Lincoln Park stomping grounds 🙂

  16. biggreenpen says:

    Oh yay, finally a topic I can comment on without having any PR expertise — because right is right in any profession. 🙂 🙂 I did see all of that happening last week, and watched how it unfolded with appreciation for the way it was handled on your end. I have seen quite a few “who said what first and who copied who” issues arise on social media (haven’t we all?). In one case, I am still a connection to both parties … and when one of them asked “why are you still following so-and-so,” I responded that I value all of my connections — and that so-and-so has not done me any wrong personally. Maybe my issue is that I am too tolerant and inviting to a fault. Anyway, it was well handled last week, I am sure as an introvert Yvette has turned this around and around in her mind a HUNDRED times (being an introvert myself, this is my thinking anyway!). Post-incident evaluation is super-important, in a case like this and in “bigger” things like disasters and public crises. Well done.

    • biggreenpen OMG, I have!! Lost sleep over it, lost my appetite last week…was a complete mess. But then I saw what unfolded in the comments and just have to say just wow 🙂 I <3 all of you!

  17. A community is only as good as it’s leaders. The Spin Sucks community is definitely an amazing one, however just like you can tell a lot about a person by the caliber of their friends, you can tell a lot about an organization by the quality of the community they’ve built.
    Agreed with others below, they way you all handled the whole situation was impressive and definitely a case study in the right way to deal with an icky situation.

  18. KevinVandever says:

    yvettepistorio I am sorry to hear this all went down. I don’t get to this blog every day (don’t tell ginidietrich), but I am part of this community and am happy to know so many came to your rescue like they did. Spin sucks, but bullies suck more!

  19. susancellura says:

    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!

  20. terreece says:

    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!

  21. 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.

    • 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 🙂

    • Shonali says:

      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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. yearwood says:

    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.

    • Rodriguez247 says:

      yearwood I’m going through the archives to see if I can accuse them as well, and get me some readers. 😉

    • ginidietrich says:

      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.

    • giesencreative says:

      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.

  25. Rodriguez247 says:

    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.

  26. PattiRoseKnight1 says:

    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.

  27. rdopping says:

    Good story. I missed that whole thing. I hope yvettepistorio is feeling like a winner in this whole thing. Don’t know how she couldn’t – harrowing as it would be. Onward and upward, I always say (well, ok, not always but I thought it appropriate here).

  28. sydcon_mktg says:

    Last week was one of those weeks for me.  I am sorry I missed yvettepistorio original post. I am glad to see you had the community rally to your defense, just sorry I couldnt help!!! Bravo ginidietrich for backing Yvette 100%. Its a great bunch over here! Kudos!

  29. allenmireles says:

    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.

  30. fieldsf says:

    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!

    • ginidietrich says:

      fieldsf It was pretty amazing to watch. And the fact that people keep popping over there today to read the post and stick up for her more is pretty incredible.

  31. Gini Dietrich… best boss ever!

  32. […] A Blogging Community: Why it’s Important to Have One, Spin Sucks […]

  33. djenningspr says:

    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.

    • ginidietrich says:

      djenningspr He still doesn’t think we’re being honest and that we’re trying to pull one over on him. What I want to say is, “NO ONE can find your blog in search results.” But I’m more professional than that. Oh. Wait.

  34. 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. 🙂

  35. […] A Blogging Community: Why it’s Important to Have One, Spin Sucks […]

  36. Helena Brantley says:

    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)!

  37. 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. 😉

  38. […] Dietrich explains why is important to have a great blogging community and how it can help you in a […]

  39. dbvickery says:

    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!

  40. […] you want more conversions, you have to know who is most engaged and create content that they will […]

  41. SandyMcDonald says:

    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?

  42. […] I raised the alarm, things quickly escalated and got very ugly. I was publicly flamed and attacked by the Spin Sucks community on their blog, on Twitter and even here on the 88 Creative blog. I was […]

  43. redsatellite says:

    The latest on this:

  44. […] sing your praises, they become your advocates, and they even stick up for you when you make a […]

  45. […] Dietrich explains why is important to have a great blogging community and how it can help you in a […]

  46. […] a common complaint: You have a business blog, but no one’s […]

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