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I expected Matt to be Smarter than That

Matt over at WordPress posted “Selling Links” which goes across syndication with this starting paragraph:

“Let’s face it, we’re selling links here. Call it ‘buzz’ all you want, but it boils down to selling links. That skews Google’s index and they’ve come out against that quite publicly. If we’re all given the freedom to disclose in our own manner, we’re a moving target. If we’ve all got disclosure badges everywhere, it’s easy for them to penalize/ban us all.”

Of course if you click thru (and you would click thru), that’s not Matt speaking but a quote from the Pay Per Post blog that Matt subsequently criticizes (and he links to their blogger comments page, as if to avoid passing any link power to their blog. How sad. Hence the nofollow here). Matt Mullenweg, the guy who (desperately?) spammed Google with commercial doorway pages when he was down on his A-list luck (and got caught) is now taking a high-road and saying that link selling is bad for the web. Really?

Sorry, but I thought more of Matt than this. Sure, the conflict of interest is obvious ( can’t monetize very well if a middleman like PPP is monetizing out from under him), but to brand it as a benevolent action is below where I expected Matt to be. The web is commercial. Matt is commercial. He’s good at it, and naturally he shouldn’t allow PPP on (I also noticed an BlueHost advertisement on the PayperPost site that says “Move Off of”, so clearly these guys are competitors). But really, Matt, to pander to the idealistic half of the audience so blatantly… you alienate the rest, you know? And you need the rest, don’t you? Maybe you don’t think you do. In my book, that’s a bad sign.

It wasn’t long ago we read about Matt Mullenweg spamming Google with 160,000 doorway pages on topics like “debt consolidation” and “asbestos”:

Mullenweg hosted at least 160,000 pieces of “content” on his site which use a cloaking technique to hide keywords such as “asbestos”, “debit consolidation” and “mortgages”. Mullenweg was paid a flat fee by Hot Nacho Inc., which creates software for search engine gamers to use. It’s been dubbed “Adsense bait” – Adsense is Google’s keyword-based classified advertising service…Mullenweg employed “negative positioning”, which uses a CSS directive to place the text offscreen, out of sight of the user, but where search engines can still read it….

This seems way hypocritical. I am reminded of the days when Steve Case and company spammed “the Internet” with AOL commercials. The Internet was non-commercial, and the idealists gathered with pitchforks to “defend the Internet” against commercialization. Who did more for the development of the Internet and web, AOL or those idealist defenders of usenet?  Painful question to answer, but the answer is the truth. Matt is painting the market makers as evil-doers, as Matt quietly protects his share of the market. Puh-lease.



  1. Matt wrote:

    It’s not a matter of money, in fact a company in this space offered a guaranteed 7-figure deal if we supported them and we turned it down.

    I screwed up in this area in the past, and it was a huge mistake, and now companies are forming around systematizing what I already learned 2 years ago was a horrible idea. If anything I’m uniquely positioned to have an opinion on this issue having messed up before, and since then leading web anti-spam with Akismet.

    Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 7:20 pm | Permalink
  2. John Andrews wrote:

    Thanks Matt but I’m not sure I see your point. Is it “sponsored posts” that are bad, or the way it is being “systematized”? I can see not signing a deal with a broker, but are you saying sponsored posts are spam? Or maybe just sponsored posts with links are spam? ReviewMe is sponsored PR (no links required). I didn’t see any requirement for links in PPP either, although they allow the sponsor to dictate such details.

    Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 10:02 pm | Permalink