Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Social Media

Most of you have probably seen the hullabaloo over the new gunny social media site creating profiles for people who aren't actually members. The administrator claims that they're there for reference purposes. (My question is, why not make them "pages" instead of "profiles" then? A "page" implies information and sharing about a subject. A "profile" implies a person is behind it.)

Anywho, I'm not jumping on that particular bandwagon the way you might think. See, when I first started noticing this whole shebang I got curious. Since I'm not a cat, I figured it couldn't be wrong to go take a look, see what it was all about, etc.

So I created a profile. I used non-blog information, since I didn't have a dog in that fight, and didn't really want to get one. (You see how well that worked out for me?) I poked around, had the impression that the dude was being sort of shady in his usage of people's images and reputations, and to the overall format, layout, and content, my response was a resounding "meh."

The idea isn't a bad one, I don't know that the gun community needs it's own social networking site but hey if someone wants to run one, great, I'm sure there will be people who want to be involved.

However, the content just isn't there yet... normally I would say that the users would make up for that over the next six months or so, but the admin has said elsewhere that he's generating content for the forum he'll have on the site. Considering what happened later, I have a feeling that the forum is going to be all admin all the time and if you disagree, your ideas will never see daylight.

See, when I saw the disclaimer on some profiles (after looking at four or five of them, I noticed the fine print in an area that normally gets skimmed over by, well, everybody) I asked a couple of the people I happened to know if they'd seen how the profiles were set up. They hadn't, so I passed off my info, in order to let them see what was up, and avoid any spam or other negative crap from joining. Not to mention, it's my info, if I want to pass it around to the world, it's nobody elses business, since it doesn't actually effect the site detrimentally. No one I gave the info to posted anything or created any kind of disturbance to the site, they merely went into my account and looked around.

That night, I logged in to do some more poking and see the areas of the site I hadn't looked at yet, and about that time my email dinged. I had messages on the site. Ok, so I go check them and it's the admin. This is the conversation that followed, spread over two different message threads:

Admin Sent 14 hours, 26 minutes ago

Welcome… this site is real and I’m not a nutjob, no matter what the chicken hawks say…

Hey, dude, why are you changing my profile???

I signed up to see what the hell this was all about, I go to work, and I come home to find a site admin has modified my profile to call me a dummy, I don’t really appreciate that.

Are you sure you aren’t the test account that someone created, emailed to 50 people, and has been logging in all day?

By the way, this profile belongs to (Real Name Redacted) original email on it was (personal email address redacted) a personal email that I used for my horse training business. I am a blogger but not one that you’re maintaining a profile for, I didn’t use blog info specifically because I don’t have a dog in this fight and was merely curious.

I would appreciate it if you would return my profile to it’s original content, please.

I provided my personal login information to a few people who were also curious about the site but didn’t want to let themselves in for a lot of spam. I didn’t know if the site generated a lot of emails yet, so I couldn’t reassure them. I don’t believe that’s a problem anywhere else. Apparently it is here, though.

If this is the way you plan to treat your users, I doubt you’ll get much interest. Arbitrarily changing a profile does not scream friendly social networking site to me.

Admin Sent 14 hours, 4 minutes ago

I’m not stupid… create an account… post in Uncle’s forum… email username and password to your buddies… see logins from all over the country. My tracker is so good it tells me what kind of underwear you have on.

I provided my account information to people who were curious about the site. That does not make it any less my account.

Regardless of the number of people logging into the account, there hasn’t been anything disruptive done with the account. I haven’t even posted anything. So why exactly do you care how many people have access to my personal account?

Your touch of class is showing, by the way.

I will do so… I was just having a little fun.

This does not come across as just a little fun.

This comes across as abusing the power you have over your users. Not to mention rude and inappropriate, talking about my underwear when I’m trying to make clear to you in as polite a way as I can at this moment that this is really my personal profile created in order to learn more about your site, and make a decision on whether I would be participating or not.

You’ve created a bad impression with me, sir, and damaged your credibility with one of your first users. It doesn’t seem like a good plan to me.

I do see that you have made an attempt at returning my profile to the way it was, but I still see the ”created and maintained” disclaimer at the top of the page.

I’ll remove it… sharing passwords and usernames so your buddies don’t have to sign up is a cardinal sin in the eyes of most webmasters and caused my security software to issue an alert.

No big deal, I now realize you really didn’t mean anything by it. I’m not a nut job

I see that it’s gone now, and I appreciate that.

I would also appreciate an apology. Your front page says that a user’s profile is their personal space on the site, and you not only took the profile and claimed it as your own, you altered my information, put me down, and made comments that could be interpreted as sexually harassing when I tried to rectify your mistake.

Admin Sent 16 hours, 51 minutes ago

I meant as much harm by that comment as you did by sharing your username and password with so many people. I’m sorry for any unintended stress. It won’t happen again.

The time stamps are wonky because I copy/pasted them at different points... mostly because I wanted to have the record in case he decided to lock me out of my account again.

So this is how he treats users that have no actual wrongdoing. If you stumble across this site and think about joining up, keep in mind that the admin apparently has no problem hijacking accounts. For the record, he'd changed the profile picture, and description, to a shot of a "for dummies" book and "a test account for dummies like you." When he attempted to revert the profile information, he put the description "chick who loves guns" when the original content was "Just a chick who likes guns."

Somehow I don't see his behavior as leading to a successful site... Although he did finally apologize. Kind of.... in his own special way.

Since I first started putting this post together, the admin has been trolling gunblogs which were making negative comments about his site (wonder if he'll find this one since I refuse to link, and intend to look for a way to delete the profile as soon as it publishes) and then later putting up a blog post (but blogs suck, I thought?) on the front page of his site, proclaiming that he has intentionally been trolling to prove a point.

I will grant that there may be a certain segment of the gunblogging community that might intimidate new shooters. Mostly because, when you're stepping into any new area, say rock climbing for illustrations sake, you get told that one person is the guru. The great and terrible thing about the internet is that you can go directly to the guru... and the guru is talking about climbing Everest without a Sherpa or a tent.

It's so far beyond your experience that it can be intimidating, especially because experienced people tend to address things as if everyone listening or reading is at the same level of experience. Not a slam, just a fact. In the gun world, there also isn't always a clear path to follow to get from "I jumped up on this rock in the park and it was fun, so I'd like to do more" and climbing Everest without a Sherpa.

However, inexperience and asking "dumb" questions (no such thing, and most of the gunblogging community are more than happy to answer questions and make clarifications for anyone who honestly wants information) is not the same thing as acting like an asshole. If you act like an asshole in meatspace, you get treated like an asshole, so why does anyone expect it to go any differently in blogland?

He also makes the point that the blogosphere locks people into the content on the blog... um, yeah, it's my blog. If I want to write about farting rainbows and dancing a jig on the grave of an unmarried protestant woman, I get to do that. I don't make anyone read what I write, they're free to click away any time they happen to get offended or bored, and go read someone else's drek, if my drek isn't a flavor to their liking.

But um... the only content on the site that I can see is his. There's one post on the main page by someone else, and since it's a welcome message I'm guessing they're on staff or were asked to write it. Other than that, it's all admin, all the time. So, you're sort of sitting on your own unlubed point there dude.

In fact, the only point I can see being proven is that the admin is an asshole, which I knew from the previous experience.

There's also a "protected" post on the site right now... it shows up on the front page and asks for a password. My site password will not let me into it.. so he's shutting out at least part of his users from content on the site. Is this how he's going to run the forums?

All in all I just can't see this project getting off the ground. He's going to get a lot of hits from being a douche as people do what I did and follow their curiosity, but I think it's going to fade into obscurity as the hullabaloo dies down and the people who get all the attention turn theirs elsewhere.

And that's what I think about that, in case you cared.

*Imbedded links from copy/paste removed. Thanks for the heads up.

*ETA: It appears that there isn't any way to delete the account. I'm hesitant to ask the administrator to remove it, because that would spoil my calculations on how much time it takes for him to molest the profile again. Ah well.