This article was originally posted on ExtortionLetterInfo on March 30, 2012. Although it is directed towards the audience interested in the ongoing Reality Steve Lawsuit, this article also shares my viewpoint on hateful and disrespectful user comments on blogs.
Yesterday, I tweeted that I was pissed about something and that I was going to take out my blowtorch. The reason I said that is that I have a huge axe to grind over a topic that has been brewing the last couple of weeks on RealitySteve.com. That issue that has gotten me all fired up is the issue of online haters, their presence, and their impact around them.
Before my involvement in writing about the Reality Steve Lawsuit, I rarely read any of the reader comments on RealitySteve.com. Like most of his readership, I primarily visited to read what Steve Carbone writes, not necessarily the reader comments.
I now read RealitySteve.com reader comments with greater interest because I look for insights, trying to get a pulse on the online community as it relates to the Reality Steve Lawsuit. I am amazed, shocked, and disgusted at the amount of outrageous, disrespectful, and hateful comments that are posted and never removed!
What amazes me more is that Carbone actually allows this hate and disrespect to go on day after day, week after week, month after month! And instead of him doing something about it by intervening, he lets his supporters fight it out with them! I think to myself, WTF is he thinking?
Before I go any further with my blistering comments, let me once again state my respect for Carbone and his accomplishments with creating and growing RealitySteve.com as he has. I respect him as an entertainment reporter, fellow entrepreneur, fellow blogger, and fellow website owner.
I also appreciate that he continues to refer people to my ongoing commentaries regarding his lawsuit. He has shown great respect to me by giving me credit for things I have started on his behalf. It certainly is no secret that I continue to support, advocate, and defend his position as a fellow blogger, website owner, and entrepreneur.
However, Carbone cannot afford to have this kind of ongoing negativity and cancer of haters in his life right now. There is enough stress and pressure from the ongoing operation of supporting RealitySteve.com PLUS the huge lawsuit against him without the pettiness of haters. This is something he can and should do something about immediately. I am a firm believer that every bit of negativity you let into your life chips away at the fabric of your work, your life, and who you are. Some might say it doesn’t bother them but I think, as human beings, negativity inevitably slips in through osmosis. The best way to prevent negativity from seeping into your life is to stop it cold whenever you encounter it.
As blogger and host of RealitySteve.com, Carbone has a responsibility to protect his readership and fans from haters, disrespectful comments, and venom even though it may not bother him personally. His fans and readership come to immerse themselves in his world whether it is two minutes to read a short blog post, 5-10 minutes for a longer blog post, or 60 minutes to view his video blog.
Visitors who visit RealitySteve.com want to hang out with like-minded, fun people who enjoy the discussion of news and spoilers and not read bullshit hateful, disrespectful, and venomous comments from naysayers and critics who don’t offer anything constructive to his community. I don’t think it is the job of his fans readership to defend him. It is his job to set the tone and “house rules” for reader comment behavior. If people can’t follow “house rules”, they should get kicked out plain and simple.
Somehow this bullshit entitlement mentality by some readers that they are allowed to rant, rave, attack, and spew venom whenever and however they want on HIS website is incomprehensible to me. How does that serve his website or anyone else involved except for the few people who get off on being asses online?
Admittedly, RealitySteve.com commands a greater viewership and ranking than my own ELI website that I currently write from. But I can also say there are other far larger websites than his that would never allow the outrageous negative comments and behavior that Carbone seems to tolerate on RealitySteve.com. It serves no good purpose to having these destructive negative comments and only clutters up the website with unnecessary negativity and online conflict.
Let me be clear, I have no problems with honest disagreement and debate. I don’t have a problem with constructive criticism. But there comes a point where these so-called “reader comments” cross the line. It needs to be dealt with swiftly and unapologetically.
Six months ago, we had an anonymous person (they are almost ALWAYS anonymous) trash-talk me and attorney Oscar Michelen of running a scam here on ELI. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that while our community and readership quickly jumped in to support us (as RealitySteve.com readers do on Carbone’s behalf), there was no way in hell Oscar or I would allow that kind of trash-talk about us in our own website go unanswered. Although we could have deleted that post and lock out that user account, we didn’t.
We chose to respond to it openly and forcefully. Although it took more of our time to do so, we wanted to send a strong message to everyone that we would not tolerate or stand for unfounded accusations, disrespect, or hateful comments. Oscar’s response and my response were quite lengthy. But allow me to quote some important passages that I feel are also relevant to RealitySteve.com.
For people who offer only criticism of us but no helpful suggestions or ideas.
You say the information on this website and discussion forum is good? Who do you think did all the work over the last 3 years to put this community and website together? It was a tag-team effort between Oscar and myself. We brought our different strengths together and created tremendous synergy. Did we use ingenuity, leverage, and efficiencies to get the word out and devise a way to collect information but also to serve thousands of people? You bet we did.
We did it because it served the greater good. Do we ask for some nominal monies to support the cause? You bet we do! There are real costs of our time. Yes, we want to help but do you think Oscar and I should sacrifice our livelihoods to help others over these letters? If you do, then do us a favor and just leave. We aren’t going to become martyrs over this.
Anonymous critics and haters are cowards and leeches. They take and don’t give anything back except negativity. Readers who truly care offer suggestions or constructive comments. When they do, I do my best to reply and acknowledge them. The haters like to call it “ass-kissing” when it simply comes down to old-fashioned respect.
Most people don’t know the first thing about launching their own blog, website, or business. Yet, haters are busy wasting their own and everyone else’s time with their venom. If they are going to be disrespectful and hateful towards us on our own website and property, we are going to hit back, plain and simple.
And some people like you only see the faults and criticize us. Well, what are you doing to help the cause? Have you spent hundreds of collective hours that Oscar and I have spent over the last 3 years on the forums, videos, phone discussions, reading, researching, negotiating, emailing, etc? I think not. This may be a bold statement but I think there are very few people in the U.S. and quite possibly the world that have done as much work on defending the demand letter issue AND have impacted tens of thousands of people as we have. The web statistics don’t lie.
It is unfortunate that I had to take a strong tone in my response to you but when you start firing off your mouth with barely a clue of what is happening in the big picture, the work behind the scenes, or knowing the full story, we are not going to simply be quiet about it.
And for people screaming about free speech on OUR own website this is what I have said.
Never forget, we have the power to delete any message or user we want. There is no freedom of speech here because this is private website and property. You are in OUR home. That means people should mind their manners. We leave dumb messages like yours up to show everyone we are transparent in how we work. We are not afraid of constructive criticism or even disagreement. Having said that, don’t expect that Oscar or I will quietly sit and let someone disparage our personal and professional reputations. WE could have deleted your message altogether but we chose to deal with it head-on for everyone to see.
Free speech doesn’t mean you can go anywhere and say anything you want even in a tax-payer funded federal building. There are rules for free speech. If someone wants to spew venom, they should launch their own website and spew away in their corner of the Internet. But I won’t have someone come spew venom in MY corner of the Internet.
To haters everywhere, I openly say this in very coarse and rude (Rated “R”) language:
“If you can’t offer anything good (or at least your silence) then get the fuck out and don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. We (the community) won’t put up with your shit. If you want to act like an adult and a respectful human being, then you can come back. Otherwise, good riddance!”
Many years ago, I learned this business lesson that I practice to this day.
There are people love you.
There are people who are indifferent to you.
There are people who hate you.
You job is NOT to be all things to all people.
Your job is to acknowledge, support, and appreciate the people who love you.
Your job is to sell, court, and win over the people who are indifferent to you.
And get rid of the people who hate you. Don’t let them become a cancer to you, the people who support you, or what you do.
I truly hope Carbone will consider the intended spirit of what I have said in this commentary article as offering helpful insights as opposed to taking offense to it as he continues his ongoing lawsuit battle.