Most, but not all, of the blog spam is for gold sites for a massive multiplayer on-line game that will remain nameless. But, I got one piece on this post that surprised me a bit. In the post, I talk a bit about infinite goods and scarce goods in the "digital" economy and how they apply to Flextras. I also touch on DRM. I also make mention of FlashDen a site that allows Flash and Flex developers to sell stuff to other Flash and Flex developers.
The comment left on that post was promotion of FlexDen. It met all the criteria that I consider spam. It did not add commentary to the blog post. It did not attempt to engage any of the other commenters or extend the conversation. It was straight promotion, with a few links back. Here is a screenshot of the comment:
I have moderation activated so the comments do not get posted until I approve them. I deleted this comment and made an remark on twitter, which I retweeted to both The Flex Show and my personal accounts. Much to my surprise, the FlexDen folk called me. And I am foolish for forgetting the name of the person I spoke too.
I give them credit for calling to clear up any misunderstanding. They claimed they certainly did not spam the blog. They claimed that the IP address in question did not belong to them. They also claimed that they thing someone is trying to build them a bad reputation. Let me look at these one by one:
- We Didn't Do It: I have no way to prove who did post the comment. Given they took the time to call, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
- Not My IP: They said the IP address is not one of theirs. I can't really verify that either way. However, that IP address is located in Vermont, a place where FlexDen.net also has offices, according to their about page.
- Defamation: Over the phone I was told they had a bunch of people register for their site recently and post messages on their forum. I was given the impression that these were either spam messages or derogatory towards legit users. If this happened that truly sucks, and I'm sorry. I find it hard to believe that anyone has an agenda against FlexDen though. Unless they have disgruntled ex-employees or something with a personal vendetta against one of the owners. It is possible, I guess. We live in a crazy world, so it is definitely possible.
After all is said and done, I bet this is what happened:
- FlexDen folks scour the web for things like "Flex Marketplace" or "FlexDen" in order to find places to promote their services. I do this for Flextras using Google Alerts. I search for things like Flextras name or Flex AutoComplete.
- They came across the Flextras blog post and said "Hey, this post mentioned FlashDen; maybe readers who end up here will be interested in our service too." There is no problem with this.
- They posted some marketing material as a blog comment.
- I call the comment spam, tweet it, and they are taken aback so immediately deny it. It is possible that we have different definitions of what spam is. It is a fine line to mix self-promotion and community participation and one I worry about crossing.
I don't actually know; so I'm just guessing. It seems like a logical chain of events without malice.
The FlexDen Guy [whose name I neglected to write down] and I had a conversation about why I wouldn't use FlexDen. As a business owner, I don't like the fact that I have no control over price. He told me that was not the case and they would work with anyone who submitted things in price. I guess that is good. I still think FlexDen and Flextras fill uniquely different niches in the market of Flex Components though. I'm not sure it would be beneficial to me to list my components in such a marketplace. We do not need to make use of their infrastructure for selling components because we built our own.
He also mentioned an Adobe Forum thread which I was involved with. Someone showed up on the Adobe Forums and pitched FlexDen as a way to help the community. I do not view the site as a community site. It is a business site. It may help a developer or two; but it does not help foster community.
He asked me what makes up a community site. It is a fantastic question. I laughed and said I have no idea, but I struggle with that every day. I view this blog as my personal blog and that's it. You might construe it as part of the Flex Community since I regularly blog about Flex. But, it doesn't explicitly attempt to support the community.
Flextras is a business site, hands down. It hopes to exist in the Flex Community, but it's intent is not to help grow of foster the Flex community. Even the Flextras Friday Lunch podcast is designed to help foster a community around Flextras; not explicitly Flex development. One could argue it accomplishes both of those, though. Maybe it does.
The Flex Show on the other hand is all about building community.
Was the Flextras Blog spammed? I still think so. Did it come from FlexDen? They say no, but I'm not completely convinced. I tend to think it was more of an honest mistake by someone who hasn't taken the Cluetrain Manifesto to heart yet. You need to speak with your market, not at it. Engage in the conversation.
How is your day going?