Twitter Is A Public Forum, So Be Mindful How You Quote Me

SeoBook is a search engine optimisation (SEO) blog founded and edited by Aaron Wall. The site covers SEO marketing tips, search analysis and, quote, “whatever rants come to mind.”

Aaron Wall is a respected SEO expert and a frequent speaker at seminars and conferences. He is also on Twitter.

I’m a subscriber to SeoBook for one simple reason – a lot of the articles, either those written by Wall or his guest posters, are fantastic. I try and share and lot of strong content on Twitter and have tweeted links to SeoBook on several occasions.

When you visit SeoBook, the site utilises a pop-up window feature that advertises a free course entitled “7 Days To Success”. The pop-up goes on to describe how this has been downloaded by many thousands of people and you can claim your free course simply by completing a form.

No harm in that, and certainly nothing unusual about it. Lots of websites uses pop-up windows to promote and attract business. Seobook’s pop-up also contains two links in the bottom right – “Ask me in a week” and “Don’t ask me again”. This is great, as it allows the user to bookmark the pop-up to remind them at a later day, or remove it entirely if they don’t have any interest.

The problem is it doesn’t work.

I’m a regular visitor to SeoBook, and each time I hit the site, I get the pop-up. And each time, I click on the “Don’t ask me again” option. But it doesn’t make any difference at all – it always asks me again.

As said, I’ve shared SeoBook content with my Twitter followers, and several of them in the past have contacted me about the pop-up window, claiming it is a nuisance because you cannot get rid of it. I figured this was something that Aaron may not be aware of, so on Friday I contacted him about it on Twitter.

Aaron responded yesterday, asking if I had tried clearing my cookies (I had), stating, “If I could replicate the problem I might spend a bit of resources on fixing it.”

I responded to Wall saying that the pop-ups didn’t bother me as much as they seemed to bother some of my followers, to which he replied:

This took me aback a little, to be honest. I wasn’t really sure how to take it. Had I caught Aaron on a particularly bad day? Was this how he always was?

Here is the rest of our conversation:

What you may see from here is how Aaron seemed to lose sight of my original polite enquiry – that the “Don’t ask me again” link on the pop-up does not work – and focused instead on the “cheap asses” and “whiners”. Whether he works eight or 80 hours a week on his site is immaterial; if something doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I’m not in any way computer illiterate – as I said, I get the same problem in both Firefox and Google Chrome.

Clearly this is something that is dear to him, as yesterday Aaron wrote a long article on SeoBook, “Who’s Opinion Matters?” where he discusses problems he once had with low self esteem, and how “worthless people” used to take advantage of this, losing him “millions of dollars”.

This is all well and good and everybody is of course entitled to their opinion and perspective. My issue is that Aaron quotes me in this article, and does it in a way that complete ignores my initial approach to him, making me appear to be one of those people he so despises.

“I get blowback every week or 2 on Twitter about someone who feels embarassed to Tweet a link to our great content because this site has a pop up on it.”

He says, including an image of the second tweet I sent to him yesterday. You’ll note that I never once said anything about being embarrassed about sharing SeoBook content – my enquiry was, again, and quite simply, that the option to remove the pop-up permanently did not work, neither for myself or others.

Indeed, I became aware of Wall’s article through my RSS reader when I woke up this morning, and when I clicked through to the site itself, you can guess what happened. Yup, I was greeted with the pop-up again.

Note the current article in the background.

This was despite clicking on the “Don’t ask me again” link yesterday during our discourse.

Wall then goes on to say that visitors to his site who are “too lazy to click the ‘don’t show again’ link then they are too lazy to participate in the site or business in a more meaningful way.

This is quite a ridiculous statement for a number of reasons, but it is rendered even more ludicrous by the fact that “laziness” has nothing to do with the issue. If the pop-up could be successfully removed by everybody – not just Wall himself – then this conversation would never have taken place.

Aaron then goes on to make some other points relative to his article, about how he now only focuses on ‘real customers’, rather than the “penny-less Twitter users who are unhappy getting for free what others gladly pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for”, which once again illustrates how spectacularly he missed the point of my approach.

I encourage you to read the article through in full to get a solid grip on the language Aaron uses to describe the visitors to his website. Specifically, it appears his point is that he is content to ignore the opinions and enquiries of any visitor who does not put a dollar in his pocket. Pay attention to this comment, too.

It upsets me a little that an individual of Aaron’s reputation would so blatantly misquote and bastardise my communication with him on Twitter to further and promote what is evidently a long-established (and stewing) niggle of his. His actions tarnish my reputation, too, slight as it is in comparison, and I’m left shaking my head a little at his decision.

What did he hope to achieve? That by publicly attempting to put me in my place he would make me and the other “cheap asses” and “whiners” see the error of our ways? I can only assume his largely derogatory comments about Twitter mean that he has yet to see the value in content shared on that network. While it is certainly true that only a relative percentage of your followers will have any genuine interest in something to which you link, business is business. I fail to see how Twitter traffic can be any more “worthless” than that from other blogs and websites that link to SeoBook, especially when you consider some of the folk who use the platform.

Overall, this has been a very disappointing experience. Suffice to say it is clearly not in anyone‘s interests to link to SeoBook in their tweets, because even if Aaron showed an interest in determining the cause of this issue with the pop-up box in order to fix it, he’s made it comprehensibly apparent that this does not matter. After all, why should it? Nobody wants Twitter’s worthless, bitchy, whining, penny-less users visiting their site, do they?

UPDATE: Aaron was gracious enough to post his follow-up to my article both in the comments and on his blog, and has removed mention of my name from his post.