Hey Idiot, Get Off The Internet!

There are times after a long day that I simply grow weary of the internet and what it reflects of the greater world — that it seems to be full of complete idiots. Today is one of those days. I’ll vent, get it off my chest, and perhaps some imbecile out there will learn from it. Perhaps that dumbass will grow, impossible though that might seem.

One of the sites I oversee is Sphinn, a Digg-like site for internet marketing news. Got a good story about internet marketing you want to share with a community of marketers? That’s what Sphinn is designed for. You submit a story, and people vote on it (sphinn it, as we say), and the stories that get the most sphinns make it to the home page in front of everyone.

Sounds easy, right? Sure, but as I’ve learned in the two years since we’ve run it, it’s a minefield. Someone does a post about some internet marketer’s birthday — it makes the front page — then people complain it’s not “serious” enough. So you make a rule against that, then someone else complains that a similar “celebratory” story gets through and starts yammering about double-standards.

You make a rule against contest submissions because most of them are crap. Then you get a prominent person who gets upset when THEIR content post gets pulled, and bruised egos lead to conspiracies about censorship and so on.

Hey, it goes with the territory. Building and maintaining communities isn’t easy work. It’s like having a family of thousands. You can’t please everyone, and you hope that on the whole, you make the right decisions overall.

But I really hate the censorship word, when it gets tossed around — and it gets tossed around way too lightly often by people who have no idea what it really means.

That leads me to today. While a community site can be fraught with egos, and concerns about double-standards or fairness, at least you have sympathy for people who are part of the community itself. Who have invested time, or energy or part of their souls to it. You want to do well by them. You want to do nothing for the drive-thru asshole who makes no effort at all.

Tonight after someone’s submission got removed, they sent this message:

what kind of horseshit site is this anyway?  I posted a link to a story, and get banned. So, you are big supporters of censorship I see, so it doesn’t matter one way or another if I use your site at all. I’ll also pass the Internet word around about this horseshit site as well.

Curious, I went to look at what this person had submitted. It was, best I can tell, a country-western short story. He submitted this to a site that, right under its logo, says it’s about “internet marketing news.” To submit it, he used a submission page that said:

Be sure you’ve read the submission guidelines. Done that? Then enter the news story URL….

Those guidelines, right at the top, said:

News submissions must be related to the internet marketing industry and submitted to the most relevant topic category.

Despite all of this, he drove like Homer Simpson through all our warnings and pleas to dump his big silo of pig shit into our lake. And after polluting it in this manner, he has the gall to cry “censorship” and call us “horseshit.”

I shouldn’t have bothered even trying, but I tried to explain things to him. No help. He simply didn’t understand. Didn’t care. Didn’t mind that he’d wasted everyone’s time — mine, his, those of our readers. He makes me wish he had an internet license to drive that could be revoked.

I know. The internet isn’t full of idiots like him. In fact, there are plenty of smart people out there. It’s the idiots that simply stand out most, suck so much energy that could be better used in other ways. It’s sad.


  1. says

    I think I love you.

    It’s my opinion that the internet IS full of idiots like him, but they tend to congregate around message boards and Facebook groups and troll relentlessly.

    Occasionally one breaks free and runs amok through a great site (I’ve never used Sphinn, but I’ve heard nothing but good things – it’s on my to-do list.)

    Keep your chin up and your steel-toe intellectual boots ready to deliver the shin-kick of death to the Inter-tards of the world 😀

    -Nick Armstrong

  2. says

    Sphinn: We publish both kinds of Internet Marketing News – Country AND Western..
    Dangit Danny, I find your censorship of this numbnutz link building tactic quite..welcoming..
    Thanks for keeping the horseshit out of my eyes..

  3. says


    I count on Sphinn and the greater abilities of our community here, to provide me with nearly 100% high quality articles to help challenge my SEO beliefs, expand my understanding, and just as importantly, allow me to participate in my peer community on the professional level.

    What comes to mind when it comes to cowboy’s rejected short story is how in technology we are always challenged to do better work at making something idiot-proof. Well, in all my years of trying, inevitably someone comes along to prove that because I fail miserably at trying to think like an idiot, I miss something along the way, and another idiot shows up to validate that.

    We can’t expect utopia here – heck, there’s no way we’d all agree on what that looked like anyhow.

    Instead, we can only express our thanks to you and all the Sphinn team for expending that energy when it’s needed. The fact that you actually attempted to educate this guy just further proves where your heart is.

  4. says


    Only one minor thing that I see flawed in your “idiot” blog above; there are probably more idiots running amok on the web then we care to admit. Fortunately they rarely spill over to sites like SearchEngineLand or Sphinn. But, when they do, just give them the courtesy that they deserve – ignore them.

    Damien Patton

  5. says

    Excellent article! Sadly it’s people like THAT who make our WORLD far LESS than it has the potential TO BE! Kudos for writing this. Many of us on Twitter have Retweeted it NUMEROUS times; a TESTAMENT to the message it gives! – TheJackalsMARK on Twitter.

  6. says

    I guess he found the site on a list of “great sites to submit your story to”, didn’t read the small print and while his single vote would just sit and linger on the likes of digg or delicious, Sphinn’s non-automated editorial policy means that he’ll kick up a fuss.

  7. says

    Great post. Best reaction is count to ten, and breathe………..it is incredibly frustrating, but this is the reality of social media. The internet has created a level of democracy hitherto unseen anywhere. ‘Open access’ sites such as blogs will naturally attract the odd IDIOT, but don’t be put off by that. The ‘long tail’ effect usually means that given the sheer volume of blogs out there, most posts and submission will only be from those interested in your core subject, but every now and then an anomaly ocurrs. That’s life.
    When you look at mass participation scenarios such as reality TV shows which use general public voting systems (Eg. UK’s Strictly Come Dancing) you immediately see the effect of democracy undermining sensibility and logic. The contestant who has no skill, but amuses the audience, gets the public vote, much to the immense frustration of all the ‘professionals’ associated with the show.
    I agree with the earlier reply to ignore it. The free market is eventually self levelling, and never go for censorship as ultimately that undermines the beauty of open blogs, and the democracy of the internet.

  8. says

    “perhaps some imbecile out there will learn from it. Perhaps that dumbass will grow, impossible though that might seem” .. Danny.. they wont learn.. they dont read your site, if they did, they wouldn’t be what they are..

    Sandeep Bali

  9. says

    Same at Googlewhack — even with grade-school kids in the room, adult jerks call ANY rule “censorship.” Request some degree of decorum? “Censorship.” Suggest a standard of decency? “Censorship.” Limit outrageous obscenities? “Censorship.” It’s tempting just to say, “You’re too stupid to use the internet!”

  10. says

    I don’t even blink at the censorship argument anymore. If they don’t like it they can create their own site and make it popular.

    It’s 10 times worse when politics get involved since everything you do is against “them” and it’s all a huge cover up.

  11. says

    I hate idiots, too – especially when I realize that I have been one. Maybe a bit of the golden rule should apply: treat idiots the way that we would wish to be treated when (on those very rare occasions) we gaffe, too.

    I’ve got to agree with Simon Taylor on this – count to 10 and IGNORE. Or, write a blog post and give others a chance to laugh at his idiocy.

    Thanks, Danny for sharing the story.

  12. says

    Brilliant post. Unfortunately there’s a huge amount of people like this on the Internet, and he probably falls into the ever-increasing category of people thinking they are good at SEO (link building).

  13. says

    I’ve just started using Sphinn — no, really, just yesterday — and it’s a great resource. It’s too bad that people abuse it, but I guess there are a lot of abusive people out there.

    If you read the community guidelines and moderation policies at news.ycombinator.com, you can see a great example of a community that tries to stay small and good rather than getting big and mediocre. When they see stuff they don’t like, they are merciless

  14. djb says

    So many people don’t understand usenet’s Standard Advice:

    1. Ignore.
    2. Filter.
    3. Help others understand the Standard Advice.

    Try it, Danny. Your blood pressure will thank you.

  15. Ros says

    I use Sphinn frequently, and find it useful. And on occasion I’ve reported some of the spam too.

    But I think djb has it right, especially the second point: filter. What Sphinn needs is a way to perform some automatic filtering. Get rid of that reCaptcha (or add a second captcha field) and ask a random trivia question that actually relates to internet marketing. I bet that guy couldn’t name Google’s head of webspam, but every SEO worth his or her salt could, for instance.

  16. says

    HAHAHAHA!! That’s some funny shite! If you’ll look at the guys sentence structure, you’ll see that he’s a pinhead. “I posted a link to a story, and get banned.” I think he’s a knuckle dragger…”and get banned” “hmmm Mongo only pawn in game of life”.
    The internet is full of them, it’s amazing that they can figure out funny internet box in the first place! Or to quote the two hillbillies on a recent Family Guy episode that were arguing over who gets the VCR: “It’s my sex box, no it’s my sex box…” :)

  17. says

    So the he’s idiotic enough to get stopped from spreading his idiocy any further.

    Hmm, ought to be a reward for that — something about removing his bad memes from the pool, perhaps?


  18. says

    Thanks Danny, reading this post has brightened a Monday morning! Does sound like an amusingly bad attempt at link building. Don’t get less upset about these people otherwise there’d be less funny internet stories!

  19. Katie says

    I’ve personally had a frustrating experience with Sphinn. From what it appears, any drivel of a story whether it’s actual news or just blogging tips will be accepted and promoted if it’s from a popular SEO site. If it’s from a non a-list SEO blog, the story gets quashed. Hardly seems like a fair policy.

    What’s the purpose of Sphinn–social media for A-list blogs only?

  20. says

    No, there’s plenty of non A-List stuff that shows up there.

    From what I can see, looking at your account, you first submitted to Sphinn about a month ago. That first story didn’t go hot, but it was accepted for consideration. No harm, no foul that I can tell, on our end.

    Your second submission was “10 Blogging Tips from Perez Hilton | Health and Fitness tips – Hive Health Media,” which was removed from consideration. I’m not sure exactly why. I’m on vacation at the moment and can’t log in and check. But I think it’s probably because these weren’t actually tips from Perez Hilton — plus, you kept the blog name in the title, which the submission guidelines warn against.

    Your third submission was a few days ago, on how to guest post and influence people. That was accepted but didn’t go hot. Again, no harm, no foul. People at Sphinn just didn’t seem to like it.

    After that, a few days ago also, you resubmitted the Perez Hilton post, this time with a new URL. It didn’t work the first time, so I don’t see how doing it the second time is a help.

    Overall, read the guidelines, have good content and maybe spend some time in the community. You’ve only voted for three stories yourself, one of those your own, two from others, over the past month. If you think there’s good content that needs to be elevated, casting a vote is a good way to do that.