Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lessons From A Controversial Post

The other day, Steve Hall of AdRants really stepped in it with his post about a controversial TV spot named Shiny Suds. The ad is definitely creepy, and Steve's snarky post was definitely over the top ("feminist blogging should be outlawed" - and that was once of his kinder points). But I think the 100+ comments clearly took him by surprise.

After all, writing snarky copy is what Steve hall does on a daily basis, and it's what makes his site such a fun read (that, and he has a great track record of finding interesting advertising oddities on the web).

But clearly, this post got away from him. Here's of couple of lessons I took away from it:

  • Having a trusted third party play editor on your blog is a good thing. Shira has veto power over every thing I write, and every picture I post on the blog. If she says it has to go, it has to go. She doesn't use that veto power often, and when she does I whine about it - but it's no doubt saved me huge problems, and I'm forever thankful for that. I'd definitely recommend having someone play this editor role in a blogging scenario - especially where you're whipping out copy fast and furious. The of course isn't to create content that doesn't offend anyone - that's a lost cause, and no doubt not very interesting copy. But, having someone tell you when you've crossed the line and need to dial it back some, is huge. Not to mention, it's helpful if you can have someone spot your grammar and spelling mistakes ("its" errors especially!).
  • Part way through the comments an interesting discussion arises as to whether or not the snark content on adrants represents Steve's personality (i.e., is he a snark jerk because his content is written that way). That seems absolutely absurd to me. Clearly, you can take on a persona on when you write - that's one of the fun parts of blogging. Just like an actor who plays a jerk on TV isn't a jerk in real life, the guy who writes content that's snarky doesn't have to be snarky all the time. Steve could probably drive this point home a bit more by using a different name than his own when he writes for AdRants, though I don't think this is required.
  • I like how Steve withdrew the post, and didn't try to hide from commotion he caused. By not erasing content, Steve is following one of the finest traditions of blogging, which is to remain open about corrections or mistakes you've made.
  • Finally, I found this to be an excellent reminder that you never know what single post is going to set folks off - for good, or bad. I've found this to be the case too - one of my most popular posts ever is one that I hammered out in just a few minutes. On the other hand, impassioned mini-novelle's I've written on some important topic have often been ignored. You just can't tell what's going to resonate with people - so you always have to be careful about what you write. As Steve showed, a single blog post you write can color how many folks see your blog, even if you've been doing this forever (yeah, I'd consider 2004 "forever" in internet time).

Sure was nice of Steve to have this little incident, so I could learn from it. Man, he's always teaching me things!


  1. Thanks for the level-headed commentary, Ben.

  2. My pleasure - thanks for the awesome work Steve!

    -Ben (who's going to call his Mom, and tell her that a celebrity just commented on his blog...)