The founder of WP Site Care, Ryan Sullivan, explains how a negative SEO campaign nearly took his business offline. Sullivan shares details behind the attack, how it affected the bottom line, and says it was someone in the WordPress community who orchestrated the attack.
Using some sophisticated techniques we were able to trace back to the source of the spam attack and unfortunately found out that the attack was started by someone within the WordPress community.
They did everything through a third-party, an internet hitman of sorts, to try to cover their tracks, but they weren’t quite careful enough and we were able to uncover where everything started.
Instead of naming the individual, Sullivan left a message aimed specifically at the person responsible, “The only reason I even mention it is so that hopefully, that person reads this, and knows that what they’re doing is impacting the livelihood’s of people and their families.” It’s this message which has me wondering, is it time to name and shame people in the WordPress community?
In my experience, the community rarely calls people out, even if they have routinely harassed others at a WordCamp. Instead, we usually find out about them through back channels. By calling people out, it warns others and makes everyone aware of the situation.
Naming and shaming creates the potential for libel and defamation lawsuits. The internet has a long memory and if a person changes for the better, it will be hard to forget mistakes made in the past. It could hurt future employment opportunities as employers do background checks using Google. There’s likely a lot of unintended consequences as well.
Judge and Jury
I doubt the community will start calling people out, as it creates anger, grief, and drama. Besides, who are we to act as judge and jury? However, it bothers me to know that an unnamed person is negatively impacting the livelihood of WordPress businesses and people.
On one hand, I want to see the individual dealt with in the public sphere and turned into an example. On the other, I feel it’s probably not the best way to go about it. Maybe the system already in place is the best way to handle these types of situations? Write a post, raise awareness, and tell others who to watch out for in the back channel. What do you think?