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When Things Get Personal, Part Two

Posted by on Oct 18, 2011

Last year I wrote a post titled When Things Get Personal On Blogs. That post was about a tete-a-tete I got into with some folks over the topic of Akismet and spam and such. It got a lot more responses than you’ll see if you visit the post because there were a lot of attack comments that came here based on that post that I simple deleted. I knew they were coming, and I knew I was going to delete them. I didn’t need that on my blog, I didn’t trust the people I knew were going to send them (whom I mention in the post), and, as I’ve always said, this is my space, I pay for it, and I get to decide what stays and what goes. Some might call it censorship; personally I don’t care. You behave in someone else’s space or deal with the consequences.

by Olivier Hodac via Flickr

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as the last couple of months have been somewhat interesting around here. I’ve had some things going on in my personal life that made me not be as diligent as I should have been. I feel as though I allowed certain behavior to go unchecked around here, and I don’t like myself for that. It’s not behavior that I exhibited either; that’s probably the worst part.

Not that I’ve always been nice here. For the most part I am, but I will go after someone that goes after a friend of mine or someone that’s done something ice for me or others. Loyalty is one of my big things; I think I’ve said that before.

Last September I wrote a different kind of post titled De-Stressing Life By Not Commenting. On that post I indicated that when I felt I couldn’t comment on something without getting into an emotional firefight that I just wasn’t going to do it anymore. As I said, some people strive on attack mode; I don’t. I don’t thrive at all on negativity; never have. I don’t expect everything to be Andy Griffith, but I do expect a certain amount of decorum.

And I expect that here. That’s why I feel so bad that I’ve allowed a few people to be attacked in some fashion here over the past couple of months. And none of it was constructive; it was personal, and that just shouldn’t have been allowed. And none of it was specifically directed to me until last week; that makes what I allowed to happen become even worse, because I should have nipped it in the bud much earlier.

I can guarantee this won’t be a problem in the future. From actually last week, but since I’m writing today I’ll say today, I will not allow any more personal attacks in comments on this blog, or any other blog I write. If I feel the comment is personal, whether it’s towards me or anyone else, it’s gone, plain and simple. If you want to personally attack someone, take it to a newspaper site since they don’t ever seem to want to censor anyone. Behave or be gone; no one wants to deal with that mess.

Why am I doing this? I want to encourage people to comment here, and I want it to be a safe haven. We can disagree with each other, but we’re going to treat each other with respect. I can’t change the world, but I can certainly change things here. I pay for this, and thus my rules. In a weird way I was inspired to finally write this post after reading a post by Marcus Sheridan titled The Lie that is Online Transparency and โ€˜Being True to Selfโ€™, where he talks about people that cuss a lot saying they’re just being true to themselves and how he believes they’re lying to themselves. So do I, and this has always been a no-curse-words zone, since I don’t cuss (and yes, I did just interchange ‘cuss’ and ‘curse’); never have, never will.

So, for those of you that may have found certain posts here with comments that might have put you off, please know that I apologize for that and know that you will never have to worry again. For those of you who had to deal with a personal attack in the last couple of months, that being John, Ken and Chris, I’m sorry I didn’t step in earlier. I’m not putting up with it against me; I’m certainly not ever going to put up with it against anyone else again.

That is, unless it’s nice; if someone makes a love connection make sure to invite me to the wedding, as I love wedding cake. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Hey Mitch! Good for you, man. As you rightly said, this is your space and you’re not wrong for setting a code of conduct on your own space.

There’s no apologies necessary towards, me at all, my man.

I only felt bad that I was de-railing what your post was supposed to be about. It takes two to tango and I didn’t even have to respond but I did anyway. So I should apologize to you for escalating things.

At some point I could have kept going all day but that’s not the way I want to behave, especially when you had a good post going and I felt like I was distracting everyone.

I feel the way you do, I try not to get involved in some comment war that’s going to be too emotional and really serve no purpose but ranting.

Another thing I’ll do is to say to myself “would I say what I’m about to write directly to someone’s face?” Sometimes there’s a tendency to go overboard when you don’t have to consider the other person’s feelings.

I especially feel bad for Chris, he’s taken a beating recently but I hope he’s just letting it wash over him and not really affect what he needs to do for himself.

Anyway, thanks for the apology, although I don’t feel you owe me one. Much respect for taking a stand for civility!
John Garrett recently posted…Hypertransitory Monday Comics #7 – The Commander Series pt 2!My Profile

October 18th, 2011 | 11:11 AM

John, as basically the administrator of the blog, I have to think about taking action sooner when things like this come up. I want this to be a safe haven for people to comment and for all of us to be able to talk and network and learn, and if people get riled none of that will occur. Yeah, all of us will misinterpret something and get upset here and there, but we can do that and not get personal. And it’s my job on my blogs to keep it civil. Thanks!

October 18th, 2011 | 1:26 PM

Mitch, this was cool man. You have such a strong sense of sincerity with the stuff you say and write, and I find it very refreshing.

Your house, your rules brother.

Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion recently posted…Please Retweet, Share, and Snail Mail this Post to Everyone on Earth You KnowMy Profile

October 18th, 2011 | 5:18 PM

Thanks Marcus. I just feel this sense of needing to do the right thing, you know? You do the same on your blog though which makes it a joy to visit and comment on as well.

October 19th, 2011 | 9:54 AM
John Dilbeck:

I agree with you on this, Mitch. Well done.


PS. I just realized that this sounds like one of those “great job” spam comments and I didn’t want to leave it that way.

I agree that we should manage our spaces in any way we want.

I don’t allow personal attacks on any of my sites and I’ll delete comments and/or ban people without a second thought if they don’t show courtesy and respect, even if they vociferously disagree, they have to do it the right way. Debates are fine. Personal attacks, name calling, and the like are not welcome, at all.

October 18th, 2011 | 5:04 PM

Thanks John. Actually, I was going to say your previous message was the shortest thing you’d ever written, but as I look at this I might still be able to say that. lol And yes, we all have to manage our spaces the way we want them to be.

October 19th, 2011 | 9:53 AM

This probably is a good decision, Mitch, but I also thing that if some of this comments are backed up with facts or at least probable evidence you should keep it.
Carl recently posted…SEO Outsource Services Grant Benefits That Are Hard To Find ElsewhereMy Profile

October 18th, 2011 | 9:06 PM

Carl, if someone’s attacking then the facts don’t matter. I just feel like I might have let some bad behavior go recently, and I realize I’ve also done it in the past. I never want anyone leaving because they’re uncomfortable commenting here for fear of being personally attacked. When that happens to me on other blogs, I leave & never go back; I don’t want that happening here.

October 19th, 2011 | 9:56 AM

This is another good point, it had happened to me in forums, rarely on blogs, but for sure if this happened, most likely the first time it will just make me mad, but if there is 2nd time, probably I will just leave and never go back as well.

October 19th, 2011 | 8:33 PM

Carl, it’s never happened to me in a forum but I’ve seen it there as well. It just makes me want to bolt & not have to deal with it. And so no one thinks it’s because I’m scared of a battle, it’s because I physically want to hurt someone and then I just can’t mentally let it go. And man, I have enough problems trying to sleep as it is.

October 19th, 2011 | 11:56 PM

I agree with those ones who say that this is your own decision and your own choice. And you shouldn’t apologize for it. it’s ok)
Jeanie recently posted…Free TV Channel Video Facebook TemplateMy Profile

October 19th, 2011 | 3:09 AM

Hi Mitch, I’m pretty sure I know two of those posts you’re referring to. I agree 100%, it’s your blog, not a democracy and I wouldn’t call it censorship at all. It’s moderating your blog. That’s what we do as admins.

Personally, I have no problem with argument and controversy. I have a blog that’s only there so I can vent about whatever has my blood pressure up and I rarely hold back. With that said, there’s a time and place for everything. I wouldn’t dream of disrespectful conduct on someone’s site with foul language or anything else inappropriate. Time and place. My Mother passed away several years ago and she died without ever hearing a single cuss word from me the entire time she was alive. Time and place. That’s not to say I don’t cuss, I’ve spent 28 years driving a truck. I guess all in all I’m pretty mild but I try to be respectful and mindful where I’m at; both online and off.
Brian D. Hawkins recently posted…Flashpaste Copy Paste Utility – A Time Saving ResourceMy Profile

October 19th, 2011 | 3:24 AM

Brian, I don’t mind argument and controversy; I mind when it gets personal. I know you know one of the posts, and both of us kind of sat on the sidelines waiting for it to end so we could participate. Heck, it’s my blog; that was ridiculous of me, and I can guarantee it won’t happen again.

October 19th, 2011 | 9:58 AM

Hey Mitch,

I applaud you my friend and I totally agree with you. This is your home and you have the right to not welcome those that can’t be nice and behave. I had to recently put my foot down as well and implement my own commenting policy. Mostly for the spammers since I don’t think I write enough stuff that would cause a tiff! At least not yet!

That was very thoughtful of you to reach out to those guys who you felt you didn’t stick up for when whatever incident took place. I know they appreciate you for it and I love your honesty. One of the reasons I keep coming back for more.

Great job Mitch!
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October 19th, 2011 | 2:38 PM

Thanks Adrienne. No one wants to be a censor, but I always believe we set these things up so we can communicate in a safe way with others. I don’t mind disagreement, but if someone wants to come at me personally then they need to stand in front of me so they can see if there will be any consequences of it. Beyond that, here I just don’t want to deal with that, so the consequences will be much easier to handle.

October 19th, 2011 | 3:12 PM

Mitch: I have the utmost respect for you and your blog. I’ve enjoyed our banter quite a bit.

Considering your apologies have gone to three people I disagreed with in your comments section, I must assume it’s my behavior you’re apologizing for. If that’s the case, I do want to point out that Chris Brogan’s comment to Bill Pfohl was mean-spirited and uncalled for, but you aren’t apologizing to Bill. And you aren’t apologizing to me for the very personal attacks Ken Evoy leveled against me. I’m not angry, and please don’t think it’s a personal attack.

I would love to take you to lunch sometime, to apologize for any misunderstanding and so you know that I’m really not an attack dog. I’m hard headed. But I’m really a pretty nice guy.

Anyway, thanks for all you do.
Dan recently posted…How to ruin your business by not knowing when to shut up.My Profile

October 19th, 2011 | 4:43 PM

Dan, I thought Chris’ response to Bill was quite measured, and not a personal attack at all. I guess it all stems from the perspective of the reader at the time, and I just went back to verify my feelings on his comment. Truth be told, if there was an attack it came from Bill first.

As for your thing with Ken, you did go after him first, and I’d expect anyone to respond to direct criticism because I certainly would.

But it’s not at all about that. I shouldn’t have let any of it go to begin with, and I didn’t. I have established rules for engagement on this blog, always have, and I let it go; that’s a major shame on me. Do I think there’s no one who’s fair game? Nope; I’ve taken my shots at Rush Limbarf (see, there’s one now), but he feeds off that stuff. When I wrote my post about Ken I didn’t say anything personal; I commented on his post. Same with Chris, who I actually see in a very positive light. I think it was pretty cool having these two guys join the conversation, and I really felt it could have gone further and better, and I messed up. I don’t think everyone really gets the opportunity to talk to wealthy people all that often, and the face that each took time to visit… I treasured that.

We’ll have that lunch one day. I don’t think you’re a bad guy, and as you saw I certainly didn’t, nor would have, called you out. It was all on me, and I felt I had to state for the record that I won’t let it happen again. As Truman said, “the buck stops here”. ๐Ÿ™‚

October 19th, 2011 | 7:04 PM

I appreciate your taking responsibility, Mitch, but honestly, I’m responsible for what I write, and I tend — like you — to stand behind it.

I’ve made a decent living questioning people when their stories don’t add up, pointing out when people aren’t telling the truth, exposing scammers. I’m a decorated journalist with an overdeveloped sense of justice. Because I’ve questioned authority, I’ve brought attention to issues that have caused two consumer protection laws to be passed in our state. I’ve exposed a corrupt judge. I’ve aided murder investigations. I’ve gone face-to-face with congressmen, state representatives and politicians at every level of governance (save the president, unfortunately).

Frankly, a person’s wealth or fame doesn’t make them worth any more than anyone else, in my opinion. Wealth and fame should not be a free pass against criticism — especially when that wealth is gained through dishonest means. I think we can agree on that point.

The Internet is a scary and exciting place. I’ve made it my mission to protect others from misinformation. I’ve taken on Chris Brogan, Ken Evoy, Mike Arrington, Lisa Barone, Jeff Jarvis and more on my own blog. Yes, some of them have stopped by to comment. Some have even admitted I was (gasp) right. Like you, I could get a certain satisfaction from that. But the real satisfaction comes not from getting a comment from a wealthy person, but the notes I get from regular people who appreciate that someone’s willing to stand up for them.
Dan recently posted…How to ruin your business by not knowing when to shut up.My Profile

October 20th, 2011 | 3:19 PM

That works well for you Dan. I actually don’t disagree with the premise that people are people. However, I will always state that there’s a place for everything. I take on the world with my blog in my own way. There’s things I won’t say, in ways I won’t say it. I expect that in my space people will do the same. When they don’t, I have to act. When I don’t act, I’m disappointed in myself. So, you can be responsible for what you write and stand behind it; I wouldn’t expect anything less.

But I’m also responsible for my space and my actions and how I feel about things; your parting shot to me on one of my posts about acting on things without facts; that was on me because I’d allowed you to do it to others previously. I allowed you to let it get personal, to feel that type of things would be allowed here. Trust me, I didn’t like it one bit, but I was more mad at myself. I won’t allow that type of thing here again, which is why it’s on me. I left that comment here as a reminder to myself.

We both will fight, in our own way, for truth and justice. But here, it will never be allowed to go into attack mode again; I’m not having it. And I’ll delete in a heartbeat; my money, my rules.

Now, let’s all play nice! ๐Ÿ™‚

October 20th, 2011 | 4:00 PM

Oh man, Mitch. I promise you I didn’t mean that as an insult. I meant it as a compliment…that I expected no less of you than that you’d stick by your opinion. I’m really sorry it didn’t read that way. The comment about facts alluded to the genesis of the discussion, where we were disagreeing about the wrong thing…I guess I mistakenly thought you’d pick up on the joviality.

You needn’t worry. I respect your space. And I’m not a troll.
Dan recently posted…How to ruin your business by not knowing when to shut up.My Profile

October 20th, 2011 | 4:34 PM
Ana @ Dias Fertiles:

We had this very good course at my University that was called “The Culture Of Conversation” and the one named “Discourse Analysis”. Both of them combined mostly led us to conclude the same thing – you have the substance of your message and you have the “wrapping”. If your wrapping is too emotional, your substance gets affected and your message is altered.

The same goes with your partner in conversation. If they get too emotional, the message is corrupted.

Therefore, there is NO EXCUSE to be impolite in your conversation or debate. That’s just the useless exchange of overly emotional, corrupted messages. That is, if this way of exchange is not what you want.

Your blog is your blog, and if you choose it to be a place of good conversation, things like those messages should be deleted. Even if they contain some valid arguments – valid arguments deserve better “wrapping”, so if the author doesn’t bother to give it to them, why would you?

October 20th, 2011 | 4:26 AM

Great stuff Ana. Actually I’ve always had a certain way of communicating with people that works very well, and then I read the book Crucial Conversations and beefed up my communication skills more, or so I’d like to believe. The right message for the right time, but being honest with the message; that’s always the most important thing.

October 20th, 2011 | 1:13 PM
Mitchell Allen:

Ana brought something fascinating to the table, Mitch. She reminded me of a mantra I used as a supervisor when I needed to calm down an irate employee:

“You know management is looking for any excuse to discredit your point of view. If you go in there ranting and raving, they won’t have to listen to the facts. They’ll call you an out-of-control employee and bring you up on insubordination charges.”

Of course, there is the flip side of the coin, righteous indignation. Why that works when regular ranting and raving won’t is based on the egregiousness of the instigating incident and the normal demeanor of the aggrieved person. (Think boy who cried wolf vs. the-quiet-ones-you-must-watch-out-for.)

On blogs, the physical presence is absent. That leaves us, the readers, to fill in the gap with our perception of the ranting writer. If we choose to believe the person is out of control, like you said, the facts won’t matter. On the other hand, if we choose to believe that the person is acting with righteous indignation – surprise, surprise – we do not see it as violating decorum.

Either way, ranters will rant, readers will judge and administrators will convict. That’s as it should be.
Anyone who doesn’t like the flow can get out of the hot tub.



October 21st, 2011 | 8:49 AM

Interesting stuff Mitch. You know, I need to write a post (it’s coming) online communications. For instance, it’s always possible that many of us might misinterpret the words someone else is using. After all, we don’t know each other all that well, and we don’t see the expression on the person’s face when they write something. I’ve actually written on this topic in an old newsletter for my business site and I’ll probably bring a few of those points over here. That’s why I use so many smilies when I’m on other blogs, and even when I respond to comments here. I just want people to make sure they know I’m not yelling or fussing at anyone.

October 21st, 2011 | 11:24 PM
Ana @ Dias Fertiles:


even from this little communication that we have had until not, your extremely high level of communication talent and the sense of righteousness are first things I’ve noticed. That book sounds very interesting, I will add it to my “Please, Ana read already!” list.

And, Mitchell, that is an excellent point you have with the employees!

October 21st, 2011 | 4:42 PM
Mitchell Allen:

Thanks, Ana. The folks paid attention, most of the time. Those that didn’t suffered a fate. ๐Ÿ™‚



October 21st, 2011 | 5:52 PM

Hey Ana, if you’re adding books to your reading list why not think about one of the two books I have there on the left? lol

October 21st, 2011 | 11:25 PM

I personally thrive on debates, especially the ones where attacks are included. I always found them constructive in some way and never felt bad over them, from my point of view, its just the internet, nobody should take it to serious. When I know I’m right, I love to argue till the other guy gives up or starts seeing it my way…

But that’s my point of view and I’m sure most people will disagree with me on this one…

October 21st, 2011 | 9:13 PM

That may work for you Cristian, but you have to see it my way as well. See, I’ve always believed that you teach people how to treat you and you do that by how you treat them. In person, I’m not a small guy, and it’s been very rare in my life that someone has dared come up to my face and try that. Trust me, I’ve crushed people in some fashion that have tried, either physically (when I was younger) or emotionally, and even got one guy fired by reporting him to the state. I don’t tend to play fair when people don’t deserve it; I don’t let go until I’ve taken people apart for good. That’s why it’s always best that I don’t even get there, and a big reason why I’ve never gone into politics.

The thing is that I’ve seen a decline in considerate behavior over time. You’re a young guy and thus you’re from the generation that’s helped bring the decline on; not saying you personally, just young people in general. That’s okay for those folks, but for me, in my space, I’m just not having it. I know if I go elsewhere and see that sort of behavior I’m just not going to participate.

Truthfully though, there probably aren’t as many people who’d disagree with you as you might think. If that were the case you wouldn’t be seeing what occurs on news sites when people are writing commentary on news stories; the worst schlock going today.

October 21st, 2011 | 11:32 PM