Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Russell Beattie Gets Google News Bombed
John Battelle, Google Blogoscoped, and Russel's own blog report that mobile blogger Russell Beattie has been struck with the first reported Google News bomb. Russell, you may remember, was the blogger who was hours away from his job interview with Google, and decided to turn them down instead. Well, last week Russell interviewed with and got a job at Yahoo instead. Now, Jacek Rutkowski, the rapscallion who runs MS Mobiles, has written a "Press Release" titled Yahoo Mobile (main enemy of Google) hires incompetent leftist cell phone blogger Russell Beattie. Jacek has since declared a truce with Russell, as detailed on Russell's site, and the offending page has been taken down, but the headline and snippet:
Jeremy Zawodny, a Polish-American working at Yahoo, has managed to arrange a job for Russell Beattie, who has been fired lately from Nokia-owned Wavemarketremain in Google News, sitting ugly at the top spot for searches of Russell's name and Yahoo Mobile, near the top on Yahoo blogger, and about 60 results deep on a search for Yahoo.
Now, is there any good reason for a site that is almost crearly a blog to be listed on Google News? Well, there is some precedent; Slashdot is listed. I believe Google News does not accept blogs, except those that deal almost exclusively in delivering news, which Jacek's site does seem to do. However, personal attacks should not end up getting spidered.
At my newspaper, our site gets listed in Google News, and while some of our opinion articles are personal attacks that get listed, since the site is filled with articles from a large staff no one could be accused of using it for any personal vendetta. Any writer has to get story approval before he submits it, then it has to be vetted afterwards by anywhere from a minimum of three up to possibly ten people. A site like Jacek's which is run by one guy, no matter how "newsie" it is, is still too personal for Google News, and should be removed. The criteria for Google News should not be "no blogs" but rather: "No editor, no listing".
Lastly, any proper article must always contain a devil's advocate, and here's that. While Russell is certainly justified in being incensed, Russell is not just angry about the content; he seems mad at Jacek himself. Now, I know from experience that for most smaller sites on Google News, Google News becomes your number one referrer. It is possible Russell wants to destroy Jacek's site (and thus his revenue, and thus destroy Jacek himself) by removing him from Google News. Not that he's wrong, but his motives are suspect.
Also, Russell may not be innocent of conducting the same sort of attack. He has title his post "Jacek Rutkowski", and the opening sentence is "In case you don't know it, Jacek Rutkowski from MSMobiles.com has real problems and now I'm the target of his crazed obsessions." Search for jacek rutkowski on Google and what do you get? Blogs referencing Russell's post on Jacek fill the top seven results. Since it appears Jacek does not have a strong vanity search, by the time of the next Google Dance, expect Russell's post to be firmly entrenched in the top spot, since it is titled after the guy's name. Not only that, but the snippet is guaranteed to include the line "Jacek Rutkowski from MSMoblies.com has real problems". Looks to me like Russell has Google Bombed Jacek, and a lot more effectively.
Who's at fault? Jacek, of course. He started this (unless there's more we haven't been told) and as a result, he's responsible if any fallout blows up in his face. I doubt Russell was intentionally bombing Jacek, but we know what Jacek's intentions were when he wrote his article. There is a part of me that feels it would be more fitting if Russell intentionally bombed Jacek, but I just don't believe it. Plus, I'm very insulted about the "Polish" crack about Jeremey Zawodny. Some members of my family came from Poland, and its just such a childish insult for someone who purports to be a journalist.
The final word: I've always advocated for a person using their real name as often as possible on the internet in positive instances. In doing so, you control the Google results page for your name and can be certain that when a potential employer searches you they only see the positives. Jacek made the mistake of not putting his name out there enough, and the next time he tries for a job, rest assured he will be answering tough questions about this cyberstalker accusation.