Watch Out For The Web 2.0 Police!

Services for Real Estate Pros with Zillow

I have said Web 2.0 websites (sites where users can actively post and contribute) have a sort of "give a penny, take a penny" philosophy.  For the most part, there are so many people out there that want to help (by giving a penny or writing a cool blog post) than hurt (taking all the pennies or leaving malicious comments).  

Because I work for a company that allows people to write to the site, people often say "Zillow should manually police this or that".  Of course we do our best to catch any scandalous behavior, but really we leave it up to the community to catch and call out these perpetrators.  Truth is, the community can do a better job policing itself than if we went out and hired 100 people to just look for missteps.  The same is true here on Active Rain.

This morning, the Web 2.0 police was out in full force and rightfully "caught" someone who has now been "sentenced" to Internet purgatory as her online reputation is now ruined.  

Time line of the community at work:

6:22am -  A really stupid post is made that attacked someone personally that didn't deserve it (really, not worth reading, although the comments are good)

7:03am - The first comment is made by Jay Thomson which calls the author out. 

7:22am -  A Twitter goes out to several real estate bloggers - “Wow, My respect for Redfin and Carol D Hian, has gone down signficanty. Good thing these post come back to bite the author, hard.”

9:23am -  Jay Thompson writes his own post about how ridiculous this author's post was on his blog. By now there are 9 comments on the original post disagreeing with the author. 

10:33am -  The Real Estate Zebra is using this as an example of what not to do in the blogosphere. 

10:47am -  The owner of the website in which the post was made, Glenn Kelman, chimes in to apologize and insinuates author has now lost her job.  

Later - Another post about it by Jay at Agent Genius and Sellsius gets in on the action on his blog. 

11:25 am - Mummy Dogs is reporting. 

11:36am  -  The Real Estate Coach's Weblog chimes in.

Later- 46 comments later on the original post, and Geek Estate expresses an opinion. 

Now this is a pretty extreme example, but an example none-the-less how fast the community catches and calls out wrong-doers.  All reputable 2.0 websites make every effort for the community to make such judgment calls.  

Zillow :                






Trulia Voices:  




As a community we can police and make sure that information being disseminated is appropriate.  We have the power to flag and remove that which is not.  And conversely, we have the power to reward that which is particular helpful by Digging It or linking to it.  

As a community we can all work to make this Blogosphere a better place!  


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David Saks
Memphis, TN

Thanks for the play-by-play post of the soap opera. It's a real motivator on how not to behave when addressing your colleagues. I like to tell my friends that if they want to wake up happy they should never go to bed angry, and that a more honorable person will walk away from, and ignore, a bully.

Peace... -David-

Apr 22, 2008 10:32 PM #41
Renée Donohue
Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Broker -

I have seen people get a little too wrapped up on the web and then the flame wars start.  Self policing is perhaps one of the best way to shame and out a person.

On the second hand, I avoid getting so involved that I think about writing entire posts about people!

Apr 23, 2008 12:38 AM #42
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

wow I caught a whiff of it at some point but had no idea it was such a big deal.  I read the "Barbie Takes a Bite (Again!)" and felt it was a personal attack.

As usual I wonder if it is all like professional wrestling. 


Apr 23, 2008 01:14 AM #43
Debbie Summers
Charles Rutenberg Realty - New Smyrna Beach, FL
Sarah, I find that in the "blog world" people act differently than they would in "real life"...
Apr 23, 2008 02:38 AM #44
Doug Fritchie
DOUG FRITCHIE-Silver Legacy Properties,Inc. - Portland, OR
Hey Sara~ We are actually very happy that the web 2.0 police are able to monitor blogs, otherwise things would get out of hand.
Apr 23, 2008 02:47 AM #45
Joseph Ferrara.sellsius

As to policing community sites:  It depends very much on the type of community and what exactly is "policed". Policing of naughty words, spam, heavy self-promotion, bashing,  is easy compared to policing whether a home posted as for sale by someone other than the owner, or listing agent, is actually for sale OR whether answers given by non-owners & non-listing agents is accurate-- the reason being that only the owner or LA has access to the facts. If they are unaware of the discussion, they cannot flag it. The community is just not able to police this for the owner.  However, this can be easily remedied --but you'd have to write me a check :)

 As to the Redfin blogger bash matter, it should not have happened.  And this goes to Frank Jewett's point of hiring folks to do some police work.  IMO, it is really poor management at Redfin that allows hired subcontractors (writers) to freely publish content on a company blog without any prior review or editorial approval. That's just plain dumb.   While the author made a gaff (it happens), the bigger gaff is the company system that let it happen.  Hmm.. real estate folks at Redfin not knowing you gotta keep an eye on subcontractors-- makes you wonder what else they're letting slip by.  




Apr 23, 2008 03:09 AM #46
Frank Jewett
tech4REpros - San Jose, CA
Joseph, I'm hoping incidents like this will put an end to the cottage industry of paid blogging.  Many of the shill bloggers come from the political blogs where every discussion is, to borrow Maureen's apt metaphor, a steel cage match.
Apr 23, 2008 03:32 AM #47
Jeremy Blanton
Myrtle Beach Homes Blog - Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach REALTOR®-
Sara thanks for sharing...I think what this shows me is that before I go on a rant about anything I need to stop and think of all the effects that could come from it.  While it may make me feel good to get it off my chest, a public forum may not be the best place to do that!
Apr 23, 2008 06:42 AM #48
Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!
Interesting. The blog does have power and like any power must be used wisely. 
Apr 23, 2008 08:06 AM #49
Carolyn Gjerde-Tu-Davis
Lyon Real Estate - Davis, CA
Ca Real Estate
The original story highlights the importance of watching what you say when you write on the web.  I think some people forget that what we write is literally "out there" and there is no anonymity. 
Apr 23, 2008 08:34 AM #50
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

Followed Maureen's link here from Twitter. I have a big concern. So far, the real estate blogosphere has done a relatively good job of policing itself. Hopefully, since MOST licensees do at least TRY to act professionally, this will continue. But I can give you a huge example of blatant misuse and wrongdoing. The site? You Tube. The powers-that-be have insulated themselves from the community and play favorites with whomever is bringing in the most money. If a video gets flagged enough times, it gets pulled down, even when there is NO reason for t to be pulled! All it takes is enough vengeful people to flag it and down it goes. If this happens on 3 videos, the entire channel is suspended. 2 years of working and building a subscriber base is now thrown out the window. 

So far, every change and update I've seen made on the real estate sites has been a mirror action of what has happened on You Tube in the last coupe of years. If you want to know where we're headed, just get to know some You Tubers.

But, like I said, since we're licensed "professionals", hopefully the worst case scenario won't happen. But we all know there are just as many jerks with licenses as there are without. 

Apr 23, 2008 10:46 AM #51
Dave Koester
Rain Dance Real Estate - Eugene, OR
Paid bloggers are not going to fade until the market for their services is no longer needed. Needless to say, this could happen to anyone who blogs. Many paid bloggers do not post until the editor of the blog clears the post.
Apr 23, 2008 12:59 PM #52
Christy Powers
Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners - Pooler, GA
Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent
Wow, that was an interesting post on redfin. The author definitely was agitated and didn't take a few deep breaths before hitting the submit button.
Apr 23, 2008 01:44 PM #53
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Oh... it was a paid blogger...  I did not know that... I am now reading the comments here... I like Sherry find it all too Jerry Springerish to really spend time reading it all so I do appreciate the Readers Digest condensed version from Sara. 


Apr 24, 2008 04:32 AM #54
Joseph Ferrara.sellsius
Perhaps it's not paid bloggers but lack of paid editors.  But the point is well taken Frank.
Apr 24, 2008 11:28 AM #55
Pam Dent
Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc. - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse
You can't assume that any thing is private one the internet.  It is important to think before you submit.  It reaches a lot of people very fast and there is no time to retract.
Apr 25, 2008 02:26 PM #56

Thanks for the "Link Love" Sara. When I wrote that post I had no idea that it would incure the Wrath of Barry Cunningham, Greg Swan, and the Blood Hound Bunch. I really wanted to stimulate some dialogue about standards in Blogging. I am being told by Barry that I will have an opportunity to debate the subject of standards in Blogs on his radio show. I will keep you posted if and when that takes place.


Thanks again, The Coach

Apr 28, 2008 01:50 PM #57
Denise Allen
Resh Realty Group - Chesapeake, VA
Realtor@ Chesapeake, Hampton Roads
I think if you are going to have a site then you should police it.  If zillow and redfin are to big and it cost to much to police then they should downsize.
Apr 28, 2008 01:56 PM #58
Bo Buchanan - Oswego, IL Directory, For Real Estate Pronulls

Sara - I followed that thread all the way through to the company retraction. Interesting read - thanks for pointing me in the general direction. 

May 13, 2008 01:44 PM #59
Frank Jewett
tech4REpros - San Jose, CA

Sara, on the issue of self-policing, lately it has become fashionable in certain quarters to demean those who participate in the self-policing process.  This is yet another reason why self-policing is not an effective, responsible way to manage a social network, blog platform, or message board.  Thanks!

May 27, 2008 08:27 AM #60
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