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Seth Godin Killed Squidoo-Was It Fraud?

Updated on December 1, 2014

Serious Trespass of Ethics or Worse?

Is it time to get serious about Seth Godin’s most recent trespass on internet business ethics?

With his widely criticized handling of Squidoo’s collapse, has he stepped from poor judgment straight into illegal?

Already with a history of internet irresponsibility, his actions in laying the final hammer to Squidoo may top his other strange behaviors for their cunning ability to manipulate facts for PR and trusting followers for profit.

That Godin retains a reputation for internet marketing brilliance, even after a bumbling of Squidoo that rivals what you’d expect from a failing high school senior, shows us that the blogosphere loves hewing to the ongoing narrative as much as the mass media does.

The mass hates change once the story’s embedded.

Of course, being a klutz at marketing management, which Godin certainly is, is not a crime. Being impervious to one’s own inadequacies and failures, as Godin also seems to be, is perfectly legal too.

But taking control of assets belonging to others and leveraging them for your own private profit, while scheming to cut the owners out of their share, isn’t.

It’s what we call “fraud.”

Here’s how Wikipedia defines fraud:

Fraud is a deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.”

Wikipedia goes on to explain that fraud can be both a civil wrong and a criminal offense.

Seth Godin at Work

Godin has emerged as a skilled writer of inspirational marketing texts, but the results haven't matched up to the rhetoric.
Godin has emerged as a skilled writer of inspirational marketing texts, but the results haven't matched up to the rhetoric. | Source

Let's Look at the History

From inception, although Godin and his partners promoted Squidoo as a place to write about your passions, it was the go to place for marketing products on commission for affiliates, especially Amazon and eBay.

All the self-proclaimed experts selling strategies for making millions on the internet, usually with little or no effort, on a sort of marketing autopilot, sent their customers straight to Squidoo, a free and easy platform where there were no restrictions of marketing excess.

Seth Godin built a site where anyone with internet access could pluck products from Amazon and sell them freely, gaming the web crawlers for key word dominance. You searched for “shower curtains” and you got a Squidoo catalog of pasted in Amazon products.

Other efforts descended from obvious to ridiculous

In a notorious initiative, Godin discarded the concept that made him famous:

From permission marketing fame to cyber greenmail shame, Seth Godin has finally jumped the shark,” according to internet attorney Mike Young.

What did the marketing genius do to earn Young’s condemnation?

He put together hundreds of Squidoo lenses for companies with major brands and promoted it as a Squidoo product, Brands in Public. In a Squidoo HQ post, Godin reported demanding $400 per month from each of the companies, even though — shades of the future — neither he nor anyone else had permission from the owners to create the pages to begin with.

If your brand wants to be in charge of developing this page,” Godin wrote, “It will cost you $400 a month.

Young summed it up.

“From an ethical standpoint, there’s little separating what Godin is doing from cybersquatters who sit on domain names filled with the companies’ brands demanding unreasonable sums.”

That’s our boy, Seth Godin, not just unethical, but unaware on top of it.

His post has been taken down and the initiative abandoned in less than a month and just shortly after he fumbled a rationale, as has Squidoo’s TOS, and this money-grubbing initiative was as doomed as Squidoo itself now is.

More Questionable Ethics

In a post titled The stupidest thing Seth Godin ever said,” Chris at 1 Good Reason takes Godin to task for a gaff so mindbogglingly stupid, it stopped veterans seasoned in the Seth Godin Genius Sauce in their tracks.

It also offers insight into the ethical slant with which he influenced Squidoo.

In a blog post titled Ads are the new online tip hat, Godin proposes:

“If you like what you're reading, click an ad to say thanks.”

His mission, he claimed, was to change the economics of the internet.

Blogger Patrick Altoft wondered if Godin was advocating click fraud before going forward with a reasoned explanation why an advertiser would be cheated with a click made with no intention of considering a purchase.

A commenter, Ranked Hard, who may have had an eye on the future thought…

“I'm convinced that Seth wrote what he wrote for linkbait. It's too inane to be something he actually advocates. But I don't know, maybe his goal is to get Squidoo smart-priced.”

Another commenter was more succinct:

“It is stealing.”


A Foundation Laid

All things considered, it’s no more a surprise that Godin and his co-founder Megan Casey nimbly populated Squidoo with catalog pages that were little more than transfer stations for affiliate sales.

If you were there, trying to join company with outstanding writing or even smart ideas, you were thrown into despair just looking around the scuzzy neighborhood.

Don’t worry about that, Casey posted, the only real way to make money here is through Amazon sales. Shared Adsense revenue wouldn’t make you rich.

The values of Squidoo’s leadership team were clear enough.

But it should also not have been a surprise when Google, those dirty bastards, threw up their hands and decided, via Panda update, to decline sending searchers to Squidoo for products they could as easily find with just a few clicks on Amazon.

While the lazy, marketing-addicted “lensmasters” who’d found Squidoo fertile for getting something for next to nothing railed at the terrible unfairness in Google’s actions, none really noticed that Google took money out of their own pockets as well in its efforts to improve user experience.

Then, it got ugly.

Seth Godin - WTF?

Source

Megan Casey Skiddoes

When a cofounder who’s experience in publishing was a key element in winning writers’ trust abruptly departs, you’d expect some details.

Nope, so long and farewell. Casey, who was well liked, skiddooed, leaving to start a new website that she hinted was about dogs.

I don’t know about you, but leaving one of the most prosperous sites on the web — Squidoo was in the top 200 in the U.S. by then — for one more in the crowded web niche of dogs seemed a little strange.

Some speculated retrospectively that she saw what the big Panda was about to deliver at Squidoo and got out before the fit hit the shan.

Godin got scarce when the going got rough too, leaving Bonnie Diczhazy, as community organizer, to scramble a rescue along with behind the scenes manipulators Corey Brown, Gil Hildebrand and probably a silent Seth Godin.

The cascading shared revenues, the chaotic filters, blocked lenses and locked out members that followed have been well-documented. I’ll skip that bit of ugly history.

Many believe that Squidoo made things worse by chaotically employing medieval torture racks instead of working positively to improve what they had and help out the content creators who’d helped them.

Google, it seemed, penalized Squidoo, and Squidoo was conveying the gift bluntly to its writers, many of whom abruptly lost revenue they’d earned by following the spirited advice of guess who…?

Seth Godin.

While Diczhazy took gobs of flack, much of it personal, I was impressed by how strong she was, never letting down, at least not publicly, and coming up with positive new ideas and suggestions consistently.

What did bother me was that neither she nor Godin or anyone else running the show at Squidoo ever accepted any responsibility for what went so wrong. Perfectly within what I find to be Godin’s skewed perspective, fingers were pointed at the content creators, not the managers.

The reason this bothered me is that, raised in a non-digital land known as the American Middle Class — maybe you’ve heard of it — I was taught that taking responsibility was a critical part of becoming a grownup.

I thought it mattered, fool that I am.

I’m confident Seth Godin disagrees because what happened next was of such hair-raising arrogance, only an arrested adolescent could have the conscience to pull it off without inhibiting shame.

HubPages Acquires Key Content from Squidoo

Kids and grifters, pay attention now, there's a master at work.

“Here’s some good news, big news, news that will open some new possibilities for you…”

…was Godin’s opening line.

Yes, yes, yes, whatever’s coming, shade it positive, very positive right at the doorway. Marketing 101.

“HubPages is acquiring key content from Squidoo,” he cheerfully continued, “making it the largest site of its kind in the world.”

Are you getting this? Largest = better, without any justification whatsoever, and lucky you are part of it, just because.

My initial reaction was, Great! Squidoo is failing, and he’s arranged for us to get a new home on HubPages. As a HubPages writer since before joining Squidoo, I was pleased. I hadn’t done as much on HP only because there are only so many hours in a day.

Then, others began to see something sinister, and my skepticism went with them on high alert.

  • First, how was it that HubPages was “acquiring key content” from Squidoo when Squidoo, the failing company, didn’t own that content. Their TOS, now thoughtfully deleted from the website, has always been clear that content belonged to the writers.
  • “We’ve been busy building transfer tools,” Godin wrote, “that will make it easy (and mostly automatic) for content to move…” How long had this been going on? And why the secrecy?
  • Squidoo’s content creators, who’d never been consulted, were told they shouldn’t worry. If they didn’t want to become hubbers, they could opt out, but that had to happen within a strict deadline of two weeks. What was the big rush? Oh, sorry. Godin explained that. It was to be on time for Halloween. Honest, you can’t make up BS like that and expect to be believed, although he apparently did.
  • “…the Squidoo team has always been focused on what’s best for you, our users,” Godin proclaimed, without blushing. Such self-sacrifice. It’s like this, if something is self-evident, there is no need to publish the information, especially as a compliment to your own goodwill toward your fellows.
  • When you read the accompanying details, you find that the Squidoo team’s best wishes for you meant that, if your pending payout fell below the newly increased threshold of $25 (from $1!), they were confiscating every penny and turning it over to a fund where Godin serves as a featured advisor.
  • What Godin also failed to mention was that if you opted out of the easy transfer to HubPages, as he so generously offered, according to Squidoo’s TOS, you too would sacrifice all your earning because you weren’t a member for the entire month.

Maybe Halloween wasn’t the big reason, after all.

But Is It Fraud?

“I’ll be working with HubPages to ensure that we make the best possible transition and impact going forward.” Seth Godin

Seth, really? In your wildest, self-aggrandizing dreams, did you imagine we’d be gratified to hear that you’ll come along and do for HubPages what you did to Squidoo?

Speaking on for myself — No, thank you.

Update, November 18, 2014: With the huge collapse of views on HubPages, it seems Godin was indeed able to bring his reverse magic to the new platform. Long time Hub writers as well as imported lens writers are taking a massive hit.

One reason, something smells bad around the smoldering ruins of Squidoo. In fact, it smells so suspicious, like kerosene after an arson, that the officials ought to have a look at it.

Fraud? I don’t know, but let’s take a look at the signs.

Let’s go back to the dictionary. Fraud is —

  • wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.
  • a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.

Was there deception? Yes, of course.

It’s impossible to pinpoint when the Squidoo to HubPages deal was struck, but no later than early July is most likely, at least a month before the surprise announcement.

That’s when Squidoo’s development of its own promising new lens format stopped in its tracks. It’s also when the innovative “review” template got radical surgery, converted to a standard hub design, without explanation.

Suddenly, the reviews were just right for a uniform transfer to HubPages and potentially conflicting new designs were dumped.

Seth Godin and his enablers will never own up to the stages in which they worked in secrecy to move content to HubPages, unless forced under oath to do so. The best we can get are educated guesses.

What’s wrong with closed door negotiations to protect the transaction from outside interference?

Nothing’s essentially wrong with that, of course — except that Godin and company worked to prevent inside interference, too.

Grifters and kids, again, take note.

It was pretty nifty, what Seth Godin did. Since he couldn’t sell the content on Squidoo — he never owned it — he sold access to it. Not just that, he did it in a way that took all the value out of the content by diverting it into his pockets and locked up the process in a way that guaranteed maximal benefit — to him.

All this was worked out well in advance and the timing of the announcement smartly orchestrated.

  • Most obvious was the crafty moving of Squidoo payday to 8/13, two days ahead of schedule. Happy “lensmasters” were delighted with the early payout, but then, on what would normally be payday, 8/15, late in the afternoon on Friday, came the “good news.” As any public relations disaster control expert knows, that’s precisely when to dump bad news to guarantee the least exposure possible.
  • Secrecy prevented the owners of the content from influencing the deal with HubPages and, most important, from staking a claim. Squidoo’s TOS, now deleted from public view, makes a big deal about sharing revenue with writers. Not now. After supervising the disaster, Seth Godin decided that all value was to accrue to him and his favorite charity, the Acumen Fund, with which he is involved.
  • Haste was a critical factor in turning the gears before there was opportunity to gum up the works. After weeks or months of negotiation with HubPages and, then, designing transfer tools, why was all the cheery “good news” accented by a hard deadline, just two weeks away, to go along or get out?
  • “Will I get paid all the money Squidoo owes me?” “Yes, of course!” was the resounding answer in the accompanying FAQ. But it was as untruthful as it was resounding. All the payouts due for less than $25, including a majority of lensmasters, would be confiscated and turned over to Seth Godin’s charity. That minimum had recently been ramped up from $1 (to streamline operations, Squidoo claimed.) In the resulting fury, that decision was reversed. But what was not reversed was the unsaid fact that, if you deleted your account by August 29, as demanded by Godin, you would lose all your earnings for that month.
  • Sale? What sale? In Godin’s Black Friday announcement, he never once said he’s sold anything. It was an acquisition, artfully phrased to look like a merger, “combining these platforms.” Yes, at the bottom of the FAQ on a different page, whoever wrote it did say that Squidoo had sold “its platform,” but it was a lot more than the platform, wasn’t it? Godin never ‘fessed up to the moneymaker he sold — that is, access to your content without your consent. Yes, you could opt out, downloading all your content in numerically coded files of raw html, to do with as you like, if you knew how to deal with it at all, could sacrifice the months of income required to post again elsewhere and had oodles of time to redo what you’d already done once.

In reality, Squidoo’s content creators were faced with extremely limited choices, but Godin arranged it so he couldn’t lose. If you transferred to HubPages, he pocketed whatever reimbursement had been negotiated. If opted out by the deadline, he then pocketed your earnings for at least the month of August.

Why the hard deadline of August 29, a Friday yet, when it could just as easily have been three days later on Monday — in October? Waiting until October would have let those opting out collect their August earnings. Of course, Seth Godin and his team were always “focused on what’s best for you, our users…”

Kids, grifters, did you get that?

If something is so sour and ugly no one would eat it, throw some sugar on it. Yum!

Conclusion

The evidence for fraud is strong. Seth Godin has not helped his case by refusing to respond to questions or concerns and tossing responsibility for managing the resulting mess to Corey Brown and Bonnie Diczhazy, neither of whom were empowered to do more than carry out his policy.

I’m not a cop or a prosecutor, and I don’t pretend to know if a crime was committed. But as an affected user, I’m entitled to ask someone who is to look further. Seth Godin has been publicly chastised for questionable ethical conduct before, as detailed above.

Did he take it too far, this time?

David Stone

You can find all my books on my Amazon Author Page

You're the jury.

Did Seth Godin's actions in selling Squidoo add up to fraud?

See results

© 2014 David Stone

What do you think?

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    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      3 years ago from New York City

      You were lucky not to be there, Nate. It was miserable for many. Godin was indifferent to the pain he caused so many who trusted him.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 

      3 years ago from California, United States of America

      I have to admit, the whole acquisition seemed odd. And I never could get used to the bombardment of Amazon ads on that site, so I rarely wrote anything there, though I had an account for more than 2 years before it closed down.

      You really laid it out in detail, enlightening and well-said.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      3 years ago from New York City

      I'm pretty sure the Squidoo story has played out. Rose and others did what they could to call Godin out for cheating the writers who trusted him. Interestingly, the media never picked up on that or that he bombed with Squidoo. The blogosphere, he remains a genius. And I believe the writers are out in the cold on this, with no recourse. Only the man's respect for others might have earned some compensation, but he hasn't much.

      As for HubPages, the lack of transparency is hard to accept as is what seems a Big Me/Little You attitude for writers or maybe its more like a "like it or lump it" philosophy. It's probably always been true that some people manipulate the hunger of creative people to be seen and heard for a profit. HubPages is no exception. At least the working admins at Squidoo showed a kinship and admiration for their writers. You get none of that here. There's no sense of partnership, just creative people trying to squeeze nickels and dimes out of one of the few genuine venues available. When we are so needy, they are empowered.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 

      3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      I am fascinated by the facts that keep coming out Sousababy (Rose Webster) actually started a campaign to get some sort of class action suit going in California. I am not sure what actually happened here, but I was an Internal Audit Manager for over 30 years.

      To me I think the deal was probably struck as a transfer of the platforms hosting. If this was so then the payment to Seth would have been for the loss of Squidoo's share of the profits (if any). Based on the final month or two ($60,000 would have been about right although I have heard closer to $10,000,000).

      There probably is no legal way to prove fraud as we do not know what Seth was thinking (mens rhea!) Therefore I have not sided with Rose as I think that is throwing good money after bad. Like you I am doing as well or better here than at Squidoo. I hope Paul proves to be honest, however the lack of transparency in the HP earnings bothers me.

      We are told we get 60% of the sales here, but he only shows us our share so do we? It is possible all your sales occur in his 40% of the time. I believe we should get 60% of all sales not have our ads shown 60 of the time with no way for us to verify that is the case. At least Seth showed us all of our Sales (unless they went to the wrong account!).

      I am still following this story in the hopes that the truth emerges over time.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      I can't either, Besarien, and I think Godin anticipated the legal issues. A paragraph about freedom from class action suits was slipped into the Squidoo TOS late in the game, without an announcement. Then, before they closed but after a number of complaints were public, they pulled the TOS off the site altogether. I believe that was defensive. For the future security of writers, I do hope someone challenges Godin legally, if only to put future creeps on notice. Fingers crossed on that. How many hurt? Certainly hundreds, if not thousands, and a good percentage were angry enough to fight back if someone puts a lawsuit together.

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 

      4 years ago

      Great work explaining the situation. Do you have any clue how many people were hurt? I am not a lawyer but can't imagine this was legal.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Yep, people asked right after the first major collapse of views, and Bonnie said nothing was being considered. I think that was true. I also think they scrambled, without enough experienced leadership (Squidoo was always understaffed.) to reinvent it. Their efforts were ghastly.

      If, for example, they worked with a lensmaster they believed had cheated to correct the mistake and improve his or her lenses, they could have kept the traffic. Locking thousands of high-drawing lenses because someone gamed the rank system - by excessive updating, for example - they undercut everyone, not just the offender. With a shared tier system, everyone got hurt.

      Any effort that threw away valuable URLs was just foolish and unnecessary. But that's what they did. URL contents can always be fixed. A lost URL is lost forever. The voluntarily lost traffic doomed the site. There wasn't enough time to build it back or the talent on hand, after the exodus, to do so.

      It isn't complicated. Site management screwed up, but plenty of lensmasters did too, and in that I include the endless chorus of whiners and complainers who wouldn't know a constructive option if it sat in their laps and started singing.

    • LindaSmith1 profile image

      LindaSmith1 

      4 years ago from USA

      I was another one that jumped ship. The site got beyond ridiculous with locked lenses, people losing entire accounts, censorship in forums and people being banned for not doing the Happy Dance, payments were a joke, yet Crap got lens of the day, and even Bonnie managed to vote her lenses to Lens of the Day. The handwriting was on the wall, people saw it and started questioning about possible sale of Squidoo months and months before the announcement after the deal was done

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Your intuition helped you with good timing.

      Thank you.

    • bensen32 profile image

      Thomas Bensen 

      4 years ago from Round Lake Park

      interesting and informative post, something always struck me odd about that place though I could never quite figure what it was. I wrote very little there and started removing my stuff long before all this happened.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Exactly what I think, Barbara.

      Thank you.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      4 years ago from USA

      I've wondered about the transfer also. It was mentioned that money passed hands. He shouldn't have been paid for content that belonged to others. Hubpages should have been an option and not had to pay for it or the writers should have received cuts.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Thank you, Pamela. Yep, Squidoo was a decent apprenticeship for a lot of people. I'm not sure the damage done at the end levels it all out.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      I got a good number of $.01 payouts too, but those were just residue, Nancy. We only had a few days in September to earn anything. Most of the decent numbers were Amazon sales that had accumulated.

      I'm doing much better on HubPages, but it's funny how things turn out. A lot of that is the result of things that happened on Squidoo. In the end, it worked out fairly well for me. That said, I'm only one case, and what benefitted me did not benefit most others. I hope the future holds some relief for those who were loyal and didn't see that loyalty returned.

    • profile image

      Pamela Arsena. 

      4 years ago

      This is a very well written article. My heart goes out to all those wonderful people who tried to stay positive despite the icky circumstances. As with anything there was good that came out of Squidoo as it taught people that money could be made online which now serves lensmasters well who have decided to open up their own websites. I agree wholeheartedly regarding the fraud though. Awesome Hub keep up the great work!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      David, bluebox is now on Squidoo, though I have to say the amount is pitiful. To think of being paid 1 cent for some articles I worked hard on, is, well, just obscene.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      You're welcome, and than you, Shinichi. I don't know if it's completely over yet. They haven't made the final payout or closed the doors. There's still a chance they can do the right thing, although I'm not counting on it.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      They are not live in both places. They are just sorting out and squaring up Amazon sales to clean house before closing. Sometimes it's a sale you earned because someone put it on a wish list after your lens and finally buys it. You've got at least 30 days right to it. Other times, I think it's random, sales that were not accounted for. Once, I had Gil check on a discrepancy and found that at least one sale from my lens got credited to someone else. Very possible that they are straightening out errors. Give them credit. They are trying to get it right.

    • LindaSmith1 profile image

      LindaSmith1 

      4 years ago from USA

      It gets crazier. There are live lenses that are also on HP.

    • linfcor profile image

      Linda F Correa 

      4 years ago from Spring Hill Florida

      Holy cow, you are right ! I got a sale yesterday and am still getting points. I thought once the lenses were transferred they were gone? How can our articles be in two places at the same time? I am a little confused. Although I did get a payment last month, they still owe me a bit of change. Is the business continuing? If they sold our articles to HP, why is HP ok with Squidoo still open?

    • LindaSmith1 profile image

      LindaSmith1 

      4 years ago from USA

      What strikes me funny, is that he has posted his Squidoo junk here!! From what I have read, Squidoo is still getting sales from lenses???? People are getting notices of points and their new little monster accolade. Parts of the site is still live which makes me wonder? SG has the data base, the server, etc. All he would have to do is change the name of Squidoo and names of other parts to the site, and start all over again? Makes you wonder! If he got rid of it, why is it still alive???

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 

      4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Dave this is another great article about something that has affected so many of us. Thank you for putting the effort into bringing to light the truth behind it all.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Thank you, Iris. I've enjoyed your work as well.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      The only thing that concerns me about HP is the exceptional negativity of the forum. That deluge of bad feelings that totally resisted any positive resolution played a role in keeping Squidoo from recovering. Yes, management mangled the recovery and never took responsibility for the collapse, but everyone, from Bonnie and Seth to the newest lensmasters could have pitched in with power. That's another story, but the negativity of an open forum helps no one. I think it hurts the platform in general.

      What to watch for and protect ourselves from? Nothing, as far as I'm concerned. I agree with FDR. Fear and defensiveness is corrosive. I expect everyone to do their best and believe those who abuse others are very few. Even with Squidoo, I made out well. I object to the way Seth crushed the platform at the end because it was wrong and hurt a lot of others and destroyed trust, but stick to your guns. It ain't over.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 

      4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I'd also like to add that this article is well written. The facts are conveyed in an interesting and artistic way; I appreciate that. Anyone can convey facts, but it takes a true writer to convey an idea. You did both. I'm so pleased that you brought your talent to HubPages, and I am pleased to follow you. Voted up.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 

      4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      David, wow...this is extremely interesting to me in light of my recent article https://irisdraak.hubpages.com/hub/Drinking-the-Ko... Your comment to my post was encouraging, and going back to re-read it in light of this article I am heartened because I wondered if HP is guilty of some of the same tactics. Taking those two things into consideration it seems that you are not concerned about HPs ethics. Am I understanding that correctly? Is there anything you are concerned about here? What advice do you have for writers on sites like this regarding watching for unethical behavior and protecting ourselves from it?

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 

      4 years ago from Ohio

      I joined Squidoo in 2006 but never drank the Seth Godin koolaid. I was always mystified when I saw multiple lenses hailing his latest book — all I saw in his ramblings was artificial intellectualism. I might be too generous in even referring to the S.G. persona as an intellectual but it might help if we bring in Albert Einstein's quote: "Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them." S.G. certainly would never be mistaken for a genius, that's for sure. His actions mirror a typical 1 percenter strategy: blame the victims for what you did wrong. It worked liked clockwork for the banks when they blamed people who took out mortgages for the foreclosure crisis. We should never expect S.G to ever admit that he did anything wrong — that's just not in the 21st century criminal playbook.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Thank you. I like HubPages too and have made a strong commitment to succeeding here. I haven't been disappointed in anything except something that often disappointed at Squidoo - the negativity of the forum.

      I'm not so sure Godin covered his tracks so well. He so overestimates himself and his powers, he may have thought he could breeze through with his cocksure announcement, and everyone would just accept it. That didn't happen, and as part of the immediate furor, he quickly backed off his plan to confiscate money from everyone below the new $25 payout threshold. Now, they are worried enough over there about the obvious issues with their own TOS violations, they've taken them off the homepage. All you get is a 404 Error when you try to click on them. They're hiding for a reason.

      They also missed their promised date for the last payout. They promised last midweek. And no explanation. Maybe Corey got tired of fronting for Seth, or maybe they're rethinking. I posted a note asking when they planned to distribute the money they got from HubPages, since Squidoo has always been a revenue sharing site, and they deleted it.

      I still have hope they will square up with the content creators. I should add that I'm doing fine, and Squidoo was always good to me. But I believe that's not true for a lot of others who've been treated inconsiderately. Depending on what they finally do, I'll consider giving any bonus I get to charity. But let's stay in there faces until they play fair with everyone who contributed to Squidoo.

    • linfcor profile image

      Linda F Correa 

      4 years ago from Spring Hill Florida

      Many of us were who were Squid Giants and Contributors were writing to develop our niche and help others along the way. You article has put a new slant to the way that I am now thinking about the Squidoo leadership. Your information was very informative, but very sad for me to learn the facts. I am sure that Seth and company have covered their tracks. For me, it's time to move on and develop as a writer. I am finding that Hub pages is a good platform and have been busy reworking my goals and mission. Life moves on as it always does. I always believe that your Karma will come back to you, so hopefully the people that deserve it will find that their misdeeds will come back to haunt them

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Elsie, I couldn't agree more.

      Thank you.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      4 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Dave for this hub. All Squidoo members were affected by what happened it was a shock.

      I'm moving on here as a writer onHubPages, as you said about Paul, I already have got good feelings about him and his staff, hope all works out for him, because I think he has a very big challenge before him, now with the latest Panda results.

    • profile image

      BT55 

      4 years ago

      Reading some of the last comments reminds me that Seth and his team were more successful in the deceitful antics by, (in part) restricting a free forum of opinion and reasonable dissent. If we are distracted from our common interest in participating in a mutually beneficial work, we may become responsible for "that which ails us". The fact that there are different opinions about individuals within should be expected. Also, as we argue amongst ourselves, have become distracted from the important issues? Mean spirited ad hominems do not further our mutual concerns, in my opinion.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      I didn't think you had anything, Kathy, just a loose cannon ready to shoot on the internet because you believe you're immune. This is your last comment that will be approved because I have a strict "Don't feed the trolls" policy, and you've identified yourself.

      Now, go away. You're just grandstanding, although I have to admit a failing - I have no idea what having my facts and assumptions in left field means. So brilliant, it went right over my head.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      4 years ago from California

      Ahhh.....Dave, well just as you supported Seth and had bad comments for the rest of us that showed you what what happening, now you changed your tune when he sold off the site, your comments about Susie are to be expected. Amazes me....but hey, we all can believe what we want.

      As to giving proof, it wasn't I or anyone that was vocal that was responsible for her demise. Again, you have your facts and assumptions in left field!

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Sorry to disappoint you, Kathy, but I know why Susie got locked. And I wonder where you got all the spare time to police others at Squidoo. Easier than being constructive, probably.

      What leads you to believe that I "and others" refused to accept it. I accepted it as well as all the others. I just think it was brutal and, in some cases, unjustified. Like I wrote, a meat ax approach. It wasn't well thought out or executed well, and the devastating results show it.

      So, party on with your finger-pointing. What good did it do you and the site? You helped kill it by condemning instead of constructing, savaging everything to get a a few. It was stupid.

      I'd be curious to know what truth you think I'm blind to. You make roundhouse accusations about Susie Lehto and claim to have proof, so where is it? Or are you just judge and jury all by yourself, one of the crowd of jealous lensmasters who couldn't keep up with her? My guess is the latter. But come up with all this proof you claim to have and whatever it is you think I'm blind to, and I'll reconsider.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      4 years ago from California

      Dave....

      If you and others can look at what management did, or didn't do, why is it that you still believe Susie aka Tipi, aka Colorfulone wasn't kicked out for cheating? Just as you have all this about Seth, so did others have proof about her. You and others just refused to accept it. You speak of being fooled by trophies and stuff....but "nice" and other things also got people what they wanted. I read every word of your post here...and couldn't believe with everything that has happened you are still blind to that truth.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Thank you, Nancy. After the shock wore off, the reality was pretty unsettling.

      And, yes, a hornets' nest for sure. I'm fairly confident that Paul Edmondson got in it for the reasons stated - that is, to create a more powerful consolidated site - but I doubt he was fully advised of Seth Godin's hijinks. Unless I missed my guess, he's probably uncomfortable being associated with some of it. Edmondson doesn't have that kind of track record, as Godin does.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 years ago from USA

      That is one hornet's nest. I really don't understand why HP got involved.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I think we all were feeling used and abused. I found this a very interesting read, for sure.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Thank you, Ruth. I agree. As you know, I was one of Bonnie's staunchest supports. I was stunned when it became undeniable how involved she was in the scheme.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Thank you very much, Casey. I hope it gets the kind of traction it deserves. Seth and company should not walk away with their heads held high and lensmasters money in their pockets.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Thank you. I agree with you. I think Godin responds only to criticism from outside. He has not internal compass that reliably points to right or wrong.

    • bt55 profile image

      bt55 

      4 years ago

      If not legally responsible for his wrong doing, Seth Godin is most definitely morally responsible. $hitting on the very people who made the site what it was and were for the most part willing to help clean it up and go forward was at the very least reprehensible. Sadly, I doubt he will lose any sleep over this, particularly as he lies in his bed of cash!

      Fantastic article and a riveting read. Nothing in it that I could disagree with. Definitely thought-provoking.

    • Casey van B profile image

      Casey van B 

      4 years ago

      David, thank you. I'm making sure every Lensmaster I know has this article's URL.

    • profile image

      Ruth Cox 

      4 years ago

      Well researched information and well-done bringing immoral and illegal (in my opinion) activity by Godin and his highest ranking staff members to the public eye, David.

      As you know, the moment I read Seth's sellout announcement I smelled a few rats and ran as fast and far away from that green Transfer button as I could. My first gut reaction was, "Why would I follow the lead of anyone who just told me he sold me like a slave?"

      I doubt we shall ever know the whole truth of when we Squidoo writers began being used and abused. One thing I am sure of is that I personally will not be involved with Godin nor Bonnie in any capacity whatsoever in the future. Trust and Respect are of great value to me in any relationship, personal or business, and for them it is now non-existent.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Susie, I was thinking about how you were screwed by Squidoo when I wrote some of this. You deserved better treatment. You made them as much money as you made for yourself.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Thanks, Sam. I hope someone in authority or a class action attorney will take a closer look.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      You weren't alone, Nancy. All those bonus points and trophies, etc., were manipulative little spiffs. They had a purpose.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      David, I offer my apology to you and hope you will accept it. Obviously, I was one of those who elected to believe in the integrity of Godin and others. I fought for what I thought was right, but I was wrong. Your statement, "Perfectly within what I find to be Godin’s skewed perspective, fingers were pointed at the content creators, not the managers." is so true. We were all made to feel inadequate and that somehow WE had caused Squidoo's falling numbers, and if we just put forth a better effort we could turn it around. I apologize to you for ever doubting your opinion. Yes, I believe there was fraud involved...God knows, it's taken me long enough, huh?

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 

      4 years ago from Lakewood New York

      David, An informative and thought provoking read as always. If it were up to me I would say guilty, but that's my opinion. Seems to me at least that, greed had taken over. Thanks :)

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      4 years ago from Minnesota

      I remember reading about those Brand pages Squidoo members were creating. There was a big fuse from companies because of what was being done. Then, Squidoo pulled all those Brand lenses down because of the backlash they created for using company brand names. I had forgotten about Godin's offer to the big name brand companies that would only cost them $400. to add to the content on the brand lenses on Squidoo. Huh? Yes, that is what was happening, I do remember reading about that.

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