Elephant in Chobe
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gusjer

You’ve got a brand new community on basket weaving. You badly want people to come to your site. So, you go to the largest basket weaving community on the internet and start discreetly inviting members. Maybe you instant message or e-mail them off site, so that the people running the established community won’t notice. Maybe you use the private message system. Perhaps you even post on the community, too, to appear as a well meaning member. You’re really on your way now, right?

No, you’re not. Instead, I would say that you’re building your site on an old burial ground. And you know how that ends up. Bittersweet success haunted by the ghosts of the past that you’ve violated. Not everyone will agree with me, some will tell you that this is fair game or that it’s not hurting anybody. That it’s simply competition. But, not me.

It may bring you some measure of success, but at what cost and risk? The cost for me would be my own integrity, whether or not anyone found out. But, if you don’t care about that, you should care that if your operation comes to light, you may face some consequences. It depends on the scale, but no one wants to associate with a spammer, which is what you are.

That could mean that related sites in your subject arena want nothing to do with you, it could mean that advertisers don’t want to spend money with you; it could mean any number of things. I know when someone tries to do this to me, I remember. I also block their site from ever being mentioned on mine again.

Keep in mind, poachers aren’t people that are generally liked. How many animated television shows, movies and video games feature the good guy trying to save the animals from the evil poachers? The poachers are out for their skins, their flesh, their tusks, their physical properties. They aren’t interested in the animal itself or it’s personal well being. Similarly, to online community poachers, it’s a numbers game. It’s not about the person, it’s about their hide.