"Taking Advantage of a Good Thing" - AR Community Guidelines Re-Visited

By
Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404
https://activerain.com/droplet/FKw

This post is the last in a series of 15 articles I started back in January designed to provide a better understanding of the ActiveRain Community Guidelines. With so many new real estate professionals joining our numbers, it's a good idea to review these guidelines regularly, and to ensure that there is a firm grasp on what the expectations are for members who participate in this valuable community.

Please know that your participation on ActiveRain isn't about a list of 'Do's and Don'ts.' So much of what is offered here is meant to empower you, and enable you to enjoy greater success in your business. These guidelines were put in place to establish a common level of expectation, promote respect among our community, and help maintain civility in the midst of spirited discourse.

 ~ ~  o  <  O  >  o  ~ ~

The final guideline for consideration reads as follows:

"Do not attempt to selfishly manipulate search engine results through blackhat SEO techniques, such as Keyword Stuffing, or by posting endless copied sections of your local MLS. Violation of this guideline may result in an immediate termination of your ActiveRain account/profile."

Most people aren't aware of all the hard work and effort that has gone into making this network what it is today. Over the past several years, the founders and support staff of this platform have expended massive amounts of effort, time, and passion to develop this platform into an effective tool that directly benefits and positively impacts those members who actively participate/contribute.

A few weeks ago, I was engaged in a really excellent conversation on another member's blog post, when someone added this comment:

"And I don't think there has been proper acknowledgment of what "original content" has done to create this successful forum. There seems to be a lot of focus on the fact it is free to the users, but the other side of the equation is not given equal focus (from my perspective)."

I've said it many times before, but I will say it again. In the truest sense, ActiveRain is a mutually collaborative/cooperative effort between the Makers and the Members. The Makers (Founders & Support Staff) provide the platform, and the Members provide the valued content. Neither can succeed without the other. They are intimately co-dependent.

As such, it is highly disappointing when someone comes along who takes advantage of this network, and uses it for their own selfish purposes, with little or no regard for contributing value to the community. Their actions detract from the overall value of this platform, and throws off the cooperative balance of what others are giving.

Fortunately, we haven't seen a lot of instances here on ActiveRain where members have actually resorted to black hat techniques, but we've seen many similar attempts to manipulate or skew search engine results. The following post is one recent example:

Jonesville apartments for rent, Jonesville apartment rentals, Jonesville high rise apartment rentals, Jonesville hi rise apartment rentals, Jonesville uptown apartment rentals, Jonesville uptown apartments for rent (edit/delete)

John Jones Top Jonesville Real Estate Agent ~ Featured Top Realtor Nationwide

JonesvilleAgent@Jonesville.com * Top Jonesville Real Estate Agent Team

Jonesville homes for sale, Over 2,000 Jonesville home foreclosures, Jonesville homes for rent, Jonesville apartments

Jonesville Real Estate Website:  JonesvilleRealEstate.com

Email:  JonesvilleAgent@Jonesville.com

Jonesville real estate office:  555-123-1234

Jonesville apartments for lease, Jonesville apartment rentals, Jonesville apartments for rent

 
Posted by John Jones Top Jonesville Real Estate Agent on 08/27/2008 11:57 PM   Comments (0)   jonesville apartments for rent, jonesville apartment rentals, jonesville high rise apartment rentals, jonesville hi rise apartment rentals, jonesville uptown apartments   Edit   Delete

 

As you can see, there is very little in the way of meaningful or substantive consumer content here. It's simply stuffing a post full of keywords to achieve a selfish result. This person has taken advantage of all the hard work and collective quality content & google juice that our other members have generated, and is exploiting it for their own use, without giving anything back.

 

Here's another example, of copying large portions of the MLS:

 

Listing Type List Price Street City Listing No.
Subdivision
RES $859,900  12008 BROWN RD JONESVILLE 28391451 CRESTHAVEN
RES $1,395,000 
1310 BLACKBERRY CT JONESVILLE 29533853 OAKWOOD
RES $1,195,000  12107 APPLETREE LN
JONESVILLE 28485730 APPLEWOOD
VL $1,800  7308 BROWN RD JONESVILLE 29304854 JONESVILLE MANORS
RES $469,900 0 CREEKSIDE DR JONESVILLE 27849543 CREEKSIDE
RES $740,000
 1530 BROWN RD JONESVILLE 28744654 JONESVILLE MANORS
RES $835,000 
909 OAKTREE RD JONESVILLE 27718283 JONESVILLE MANORS
VL $167,500 
3918 HAPPY RD JONESVILLE 28336447 HAPPY HAVEN
VL $183,500  903 GROVE ST JONESVILLE 28475033 MAPLEWOOD
VL $129,900 
2227 CYPRESS RD JONESVILLE 27143886 MAPLEWOOD
RES $194,900  2248 BIRCH RD JONESVILLE 29874567 MAPLEWOOD
RES $159,900  309 PINE RD JONESVILLE 26156779 MAPLEWOOD
VL $129,900  9772 RIVER RD JONESVILLE 29675690 RIVERVIEW
VL $170,900  9736 ROCK RD JONESVILLE 29557732 RIVERVIEW
RES $379,900  718 VALLEY RD JONESVILLE 29140697 VALLEY ESTATES
VL $3,000 
701 AMIGO RD JONESVILLE 28864730 RANCHO VILLA
VL $4,000  9701 PANCHO RD JONESVILLE 29876201 RANCHO VILLA
VL $235,000  865 GRINGO RD JONESVILLE 28910233 RANCHO VILLA
RES $252,000  7317 LOUISIANA RD JONESVILLE 29867320 MILLERS CROSSING
RES $639,900  7315 LAFAYETTE RD JONESVILLE 26657489 MILLERS CROSSING
VL $84,900  132 STAMPEDE RD JONESVILLE 27360977 HAPPLY HOLLOW
RES $225,000
 100 BROOK LN JONESVILLE 28109382 EDGEWOOD
RES $725,000 
8120 GARDEN LN JONESVILLE 26783948 HARVEST MEADOWS
VL $1,495  8382 SUNFLOWER RD JONESVILLE 27450918 HARVEST MEADOWS
RES $339,900  8382 RIMSHOT RD JONESVILLE 28164598 BROOKLAWN
RES $299,900  8210 FOXFIRE CT JONESVILLE 28670909 BROOKLAWN
RES $599,900  8433 WINDFALL CT JONESVILLE 29158778 WINDFALL GLENS
RES $1,475,000  402 WINDFALL WAY JONESVILLE 29445738 WINDFALL GLENS

Again, in this example, there isn't much here in the way of valuable consumer content. It's simply MLS data that is copied from another Internet source, and duplicated here on ActiveRain. It's taking the powerful search ranking generated by the consistent efforts of our other members, and using it for selfish purposes, without contributing or giving anything in return.

For those of you who have been working hard at consistently contributing your own original, good quality content, we hope you can see why we take such strong issue with those who choose to violate this particular guideline.

The primary premise of Blogging is to engage your readers with interesting, informative content, and encourage meaningful dialog. It opens up a channel for interactive communication between you and consumers. It allows you to reveal a part of yourself and offer greater transparency into our industry.

 ~ ~  o  <  O  >  o  ~ ~

To read more about Black Hat SEO Techniques, go to: "What is Black Hat SEO?" by Wendy Boswell

To read the rest of the articles in this series, simply go to the ActiveRain Community Guidelines, and click on specific underlined portion.

Posted by

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Rich Jacobson is a District Director for Fathom Realty and a licensed REALTOR®; an avid Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.

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Ambassador
944,836
Steve Shatsky
Dallas, TX

Hi Rich... thank you for setting high standards for content quality.  We all benefit from the strength that good content builds for A|R and it's members and your efforts to keep raising the bar in that way challenges us all to achieve more for ourselves and our A|R colleagues.  I am sure that all the agents contributing quality content in Jonesville are especially appreciative!

Oct 07, 2008 03:33 PM #64
Rainmaker
33,644
Susan Zanzonico
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Morristown, NJ
Sellers/Buyers Agent, Morristown NJ Real Estate

Hi Rich, I have seen this type of thing on personal websites as well.  Its definitely in poor taste and speaks volumes.  I believe its important to stick with relevant up-to-date information and write in a useful way with the intent to share knowledge.  Keyword stuffing is pretty obvious to all.

Oct 07, 2008 03:54 PM #65
Rainer
47,248
DJ Swanepoel
Real Estate Wiki - Los Angeles, CA

Thanks for the excellent post:)

Oct 07, 2008 04:28 PM #66
Ambassador
576,691
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Tim:   I think that's being a bit unfair to say that anything goes. The whole point of my series here was to bring the Community Guidelines into the forefront once again, to remind our members that there are certain standards of expection. And, as I also stated, we have started to enforce these guidelines and Terms of Service much more firmly then we have in the past. In the example you gave me, I said that it would be permissiable 'BUT' (did you notice the BIG 'BUT' I had mentioned?), there needs to be 'some' degree of substance and human commentary, and I said you should only do it 'ONCE A MONTH.' There's a big difference between someone who does a monthly market report, with pictures, personal editorial, and some figures, compared to someone who publishes 26 pages of nothing BUT keyword-stuffed articles, with NO pictures, NO personal commentary, and NO factual data on the current market.

Tammy:   I'll forward your request onto the AR Spell Check Police.

Oct 07, 2008 05:33 PM #67
Rainmaker
559,564
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

Rich, The big problem I see are the people who haven't contributed much to ActiveRain in the form of good content just coming in and using the Google Juice of ActiveRain to their selfish advantage.  The opportunity to come in and create posts with self-serving outbound links to their other sites is just too big of a temptation.  It's not fair to the long time members who have contributed quality content. 

Here's my suggestion.  Hopefully some technical genius can work out the details.   I would have a probationary period for members before any outbound links from their blogs carry any Google value.  Maybe after their first 50 posts, their blog would be reviewed. If they seemed to have created some good stuff, then the reward would be that the links in their blog would be turned on as far as Google is concerned. 

Reward the behavior you desire, and you'll get more of it.  But if you give out unearned rewards to everyone, you'll have a mess and it will drive away the people who you actually want to keep around.

The free links is just one part of the problem that creates junk content.  The other thing that creates junk content is the points system.  It was a great tool to get ActiveRain to where it is but in my opinion, it is degrading the overall content.

Oct 08, 2008 12:52 AM #68
Rainmaker
531,913
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

I actually like Tim's idea - but it would be a killer to implement...how many  new members join every day?  How would that be moderated?

Of course if they were unable to just start a "link farm" blog, so to speak - the overall membership numbers would drop but the quality of the members might be higher.

Theoretically...

Oct 08, 2008 12:58 AM #69
Rainmaker
531,913
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

Rich - on a total off topic side note:  I love your banner picture above.

Oct 08, 2008 12:59 AM #70
Rainer
37,911
Krista Abshure
Fathom Realty - Fuquay Varina, NC

I never heard of "black hat techniques" until today.  I have stumbled upon post like your example and also thought that the blogger had done it for points only and then I moved on to other blogs.  I am glad that the Ative Rain developers are watching this.  They are helping to ensure that this site is continually used to give valuable information and not just to get the blogger "presence" on the internet.  Great Work!!

Oct 08, 2008 01:43 AM #71
Rainer
3,123
e h
ct - Victorville, CA

Black hat techniques..... hhmmm....

Oct 08, 2008 04:51 AM #72
Ambassador
769,680
The Somers Team
The Somers Team at RE/MAX Access - Philadelphia, PA
Real People. Real Dreams. Real Estate.

Rich,

Is crazy that people do that.  I dont even see what the benefit is.  Some of us have no idea what all the tricks are, but even if it does show up, wont consumers see the crappy post anyway ?  We just work hard and try to provide excellent content and have confidence that the google engines will take care of themselves !

Oct 08, 2008 12:21 PM #73
Rainmaker
643,079
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro

Rich, whether it be a website or a blog content is king!!  This is just a suggestion but I think you should re-blog your series of articles ever so often.  Someone else may have mentioned doing this as I did not read all 73 comments to find out. 

Oct 08, 2008 02:13 PM #74
Rainer
104,528
Sherry Peckhoon Sim
Sims & Company - Cayucos, CA
Broker/Owner, Covering the Beautiful Central Coast

Rich, I have forgotten about the black hat techniques. Thanks for the guidelines. I stumbled upon the previous guidelines the other day, and wondered where I had been. It's a good thing that I had tried to follow good etiquette.  I also post market reports. I feel that market reports should be more of an analysis of market trends, review of overall housing inventory and local real estate climate such as zoning changes, or major new developments that may impact a neighborhood, etc.  A mere posting or extract of MLS listings, like the example in your post is rather redundant since consumers could obtain easily these from most websites with IDX features. Let's keep AR rich in quality content.

Oct 08, 2008 07:51 PM #75
Rainmaker
83,324
Winter Baserva
Seasons Realty Group of Solid Source Realty, Inc. - Atlanta, GA
Realtor -Homes For Sale, Atlanta, GA

Unbelievable. Another thing that I'm quite surprised at is that there is a member who is slandering another member and despite multiple contacts to AR to have him removed (as in the guidelines it says that is not permitted), his profile is still active. I love AR, but I'm disappointed in the way they are handling this situation. Especially for all of us that work so hard at following the rules.

Oct 09, 2008 12:33 PM #76
Rainmaker
180,201
DeAndrea "Dee Dee" Jones
Home Buyers Marketing II, Inc. - Manassas Park, VA
The NorthernVARealEstateLady & DMVRealEstateChick

Your write, the point is to be creative and if you cant think of anything original then do not bother to  post.

Oct 15, 2008 06:03 AM #77
Ambassador
990,008
Sharon Paxson
Compass - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, and I do post market reports, however I write about the area, and trends that we are seeing.

Thanks for the information.

Oct 17, 2008 03:18 AM #78
Ambassador
1,641,751
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Rich with so many new members your post will provide needed guidance.

Oct 19, 2008 04:44 AM #79
Rainer
208,683
Bob Cumiskey
A1 Connection Realty, Inc. - Sun City Center, FL
US Army Retired, Your Sun City Center, Florida ~ Realtor

Rich, I've enjoyed this series very much.  So much information.  I've seen those kinds of posts and I just don't understand (aside from the points) why they are posted. 

Oct 20, 2008 07:08 AM #80
Rainmaker
212,199
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

Gotcha, is stuffing like something that goes with a turkey?  AR turkey, hum, a new phrase.

Oct 20, 2008 08:18 PM #81
Rainer
102,647
Jean Groesbeck
Coldwell Banker Bain - Anacortes, WA
Broker, CRS, e-PRO, ABR, ASP, CNE, IMS

You will have a stampede of folks signing up.  What happens when lots of agents have same market?

Oct 27, 2008 08:35 AM #82
Rainmaker
150,954
Aida Pinto
United Associated Brokers - Long Beach, CA
Real Estate Broker (562) 884-6196

I didn't even know you can do this....I was just researching for a new group that I am creating....I'm going to reblog this because I've seen a few post that are just promoting themselves and have written nothing of value.

Jun 07, 2011 11:39 AM #83
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