Last night I found an interesting link through a web site I'd been reading that talked about author reputations and how all people in general are viewed online. The article I was reading was written by an amateur blogger who writes about publishing and has this grand image of herself as an online publishing authority. This blogger is not an author or in any way affiliated with the publishing industry. For the most part this blogger's posts are nothing more than links to other blogs...recycled information we can all find ourselves. But she's smart. She knows how to package bologna just the right way so people will buy it.
There was a blogger a few years ago called "Miss Snark." Allegedly she/he was a literary agent who blogged about publishing advice and all things related to publishing. I used to read it and I was very entertained by it. But that seems like a hundred years ago now. A good deal of the advice is now obsolete because publishing has changed in so many ways. At this point, if there were a blog like that now I wouldn't be reading it. And the reason would be the anonymity of the blogger. Miss Snark's true identity has never been revealed (there are rumors but nothing concrete) and although that didn't bother me back in the days when I wasn't taking online information very seriously (we were still writing queries via snail mail in 2007), it would creep me out today.
The most interesting thing about the Internet is that once something is written or posted about you online it is there forever. Nasty, loud self-promoting bloggers who know the Internet well know this, and that's partly why they do this. They also do it because it gives them hits and recognition they wouldn't have been able to generate otherwise. They know everyone loves a sideshow at the circus.
Bottom line: there are people on the Internet with an agenda and that agenda is to promote themselves in any possible way. And they don't care about anyone or anything.
But there's an interesting web site out there that claims they can control and fix what people say about you online. Here's something from their homepage:
Negative content hurts
The longer a bad link appears in your search results, the more people see it and the more damage it does to your career, finances, and your relationships.
In some cases this is very true. In others I'm not so sure it matters. I think most people still don't trust anything they read on the Internet, especially the negative things.
But sometimes all you need is one absolutely scathing item written about you by just one person and that can effect the outcome of everything you do. Whenever someone does a search for your name this scathing item will appear along with anything else you've ever done. And there's no recourse. Your only choice is to live with it and try to build your reputation in other ways.
The web site I'm linking to today seems legitimate.
We believe in our products so strongly we offer a Money Back Guarantee.
The only problem is that this isn't inexpensive. There's a list of prices you can check out on the homepage I linked to above.
Is this something I think is valuable? Yes. I do believe online reputation is important and I do believe that too many people don't understand how important it is and how important it will be in the future. I also believe that we'll be seeing more lawsuits generated from online attacks, where people have been defamed by quasi-journalists and bloggers looking to promote themselves...or who don't know how to mind their own business. But until this becomes more prominent, we'll either pay for services that will help, or we'll just live with it and constantly try to rebuild what someone else tried to ruin with just a few words.