(EDIT: At the community's request, new anonymous comments by non-LJ users will not be shown on the screen. I've also posted an apology for this post and an explanation here; pernwebgoddess suggested that it be added to the original post so it doesn't seem hidden.)
I'm stunned and saddened to make this post. How would you feel if you found out that one of us had created a whole business based on mining this community for marketing purposes, trying to glide under our spammer radar, and was bragging about to other marketers? It's like watching a teen movie where the jock pretends to make friends with the shy girl on a secret bet with his buddies, and gloats about how he's pulling one over on the gullible target.Read this: Google, We Don't Need No Stinking Google! (June 11, 2007)And this: Stumbling into Opportunity (June 15, 2007)And this: Have a Unique Selling Proposition (June 19, 2007)
They're articles that new bentolunch member thejenn1
wrote about setting up the Bento Yum
website as an experiment in "social media marketing" with the main purpose of selling her bento box starter kits. It's described as an experiment in marketing to online communities from within, participating in the community with the main purpose of sales while trying to slide under the community's spammer radar. I don't know that I've ever seen a more condescending and disingenuous approach toward this community.
She will be writing a series of articles detailing her "social media marketing" experiment as it happens on her marketing website, so we can see how she describes marketing to us under the guise of community involvement. thejenn1 started posting to bentolunch in mid-May, and soon after started actively pushing her bento kits for sale on the community, with regular inventory updates in her posts as per her business plan. The moderators have directed her (unsuccessfully) to the
bentoforsale community for that purpose (to which she already belongs) -- so that people who are interested in buying and selling can do so, and the rest of us can focus on the food. To me, this crosses the line. It makes sense to let regular community members post about the occasional extra box or accessory they'd like to sell or trade, but this is a full-on business posting ads, like the eBayers we've said we want to keep out.
While I applaud thejenn1
's entrepreneurial drive in setting up her business and wish her well in selling her bento gear (hey, she has good stuff and her prices are actually not
overinflated like some eBay sellers! Cool!), I feel duped by her disingenuousness and ulterior motives for her involvement in the bentolunch
already has a good online shopping guide
and a geographic shopping guide
with reliable feedback from the community, and Bento Yum is on that.
Looking at Bento Yum as a sales organization does help me understand some things that didn't make sense before, though. All comments there are moderated before they appear on the site (retaining control of the message), her LJ posts have fake cuts channeling people to her moderated site, and when I commented there
answering a reader's question about egg molds (pointing them briefly to the Cooking Cute tutorial and my old ice cream sandwich mold tutorial), thejenn1
first approved my comment, sent me private e-mail asking that I not point her readers to any outside resources, then removed my comment from her blog. To me that says it's not a community-minded site, it's a sales site mining the communities. Also explains why Cooking Cute
is not on her blogroll.
I feel really stupid and duped now that I realize what's been happening. I was initially so excited about Bento Yum and what I thought thejenn1
was adding to our community, and happily put her on my main blogroll on Lunch in a Box.
Man, am I clueless. I've now expanded the links on my own site to prominently feature the bentolunch online shopping guide
and a geographic shopping guide
, and have learned a lesson in trust and communities. I think we need to amend our posting guidelines.