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Max vs. The 1000-Pound Gorilla

Meet Max. He’s the cute little mascot for Homegain.com

Meet The 1000-Pound Gorilla (Hint: It ain’t really move.com Those are really fists, codename: Thunder and Lightning)

This is Max telling me about the advantages of Homegain.com over on my Active Rain blog.

(about the fourth comment down: Louis Cammarosano)

This is a link to the winner of the competition
.

His account was suspended for violation of AR’s Terms of Service (advertising in the comments of another blogger).

Yeah right. Looks like somebody went a bit Ape Sh*t over a major competitor talking to a friend (me) about the value of their company on my blog.

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  • How To Price A Home + How Big Should My Farm Be
  • The 800 pound gorilla in the corner – the meltdown of the Wall Street mortgage market

  • 48 comments

    48 Comments so far

    1. Eric Bramlett February 19th, 2009 5:07 pm

      What a load of crap. Louis is always respectful, and was not overstepping his bounds by comparing his services to AR’s value proposition. I feel like putting together a comparison of the HG vs. AR value props for fun now.

    2. Jay Thompson February 19th, 2009 5:10 pm

      Well that seems petty and stupid.

      But, if that’s what the AR TOS says, that’s what they say.

      All the more reason for someone to have their own blog with Terms of Service THEY write and control.

      I don’t allow advertising in my blog comments either. Of course I don’t exile those that do, usually all it takes is clicking the delete key an a gentle reminder if they do it again.

    3. Louis Cammarosano February 19th, 2009 5:21 pm

      I agree with Jay-its their party, their platform they can do what they like. I did not protest, just apologized.

    4. Jessica Horton February 19th, 2009 5:27 pm

      @ Eric I agree. TOS are selectively enforced, but it’s their party even when it’s my blog. Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmm…..

      @ Jay It does seem rather petty and stupid, but they can do what they want – when they want. I wonder if he was told on or if they read my posts. Watching…
      Waiting…

      @ Louis Yep. I know you wouldn’t protest – you’re just that kind of guy.

    5. Jay Thompson February 19th, 2009 5:38 pm

      Jessica said: “. . . but it’s their party even when it’s my blog”

      Then it’s not really your blog, is it.

    6. Mary Mcknight February 19th, 2009 5:50 pm

      Louis is always respectful. I mean, I deserved and tried for it – but Louis being bounced – ridiculous. AR seems to have fallen pray to the desperation of the marketplace. First they start charging for outside blogs and now they bounce someone like Louis. What cracks me up is Homegain has a rev model – show me ARs. I’m tired of retards running pseudo technology companies/social networks.

    7. Tony Sena February 19th, 2009 6:03 pm

      A phone call or email to Louis pointing out the violation of their terms of service seems to be the better route?

    8. Brian Block February 19th, 2009 7:02 pm

      My guess is that AR will reinstate Louis within a few days with no more than a slap on the wrist. We’ll see.

    9. Louis Cammarosano February 19th, 2009 7:10 pm

      @Eric
      Thanks for your commments-would love to see a third party comparison from you of the Homegain value proposition vs the AR one.

      @Mary – LOL thanks for the support

      @Tony- that is how I would have handled it

      @Brian-let’s hope so :-)

    10. Jessica Horton February 19th, 2009 7:34 pm

      @ Jay I guess social network means they get to pick my friends and decide what products are right for me. I always thought it was meant to be a place for professionals to get together and help each other grow their business.

      I guess VC $ trumps Pongidae

    11. Brian Brady February 19th, 2009 9:22 pm

      Haha! Louis got snagged. I’m so proud of him right now.

    12. Brian Brady February 19th, 2009 9:26 pm

      This is ridiculous. I have so may loan originators who (attempt to) advertise in my comments thread that I demanded that I be allowed to disable comments.

      When I complained, they screamed “First Amendment”. I like the guys at Active Rain but sometimes they do stupid shit. Of course, the sheeple there just say “Nice Job”

    13. Brian Brady February 19th, 2009 9:30 pm

      “Then it’s not really your blog, is it.”

      Jay, you just incited a riot. I demanded that Active Rain specify that I have control of my content and comments’ thread, about 18 months ago. They disabled comments to demonstrate that I did.

      Jessica, did you request that Louis be removed? If you didn’t I’m going to raise hell over there.

    14. Jessica Horton February 19th, 2009 9:40 pm

      @ Mary I agree about Louis. I think it’s great they charge for outside blogs – they should. I’m just not going to pay for it. I have my own and people can just about say anything that they want to over on it.

      @ Tony I agree. That would have been the honorable thing to do – instead they come off looking (at least to me) like they are scared of what Louis had to say. So, they shut him up.

      @ Brian Block We shall see. At least he didn’t say the “L” word.

      @ Brian Brady Never in a million years! I’ve had other agents talk to potential clients on my posts. It doesn’t bother me. I know what all I bring to the table and they either understand that value or they don’t. We either jive or we won’t.

    15. Brian Brady February 19th, 2009 9:45 pm

      “Never in a million years!”

      Thanks for the ammo.

    16. David G February 19th, 2009 10:26 pm

      “I’m so proud of him right now.”

      I’m ROFL remembering the first time I had to call Brian to ask him to use our site slightly differently. I’ll never forget what you told me, Brian (and how graciously you took my feedback.) Good marketers are always pushing the limits. It’s the first line in the job description. Vanilla doesn’t sell. But, it’s honestly very tough to moderate some pros’ behavior in public communities where participants’ motives are all very different (and where good marketers are up to their tricks.) I should know; I play both sides of this game ;-) Firm, consistent moderation always works best but it’s important to use the right tools for the job. Admin tools for moderators should allow for creative but consistent moderation. We recently shipped a new community product short of a few admin tools and the moderation of it was impossible for a few weeks till we got them back. I guess I’m interesed in why banning was the tool used in this case. I’d also suggest we don’t really have the info to judge anyone here without knowing that. Bottom line … rubbing is racing.

    17. Greg Swann February 19th, 2009 10:27 pm

      > When I complained, they screamed “First Amendment”.

      I tell Cathy that I can make enemies simply by walking into a room full of strangers. Sometimes friends, but always enemies. Now the Ferrara/Dalton Gang has a new member. All I did was kill the putz’s comments for trying to spam us. Instead of sending me an email, he decided to try to make his bones on me. I swear to god, sometimes I feel like Bill Hickok. At least I have sense enough not to duel with Mad Louie Cammarosano.

    18. Brian Brady February 19th, 2009 10:29 pm
    19. Brian Brady February 19th, 2009 10:31 pm

      “Firm, consistent moderation always works best but it’s important to use the right tools for the job. Admin tools for moderators should allow for creative but consistent moderation”

      This is Jessica’s content and her property. Active Rain defined ownership pf content and comments over a year ago.

    20. David G February 19th, 2009 10:43 pm

      Totally understood Brian. Without getting into a biz-model debate, this is the GREAT AR coflict: it’s BOTH open platform AND controlled community. And no doubt, publishers there opt into also benefitting from the network effects and reputation that comes with the community. So, the integrity of the community is important to the success of the platform. But it’s a very fine line to walk and there are obvious conflicts, like this one. You don’t see this combination that much in the rest of social media. VOX and LiveJournal are the two most well-known hybrids I can think of. I’ve always said that there was a good reason that blogs on MySpace didn’t really go big but this hybrid Platform / Community model is not unique to AR in RE.

    21. Brian Brady February 19th, 2009 10:50 pm

      “But it’s a very fine line to walk and there are obvious conflicts, like this one.”

      You’re a reasonable man so I know you’ll give it to me straight. How is what Louis did different from what you and Rudy do?

    22. David G February 19th, 2009 11:00 pm

      I’d like to know. Don’t think you’re reading me. Even if this violated the TOU, I don’t get why banning was the tool used. As for whether this should have been reacted to at all … I’ll try to be more blunt. Considering that the topic was a critique of the site’s own product my advice to the moderator would have been not to touch this with a 10-ft pole. It’s a lose-lose scenario that I can only guess must have touched a raw nerve. IMO, your critics are entitled to their opinions, even if they are your competitors. Same page?

    23. Brian Brady February 19th, 2009 11:01 pm

      “Same page?”

      Same sentence. Thanks

    24. Jessica Horton February 19th, 2009 11:18 pm

      @ David actually my post wasn’t a critique at all. I haven’t been around Active Rain for quite awhile. I got several e-mails from members telling me to join back up or I would have to pay to post.

      People that read me know that it was just my funny way of saying, “Hi! I’m checking in.”

      I don’t have any problems with them charging because I do think A | R has great value, but if I can avoid paying for it – I will. In fact, I was one of the test subjects for the outside blog and I told them that they were crazy for not charging for it.

    25. David G February 19th, 2009 11:21 pm

      Jessica – I get that. Louis’ comment was the critique.

      OH, why am I so misunderstood. I know, it’s my accent, right? ;-)

    26. Jay Thompson February 19th, 2009 11:22 pm

      Brian asks: “How is what Louis did different from what you and Rudy do?”

      Simple. Louis’ comment directly compared his product to AR’s. I don’t think David or Rudy ever compare Z or T to AR (Gawd, that sounds like a bad algebra problem).

      Granted, I rarely read anything at AR any more, but that’s how I see it.

      I find it odd that they let Louis’ comment stand on Jessica’s post but banish him from the tribe.

      Louis is one of the good guys. Why not a scenario like this:

      Jon (or Brad, Rich, Jeff, whoever at AR) picks up the TELEPHONE: “Hey Louis, it’s Jon from AR. Would you mind not leaving posts or comments comparing your product to ours on Active Rain?”

      I’ll bet you the response from Louis would have sounded something like this:

      “Sure Jon, won’t happen again.”

      Problem solved.

      Better yet, be smart and respond directly with data and evidence (and even opinion) why your product kicks HomeGain’s ass.

      Assuming of course, you have that data and/or confidence in your product.

      I like the AR guys. Their product has a place for some. I’ve always had concerns about content ownership. This does nothing to alleviate those concerns.

      One who blogs on AR is doing just that, using another companies platform to publish content. If that isn’t cause for concern, people aren’t thinking this through. Me, I think I’ll stick to blogging on my blog, where I make and enforce the rules however I see fit.

    27. David G February 19th, 2009 11:25 pm

      “I find it odd that they let Louis’ comment stand on Jessica’s post but banish him from the tribe.”

      BINGO

    28. Jonathan Washburn February 20th, 2009 12:07 am

      Loius was not banned, he was suspended. This was very clear in the email that was sent to him.

      The suspension was not primarily a response to the comment left on Jessica’s post. In reviewing the comment mentioned above by Jessica, it looked like Jessica was pleased to receive the comment. If you go to her post today the comment is still there.

      As David G said above, this was a lose/lose issue for us on the moderating front. It would have been much easier to treat Louis with preference and not enforce our Guidelines. He is a well know leader who was marketing against AR and suspending him would obviously bring much more attention to his comments. Which if stifling his message was our goal, then suspension was not an effective way to make this happen.

      So we did the tougher thing and temporarily suspended his account.

      Louis is a professional business-person and marketer. It is his job to push the envelope and get the word about his company out. He made a bet that the upside to violating our Community Guidelines would outway the potential downside. Whether it did or not is for him to decide.

      When his account is reinstated on ActiveRain in the next few days he will have the freedom to market the Homegain message all he wants on HIS blog. As mentioned above, this is something that our other competitors do all of the time. Louis got into trouble because he was marketing the Homegain message on other member’s blogs!

      Lastly, we do moderate a professional community and we do our best to ensure that our Community Guidelines are observed and enforced. If there has been one consistent request from our members it’s that they would like our Guidelines enforced with stricter standards. They want us to help ensure a professional community.

      To view our Community Guidelines go here: http://activerain.com/blogsview/44665/ActiveRain-Community-Guidelines

      Our third community guideline is: “Do not advertise yourself or your services in the comment section of another members blog post.”

    29. Jessica Horton February 20th, 2009 1:36 am

      This is to Bob Stewart on Active Rain. I’ve been getting a 502 Proxy Error for the last 5 minutes and haven’t been able to respond to you over there.

      Bob:

      Yes, I did and I thanked you very much for doing so. I think you (as usual) went above and beyond for a member. However, it was a bit of a shock to see my old posts when I logged back on. I really thought nothing of it until the “editorial control” bit came up. I viewed seeing my posts as a bit more than just mere “editorial control”.

      However, if it’s in the TOS, it’s in the TOS. I do believe they have been updated since my last reading of them. Having said that, it’s my responsibility to stay informed about my content – completely.

      I am in NO WAY implying that something was done to my content or that you (or AR) profited off my content on a backup server. I just took my “completely remove” to mean completely remove it.

      I see now that it can be kept on a backup server for “such and such” period of time.

    30. Eric Blackwell February 20th, 2009 3:09 am

      Wow- How did I come late to this one?

      First off, Louis IS one of the good guys IMO. I have always been able to pick up the phone to him and get a straight answer. AR dudes, are those fingers painted on? (grin) banning seems ummm….harsh. I’d second Bramlett’s opinion on that.

      Second, IMO Jay Thompson nailed it. “Then you don’t really own it.” Priceless.

      Another thought:

      From Brian Brady: “Better yet, be smart and respond directly with data and evidence (and even opinion) why your product kicks HomeGain’s ass.”

      EXACTLY.
      Or even a simple acknowledgement that yeah…they are a competing product and that self promo is not allowed and an edit. PR wise that would have been a better course…

      Final thought:

      Yes it’s your party and you can do as you want…but be even handed about it and be soft on people and correct on principle. Of ALL of the soft marketing and subtle self promo going on at AR, this tripped your wire? Enough to ban someone?

      Good grief.

    31. Cheryl Johnson February 20th, 2009 5:53 am

      AR is down for “system maintenance”, so I can’t check out the links.

      However, now that I have built a couple Mu communities, I certainly can understand the strange and lonely life of a moderator. And when David G talks of the conflict between being both open platform and controlled community, I know exactly what he means.

      Yes, I want anyone who uses my community to express themselves freely.

      But, if someone used a blog in one of my communities to post stuff that I felt was particularly cruel, ugly or abusive, I’d pull their plug so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them.

      If a business competitor decided to use a blog in one of my Mu communities to market themselves, I’d think it odd, but I’d hold my tongue. If they decided to trash me or my company in that blog, I’d go with a direct rebuttal as Jay suggests, then move on. If the post was particularly insulting or offensive, see above.

      It is a fine line, and the line isn’t always straight or easy-to-walk.

    32. Eric Blackwell February 20th, 2009 6:16 am

      Having modded for RealEstateWebmasters.com for several years, I totally agree. What I think they do right is that they are TOTALLY up front about the fact that if you self promo, you will be banned. No if’s and’s or but’s.

      But the ARE consistent. And that is the difference. And they typically fire a warning shot. With all of the stuff that gets through at AR, why did Louis get shown the glove?? He’s is arguably one of the most easily accessed executive level persons of a company his size.

    33. Cheryl Johnson February 20th, 2009 6:39 am

      Now that AR has been resuscitated, I’ve read Louis’ comment, and it strikes me as pretty bland.

      David G’s “10 Foot Pole Rule” should have been applied, and the comment would probably have passed unnoticed into the giant bit-bucket in the sky.

      Now, it has been turned into a “Cause”. :-)

    34. Louis Cammarosano February 20th, 2009 7:25 am

      @cheryl and @david g

      Moderating content is as you point out a fine line. We have to consider the points of view and rights of the offending member as well as the interests of the community as a whole.

      As cheryl points out if a member is clearly out of line or “particularly cruel, ugly or abusive, [she'd] pull their plug so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them”

      A consistent enforcement of the rules can work well -witness the clean crime free streets of singapore where chewing gum in the streets is illegal and punishable as is jaywalking. (anyone remember the “canning” incident of an American in singapore a few years back?)

      Consistent unenforcement of what a society may deem as less offensive legal infractions can also work-witness The netherlands’ tolerance of “soft” drugs.

      I have no trouble with the suspension that Jonathan has imposed on me based on strict enforcement of their Terms of Service. The desired message was sent, I got it and I have apologized and of course won’t do it again. I’ll also re familiarize myself with the TOS.

      I think, however, in sending the message to me a damaging message was also sent to AR members -violate the TOS in any way and you may without warning have your entire blog pulled down and your account suspended, during which time your content is not viewable by anyone or accessible by you.

      As a member it may make one think twice of violating the TOS (if one can remember all of its terms) but it will also make one think twice about relying on the service for their marketing.

    35. Jay Thompson February 20th, 2009 7:50 am

      “As a member it may make one think twice of violating the TOS (if one can remember all of its terms) but it will also make one think twice about relying on the service for their marketing.”

      I think Louis nailed it here, and this is the important part of the issue.

      TOS’s by their very nature are complex and difficult to grasp. They are also subject to interpretation (one only has to look at the recent Facebook TOS mess to see this).

      None of us but AR and Louis know the whole story behind this account suspension. Has Louis been previously warned? (my gut says no, I can’t imagine someone of Louis’ character ignoring a warning). If I were running the show at AR, and clearly I am not, I wouldn’t have moved immediately to account suspension — it just seems too drastic and appears to be sour grapes. I would have gone the telephone route I previously mentioned.

      But that’s just me. AR is free to act however they like.

      I don’t read a lot over at AR, but I suspect that with little effort I could turn up dozens of other examples of others advertising themselves or their services in the comments section of another members blog post. Heck, back in the day I probably did this myself.

      Consistency in any moderation is key. Granted on a site the size of AR that may be near an impossible task, but if you’re going to whack one member for a transgression, you better be prepared to whack them all.

      Maybe it’s just me, but if I knew that one slip in the comments could make all my content invisible for days, I’d be very concerned.

    36. Louis Cammarosano February 20th, 2009 7:57 am

      @jay
      Thanks for the comments. Indeed I was not warned of any prior violation. I simply received notification that my account had been suspended for violation of TOS.

      Worth repeating
      “Maybe it’s just me, but if I knew that one slip in the comments could make all my content invisible for days, I’d be very concerned.”

    37. Jessica Horton February 20th, 2009 7:57 am

      @ Louis I would like to see the TOS be strictly enforced. Yes, it gave me a chance to review them also and I see that they have evolved. I’m not very comfortable with some of the wording and I will have to think about how I place my content on their network.

      It is my belief that it had less to do with the TOS than it did with the fact that Louis works for Homegain. It just makes me wonder who will be be next if another company contributes millions in VC to AR.

      Well, I never thought this post would get this many comments and that isn’t even including the ones on A | R where all the popcorn and sodas are being passed around. As much as I would like to indulge in carbs – I can’t. I’ve got 2 properties to go list today and a counter to get signed.

    38. Louis Cammarosano February 20th, 2009 8:04 am

      @jessica
      You tossed the bait “I’ve got 2 properties to go list today and a counter to get signed”

      and I resisted with every thing I could

      You see reformation is possible :-)

    39. Brian Brady February 20th, 2009 8:51 am

      To Jon Washburn:

      Do Active Rain contributors own their content?

    40. Scott Cowan February 20th, 2009 9:47 am

      Jessica,

      Why did you disable comments on your post on AR? I wanted to nominate if for a feature =)

    41. Jeff Brown February 20th, 2009 11:34 am

      This is whole thing is a standup routine. Keep it up. :)

      Seems AR has this kind of ‘happening’ periodically. The common denominator appears to be its tempest in a teapot nature.

    42. Jessica Horton February 20th, 2009 12:33 pm

      @ Louis that appt is until 4:00 PM today. That will be #2 in just a few days from HG. However, I’m not sure if we are going to agree on terms. We shall see! I am warming up to the idea – give me some time. :)

      @ Scott Awwww. Thank you! That was really sweet, but please don’t. I’ve already lost 3 subscribers over on A|R since posting. First Louis and now this…I’m not sure I could handle any more loss. :(

    43. Bob February 20th, 2009 12:40 pm

      “Hey Louis, it’s Jon from AR. Would you mind not leaving posts or comments comparing your product to ours on Active Rain?”

      This would be mild compared to what they did, but still wrong. Either reaction serves to outlines the entire debate, and the action taken is proof why AR doesn’t really believe the “It’s your content” mantra.

      If I post a spam comment on someone else’s blog.wordpress.com site, no one from WP is going to suspend me. It’s up to the BLOG OWNER to decide whether or not to delete my comment.

      AR’s TOS governing control of the comments on my supposed blog should only apply to issues of legal liability. Suspending Louis’ account just further demonstrated the online banana republic nature that is growing at AR.

    44. Karen Rice February 20th, 2009 9:08 pm

      WOW, a lot happened in my month long hiatus from blogging.

      These goings on have helped me confirm my desire to do my own blog and not rely on Active Rain. It’s a pity.

    45. Galen February 21st, 2009 3:33 pm

      Why fear comments from competition – it’s a great chance to explain why Active Rain is worth it. (My verdict: not for most of the folks I know).

      Are they chickens? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIT5sFhw4sU

    46. Louis Cammarosano February 22nd, 2009 7:19 pm
    47. Jack Johnson February 23rd, 2009 11:59 pm

      I’m not sure why all the controversy. There are TOU’s attached to nearly everything we use today including credit cards, social networks, bank accounts, email accounts etc. AR’s TOU’s are clear and Louis Cammarosano violated their terms period, end of story. Why are people up in arms? HomeGain also has TOU’s and I’m sure if any of their subscriber members violated any TOU’s Louis Cammarosano would suspend or ban them from his site as soon as they violated those terms. It is simple; follow the rules and don’t advertise and undermine the host site’s services. Simply saying that you can’t “familiarize” yourself with every TOU doesn’t cut it. If all of us broke the rules in society and then claimed ignorance of the rules we would have anarchy. We can’t allow someone to plead ignorance when they are caught breaking the rules. I can’t stop paying my credit card bill and plead ignorance with TOU’s as a defense correct?
      @Louis: What would you do if I went on the HomeGain blog and touted Zillow and Trulia over your service? I’m sure you would not be too pleased.
      Cheers!

    48. Jay Thompson February 24th, 2009 6:05 am

      Jack – I’ve got no problem with TOU’s / TOS’s. As long as they are applied consistently. At AR, they aren’t. Using some clause in the TOS to selectively banish a member is poor business. And if I had all my content wrapped up in a place that selectively banned members, I would be very very concerned.