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Digital Blacklists: Yes, They Do Exist


If you’re creating content online, you’re part of the largest office in the world. You’ve got your virtual water cooler (Twitter), “office parties” if you go to events like NMX, and – yes – office drama.

People talk. Are they talking about you? Are you part of the “office” drama? If so, you could find yourself on some digital blacklists. Yes, they do exist.

Why a Digital Blacklist is Bad News

So what if some people don’t like you, right? If you have haters, that means you’re doing something right. Trolls indicate success.

Well, yes, to some extent, but you also have to realize that being blacklisted goes a lot farther than having haters. It’s about people in your own industry not respecting you or wanting to work with you. This could mean:

  • You don’t get speaking gigs at events like NMX, BlogHer, and SXSW.
  • Advertisers don’t want to work with you.
  • You’re left off the “top bloggers” lists and passed up for awards, both of which can land you lots of traffic.
  • People don’t consider you for cool partnership ideas.
  • Others in your industry don’t promote your stuff.

Can you be successful anyway? Sure. But it will be an uphill battle.

Basically, when I say “digital blacklist,” I mean that people – more than just a few – have mentally decided they don’t want to work with you or support your work.

What Gets You Blacklisted

So, what makes people talk about you in a negative way? Here are just a few of the things I’ve personally seen people do:

  • You talk badly about people behind their backs. Not venting or even complaining, but being downright nasty or snarky. If I hear that, I’m going to assume you speak badly about me too when I’m not around.
  • You’re unfair to others in your niche when you produce your own content. I think we have a duty to call people out when they do stupid things, but we have a responsibility as members of the media to be fair and honest when we speak negatively about people in a public way.
  • You aren’t completely honest. Maybe you’re not a big fat scam artist, but if you fudge your numbers or tell little “white” lies to get ahead and I find out about it, I’m going to assume that you lie about other things as well.
  • You act like a diva. Name the most popular blogger or podcaster you know. Now go to the grocery store and ask ten people if they recognize that name. I bet you at least 9 out of ten will have no idea what you’re talking about. Be humble, because no one online is that famous, and certainly even if you are very successful, you didn’t get that way without the help of others. When you act like a diva, it’s a huge turn off.
  • You don’t have time for people. We’re all busy, but if you constantly commit when offered cool opportunities and then blow people off, people are going to stop asking you to commit.
  • Your personal life is questionable. Yes, I know you can still be an awesome blogger even if you’re cheating on your husband and you can still be the best podcaster in the world even if you’re a deadbeat dad. But online, people care about who you are personally, and if who you are isn’t a very nice person, it makes people less likely to want to work with you.

Today’s the Day to Mend Your Relationships

We all make mistakes. Today’s your day, that day you start mending your relationships. If you’ve messed up, say you are sorry – and mean it. Follow that up with actions that show you are sorry. If someone else messed up, talk with them and forgive. You don’t have to forget or trust someone, but realize when someone is trying to make amends.

Digital blacklists do exist, but online forgiveness exists too. Think of it like a personal credit score. If you’re a scumbag, your credit score is going to drop lower and lower, but that doesn’t mean you can never rebuild it. It’s a lot harder to earn back your good credit score than it is to mess things up, but with hard work and commitment, you can repair your relationships and grow as a person so people no longer blacklist you.

Why You Shouldn’t Blog About “Some People”


When writing opinion pieces, it is often impossible to completely express your ideas without talking about what other people have said on the subject. Personally, I love that aspect of blogging – debating issues where people have strong opinions.Unfortunately, whenever you’re covering an issue that elicits emotions in others, a debate can turn into an argument can turn into mud slinging.

Feelings can get hurt in a hurry, and I think we can all agree: no matter how much you love voicing your opinion, the goal is not to hurt other people. That doesn’t mean it never happens.

It’s one of the most stressful parts of blogging, in my opinion. Whether you like someone personally or not, it can be a little scary to disagree. Will the other person see it? Maybe. Will they be hurt? Maybe.

Should you still voice your opinion? Again, maybe.

What I don’t believe you should do, however, is blog about “some people.” I understand why it’s done and I’ve even fallen into the trap myself, but I think that, in the end, blogging about “some people” only hurts you.

“Some people” shouldn’t have to remain in the shadows in your blog posts.

Who are “Some People”?

First, let me go over what I mean by “some people.” When you have a strong opinion that is in direct conflict with another person’s opinion, I believe that it is respectful to actually name that person and link to his/her site (with the exception being to truly heinous opinions like racial slurs, which in my opinion don’t deserve the traffic you’ll give them). Instead, what I see lots of bloggers doing is say, “Some people think…” I’m sure you’ve seen it too. Even though the blogger is talking about a specific person, they won’t name that person. They just generalize.

I’m not saying that you always have to call out other bloggers. For example, in this post, I’m writing about “some people.” Obviously not every blogger out there does what I’m writing about, but I haven’t chosen to name names. Why? I don’t have anyone specific in mind. I’ve seen people do it, and if I search long enough I can probably find some great examples. But off the top of my head? I can’t name a specific blogger.

If you can, please name that blogger. Many of your readers will realize the person you mean anyway…so don’t call them “some people.”

I’ll say this as well – it depends on the point of your post. If you’re mentioning a comment in passing or giving an example of a situation, you don’t always have to name names because that’s not really what your post is about. “Some people” could be fine in those instances, simply because you don’t want to take the focus away from your main argument. What I’m proposing in this post is that you shouldn’t use “some people” if you’re writing a post in opposition to what a specific other person (or few other people) have written or what other people are doing.


In my opinion, naming names is all about respect. We don’t have to agree to be friends. Heck, we don’t even have to agree to both be right. Two people can have valid but different opinions. When you don’t name me, though, it somehow makes it seem like my idea is not as important as yours.

You don’t have to “call someone out.” In my opinion, disagreeing with someone is not the same. Calling someone out, to me, means that you’re attacking the person and their ideas, often relying on gossip and hurt feelings without any foundation in facts. It’s not a good thing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with respectfully disagreeing with an opinion someone else posts, though – and I think part of showing respect is linking back to them.

Naming names instead of referring to “some people” is respectful to readers as well. Your readers might know the blogger you’re talking about, but this won’t always be the case. If you don’t give them the opportunity to check out the other side of the debate, you’re not presenting the best argument possible. Your readers have the right to make up their own minds, and the best way you can make sure this happens is by presenting the opposing opinion as well, and not just as you choose to summarize it. If you really do have a strong argument, you should feel confident allowing your readers to see the opposing viewpoint as written by someone just as passionate as you.

Credit Where Credit is Due

The blog posts that you write aren’t always inspired by what other bloggers are posting, but sometimes they are…and when that happens, that blogger deserves a little credit.

You can’t copyright an idea, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give someone a little credit if they gave you the idea for a post of your own. That blogger writing about a concept inspired your to write a rebuttal of sorts. In my opinion, it’s just the right thing to do to link back to that initial blogger, citing their post as the reason you’re writing about the topic.

The Coincidental Mistake

In any niche, coincidences happen pretty regularly. Everyone talks about the same news stories, but beyond that, when you’re covering a topic that is more “evergreen,” you might find yourself posting about the same things as other people on the same day. I’ve been accused of copying ideas before, actually, but it was honestly just a matter of happenstance that we both published posts about the same subject with similar messages with a day or so of one another. I just don’t have time to read every blog every day, so sometimes coincidences happen.

The problem is, if you get into a habit of blogging about “some people” without naming names, people start to think that’s just what you do – you talk about people is a very behind-their-back type of way and present one-sided arguments to your readers without giving any type of credit. Then, when it actually is a case of coincidence, it seems like just another cowardly post on your behalf. On the other hand, if you’ve always posted links and have engaged in professional debate with your peers, most readers will give you the benefit of the doubt, not jumping to conclusions right away even if someone else recently posted on the same subject.

Finding the Confidence to Use Names

Without a doubt, naming names in any niche does require confidence. It is much easier to be more ambiguous, speaking your mind without as much risk that there will be any backlash. The truth of the matter, however, is that if everyone just agrees with you all the time, you probably aren’t being the best blogger you can be. Debate is part of what is so great about working online and connecting to people from all over the world.

Reread your post. If you wouldn’t say it to a person’s face, don’t say it online either. There’s no need to be rude. But don’t shy away from voicing your opinion, even if you agree with some pretty popular bloggers. If you do so in a respectful way, any mature blogger out there will appreciate your feedback and the chance for some friendly debate.

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