Rumblings of discontent at MyRagan?

by Lee Hopkins on May 23, 2007 · 23 comments

in Uncategorized

A kerfuffle or a waste of good drinking time?

There seems to be a bit of a kerfuffle (sorry, Dave, the term is embedded in our comms psyche now, thanks to Shev and Nel) over the renaming of a social group over at MyRagan.

Dan York advised me and some of our colleagues and friends of a post by a group founder, Chris Heuer, wherein the ‘Social Media Club’ has been renamed to ‘Social Media Tools and Strategies’.

Mark Ragan (owner of Ragan and, of course, MyRagan) made the decision to rename the group and to change the ‘owner/moderator’ of the group:

“The current logo for the club is giving the impression that we are somehow selling this space to an advertiser. We are not. These groups are designed as non-commercial places where free discussion can flow without fear of being pitched.

“Your moderator will be Ragan editor Bill Sweetland.”

Now, I can understand Mark’s concern – the logo for the original group is the same logo that Chris uses on his own blog, and he has apparently set up similar groups at

“Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning and many other social networking sites, so that members who use those services can come together to further the goals of the club.”

I am in little doubt that someone had raised the issue of duplicate logos with Mark privately, Mark investigated and took the decision to rename the group, so that no ‘conflict of interest’ issues might raise their ugly heads.

Probably understandably, Chris took umbrage at the decision and let fly with a post on the group’s noticeboard (since deleted) and that was probably why Chris was removed from the administration of the group and it was handed over to Bill Sweetland.

As Chris says,

“Mark invited me to create a group on his “myspace” clone a few weeks ago, and even invited me to promote our Workshop through it.

“Since becoming the largest group on MyRagan, Mark has apparently changed his mind, because the group (and my profile) was represented by the Social Media Club logo.”

As Chris acknowledges, MyRagan is Mark’s site and he can do with it what he pleases, even if it involves changing the rules (as Chris sees it).

So why am I even bothering to enter into the fray on this?

Because it highlights the power of Social Media to take an issue and amplify it; this issue (and Mark’s handling of it) is temporarily reverberating around the business communication echo chamber.

No doubt it will all die from lack of oxygen eventually, but in the meantime a few folks, not aware of the original group, might hear or read about this small kerfuffle and wonder what is going on.

The challenge of creating any portal is that you can’t please everyone all the time, and much within this Web2.0 space is ‘learn as you go’. We are always learning, experimenting and assessing the results. Mark and his crew over are no different, and how they handled this issue is probably how the majority of us would act if we owned a portal like MyRagan.

But make no mistake, Chris Heuer is no kid with a snotty nose and a chip on his shoulder – he is a seasoned, experienced comms pro with a lot of smart thinking behind him. As witness, a comment he left on the group noticeboard in response to a reply I had made (I posted about it):

“Lee,

“In an ideal world, you are correct. This should be handled by an inter-disciplinary / multi-disciplinary group. In reality, most organizations are not aligned with this thinking yet – indeed, even the largest PR firms and Ad Agencies are years away from really having such capabilities – even those who claim to be leaders are not fully integrated yet. We are following many of the same paths as we did in the early days of interactive unfortunately, with many of the same senior executives (and many who should know better) making the same mistakes.

“I have been toting around my presentation (should be a book by now but isn’t) about “The Communications Strategy” since 1999 when I worked for the US Mint as Chief of eBusiness. Very few people get this, though some are starting to come around – we don’t need a 360 degree view of the customer insomuch as we need to provide a 360 degree view of the company to the customer, consistently, across all customer touch points.”

It will be interesting to see if and where this kerfuffle leads…


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  • http://www.socialmediaclub.com/ Chris Heuer

    I really don’t want to waste energy on this, but since it is a great learning opportunity of what not to do, will throw down a few keystrokes and keep this comment to under 15 minutes writing time.

    When you open a community site and invite people to create groups, they will create groups, sometimes that are at odds with your terms and conditions, which would give you a right to remove them (and the posts etc) Unfortuantely this group did not violate the T&C’s and was starting to really further the conversation, as your quote of me (at least something survived) attests (thank you).

    The thing is, having a Social Media Club group was what Mark asked me to do after I expressed my displeasure about what I viewed as comment spam he personally left on the Social Media Club site. He expressed very clearly to me that he would welcome such posts on his own site, and invited me to promote our workshop and the club through My Ragan. I did what he asked, did not violate any terms and conditions of the site and he did more than just rename the group – he deleted the group, all of its posts and also deleted my profile. This is not how a community site is run – it is how a corporate site is run where you still believe in the illusion of control you have over other people and the conversation.

    I was recently accused of censorship by someone who was upset that I suggested that other people should not link to his post because I felt it was link baiting. Meanwhile, when something like this happens no one seems to care and it does just die away – it is seemingly a non-story, but it is instructive in future decision making.

    Well, shoot, I can’t help but care about this because once again we have people claiming expertise, demonstrating a different reality. There was a reason we used to throw around the phrase ‘these people don’t get it’ back in 1995 – I hoped to move away from ever using that phrase again, but am failing at the moment. Unfortunately, I am clearly not heeding my own advice either as I end up getting all riled up about this and shooting my mouth off rather than keeping quiet. Bummer for me and my big mouth… Hoping that more people will learn from the mistakes of others so we are not doomed to repeat them and relive this sort of thing over and over again….

    PS – I have been a snotty nose kid on some occasions – I am emotional, and wear my humanity on my blog and on my comments – but in this case, would rather this whole thing never happened and am instead just trying to look at it objectively… but objectively there are a lot of reasons to be pissed off…

  • http://www.socialmediaclub.com/ Chris Heuer

    I really don’t want to waste energy on this, but since it is a great learning opportunity of what not to do, will throw down a few keystrokes and keep this comment to under 15 minutes writing time.

    When you open a community site and invite people to create groups, they will create groups, sometimes that are at odds with your terms and conditions, which would give you a right to remove them (and the posts etc) Unfortuantely this group did not violate the T&C’s and was starting to really further the conversation, as your quote of me (at least something survived) attests (thank you).

    The thing is, having a Social Media Club group was what Mark asked me to do after I expressed my displeasure about what I viewed as comment spam he personally left on the Social Media Club site. He expressed very clearly to me that he would welcome such posts on his own site, and invited me to promote our workshop and the club through My Ragan. I did what he asked, did not violate any terms and conditions of the site and he did more than just rename the group – he deleted the group, all of its posts and also deleted my profile. This is not how a community site is run – it is how a corporate site is run where you still believe in the illusion of control you have over other people and the conversation.

    I was recently accused of censorship by someone who was upset that I suggested that other people should not link to his post because I felt it was link baiting. Meanwhile, when something like this happens no one seems to care and it does just die away – it is seemingly a non-story, but it is instructive in future decision making.

    Well, shoot, I can’t help but care about this because once again we have people claiming expertise, demonstrating a different reality. There was a reason we used to throw around the phrase ‘these people don’t get it’ back in 1995 – I hoped to move away from ever using that phrase again, but am failing at the moment. Unfortunately, I am clearly not heeding my own advice either as I end up getting all riled up about this and shooting my mouth off rather than keeping quiet. Bummer for me and my big mouth… Hoping that more people will learn from the mistakes of others so we are not doomed to repeat them and relive this sort of thing over and over again….

    PS – I have been a snotty nose kid on some occasions – I am emotional, and wear my humanity on my blog and on my comments – but in this case, would rather this whole thing never happened and am instead just trying to look at it objectively… but objectively there are a lot of reasons to be pissed off…

  • http://everydotconnects.com/ Connie Reece

    Lee, I’m responding to the following quote from your post:

    “I am in little doubt that someone had raised the issue of duplicate logos with Mark privately, Mark investigated and took the decision to rename the group, so that no ‘conflict of interest’ issues might raise their ugly heads.

    “Probably understandably, Chris took umbrage at the decision and let fly with a post on the group’s noticeboard (since deleted) and that was probably why Chris was removed from the administration of the group and it was handed over to Bill Sweetland.”

    Actually, Mark Ragan made the decision to delete the original SMC group and start a new one with Bill Sweetland as moderator almost 24 hours BEFORE Chris ever made his post. These are the time stamps from the respective posts: May 21, 2007 | 11:48 am for Mark Ragan’s announcement, and May 22, 2007 | 8:08 am for Chris’ response. I have cached copies of both messages.

  • http://everydotconnects.com Connie Reece

    Lee, I’m responding to the following quote from your post:

    “I am in little doubt that someone had raised the issue of duplicate logos with Mark privately, Mark investigated and took the decision to rename the group, so that no ‘conflict of interest’ issues might raise their ugly heads.

    “Probably understandably, Chris took umbrage at the decision and let fly with a post on the group’s noticeboard (since deleted) and that was probably why Chris was removed from the administration of the group and it was handed over to Bill Sweetland.”

    Actually, Mark Ragan made the decision to delete the original SMC group and start a new one with Bill Sweetland as moderator almost 24 hours BEFORE Chris ever made his post. These are the time stamps from the respective posts: May 21, 2007 | 11:48 am for Mark Ragan’s announcement, and May 22, 2007 | 8:08 am for Chris’ response. I have cached copies of both messages.

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    Hey Connie and Chris,
    Thanks for weighing in to this, I appreciate your input and timelines. It will be interesting to see if others join the conversation here…
    Lee

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    Hey Connie and Chris,
    Thanks for weighing in to this, I appreciate your input and timelines. It will be interesting to see if others join the conversation here…
    Lee

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  • http://www.propr.ca/ Joseph Thornley

    Hi Lee,
    The immediate discussion may end, but I think the important issue it underlines will persist: “…MyRagan is Mark’s site and he can do with it what he pleases, even if it involves changing the rules.”

    You are right. it is MARK’s site. And the community should not forget that “his ball, his rules.” This is a serious issue that we should consider when deciding whether to participate in closed communities or to participate through our own blogs – in the open, where “they can’t take it away from me.”

  • http://www.propr.ca Joseph Thornley

    Hi Lee,
    The immediate discussion may end, but I think the important issue it underlines will persist: “…MyRagan is Mark’s site and he can do with it what he pleases, even if it involves changing the rules.”

    You are right. it is MARK’s site. And the community should not forget that “his ball, his rules.” This is a serious issue that we should consider when deciding whether to participate in closed communities or to participate through our own blogs – in the open, where “they can’t take it away from me.”

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    Joe, I think you hit the nail on the head, mate (perspicacious as always!).

    Participating via our own blogs runs the risk of isolationism (I very often lack the time to read even my ‘must read’ bloggers) and so miss out on important news or trends.

    But equally, participation in closed communities (IABC, PRIA, MyRagan, the Hub, et al) runs the risk of pissing the owner off, having them change their mind, or all of the above and more. And it is their site, their rules (and right to change them), their dollars invested in the technical infrastructure.

    A vexed and perplexing conundrum… I know of no other way of being ‘forced’ to keep up to date than a site like MyRagan, but equally I am hesitant to abide by someone else’s rules when I own my own publishing empire (LeeHopkins.com and LeeHopkins.net) and can create my own rules. Which is no doubt what Chris will continue to do — use his own publishing platform to continue the conversation and engage with his community. More power to him…

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    Joe, I think you hit the nail on the head, mate (perspicacious as always!).

    Participating via our own blogs runs the risk of isolationism (I very often lack the time to read even my ‘must read’ bloggers) and so miss out on important news or trends.

    But equally, participation in closed communities (IABC, PRIA, MyRagan, the Hub, et al) runs the risk of pissing the owner off, having them change their mind, or all of the above and more. And it is their site, their rules (and right to change them), their dollars invested in the technical infrastructure.

    A vexed and perplexing conundrum… I know of no other way of being ‘forced’ to keep up to date than a site like MyRagan, but equally I am hesitant to abide by someone else’s rules when I own my own publishing empire (LeeHopkins.com and LeeHopkins.net) and can create my own rules. Which is no doubt what Chris will continue to do — use his own publishing platform to continue the conversation and engage with his community. More power to him…

  • http://www.myragan.com/ mark ragan

    It is very upsetting to me to see Chris repeating the falsehood that we had no reason to re-form the Social Media group on our MyRagan site.

    Chris knows this is not true. I have told everyone who would listen why we did this. I told him two to three days before we did it and asked him to help us re-form the group. But the lie keeps being repeated on this site and elsewhere:

    Here is my side again:

    1) We asked Chris to remain as moderator, but to put up a noncommercial logo. This was all we asked. We explained that we couldn’t allow his advertisement on our groups page because we weren’t allowing other moderators to do this. And it is true that we told him we had no problem mentioning his seminars within the context of relevant threads.

    After two days of receiving no response, we re-created the group under a new name. In response, he sent a letter to 100 members accusing us of strongarm tactics to all the members of the club.

    Chris, why do you keep telling people in your posts that there was no reason for us to re-form the group? And why didn’t you simply write to me and offer to moderate the new group ? Why did you send an angry letter to 100 people on our site? And why are you continuing to keep this alive?

    And to everyone who is reading this: There are three dozen moderators, all of them, like Chris, consultants. They have seen no interventions from me at all. In most cases, they have never even heard from me. Please, do me a favor as you try to interpret this debate: go to the site and ask them if they have been treated fairly. Ask them whether conversation has been impeded by me. Better yet, go see the dozens of free-wheeling threads and conversations now going on. Learn for yourself who is right and wrong.

    Chris has jumped to so many unwarranted conclusions: He has actually accused me of re-forming the group because he was too succcessful–that I saw his success and shut him down. Do you all think this is fair? Should the blogosphere be filled with posts in which people are allowed to say what other people’s motives are? Is this what it means to have open conversations?

    At any rate, one final point: I posted a lengthy response to all of Chris’s statements about my motives and actions. I posed this to Social Media Club because other people asked me to, including Shel Holtz. I want all of you to know that, so far, it has not gone live. If you want to see my response, ask Chris to approve it. If he doesn’t I will send it to you separately. Just e-mail me at: ceo@ragan.com

    Shel Holtz told me this morning to “get out” there and tell our side. This is what I hope to do–whether Chris allows my post or not.

  • http://www.myragan.com mark ragan

    It is very upsetting to me to see Chris repeating the falsehood that we had no reason to re-form the Social Media group on our MyRagan site.

    Chris knows this is not true. I have told everyone who would listen why we did this. I told him two to three days before we did it and asked him to help us re-form the group. But the lie keeps being repeated on this site and elsewhere:

    Here is my side again:

    1) We asked Chris to remain as moderator, but to put up a noncommercial logo. This was all we asked. We explained that we couldn’t allow his advertisement on our groups page because we weren’t allowing other moderators to do this. And it is true that we told him we had no problem mentioning his seminars within the context of relevant threads.

    After two days of receiving no response, we re-created the group under a new name. In response, he sent a letter to 100 members accusing us of strongarm tactics to all the members of the club.

    Chris, why do you keep telling people in your posts that there was no reason for us to re-form the group? And why didn’t you simply write to me and offer to moderate the new group ? Why did you send an angry letter to 100 people on our site? And why are you continuing to keep this alive?

    And to everyone who is reading this: There are three dozen moderators, all of them, like Chris, consultants. They have seen no interventions from me at all. In most cases, they have never even heard from me. Please, do me a favor as you try to interpret this debate: go to the site and ask them if they have been treated fairly. Ask them whether conversation has been impeded by me. Better yet, go see the dozens of free-wheeling threads and conversations now going on. Learn for yourself who is right and wrong.

    Chris has jumped to so many unwarranted conclusions: He has actually accused me of re-forming the group because he was too succcessful–that I saw his success and shut him down. Do you all think this is fair? Should the blogosphere be filled with posts in which people are allowed to say what other people’s motives are? Is this what it means to have open conversations?

    At any rate, one final point: I posted a lengthy response to all of Chris’s statements about my motives and actions. I posed this to Social Media Club because other people asked me to, including Shel Holtz. I want all of you to know that, so far, it has not gone live. If you want to see my response, ask Chris to approve it. If he doesn’t I will send it to you separately. Just e-mail me at: ceo@ragan.com

    Shel Holtz told me this morning to “get out” there and tell our side. This is what I hope to do–whether Chris allows my post or not.

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    Hey Mark,

    Shel was right, as always — thanks for joining the conversation and giving your side of the story.

    I remember the reason why a pastor friend of mine has stopped any marriage counselling work, despite being good at it: it’s just too draining when both sides are equally right.

    In kindergarten we would ask the sandpit combatants to shake hands and make up; let us hope that in this new digital sandpit the grown ups find in themselves the ability to do the same.

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    Hey Mark,

    Shel was right, as always — thanks for joining the conversation and giving your side of the story.

    I remember the reason why a pastor friend of mine has stopped any marriage counselling work, despite being good at it: it’s just too draining when both sides are equally right.

    In kindergarten we would ask the sandpit combatants to shake hands and make up; let us hope that in this new digital sandpit the grown ups find in themselves the ability to do the same.

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  • Chris Heuer

    I just want the record to show that Mark never posted a comment on any of our blogs. Very little of what he claims he asked me is true, except for the fact that he did email me about renaming the group – not about removing the logo. Please Mark, if this is true, just publish the emails to prove your side of the story. Again, he sent the email from an account called FRANK123 – I replied to this email on Sunday, when I also posted a response to the group on another message. Again, he deleted all this, essentially covering his tracks and no claiming whatever he wants without proof to back it up.

    And Mark, stop crying about no one approving your comments when clearly you had the same problem with Joe Thornley and others – choosing to position it as other people censoring you when in fact you just don’t understand how to post a comment.

  • Chris Heuer

    I just want the record to show that Mark never posted a comment on any of our blogs. Very little of what he claims he asked me is true, except for the fact that he did email me about renaming the group – not about removing the logo. Please Mark, if this is true, just publish the emails to prove your side of the story. Again, he sent the email from an account called FRANK123 – I replied to this email on Sunday, when I also posted a response to the group on another message. Again, he deleted all this, essentially covering his tracks and no claiming whatever he wants without proof to back it up.

    And Mark, stop crying about no one approving your comments when clearly you had the same problem with Joe Thornley and others – choosing to position it as other people censoring you when in fact you just don’t understand how to post a comment.

  • http://www.myragan.com/ mark ragan

    For heavan’s sake, Chris, let it go. Come on back, join the site. We would love to have you.

    If you like, you can resume the moderator’s role or create a new Social Media group.

    I never had any interest in angering you. This whole affair was just one huge misunderstanding.

    I will take part of the blame for sending confusing messages. But I assure you that I never intended to do anything nefarious.

    As you can see from the site, which now has 6,300 members, there are other groups that have a ton of members, including IABC.

    Most people view IABC as competition to Ragan, and yet I have no intention of kicking them off.

    If you are willing, I’d like to put this aside and ask you to rejoin MyRagan and lend your considerable expertise to the community.

    Mark Ragan

  • http://www.myragan.com mark ragan

    For heavan’s sake, Chris, let it go. Come on back, join the site. We would love to have you.

    If you like, you can resume the moderator’s role or create a new Social Media group.

    I never had any interest in angering you. This whole affair was just one huge misunderstanding.

    I will take part of the blame for sending confusing messages. But I assure you that I never intended to do anything nefarious.

    As you can see from the site, which now has 6,300 members, there are other groups that have a ton of members, including IABC.

    Most people view IABC as competition to Ragan, and yet I have no intention of kicking them off.

    If you are willing, I’d like to put this aside and ask you to rejoin MyRagan and lend your considerable expertise to the community.

    Mark Ragan

  • http://www.socialmediaclub.com/ Chris Heuer

    For heaven’s sake Mark, why can’t you apologize for being wrong and for behaving like such as a$$ – take part of the blame? seriously, take all of the blame, step up and admit your mistakes and apologize, and while you are at it, admit that half the things you wrote about this whole thing (and me) were lies. That is how people know who can be trusted and who can’t…

  • http://www.socialmediaclub.com/ Chris Heuer

    For heaven’s sake Mark, why can’t you apologize for being wrong and for behaving like such as a$$ – take part of the blame? seriously, take all of the blame, step up and admit your mistakes and apologize, and while you are at it, admit that half the things you wrote about this whole thing (and me) were lies. That is how people know who can be trusted and who can’t…

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