What do you do if you get in a mess?

Everyone makes mistakes, some larger than others. How people handle them is what people usually remember.

What do you do if, as a blogger, you get yourself in a mess? Usually it’s a bad comment causing a mob of criticism. Some things are learned with time and initially, you do not have the experience to avoid obvious trouble. You’ll learn, just as Mashable is learning now.

I know I am going to be asked, “Tyme what would you do?” so here is what I would do if I owned the Mashable site. That doesn’t mean they should do this or are wrong if they don’t. It’s what I would do and perhaps it will help other bloggers.

  1. I would realize that unless something is done, Mashable will always be known as the site that tried to take advantage of inflated statistics. People will stop talking about it shortly but no one is about to forget it anytime soon.
  2. I would develop an ethics policy I know I could live by daily, and make it public. As a news reporting site I would expect Mashable to call out a social network company that crosses the line ethically. If they call out companies I would expect them to hold themselves to a higher standard to avoid hypocrisy. An ethics policy makes it clear what the stance is on issues and gives readers the ability to hold the site owner accountable. For example, did all these people really vote for Pageflakes? It’s a conflict of interest – they win on the site that happened to be reporting 410K+ subscribers coming from them.
  3. I would remove all references to stats regarding pageviews unless I was prepared to back it up. I have issues with sites that throw out large numbers but can’t explain them.
  4. I would put the FeedBurner counter back up. The number has been released. Hiding it now is kind of pointless. Be honest about it because everyone knew it was going to drop. 27K is nothing to sneeze at – it’s a damn good number. Be proud of it.
  5. No one is believing anything Mashable says right now and that is key to understanding how to solve this problem. The trust and respect has to be earned back. Apologizing across the internet isn’t going to help much because it’s a unbalanced conversation. Everyone that needs to read it won’t see it.
  6. Keeping #4 in mind, I would write about it. The discussion would be held on my site. I would apologize and accept responsibility for my mistake. I would share what I learned, point out the ethics policy and the changes I intend to make. I would not under any circumstances try to make excuses or explain it away.

That is a short list of what I would do. It would extend beyond that but I think you get the idea. Words mean nothing at this point, it’s all about action – consistent correct ethical decisions.

Let’s be real – everyone makes mistakes, some larger than others. If you write online long enough you’ll encounter drama. The people bashing Mashable have all made their own mistakes, learning their own lessons. Mashable will get through this just like all sites do – hopefully a hell of a lot smarter. 🙂

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