Scumbaggery and Skullduggery

Despite the best intentions behind it, it’s seemed from the beginning like Podcast Alley was doomed to be a festering pit of corruption. At its best, it was impossible to tell between true popularity and differentials in willingness to campaign. I went out of my way not to worry about it for a long time, until a few things happened:

  1. USA Today and other publications started treating it as a canonical authority
  2. I was in danger of dropping out of the top 50
  3. I fell below the guy who talks about his own poop – that one hurt

Now, here is a further example of Podcast Alley corruption and all-around uncoolness. The current #2 podcast is the libertarian talk show Free Talk Live. Other than their high ranking here, I have never heard of them in the podcast context so why are they so highly rated? Well, they campaign hard and have a built in group of folks to take orders like well bred trout. They are not content with merely doing that but are urging people to vote against Dawn and Drew so they can take the top spot. Seriously! Says they:

While it looks like FTL will need a lot of votes to surpass the #1 show, we’ll actually need less than the diffrence between the two shows, because their star rating is lower! If you’ve listened to their show and don’t like it, go ahead and vote them one star. If you like it, maybe you could just leave them a nice comment instead of voting for them. They could use a nice comment.

Campaigning for themselves is not enough, they are urging people to vote Dawn and Drew lower. What a pantsload. I thought libertarians were devout worshippers of the invisible hand of market forces. I guess that only goes until a little market manipulation is strategically advantageous.

Now, I’m not urging anyone to vote for anything. I can say that this act of scumbaggery did incite me to vote but it was not the way the FTL people want. And, I’ll keep voting every 24 hours the same way. It might be a minor thing, but I can’t say I like the idea of these turds hijacking the pocast community.

Update: Mike Geoghegan (who I forgot to credit as the person making me aware of the above link) emailed me some new doozies. This appears to be the thread where the “vote 1 for people above us” strategy was born. They do say only do that if you don’t like the show but the idea of organizing groups of people to vote lower shows above you on the list is so unbelievably uncool and tacky. It’s like being at a party that was pleasant and fun when some knuckleheads show up and puke in the punchbowl. FTL and their minions are those guys.

35 Replies to “Scumbaggery and Skullduggery”

  1. Yeah, you’re right. I didn’t mind a little bit of “vote for me” stuff — label me guilty — but to encourage stuffing the box by voting more than once or now to vote *against* anyone, clearly devalues the concept. Based on the press coverage and being one of the first to play, Chris has the opportunity to resurect Podcast Alley as an objective service, but he’ll have to act soon to avoid the site turning into nothing more than a spam attractor.

  2. There are more examples of this kind of thing.. How does a snowmobiling show go from zero to #7 in a few weeks? Let’s not mention the whole soft-drink sponsor thingie..

    You can never tell which site will become the hub of a new movement, but just by sheer numbers, podcastalley is (soon to be was?) the defacto authority. The growing displeasure from many podcasters towards this site though means it may be on the downward trend, and the community will adopt a new home.. It’ll be interesting to see where the traffic ends up.

    Too bad for podcastalley, they were *that* close..

  3. It was not to long ago that everyone was remarking how easy-going and accepting the podcasting community was. But like all things, when the sphere of influence grows, it starts to cover more people and a certain percentage of people are assholes. It was only a matter of time before the free market forces brought assholes into play. Ironic, no?

  4. Evil Genius Chronicles – Scumbaggery and Skullduggery good job of investigative reporting dave – totally agree w/ the take and proposed call to action… so pls read dave’s above post, and then go to podcast alley and do the right

  5. I just listened to the FTL show for a bit and, well, they suck. You know all the things about the interaction on G’day World between Nick and Cam that make it so enjoyable? They don’t have that. Interesting topics? Nope. Charisma? None. They do say things like, “I thought this was a free country”. It is. That’s why I could turn their shit off.

  6. Bob, Sledhead had an existing forum of folks they could rally to vote for them, just like FTL. That’s one thing and in neither case do I have a problem with mobilizing pre-existing groups of people. When their strategy involves mobilizing those groups to vote down other shows, that’s when it crosses the line to me.

  7. Mike (Dunn), I’m not actually doing any investigation. Mike (Geoghegan) sent me the links and I blogged about them. In fact, I think someone else sent the links to him. Perhaps they should be called “Deep Fingers.”

  8. thanks a lot dave for bringing this up. i’ve been aware of their shenanigans for a while, but we’ve intentionally not even mentioned the alley for months now, so that others may have a chance at getting into the top ten. but what these guys are doing is just plain desperate. are they even really a podcast? and the whole idea that #1 at podcastalley is #1 in the world is just silly.

  9. You wrote:

    “I thought libertarians were devout worshippers of the invisible hand of market forces. I guess that only goes until a little market manipulation is strategically advantageous.”

    Sheesh, Dave. Could you make a more sweeping generalization? Like many other people, I don’t like what they’re suggesting. And until today, I had never voted on Podcast Alley. However, the FTL guys inspired me to go and vote in the opposite manner from what they wanted. I understand it pisses you off, and that you want to write about it in a way that expresses that, but is it really necessary to make blanket statements about a large group based upon the actions of a very few people?

  10. I’ve opined on both the podcasters Yahoo Group and on the podcast alley forum about how flawed the Podcast Alley ranking system is. You can see my posts here and

    –*Rob

  11. Brandon,

    You are right, that was a pretty broad swipe in the language but really it was at those guys. They are the ones acting crazy, so I’m not trying to impugn anyone but them. I’m not actually that versed in Libertarian doctrine so I can’t really analyze whether this is or is not consistent with it. It’s turdly, no matter what.

    Rob,

    I’m a little amazed that PA doesn’t already have a vote expiring scheme. That only seems reasonable to me – a vote drops out after X days, whether that is 10 as you suggest or 30 or 60. As it stands now, if you organize a campaign and get up to the top you will be there a long time, possibly forever, even if you stop doing the show. That hardly seems sporting.

  12. “knuckleheads show up and puke in the punchbowl” – ahhhh, now there’s an image 😉

    “deep fingers” was good too – anyway, here’s hoping the word gets out to stop the madness…

  13. I am amazed by what people will do to get ranked on the PodcastAlley.com website and it has always been a problem. When the site first started, Dawn & Drew pretended to have sex to get their rank higher, but they never dropped to the level that some of these folks are of purposely voting down their competition.

    I am looking for any suggestions as to what I can to make my services better. I require Email Addresses, Limit IP addresses, Limit votes to 24 hours and many other little things. The problem is, that the votes are legitimate (good and bad votes) and that means the system is working…technically.

    Suggestions? Send them to info |at| podcastalley |.com|

  14. Despite what you whiners say, if you actually read my post you would have noted that I specifically said this:

    “If you’ve listened to their show and don’t like it, go ahead and vote them one star. “

    Note that I only encouraged those who have listened and didn’t like their show to vote one star, and I did not say vote more than once. There’s hardly a conspiracy here.

    Ian

  15. Actually, if you read that entire thread linked at the top of this post, and not just the QUOTE taken out of context, you would see that Ian was in fact encouraging people to vote 1 for the show, ONLY IF THEY HAD LISTENED AND DIDN’T LIKE Dawn and Drew. He was in fact simply encouraging his listeners to NOT VOTE regarding Dawn and Drew AT ALL. Not a 1 vote, not a 5 vote… JUST NO VOTES. And NO, IAN and Manwich are not going to have sex for votes.

  16. I think this is exactly the kind of discussion we need to have in order to improve upon or redesign the podcast directory concept. I already see changes in PodcastAlley today that have likely stemmed from this thread. While these are not radical changes it is progress nonetheless.

    While most of us will probably agree that PA can be gamed and is far from perfect, I also think we’d agree that some sort of podcast directory or search engine is necessary. Word of mouth and references from one podcast to another can only go so far. Part of why this movement has spread so quickly is the ability for people to find new and interesting content. We need to lead the evolution of podcast locating services so that this can continue as open and fair as possible.

    Thanks Dave, Michael G, and everybody for helping to get this out in the open. Lets keep the discussion going.

  17. What you said was:
    “While it looks like FTL will need a lot of votes to surpass the #1 show, we’ll actually need less than the diffrence between the two shows, because their star rating is lower! If you’ve listened to their show and don’t like it, go ahead and vote them one star. If you like it, maybe you could just leave them a nice comment instead of voting for them. They could use a nice comment.”
    You can sit there and try to bullshit me about how that was just a JOKE and gosh, we weren’t actually trying to dissuade the people that like them, blah, blah. You are gaming the system and we both know it. Which is fine. Whatever.
    Your claim of being the #2 podcast in the world is frankly bullshit and the only people who will fall for that are people not of the community. I’m willing to bet you have miniscule downloads compared to many of the more popular casts. You are #2 on Podcast Alley. That’s it. Congratulations.

  18. There was no “joke”. I was simply reminding people who have listened to and didn’t like DND that there was something they could do to help us.

    As far as I’m concerned, since podcast alley is the only podcast site worth mentioning, us being #2 there does indeed make us the #2 podcast in the world. It really doesn’t matter what you think. What matters is what the media thinks.

  19. This kind of crap is right now making me think twice about podcasting. If that is the sort of attitude shown, then I’m not sure I *want* to be a part of the podcasting community.

    “If you’ve listened to their show and don’t like it, go ahead and vote them one star. If you like it, maybe you could just leave them a nice comment instead of voting for them. They could use a nice comment.”

    Great.. so if people don’t like the show, it’s okay for them to vote AGAINST it, but it’s not okay to vote FOR it.

    Oh, and while I’m at it..

    “I was simply reminding people who have listened to and didn’t like DND that there was something they could do to help us.”

    So it’s okay for people who don’t like what your doing to vote against you too? Some have, I won’t. I’m not about to sink to the same level.

    “It really doesn’t matter what you think. What matters is what the media thinks.”

    So.. you don’t give a crap about your own audience. You leverage that audience into voting the way you would like to see votes, then cast them aside.

    Your listeners put you where you are.. don’t ever forget that. Without their votes, you would not be #2 (even if that’s by manipulating the system)..

  20. Actually, “Ian”, it does matter what podcasters and bloggers think. Because, like it or not, it’s people like me, Dave, Mick and Cam that get interviewed about these things.

    Also, you not only encouraged users to vote down Dawn and Drew if they “didn’t” like them, you encouraged them to NOT vote for them if they DID like them.

    Try doing this at a voting station next election and see if it’s considered “fair”.

  21. This is what happens when a few individuals decide to take podcast voting over at podcastalley.com to a whole, new low level. Apparently it’s not good enough to be #2, you have to take out the competition at all costs….

  22. I’ve decided that I am completely grateful to the Free Talk Live guys because they have fundamentally changed my thinking about podcast popularity. If they hadn’t pulled this stupid shit it wouldn’t have crystallized this thinking so well, so thank you guys! Also, my brother made a brilliant comment on my March 1 clambake post that has pushed my thinking farther.

    I don’t have time to write it up during the work day, but tonight I’ll try to post a little about how I think this has exposed an enormous positive potential of the medium.

  23. Hah.. I’m moving to the same state with most of my key voters. They are going to be my future neighbors. It would be foolish of me to “cast them aside”.

    You guys are more paranoid than some of my callers.

  24. “As far as I’m concerned, since podcast alley is the only podcast site worth mentioning, us being #2 there does indeed make us the #2 podcast in the world. It really doesn’t matter what you think. What matters is what the media thinks.”

    Media? What media? Podcast Alley is run by a common punk, and the voters could be anyone from anyhwere. There is no “media” acceptance of your podcast, the so-called “media” you’re invoking doesn’t exist!

    You’re surely smoking something, dude.

  25. What are you babbling about? The media doesn’t care who runs Podcast Alley. The media only cares about what podcast site is the most authoratative. Podcast Alley is the one. For now.

  26. I am late to the discussion but have been collecting my thoughts on this for days and when I came back to this thread and saw that one of my shows was being called out, I thought it was time to speak up.

    Sledhead Radio worked like this: Lifestyle + Active Online Community (In the apex of their season) + Podcast = Built in listener base

    My logic may be flawed here but it worked. I knew that the show would not only be welcomed by the snowmobiling community but they would be nearly fanatical in their support of the show that expresses the same love they have for their lifestyle. There is nothing wrong, like Dave said, with starting a show out this way.

    I for one am not that interested in starting another show from scratch and waiting for months for people to find it. I love doing my show and will continue to do so for a long time but I wouldn’t expect anyone whose already built up their own base to want to do it again. Why else do people advertise their shows in banner ads, trade promos and appear as guests on each other’s shows?

    First prize for any podcaster is the initial rush when you start getting listeners. Sledhead Radio was an experiment to see if we could take podcasting in a new direction and actually access online community and bring them in to the fold; our community, the podcasting community, the one we’re all taking ownership of now and make something that the community could rally around as a voice for thier lifestyle.

    What we have done with the snowmobile show is to just stretch the boundries a bit wait til the next community based podcast comes along and turns us all on our ears makes people say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”.Big doings in podcasting everyday so why should one show aobut a sport in the prime of the season surprise anyone.

    Just wait til the height of gardening season here in the states . . . LOL!

  27. Thanks for all the comments, folks. I appreciate the good thinking and enthusiasm and generally high level of discourse. Kris, I did edit out your multiposts – it came through 3 times. I do agree with what you say, just not 300% of it.

    PJ made perfect sense to me, so I don’t how you can call that babbling unless just looking to be rude.

    Ian makes a lot of statements about “what the media thinks.” As it happens, a newspaper reporter called me yesterday and brought up your name and this current controversy (I didn’t and wouldn’t have.) It wasn’t in a positive light, it was in the context of “astroturf” or fake grassroots movements, like the phony Dr. Pepper blogs or BzzzAgents. You might think you have or really have pulled the wool over the eyes of all media outlets, but there are some who understand what you are up to.

    It gets old having you piss on our legs and tell us its raining. You campaigned to have your forum members vote against them, even though you try to cover your ass with the “if you don’t like them.” With or without that qualification, that is the kind of thing sociopaths do. You also urged the people who do like them to not vote at all. Nice.

    But here’s the deal, folks. I listened to their show today. I urge everyone to go and do that, and make up your own mind as to what you think of their quality versus other podcasters. I’m not going to talk about them any more. They obviously are sluts for attention, whether positive or negative. If you listen to their show you’ll understand why they need to be. I’m planning on letting nature run its course.

    I am actually glad they did this now. These actions are damage that will be routed around, and I feel grateful they did it at this stage rather than later. Thanks for the good thinking. If you have any input on the magnum opus about quality vs quantity, please leave some input on it. It’s still a work in progress and I’m open to change my outlook on some of it if people have new insights.

  28. There is a website that came online in the past few months called Podcast Alley. Like iPodder.org, Podcast Alley gives a listing of all available podcasts. Unlike, iPodder, Podcast Alley lets visitors vote on their favorite Podcasts. This has…

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