Repairing ones' reputation on Usenet/The Internet
This page is useful for anyone who finds their reputation maligned on the Internet.
The following post was made on April 3rd, 2010, in an effort to give proven and time-tested advice on repairing a damaged reputation on the Internet to an individual who has done a lot to damage his own, all by himself.
The text is the original from Usenet, but reformatted for the web, with the individual person in questions' name removed:
NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 03 Apr 2010 10:56:34 -0500
Subject: Restoring [your] Good Name
From: Marc Bissonnette
Date: Sat, 03 Apr 2010 10:56:35 -0500
Having worked in media and PR for close to 20 years, I thought I would put together a little guide.
Decide what you want to do
Is usenet really important to you, or is it just your Internet in general reputation that concerns you ?
If Usenet really isn't a part of your online reputation strategy, condider dropping it altogether. Alternatively, you can create a pseudonym and post on topics completely unrelated to your former style / target.
If Usenet is essential to your online reputation needs, then there are a few things you will need to do:
- Stop responding to your detractors. Period. Full stop. Doing so in the name of 'defending your good name' only does one thing: it continues - and adds weight - to the allegations being made. No one can 'defend their good name' in Usenet, given how trivially easy it is to make up "facts", keyload Google and create websites supporting a point of view, be it fact or malisciousness based.
- If you feel you must respond to your detractors, see 1) above. If, however, you cannot resist the compulsion, you should change any offensive subject line to "[your name]'s reply", snip any offensive content and reply with "I appreciate that you have a different point of view than my own. We shall have to agree to disagree"
- Post on what you know. If you are a spam fighter, then post your actions (not sightings) to the newsgroup, what you have done, whom you have contacted and what has resulted from your actions.
- Do not act as a newsgroup police officer. We are all grownups here and do not need a single person to constantly fill the group with messages about how test posts, APEWS requests or the occasional off-topic post do not belong. Unless you are the moderator of a moderated newsgroup, this is presumptuous behaviour and is frowned upon.
- Do not make threats - Period. A lawyer will tell you that when pondering litigation, the first piece of advice is "Say nothing in public" - This is because your own words may negatively influence any case you pursue. This is precisely why, in television media, you will see people saying "No comment" or "It is before the courts and we cannot comment". Many lawyers will refuse to take your case if you are actively engaged in public discussion about a case you intend to pursue - They know it is a lost cause and will not risk their own reputation on a client that insists on sinking their own case.
- Create more "good" content than "bad" content on the 'net. If there are multiple, derogatory, websites about you and your name on the net, you can overcome this by creating and hosting much more useful information that is attributed to yourself. For example, a series of articles on how to fight spam, how to lock down your machine against spam, what you think the government should do to combat spam, so on and so forth, all attributed to your name. You will find that within a month or two, the positive stuff created by you will begin to rank higher in Google than the negative.
Blogs are good for this, as well as your own website. There are also numerous content-hosting services on the 'net that will allow you to publish your own articles.
- Be helpful. When you see people posting questions, provide factual, proven answers. Yes, in the beginning stages of name repair, you will have detractors poking at you, but see rule #1. Even if someone asks how to be removed from APEWS, it is a good opportunity to point them to resources on cleaning up and securing their machines. You may also politely point out that the consensus appears to be that there are no known ISPs currently blocking mail based on APEWS listings.
- See rule #1. This really is crucially important in name repair on both Usenet in particular and the Internet in general. DO NOT REPLY TO YOUR DETRACTORS. All it does is increase the hit rate for negative stuff about you in Google and continue the name degradation.
Remember that the Internet has a long, long memory. If, in the future, you are applying for a job, or aiming at a public service position, you really, really want the 'good' stuff attached to your name to far, far outweigh the bad.
Do I believe that it is possible for [an individual with a bad reputation] to repair his name on the Internet ?
With an honest, truly concerted effort - Yes. I think it would probably take anywhere from eight to fourteen months, but yes, it is possible with discipline and true effort.
Update: June, 2011
Over the past several months, the individual in question has not only ceased posts which many took issue with, but began contributing in a relevant, helpful and on-topic manner to various newsgroups. Because of this, negative mentions of his name have come down to nearly zero and, in fact, he or his words have been quoted in a positive light, recently.
Given this is true, CanadianISP has removed the FAQ on this individual, since we do not believe in holding grudges, as well as the fact that we very strongly believe that anyone truly can make a change for the better, as the individual appears to be doing. He has also altered his website to remove content which was considered objectionable and instead is now pointing to a video on cyberstalking in general.
CanadianISP wishes the individual the very best in his future endeavours.
Marc Bissonnette, Ontario
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