How Not To Respond To Criticism Online
from the just-a-suggestion dept
Yesterday, at about this time, I posted a story talking about a security company, CipherTrust, refusing to let someone buy their product. The buyer in question was a consultant and a Network World writer — so he wrote up the story, noting the problems he had with CipherTrust. In my post, I noted how odd the story seemed, and wondered if there were more to it. Normally, that would be the perfect opening for someone from CipherTrust to stop by and respond with their side of the story — or, alternatively, to ignore it and wish that the whole thing went away. In the comments to the post, a few people suggested the possibility that CipherTrust was worried that the writer, Joel Snyder, was actually trying to buy the product to pass on info to a competitor — which could explain their actions. In fact, I half expected someone from the company to say just that. However, instead, an interesting thing happened.
Some comments started showing up on the story totally trashing Joel Snyder, first calling him a pissy reporter and then claiming he must have had a conflict of interest while demanding that he “come clean.” What was interesting about these comments was that they all happened to come from an IP address at (you guessed it!) CipherTrust — though, the commenter didn’t happen to “come clean” on that fact. You would think that folks at a security company would know that their IP address was recorded whenever they commented on a blog. Those comments certainly seemed a bit unfair, so I posted a quick comment pointing out that these comments came from someone at CipherTrust. Apparently, whoever it was didn’t bother to read those comments, because he or she came back again later to once again anonymously bash Mr. Snyder. Mr. Snyder, himself, came by to refute the accusations, perhaps without realizing they actually came from CipherTrust. Obviously, the company or its employees are free to try to respond to critics in whatever manner they please. However, this seems particularly silly in an age when (a) it’s pretty easy to see where these anonymous comments came from and (b) they could have revealed themselves and presented actual reasons for their actions. Instead, the company ends up looking even more petty than it did at the beginning of this whole thing. In the end, it seems like commenter Chris Maresca has the best response, noting not only how bad this looked for the company, but also how “foolish” it is for the company to think that any part of this strategy (from denying the sale to Mr. Snyder to anonymously bashing him here on Techdirt) made any sense. Update: Someone from CipherTrust has finally showed up to post an official explanation for their actions regarding Mr. Snyder. I should mention that the post comes from the same IP address as the original disparaging posts. However, the official explanation from CipherTrust does not address the comments anonymously bashing Mr. Snyder.