Cease And You’ve Got To Be Fucking Kidding Me

by anna on April 30, 2010

Couple things kids, before I’m off to the gym AGAIN, to work off some of this insane stress that has taken up root on my chin in the form of a nasty eruption of cystic acne.

Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive and all of the direct messages and emails and all of that.

To answer your questions, yes, I did get a cease and desist letter from the attorneys of record of my former advertising network yesterday. But to clear up any confusion, the letter was not *officially* concerning the posts I’ve been writing on my personal finance blog of late. Officially, the letter was to inform me that my former advertising network is now represented by counsel and so, therefore, I am not to contact them at all ever again, I am to go through their attorney. Which is super helpful, because I had sent them one email total regarding the wrongful termination of my contract, and it makes sense that they would want to spend several thousand dollars to have a Silicon Valley law firm that bills out at $750 an hour troll View definition in a new window my site for several hours yesterday afternoon write a letter to that effect. I’m sure that was well worth the several thousand dollars in attorneys fees that it must have cost to get this guy to write the letter. So, awesome. Awesome and effective use of business funds right there.

Whatever.

Anyway. I don’t want to spend much more time on this thing. Fact is, it’s a bummer. I am totally right, I have totally proven my point, but that doesn’t make it any less of a major fucking bummer. So I want to wrap it up and get into the what we can do about the problem phase ASAP. So I’m going to get my mind set on that as quickly as possible.

Thanks to all of you for being patient and keeping your eyes on the prize.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some kickboxing to do.

{ 45 comments }

patois April 30, 2010 at 10:49 am

Why do I get the feeling that this kickboxing time might prove to be your best ever?

beth aka confusedhomemaker April 30, 2010 at 11:00 am

I agree kickboxing today might the best day ever for you, or whatever other workout you may decide to do.

Miss April 30, 2010 at 11:03 am

WOW. Seems like a lot of trouble for something that you’re fabricating and making up in your head. *snort*

Work it out girl.

SoMo April 30, 2010 at 11:30 am

I always say the only people winning in this kind of thing are the lawyers. Another thing I always say, those who cry lawyer first are usually in the wrong to begin with.

Kader April 30, 2010 at 11:35 am

Yes to kickboxing!
And, wow, they have just shown their true colors.
Sorry for all the crap. You’ve done a good thing, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Perpetua April 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

Excuse my dimwitted-ness when I ask, does this mean we don’t get the rest of the story? Son of a bitch! Second stupid question: would you be allowed, if you wanted, to take this story to a print medium, or is it over and done?

Third (happy) question: can we have a Tanya story? I miss Tanya.

LC April 30, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I was wondering the same thing….do we get to find out about Blogger #3?

anna April 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Yes. Not today, but I will try to give some kind of theory if I figure it out.

Kim April 30, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Yes! Can we please have a Tanya story!

anna April 30, 2010 at 1:42 pm

The C&D does not officially govern the posts, no. So I can finish it. And I will, but I have decided to wrap it up quick in the interest of keeping my blog what I want it to be and not a three-week long depressing BlogHer corruption expose. I have been desperately trying to get this story picked up by some kind of media entity that can do a better job with it than myself, because I know we need a bigger sample, and we need people who know more about this than myself, in order to effect real change. That is my goal. So I will still keep trying to make that happen. But after I finish up my last post on it, I will only be talking about what we can do in the meantime, solutions for small bloggers that want to monetize and aren’t sure if they should go with networks, etc. Because these are the market conditions we have at present. If anybody has media connections that might be interested, please send them my way. I am very interested in giving this story to more capable hands.

Yes, I will write about Tanya again one of these days, I promise!

monkey April 30, 2010 at 12:19 pm

The weather is lovely here today-I hope you enjoy your day off and do not blame you at all for the break. This must have been very stressful.

I’m glad we’re supporting women’s voices, though. With lawyers. Sounds awesome.

kitchenMage April 30, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Now ladiiieeeesssss! Maybe the attorney is a girl attorney. I hear there are some now. It’s supportive of her voice to pay it multiple dollars a minute – girl attorney’s voices need love, too.

jonniker May 1, 2010 at 9:08 am

HA HA HA. Women supporting women!

As for the C&D, I will admit I am thoroughly confused by it UNLESS you or they threatened to sue, in which case anything you sent to them would be material (and therefore subpeona-able or whatever they say) ANYWAY, so … Eh. I don’t get it.

Then again, I’m not a lawyer.

anna May 1, 2010 at 9:12 am

Oh, this is definitely something meant to dissuade me from suing. Absolutely. That’s why they sent it. It is not for the posts. Though I think that if the posts hadn’t been written, perhaps it would have been handled differently. And also, I liked that they referred to the “libel” that I committed in the letter. I have to stop thinking about this, though, because it just makes me angry again.

Adrienne April 30, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Good grief, all of this just goes to prove how High School BlogHer has become. If you are not one of the “cool” kids then you don’t really count, it has been displayed over and over again. I passed on my chance to become a cool kid. Both in high school and with BlogHer. But some will always be entranced. sigh

Eliz April 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm

I got nothing but slack-jawed shock at the petty, deceptive actions masquerading as transparency and kudos and encouragement for you. Truly, I can’t even comprehend the events of the past week. How they get away with this is hard to fathom. But know that you have our support.

hannah April 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm

This whole thing is so crazy- I knew next to nothing about BlogHer before all this (and still am unclear on what it is- I thought it was like the old school JournalCon? but it also sells ads, I realize now? This is what happens when you read most of your blogs via RSS, I didn’t even realize half of them HAD ads. Anyway.) – but I’m enjoying the trainwreckiness of it all.

Ginger April 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I second Eliz. On all points.

Nothing but support from this corner of the internet for taking this all on–in a smart and thoughtful manner no less.

Eliz April 30, 2010 at 1:48 pm

And that masthead?? It’s LUNCHABLY DELICIOUS is what it is.

LC April 30, 2010 at 8:07 pm

I put a slice of pressed ham, a slice of cheese, another cracker and another slice of pressed ham on top of this. Loves it.

anna April 30, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Well, laugh all you want, because it’s made of dead people and you will kill your children by feeding them lunchables. Even once. It’s SCIENCE.

Amy @ Taste Like Crazy May 1, 2010 at 10:33 am

*snort* *cackle* and all that. Hate you’ve got a lawyer on your ass…and site.

But, I think you’re doing what you think is right and I know there are tons of people out there reading what you’ve written. Hope you had a blast kicking some kick bag butt and worked out all of your pent-up frustration.

Have a great weekend.

This too shall pass.

Susan April 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

So much for opening up the conversation.
wah-wah-wah.
Thank you for all your hard work, definitely opening up my eyes,

Kerry April 30, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Honestly, this whole thing is blowing my mind. It’s like some sort of skit on how NOT to handle an issue, ever. EVER.

Seriously, is this easier for them than just answering the questions? How is that possible? Because seriously, I can live with tiers. Whether they exist or don’t exist…whatever. But if this is how they handle people who have questions about stuff (and then have to figure it out for themselves in the absence of answers).

Plus, I am really wondering what there is that is such a big deal that it’s worth this response. I’ve been defending them all this time, and I’ve been a happy BlogHer blogger all along…but this response, with the tweets and the shockingly condescending email yesterday and now this…it’s disappointing. And worrying. And stupid. And now I wonder what they’re hiding, when I haven’t all this time.

This is how Goldman Sachs would handle something like this.

Rayne of Terror April 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm

You may be experiencing crickets, but never before have your posts been shared in my google reader and now everyone I am linked with there is sharing each of your BlogHer posts. Teh mommybloggrz are very, very interested.

Michele April 30, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Anna,
I know first hand what the pressures to conform are, and if you don’t, things will be ripped away from you, or you’ll be made an example. This is some of the things I rose up against, it’s still here, and it will be for a long time. It makes me get hives of my own, because it’s amazing that it happens under the guise of “empowering women.” Bullshit.

It’s exclusionary high school antics. The mighty girl crapola is another form of it. Really, a reference is needed to go on a conference? My husband has to have top secret clearance for what he does, and I felt tha thet MGC application was eerily similar in wanting to delve very deep into who/what/W-2′s and what you are, and think. The government’s clearance is almost less intrusive then the crap that these advertisers and some uppity conferences want from bloggers to prove that they are worthy to be apart of their inner circle.
I had cardio kickboxing this morning, it was good to imagine to kick the crap out of people & situations that piss me off.

Avitable April 30, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Man, this year’s BlogHer is going to be an even bigger clusterfuck than last year! I wonder if the geniuses in charge have done anything right recently, because it doesn’t seem like it.

anna April 30, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I wonder if I will be allowed to go. I don’t think they can keep me out of the Sheraton, and I do have tickets to the conference, but they may tell me that they refuse to honor them and refund my money, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some kind of clause in the ticket thing that allows for that. I hope that doesn’t happen.

BlogHer is a big enough conference that I’m not really worried about going there and having it be terrible. I never saw any of the BlogHer brass at all last year, they would be easy enough to avoid. Besides, I faced down all of my fears in a much smaller venue at Mom 2.0. But I would be bummed if they didn’t let me go to the conference, not because the conference itself is so incredibly awesome, but because I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of people again and meeting some new people.

Kristabella May 1, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I hope you do go because I would imagine I am one of many people who would really like to meet you. They better let you go. That would be kind of ridiculous if they didn’t.

hannah May 1, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Oh, don’t worry, anyone with a ticket is welcome at BlogHer! I read it on ShePosts so it must be true.

Maria April 30, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I’m sorry you’re going through this, dude.

The whole thing sounds absolutely exhausting.

Avitable April 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm

They had better not. They have no legal right.

anna May 1, 2010 at 9:13 am

Now if I make up Team ABDPBT shirts, should I also make up TEAM DUMMKOPF shirts? I mean, so that I can make money off both sides?

Redneck Mommy May 1, 2010 at 11:00 am

I’m disappointed to learn that you neglected to mention in this expose post of yours that BlogHer’s lawyers only contacted you with a standard c&d AFTER your lawyers contacted them for 150K. (Learned via Sheposts.com)

By leaving out that *huge* piece of information (if it is correct) and letting your audience infer that the big bad corporation is out to get you for no reason, you have killed any sort of credibility you may have been building within the blogosphere.

anna May 1, 2010 at 11:18 am

I have told people from the beginning was to dissuade me from suing from suing. I didn’t disclose that I made a settlement offer, no. Have you disclosed everything concerning your involvement in this, Tanis? Let me know if you’d like me to help you out.

Redneck Mommy May 1, 2010 at 11:57 am

Of course I was interested in this blog series. As I told you and have discussed personally with BlogHer, I have seen a decline in my ad revenue. So yes, I have a vested interest in this. As per you threatening to tell the world I responded to your tweet saying I was interested in learning if there was a reason the ad revenue had decreased, I have nothing to hide.

Please don’t try to blackmail me for a 150 k. I don’t have that type of cash.

anna May 1, 2010 at 12:01 pm

See, now that IS an example of libel. Thanks for the demonstration.

Daily Coyote May 1, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Wow, this is all so interesting. While no blogger is required to share every detail of their life and Anna certainly didn’t need to share that she had requested 150K from BlogHer, perhaps there was a bit of manipulation? sensationalism? I don’t know? going on in not revealing the “whole story” of the lawyers (plural) letters.

However, the value of this series is that it has opened the dialogue about something that has previously been, at least publicly, taken purely at face value and surrendered to ~ that being the ins and outs and pros and cons of BlogHer ads. Not that Anna’s articles have covered all the complexities therein but commenters have shared their experiences and lurkers have had something to put in their pipe.

I’ve been running BlogHer ads, and make a heck of a lot more than $3/month, and while it was a valuable partnership for a period of time, the last 6 months or so have left me increasingly disappointed in my revenue share and the lack of control over my sidebar.

For the past several months, before reading anything of Anna’s, I have been contemplating alternative ways to help my blog work for me. I’ve seen creative things that other bloggers have done and been successful with (things I could not do because of BlogHer’s contractual stipulations) and have actually found myself jealous of other people’s sidebars! The moment I realized I was JEALOUS of someone else’s SIDEBAR was the key moment when I knew I had to switch things up.

I’m will be testing a new direction with my blogs because at this point, from a business standpoint, I would be silly not to. BlogHer knows I’m leaving the network but was kind in keeping the door open for me should I decide to return. I believe, if BlogHer could gain anything from all of this, it’s re-realizing that women bloggers want, need, and deserve control over their blogs. More control than is currently allowed while running BlogHer ads.

Examples of the top of my head:
• Sharing the details of how it all works behind the scenes (do they publish an annual report?).
• Allowing greater leeway in monetizing one’s blog outside of BlogHer (advertorial posts, sponsored posts, reviews on ad pages, etc).
• Granting creative, blogger-determined use for sidebar space when there are no paid ads to run (if there was no paid ad, instead of the blogger having to run PSA’s or blanks with all the bottom links, how great it would be if bloggers got their sidebar for privately sold sponsored ads or their own product promotions).

Things to think about. Self publishing is self empowerment and we must be able to keep it that way.

anna May 1, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Thanks, Shreve for your thoughtful comment.

You’re right, I did sensationalize. For the record, there was one letter. ONE. It made an offer to settle my *claim for wrongful termination of ad contract*. It was not a blackmail attempt, as Tanis suggested thoughtfully. I did not disclose it because umm, I didn’t want to make this about that. Should I not have done that? Well, I guess you could argue that I should have just completely ignored the fact that I was wrongfully terminated from my ad contract in the service of these posts. But since I was already hung out to dry on the posts themselves, I thought I might as well send the letter. I didn’t tell you the specifics of the letter not to MISGUIDE you, as has been alleged — I was always straight with you that the C&D had to do with the term of my ad contract and had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE POSTS, Tanis — but because I knew once anybody found out that I had an attorney re my ad contract that would be all anybody cared about and all anybody talked about ever again.

And sure enough, I was right.

The important thing about this issue is the money being funelled out of your pockets.

But they’ve got you talking about me having a lawyer. It’s masterful, actually. Perhaps they’re smarter than I thought they were.

Nah. They must have hired somebody.

Daily Coyote May 1, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Hey now! I don’t think you’re giving people enough credit with “But they’ve got you talking about me having a lawyer. It’s masterful, actually.” This would not have caught on like it has if there was not genuine discontent. And hopefully all parties, bloggers and BlogHer, will use this as a catalyst for growth.

anna May 1, 2010 at 2:32 pm

What I’m reacting to is near dead radio silence for ten days and then having like fifteen RTs with my name show up in my @replies on Twitter this morning alone. The usual suspects were silent ALL WEEK and then they get a chance to jump all over my shit and look like good little BlogHers and they just could not FUCKING WAIT. It was repulsive. I will take criticism where it’s warranted, nobody likes it when somebody gets a lawyer, I maintain it was the smart thing to do, whether popular or not in this instance. I’m not sure there was a great way to handle it in terms of PR on the blog. I could have been totally transparent and had it go over better, or the discussion could have been completely swayed by it. But I admit I used the C&D to sensationalize a bit. I *was* careful to keep reminding people that the C&D was not about the posts, though. I kept reminding them that.

Laughing at you May 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Wow. This is interesting. So, the letter you got that wasn’t *officially* a cease and desist about your posts was in fact just a letter *officially* telling you to stop bothering them? It seems to me when someone sends out a legal document, it’s pretty official and clear, not a bunch of implications. But you know that, I think. You seem to suggest that this *letter* somehow implies it’s regarding your posts, even though it was a simple and standard *contact our attorney if you want to talk to us*. How would you respond to their allegations that you first had your attorney send them a letter asking for $150,000? Your head sounds like a magical place.

LC May 2, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I just wanted to pop back in and say a big “so what?” about Anna not disclosing the settlement offer. Also, this particular portion the series is in her personal blog, not her financial analysis section. So is it surprising that it has a less than perfectly objective take?

What does that have to do with diminishing ad revenues and BlogHer’s obfuscation and lack of transparency on that front?

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