Don’t squeeze water balloons

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Thursday, 12 April 2007

Google bombs don’t work any longer. Especially one-man google bombers. Honestly, that wasn’t my intention anyway since the way I understand how search algorithms work, whether I link a certain phrase to a website once on a page or multiple times, it counts the same.

What last night’s post was intended to depict was a macroscopic view of what the internet is going to look like after J. L. Kirk & Associates hired a law firm to shut up a complaint. Upon waking this morning, and seeing how many dozens of new links to Katherine Coble’s original post have popped up overnight, I’d say I was right about that macroscopic view thingie.

That the internet has changed communication has become cliche’. Still, some–including some high-priced lawyers who should know better–haven’t yet learned. As Billy Hollis of QandO wrote:

You can literally destroy your own company overnight by doing something really stupid, if the results of that stupidity will be one of the first things that show up on Google when a search of your company name is done.

Overnight, literally, that is what has happened, as Coble’s orginal complaint post is now the fifth-highest ranked Google return for “J L Kirk & Associates”. That’s not because I linked 58 times in one post to Katherine Coble’s complaint, but because at least that many other people linked to her original post (101 at last count).

What Kirk did that is stupid (besides their alleged high pressure sales technique) is to try to silence a complaint through threat of legal force. However, in the era of the internet that’s like squeezing a water balloon. Squeeze the complaint off of Coble’s site, and the story pops up somewhere else. Squeeze there, and it surfaces again, and again, and again. . . Squeeze too hard, the balloon bursts, and you’re all wet.

Or, to put it more succinctly: Don’t sue your customers.

The internet is a leveler of playing fields. It used to be that BIG could bully little with press releases, PR firms, connections, and even lawyers. Now, when BIG bullies little, lots of littles form a mob and beat back the BIG bully. BIG can’t pick on little people any longer and automatically expect to get away with it. Just ask Elizabeth Edwards. Or Don Imus. Or Mike Nifong.

What Kirk should have done, was hire another job-seeking blogger: Bill Hobbs. Hobbs would have advised them to beat the discussion by joining it. He could have set up a Kirk blog where its employees (but not the one who commented on Coble’s site) share job-seeking information, take questions, and offer advice. There’s probably a market for that kind of site (I’m sure a quick search would find several already). Then, when people Google “J L Kirk & Associates” they would see their body of work balancing Coble’s complaint, instead of what Kirk’s future (non) customers will see.


Rob Huddleston already brought up some recently proposed legislation that I remembered earlier, but hadn’t written about yet:

An aside: it just occurred to me that Senator Jamie Woodson’s proposed bill from earlier in the year might have altered Kat’s free speech rights in this case. I guess that just goes to show how bad of a bill that would have been. (Woodson pulled the bill after certain bloggers made a big deal about it, blaming its language on a third year law student.)

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4 Responses to “Don’t squeeze water balloons”

  1. Bob Krumm » Kirked Says:

    […] UPDATE: I’ve written more on the subject here: Don’t squeeze water balloons […]

  2. The Right To Say What We Want To Say « Newscoma Says:

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    […] bring me a set of Bob Krumm and Bill Hobbs action figures this year for […]

  4. Fellow Blogger Katherine Coble to be sued by J. L. Kirk & Associates « The Litterbox Says:

    […] Don’t squeeze water balloons […]