Matt McGee is a Bitch, Danny Sullivan is a Poseur, & Sphinn Sucks

by SEO Mofo on Feb 16th, 2010

in Reputation Management

My account at Sphinn was deleted today, and many of you are wondering why. Hopefully this email exchange will answer that. I’ll add clarification as needed.

First, I published a new post over at (Google’s Epic Losing Streak). Then I tweeted about it. Then I tried to submit it to Sphinn, but Sphinn was saying it had already been submitted. I didn’t know who this other person was, or how the hell they submitted my post so quickly, but I was annoyed and I contacted Sphinn through their contact form:

From me to Sphinn

Is there any way to prevent this kind of thing?

I just published an article and tried to submit to to Sphinn, but someone beat me to it:

I have a couple of problems with this.

1. My avatar isn’t shown next to the article’s title.
2. The article’s summary was written by someone else, and it’s…not what I would have chosen.

So my first thought was to change my post’s URL, submit the new one, and destroy the old one…but that’s kind of a dick move, at least as far as this girl is concerned. So my question is…

What can I do to take control of my Sphinn listing?

From Matt McGee to me

Matt McGee, who is a punk-ass bitch, responded with this:

Hey Darren,

There are no rules about who can and can’t submit to Sphinn (or any other social voting site). As soon as you publish something, anyone can post it to Sphinn — so I guess the answer to your question is to submit as soon as you hit the Publish button next time.


It certainly doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary, but if you knew the history between me and McGee, you’d realize there are some subtle tones of mockery and condescension between the lines. It was obvious to me that Matt McGee wasn’t going to be helpful, so I submitted my own story using another URL. Then I tweeted about it and several people sphunn the story. The issue was essentially resolved at this point, assuming that whoever submitted the story the first time didn’t care about petty issues like avatars and summaries. However, Matt McGee decided to triple his bitch points by deleting my submission, sphinns and all.

(BTW…at this point, I took the time to investigate the Sphinn user who submitted my post, and I realized it was a lady whom I’m actually fond of and follow on Twitter. So FYI…she’s awesome and I have no hard feelings towards her whatsoever. And yes…this whole incident probably could have been avoided if I had talked to her about it, but instead I ignored that part and focused on what an annoying bitch Matt McGee is.)

From me to Matt McGee

Then I responded with this:

Who deleted my submission?

From Matt McGee to me

Matt bitchfully responded with this:

You should’ve received an email that says it was deleted because it’s a dupe submission. You can vote on the original here:

From me to Matt McGee

To which I responded with this:

Do you think you’re clever, Matt? Do you think your passive-aggressive bullshit goes unnoticed?

I’m about to kick off a very passionate, very determined smear campaign. I need to know if I’ll be targeting you specifically, or Sphinn in general.

Please advise.

From Matt McGee to me

Then Matt responds with this:


I don’t understand the problem. The story is on Sphinn already and you can vote for it now, but you haven’t done so. What am I missing?

…which again sounds like a perfectly normal response, unless you read between the lines…where you’ll discover that it’s really Matt playing dumb and being a bitch again. Plus, to make matters worse, someone from Sphinn told my ex-girlfriend about this entire exchange, presumably with the hope/expectation that she would calm down her psycho ex, and so now I had to explain myself to her…which is always a buzzkill, since she never takes my side.

From me to Matt McGee

So I responded the way any self-respecting psychopath would:

Well, first your developers missed an obvious need for content owners to have the ability to control submissions of their own work. Or maybe they acknowledged the need, but instead opted for the cheaper solution: let the moderators handle it on a case-by-case basis. The point is…I write content to promote ME, just like everyone else does. I wrote the article–I should be able to submit it with MY avatar and MY summary. If you don’t understand why this might be important, let me write the summary for your next submission and I’ll make it clear.

Then after I took the time to contact the Sphinn staff PRIVATELY–per Danny’s request, following my last psychotic episode–you missed the opportunity to take me seriously and basically said “too bad.”

Then I took matters into my own hands and solved the problem myself, by submitting the story under an alias URL. Then I twittered my Sphinn submission’s URL, at which time several people sphunn it. All you had to do…was do NOTHING. Instead, you chose to do things “by the book” and deleted my submission, despite the obvious fact that it was the more-reputable submission of the two…AND despite the fact that it was the only one that had been sphunn several times.

On top of everything, you want to keep condescending me with your smug, passive-aggressive remarks:

  • There are no rules about who can and can’t submit to Sphinn (or any other social voting site).
  • You should’ve received an email that says it was deleted because it’s a dupe submission. You can vote on the original here:
  • The story is on Sphinn already and you can vote for it now, but you haven’t done so.

Why don’t you just call me a retard, Matt McGee?

And finally, you missed a very, VERY important opportunity…and that was the opportunity to NOT get Lisa involved.

So the answer to YOUR question is…

The problem is you went out of your way to piss me off, and now I’m about to go to some seriously-ridiculous extremes to publicly shit all over your name, your reputation, anything you’ve ever published, and every brand you’ve ever been associated with.

Do you understand now?

From Danny Sullivan to me

Matt then crawled under his bed, curled into a fetal position, and began trembling. This is where the situation turned shitty…as Danny Sullivan took it upon himself to butt into the conversation and blindly defend his employee:

Darren, head over to Digg, then find how you can take control of a story someone has submitted from your site to Digg. You can’t. Pick any number of social news sites out there. None of them operate that way.

You absolutely can submit your own story with your own avatar. Nothing prevents you from doing it. It’s simply that in this case, someone else submitted your story before you did. You seem to want the right to rip that submission away from them, so that you could submit it instead.

Well, I can understand that request. I hope you can understand that it’s simply not how social sites have operated. If you were to submit a blog post from Google, would you want Google to have the right to pull the submission away from you.

Frankly, you’re the first person I know of to raise this issue with us. It just doesn’t seem to have been a burning issue with site owners. It’s something we can consider, and I’d welcome you starting a discussion about it in the Sphinn Zone to see what others think.

But before you do that, you need to apologize for your abusive, out of line email to Matt. I’ve read through the entire email thread below. He’s answered your questions politely and matter-of-factly. Your response is to assume he’s got the time to play some absurd passive-aggressive game with you.

He doesn’t. Nor was he. So you can push the reset button with us at Sphinn by apologizing. If you don’t want to do that, we’ll ban your account. You’re free to embark upon whatever smear campaign you want, if that’s going to make you feel better. I’d think you’d have better things to do, especially when no one was attempting to victimize you in any way.


The reason I say things turned shitty is because I personally think Danny’s a nice guy, and I really didn’t want him to get caught in the crossfire between me and that bitch McGee. But much to my disappointment, not only did Danny butt in…he also started demanding apologies and issuing “or else” statements, as if he’s the judge, jury, and execution for all things SEO and I’m required to offer him a sacrifice before I can enter his world.

From me to Danny Sullivan

I was definitely pissed beyond words at this point, but I really didn’t want to direct my anger towards Danny, because I know he means well. So I let off just a wee bit o’ rage:


First of all, Sphinn isn’t Digg. Nothing that happens there has anything to do with this. I have no idea why you and Matt would both try the “but everyone else is doing it” excuse, but personally I think it’s pathetic. Besides, do I really seem like the kind of person who makes decisions based on the norm?

Second of all, I never asked you to remove anyone’s submission.

Reading the entire email thread doesn’t make you qualified to have an opinion about this in the first place. I don’t expect you to understand or appreciate what was said between the lines, and it’s no surprise that you don’t. Matt’s a big boy; let him dig himself out.

So…in your best judgment…you’ve concluded that the best way to handle this situation is by demanding an apology from me and threatening to ban my account otherwise? Are you serious? Do you also scream at drunk people?

Absolutely, without question, if there’s one thing I’m NOT going to do…it’s apologize to Matt. I’m not even close to being sorry, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. Furthermore, I’m not going to pretend like I give two shits about my account on Sphinn. Ban it. Delete it. Do whatever you want with it. If you want to rid your site of some of the highest-quality content this industry produces, then that’s your loss. I get nothing from Sphinn, and after what I’ve seen today, I’m embarrassed to have had anything to do with it. Sphinn is just another haven for SEO wannabes and talentless marketers who all want to circle-jerk each other and confirm the stereotype that this industry is bullshit.

Great advice, asking me to email you privately to resolve any future problems, Danny. It’s worked miracles for me. You’re quite the problem solver.

From Danny Sullivan to me

Amazingly, Danny responded YET AGAIN by talking about “what everyone else does.”

Darren, I’ll repeat again, we’ve never had anyone suggest they should seize control over a submission just because they wrote the content that was submitted. You’re the first.

I think you’re the first because Sphinn operates the same way many other social sharing sites operate, where site owners don’t have that type of control. It’s sort of like suggesting that no one should be able to tweet about your stories, or submit your stories to Delicious, or to Digg, or to Reddit, or to Hacker News, or bookmark them in Google Reader … and on and on and on.

Reading the email qualifies me plenty to feel you’ve been way out of line with a member of my staff. And that is indeed how I felt it was best handled.

If Sphinn was a shop, then you had a problem in the shop, someone in the shop has patiently tried to help you, and you’ve effectively started yelling at them and threatening them. That’s simply not acceptable behavior.

We’ll have your account terminated. I’ll also have the seomofo name blocked, as I recall someone who wasn’t you grabbed that ages ago, and we handed it to you when you asked. I’ll also have your site blocked from future submissions to Sphinn, which will prevent anyone from submitting your content, so that you [won't] find yourself facing any further upset.

From me to Danny Sullivan

And that’s when I finally lost it and tried to be as offensive as possible:

Danny…I’m going to tell you something, and I hope you take it to heart.

It is people like you who have destroyed the SEO industry’s reputation. You are not an SEO, you are a marketer–a salesman. You sell people on ideas that you’re not even qualified to talk about, yet you do it anyway…because you value personal success over everything else.

You have the arrogance to ask ME to apologize to Sphinn? Are you out of your goddamn mind? Who the FUCK do you think you are? You’re a nobody. You’re a fucking pretender. Your only skill is your ability to convince other people that you know what the fuck you’re talking about. All you know how to do is regurgitate the ideas of others. You’re a LEECH on the internet and on SEO.

You want to know why I’m the first person who’s ever ____? Because I’m not a sellout like you and your fellow salesmen. You’ve padded yourself with peons who are afraid to call you on your bullshit because they don’t want to draw attention to their own. I don’t have anything to hide. When you run websites that steal my content and fuck me over, I’m going to speak up–without regard for how it might suit your god complex.

So with the utmost sincerity…I’d like to say: go fuck yourself, you poseur.

So there it is. That’s the story behind why my content will never again grace the front page of Sphinn.