Risks, Apologies and Learning From Your Mistakes

If you were paying attention, late last week you saw a guest post that published Thursday night. This was an interesting post, as it provided some in-the-trenches, first-hand analysis of a website that was ranking and why. However, the downside was that this analysis named a specific website, where/how they where getting links and ranking, and crossed the line. It’s what many people would consider outing. Additionally, this wasn’t an analysis of a random third party website: it was an analysis of a former client–by someone who is now a competitor–without disclosing that relationship. Unfortunately, all of this happened while I was on vacation and, because I took some shortcuts, the post didn’t go through the normal editorial review and was published before I had a chance to review it. Since this post didn’t fit within the editorial style of this blog, and considering the questionable motivation of exposing a former client-turned-competitor without disclosure, I have removed the post and apologized to the party involved.

From every mistake, there are lessons you learn:

  • Mistake number one: I never should have set up a login for a new guest author while on vacation. The post wasn’t time sensitive and wasn’t going to publish. It absolutely could have waited till I get back.
  • Mistake number two: I didn’t email the editor who reviews posts tell her to leave the guest post for me to review, especially since this was a new guest author.
  • Mistake number three: I don’t have guest author guidelines, and I don’t mention disclosing any previous, current, or pending relationships, associations or incentives.

I’ll be making some internal changes to make sure mistakes like this don’t happen again. One question is will I still accept and publish guest posts? The answer is yes. While this is my blog and will always be “my voice,” I think having the occasional guest author makes things interesting. In fact, some of my top posts from 2010 were guest posts. I think having to deal with the occasional “editorial issue” and having a rare mistake is absolutely worth it. IMHO the biggest mistake you can make is being afraid to make one and never taking any risks.

“Exposing” current or former clients without permission is, in my opinion, a very unprofessional  thing to do. Discussing a previous client or current without disclosure is just bad form.

However, at the end of the day, this my website and what publishes here is my responsibility, so I take the blame  for what went wrong. So I’d like to apologize again to the person whose website was outed. I took shortcuts, and they came back to bite me in the butt. I’ll be updating the editorial process to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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