Survivor! – The Active Rain Edition

[photopress:survivor.jpg,thumb,alignright]I have spent the last seven days in the Alter-Blogosphere known as the Active Rain Network. Dustin had a few days off and “knocked on my door” and said “Mr. Harris, Can ARDELL come out and play?” and off we went, hand in hand to Active Rain.

Now I am not a big fan of the Survivor TV show, and so I need some help here from those who are. Basically the “Active Rain Island” permits participants to knock out their “competitors”, and I am stumped at what to do about it. I can’t seem to get any good advices from within, because the sabotaging of my efforts is not transparent enough for me to deal with on my own, and the kind people who are trying to help me have never seen this kind of behavior enacted toward them. So I’m at a Crossroads.

When Dustin and I started out over there, we studied the “rules”. OK you post five articles a day. You get 200 points for each article, 25 points for up to 10 comments on other people’s blogs per day, so forth and so on.

OH, and before I forget, I got 600 starter points for putting a message in my own blog’s sidebar saying “I am a PROUD MEMBER of the ActiveRain Real Estate Network.” Time to pop that baby out of my sidebar, unless someone can explain to me what is going on in better definitive terms.

For seven days I jumped through all the hoops, as far as I could ascertain what and where the hoops were, like a video game. I climbed from #11863 in the Network to #227 in just 7 days. From #644 in the State of Washington to #19 and in King County from #264 to #9. In an other than straight points format, I was up to NUMBER 4 in the State! I was a proud member, I was happy, I was working my butt off in true Survivor Style!

And then the other participants, or a few of them, can’t tell who or how many (though the administrators of the site can apparently see who is doing it and what they are doing) started whacking down my points! Holy Crap, Batman. What is THAT! Now I wish I had watched the Survivor show…I’m more like a Trump’s Apprentice type where you give it your best and the chips fall where they may. You try different images, different article styles, spent the week experimenting when all of a sudden I noticed something.

Twice I read “You get 200 points per article and that score rarely goes down, but it does grow upward based on poplularity and comments”. I’m looking at the hard work I put into my five articles a day and watching the points on most of them drop from 200 to 179 to 142 to 128…what the $*^%$)(*% is that! It’s Survivor tactics. Apparently “the system” permits some mean spirited people or some overly competitive people the opportunity to steal away my points. Not quite sure how, and I was assured they were being warned not to do that, and was further assured it would be corrected the next day…but, I wouldn’t be writing this if that were the case.

Not really sure what all this point stuff is about. But I am sure that I am NOT a PROUD member today. Question is, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” I hate to give them the satisfaction that they got the better of me. But by the same token it is almost as much work as the freakin’ Sellsius 101, and in many ways even harder, especially with people pushing me down while I am climbing up. Do I want to be involved with a group that permits such petty and nasty activity?

Not sure what to do. Maybe a show of hands will help me here. Thanks.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: cell: 206-910-1000

90 thoughts on “Survivor! – The Active Rain Edition

  1. Ardell – the only advice that I can give you from this point is that in all honestly just forget about the point system. I had a HUGE huge problem in the beginning with the points system – but now I just ignore them. I am not over there posting for points. If I did not find that I actually liked most of the people over there, then I might not be there as well. The site for my use is to talk to agents where as my regular blog is for my customers/clients. Coming from NY – I trust no one and I make sure I always watch my own back. I play nice and I try to stand up for what I believe in, which may not be the overall vote. All in all – I have grown to really like Active Rain – but to me its about business and if I can get some feedback – good bad or indifferent then great. I have learned alot of things over there as well. I try not to duplicate my posts – I have on occasion (eek – big no no).
    Good luck on your decision

  2. Hi Ardell, Your post is quite timely for me. I JUST created my Active Rain profile and so the point system is something new to me…. From reading this, I have a vision of “Whack-a-Mole” from Chuck-e-Cheese.

    Personally, I’m going to take Christine’s advise and ignore the points or it will drive me crazy.

  3. Here is the big question that I struggle with: the site is great for pros to network with each other, but isn’t the goal for most to find a place to cultivate new business? Isn’t the reward for being highly ranked (with tons of points) to get the most exposure to consumers? Where are all the consumers?

    The points system is great for attracting the pros, but soon enough they will realize that the consumers are realtively unaware of activerain.

  4. I tend to agree. I think the whole points thing is a little silly. As I think I mentioned on your AR Blog, my goal is to be the best real estate agent I can, not the best blogger, certainly not the blogger with the most AR points.

    I do however, like the idea of having another place where I can educate consumers. I try and use Active Rain to network and to pull in readers (agents and consumers) to my other blog. If AR helps my website and blog on the Search Engines without too much pain or expense I’m all for it.

  5. Tim,

    They are going to bring up the Consumer side soon. If I do stay, I definitely will be moving in that direction, as my writings piss off agents 🙂 I’ve tried accommodating them, but once my whole style has to be changed to make them happy…that isn’t being true to myself. So I really do not want to go there…

  6. Rhonda! LOVE the “Whack an Ardell” reference…sorry, can’t call myself a mole…but actually, now that I’m talking outside about the inside…that actually is “a mole”, isn’t it

    But then I didn’t volunteer for Dunk Tank Duty.

  7. Ardell, I’m sorry you’ve had a bad experience on ActiveRain, that’s far from the norm. The point system is partially a game, but it has been influential in creating participation and growing the community. It does benefit agents because those with more points get much more exposure to the consumers visiting the site. And given we had 8,800 unique visitors yesterday and over 5k off of search engines, there are a lot of consumers hitting the site. Many more established members will vouche for that based off of business they’ve received.

    We’ve tried to build a system in which the community maintains itself to deal with problems such as spamming, plagerism, etc. It’s far from a perfect system and we are always working to improve on it, but people do find ways to manipulate it.

    In all honesty most of your posts received more points than than most peoples posts and were positively viewed by the community and only a couple were received less than the 200 points. I think you created a lot of controversy in the community when you immediately came in and started writing posts bashing the community without even having been around it for more than a day or two. A lot of members saw that as an attack on what they’ve helped to build.

    Hey, by all means I appreciate your involvement in the community, but the important part is not to take the points thing too seriously.

  8. Ardell,

    You are getting featured big time on Localism, and you’ve had more featured posts in the last few days than anyone I’ve seen in a long time. If you care to, you will build a readership on AR. Those that don’t care to read you will move on.

    I, too, have seen my points go up and down since they started this new point thing. Do I like the down, NAH, not so much. But, oh well…

    You’ve got an audience of Realtors and such on AR, if you want to ‘work’ that audience, then think about your message. If you are blogging for consumers then just keep on posting.

    And if you really want higher point blogs, I would recommend spreading out your posts. As Broker Bryant repeatedly notes, the ‘top bloggers’ on activerain rarely post more than 5 or so times a week. Total.

  9. Last I looked, 11 or more is not “a couple” and I think our definition of “bashing” is likely different, but 7 days does not an expert of me make. So let’s see how it goes.

    What I have been asking, and continue to ask, is how do the points reduce below 200? Does someone hit a “plagerism” button that reduces the points automatically, without verification of any kind that plagerism exists? Does flagging it plagerism in and of itself reduce the points. Just trying to get some clarification on how the system functions. Clearly the people doing it know the answer, so why is it a secret?

  10. Matt,

    I rarely (very rarely) defend Ardell, that being said I find your statements contradictory. You say you get a lot of consumer traffic and agents are displayed to the consumer by the number of points they have. So if I was trying to get exposure of the consumers I would want lots of points so I could be the agent at the top of the list. Next you say don’t take the points to seriously! What am I missing here?

  11. Maureen,

    It makes no sense to me whatsoever that a blog platform should be about working agents, or writing so that agents “like” me, or that whether or not some Agent in Kansas “likes” me, should have any relevance whatsoever.

    But I appreciate your comments and have a question. When you say points going up and down, do you mean totals, that’s normal. I’m asking if any of your posts are less than 200. So far I seem to be the only one with that particular problem. But maybe not.

    Can you check and see how many of your articles are under 200. Thanks. I’d like some facts at this point instead of generalizations. Just trying to figure it out. Most say 200 is the minimum and then they can stay there or go up.

  12. Ardell,

    My average score for my posts is on the dashboard. Its over 500 per post. No, I don’t have any under 200. I have seen my scores on posts go down in the last few days. I don’t know why for sure, but I would have to assume it is a competition based vote, not one based on the merits of the post.

    I am not saying that it makes sense or doesn’t. It is what is is. Sometimes we have to adapt to our surroundings. I promise you, there is lots of great stuff there. At least I value it.

    The “rules” change constantly on AR, and often without notice. It certainly keeps it interesting. I honestly have no complaints, and I have to tell you that Matt and Caleb have been extremely responsive to requests and suggestions from the community. They really do listen to us.

  13. Maureen,

    I appreciate your acknowledgeing that under 200 IS in fact quite odd, and since 1/3 or so of mine are so, and since Matt acknowledges that I was targeted and in fact knows by whom, it’s not just some odd coincidence that I should shrug off to unknown wierd factors.

    Those who have contacted me in active rain and by email saying those who are doing this are in the wrong, AND that it is apparently not the first time this has happened, are however making me feel better about it all.

    Let’s just say that out of over 12,000 members there are a few bad apples, and be done with it. I do think the system should be fixed so that this can’t happen, but there are always a few bullies in the schoolyard.

  14. Hey, I do have a post that’s below 200. It’s my market condition update. Which makes me wonder, where’s the incentive to post there if it’s not worth the 200 points?

    Then I type in “Phoenix Arizona Real Estate” on Google and look on the second page and my Active Rain blog is there. The blog I’ve more or less euthanized is on page seven.

    I enjoy Active Rain. Having said that, my blog there is an albatross … I can’t not post because of the SEO placement, but I would prefer to stay on my blog for my most crucial stuff.

    Saying I’ll post for the public here and post for the agents there doesn’t really work; I write what I want when I want. The public goes to AR. Agents come to my blog.

  15. Hey Jonathan,

    Thanks for stopping in. Why can’t you put your most crucial stuff on the Active Rain Blog, if that is the better SEO placement? Seems they should go hand in hand?

  16. Ardell – I’ve been an AR member since almost Day 1. For the first several months, I was locked in a battle with another member for the #1 spot nationally.

    During this time, I was accused several times of “cheating” and “gaming” the system (NOT by the guys running the network, but by other members). People said I “made up” fake people and signed them up under multiple addresses in order to get referral points.

    I was also accused of writing fake testimonials on my AR profile.
    It was ridiculous.

    There have always been “point wars” and always will be, IMHO. The guys running AR do a great deal to reduce this kind of foolishness, but with 12,000ish members, they can’t stop everything.

    There will always be nimrods out there that play these games. Ignoring them, as difficult as that may be, is probably the best solution. Eventually they move on to their next target.

  17. Ardell- Hey there! May I be frank? (Most people call me Mariana, but right now I will be “frank”) I have been on AR since about 10/2006. I STILL do not understand how or why some of this stuff happens. I happen to love to “blog” and I like many of the people in the community, but I also know that there are plenty of “politics” that float in the “puddle” and it IS immature.
    I write to write. I write on my blog as well as AR. I get more feedback on AR, through the comments than I do on my blog, thanks to the points thing (the process STILL baffles me…) I have given up on trying to be #1 and do what I do, just to do it. …ramble on… ramble on… ramble on.
    Anyway, to make a long story longer, Im sorry that your initial interaction w/ AR was less than pleasurable, but I hope that you stick around. P.S. Do you “work” in Kirkland? I have all kinds of family there.

  18. Ardell…. Listen to Maureen Francis…. I had this same problem. But she hits the nail on the head. You had at least 3 blogs featured in 2 days….this is extremely rare and I have only seen it 2 to 3 times… myself, Bryant, and Chris Griffith.

    As MF said, are you looking for points or traffic? And Carol Williams even brings up a good point. Hence why some might attack you on AR. Why? Because you become successful very quickly. And some feel the need to bring you down or play-out their favorites. Just my opinion.

    I will say this… I haven’t truly had time to read your featured posts. I’ll try this weekend. The new year took me by surprise and it’s the first time in 3 months that I made less than 10 comments, twice. Both times in the last week, hence the holiday season.

    Just hang in there and ignore some of them. As someone else mentioned, it’s the potential relationships that can be forged, which could be extremely beneficial. This is part of my goal, besides traffic.

  19. Hey Ardell, I didn’t quite understand your concern when you pinged me the other day. Now, reading this post and all the comments I wish I knew more to help you. I looked and found I had one post under 200 but it was kind of an “Self-Promotion” thing so I guess they whacked me–whacked is the wrong word…they just cut off a thumb…CHAAARLEEEYYY (‘Pope of Greenwich Village’).

    A bigger concern for me than the “Points” is the ‘TimeStamp’ of any post you write. I’ve written several as of late and have been ‘buried’ because the second you press the ‘Save Draft’ button it records that exact time. Even if you complete the post hours later and then press
    ‘Publish’ the system places you in order of the original ‘Timestamp’…in other words, your piece is never seen in ‘Recent Posts” and will never be ‘Featured’ because there are so many more posts ahead of you with fresher ‘Time Stamps.’ The second you press ‘Publish’ the piece is hours, even days old if you write in spurts like me. (hey I really prefer to spend most of my real estate hours showing property rather than getting pretty much meaningless points) I DO expect to be read if I write. THAT’S my gripe.

    Anyway, everybody I’ve been in contact with at A/R have been really cool. You let me know if you find the rat and I’ll verbally go “medievial
    on their ass…(‘Pulp Fiction)

    your friend,


  20. Jeff,

    I just fault a system that allows someone to hit a button that affects someone else’s efforts, automatically. But isn’t that like survivor? One of the ways to get ahead is to vote the better man off? Maybe that’s OK for people with that mentality. I don’t play that way, but maybe that is “fair” to many. My brother Chucky played EVERYTHING that way 🙂 before he passed on at age 28. It was like he knew he had a shorter timeframe than anyone else to “make it”.

    He was an obstinate SOB, but in hindsight, that was his claim to fame, for sure. Gotta love a handicapped person who won’t take any crap.

  21. Ardell, I was delighted to see your arrival on AR. You are edgy, challenging and interesting. Sometimes on AR we are just so polite to one another in the comments, it’s dull, repetitous and gets old. I was thinking you would bring with your posts some new flavor.

    As per you getting marked down, I don’t know for sure, but I think when someone gives you a “1” or multiple people give you “1’s” that brings the score down.

    The points have stimulated a lot of competition (like Jay stated) since the beginning. It’s the points that have created the viral effect and also all of the negative manipulation. So I guess you can say the points are both good and bad.

    In defense of blogging to other agents, well it’s just another way to build a network. We can network the network or the consumer, both bring us business.

    As much as I love Geno’s comment about going “medieval on their ass” as I learn who my friends are and aren’t, I turn off those who are nasty and support those that deserve it. Just like life, AR is a game of survival, as long as one gives a damn.

    In your case, you are a “tall poppy”. If you want to know what that means ask a kiwi…hummm maybe I’ll blog about Tall Poppies.

  22. Please do Kryistal…Tall Poppies!

    Enquiring mind wants to know!!

    As for the rest, your flower reference reminded me of thorns that come with roses. If the powers that be really could not tell where the thorns are, to make them less dangerous, I’d be happy. But that is not the case.

    I am a firm believer in bad things happen when people let bad people get away with it.

  23. Ardell ~ I agree with your last statement totally. Setting standards is nothing if they aren’t enforced.

    Also, I miswrote the above statement. You are perceived as a tall poppy. Whether you actually are or not remains to be seen.


  24. Ardell,
    So far from what I have read of your posts, you say what you actually think! You don’t find that too much on AR. Whenever anyone speaks out the sharks attack. There is, as Kristal says, all kinds agreeable chit chat, but you need to watch your back at all times. Sometimes the nicest appearing ones will be the ones rating your posts. I had a post that was a 15! I had to go back and check to respond to your post, because I don’t usually. It was about foreclosures and in the comments of points, it said it was advertising.????? Anyway, I also believe that bad things happen when people let bad people get away with it. I also believe that what comes around goes around.
    I sincerely think that whomever did that to you did it out of jealousy. I agree if Matt and Co know who did it, they should be dealt with. Transparency should be all the way around, but it is not. Meanwhile, as Jeff B said, it is extremely rare for a new blogger to get so many featured posts. The system of peers rating each others blogs is a little faulty, but they have made a lot of changes there and maybe that will change also, The guidelines there need to change also so we all know what the “rules” are and decide if we want to be play.

  25. Karen,

    I do think I take “log” of “blog” a bit to literally in that I log my thoughts as I think them in “stream of consciousness” fashion. I was told a blog was an online “log” and I believe it should be.

    Clearly next week and the week after my thoughts will change as I discover more about the site and how it works. Life is a journey…and my bloglife is a logged journey. It changes every day and hopefully my journey through Active Rain will become increasingly more productive and pleasant.

    Life’s too short to play games.

  26. Ardell,

    I think you write “as you think”. I also think that this style of writing is what makes people want to read your blogs, and believe me they are reading. One thing about AR and probably all blogsites is everyone is watching. If you want to excel on Active Rain, and I suspect that you do because of your competitiveness, if for no other reason, then you need to “play the game”. The rules are always changing! (or should I say evolving) Your analogy to Survivor was perfect. I guess you don’t “need” Active Rain, but it can’t hurt and it really does help your rankings as far as being first when someone does a Google search. So if it leads to your other blogs, that’s a good thing, yes? You seem to have a problem with duplicating your content between the blogs. I see that as working a lot harder than you have to. Maybe you should set a goal or time limit for AR and see what happens then. I read your series there today and enjoyed them. You have knowledge of the blogworld that a lot of others don’t. The problem is, unless you get featured, its the luck of the draw, until you build up associations and they start regularly reading you. Once you get a “following”, the others will all follow. I would like to see you stay there and keep doing what you are doing. You got noticed because you supposedly “pissed people off”. I don’t know who got pissed off, but you also have the expertise to turn that around if you wanted to, but controversy also creates comments on AR which to get featured is a good thing. (just watch your back)You said something (in your series) about comments not looking good, but the more comments you get and the more highly rated your blog is, the more you will be featured outside of Active Rain. Another point you made was about the consumers reading and commenting on AR blogs. Well, the few that I have seen have come in angry and then had there opinions changed. Realtors are not very well liked as a whole, so maybe AR will be a good thing. Hey, this may all be gone in a year, take it for what its worth and use it to your advantage. It does have some good points. It’s different, the points actually keep it going. Do you think people would be on there everyday commenting if they weren’t getting points? Everyone has a different reason to be there. I hope you find yours and I will be watching to see how you do what you know you want to do:)

  27. Karen,

    My perception was that I got hit within the first 1-3 days, meaning someone in there who didn’t like me before I arrived, started pounding on me the minute I entered. I’m still pretty sure that’s the case, as those few have not been heard from yet. You know, the mean and sneaky silent type 🙂 I don’t fault them at all…hey, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

    I fault a system that sees them do it and lets them get away with it.

  28. Ardell,
    Well, that’s pretty big of you. I don’t personally care for those sneaky silent types, nor for the sneaky pretentious types that are vocal. Maybe something “was” done to them, we really don’t know. It’s pretty silent up there in the clouds…I think that the system should be changed to a more transparent view of how our blogs are rated so we will know. And if we are flagged, we should also know. If nothing else then to keep us on our toes.

  29. Incidentally, to play the game you need to “align” yourself with certain people…(not me) I am not one of the players. There are three women that are players and maybe 4 men. Each has their own following. If you can get all seven, well….Good nite:)

  30. If I ever get around to writing a review of ActiveRain on RCG, it will almost definitely take the title:

    * Bloggers are just people…

    It can be fascinating to watch how people recreate their offline relationships in the online environment.

  31. Correct, Karen. And at least two of those seven are mean and nasty and there’s no way I’m “aligning” myself with them. Maybe I’ll have to be number eight so people have someone else to “align” with.

  32. Ardell, I told you everyone was watching.

    Dustin, I believe, after reading Brian Bradys blog that apparently a lot of bloggers on AR are not even real! I have totally missed the boat. I should have had 12 personas and commented on myself!

  33. Ardell,
    Thank you so much for your postive comment on my article the other day. I love your take on real estate and I completely agree with it. Do you have anyone in your network in Vancouver that you refer business to? I would love to send you referrals from my neck of the woods.
    You have my vote on AR.

  34. Erik,

    I don’t recall the comment, but if I said it…I meant it 🙂

    You remind me to write my article on my feelings regarding referral fees. Hope you like it…you may not. I will post it here and not in Active Rain…for sure.

  35. Ardell, pardon me for being blunt but I am going to be. You are a talented blogger, you should do whatver the hell you want wherever you want, and everyone else be damned. I mean that! All we can do is be ourselves. 12,000 people on AR there are bound to be some nutcases. (I prefer to think of myself as eccentric lol) As for commenting to get points? BS. I comment (and know many who are like me) when I read a post and want to comment. I comment when I go in to read a friend or associates post ONLY when I think I have something to say – the bullshit is getting tiring and I do hope you know that you are as vaulable in AR as anyone else. Yeah I know I don’t have to tell you that, but I did anyway. I get so tired of hearing people pontificate anywhere and on any blog forum just because of their own hidden agendas. You seem straight from the hip, I like that. I dont even care if you like me, I like you. Im done lol

  36. Hi Carole,

    I appreciate your comments but my confusion is about the blogging platform.

    If agents blog for each other, I just don’t get the point. If you have to write in a manner that pleases agents to “make it there” (though I do think Frank is right…if I CAN make it there I CAN make it “anywhere” LOL)

    From my perspective, the MAIN reason to blog at all is so that Buyer Consumers start getting things, like the fact that they may be getting ripped off 🙂 or treated badly with a smiile.

    Those kind of topics are NOT going to make agents happy…better in the long run…but not happy while the change takes place. It’s not about popularity for me…it’s about purpose.

  37. I agree Ardell, then it either has to be of good purpose to you or not. No argument on that at all – ultimately the consumer side is the bread and butter; although for me, the learning of methodology or at least being exposed to others methods of working their careers, is something I like. It may not be for you, I understand that completely.

  38. Carole,

    I’ve been around the block one too many times LOL Not much new under the sun for me inside agent forums. There’s more new for me “out in the light”. 🙂 That’s why I like RCG so much. I get to hear how IT IS from REAL people and not just internal industry regurgitation of same old, same old.

    In Active Rain, I seek out how the people in there who are outside of industry, in related industries, see things. Though I did run by my drain issue with Carol from Wenatchee just to test my sanity!

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