I've noticed a few posts over time of people claiming so and so is absolutely the worst company they have dealt with on quite a few forums now.. so my question is what is stopping company x from smearing company y with forum posts (even hosting with the company and intentionally breaking things).
Technically, nothing, and the problem is that a lot of forums, especially the ones not dedicated to hosting, where the web hosting subforum is not really given much attention by the moderating team, such smearing can remain visible indefinitely. Same goes for shills unfortunately.
Interestingly we've also seen a growing trend amongst users who when they disagree with something will threaten to 'go public on the forums' if their demands are not immediately met.
It also seems like the WHT readership is pretty level headed. There are quite a few threads if you read them that start out with someone claiming host ABC is the worst ever, but the thread slowly changes over time as more details become evident and other people weigh in.
Unhappy people, of course, tend to be the most vocal.
At least on WHT, if you're going to complain, you best be prepared to back your story up.
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I agree Steve, I've noticed quite a few clients stories just don't add up.
I agree, but once the horses are out of the barn they aren't easily brought back in. The Internet allows anyone to say anything with complete anonymity. Anything. There doesn't need to be a lick of truth to it as long as it serves the purpose of the customer or the shill (competitor) trying to slam what is probably an excellent host.
Add to this the fact that many companies have affiliate programs and "review sites" abound that allow anyone to say anything without confirming the details. Not only have we as an industry created this particular monster, we feed it by joining affiliate programs (like CJ) that encourage people to put up sites "ranking" web hosting companies. If you pay top dollar you are the top rated host.
These same sites allow anyone to post anything in their comment section that are usually billing related, domain name issues, etc. Seldom are they actual hardware / infrastructure failures, but the poster can say anything with complete impunity. The casual, uninformed or savvy consumer is left to read the negatives and take from them a bad impression that has been unfairly given by hosting companies that engage in affiliate marketing knowing that doing so will tend to slam their competitors that are often smaller and cannot afford the $$$ each month in advertising and pay-outs. We as an industry created this monster!
Look on the bright side : inbound links! Watch your page rank go up
As do the threats.. "Sort this or I'll post this all on xxxforum, xxxreview site etc".
Unfortunately when posted on popular sites such as WHT it can do a lot of damage - then again, people should hopefully be wise enough to treat the shocking review by the brand new member with 2 posts with a pinch/bucket of salt.
Let's expand this to "Host Smearing" on "review sites."
I don't think that the consumer is actually able to take what they read with a grain of salt because they don't know to. When a consumer visits a "review site" and see that a company has, say 10, negative reviews they don't consider that happy customers don't usually visit to leave kudos. Why not? Because they've already found a host. They just enjoy their great company. THAT'S THE KEY HERE. Only complainers take time to visit.
If a customer has been sent to collections the bad mouther writes anything they please with impunity. It serves the interest of the "review site" to allow this to happen. It commands web site clicks and boosts up their advertisers with fake scores. I'm sure that we have all noticed that "review sites" pay top dollar to be top-ranked on Google -- because they can afford it.
The consumer also may not know that XYZ Hosting has been in business for 10 years, but only has 10 negative reviews and may not consider that the host, who chooses not to post a rebuttal that only fuels the fire, may have a legitimate explanation. Suppose the host as 10,000 web sites that they host and only 10 bad reviews spread out over 10 years? Do the math.
Finally two points: the consumer also doesn't realize that this "review site" is actually an affiliate marketing site with coded links that when the consumer clicks the "review site" a cookie is planted and the "review site" gets a commission of the sale within 60 days or so. The second part is that "advertisers" on the review site seldom get negative reviews. They are sanitized for the consumer.
I challenge any "review site" to show tangible proof that you do otherwise. One particular site presented scores for web hosts that 1) didn't add up mathematically, and 2) could easily be tracked at Commission Junction as top commission payers. We all know the truth and I don't expect any takers on my challenge 8=)
The same applies to the Better Business Bureau, another thread here. If XYZ Hosting is a member they stand a good chance of an A+ rating even though a consumer may type "XYZ Host Sucks" into Google and get a completely different story.
With all of this said in complete candor, we value each and every customer that we get. We understand that we may not be everything to everyone, but we work 24 hours a day to keep hardware running, security patches applied, etc. We have a lot of servers to maintain and we do our best... tot unlike the rest of the hosts here at WHT. I'm sure that none of us gets up each day wondering how we're going to trash our own company on purpose.
As a heavily focused colocation provider, I do not see many of our corporate clients logging on to WHT to post positive reviews of our service. Unless a particular client has had a disastrous experience with a past provider, most clients forget that we even exist. I see damaging reviews everyday, but unfortunately there is not any incentive for a client to go out of there way for receiving the service they were promised. It's too bad, I would love to have a page on our website for current clients, but then there would be too many people trying to steal them : ) !