Members of Active Rain -- if you're upset with the situation, please log onto and 'suggest' J. Philip Ferranda's post. This is the first time since 2008 that I feel truly conned here-not a good feeling.
How would you feel if you learned that I did not exist? What would go through your mind if my wife were a made up person, photos of my children were clip art, and that my Active Rain profile was actually a fictitious alter ego for another AR member who was gaming the point system? If we had exchanged emails or commented on each other's blogs, I think you'd feel deceived and icky. You might be angry, and understandably so.
Now...how would you feel if the blog were allowed to continue, albeit with a few changes to make my identity more ambiguous, and unknowing people continued to comment on "my" posts and submit entries to my true identity's contests?
Would you feel that the folks in Seattle dropped the ball? Caved in? Let the offender off easily?
What if I told you that just such a thing occurred in the past two weeks, and that a prominent member has continued to post on the hoax blog, made references to the debunked non person with impunity, and that his identity- as well as his account- is being allowed to continue by the powers that be?
This much I can tell you. It isn't me. I am real.
Active Rain has faced and dealt with many challenges recently.
- Slow functionality
- Realestate.com sales fiasco
- Ambassador controversy
- Rainmaker status/grandfathered accounts controversy
- Market Leader takeover from founder Jon WashburnTo their credit, Active Rain has met these issues head on. If slow loading pages and other growing pains haven't killed the Active Rain Network, what will? I hope nothing, but I can tell you that one thing that has enabled the network to thrive is the belief in the people by membership. We believe in the staff in Seattle, and we believe in each other. But I'll tell you this right now: If anything can kill Active Rain, it will be loss of faith in what we read here. If I see a new member and I wonder, even for a second, if that person may be a fictitious persona generated by a prankster, I'm logging off. Wouldn't you?About 7 years ago, a blogger by the name of Libertarian Girl was found to be a man who clipped his profile photo from a mail order bride website and posted as an attractive female blogger. When confronted with the hoax, he came clean and admitted that he wanted to know what it was like to be popular and widely read. But he came clean. 90 days later, he stopped posting to the re branded blog. The thrill (and readership) was probably gone.A similar hoax has been made by a prominent Active Rain member. They created a fake persona, used the stock photo of an actor for their profile, and when they were confronted with the hoax, the fake person denied it, made some peculiar posts about migrating to Wordpress and disabled comments on some posts. I exchanged emails with both the member in question and the hoax persona. They denied everything, but rather than simply prove me wrong, they delinked the accounts in Seattle and the real person lost some points.That person is lucky they aren't a licensed agent or they'd be before an ethics board or worse. And every profile they have, sham or them self, remains posting happily with few changes. No apology or mea culpa was offered the community. It is as if nothing happened and things were spun to make it less conspicuous. Their profile photo was changed a few days ago, but other than that it continues. Nothing has been acknowledged.Newbies and onlookers don't need to know all about the angst around things like grandfathered Rainmaker accounts. But everyone should know that every post on Active Rain is authentic and not part of a hoax. We cannot say that now, and that threatens the integrity of the network.I never blog about AR politics. I have a company to run and I don't have time for drama. But this damages the platform I use to get out my company's message. I have something at stake here, and so do you. We aren't Inman News but we are Citizen Journalists and we make commentary about an industry that needs a better voice than the regular media. And if a columnist there turned out to be an eskimo at a library and not a broker or journalist, it would be a scandal. Inman would have to address the problem openly and with candor, something I am sad to say that AR has not done in this matter.Somewhere between full transparency and the scramble to protect the identity of the member prankster, something needs to be done. The person needs to come clean, apologize and make amends at minimum, and many believe an account termination is in order. But the status quo of the current arrangement is unacceptable. It sweeps the problem under the rug and erodes trust. The Integrity of the Active Rain Network is at stake. This is not about points. It is about correcting a massive deception. A public accounting is in order.
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