Robert Scoble
There's one thing NO ONE is talking about in terms of #twittergate (the role of the SUL in pressure on @techcrunch). Will discuss here:
TechCrunch is on Twitter's Suggested User List. They have been gifted about 880,000 followers by being on that list, AKA "SUL". That's worth a lot of money. - Robert Scoble
SUL? - iconic88
SUL? Sulfuric acid? - Richard
So what are you saying? That they shouldn't leak the docs because they got a lot of followers from Twitter? - Dare Obasanjo
That they leaked the docs to become more popular on twitter? - Tyler Hurst
the point most people are missing is that TechCrunch states they have spoken with Twitter. I am sure Twitter execs know what's coming and are prepared - Kevin
Wouldn't you think the <800k SUL-generated followers would have made @arrington LESS likely to publish the docs? - Tom Guarriello
Dare: I bet that Twitter is threatening Mike with getting kicked off. - Robert Scoble
Here is a link to a post of a dozen screenshots of Twitters admin panels "There are 187 featured SUL Uusers" - Mark
Tom: it's gotta be one consideration Mike is considering. - Robert Scoble
Techcrunch did mention in one of their posts that Twitter is generating a lot of traffic for them. So the SUL does work for them. And it works for twitter as they stop TC from posting the documents - Sidharth Dassani
Sure, Robert. But he's pushed it this far despite the SUL factor. - Tom Guarriello
SUL = Suggested User List - Manuel Arroyo
I bet that twitter prefers this to leak on techcrunch where Mike can spin some stories for them than to see the zip file with the docs appearing on a torrent site ! - Eschnou
wikileaks maybe? - Mark
So twitter kicks arrington off. does he publish the docs? does that help him? - Tyler Hurst
If Twitter kicks him off get ready for a big time firestorm! (Just mistyped: "firestory"!) - Tom Guarriello
Tom: Mike is a journalist. He also says that someone else will publish them, so might as well tell everyone that these things are knocking around in public. - Robert Scoble
Even without the suggested users list, TechCrunch must be weighing the cost of enmity with the most popular startup in the Valley right now. Don't they write like 3 Twitter stories a day? What happens if Twitter stops talking to them and takes all their press communications to Mashable (who are already beginning to kick TechCrunch's butt with their social media savviness? - Dare Obasanjo
Robert - Arrington is NOT a journalist. Journalists check sources. Process journalism is NOT real journalism. He's a writer. - Tyler Hurst
How did Arrington not check his sources? He confirmed they are real docs - Kevin
Yes, read all his rationale. Seems sincere in trying to separate juiciest from items he considers newsworthy. BTW, I do believe he is a journalist. - Tom Guarriello
Which would they kick? Him with ~8K followers? Not TC with ~1million followers. - Mike Shea
Kevin - not just this article. did you see his article on how the free google apps was gone when it was just a page layout change? - Tyler Hurst
Tyler: I've been in the hotel room watching as Arrington checked his sources on a story. You're wrong on that one. - Robert Scoble
Mike: almost all of TechCrunch's followers were gifted to him by TechCrunch (same with Mashable, by the way). Before the Suggested Users List came along both had fewer followers than me, Leo Laporte, and a couple of others. Being on the SUL is worth lots of money (I believe it's worth millions, if you stay on it for a few years). - Robert Scoble
Tom - these are stolen documents. What does his rationale matter at this point? - Tyler Hurst
Dare: yes, I'm sure Mike is considering all the consequences. Also, if these documents really do exist someone will publish them. When I quit Microsoft I told 15 people and I didn't even know the guy who leaked my story. - Robert Scoble
For the record, so far, I have not been given the Twitter documents. - Robert Scoble
Scoble - so why doesn't Twitter just publish them? Get ahead of any new site? - Tyler Hurst
Tyler: journalists have printed stolen stuff that's newsworthy in the past. - Robert Scoble
Tyler: I don't know, but I bet that Twitter does not want these released. - Robert Scoble
Tyler - So were the Pentagon Papers. - Tom Guarriello
Tyler: I wonder, if I did have them, and I talked with @ev, would he offer to put me on the SUL in return for not publishing the documents? - Robert Scoble
Scoble - are they newsworthy because they're stolen or newsworthy because they're juicy? What good does this do? - Tyler Hurst
Scoble - now that's a damn good question about SUL. - Tyler Hurst
No journalist should have accepted to be on the SUL and at least at this moment ask that they be taken off. - Stephen Pickering
Dare, to answer your original question, the SUL is a gift worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe even millions. Jason Calacanis has already set the price at $250,000. So, the SUL is, in effect, a bribe that can be used to keep journalists/bloggers/twitterers in line. If you had a gift in your hand worth hundreds of thousands of dollars you would think twice before turning that gift away. I know I would. - Robert Scoble
Robert: I'd say no to that, @ev knows that those docs are out there now anyway. If you were the only with them (hypothetically speaking), then he might have. But he'd probably equate it to extortion. Would you really want that? - Mike Shea
I think twitter could just delete the techcrunch account if it wants to make a point. SUL removal wouldn't do much as they already have a lot of followers from it. - Darren Stuart
Stephen: that is a very difficult ethical position to arrive at, especially if your competitors are also on the SUL (Mashable is on the SUL right now). - Robert Scoble
Darren: wrong. If you remove yourself from the SUL you immediately start losing followers and start falling behind your competitors. - Robert Scoble
Scoble - so you're saying that blackmail is okay as long as it benefits you? - Tyler Hurst
Darren: in the race for advertising and PR and all that being at the top of the follower list gets you all sorts of goodies. for instance displays people in order of the number of the followers. - Robert Scoble
How did the valuation for getting on the SUL end up being done? Is there a dollar value per follower based on link click throughs + ad clickthroughs? - Dare Obasanjo
No one in the TC office yet, according to CrunchCam. Probably all sleeping. Boy today is going to be a busy day for them. - Mark
Tyler: no. I'm not saying that. I'm hoping that if I am in any of these positions that I would take the high road. But living on the high road is very difficult. - Robert Scoble
Dare: I used to help run a magazine with 100,000 subscribers that made millions in revenue every year. - Robert Scoble
Scoble - That's the answer I'd expect from you. Journalists ALWAYS take the high road. - Tyler Hurst
Dare: you could use a CPM (advertising fee per 1000 viewers) of $5 and come up with some sort of valuation. - Robert Scoble
You can't objectively report on a company who is paying you directly and for that matter its impossible to also be a journalist and the owner of the news organization. In the past there's always suppossed to have been a firewall between content and the business side. But that's out the window. Notice all the puff pieces about bing on the NYtimes. Hmmmm, I wonder if that could be all the advertising dollars? Hmmmmmm - Stephen Pickering
Tyler: journalists don't always take the high road. There are several New York Times journalists on the SUL if I remember right. - Robert Scoble
Scoble - I wouldn't say the NYT is a leader in journalistic ethics anymore, either. - Tyler Hurst
Wise words from @arrington "News is stuff someone doesn’t want you to write. The rest is advertising." - Mark
Stephen: exactly. Money does cause news organizations to carefully consider their coverage, even those who say it doesn't and that have a "Chinese firewall" between editorial and advertising. - Robert Scoble
No one is in this tight economy its all about $$$$$$$$$$$$ - Stephen Pickering
Mark - BS. he publishes rumors too. - Tyler Hurst
Stephen: if I had the documents I'd have to consider its impact on my employer, Rackspace. That's why I disclose all my conflicts of interest. - Robert Scoble
Scoble - do you believe Arrington's claim that he just received these documents? - Tyler Hurst
Robert: Trick is to take the employer out of the equation. What would you do if you were on your own? - Mike Shea
Robert: good points, are techcrunch going to publish the stories is the question now? I think twitter is at a point now where it does not matter if techcrunch start a war with them if they were to just ban all techcrunch and employee accounts. - Darren Stuart
There's no better publicity than bad publicity. Just remember that. Remember the whole Ashton and CNN thing? That turned out to be backed by twitter and created HUGE publicity for them. Something doesn't smell right. Not saying all bad publicity is good for both parties, but in a situation like this, it's plausible that both Ev/twitter and Mike/TC are just laughing their asses off as the publicity pulls in more page views - Ⓐ ☠ slayerboy ☠ Ⓐ
Mike is not a journalist. He is a self-confessed showboater. - Mark Littlewood
Mike - so much for the honesty, transparency and authenticity we hoped social media and such would provide. A new ruling class has just replaced the old one. - Tyler Hurst
Tyler: yes, I do believe Arrington. - Robert Scoble
Does twitter go after the hacker? - Tyler Hurst
Tyler, especially with the whole mob thing and FF. Something is up here. Of course, I could be completely off my rocker and it's all just one big coincidence and Mike really is that much of a pompous ass. - Ⓐ ☠ slayerboy ☠ Ⓐ
The twit poll on the issue from TC showed an overwhelming stance from the community that posting the information is unethical. It might be better for TC to let someone else (Mashable) post the information, resulting in removal from a SUL and gaining both ethical rapport with the community and an edge over competition. This is one story that would be rough to break, why is that only TC has the information so far? That is the more alarming concern. - thestaticfrost
Mark: Mashable won't publish these either. They have benefited from the SUL a lot more than Arrington has. - Robert Scoble
Robert, interesting POV, I would still personally stand down on the issue. - thestaticfrost
ethics a side I think its a case of - if SUL pageviews > estimated story pageviews then do not publish - Darren Stuart
Mark: on the SUL? Yeah, but the SUL is interesting and won't stop being interesting just because I stop writing about it. There are rafts of new journalistic text books being written because of it. - Robert Scoble
The more I think about this...the more it seems plausible that twitter has been doing stuff behind closed doors to generate publicity. Who's heard of twitter going after ANY hacker? Why is it only TC that this email was sent to? If a hacker REALLY had this info, wouldn't they do something a bit less obvious? Like I dunno...sell the stuff? Which brings up another much did TC pay for this info? I guess if TC continues to be on the SUL we'll know the answer. - Ⓐ ☠ slayerboy ☠ Ⓐ
Mike: what would I do if I were on my own? I'm biased toward publishing, but I need to know the facts first before I really could say one way or the other. - Robert Scoble
To put it in reverse, maybe if you got the documents you could give them back to Twitter in exchange for getting on the SUL. :) - Louis Gray
Mike: it's possible that the hacker works for TechCrunch or has a business relationship with TechCrunch. Mike has built a good network of people who offer him news before anyone else. The thing is now Mike has access to internal info at Twitter that will be hard to avoid in interviews with Twitter. - Robert Scoble
Mike/Robert: If a less reputable blogger/company had this information, it would already have been posted and this conversation would be moving another direction. The pageviews would trump any SUL. - thestaticfrost
mark - what a crappy way to make a name for yourself. publishing stolen documents to serve the public good is one thing, publishing as a smear campaign is wrong. - Tyler Hurst
Mark: I don't believe that's true. Remember, TechCrunch only had about 50,000 followers on Twitter before being added to the SUL. I seriously doubt one story would get them more than 100,000, even if it was the most interesting, sexy story around. - Robert Scoble
Tyler, it would be an awful way to make a name for yourself, I agree but that is not the issue. - thestaticfrost
Louis: word gets around when you extort companies. It's not a good thing and almost always comes back on you eventually as the people involved move to other companies and spread the news around. - Robert Scoble
Louis: if I had the documents I wouldn't use them as extortion for that reason. I know one guy who extorted a company and I'll always remember that. - Robert Scoble
Tyler, if TechCrunch was doing it as a smear campaign they would publish a lot more of the documents and have started off with something other that a softball. - Matthew McCowan
Arrington is getting it both ways here. He writes about it to say they're not going to post the most juicy stuff but he still gets most of the benefits of posting everything. A lot of people are talking about it. He's a master hypeologist. - Justin Whittaker
Matthew - that was in reference to a small blogger grabbing the documents and throwing them all out there. - Tyler Hurst
Justin: that is accurate about Arrington. - Robert Scoble
Tyler, oh gotcha - sorry - Matthew McCowan
Matthew - no, techcrunch is doing it for the page views, of course. - Tyler Hurst
Robert, interesting tie of numbers into the SUL growth of TC. Perhaps there is an exorbitant value of the SUL, this story would just be pennies in comparison. I see no feasible monetary gain available for TC to violate this ethical issue. - thestaticfrost
Patrick: even if you aren't on the SUL most of your followers aren't listening. :-) - Robert Scoble
I'm sick of being monetized into the services I use.. It's almost enough to make me stop it all altogether. - John Blanton
John - stuff has to get paid for. - Tyler Hurst
Says John as he drinks a $4 latte from Starbucks. - Robert Scoble
"I'm sick of being monetized into the services I use." - Then turn off the TV and radio, don't buy any newspapers or magazines, or look at any ad-supported web sites. It's the way of the world. - John Craft
Stupid posh coffee. Normal coffee, with milk, please. - Mark
Patrick: Arrington tells me that being on the SUL has brought them audience and, therefore, money. - Robert Scoble
I don't have a problem with Techcrunch releasing the articles they are, however don't say they are doing in for public interest. They are doing it for Techcrunch interest, nothing wrong with that, but lets be honest. - Kim Landwehr
Right now the man with all the answers is fast asleep in his bed, dreaming of world domination - Mark
Kim - yep. - Tyler Hurst
Matthew: pat of the "Mission" of a business is never to shoot yourself in the foot. - thestaticfrost
Robert: This is what happened when the lovely Veronica Belmont finally responded to my questions regarding the number of 'bots' following those on the SUL : - Jim Connolly
I'd like to see an estimate of the ROI of being on the SUL. Different for everyone, but it can be modeled. Would bring an interesting new perspective into the discussion. - Peter Kim
Matthew - the only debate of SUL value would be total worth, not if it has a worth. - Tyler Hurst
If I could offer you hundreds of thousands of extra hits on your website a year, for FREE, would you accept? - Mark
Mark: there is no such thing as a free lunch. - Robert Scoble
Nothing is ever free. - thestaticfrost
hehe - Mark
What if Twitter is using their influence at TechCrunch, to manage the delivery of this 'story?' Better that, than someone publish the story, with a negative spin. - Jim Connolly
Matthew: how do you know it's not? Mike has already said he's talking with Twitter and he hasn't published the information. So, he gets best of both worlds. Gets credit for having the info, and now has inside access that no one else has. The SUL might never have even come up (I doubt it has, actually) but now we're wondering what kind of deal they made. - Robert Scoble
here is a link to a story that deals with Arringtons "wise words" - Marco
Matthew: yes, which leads me to think that he made a deal with Twitter. - Robert Scoble
TC has not let the cat out yet, no reason to believe that it will. They made it past the first hour of having the information which is most crucial to it being fully released. - thestaticfrost
Good point Jim. That TC story was actually Incredibly measured. Not like arrington at all. Hmmmmm.... - Roberto Bonini from iPhone
Matthew: I'm not judging, just bringing up the potential conflicts of interest to discuss them. I don't see anyone judging here yet. - Robert Scoble
Robert: In your experience, would Michael Arrington NORMALLY be this careful about drip feeding a story, so as NOT to offend the person / company featured in the story? - Jim Connolly
Jim: Twitter is the story of the year. So, yes, he's being more careful here than he otherwise would. And, if these documents were stolen, he's also a lawyer and is being careful to make sure he stays on the legal side of the line. I would be very careful with this story too. I have a different conflict of interest, though, which is that I'm an employee of Rackspace and would have to consider the impact of such a story on my company. - Robert Scoble
Let's be clear if Techcrunch has the information, so does someone else. The information is going to get out. Techcrunch maybe releasing the story slowly to maintain the interest. My guess is they are getting a lot more hits with this story then they would normally - Kim Landwehr
Matthew: I like to pretend I live in a dream world sometimes too, but I don't. I doubt we'll hear what was actually said back and forth in an off-the-record conversation. If i were Ev the first thing I would have said is "this is an off the record conversation, right?" And then if Arrington repeated it he would lose status too, because sources wouldn't trust him to talk openly. - Robert Scoble
Kim: if other people have the story they will publish it all at once. So doing a slow rollout would actually be stupid. I bet no one else has the story, yet. - Robert Scoble
I don't see them on the twitter SUL - Orli Yakuel
Orli: see who? - Robert Scoble
Orli: if you are already following TechCrunch and Mashable they won't appear on the SUL, you've gotta check with an account that isn't following them. - Robert Scoble
oh, silly me. I remember that list before BTW, it's just got HUGE. who's checking there anyway? - Orli Yakuel
Orli: most new users of Twitter get shown the list and get the option to follow everyone on it. - Robert Scoble
It looks like some of the same information is being released on a French Web site per bizjournal - Kim Landwehr
Sorry if this is a repeat, I haven't managed to read every single comment... @techcrunch didn't even publish these docs first; why are they taking all the heat? This was the first place I saw it - - Kenton
um. - Orli Yakuel
Kenton: Because Arrington himself said he would publish them. Arrington is a joke and far from a true journalist. - John Fox
John: I disagree with you about Arrington. But so far nothing is that interesting in what the French site has published. So I'm wondering what the big deal is? Maybe Arrington knows that there's no real news value in what was gained, so he is making lemonade out of lemons? The real story here is that Google's security measures were overcome, so this is a cautionary tale about putting private info into the cloud. - Robert Scoble
I totally agree about your cloud comment Robert. This should be a lesson to everyone who's jumping on the bandwagon without thinking about the risks. - Kenton
Here's another post from Business Insider. Now that the docs have been published, everyone can link ethically, even though the info was stolen. Ahh, I love the journalism business sometimes. - Robert Scoble
Robert: I don't see where the educational part of the content is that he's going to publish. What will be gained except corporate secrets and Twitter's dirty laundry? If this was a major corporation, he'd an injunction would be in effect right now. Yes, shame on Twitter for putting that kind of information in the cloud without adequate security, but then again, Arrington doesn't need to take advantage of the situation for notariety alone. That's a poor ethical standard. - John Fox
John: Arrington gets the best of both worlds. He gets credit for thinking through the publishing of this info, while other people do the dirty work. See Why didn't Arrington just publish? Well, the SUL is one potential reason. Are there others? Did @ev give him an exclusive? Or some other reason not to publish? We'll never know. - Robert Scoble
I think by the time Arrington wakes up (lazy bastard) he will have been Scooped by other websites - Mark
Robert: I don't doubt that Arrington walked a fine line, thinking through the publishing of the info. I don't fault him for that. As a tech writer myself, I know there are certain things that will get you sued in a heartbeat. However, I don't see what Arrington has to gain from this other than notariety and to get TC's name out there even more. This is a tainted story from the start. Ethics demand that respectable journalists do not touch this story, except to report the facts. Publication of this information is over the line. Example: I will be talking about this on my show this weekend, for sure, but to only report the facts, not to speculate or divulge the information in the reports, published or not. - John Fox
Ok question, are we mad at Techcrunch ie Arrington, because he published only part of the information or that he publish the information at all or that he said he would publish it and didn't? - Kim Landwehr
I'm not saying it's okay to publish ill-gotten confidential material but people would be less tempted to do so if Twitter were more transparent and less secretive. For a social network, they have a real 1.0 social media philosophy. Even Facebook reveals information about their userbase and growth. But Twitter is like a black box as the #fixreplies disaster revealed. And since that hashtag dropped off the Trending Topics, we've never heard any more about their proposed solution. - Liz
The lack of democracy on the SUL is one of the most disturbing aspects of Twitter. It pushes Twitter towards an echo chamber since new people just follow the same old people. There needs to be some serious rotation. - Trent Hamm
Matthew: yes, Rose runs -- the problem is that most people on the home page and at the top of most lists are on Twitter's SUL. - Robert Scoble
Just logged into twitter and a big red box tells me my account is suspensed for strange activity. Hmm - Mark
But I can still post. Hmm - Mark
I am reading that thousands of twitter accounts have been wrongly suspended due to "human error". Has anyone heard anything? - Mark
he sees to have delisons of Grandure Murdoch gets away with hacking becasue of his power and the willingness of cronys to take the fall and the plod to turn a blind eye - he still needs to mak the public interest defence which he has not - Maurice Walshe
Twitter's response: - Liz
Judging by Liz's link, looks like Twitter chose to play cards in public and Twitter just won. Talking about "The underware drawer" analogy flat out says the documents are gossip and not a story. This makes TechCrunch look like a gossip rag. Twitter also focused on their users and their security- the Ace of Spades. Bravo. - E-Advocate Network
I was wrongly suspended along with 9 others months ago. It was a terrible experience. - DaveDelaney.ME
my question for mr. scoble is, if the same documents landed in your inbox would you have done the same thing? - Tobias Lewsadder
Just curious about something. Earlier I tried following Techcrunch on Twitter and found I was blocked, supposedly "at the request of the user." Since I don't remember saying a bad word about Techcrunch or Michael (as Robert can attest from discussions in the past couple of months, I've usually defended Arrington on a few things), I'm wondering if the block was TechCrunch's doing or Twitter's. - George Hall (Australia)