Chatter: On moms, talk ‘leaders’ — or ‘paid shills’?

[Ground zero: The Indianapolis Star launched the original moms site]

Chatter is an occasional peek at your comments. In today’s edition, readers are debating the ethics of paying people — including men — to spark provocative discussions on the
Moms Like Me websites.

It all began early yesterday, when Anonymous@12:10 a.m. wrote: “Anybody out there in Gannettoidland hear of any shenanigans with their Moms sites? At the paper I work at, two males in the Information Center were directed by management to pose as females in the Moms forums to start conversations to increase traffic. Also, some moms in the community were getting paid a weekly stipend to go on their sites and start conversations. Is false page view generation an actual strategy for all sites?”

Next, Anonymous@1:06 a.m. piped up: “The mommy site at my paper also has paid shills. Please expose this scam.”

In Phoenix, Anonymous@9:32 a.m. said: “A couple of people who work on the Moms site were told to set up multiple user IDs and make numerous posts to drive traffic. I don’t think *they* were paid (other than their salaries) to post, but I know they paid their friends to set up multiple IDs and post. This was several months ago and management claimed not to be aware of the practice. They said the practice was to stop. Not sure if it actually did.”

Take a chill pill, everyone! wrote Anonymous@3:19 p.m. “There’s nothing ethically wrong with paying community management staff to foster communication within an online forum,” they wrote. “The only gray area here is if they actually have men posing as women — and even that is laughable. Those of you freaking out are grasping at straws — there’s no ‘fake traffic’ or ‘false page view generation’ here; the traffic is real, if people want to take part in the conversations. This kind of thing happens all over the Internet and is considered more than normal — it’s often mandatory to get communities started. Lighten up and concentrate on the fact that you might lose your job next week, next month, or next year. Sheesh . . . stop complaining and start solving problems.”

Related: The exciting 1,674-word Moms Like Me Privacy Policy makes riveting, late-night reading!

Now, it’s your turn. What’s the story at your moms site? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

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