I'm preparing to write a blog post in which I'd like to incorporate the input from my personal learning network friends, so I've been posting the link to this survey in multiple places including Twitter, the Future of Ed ning, and Classroom 2.0. I'm wondering where to draw the line with this... when it does become obnoxious to see the same material in several spots online?
As I logged into EdWeek's Digital Directions ning this morning after following a tweet from EdWeek forum panelist Barbara Treacy, it occurred to me that by posting in lots of places, I may be joining a practice that I have long abhorred. I saw on the front page of this ning posting of a man pushing a product. He left comments on several members' pages, essentially cutting and pasting his message.
This man, who shall remain nameless, has done this for consistently for the past few years. In fact, when he did this on the Global Education Collaborative, which I run, I asked him about his intentions and then banned him from the group when he did not reply. There is now another woman posting events that use this same product fairly often. I did a search for her name and she's an SEO expert and has been posting the same information about this same product in multiple Ning communities. I did write to her expressing my concerns and she said she'd curtail her postings.
When I've inquired on Twitter about the practices of the aforementioned man and the product he is pushing, I've heard from extremely reputable educational technologists who think the product is legitimate and that this guy is really a teacher. The more I see his name and his canned message pop up, though, affirms my doubts that he is a spammer. And frankly, I will not even look at a company's product if they resort to these kinds of marketng tactics. It takes away from the authenticity of relationships in these online communities and the lack of transparency creates makes me think this company is not trustworthy.
So, am I going in this same direction by posting in many places in line in order to reach as many people as possible? It's a fine line, but the bottom fine line is that I am not profiting from anything and I genuinely want to gather input from as many of my online colleagues as possible.
UPDATE: I dug around a bit and it turns out that this aforementioned man who pastes canned messages on Nings is the US business development executive for this India-based company. Supposedly he works in a high school, but I couldn't find a faculty directory on his school's web page. My problem is that he is NOT transparent in his postings that he WORKS for this company and he is pasting generic messages on people's pages. He is not even engaging in conversations and mentioning his product in context. I would not have a problem if he was transparent with his consultancy, but I clearly recall asking him if he worked for this company and I received no response.