Tonight I went into my ActiveRain account and deleted every article I’d ever posted there.
When I mentioned this on Twitter, it caused a bit of a stir, so I thought I’d take the time to explain my actions.
Back in February 2009, the ActiveRain network announced they were moving to a pay model. What had once been free would now cost money. This caused quite the discussion, but let’s face it – the ActiveRain founders had every right to monetize their network.
The announcement included the news that AR would “grandfather” founding members. In other words, only new AR members would be required to pay to have a full-featured “Rainmaker” account. I thought this was a pretty nice gesture. As always happens with announcements like this, rumors and misunderstanding happened almost immediately. One of those rumors was that founding members (of which I was one) would only be grandfathered in for a year. One of the AR principals, Jonathan Washburn swiftly squashed that rumor with this comment on the announcement post:
Fast forward to today…
Twitter began to buzz that grandfathered Rainmaker accounts were being removed. Now I’ve only posted articles twice to AR in the last two years, but I do log on and read and comment a couple of times a month. I’d seen no notice that grandfathered accounts were going away. I know many of the folks that founded and work at ActiveRain and shutting off account with no notice just didn’t fit with the way these guys typically do business. But sure enough, when I logged into my account, my “Rainmaker status” was gone – unless I wanted to pay $39/month to get it back.
I said to myself, “Self, you must have missed an email.” So I searched. Nope, no email notice. So I said, “Self, there has to be something about this posted on the AR blog”. So I went to the “Official AR Blog” – nothing. Not a mention of this.
After some investigation, and help from my Twitter friends, a post by Bob Stewart, another AR principal was uncovered.
In his post dated May 25, 2010, Bob states:
Thank you to everyone who has helped build ActiveRain into the network it is today. In our continued effort to reward our members who have spent time, energy and heart growing our network and contributing on a regular basis, we are implementing a new policy regarding grandfathered RainMaker accounts:
Grandfathered Rainmakers who have contributed one blog post in the previous 90 days will keep their grandfathered RainMaker account. Grandfathered RainMaker members who have NOT contributed one public blog post in the previous 90 days, will lose their grandfathered RainMaker account.
Well, so much for “membership for life”… More like 17 months.
But wait. The post goes on to say that “Starting June 24th, grandfathered RainMakers who have not posted a public blog post in the previous 90 days will lose their grandfathered RainMaker status. You will be notified when your account has gone 60 days without a blog post. This will give you 30 days to generate one public blog post in order to keep your grandfathered RainMaker status.”
A “60 day warning”, fair enough. Except I didn’t get a 60 day warning. I suppose I could have deleted it, but if you’ve ever seen my email inbox, you’d see I don’t delete anything. I archive everything in Gmail. I received no 60 day notice. In fact, it hasn’t even been 60 days since the announcement was made…
Several commenters on the announcement post, and several on Twitter also said they got no warning notice.
Yet Rainmaker accounts are dropping like flies.
I pondered this development and will freely admit that it didn’t sit well, at all, with me.
You see, I joined ActiveRain back in June of 2006, not long after it started up. There was no blogging platform back then. In fact, there wasn’t much of anything back than. About all you could do was build a profile page and invite other members to join. But I thought the idea of a real estate “social network” was brilliant, and I knew it would grow and develop.
And grow and develop it did. I, and many other original members invited others. We evangelized for the network. We helped it grow and develop into what is today, a 186,000 member strong network. It is, almost inarguably, the leading real estate social network.
Why I even posted what AR themselves has recognized as the first blog post on their network, and on March 25, the one-millionth blog was posted on AR.
And yet here today, many “for life” grandfathered accounts are no more. Unless you “contribute” once every 90 days.
I suspect someone right now is saying, “Oh quit your whining and just post once every 90 days”.
I think you are missing the point.
I, and many others, did contribute to AR. Dare I say without the founding members, AR wouldn’t be what it is today. Brad Andersohn, the AR Community Manager commented to me after the 1,000,000th post:
“Thanks for starting us off and sending us down the right road” is contributing. I also continue to comment on AR posts, but apparently the AR founders don’t think that counts as “contributing”. This strikes me as odd because AR awards “points” for comments, as well as posts. In blogging classes I teach, I regularly promote AR as a great network, with a caring and helpful membership. I’ve seen dozens, if not hundreds of people scribble down “activerain.com” when I speak and teach.
But today my account was downgraded because I no longer “contribute” to the network.
Well, since my contributions are no longer needed, welcomed or appreciated, it seemed the only prudent thing to do was to remove the content I wrote that, at least in my mind, contributed to the network.
Selfish? Sour grapes? I’m sure some will think so. The bottom line is ActiveRain doesn’t need me. And it certainly feels like they don’t believe I contribute any more. You should read some of the comments on the grandfather removal post and see what many current AR members feel — there’s a whole lot of agreement about us “non-contributors”…
That’s OK. It’s their network, it’s their servers, and it’s their rules. They are free to change their rules and policies however they see fit. All that does is reinforce what I have said for a long time – you need to have complete control over your content. Put your content on someone else’s network, and you are at risk of the rules being changed.
So tonight I simply chose to take back my content. It has all been exported and saved (sadly, hundreds of comments are gone as AR provides no way to export comments). I may repurpose some of it. Who knows.
I know some will disagree with my decision to delete my content from AR. And that’s OK. We all are individuals with unique needs, wants, desires and motivations. That is what makes the world interesting. I didn’t do this to “get back” at AR. Good grief, I am one of 186,000+ members and my 86 posts there are insignificant in the pool of one million plus. Me deleting my content will have absolutely zero affect on AR.
But it is my content, and I am free to do with it as I please.
So I did.