Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

Doterati Drama

Thu, 06/12/2008 - 07:34 -- rprice

Last night I actually took some time to start getting involved with the discussion over at Doterati, and then this morning, I am treated as though I am a hostile outsider, and I was told by Mark Krupinski to go and read the other blogs and comments that have shaped his comments into being so aggressive.

Apparently, everybody hates Ted Murphy. I don't. I think he's a smart guy who wants to do his job. The fact that he's associated with this community is actually a boon, because he's had several successful businesses. More than I can say for myself.

I thought Tara Lamberson and Ted were doing lots of the work, but I had noticed Dan Kinchen, Robert Dempsey and others leaving lots of "Welcome" comments on everyone's profile. It actually seemed to me like there was a concentrated effort for one of those 4 key folks to leave a comment on every profile, so when I pointed this out to Mark, I used the s-word: spam. Apparently, this is some sort of a curse word. I was just calling it like I saw it. Not trying to stir up s-word.

I also stated my distaste at using Ning, which ships with tons of features, over starting with a blog or a forum and throwing a few widgets, then seeing where everything goes from there. On this point, I am corrected. Apparently, Mark and the rest of the Membership Committee (what, they have one of those, there have been seven meetings? was there an invite list for this?) decided to set up Ning to facilitate their own internal conversations, but I was getting lots of pings to come check out the site, so I thought that was the plan - Ning forever, go Ning! Ning is King!

Appartenly Mark was not ready for the onslaught of people. This is fine.

With an onslaught of people, especially people who have read or heard lots of crazy things about Ted Murphy, who is tangentially involved with this project, that is bound to bring down a lot more s-word and f-word and c-word and l-word.

Thus far, I have yet to weigh in on the subject. Some other folks have.

Alex Rudloff left some initial Orlando Tech Association thoughts on his blog which generated some discussion. Alex tends to be good at that. In his blog, he links to a post by Lawrence Salberg on the evil Ted Murphy and his attempt to start up a social network in Orlando. I believe Lawrence missed the target by a huge degree.

I have seen Ted Murphy's social networking outreaches, and they are always way more obvious than just putting your name at the bottom of the page. I actually joined their group because I will be attending the IZEA Fest (which is across the street from my house) because there will be some great speakers there. What I thought was outre was the message I was sent a few minutes later - get your friends to sign up and get 25% of their ticket price! Ah, there's the PayPerPost we all know and love...

Just in case I haven't made it clear Ted != Doterati. Ted is a member like anyone else, and from what I can tell, each member chooses his or her level of involvement, which is as it should be. Ted put up a few dollars to buy a domain name and a Ning account. That's fair. My name is on the Florida Creatives domain, but I don't claim ownership of the concept. Honestly, the meetup was originally conceived as a way to get everyone in the same room so we could talk about having conferences - which he have done, and the events were great. Really great.

I can only look ahead to the future of tech in Central Florida optimistically - in my own universe there used to be zero user-groups for PHP and Drupal, and now there are 3, and I've been asked to speak at all 3. Rock.

We are not operating in a silo here - there is a need for lots of cross-pollination and kumbaya here. If someone makes a comment against Doterati, don't take it personally - what you have in fact found is a passionate participant who wants to be there, and clearly has an idea of how things should be done - encourage the commentary! Maybe after they've whined for a few minutes they'll stop and take a look at the potential of the thing and set up in the corner holding a sandwich board, ringing a bell and crying about how everyone should be there and sign up for the site!

Once the snapback comes on this and folks can get over it, we can all take a deep breath, have a beer, and wonder what it was we all got so flustered over. For now, I'll try to re-read my comments before I post constructive criticism.

I love all of you guys. Hope to see you all this Monday for Florida Creatives Happy Hour or Wednesday for the Doterati Town Hall.


Commenting on this Blog post is closed.


Submitted by Mark Krupinski (not verified) on

Point taken.

Excellent post.



There's some really good insight here.

I can't count the number of times I've heard bad things about Ted. For a while, I bought into it. Now, I can't help but feel that as long as he's done me no harm, it behooves me to stay out of the trash talking that accompanies his name and companies.

It seems to me, that the thing that always gets in the way of any sort of collaboration in the Orlando area, is how many tech-types are fighting each other for service work out here. So, people act like high-school gangs when it comes to sharing ideas (I share with people I like, and screw the rest of you).

Perhaps (I'm reaching here) because of the previous in-fighting, there's some hesitance to let down those barriers that have been up for a while?

I dunno. It's weird.

i like what you said about cross pollination. I think we need more touch points that are talking together. I think there are multiple places for us to meet on and offline. Personally I don't care for ning that much but if it becomes a useful place to connect then i will. I'm connecting on twitter, friendfeed, blogs, and in person when I can. My interactions with Mark have been great. BlogOrlando, BarCampOrlando, FL Creatives, Likemind, etc.... Let'em all live and I think we'll all win. We'll each find our niches and comforts. I'd like to see doterati grow. Or at least the concept of people using social online/offline media continue to connect.

It's just the nature of Ted's company being as controversial as it is. Anyone trying to democratize payola is going to generate that kind of negative attention.

I've spoken with folks from various view points about it (including Lawrence, who now sees doterati as what it is, and not what he/others worried it might be). The general worry is/was that it's a izea pr thing (I guess, my own words/synopsis). There's a strong fear of being associated with anything at all that they touch -- whether they simply don't want to help their cause, or whether they think they'll one day want to work for google and wish to avoid guilt-by-association.. who knows. There's also the fear of propping up leaders in a trade association that the trade itself is strongly opposed to. I think that concern, at least, is a fair one to address.

As off base/wrong as it may be in terms of whats actually going on with Doterati, I think it's an important thing to take note of all the criticisms and conversations (which is why I touched on it in my post to begin with). There are no negatives in any of this, only things to listen to/read and address. The need for a group such as doterati is too strong in our community and eventually everyone will come around to it. Just gotta involve as many outside voices/thoughts as possible to get as much buy in as possible.


Great points and great comments all.

I think the biggest fear of local tech people isn't necessarily that Ted is the one who ended up starting Doterati (and buying the domain name and putting Ning under his name to get it up and going) but rather that Doterati would turn into something not for or about the local tech community, but rather an organization that pushes the agenda of Mindcomet and Izea. I think that everyone hopes that that is not the case.

Having said that, we all need to work together, no doubt. We need something to bring us closer together rather than pushing us apart, which "high school" level fighting about editors or languages or frameworks can do, and does. In order to ensure that agenda of no one (or two or three) companies controls the destination of Doterati we need more people to get involved, people such as yourself.

Trust me, if Doterati turns into nothing but an organization to push a single agenda for any company and is not about the community you'll hear it from me, quickly.

@Robert Dempsey : I'm ignorant to the "agenda of Mindcomet and Izea". What is their agenda? I'm not defending anything or anyone. Maybe I'm just naive.

@Robert Dempsey: Do not answer the comment above, its a trap!

@Rob Williams: At this point an answer would be speculation.

@Ryan Price: Great post. ...... By the way, I am director of the membership committee, I am greeting people and not spamming. The welcome message is relevant as they are new to the organization, a welcome message would not be spam. A message like "hey, come check out my site" would be spam. I know this article is not about that, but I wanted to argue that point anyway.

This is not addressed to one person in particular, rather it is my response to this whole series of posts.

I have been hesitant to chime in on much of this debate as I feel most of it is absolutely redonkolous and counter productive. There is so much mud-slinging, fear mongering and outright misinformation around me, my companies and Doterai that it's laughable. Let's look at some facts:

1. While there was some controversy around PayPerPost when it launched, we have listened to both bloggers and advertisers and addressed those concerns. IZEA now has over 180,000 bloggers and 18,000+ advertisers participating in its network including Fortune 100 companies.

2. "There’s a strong fear of being associated with anything at all that they touch " What is this statement based on?

The numbers above speak for themselves. In addition to the growth of our network we are backed by one of the top VC's on the planet. 4 of the top 100 bloggers in the world will be speaking at IZEAFest, along with over 30 other thought leaders in the space. I don't see anyone demonstrating this fear except a small group in the local community.

3. My personal reputation is propagated by people that haven't met me. If you want to sit down and get the real deal I am happy to have a coffee with you. Otherwise you are just listening to hearsay, and everyone has their own agenda. For smart people I can't believe the assumptions that some of you make.

4. Doterati was not started by me. Period. I am a minority player, a member just like you who would like to make a contribution. I am a part of the organization because I have wanted something like this in Orlando for many years, but never had the personal time to make it happen.

5. Fear is paralyzing. All of this noise I hear is based on fear. What if this? What if that? It's the same thing I have heard a million times while building these companies, it gets you nowhere. What if you took the same effort and negative energy and focused it on creating something, rather than trying to poke holes in it. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself ".

It's not about me. It's not about my companies. Sure, we are here to help and have some resources that other organizations may not have, but that doesn't make it bad. What if Google or Yahoo wanted to contribute? Would that be a bad thing simply because they are bigger than the startups around town. I don't think so. I would welcome that.

Let's focus on building a great organization in central florida and put this behind us.

Uh, what's the "l-word" that might come up with regards to Murphy? Lesbian? Even I would defend him against that! I've always said, if there's one thing Ted Murphy is not, it's a lesbian.

I'm starting to think that a simple Facebook group could have accomplished as much as all these meetings and hullaballo at this point. But hey that's just me. I'm at a loss as to why anyone is even having in-person meetings in 2008, but again, that's just my own dumb opinion.

They did finally put up a basic "About Us" page, but it is so far just a giant welcome, come join us, we are going to be doing great things one day, etc. It's still kind of hard to "get" what exactly Doterati is (and by extension, what it is not). So far, it seems like it is a giant mailing list of tech folks in Central Florida - and hey, maybe that's all that it needs to be for now. I'm all for having a Central Florida voice and meetup-style atmosphere, but with all the minor controversy and confusion, maybe one of us should type up an FAQ and put some of the questions we've had (or silently wondered - outloud on our blogs - ha ha) with the answers the Doterati staff have given.

I am still amazed that Ted has the time and wherewithall to personally respond to these things. I really don't get it. While he certainly has that right, it just doesn't seem wise. That's what PR folks are for. He *knows* he is going to come under fire for anything he does - at least for a while until something good is done under his name that doesn't become besmirched by similar tactics we've seen by PayPerPost. That's just a market reality. He has to perform, he has to do. He can't just buy a domain name and claim to be doing something great, then sit back and get personally miffed by anyone wondering if, possibly, perhaps, there might be an alternative motive to his actions. Well, he can. And he does.

There's a bit of oversensitivity on the Doterati staff's side (imho), but that's okay. I suppose I'd feel the same if I put in some serious work and had some "naysayers" or "rabble rousers" out there seemingly question my motives - mostly due to the involvement of just one person. While arguably it was a bit of a miscalculation to let Murphy be the "point man" on Doterati, hindsight is 20/20, eh? Any one of us might have made the same mistake and included someone on a project with whom we appreciated their support, but who later turned out to be a fly in the ointment, not because of their present work, but because of something in their past.

Our only option at this point is to support whole-heartedly the Doterati organization. I've pushed it here in Brevard (and will continue to do so). I'm putting MY name on the line for it and taking the initiative to promote it and defend it and to parrot the company line about Murphy (as you stated here... Doterati != Ted Murphy.. love that).

I will say it doesn't help its cause when Murphy is out posting to blogs left and right. As he did on my blog, he sounds defensive, even a bit bitter, refuses to take any ownership of his own reputation (which makes him sound conspiratorial), and so, doesn't even really alleviate the concerns people have about him. In fact, he almost ends up enforcing it.

Here again, he starts off with "I've been hesitant to chime in"... Uh, no he hasn't. He chimes in on a regular basis. So this comes off as disingenuous. And it begins to unravel from there.

Can someone give Ted a big note from the non-postie community:

Dear Ted,

Thank you for setting up and supporting Doterati. It is a great idea and we want you to stay involved and, yes, even to be a leader within it. Due to your friends who helped start it, we understand that you believed in the concept enough to lend your resources of time and money to help get it off the ground. We fully appreciate that and it will not go unnoticed.

Having said that, please try to understand that you are going to be criticized. Every leader is.. not just the bad ones, either. There are entire groups of people who hate Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Linus Torvalds, George Bush, and Bill Clinton. There are people who wouldn't accept a check of one million dollars from them. We aren't crazy like those people, but we haven't been your biggest fan either. We base that, right or wrong, from what we understand of your past activities. We are not likely to be dissuaded from our opinion by you simply claiming that it's all untrue or unfounded. We are, however, quite likely to change our opinion of you by watching what you do in the future. This Doterati thing is a huge step in the right direction. Don't blow it by try to 'splain it on blog comments. First, it only re-enforces our suspicions (which we are trying hard to suppress for the purpose of community - and forgiveness). Second, your ability to defend yourself well is, to be as polite as possible, not one of your better skillz. Third, your Doterati team has already aptly defended you, made the case for Doterati, and has been the sole factor in our decision to support and promote Doterati to the community. Bottom line: Don't take it so hard. Let the bricks fly and just duck and tell your team to sweep up the broken glass. When you personally come out of the house with the brick in your hand, it makes us all a bit jittery.

Your potential future fans,

The non-postie burgeoning Doterati community.

@Lawrence L-word was just for ridiculousness.

@Ted I don't think ill of you - I wrote things like "Evil Ted Murphy" I guess in a tabloid-like way - just to get folks reading. I am actually really stoked about checking out IZEA Fest.

@Dan - the original comment I made on Mark's wall was to try and personalize them a bit - they feel a little robotic right now.

@Tara we can split a yard of beer on Monday - some fried pickles, tots and a shoyster po-boy. You down?