Beware the wrath of Reddit (Digg, StumbleUpon, etc)

Is paying for placement on social media sites evil? Absolutely. Just ask the people who live there.

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Forbes blogger Elizabeth Woyke found herself in some deep kimchee this week. Her crime? Writing in a less-than-disapproving fashion about a social media marketing firm that offered to pay users on services like Digg and Reddit to promote stories about their clients.

Because, as we all know, votes on media aggregation sites are sacred.

(Those of you who've suffered damage to the regions of your brain that enable you to recognize sarcasm are probably wondering if I'm being serious. The rest of you know better.)

[ See also: Seven lessons learned from the Gawker and McDonalds hack attacks ]

Back in November, Woyke received a pitch from RasiFranks, a marketing firm that offered to vault her blog to the top of the Digg charts for the low low price of $240. Reddit, Stumble-Upon, and Delicious were even cheaper. Their secret: Paying a select group of Diggers, Stumblers, etc a few pennies apiece to vote up her stories.

Mind you, Woyke didn't actually endorse the practice of paying people to Digg stories. She just thought it was an interesting concept (though not especially new, at least to those of us who follow this sort of thing). But that was enough to stir the Reddit rabble into action.

RasiFranks' efforts to recruit Redditors to promote stories inspired a blog post from Reddit programmer Mike Schiraldi, who apparently blames Woyke for RasiFranks' existence and call her "stunningly irresponsible" and "sensationalist." (Mike clearly needs to get out more.) He apparently doesn't want anyone to know people are out there trying to game Reddit, which he also claims is virtually impossible.

Fine. Everybody needs to blow off steam now and then. But as a result, Woyke and RasiFranks have been flooded with "you suck, now die" emails and tweets from the Reddit-heads. RasiFrank responded with a blog post of its own that said, essentially, get a life.

Thus perfectly encapsulating the nature of discourse on the Web.

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