Zawodny to Beal “Spammer!”. Beal to Zawodny “Get a Damn Clue!”

You’ve got to love these spats between clever and prominent blog dudes. It’s not only the closest onliners generally come to schoolyard or barroom brawling, but often these debates give huge insight into the future of the online world.

When Yahoo bought MyBlogLog, the clever social community application, it fell to Jeremy Zawodny to help refine the project into the robust and scalable environment demanded by the world’s top website. Jeremy also decided to take on a bit of quality control, and accused Andy Beal, a top marketing consultant, of spamming MyBlogLog. Andy had used as his avatar “win a free zune” rather than using the normal convention of a personal picture.

Andy Beal shot back angrily that he was not spamming and even had permission to run the contest from MyBlogLog’s founders. Cheap trick or not, if he had permission I think Jeremy owes him an apology – or at least an upgrade to “officially approved MBL spammy tactic”.

Although I thought Jeremy was too hard on this marketing “trick” by Andy, I certainly agree with many who think that MyBlogLog is now suffering from it’s own popularity. Popularity that has brought a lot of questionable tactics outside of the spirit of a quality community.

There is no great harm in the win a free zune *except* it defeats one of the nice aspects of MyBlogLog which is that you can see the person’s face. Several prominent and clever SEO’s with great blogs like Andy’s “Marketing Pilgrim”, as well as several junk sites and junk SEOs are resorting to similar tactics. The most common is to plant a pretty woman’s face rather than your own face, encouraging signups to your blog community.

Avatars are the heart of this system since they appear at other sites. Therefore to preserve the integrity of MyBlogLog Yahoo should require that avatars reflect either the person or a highly relevant aspect of the community. I’d even consider requiring that if you want to play with MyBlogLog you’ve got to be the real person in the picture.

Andy’s a good guy and a quality SEO, but his claim that he’s helping MyBlogLog with this type of approach rings pretty hollow with me.

Update:  Jeremy retitled his post and apologized.  But hey, it was fun while it lasted!

Fred: Flickr’s Frickin’ Fantastic!

Like any good Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson is trying to figure out what the heck is going on …. online, and looking for great examples of companies that are doing things right.

I could not agree more that Flickr is a stunning example of how to get the new internet right.  The photo handling is superb, the interface is easy and intuitive, the tools are powerful, the basic service is free, the buzz is friendly and cordial throughout the site, and perhaps most importantly it’s easy to share photos and intergrate them with blogs.

No wonder Caterina Fake was hanging at Davos this year!