Thursday, November 13, 2008

F.A.Q. on P.U.B.'s investigation of Lijit, Inc.

To help answer Publishers emails to the Bloggers Union, here are most frequently asked questions and answers to date on P.U.B.'s investigation of Lijit, Inc.

If you do not see your question answered here, or have another one P.U.B. needs to address, please email

F.A.Q. concerning Publishers Union of Bloggers and the Lijit Issue

What’s the issue with Lijit as it concerns Blog Publishers?

P.U.B. formally requested Lijit in April 2008, to document its revenue from Publishers Blogs. Lijit never answered, but representatives of Lijit, most notably its current CEO, Todd Vernon, instead of answering these questions for Publishers, have decided instead to attack the Bloggers Union, and its founder, Barney Moran, personally, with lies and deceptions on individual blogs and the Lijit Blog itself.

Why is P.U.B. involved?

P.U.B. is the bloggers union, its job to make sure publishers are treated fairly and compensated for their hard work. If P.U.B. does not ask these questions to help make the Blog Publishing environment work more fairly for Publishers, who will?

What is P.U.B. anyway?

Founded in the spring of 2008, P.ublishers U.nion of B.loggers is the only Bloggers Union in existence. In some ways, P.U.B.'s Lijit fight for Bloggers being treated fairly is P.U.B.’s first test of how Publishers coming together to demand fair treatment from blog services and vendors can help all Publishers.

Where is the issue now?

First and foremost, it’s in discussion among publishers. Publishers of all types and topics have carried P.U.B.’s questions about Lijit on their blogs, and hundreds of bloggers have put in their 2 cents, and thousands of Bloggers are aware of the fight to get fair treatment from Lijit.

Because of this, there actually has been some small initial movement from Lijit in a positive direction, first they moved from publishing ‘they had no money’, to admitting there is a revenue plan, to most recently releasing some type of monetary compensation for Publishers.

This means P.U.B.’s fight to date has born some fruit for publishers, and whether or not Lijit ever discloses what its profit is on our blogs, to what it does with our content if we decide to install the Lijit software remains to be seen. P.U.B. is tracking this closely and relies on our member’s input and experiences themselves with the product.

How can I be part of the solution?

You already are. By informing yourself these companies are making money off your hard work, and possibly using your content without your knowledge is the first big step for all working bloggers. Now that you are informed, provided feedback. If enough Publishers speak up, we may actually get the concept originally conceived by Stan James as the “Outfoxed” idea, which Barney Moran worked on with Stan in Lijit’s infancy. Back then, the greed of investors did not weigh on what was a great idea, and we may be able to get back to that.

What about Lijit’s current CEO, Todd Vernon, post on the Lijit Blog saying P.U.B. solicited Lijit for Money?*

It’s a lie. Todd Vernon made the initial contact between himself and P.U.B. in an unsolicited email to P.U.B. on Sunday, July 13, 2008 9:19 AM (according to Yahoo Mail Servers). Vernon then accused P.U.B. of creating “fictitious emails’ when we responded. All these emails (even the one's Vernon says were not real) have been confirmed by Yahoo and were sent to some of Lijit’s investors to alert them of ridiculous accusations by Vernon.

Vernon posted excerpts of the Vernon/P.U.B. thread, not its entirety including, leaving out his initial solicitation. Any Publisher who requests the entire Vernon/P.U.B. email thread may have them, however in the interests of keeping to message on what matters to Publishers, we are leaving them out of this Published F.A.Q.

More important then these facts are the implications: This is great reason independent bloggers need a Union, individual Publishers need never be subjected to this fraudulent twisting of facts by a company when there is their Publisher’s union asking the hard questions and taking the hits for them.

But P.U.B. did respond to Vernon’s offer. Is P.U.B. a for profit entity as he contends?*

Since P.U.B.’s inception in April 2008, P.U.B. is still a collection of websites and is not a profit or non-profit entity.

P.U.B.’s fight to get Lijit transparent about its revenue from blog sites; the resulting actions by Lijit against the Bloggers Union make it clear the bloggers union needs resources and capital to take on these entities.

Because of the Lijit/Blogger Union experience to date, P.U.B. now IS soliciting both individual members AND companies that provide to Publishers for funds to support the blogger’s union. It had not occurred to us when Vernon first made the financial offer to P.U.B., but it is now something P.U.B. needs to do to match the efforts being made against blogger’s rights by organized companies seeking profit and content from Bloggers.

No dues/fees collected by P.U.B. go to anyone’s personal profit or the profit of P.U.B members. All dues/fees collected by P.U.B. are used to help P.U.B. fight for Publisher’s rights.

What is P.U.B.’s position on Lijit now? Should Publishers use the Lijit Product?*

Lijit was a great concept conceived by Stan James under the Outfoxed name, but now is being run down by management focusing on revenue instead of transparency. CEO Vernon is soliciting investor’s money while pitching Lijit to Publishers as he publishes falsehoods about the bloggers union. This calls into question this road Vernon is taking the Lijit concept down and its future for Publishers who are considering melding their content with Lijit. If Lijit simply transparently discloses its profit from being on a blog, and what is happening to the content, then informed Publishers who like the terms should of course use Lijit. Until then, P.U.B. continues to post our “Do not install” advisory.

The blogger world is a new paradigm; old world business models don’t work in the transparency of this paradigm. It takes a new breed of company to perform in this environment, and a new breed of Union as well.

Lijit was generating revenue from installs on Publishers blogs, not addressing any sharing of this revenue with the Publishers making it possible. In any other industry this could very well have gone on forever.

The Blogger’s Publisher’s Union working with Publishers within the Blog Paradigm called Lijit out on this fact and content use questions early in 2008, and Lijit management provided a mixed message. The first public statement from Lijit was ‘When Lijit has money it will share it’, then several months of silence, then an apparently un-vetted explosion by Vernon against the Bloggers Union on the Lijit Blog itself.

The lesson is to be transparent from day one in the Blog Paradigm. Publishers are too smart, and the medium too viral to put out anything else. To Lijit’s credit, it’s still halfway there, because Lijit allows this thread to at least be read, and this, as I’ve said before, is a huge step for a company, and may in fact be its savior when more transparent management takes over Lijit.

What’s next for P.U.B. or is Lijit the only issue P.U.B. is working on?*

Lijit is talking the revenue sharing talk now, thanks to individual publishers who allowed the issue to appear on their blogs, whatever their stance (there are some publishers who like Lijit with or without the revenue or content issues, and their opinion is as important as any other Publishers).

P.U.B. plans to devote resources to major players in the Blog World, for example Google, the dominant Blog entity, which has been paying publishers, but is it a fair % of what Google takes in?

For now, Lijit's small capitulation to finally offer revenue to Publishers is being tracked and monitored, with a request Publishers provide feedback on Lijit’s capitulation to now provide individual publishers revenue, i.e.: Are they happy with the revenue and how does it compare to Google?

*These F.A.Q. were provided to Lijit’s Counsel and Investors 3 weeks prior to publishing here on P.U.B. in a goodwill effort to allow Lijit feedback in case any facts were in dispute. They did not respond, nor refute any of the information contained here.