I’ve No Idea What To Title This Post. But It’s About Naomi. And It Feels Important.

Aug 31

Disclaimer:
I love Naomi Dunford.

Why?  Well, she’s one heck of a prototypical Quirkipreneur.  She does business and blogging *her* way, by gawd, and no one is gonna stop her or tell her it’s against the rules.

She’s what my Grandmother would call (in a hushed voice) a “mouthy broad”.

She cusses up a storm on her blog.  She wears tight t-shirts on video, then cusses even more.  She is utterly transparent in the areas of her life she chooses to reveal and the rest of it is none of your gawd-damn business, thank you very much.

Whether you care for her shtick or not? The way she carries herself as herself, with no holds barred and no apology has given a lot of women in business on the web (and off, I imagine) permission to be ourselves… able to follow or break the rules as *we* choose, not as is dictated to us by any established standard.

She’s grown into an
unlikely hero of mine.

Then last winter? She closed her online store and dropped out of sight, just as nasty speculations about her personal life seemed to pick up steam on the internet.

Almost everyone I knew wondered what on earth was going on. A lot of us missed her snappy wit and humor. A lot more of us missed the information and inspiration she’d provided to us over the years.  Some people snickered and giggled and pointed fingers about the gossip, and other people found the snickering and giggling and gossip distasteful. Me? I was somewhere in the middle.

Such is human nature.

We brush it off, and pretend like we don’t gossip. That’s those other people. Wink, wink, nudge nudge.

But this week?
I can’t brush it off anymore.

Because those of us who follow the the mini-business-online-marketing world?  We’ve found out a lot more of what’s behind that gossip than we ever wanted to know.

It's A Flourish!

If you have no clue what I’m talking about, go and read this:
Death Threats and Hate Crimes,  Attacks On Women Bloggers Escalating and then this: Sometimes The Bad Guys Win

It's Another Flourish!Done? Ok. Now that you’re  sitting there in stunned silence (like I did for a full 10 minutes after reading the second post) indulge me with a few rambles, will ya?

I’ve been threatened before, by both on and offline contacts. I’ve been stalked online, harassed across different services, and had folks try to ruin my reputation in some really nasty ways.  It was scary as hell, and it cost me a potential career path – but I’ve never been through anything like what these two people are facing.

And when I brought this topic up this week on our  quirki-biz TweetChat?  The majority of attendees seemed to have at least one personal story of abuse, threats, harassment, or stalking, all connected to our careers as female artists, writers & entrepreneurs.

See, when you’re creative and push the boundaries? You piss people off. When you’re successful, you piss people off.  When you’re different, when you give other people permission to be different, you piss people off. When you don’t sit down, shut up, and do what you’re told, you piss people off.

Sometimes, pissed off people push back.

And, yes, it really does happen more often if you’re a minority, and it happens especially often if you’re a woman.

I don’t like to admit it. I don’t like to
think things are still this hard for women.

I grew up with a twin brother, and we were raised by a mother who was almost obsessive about treating us equally.  I had it so drilled into my mind that boys and girls were the same that for years, I was convinced it was makeup, bras and girdles that made us look different from one another.

Seriously, I thought that.

Yes, I can be naive. Hush.

My point is that  it’s still very hard for me to really grok that most of the world just doesn’t see the sexes as equivalent. And that  kneejerk reaction of “Oh, its because she’s a woman…” ?

Yeah. I don’t do that.

I’m skeptical whenever I hear the “because she’s a woman” claim.

I was skeptical in Naomi’s case, too. After her first post on the topic about violence against woman bloggers, I wondered to myself if maybe she was over-reacting, taking things out of context inadvertently, or, yes, ok, I admit it… for split second, I wondered if she was playing it up, consciously or unconsciously. (I’m really sorry about that, Naomi. Really. If it helps, it was only for a split second. Swear.)

But the more I looked
into this situation?

The more I saw that said yes, there are specific, clear elements in what’s happening to her that are happening because she is a woman, and they wouldn’t be happening to her if she were male.

And they probably wouldn’t be happening in quite the same way if she weren’t such a… well… a mouthy, gutsy, broad.

And when I saw today’s post from her, the one  entitled “Sometimes The Bad Guys Win”? It hit me like a ton of bricks.

The reason she is at risk in this particular situation really is because she’s a highly visible successful woman, a woman who got where she is by tossing aside the rules about how she was supposed to behave. One of the rules she tossed aside was becoming a business partner with a married man, and spending time alone with him. That, combined with her in-your-face shtick means she fits the image of a Jezebel, and that’s what seems to be at the core of the threats against her.

Clearly, there’s a lot more going on here.
This isn’t just about misogyny.

Dave is probably the one most at risk, and the one who has almost certainly lost the most already. There’s a poisoned family and religious dynamic involved, and clearly twisted issues of control. There’s a website that views itself as a snarky white knight, so fiercely determined to expose the supposed evils of the marketing world that it doesn’t bother to get its facts straight or actually check into who might really be at risk because of its “exposé”.

To reduce it to misogyny is almost a disservice, especially to Dave and his family.

And yet, misogyny IS a part of this, obviously.

And so is our willingness, as human beings, to give credence to gossip – even gossip that is clearly malicious.

And for that? I’d like to apologize.

Because as this situation developed, before the threats were made public, back when I started seeing and hearing the rumors?

I believed them.
And I’m *so* not proud of that.

Oh, sure I thought the vendetta against Dave was wrong, and I felt bad for him, and for Naomi.  I left room for doubt, and I wasn’t “sure” about what happened, and I declared that it was none of my business what they did or didn’t do together. I did my best to “judge not” about what may or may not have happened with Dave’s family and kids, too. I thought it was hateful and wrong for anyone to splash this info across the internet, and to try and destroy their respective businesses and reputations. I didn’t think the gossip was relevant to my opinions of them as marketers and consultants, but remarkably, for reasons I don’t really understand, I believed that the core of the gossip was true.

Gossip about people I don’t really know, other than through their blogs and their products and maybe a quick exchange on Twitter now and then.

Gossip that didn’t fit with what I do know about them.  (Honestly, would Naomi go silent because she was ashamed of an affair? Does THAT sound like the Naomi Dunford we know?)

Oy. I’m so not proud of that.  And now that my head is back on straight and I’ve come to my senses, I’ve remembered that we never, ever know what’s going on in someone else’s world.  We don’t know why they make the choices they do, or what the real story is.

And, I might add, there is a lot that we still don’t know.

So I’ve realized anew just how devious this sort of rumor can be, how and why victims of crimes are often victimized a second time when they speak up about it.

The strange thing is that I was telling myself those truths, all along, that I didn’t really know what happened.

Yet I was still falling for the rumor mill.

“Where there’s smoke, there must be fire” and all that.


Bullshit.
Yes, I said “Bullshit.”

(And no, I don’t cuss all that much, so take note.
Let’s say that the cussing in this post is in Naomi’s honor.)

Sometimes, where there’s smoke?
Someone threw a smoke bomb.

I really believe that’s what has happened here.  A lot of smoke was put out there, in the hopes controlling a situation that had clearly spiraled out of control.  Maybe the intent was good.  Maybe it wasn’t.  Again, I don’t know.

But I’m kinda pissed that I fell for that smoke bomb, even in a small way – because I knew better.

I’m even more pissed that a site that purports to expose internet scammers fell for what amounts to an internet  smoke bomb, and that because it fits his current “marketers are all scum” narrative, he refuses to consider that he might, in fact, have been scammed himself this time.

But that’s a whole ‘nother rant, for a whole ‘nother post.

So bottom line?
I still love Naomi.

Maybe even more so, after this.  And although I have a lot less exposure to Dave, I still respect his work a very great deal.  I’m sorry I doubted them both.

So I’m humbled.

And thoughtful.

And outraged.

And scared.

And I’m thinking, again, about just what it means to be visible on the web, just as I do every few years.

And I’m thinking, again, that as much as I try to stay out of these battles? I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut.

And I’m thinking, again, how much trouble it’s gotten me into in the past, and just how much trouble it might get me into in the future.

Because I never dreamed that someone as gutsy as Naomi would attract this sort of hatred based on internet rumors.

I’m still stunned.
But I think I’m past the speechless stage.

Way past speechless, judging by the length of this post.

Honestly, it feels very, very odd to be discussing other people’s personal business like this. But you know what? It needs to be discussed, because we forget this stuff happens, we willingly push it out of our minds.

But we need community support should it happen to us, and we can’t give or get that support if we’re all being silent, and keeping our heads down, and pretending it’s not really going on, or that it can’t happen to us.

So I think you can expect more from me on this topic.

Not so much about this particular situation (which isn’t my business) but about hatred, and control, threats and abuse, and maybe how to protect our fledgling or established businesses and creative, quirky efforts from it.

Oh, and yes, for those of you who read this whole, lengthy diatribe? You can expect an illustration from me about this.  But you’ll have to wait just a bit, because I want to get it just right.

While you’re waiting, if you have the courage? Feel free to drop into the comment section below.  All I ask is that you respect each other’s space, as always – no lectures, shoulds, shouldn’ts, tsk-tsks or must do’s.  Deal?

It's Another Flourish!

Update 1 (sept 4) As of this moment, I’ll still be allowing all comments through after the intial  moderation for spam.  But this isn’t an extension of the Salty Droid comment section, and this isn’t the place to wage a battle over who is right.   Please keep that in mind, when you drop your two cents in, ok?  Because if things get nasty, I will start moderating.   Deal?  Oh, and also… to those of you coming from Salty Droid’s site? If you’re going to post here, please actually *read* the post, and respond to what I actually said, rather than just using this as another place to sound-off.  Thanks :)

Update 2 (sept 10) A lot has been said around the ‘net  since this post went live, and a lot of mud has been slung.  Some folks think I’ve been hoodwinked.  Some think I’m a duped sheep.  I’m not.  I consider this stuff from all angles (a skill I learned in previous nasty firestorms) and maybe, just maybe, it’s possible I see some different patterns than others.

Remember this mess did not start with an expose’ about Internet Marketing.  It started with a family drama that was aired in public as a manipulation tactic.  And given elements of that drama, the family history, and events that all sides agree happened?  I see damn good reason for Naomi to feel at risk, whether she is or not.  I also see why she would link the threats to sexism.   That’s based on the public exchanges, without anyone knowing what threats she may or may not have received privately.

Given both her persona, and the problems in her business?  She makes a lousy poster-child for the feminist cause. Those troops were never going to rally behind her.  But as others have said?  NOTHING she may or may not have done makes death threats (or violent language that can be perceived as death threats) OK.  And nothing makes dismissing claims of death threats OK, either.

If you want to blast Naomi? Blast her for her admittedly lousy customer service.  Blast her for using the same manipulative marketing tactics she teaches.  Blast her for having at least considered tax evasion. I’m sure as hell not going to defend any of those things.  And go on… blast her if you think all internet marketing is a scam (even though I disagree with you on that point).

But don’t shame her because she said she felt threatened as a woman.
And don’t try to embarrass me into backing off of that point.

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54 comments

  1. on Twitter

    I’m always the last to hear the gossip, I had no idea any of this was going on. I still don’t know what’s going on – none of us do because we’re not intimately involved in the situation. So I don’t know if Dave and Naomi are having an affair, nor do I care because it’s none of my damn business. Even if they were I wouldn’t judge them for it because again, I don’t know the reality of their lives. Their choice, their consequences.

    But whatever Dave’s situation, his brother has behaved appallingly. We can’t know for sure if what Naomi has posted is true, however we can judge the brother’s behaviour from what he himself has posted. The mere existence of that website crosses a huge line for me, even before I observed the rampant craziness happening there. If MY brother had posted that nasty, vindictive, self-righteous and massively inappropriate blog about me, I would never speak to him again. Perhaps Dave’s brother was acting from hurt and anger – clearly he has issues – but it’s still a huge betrayal and it’s fairly obvious that it made a painful situation much worse.

    Secondly, as someone currently going through a divorce, I’ve learnt that it’s hard enough to understand the reasons when it’s happening to you,let alone if you’re standing on the outside.

    Divorce is a rollercoaster of emotions and can bring all sorts of nasty stuff to the surface. I feel sorry and compassionate for everyone involved in this horrible situation, regardless of their behaviour. It would have been hard enough for Dave and his poor family to go through a divorce without all this hideous drama attached.

    Thirdly, I think we can all learn something about dealing with trolls and the Drama Llama from this. I think there’s a difference between the occasional troll and a concerted hate campaign and I think the later needs different tactics. So probably Naomi and Dave should have publicly resisted and spoken up much sooner but well, hindsight is a wonderful thing. However it’s clear to me that sometimes ‘don’t feed the trolls’ is the wrong advice.

  2. on Twitter

    I hadn’t heard any of the rumors, I just knew that Naomi hadn’t been blogging for a while and I hadn’t gotten any emails from Dave’s list either. I wondered about Naomi’s absence but figured there was a good reason for it (probably brainstorming a new product).

    This week’s posts have been of the ‘oh, wow…’ sort and not in a good way.

    My heart breaks for Dave’s family–current and former generations. It seems unreal that all of this could have happened outside of a movie set, really, at this magnitude, but there it is. I’m glad Naomi spoke up about it, though, and agree that keeping silent isn’t always the best route.

    There seems to be a fine line between “I’m not even going to dignify that with a response” and being able to defend (or just explain) yourself in the court of public opinion.

    Not going to lie, I’m morbidly curious to see how this all plays out (desensitized much? perhaps). I’m really pulling for both Dave and Naomi, though, and for those who threw the smoke bomb (lovely metaphor) to… see the error of their ways? get what’s coming to them? Or maybe just find something else to obsess over.

  3. Tori Deaux /

    on Twitter

    Yes, Yes, and yes, to both of you.

    My head is still spinning, and I’m hoping to have another post up tonight, explaining why this is on topic for The Circus.

    And there really is no one-size-fits-all answer to this stuff. Every situation is different, and this one is so messy now that I doubt there even *is* a right answer.

  4. on Twitter

    Brava, darling. Thank you for writing this.

  5. on Twitter

    Wow – I had no idea of any of this. It’s a scary world sometimes…

    It looks and sounds like you’ve found a touchstone in these topics, no matter how hard they might be. Your voice rings true and I can’t think of anyone else I would want to hear explain how to deal with it in our creative businesses and lives.

  6. on Twitter

    So stunned. So sad. So scared.

    Before this week, I had no idea. I thought that maybe Naomi was working on some big new product, or perhaps working on a novel, as I believe she’s mentioned wanting to do in the past. At most, I thought maybe she had some personal stuff going on that needed her time and attention. But this…this

    My heart aches for both of them, and for all of us.

    Tori, thank you so much for opening up the conversation. Naomi’s posts this week were so powerful, they have left me profoundly shaken, and clearly I’m not the only one to feel this way. And I think I may already have a pretty good inkling of why this is on-topic for the Circus. I’m not sure how to put it into words yet, and I’m looking forward to reading yours.

  7. This whole topic absolutely horrifies me. Although it’s common in my particular industry (woo woo stuff). Hatred is a horrible monster, it eats up everyone it can and rends giant tears across the emotional landscape. But let’s remember that quote from MLK that’s been so popular lately:

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

    All my love to Naomi, her family, Dave, and his family (brother included) and prayers for a peaceful resolution.

  8. on Twitter

    Thank you, Tori, for writing this.

    I’m another one that just thought the respective folks were up to their own awesome projects.

    And then I found out differently.

    Who did what with whom?
    None of my business or karma.
    Leave it to the parties involved.

    I didn’t (and don’t) think that firing someone via public video is the way to go, but again, not my fight. If the parties involved are sufficiently okay with the situation, none of my biz.

    For a time after reading Naomi’s initial post, I was put back in that space of wondering about Mike’s & my own biz.

    Wondering if I was safe if I shared our stories.

    Angry that ten years gone, we’ve obviously learned nothing as a people.

    Wondering if I was ‘enough’ to go forward and share our stories anyway.

    I have my own posts in the queue on the subject, but yes, I totally see where this fits in with the Circus.

    Quirkipreneurs especially, are vulnerable to this kind of thing.

    So, yeah, bucking the norm isn’t always taken well, whether it’s a shake of the head, or a weapon, whether words or something more physical.

    Looking forward to your following posts.

    I love the childhood you share. What a lovely one that must have been. :-)

    You give me hope. :>

    • on Twitter

      OK,I hate myself for asking this but I do want to know: what video? This is a part of the story I don’t think I’ve heard.

    • on Twitter

      I’ve said much the same thing over at my writer’s blog. And like others, I’d love to see a more elevated discussion — a serious one — about how we handle this abuse. (Yes, I’ve had it happen to me, too. It’s like some sick badge of honor by now.)

      I think Naomi did take a few things out of context, which unfortunately just stirred up the $&!#-stirrers even more over at “Mean Site 2.” But knowing now what Naomi apparently knew all along, I can’t say I wouldn’t have seen an implicit threat in those words myself.

      Any claim Dave’s brother has to the high road has long since been abandoned, especially given the “Mean Site 2″‘s publication of a chat transcript, ostensibly of a conversation sometime last year or the year before between Dave and Naomi, which … well. There’s only a few ways Mean Site 2 could have gotten its grubby paws on that transcript — assuming, that is, that it’s genuine. (An issue that is far from settled in my mind, at least so far.)

      I will close with an admission of my own: I actually used that “Mean Site 1” to send a letter — not to Dave but to his brother. I asked whether he’d actually run this plan of his by his pastor or priest and what his spiritual advisor had to say about it all. I said I hoped he got some help, soon, because there were some obvious rage and power dynamics at play. And before I clicked send – ugh, this is hard to admit – I allowed myself to be intimidated into changing my name into a pseudonym, and giving a fake email. Because I got scared. I regret that now. (Not that any critical comment is likely to see the light of day on that site any time soon.)

      Thank you for writing this. I would love to see what a site like Jezebel could do with this topic.

      • Tori Deaux /

        on Twitter

        Hey Annie:)

        I don’t think you should be ashamed for sending the letter under a pseudonym, given all the elements involved. I think it’s reasonable to not want to risk your name and website being published on any of the sites in question, at this point.

        The water is simply too muddy, there are judgments flying fast and furious on all sides, and it’s not just the principal players involved, but a lot of unknown readers of the sites who, frankly, no one knows about.

        Notice how the story line is shifting? Dave is no longer just a victim of sexual temptation, but the victim of a supposed get-rich-quick-make-money-online cartel, and anyone defending Naomi is branded either as a sheep who’s been fleeced, or a member of the supposed scam cartel, and they’re getting a lot of scorn and hatred piled on them by people who fancy themselves vigilantes.

        That’s why I’ve resisted responding on Salty Droid’s site. I don’t want to add to his meme of “another victim fleeced – where’s the money you’re making off their advice? Show me the balance sheets.”

      • on Twitter

        Yes, I have noticed. And while I think SD’s *stated* purpose — to out scams and frauds — is a good one, two facts keep beating me over the head and prevent me from getting on board with his site or anything published there:

        1. SD’s language. The personalized, ad hominem, and yes, I believe sexist, language he uses completely undoes any credibility he might otherwise have. He panders to the lowest common denominator and it all comes off like so much jealousy and histrionics.

        2. The definition of “scam”/”fraud” to include, as far as I can tell, just about ANYONE who blogs, writes, coaches, or publishes ebooks about internet marketing. By that definition, I can’t think of a single legitimate marketing blog/site that wouldn’t be called a fraud. Heck, I sell my copywriting and consulting services from my blog, so I’m making money from it. Never mind the fact I only work with people with real businesses or projects. The level of hysteria genned up by SD’s posts is just disproportionate to the facts he’s able to prove, it seems to me.

        Or maybe I just don’t get it. ::shrug:: Entirely possible.

        I do know that by now, I’m weary of the whole mess. I can only imagine how those actually involved feel.

    • Jade Craven /

      The ‘fired via video’ thing was more me finding out, via video, that things weren’t as cut and dry as i’d assumed and that it’d be unlikely we’d be continuing the plans for the launch coach we’d made at blogworld.

      I felt betrayed in the ‘I’ve been covering for you for months, and this is what you’ve been working on?’ sense, but I emailed him to seek clarification and we agreed it would be best to part ways.

      (just ducking in to clarify as the less i have to do with this situation, the better.)

  9. Marie A /

    on Twitter

    There’s plenty of hate out there and, although the Internet’s a new medium, it’s nothing new. The public eye is public, obviously. That doesn’t make it seem any less scary or hard or cruel or career-breaking, but let’s talk facts, a crime. Yes, hard to catch the slippery buggers, but I think the criminal behavior should be faced head on first and foremost.

    I absolutely believe women get an extra dose of nasty, but, that being said, I also think we should open more dialogue about how men handle this kind of criminal behavior when they are on the receiving end. We are now seeing women going underground, while men tend to just plow right on through. Some of it is no doubt the nature of the threat, but I’ve seen some pretty evil stuff directed at men. How do they handle it?

    As well, we must talk it up, call the bad out. My kids do not hesitate to point out bad online behavior to their peers and have even been forced to ban an egregious repeat offender. No all offenders are clueless, but some of them are.

    Standing up to bullies is hard, but if we stand together, it’s easier. And scaries the bejesus out of the bullies.

    • Tori Deaux /

      on Twitter

      Marie, I would love to get that conversation going. I do know some men go underground and vanish, Dave is one of them. (He’s just announced he’s closing up business entirely)

      I do have another few posts on the topic in progress, but I won’t have much time to finish them up over the weekend.

      Also, just as a general note: Naomi’s absences may or may not be related to this issue and the threats. I tend to think there are other things involved – other projects, burn out, who knows. It’s all back to the “We don’t know” issue.

      It’s seriously a shame that so much of the blogging and internet community has been drawn into what should have been a privately nasty divorce.

  10. on Twitter

    Yes, MarieA. especially since I just got the e-mails today saying that Dave Navarro is giving up his business.

    And yes, absolutely, remembering not to go underground is huge.

  11. Tori Deaux /

    on Twitter

    Regarding standing up to abusers & bullies:

    When it comes to safety, going underground is sometimes the right and safest thing to do. With some personalities, standing up to them antagonizes them into violence, especially if done publicly. With others, it shuts them down in a heartbeat.

    When it comes to protecting a business rep? It’s equally difficult to know how to handle attacks. Sometimes, keeping quiet and waiting for it to die down works well. Sometimes, it’s best for your business to face the allegations head on, and tell your side of the story. Sometimes, you can turn it into a shining example of customer service and PR boon. Other times, even acknowledging the situation will make you look like the bad guy. It’s really, really tough to handle – and even the best PR firms make the wrong calls, sometimes.

    And then there’s your own mental health to be considered, too… sometimes backing down is necessary for your own sanity. Sometimes standing up to them is necessary for your self respect.

    So while I may stand up and cheer when someone stands up to a bully, I also quietly support them when they don’t.

    Because there’s no right way to respond.

    Oh, and I’m hardly an expert on this. even though my wording may sound like I’m speaking with authority. I’m not. On this topic, I’m just another voice sounding off, because the whole situation has me pretty well ticked off.

  12. On no.. we have been duped ny Naomi Dunford.. I am embarrassed for her and all that rallied behind her lie. I think she may have really deep issues.

    http://saltydroid.info/spider-shit-storm/

    • Tori Deaux /

      on Twitter

      Hi Mary, I suspect many of my readers have already seen that post – we’re a nosey bunch. I saw it within an hour of its posting, I think. And while it’s certainly damaging to their reputations, it doesn’t and didn’t change my mind about the overall situation (though it filled in some blanks) and I don’t feel duped. You know how there are two sides to every story? In this case, I think there are about a thousand sides.

      Now, if that had been a transcript of Naomi saying “heh heh… I know how to spin this attack from Salty Droid, I’ll claim to be a victim!” I’d feel duped. But right now? I continue to feel increasingly sad for absolutely everyone involved.

      • Isaac /

        If it isn’t obvious that ALL of you were duped by Naomi Dunford, and HOW, then you just don’t know how to read thoroughly. If you did anything more than skim through Naomi’s false claims of threats and abuse and Salty’s full transcripts of what really happened…you will realize that Naomi scammed you all just like she scammed Dave, Anthony, and the Canadian government.

      • Tori Deaux /

        Hi, Isaac,

        Apologies, but I’m not going to approve all 8 of your comments (including one of over 800 words, wow! You’re wordier than I am!) But I approved this one so you’d know I’d read it and that you weren’t (entirely) talking to yourself.

        This dustup and the resulting posts were from two and a half years ago… an eternity in blog-land. A lot was said, both publicly and privately, and I imagine everyone here has pretty much come to our own final conclusions, are at peace with those conclusions and ourselves, and busy with other more productive stuff.

        So I’m resisting the urge to re-engage on this, as hard as it is… I wish more people could see how many sides to this sort of issue there are. That’s why it got so much attention – there are many sides, and one side or another spoke to almost everyone. Most of those sides contain both truth and distortions. If more people recognized that? I think we’d all “win”.

  13. >>Any claim Dave’s brother has to the high road has long since been abandoned, especially given the “Mean Site 2″‘s publication of a chat transcript<<

    First of all, you are making an assumption that he is the one that supplied the transcript. On the brother's site, he seemed to be in the dark about what was going on when commenters mentioned lawsuits, unpaid affiliates, and IRS problems. This way predates SD getting involved.

    So I don't think he knew.

    There are four obvious people this could have come from, precluding hackers and any other business partners: Dave, Naomi, Jamie, or Alison.

    If Alison had it, I think his brother would have known about the shady stuff as well, and it didn't seem like he did.

    It didn't come from Dave because he was given a chance to give his input prior to the last post on SD going up, and he didn't.

    It obviously didn't come from Naomi. If you notice, the smoke screens started going up before even the post mentioning her on the problogging lead in posts. And then she freaked out, making dubious claims of "death threats," raising even more awareness to it.

    She knew what was coming and that she was going to be exposed, so she had to spin and manipulate to try to cover her own ass. The irony is that she was hoisted on her own petard, so to speak, because her promotion of her "plight" just pulled more awareness than she normally would have had.

    But it didn't come from her.

    Out of the four, that leaves Jamie. In my mind, he is the most obvious source. He was complicit in the tax fraud. It was his suggestion to transfer the money in small bills.

    It seems that whatever the arrangement was in the beginning, he was part of it. But as the saying goes, "there is no honor among thieves." So if someone is part of a deception or scam, you really can't expect them to act honorably towards you. If something soured in their original deal, I can see him being the first one to out them.

    But as for it being an attack because she's a woman, that's hogwash. She just knew how to push people's buttons and manipulate a response. If you fell for it, I feel sorry for you.

    • Tori Deaux /

      on Twitter

      Hi, ER —

      Unless Salty reveals where the transcript came from, it falls firmly under the category of “We don’t know”. I am willing to accept that Salty believes the transcript is genuine, but that’s as far as I go, because the speculation just gets too wild after that. Is Naomi on the defensive? Yepp. I would be too.
      And in my reading of the transcript, his “transfer the money in small bills” seemed pretty obviously a joke. As for the attack being because she’s a woman… was my post that unclear?

      Naomi being a woman is, obviously, not the whole story, and it’s not a simple tale of misogyny. But there are, to my eye, clearly elements of misogyny involved. If you don’t see that, I wont feel sorry for you, I’ll just think we all have different perceptions.

    • on Twitter

      You know what? You’re right. I don’t know. I have suspicions, based on timing and a demonstrated pattern of hostility and misogyny. But that doesn’t mean he did it. And I should have kept that part out of it.

      (Of course, all that could be said of others in this mess…)

  14. Barbara /

    As a woman commenting on this mess I hope you’ll see fit to publish my comment. This is not about misogyny or true death threats. The man she accused of threatening her life did NO SUCH THING! Doesn’t that matter to any of you at all? I know him, I’m a frequent commenter on his blog. His purpose is to out internet scammers, boiler room operators, fake gurus like James Ray, etc. I’m absolutely horrified to see women defending what Naomi Dunford has done.

    • Tori Deaux /

      on Twitter

      Hi Barbara, I’ve known about Salty’s blog for a long time, in fact, we’ve linked to one another in the distant past, if I recall correctly. I’ll have to check on that to be sure, but I do understand his purpose… it’s one that’s often dear to my heart. But that doesn’t mean I think he’s right, in this case.

      My take is that there is a lot of misplaced outrage on all sides of this ongoing flame fest, when the whole thing looks to me like a family issue that went horribly and publicly wrong. I’ve followed Naomi, and most of the other people in this supposed scam circle for years, and I am just not buying the whole Internet Scammer story about them. Yepp, what Salty has posted reveals some ugly elements, but you know what? I wouldn’t look so pretty if some of my confidential conversations with confidants were published, either. It doesn’t show the wider fraudulent intent that’s being claimed.

      An update/edit: I checked on the old post I was thinking of, and I seem to have misremembered, as I can’t find a record of the Droid linking back to my old site. Just FYI, it was about an old Bill Harris/Holosync bruhaha a few years back, and pretty irrelevant to this convo.

  15. DAMN! You know, I couldn’t care LESS if any of that was true or not on that Salty Droid blog. So what if she was looking to cheat on her taxes, or is a homewrecker? She wouldn’t be the first or the last. That’s her own business.

    Here’s the thing. So what if she lied about her background or whatever? Her customers still got value whether they can get it through their skulls or not, so what does it matter?

    I wouldn’t care if she was the devil incarnate as long as what I as a customer buy from her makes me money. That’s the bottom line.

    I’m sick of all the moralists like that Salty Droid, the BBB, and those loud mouth consumer protection groups all trying to tell everyone else how to run their lives. Who hasn’t told a few white lies here or there? Get real.

    Anybody who disagrees with that is nothing but another hater.

    • Tori Deaux /

      on Twitter

      Lovely snark, Lynn.
      But none of that is the point here, which you’d know if you’d read the post.

    • What about? /

      What about the people who haven’t been paid in six months since she “went in to hiding?”

      This is absolutely true and can verified with a quick Google search.

      • Tori Deaux /

        on Twitter

        No, it can’t be verified as “absolutely true” with a quick Google search. All that comes up for me is one post which ASKS if she’s late, and quotes an anonymous commenter on … yeah… one of Salty’s posts. A commenter who doesn’t say they personally haven’t been paid, but that unidentified affiliates haven’t been paid.

        Next time, leave your claims at “There are rumors…” because if you tell me something is “absolutely true and can be verified,” I’m going to check up on it.

        And when it doesn’t check out, it just damages the credibility of the whole attempted exposé.

      • Jade Craven /

        The only way anyone can verify who, or who hasn’t, been paid is by contacting all past clients and JV’s individually, and even then no-one would probably confirm these reports.

        Every single comment is being torn apart at various blogs so no-one will come out now.

        A lot of the stuff going on does damage the credibility. I got called a narcissist for having my name as a domain name and they are attacking Ali Luke.

        Part of me wants to post a long comment over there about how to focus their attention properly if they want people to take them seriously. Especially when those that are associated with the situation are the ones who are likely to have the information they are so desperately trying to find.

        (Someone is ranty.)

      • Wow, that’s bizarre, Jade. Loads of us use our own names as our domain name – if you’re trading under that name it’s the standard advice given because otherwise you just confuse people. Or is it considered wildly narcissistic to be self-employed now?

        I haven’t been to look at the Salty Droid site because I have enough of my own drama going on, I don’t need other people’s right now.

      • Tori Deaux /

        on Twitter

        The only way anyone can verify who, or who hasn’t, been paid is by contacting all past clients and JV’s individually, and even then no-one would probably confirm these reports.

        Exactly — and this would be true of pretty much any reputable business or industry. *Within* an industry? There is always plenty of gossip going around, but those problems aren’t handled in public. Trashing someone’s business reputation (even if deserved) and airing dirty laundry in public is simply unprofessional.

        If you want to check up on which affiliate programs are reliable and top notch, who is a reliable JV partner, and so forth? Don’t expect to get reliable info from Google. This isn’t like checking to see if Maytag honors their warranties – you won’t find a list companies who pay their vendors late on Reviews R Us. Make contacts inside your niche, establish trusted relationship, and *ask* around. People will help you.

        But refusing to trash industry members in public? It’s not because everyone is shuddering in fear of some top-tier cartel’s displeasure. It’s because people treat their businesses as businesses, and follow professional ethics.

  16. Tori, if it turns out Naomi Dunford has been lying and using people as some are now saying, will you be posting a follow up denouncing her actions? Or would that endear you to her more because it could be construed as her being “adorably feisty?”

    You may believe what you want to believe, but my gut is telling me Naomi’s story is fishy. I’m far from the only one.

    • Tori Deaux /

      on Twitter

      Hi Sarah,

      If I became convinced she was intentionally scamming people, lied about the threats, etc? Yes, I’d certainly address it, and admit that I was wrong. That doesn’t mean that what convinces others convinces me – remember, one of the big lessons I wrote about in this post was that I realized I hadn’t really even questioned the original gossip, I’d just accepted it at face value. So with that in mind, I’m especially aware of just how much we don’t know about the entire situation. And *my* gut? It’s telling me that even if everyone involved told the entire unvarnished, unspun truth as they see it? There would be very little agreement on what has actually happened.

      (BTW, I don’t find contemplating tax evasion adorably feisty, but without more context, a date or a source for the transcript? I’m withholding judgement on that one for now. I reserve the right to be pissed about it later, or to at least call it incredibly stupid 😉 )

  17. on Twitter

    Tori,
    First of all, you go for putting up a post about this! I thought about writing one, and then realized I didn’t want to deal with all the arguing and nastiness. Congratulations on being braver than some of us. :-)

    I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I launched my business with skills I learned from OBS, and I’ll forever be grateful to Naomi for making that course and publishing me on her blog multiple times. All those people claiming she’s a fraud are completely misinformed or deranged.

    It also seems like some of the accusations against her and Dave were based on personal stuff, which really isn’t anyone’s business but theirs and their ex-spouses. Just because you run an online business doesn’t mean that everyone gets a say in how you behave in your free time. Their families are the real victims there.

    That said, she’s treated her employees and her customers pretty shabbily, from things I have heard from reliable sources. When you stop paying your affiliates and refusing to give refunds, you’ve got a business issue. I’m reluctant to recommend her to people now for that reason rather than any of the other things that have come out.

    And, to actually get to the point of all this, I don’t think this would have been nearly as a big a deal if she’d been a man. Tons of male bloggers have had affairs and left their spouses with no detrimental effects on their business. On the flip side, I think her reaction has been over the top. I wish she’d step up and acknowledge that this didn’t come out of thin air. Her actions contributed to this (in possibly fraudulent ways, if that transcript turns out to be real), and she needs to at least acknowledge that she’s screwed up majorly before she can move on.

    Sorry for rambling.

    • Tori Deaux /

      on Twitter

      Hi Holly,

      Having been in internet firestorms years ago (on both sides of the equation) I got pretty comfortable with the squabbles, I guess. The bad part is that they stir my mind up in so many directions, it’s hard to get cohesive thoughts out or focus on other work. The good part is they tend to sharpen my discernment to a razors edge, and can bring out my most passionate writing. I may still regret even commenting this mildly on the topic, but… we’ll see where it goes.

      The bit about treating employees, affiliates and customers shabbily, I hadn’t heard… and it’s the first of the criticisms that I find relevant to me. The rest, as you said, seems to be personal issues.

      BTW, neither your comment nor anyone else’s is nearly as long as it looks. I need to do some work on this theme, still… the narrowness of the comment section makes them ALL look like novels!

  18. Hrm.

    I don’t fully agree with you, or Salty, or the family insanity site, or even Naomi. I don’t really care that much now. I regret having amplified or echoed it or whatnot.

    But I wanted to say, you have fun typography that I do just adore, and I did discover your blog because of this trainwreck, so there is that.

    • Tori Deaux /

      on Twitter

      Chris, that might possibly be the most sensible comment in the entire trainwreck…

      GO TYPOGRAPHY!!

  19. on Twitter

    I’m to the point where everything is so ridiculous I kind of don’t even care any more, but I also do, because the way Naomi is being attacked *is* misogynist (men get called assholes, Naomi gets called…an evil fat bitch? who’s taking advantage of Dave? really?) and I feel really bad for Dave in all of this too.

    The fact that people are taking SaltyDroid or Dave’s brother seriously in all of this kind of makes my head hurt, to be honest.

    Here’s who you’re using as sources:

    SD: the guy who, as Annie pointed out, thinks – I’m too lazy to go find the quote but I remember reading him saying as much – that the *entire* online world of products, coaching, and consulting is a dark place and we’re all brainwashed into thinking that it isn’t a huge scam and we need to go out and get “real jobs”, stat

    (also that nobody is “qualified” but he never really defines what “qualified” would be)

    Anthony: the guy who OBVIOUSLY has a huge bundle of issues and has no idea where the line of appropriate-ness is

    Meanwhile, from glancing at the chat transcript post that someone linked to above, SD appears to be claiming that he doesn’t care about any of the affair nonsense, which is weird since he didn’t even set his sights on Dave and/or Naomi until after he read/commented at Anthony’s site.

    And really? We’re citing chat transcripts as sources for how people are awful now? Chat transcripts that came without a source and are…just text? Like I’m typing now? ‘Cause hi, give me five minutes and I can have an “anonymously delivered” chat transcript that says that I eat babies for breakfast.

    Unless there’s a whole lot more about those transcripts (like, a time and date or information about who delivered them and how they got access to them and…why the transcript was saved anyways?), they wouldn’t be admissible in a court of law as evidence, and that makes me not take them seriously.

    To me, it all comes down to an Occam’s razor situation. We can believe that Naomi and Dave are involved in some sort of affair or tax fraud or SOMETHING EVIL (which I still haven’t seen proven in any way, at all) and that they’re both out to steal all our monies (despite, um, both of them choosing to give things away recently)….or we can believe that Naomi and Dave are friends, Dave got caught up in nasty family things and divorce (supported by the evidence of a newspaper article and his brother’s website), and people jumped to conclusions ’cause hey, if a man and a woman are friends, they must be knocking boots. Which of those is simpler? Which of those seems more likely?

    I don’t know about anyone else, maybe I just have too much faith in the human race, but I’m going to go with #2. Am I saying I think both of them are perfect people? Nope. But I think this whole thing was unnecessary and sad and has people out on some kind of a virtual witch-hunt, all over nothing.

    *gets off soapbox and goes to watch Harry Potter* (I still haven’t seen the last movie…we’re going to go watch it today! I fully expect to cry. A lot.)

    • Barbara /

      That’s not true that Salty Droid had not “set his sights” on Naomi Dunford until after he commented on Anthony’s site. He first mentioned her months ago. He’s just one droid. He can’t take on every scammer at one time. James Arthur Ray’s trial took up a lot of time at the Droid’s blog.

  20. I think there are two groups of people who are pushing Naomi’s side. There are some who honestly want to believe her (that would include Tori), and there are some I believe who really don’t care if she is even telling the truth or not.

    It’s that second group that really concerns me, because I think they are actively using any available ploy to influence the first group and discourage them from looking into this any deeper.

    I think Tori thinks for herself, but I have seen some reflexive parroting from people who have not taken the time to really look at this from all aspects. I realize some of them have later retracted their initial support, but it doesn’t change the fact that they reacted without research.

    I would characterize that blog (the Salty Droid’s) as rough in surface character, but then so is Naomi’s own blog, which seemed to me to have a lot more crude sexual tone, not to mention it’s own share of “street” language.

    On an aside, has everyone here taken time to look at some of the other posts on the Salty Droid blog? There are legal documents, videos, and recordings of other internet marketers that will make your jaw hit the floor. No editorial skepticism needed.

    I also wanted to point out one interesting thing on that blog. There is an entire category of posts there about a “Harlan Kilstein” which takes this person to task for apparently abusing a woman. I’d encourage everyone to read those.

    My takeaway is very different having read that and thinking about all this. I can no longer buy any of the “mysogyny” stuff. I just consider it insulting to co-opt a separate, but real cause for others simply to create a smoke screen for someone’s own purposes.

    • Tori Deaux /

      on Twitter

      Nina, thank you for a polite, carefully worded comment. I really appreciate it.

      I’m sure that some folks don’t care if Naomi is truthful about anything, or not. Everyone has their own standards… my Grandparents, for instance? Having been hugely offended by Jane Fonda’s behavior in the Vietnam war, they refused to ever watch another Henry Fonda movie. Me, I tend to compartmentalize things a lot more, and I’m generally a lot more forgiving than most think is wise, but I have my limits, too.

      Regarding the rough character of the two blogs? (I’ve seen that mentioned various places) The cussing and rough edges of both sites sets character & tone, shakes up expectations, and gets attention. “What is he/she going to say NEXT?”

      The difference I see is that on Naomi’s blog, it’s like having a foul mouthed friend who cusses like a sailor out of habit, for emphasis and effect. It’s coarse and outrageous, but it’s meant to be funny and good natured. Even when it makes you cringe, you know they mean it with affection.

      Salty cusses it for effect, too – but with him, it is intended to be demeaning and insulting, because (right or wrong) he believes his targets deserve that treatment. People who agree with him think it’s funny, others think it’s mean. Because of the meanness, a lot of people find it hard to take seriously, and doubly so when the rough insults come in the comment section, tossed around pretty much at whatever strangers drop by and disagree. To outsiders, it can easily look like a pack of wild dogs, eager to tear apart anyone who doesn’t fall in line.

      More separately on the misogyny so this isn’t too long. I’ve got to fix the width on these comments!

    • Tori Deaux /

      on Twitter

      I promised to address the misogyny topic, and got distracted. My apologies for that, Nina, if you’re still around.

      I’ve never thought that Salty targeted Naomi because she’s a woman.

      But the public bruhaha didn’t start with Salty’s site. It started on an entirely different website, which (no matter how well intentioned) amounted to airing a lot of personal dirty laundry. That dirty laundry and the story around it bled onto Salty’s site & the comment sections, and that’s where I see the misogyny.

      Setting aside the discussions of bra size, weight and the like, there are references to black widows (female spiders who kill their mates after sex), praying mantises (females insects who also kill their mates after sex), temptresses, sluts and homewreckers.

      Those terms paint the (allegedly) cheating male as a victim. He’s not responsible for whatever choices he made in regards to straying or leaving his marriage. Shared problems in the marriage aren’t responsible, either; it’s all the fault of the other woman, the Jezebel, the spider. That’s sexist.

      Salty’s own story line plays that up, even while he’s saying he doesn’t care if they slept together. He calls her the Spider, and paints Dave as the victim, drawn into her web.

      Would Naomi have been targeted without this archetypal (and yes, essentially misogynistic) black-widow-temptress-spider tale being available? I don’t know. But without it? The story would have to be spun a lot differently.

  21. Gosh … I love winning!

  22. Tori Deaux /

    on Twitter

    You and Charlie Sheen 😉

    A question, if you would… Why’ve I been blessed with your visit after all this time?

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