How NOT to run a social media site: The story of Scott Rohter and WePluribUS.net
It takes a lot of effort and a lot of money to run a successful social media website. Sometimes, you have to do a bit of fundraising to make things work the way you want and sometimes, you need to do some old-fashioned advertising.
But Scott Rohter, the appliance repairman who started WePluribUS.net, has a unique approach — and it’s not winning him many friends. His plan, it seems, is to berate users and call them names. If you don’t fold and give him cash, he bans you from the site, and from what I can see, it doesn’t seem to be working too well.
Keep in mind that I’m one of the few people on the planet who actually supported what he’s doing. I’m no fan of Facebook, even though I use the living daylights out of it. I hate the way they seem to arbitrarily change the rules on posts and the way they seem to favor liberals over conservatives. I’ve written about it a lot, and have even spoken with some folks there about it.
So I was excited when I first learned about WePluribUS, and even wrote an article about it in the hopes it would become a viable conservative alternative to Facebook.
At the time — January 2013 — Rohter told me that in about five years, he wanted to give people the option of “buying into” the site. An interesting idea, to be sure. But then, after learning what it takes to make such an endeavor work, he realized he needed money. Fast.
Instead of placing ads on his site or gently reaching out to users, he demanded – that’s right – DEMANDED people pay up. Or else. Facebook, with all of its issues, doesn’t do that.
In May, he banned blogger Diane Sori because, according to her, she would not fork over $100 to use the site. Sori told me at the time that he sent her a number of nasty emails and “expected” her to pay up.
Sori provided one of the emails he sent:
“YOU KNOW THAT AND YOU SHOULD HAVE NO PROBLEM PAYING FOR WHAT YOU USE.. THE ALTERNATIVE IS THAT I SHOULD PAY FOR YOU TO USE.. AND I AM NOT GOING TO ANYMORE.. YOU ARE ALL ABOUT YOURSELF DIANE SORI AND IF YOU DONT WANT TO PAY FOR WHAT YOU USE THAN YOU CAN GO BACK TO FBOOK AND THE TPC WHICH IS ALL ABOUIT TIM SELATY MAKING MONEY FOR TIM SELATY. CHOSE AND LET ME KNOW.. I AM NOT BENDING OVER TO PLEASE YOU ANYMORE DIANE. YOUR COMPLAINTS AND YOUR UNWILLINGNESS TO HELP OUT AND NOT TO EVEN PAY FOR WHAT YOU DO IS JUST TOO MUCH.. IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO PAY TO KEEP THIS SITE LIVE SO YOU CAN PROMOTE YOUR OWN BLOG THAT I WILL BE HAPPY TO DELETE YOU.. PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP.”Keep in mind that Rohter originally said in January that the site would be free.
Here’s what I wrote — based on his words — in January:
“Eventually, perhaps in five years, Rohter wants to give members the option of buying into the network for the small fee of setting up their own page, which, by that time, should already be done. Those who do not opt to buy in, he said, may have to deal with some ads to help defray the cost of the site. Rohter said that unlike some, he is not motivated by money.”Keep this in mind, because just this morning, Rohter called ME a liar, banned me from his site and unfriended me on Facebook. To which I say, good riddance.
Rohter also hit me up for money. I told him on Monday that as I was in the middle of personal issues, including a move, that I would take a look at the situation in a couple weeks after things had settled down and I might consider it. At the time, he was okay with it, but it seems he let his anger cloud his judgment.
Bear in mind that so far, I have defended Rohter from some who have attacked him and his site, and I have supported and promoted his site whenever possible. I was even warned about Rohter’s anger, but thought nothing of it since at the time, he had been fine with me.
It’s not uncommon for sites to politely ask for voluntary donations, but sites whose owners berate and demand cash aren’t worth the visits, in my opinion.
WePluribUS had a bright and promising future, if it was set up and run properly. But people simply are not going to put up with site owners who bully and berate them.
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