Faced with an unfavorable RipOffReport web page ranking number one for his name on Google, Reddit user Carl Herold turned to his fellow Redditors for help. On June 30th, Carl posted a message on self.AskReddit asking for advice on how to deal with a complaint from a former vendor he claims is a lie. The post received so much attention that Carl’s name was the 5th most popular search term on Google (for a time), resulting in hundreds of thousands of web pages being created mentioning Carl’s name and helping him push the unfavorable complaint to page 5 of the search results.
In Carl’s follow up post thanking Reddit he claims that:
Reddit, in a matter of less than 12 hours, you shifted the search behavior of the entire internet in much the same way as a major geo-political event. At least tens if not hundreds of thousands of searches were done for a search term that prior to that point had few if any searches.
Enough searches were done to result in the automated creation of over 200,000 new web-pages containing my name. Many of these pages were automatically created by companies that create content pages designed to rank high for popular search terms. The overall effect has been a brute-force nullification of the web page containing the lie.
While Carl did score a huge win getting the RipOffReport web page pushed down in the search results, the obvious questions about the original complaint arose very quickly in the comment thread on his post. People wanted to know what the complaint was, the circumstances surrounding it, and whether Carl was really in the right. He was forced to answer a lot of questions in a public forum about an event he was actually trying to squash.
In addition to sending the RipOffReport web page to search results no-man’s-land, Carl was able to take control of a story that had been damaging his reputation for some time. Sure, he had to relive the incident on the Reddit comment threads, but he was able to change the forum of the debate (away from RipOffReport), explain his position, and do all of this in front of a mostly favorable audience.