Clue #3: There is no Sergio Lombardi or Dominique Jennings Flemings

More on my post from yesterday.

Those several of you who found the site that slammed me notice that the author purports to be two real people, Sergio Lombardi and Dominique Jennings [Flemings, whatever]. But the problem is, there are none in Japan. They’re not here. No restaurant consultant, no interior design chick.

Sergio Lombardi is about as real as Sergio Valente. (I don’t know if any of my American readers remember this commercial by the way, from about summer 1980 . . .)

“Uh-oh, Sergio!” Sergio Lombardi! Sergio Lombardi! I gotta come up with a set of lyrics for that one.

So, as I was saying yesterday, the website, once you find it, is a piece of work. It’s designed to look like a credible blog, authored by these “real people” who have nothing better to do than to review the other blogs that expats in Japan write. You know, they’re just doing their review of the Japan blogs, and “oh, look, here’s one in the long tail, (that has a daily readership of about 70). Let’s make a critique and insert a number of personal attacks against the author!” Yes, why not? Ech.

I was saying last month that I have been in the blog world since 2003, when I used to blog local politics in Bridgewater, New Jersey (USA). I have always used a pen name, but I have been by no means anonymous. I simply write with a pen name because I am most comfortable with it, that’s all. Originally, in fact, it was because local political people were accusing me of trying to set up a vehicle “to get my name out there” when the idea of doing an end-run around newspapers and party committees was a novelty (at best) in politics.

I’ve had an internet connection since maybe 1997. So I’ve [seen] it all in terms of what people try to do when they don’t like the fact that you use the internet. The tricks used, the attacks–the people always think they’ve come up with something really clever and elaborate. But it’s always the same shit in the end.

I went to law school and I am pretty responsible with my speech. Whenever I have gone at anybody, it’s because I had the goods. But most of that ton of text that makes up Hoofin is talking about events and ideas, not people. Where it has been people, the vast majority are current or former elected officials or political candidates.

It’s always astounded me though, that for some people, the internet is an open invitation to do nutty things. I guess sock blogging and trojan horse defamation is just the latest fad.

32 thoughts on “Clue #3: There is no Sergio Lombardi or Dominique Jennings Flemings

  1. In some of the posts, these two fake people have a dialogue going back and forth with each other while they review a blog. And fake bios. If it’s just one guy, that’s really funny to think about.

      1. There’s only one thing I don’t get. Why risk using fake names that can easily be researched instead of just writing anonymously?

        1. The fake names give the words more credibility to the casual reader. When you see what looks like an authentic name on a website, you naturally assume that that is the person’s real name. The idea is to create trust. “These words are trustworthy. Look, I am putting my name beside them!” I think this is how “Karen” at the Inside Outside Japan is operating. She will show you a picture of herself–she will even show you a picture of her “mother-in-law” on her original post, to lend the site more credibility. But not an e-mail address, even under a different name. (You know, the address we all use to get e-mails, that isn’t our personal one.)

          So you will never receive an e-mail from your blog-friend “Karen”. Purportedly, I supposed, she’d say it’s because she’s too confused by this new-fangled Worldwide Web thing. She’s done without it, even though she’s been living as an expat in Japan for 14 years, maybe. Yet in another post, she mentions that she can only post rarely, because she knows what makes a good quality entry. And her crowd of commenting admirers, who found her even though she wouldn’t really know SEO from Esso, heap praise on each long-awaited entry.

      2. Wait, I seem to recall you having mentioned another site a few months ago that was dissing you for something taken out of context. That site was also apparently being run by 2 individuals that had a thing for what they perceived as “anti-JETs”. Supposedly a guy and girl as well.

        I *think* I remember what the blog was called.

        (googling….)

        Nuts. Can’t find it. Either I remember the name incorrectly (likely) or they have fallen off the ‘net (unlikely. Google never forgets.)

        Went there once based on googling something you said they took out of context to figure out who you were talking about. Found them, read a bit of their blog, got bored, didn’t go back, forgot about them until now. Searching your archives isn’t helping me find the article in question either. Don’t really recall the time frame it happened in and going through ALL your articles again would be time consuming.

        1. A little more determination came up with it. Is the site B.K.? Run by S.S. and K.? Is that who you mean?

          I was remembering “-ing” on the first word rather than “-y” which is why it wasn’t coming up.

          1. Yes, that’s the one. The things it had going in its favor was:

            1) Delivery technique – set up a blog entry and link to the target’s site. Then, personally, keep hitting that link on your own blog. This is done both to get the other (target) person’s attention–since I’ll see it on my WordPress Dashboard–and to make it look like your own blog has a sufficient read.

            2) Alleged group blogging – with BK, we really don’t know if SS (we’ll call him Senor Science) really does blog in conjunction with Krampus, the fashion expert. But Senor Science takes to featuring another “contributor” prominently (as blogs go), to make you feel like he’s at least got company. “It isn’t the lonely blogger, here!” Plus it makes it easier to use the pronoun “we” and not sound pretentious. If you’re going at somebody, why not do it as a “group”?

            3) Fantasy careers – I could see where a JET would like to pretend they actually have accomplished something up to that point. So one could be the restaurant consultant and the other a credible interior-designer who restores cars. But by the same token, a person targeting me and who read my blog would also know about those two and could, well, make like they are them.

            I can’t get any support from Sitemeter that it’s Senor Science. On Google, he is too busy fixing other parts of the internet, hanging out at the popular comment boards, or otherwise taking swipes at the real big name bloggers.

            [Update 10/12/11: We later determined that these writers–for Billowy Kimono– were Laura Cardwell and Rene Jerez, JET teachers at the time.]

        2. Chuckers, those two were on the list. But they got crossed off, not the least for which is that one of them doesn’t have command of English and a writing style sufficient enough to pull this off. It’s a JET after all, and you need someone who can write like a middle-aged mom, and do a couple other things with planning and websites that neither of those two strike me as being good at.

          For example, “Karen” got into the act on July 24, by putting a Technorati link question out to a Blogger help site. July 24–this was before the B.K. guy got all worked up and decided to fix the internet of opinions he didn’t share. “Karen” called it “Techorati”, even though she’s really accurate about certain blog jargon and techniques.

          http://www.google.ad/support/forum/p/blogger/user?userid=03721767852539865174&hl=en

          I don’t think the date can be fudged. So this site was in the planning at least since July 21. It’s why I say “Karen” is maybe 75% phoney, and 25% a convenient person to hide behind.

  2. Poor Karen. We’re all like, “that blog is SO boring there’s no WAY it’s real!” hahaha. What if she really is just a housewife who loves kitchen knives (and calls Asian people “orientals”)? Plus, lets be honest, she’s not the only blog they reviewed, there’s tons of real ones on the list. They ARE in fact, a blog reviewing site, at least by accident, even if they only meant dig at you.

    Why do you keep bringing up JET? It wasn’t mentioned in the review at all. You have someone in mind who you think it is? And you think that person is a JET? And you think that JET got so mad at your ideas about the programme that they decided to invent internet personalities to bring you down? Far fetched. It’s more likely to be someone affiliated with TUJ, who just LOVES Sarah Palin, or someone who knows you in real life (who may or may not happen to be a JET). The website and the content of the review towards you suggest at best, a personal reason for wanting to discredit your blog (via a blog which no one looks at). It was obviously meant for YOU to read, not the average internet surfer, and make YOU think, “Aw man, other bloggers don’t like me.” Your average JET supporter with no real stake in this wouldn’t bother. Take me, for example, I think you’re entirely and wholly wrong about the JET programme, what it entails, what it’s for, etc. I don’t need a fake blog to get others to see this, I can just comment HERE. Like MANY JETs have done, if you go back and look at your comments thread.

    I could see where a JET would like to pretend they actually have accomplished something up to that point

    Real nice.

    1. Kei says:

      Poor Karen. We’re all like, “that blog is SO boring there’s no WAY it’s real!” hahaha. What if she really is just a housewife who loves kitchen knives (and calls Asian people “orientals”)? Plus, lets be honest, she’s not the only blog they reviewed, there’s tons of real ones on the list. They ARE in fact, a blog reviewing site, at least by accident, even if they only meant dig at you.

      The real ones are all there for convenience. Four are THUMBS DOWN. Fourteen are THUMBS UP. Most of those reviews were written before the blog even went live (September 13 according to Quantcast). So the people wrote nine thumbs up blog reviews before they even decided to make the blog public. Who were they writing for?

      “Karen” is boring–you got that right. But I think part of her “point” is to say that the vapid blog that only says positive things about Japan is the only “good” blog. It is an attack on freedom of speech of which so many young men of my grandparents’ generation died, face down in their own blood for, during World War II. And ironically, which the Japanese never sufficiently acknowledged or apologized for. (But I am getting off topic and skipping ahead to my return-home message.)

      Why do you keep bringing up JET? It wasn’t mentioned in the review at all. You have someone in mind who you think it is? And you think that person is a JET? And you think that JET got so mad at your ideas about the programme that they decided to invent internet personalities to bring you down? Far fetched.

      No, not at all. Another reader mentioned about the JET who took umbrage at my rather objective criticism. A JET perp was on the list, but to me it made no sense. It’s not a JET. So I agree, far fetched. But not something totally out of there, which is why I considered it and another reader also thought so, too.

      It’s more likely to be someone affiliated with TUJ, who just LOVES Sarah Palin, or someone who knows you in real life (who may or may not happen to be a JET). The website and the content of the review towards you suggest at best, a personal reason for wanting to discredit your blog (via a blog which no one looks at).

      I don’t think it’s a TUJer, because they have to be careful. The university administration already knows that I have been talking to Pennsylvania politicans and other key government officials who have say over the money that Pennsylvania sends to Temple. It’s been going on for a year now. Temple is good at personal slander, but they aren’t that stupid.

      It was obviously meant for YOU to read, not the average internet surfer, and make YOU think, “Aw man, other bloggers don’t like me.” Your average JET supporter with no real stake in this wouldn’t bother. Take me, for example, I think you’re entirely and wholly wrong about the JET programme, what it entails, what it’s for, etc. I don’t need a fake blog to get others to see this, I can just comment HERE. Like MANY JETs have done, if you go back and look at your comments thread.

      It was really meant for others to read along the way, in the future, and to suggest that I am litigious. (Based off two lawsuits, 20 years ago.) When defendants effectively win a lawsuit–and this is not hard to do, as the plaintiff has the burden of proof and can always be personally attacked—they seldom resort to tactics to make sure that plaintiff stays kicked down. That’s very rare: you only see it with some of the (hundreds of) Episcopal Church lawsuits nationwide. But I ruled those people out, too. The crowd changed.

      Yes, there is the veiled threat that someone could take what they find about me off the internet and come to some negative conclusion like the slander piece offered up on that site. But I have no control over that. Should I just end it all today, because I did litigation 20 years ago where I didn’t get a result? No, that’s silly. So the message must be, “we are afraid that you are going to do something to US, process wise, because you are pointing out that we don’t hire Americans, even though we are American-owned.”

      [Hoofin:] “I could see where a JET would like to pretend they actually have accomplished something up to that point.”

      Real nice.

      Well, you know what I’m saying.

  3. Or, it could be, you know, just a real Japan Blog review site and they just didn’t happen to like yours for whatever reason.

    Writing a whole bunch at once before going live doesn’t seem that far fetched to me. Writing a whole bunch of reviews and putting the up at once makes it look like you are hitting the ground running. Later, you can get around to do a few a week (or a month or whatever.)

    I didn’t bother reading much of the other reviews except for maybe the one about Let’s Japan which “they” didn’t seem to like either. As a result, I can’t make a judgement about whether it was set up as a specific attack against you or not.

    Maybe there are people out to get you. Maybe you are paranoid. Maybe both. At the end of the day, does it really matter? You aren’t going to change how you blog or what you blog about. Maybe specific topics will change but they will be things that you care about. And why should you bother?

    Not everything you have posted have I agreed with. But, in general, I have found some interesting things here as well as a few things that I really don’t care about. So far, the former has outweighed the latter which is why I keep coming back. That might change (as all things do) but only because it is the natural course of things.

    Again, I wouldn’t worry about it. It is only the blogosphere.

    1. Chuckers says:

      Or, it could be, you know, just a real Japan Blog review site and they just didn’t happen to like yours for whatever reason.

      Yes, that’s very possible. I did consider that, you know!

      Writing a whole bunch at once before going live doesn’t seem that far fetched to me. Writing a whole bunch of reviews and putting the up at once makes it look like you are hitting the ground running. Later, you can get around to do a few a week (or a month or whatever.)

      When you join WordPress, you can either publish or not. So they may have been writing all summer, and then decided to publish around September 13. Quantcast picks up the new WordPress blog, and since Quantcast has no record of its existence before then, it wasn’t out on the internet.

      I didn’t bother reading much of the other reviews except for maybe the one about Let’s Japan which “they” didn’t seem to like either. As a result, I can’t make a judgment about whether it was set up as a specific attack against you or not.

      I, of course, have the whole site copied as evidence. What they did was put up a negative or two about some general (non personal) blogs about Japan, and then did the hit piece on me. So two before me, then me. Then they hit Shawn in October.

      Maybe there are people out to get you. Maybe you are paranoid. Maybe both. At the end of the day, does it really matter?

      Maybe both? He he! Are you getting into the act, too? Oh no!

      Look: simple fact is, someone had something really nasty and totally untrue to say about me, and they took the initiative to spread it around to a couple hundred people. That’s fact. That’s also how people can be, and have been around all times and places. I console the other bloggers who have much more internet presence than I do when someone does this to them. It’s something that anyone using the net experiences, and of course it also goes on in RL.

      You aren’t going to change how you blog or what you blog about. Maybe specific topics will change but they will be things that you care about. And why should you bother?

      Right? And I’m one of the early ones, and I’ve been through this kind of thing before of course, in its BBS stage.

      Not everything you have posted have I agreed with. But, in general, I have found some interesting things here as well as a few things that I really don’t care about. So far, the former has outweighed the latter which is why I keep coming back. That might change (as all things do) but only because it is the natural course of things.

      I am always happy to have you visit. Of course, since writing on the net is as much like a telephone conference call or internet social networking, people come and go. I lost track of Facebook—much too much stuff getting posted out there.

      Again, I wouldn’t worry about it. It is only the blogosphere.

      I’m not worrying; I’m just sharing the modus operandi with people. And a little bit of information with the perp.

  4. That post could be comment spammed by readers who are against its tone. Only downside is that Sergio Phony-o and Un-unique Dominique would get higher page rankings in Google.

    1. Yes, I think that’s kind of the game now with internet slander, isn’t it? That’s why I sat there just collecting information first for a couple of weeks.

      This goes on in litigation quite a bit, as an aside by the way. A party will make some kind of response to a pleading, and within in assert something that is, at best, a half truth. Since the judges are either swamped with work, or just inattentive to what a court system is actually supposed to produce, ninety-nine times out of 100, they just let the defamation go. It isn’t actionable once it’s inside a pleading. Back before Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (1938), I read, this sort of thing was even worse.

      Most attorneys don’t talk about that aspect, because it scares away potential clients.

      I’m not letting it bother me, but I have been paying attention and will continue to do so. Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.

  5. Here’s a strange update:
    There aren’t many comments at all on the Japan Blog Review site, except from those they have reviewed and their responses to them.
    I posted a generic comment on their about page a few weeks ago, asking them how they went about choosing which blogs to review, and how much of the blogs they actually read before assigning thumbs up/down, etc. Very general, and very polite, sort of “what’s your method” (testing for signs of life, but also hoping to maybe get them to read my site and review it).

    My comment was not approved.

    So I guess if they’re trying to come across as a legitimate reviewing site, they’re not accepting feedback or general FAQ about what it is they’re actually doing.

    1. Kei-san,

      I see what you are saying, but go with me on this for a bit.

      If the purpose of the website was really to make personal attacks, then, they really aren’t interested in doing too many reviews–maybe one a month until the site goes dead.

      There is no Sergio and no Dominique. So who exactly do you want the review from?

      If you check out Quantcast, your blog gets more hits than theirs does. So unless you’re going to get a lot of people with small sites doing a review of you, that shadow persons’ review is utterly useless. Unless you want to know what Shadow Person thinks of your review.

    1. Don’t be. Japan Blog Review was just a fraction of you the other day. Otherwise, you’re competitive. (They should be asking you for the review, ne?)

      I breathed some life into them at the start of the month, but the quickly sunk.

      1. Okay I just looked at my own Quantcast stats for the first time ever, and the “ALL” stats are only available from about mid-May. But I began posting around the end of March, beginning of April (having not published my first few entries from January and Feb to try and “hit the ground running” as someone described before). Where are my April/May stats?

        I remember when the JBR was created seemed to be a point of contention before. Maybe it takes a few months for some sites to have their stats collected?

  6. It’s because my blog isn’t family friendly. That’s why. I sure as hell say enough “negative” (whatever that constitutes, according to them) stuff to warrant being on their bad side, they just don’t want to link to me.

    1. Kei, I simply don’t think that they are who they say they are.

      A reader e-mailed me to say that these two now have Facebook accounts, which they didn’t before. Fine, but that doesn’t mean anything.

      They’re just turkeys screwing around with the internet, that’s all.

  7. But in all seriousness, this is why I’m so vested in this particular issue:

    It’s clear the only intended readership for the blog is the people they’re against. Okay, who cares. But whether or not they’re using fake names, they’re still running a blog reviewing site that basically no one reads. (Hey guys, probably because you don’t accept reader comments, or blog more than once a month, or do ANYTHING to generate readership for your site…. do you even know what Twitter is?).

    Reading their other reviews it’s clear that Thumbs up = positive mommy blogs that offer that obnoxious “WeLP! I guess cultures are just different!” shoulder-shrug type observations, and Thumbs down = someone who takes a proactive and vocal stance against what they see to be problems with Japan/teaching.

    I think it’s clear I fall under neither of those categories, and in order for them to review me, they’d have to arbitrarily assign me one and try and back up their reasoning. This is what I want them to do. Review a blog that’s clearly negative in tone and explain exactly WHY that’s a bad thing.

    1. Kei, you’re taking their blog-reviewing mission much more seriously than they do (if it even is two people.)

      If they did another hit piece on mine, it just goes to show they’re whacked.

    1. That’s actually an interesting debate.

      You’re right—there is “wack”, as in eccentric or crazy.
      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/wack

      I guess I have been using it as a derivation of “whacked out”.
      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/whack

      If I say “whackers”, it just sounds Australian to my ears. Like, “they’re just whackers”. Probably that, too, though, if they spend their time writing reviews of other people’s blogs on the internet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s