The Internet has been abuzz for the past week over Bloggergate – the online tiff between social media influencer Elle Darby and Paul Stenson, proprietor of Dublin’s White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge Hotel.
It has divided people – some people supporting her, some supporting Paul, and many just munching on popcorn watching the drama.
It’s been interesting to see the comments from both sides, so we decided to share our 2 cents on this controversy. This is a long post, so feel free to skip what you already know :
The Bloggergate Saga : Elle Darby vs. Paul Stenson
Here is a blow-by-blow account for those who missed the drama…
Elle Darby Emails The White Moose Café
It all kicked off with this email Elle Darby sent The White Moose Café, requesting a free stay in return for exposure.
Paul Stenson shared it with the world, with her name, YouTube channel and Instagram account blanked out.
16 January : How About No
Paul Stenson shared her email (above), and posted his reply publicly on The White Moose Café Facebook page :
That Facebook post went viral, getting shared thousands of times.
16 January : Elle Darby – I Was Exposed!
Even though Paul Stenson did not directly identify her, Elle Darby immediately took to YouTube to vent her feelings, and cry out to her fans for support.
17 January : Trollolol
Taking opportunity of the virality of the drama, Paul Stenson started to troll bloggers (even though Elle Darby is really a social media influencer).
We have to wonder if that reference to Mohammad in Istanbul was necessary since the Turkish people do visit Ireland.
No, Paul, the Turks are not uncouth barbarians who have never travelled overseas.
17 January : Bloggers Get Banned
Probably to capitalise on the media coverage, Paul Stenson proceeded to ban all bloggers from The White Moose Café and the Charleville Lodge Hotel.
Ironically, he earlier identified himself as a blogger as well…
This is really just drama and/or viral marketing on Paul’s part because bloggers don’t walk around with the words “I’m a blogger” on their foreheads.
18 January : More Trolling
Enjoying the limelight, Paul Stenson continued to troll bloggers for more free publicity.
19 January : A Tweet Too Far
Paul Stenson revealed that their Twitter account was temporarily banned by Twitter for sending Aldi a tweet about messages from one of their employees.
Emily Spilling should not have called Paul names, but to attempt to get her fired for a personal comment by private message?
That’s a tweet too far, we think, and Twitter seems to think so too.
20 January : Even More Trolling
Riding the wave of fame / infamy, Paul Stenson continued to troll bloggers, even though his original target was a social media influencer, not a blogger.
Our Two Cents On Bloggergate
Here are our opinions on this drama, which are just as relevant and irrelevant as everyone else’s…
Buyer Willing, Seller Willing
There was really NOTHING WRONG with Elle Darby’s proposition. We may not understand or like how social media influencers operate, but there is nothing fundamentally wrong for anyone to make someone else an offer.
Unlike what Paul Stenson and many people think, it is NOT demeaning for Elle to offer her services in return for the hotel’s services. It is NOT free if a service is being offered in return.
We may argue about that the value of both services or how they are disproportionate, but what she proposed is a barter trade of services. In that sense, she cannot be considered a freeloader.
On the other hand, Elle and her supporters need to understand that there is NOTHING WRONG for Paul to reject Elle’s proposal. It is a buyer-willing, seller-willing situation.
He could have been nicer in his reply, but it is also his RIGHT to be nasty or sarcastic in his reply. It’s not illegal to be an asshole or a troll.
The Email Expose
Elle Darby alleged that Paul Stenson was wrong in sharing her email because it was “written in confidentiality”.
Well, there is no presumption of confidentiality in any email. It was not like a hacker intercepted the email and posted it. Paul, the rightful recipient of that email, posted it.
Arguably, Paul should have also blanked the parts “an early Valentine day weekend from Feb 8th – 12th” and “Universal Orlando“, because they can be easily used to identify the influencer he was referring to.
Because he left them there, Elle naturally felt she was exposed by his exposé, because anyone in her industry can quickly identify her as the influencer being roasted by The White Moose Café.
Influence Peddling Not Quite Unethical… Yet
There are comments that Elle Darby is being unethical, selling good reviews for freebies. That isn’t actually true. There is a difference between influence peddling / celebrity endorsements, and REVIEWS.
The former merely relies on the influencer or celebrity promoting a service or business to his/her fans and followers. It can come in the form of an advertisement, a Facebook post, an Instagram photo or even a blog post, but nothing negative is ever said because it’s pure PROMOTION.
REVIEWS, on the other hand, are completely different. Actual reviewers will have to try to be honest about their experience, telling us about the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of a product or service.
In short, it’s definitely wrong to get paid to write a good review, but it’s not unethical (at the moment) for celebrities and influencers to promote products and services (whether they’re good or not) to their fans and followers.
Elle Darby Should Have Done Her Homework
Elle Darby should have done her homework. Businesses generally work with social media influencers because they have poor reach on social media.
As Paul Stenson pointed out in his first post, The White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge Hotel have a large social media following.
Elle’s popularity and influence actually pales in comparison to theirs, so why on earth would Paul need her help?
Universal Orlando may have needed her help with social media, but obviously not Paul.
Elle Darby + Paul Stenson : Such Prima Donnas
Elle Darby should not have posted that rant video. Even if she’s super popular, she comes across as a self-entitled prima donna. She should have taken the high road, and politely thanked Paul for reading her email and considering her proposal.
Paul Stenson didn’t take the high road either, “banning” bloggers to his hotel and cafe. What was that about? It may have been an effort at viral marketing, but it also demonstrated a lack of professionalism.
It is one thing to reject (even sarcastically) a proposal he didn’t like, it’s quite another thing to refuse to serve an ENTIRE community / group of people because of who they are, or what they represent.
How is that any different from another hotel refusing to serve LGBT couples, or people of the coloured persuasion? Was that why he referred to Mohammad from Istanbul in a troll post?
So Who Won Bloggergate – Elle Darby or Paul Stenson?
So who won Bloggergate? Let’s see…
Elle Darby : Won On Reach, Lost Some Reputation
If Paul’s post was not bad enough, Elle Darby looked really bad after she posted that video ode to self-entitlement. She saved herself though by keeping quiet after that post, and Paul’s continued assault. If she’s smart, she will just keep mum, and let him continue.
Elle Darby gained an INCREDIBLE REACH with that video though, gaining over 1.4 million views which will translate into a nice chunk of ad revenue. That’s a HUGE WIN for someone who only averages 20-30K views per video.
She even gained 7,000+ new subscribers from the controversy. A solid 8% boost. Not bad!
Paul Stenson : Won BIG On Reach, Lost Some Reputation
Paul came out way on top at first. Heck, he dedicated a solid paragraph to his staff welfare! It helped too that those visiting The White Moose Café Facebook page saw him taking his staff on a trip to Disneyland. That’s a really nice guy right there.
But when he started to veer into attacking bloggers (instead of social media influencers), and banning them in an ill-advised post, he lost some respect. It’s one thing to attack a particular person for trying to “leech off” the establishment and staff, it’s quite another thing to attack a whole group for one person’s mistake… especially when that group (bloggers) has nothing to do with the social media influencer he was feuding with.
Granted, many people were throwing hate at him and his establishments, but that’s the nature of social media – it brings out the worst in humanity. As a proficient social media user, he should know that very well. Those who can’t stand the heat should get out of the kitchen.
But like Elle Darby, he too benefited from the media coverage. In fact, he WON BIG, receiving A TON of FREE online coverage. That will definitely drive traffic to his establishments, unless he overreaches with his persistent trolling.
Before this Bloggergate blew up, most of the world have never heard of The White Moose Café or the Charleville Lodge Hotel. Now, even Mohammad from Istanbul can tell you all about how a social media influencer got scorched trying to cop a free stay and meal there.
The Internet : So WOW. Much Popcorn.
The Internet got a dose of free drama, at the expense of everyone involved. And a new opportunity to prove how snarky, petty and vindictive they can be.
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