Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Review: Wild West 2.0: How to Protect and Restore Your Online Reputation on the Untamed Social Frontier

Wild West 2.0: How to Protect and Restore Your Reputation on the Untamed Social FrontierThe authors of Wild West 2.0: How to Protect and Restore Your Online Reputation on the Untamed Social Frontier include the CEO and Chief Counsel of ReputationDefender, a company that specializes in online reputation management. Though the book does advertise the services of their company, they also lay out a plan that a reader who understands the nature of the tactics described could use to protect their online reputation. Their plan could also be used to create documentation in case a question every arose about the veracity of the information in the attack, or may prove useful to law enforcement should an online reputation attack veer from malice to harassment or RL violence.

The authors explain the reasons why strangers, acquaintances or customers may use a search engine to look for information on a person. Verifying identity, reputation and claims of expertise may be the most common reasons. Employers, for example, will perform an online search to verify claims and credentials. Since a great deal of public information has moved online, it makes sense to conduct a search via Google, if only to satisfy curiosity.

The authors try to explain the motives of people who destroy online reputations—unfortunately, there may be no reason for wrecking a reputation except boredom—and they describe some of the tactics and tricks that reputation thieves use. Some of the tactics include:
  • Googlebombing involves manipulating search results so that a search for other terms will lead to this person’s profile. The example the authors used is the “miserable failure” search leading to the biography of then-President George W Bush.
  • Googlestuffing where top level search results are filled with erroneous information about the person searched for.
  • “False flagging”, or becoming a double. Some examples include impersonating someone in a forum, blog—as in Fake Steve Jobs—or in a social networking site, like Facebook. Some of these impersonations have highly sinister overtones, especially if they masquerade as a family member.
There are also mistaken identity issues that can lead to online reputation smears. There are cases where a person may deliberately assume your identity online, but the authors also recommend periodic checks to look for “doppelnamers”, people with the same or similar name as yours, who have criminal histories, are a little dodgy or lack good sense. You can use some tactics to distinguish yourself from “dopplenamers”, such as adding your middle initial to your digital footprint, but it is also useful to be aware that these people may end up showing up in your top level search results. It would also be a good idea for any employers who are looking for information online to verify that they do indeed have the correct “Jesse James”.

The book does recommend for fee services, a few affiliated with ReputationDefender, for managing online reputation. However, there is a plan laid out in the book that person, who has read the entirety of the book and who understands the nature of online reputation attacks, can use to protect their personal and professional reputations. Reputation checking will require ongoing effort and it is worthwhile to document attacks and their clean up, in case there are questions about the attack or you need to submit a file to law enforcement.

If I have one big problem with the book, it is that I discovered that the site listed in the references,, does not lead to a companion website for the book. The index/home page leads to the Amazon listing of the book. The links provided in the references at the end of each chapter, such as found on page 147, lead only to a broken links. Now a researcher will be able to find the actual references, but the implication of providing links like this is that, well, they will work and will lead the reader to useful resources.

Librarians who are looking for work may want to use the information outlined to check up on their online reputation--and I know for a fact that libraries are checking out their applicants online--and they may need to use it to defend the online reputation of their library. Sadly, only about an hour after finishing this book, I did have to recommend it to a client who was facing personal attacks online; though I was sorry about the attacks, I was glad to be able to give the person a resource to use so they could understand the nature of the attacks and how to resist them effectively.

Wild West 2.0: How to Protect and Restore Your Reputation on the Untamed Social Frontier

1 comment:

David Thompson said...


I'm David Thompson, one of the authors of the book Wild West 2.0. Thanks for the review! I'm very glad that you had a chance to read it.

I wanted to let you know that we've fixed the references on the website. I had not realized that you had already gotten a review copy, so I had not yet activated that part of the site.

I have now activated the footnotes, so urls like will give you additional information and forward you to the relevant URL.
My apologies for any inconvenience--let me know if there is anything I can do to make it up to you.

I still need to make sure that the final footnote numbers match the redirects. In the meantime, I'd be happy to email you the full list of URLs if there is one in particular that you're interested in. Of course, the final site visual design will be different than what you see in the redirector now.

Thank you again for the review and don't hesitate to contact me for any reason. I can be reached at david --at-- (please feel free to verify this comment by email).

Sincerely yours,

David Thompson
Author, Wild West 2.0