Derek Powazek outed himself big-mouthed and ignorant, and why that’s a pity

Derek PowazekWith childish attacks on his colleagues, Derek Powazek didn’t do professional Web development –as an industry– a favor. As a matter of fact, Derek Powazek insulted savvy Web developers, Web designers, even search engine staff, as well as useability experts and search engine specialists, who team-up in countless projects helping small and large Web sites succeed.

I seriously can’t understand how Derek Powazek “has survived 13 years in the web biz” (source) without detailled knowledge of how things get done in Web projects. I mean, if a developer really has worked 13 years in the Web biz, he should know that the task of optimizing a Web site’s findability, crawlability, and accessibility for all user agents out there (SEO) is usually not performed by “spammers evildoers and opportunists”, but by highly professional experts who just master Web development better than the average designer, copy-writer, publisher, developer or marketing guy.

Boy, what an ego. Derek Powazek truly believes that if “[all SEO/SEM techniques are] not obvious to you, and you make websites, you need to get informed” (source). That translates to “if you aren’t 100% perfect in all aspects of Web development and Internet marketing, don’t bother making Web sites — go get a life”.

Derek PowazekWell, I consider very few folks capable of mastering everything in Web development and Internet marketing. Clearly, Derek Powazek is not a member of this elite. With one clueless, uninformed and way too offensive rant he has ruined his reputation in a single day. Shortly after his first thoughtless blog post libelling fellow developers and consultants, Google’s search result page for [Derek Powazek] is flooded with reasonable reactions revealing that Derek Powazek’s pathetic calls for ego food are factually wrong.

Of course calm and knowledgable experts in the field setting the records straight, like Danny Sullivan (search result #1 and #4 for [Derek Powazek] today) and Peter da Vanzo (SERP position #9), can outrank a widely unknown guy like Derek Powazek at all major search engines. Now, for the rest of his presence on this planet, Derek Powazek has to live with search results that tell the world what kind of an “expert” he really is (example ).

He should have read Susan Moskwa’s very informative article about reputation management on Google’s Blog a day earlier. Not that reputation management doesn’t count as an SEO skill … actually, that’s SEO basics (as well as URI canonicalization).

Dear Derek Powazek, guess what all the bright folks you’ve bashed so cleverly will do when you ask them to take down their responses to your uncalled-for dirty talk?

So what can we learn from this gratuitous debacle? Do not piss in someone’s roses when

  • you suffer from an oversized ego,
  • you’ve not the slightest clue what you’re talking about,
  • you can’t make a point with proven facts, so you’ve to use false pretences and clueless assumptions,
  • you tend to insult people when you’re out of valid arguments,
  • willy whacking is not for you, because your dick is, well, somewhat undersized.

Ok, it’s Friday evening, so I’m supposed to enjoy TGIF’s. Why the fuck am I wasting my valuable spare time writing this pamphlet? Here’s why:

Having worked in, led, and coached WebDev teams on crawlability and best practices with regard to search engine crawling and indexing for ages now, I was faced with brain amputated wannabe geniuses more than once. Such assclowns are able to shipwreck great projects. From my experience the one and only way to keep teams sane and productive is sacking troublemakers at the moment you realize they’re unconvinceable. This Powazek dude has perfectly proven that his ignorance is persistent, and that his anti-social attitude is irreversible. He’s the prime example of a guy I’d never hire (except if I’d work for my worst enemy). Go figure.

Update 2009-10-19: I consider this a lame excuse. Actually, it’s even more pathetic than the malicious slamming of many good folks in his previous posts. If Derek Powazek really didn’t know what “SEO” means in the first place, his brain farts attacking something he didn’t understand at the time of publishing his rants are indefensible, provided he was anything south of sane then. Danny Sullivan doesn’t agree, and he’s right when he says that every industry has some black sheep, but as much as I dislike comment spammers, I dislike bullshit and baseness.

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7 Comments to "Derek Powazek outed himself big-mouthed and ignorant, and why that's a pity"

  1. kev grant on 19 October, 2009  #link

    Now there’s the reply I wish we’d written. ours was a little less eloquent and made more use of the word “numpty”

    respect from Ibiza.

    [ Indeed. ;) ]

  2. Sebastian on 20 October, 2009  #link

    Case closed

    Danny Sullivan

    [Quotes Derek Powazek] “To the people out there doing good work for real clients under the auspices of SEO: I’m sorry. I lumped you in with the bastards because I thought of what you did as web development, not SEO. I cast too wide a net and caught some good fish in there with the bad. I apologize.”
    I don’t see that as lame, Sebastian. I see that as an olive branch and more. Would be nice if folks actually thanked him for that. He could have easily taken another route.


    Danny, you’re right looking at the message you’ve quoted above (alone). When I read his post yesterday it summarized itself as “sorry folks, but I was right in the first place”. That’s why I’ve called it a lame excuse. Because he hadn’t got the balls to post just one sentence like “I fucked up” without lots of yadda yadda yadda to nebulize his withdrawal.
    Anyway, today I’m a day older and there’s really no need to beat a dead horse. Reading his “Let’s all be friends” apology again, I hereby take back the “lame” part.

  3. […] Sebastians Pamphlets […]

  4. […] surprisingly, the SEO industry was outraged. Some bared their teeth and responded in kind. Others tried to reason with you and calmly deconstruct your criticisms.  All of us were offended […]

  5. Gil Reich on 21 October, 2009  #link

    I’m with you all the way, including on your update about his “apology.” The short apology was less than 10% of the post. The rest was about how SEOs being offended by his post just proved that he was right.

    [FYI: Here’s Gil Reich’s response to Derek Powazek’s SEO bashing.]

  6. Springboard SEO on 23 September, 2010  #link

    “This is the personal site of Derek Powazek. It’s okay if you don’t get it.”

    “This is the personal site of Derek Powazek. Deal with it.”


    Whether he’s being pretentious or thinks he’s being ironic, he’s obviously looking for reactions. Does’t usually make for interesting reading unless you’re infatuated with the author as much as he seems to be with himself.

    Kind of sad in a way

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