I'm not sure if I should be insulted, disappointed, or both. There's a lot of noise out there right now about some dummy data that ended up the Target.com website. Steve Rubel goes so far as to call this a PR crisis in the blogosphere. Even Scoble is complaining.

Jesus Fu@%ing Christ, people. It's a stupid mistake. Are we too screwed up to realize that companies are composed of people and that people sometimes make mistakes? I don't know about you, but I see really big differences between this and the Kryptonite "pick a lock with a ball point pen" crisis. (Hint: It actually was a crisis.)

This is just stupid. If Fox News wrote sensationalized blog entries, it'd be about stuff like this this Target mistake.

The real "crisis" here is people not thinking. I don't honestly believe for one second that target it selling illegal drugs. Do you?

I suspect that if someone bothered to tell them about the problem instead of using this as an opportunity to blame their PR folks for not reading blogs, they probably would have fixed it and gone on with life. Making fun of them on your blog is all well and good, but calling this a crisis strikes me as being over the top.

Update: As others noted, I shouldn't have said Scoble was complaining too. Whoops.

Posted by jzawodn at November 28, 2004 08:02 AM

Reader Comments
# Nick W said:

I thought this would never end. Thanks for being forthright enuogh to point this silliness out.

If people just had a bit of a giggle at a dumb arsed mistake it'd be cool, the fact that people seem to beleive T would sell drugs is the real joke no? :)

on November 28, 2004 09:04 AM
# mike said:

Here's my answer: it's not that bloggers are dumb, it's generally worse. It's like that guy at the party who keeps talking...overly dramatic, insecure about not being heard, and self-righteous when they believe they do have the spotlight, via some "scoop" story like this one.

Just another example of how bloggers, in general, can be just like Chicken Little. Over time, I'm finding that the blogosphere is being filled with people who fit into some very neat categories.

And I'm not one to be a fan of generalizations, so I actually wish this wasn't the case, in my opinion.

1. there's the media/technologist/visionary Marc Canter blogger:

..overly dramatic (FOAF or DIE!!!)
..drops blogger celebrity names at least once a post
..about once a week, will explain how he/she had predicted years ago that some current event would happen (and includes the self-referential link to his blog post where he/she apparently did so)

2. there's the techy/programmer/sysadmin know-it-all blogger: (not including you here, Jeremy, for various reasons, but am including many of your audience)

..passes judgement on technology decisions made by other companies without having really any idea about the technology's implementation
..offers their all-powerful and so-simple genius solutions to technology problems, with the luxury of cursing the company for being dumb for not taking their expert opinion
..generally elitist character

3. there's the academic researcher blogger:

..critical of other bloggers, industries, companies, pretty much everything for not agreeing with them
..quite bitter about The Man and all things out to make money
..fond of making gross generalizations (like the ones I'm making here)

I'm sure that you can come up with much more, maybe there should be some sort of taxonomy. :) Basically, I find that major bloggers are just people who, possibly because they don't really have to deal with face-to-face rebuttals of their thoughts, can be quite knee-jerk reactive in their publishings.

on November 28, 2004 09:07 AM
# Kenneth Norton said:
on November 28, 2004 09:09 AM
# Adam Kalsey said:

The problem is some sort of dummy data inserted as a juvenile prank. It's a problem with how Target.com's backend system interacts with Amazon's data. (For those that don't know, Amazon runs Target.com)

My blog has some details about this: http://kalsey.com/2004/11/test_data_mishap/

on November 28, 2004 09:47 AM
# Nick W said:

People, and those "high brow" bloggers themselves in particular need to remember that even these blogsnobs have to visit the lavatory.

Some seem to think they're above us mere mortals, but worse, many beleive they are correct.

Me, i know im 'ing spectacular so that's okay...

on November 28, 2004 09:52 AM
# Chris DiBona said:

Come on now Jeremy, you shouldn't expect too much of people. The idea of spreading publishing around to everyone means that, commonly, you'll have people complaining/commenting/explaining/being and authority on things they really have no idea about.

If that sounds like I'm judging, so be it, but it's really a small price to pay for people individually having a way of getting their thoughts out there.

It does make it a little harder on some organizations. I, like you, don't care much about Target's data problems. They're kind of funny, but I'm not going to short the stock or call for the head of PR.

Chris DiBona

on November 28, 2004 10:15 AM
# Tyme said:

Actually Scoble is not complaining he is just referencing (in my opinion).

It's a shame that people do not think more before they write. It's a shame because company's reputation can be tarnished over a silly mistake.

on November 28, 2004 11:02 AM
# Alex said:

Q: Are bloggers really that dumb?
A: Yes. Exhibit A - http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/003132.html
How stupid - you're just joining the chorus. Note to all bloggers - GET A LIFE! AND STOP THINKING YOU'RE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.

on November 28, 2004 11:28 AM
# Robert Scoble said:

Yeah, I wasn't complaining. It's the kind of thing that Microsoft gets called on every other week, it seems.

What's happening, though, is that things like this get spread through the information networks very quickly and if a company isn't doing PubSub searches on their name they'll quickly see wacky PR.

This one isn't that damaging. But the Kryptonite example was.

Brands are made and lost in interactions like these.

Does the company respond when poked? Does it have a PR person who watches what is being said about it online?

Imagine how clued in Target would look if they just came and said "hey, thanks for noticing this problem, we'll get it fixed."

But, they haven't shown up on my blog. They haven't shown up on yours. They haven't shown up on Steve's blog. They haven't shown up on Boing Boing.

That's a lost opportunity.

I notice that Yahoo values that opportunity enough to put you here. Why?

on November 28, 2004 12:11 PM
# Adam Kalsey said:

I hate it when a typo completely changes the meaning of something. I said, "The problem is some sort of dummy data inserted as a juvenile prank."

What I meant was "the problem is not some sort of dummy data."

on November 28, 2004 01:10 PM
# TDavid said:

I saw the Target thing and thought: nothing to see here, move along. Obviously a few others couldn't resist the temptation. To each his own.

on November 28, 2004 01:52 PM
# Steve Rubel said:

Jeremy, I understand where you're coming from - this is hardly Target's Three Mile Island. And I am not faulting them for not jumping into the fray on Thanksgiving weekend. But now that I see that Boing Boing blogged this web site glitch over a week ago, there's really no excuse for at a bare minimum getting this issue remedied. Sorry.

on November 28, 2004 05:14 PM
# thom said:

This guy seems to think badly of all bloggers

on November 28, 2004 06:00 PM
# David said:

It's not a crisis, the sky isn't falling. But it does point out that companies - especially those with a consumer (as opposed to b2b) focus - ignore blogistan at their peril.

It's not like it's going to impact their bottom line one way or another but on the other hand they've been the object of several hundred thousand snickers over the past week or so and they probably aren't even aware.

on November 28, 2004 06:01 PM
# Christopher Carfi said:

Jeremy's right. Nothing to see here. Move along.

on November 29, 2004 12:24 AM
# Neville Hobson said:

I also posted about this on my blog (so I'm one of those stupid PR bloggers).

Is Target really selling marijuana? No, I don't believe they are in spite of the web page - which is still there, and there is still comment going on in blogs.

Target actually now has a good opportunity to create a PR benefit from this little situation. Assuming they are paying attention.

on November 29, 2004 01:34 AM
# Anthony said:

Well I'd call it what it is: Good advertising - thats all.

Bloggers just have too much time on their hand and need stuff to fill their empty pages.

on November 29, 2004 03:03 AM
# Thomas Hawk said:

I doctored the photo up a bit. I think we can sell more pot this way. http://thomashawk.com/2004/11/just-in-time-for-your-holiday-shopping.html

on November 29, 2004 03:33 AM
# Thomas Hawk said:

More fun with Target. Do you know that you can also buy our 44th President of the United States, John Kerry? Or how about Christmas with Martha Stewart?

on November 29, 2004 05:56 AM
# Paul Reinheimer said:

I just assumed that they had a book (or scent, or magazine, etc) for sale called Marijuana.

on November 29, 2004 08:57 AM
# justin said:

I posted some screenshots of that Target stuff on my Flickr album - oh, and they sell "hookers" too, but with a 4 to 8 weeks delivery time. (Darn! I wanted one tonight..:-) )

I found it all highly amusing - I cant see why anyone would get all worked up about it.


on November 29, 2004 01:25 PM
# Nathan Weinberg said:

Jeremy, Nathan from InsideGoogle. If possible, could you please change the link to my post about the Target/marijuana story to http://insidegoogle.blogspot.com/2004/11/target-pushes-drugs.html? It's the exact same post, but under a different URL. I discovered the embarrassing misspelling in the title a little too late, and now I have a large number of websites linking to a post with a stupid mistake. Problem is, renaming the post changes the URL, and results in a broken link. So now, I have to go through an annoying trek around the internet, pointing everyone at the new URL before I can take down the old one. I'd very much appreciate it.

on November 29, 2004 08:13 PM
# Thomas Hawk said:

So the marijuana sale is over it appears. Someone at Target must read blogs after all.

You can stil buy John Kerry though.

on November 30, 2004 12:07 AM
# Adam said:


What is with bloggers and all the damn whining lately? You hit the nail on the head with the Fox News analogy.

This whole Target thing was something to chuckle about - thats it! It's no big deal. Have a laugh and get back to work!

Drama queens. The lot of ya!

Thanks for being the sole Voice of Reason Jeremy.

on November 30, 2004 07:41 AM
# robert barac said:

A big thumbs up here for JZ.

In these times of political and economic turmoil, is the innapropriate behaviour of several employees really that important?

on November 30, 2004 02:47 PM
# Essive said:

Pure silliness at a microcosm level. Who reads blogs? Not executives of a 50 billion dollar company. Only bloggers read blogs.

on November 30, 2004 06:33 PM
# Tim said:

Jeremy, the crisis is your lack of proofreading.

1) "this this"? Just one "this" will do.

2) "that target it selling illegal drugs" maybe the "it" should be an "is"?

I'm insulted and disappointed with you. Do you work for Target?

on December 1, 2004 07:39 PM
# K said:

It's funny. After all, it's the internet - it's not real.

on December 1, 2004 10:50 PM
# Zach said:

Damnit - I always miss the good sales.

on May 20, 2005 02:38 AM
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