How NOT to run a social media site: The story of Scott...

How NOT to run a social media site: The story of Scott Rohter and WePluribUS.net

pay upIt takes a lot of effort and a lot of money to run a successful social media website.  Sometimes, you have to do a bit of fundraising to make things work the way you want and sometimes, you need to do some old-fashioned advertising.

But Scott Rohter, the appliance repairman who started WePluribUS.net, has a unique approach — and it’s not winning him many friends.  His plan, it seems, is to berate users and call them names.  If you don’t fold and give him cash, he bans you from the site, and from what I can see, it doesn’t seem to be working too well.

Keep in mind that I’m one of the few people on the planet who actually supported what he’s doing.  I’m no fan of Facebook, even though I use the living daylights out of it.  I hate the way they seem to arbitrarily change the rules on posts and the way they seem to favor liberals over conservatives.  I’ve written about it a lot, and have even spoken with some folks there about it.

So I was excited when I first learned about WePluribUS, and even wrote an article about it in the hopes it would become a viable conservative alternative to Facebook.

At the time — January 2013 — Rohter told me that in about five years, he wanted to give people the option of “buying into” the site.  An interesting idea, to be sure.  But then, after learning what it takes to make such an endeavor work, he realized he needed money.  Fast.

Instead of placing ads on his site or gently reaching out to users, he demanded – that’s right – DEMANDED people pay up.  Or else.  Facebook, with all of its issues, doesn’t do that.

In May, he banned blogger Diane Sori because, according to her, she would not fork over $100 to use the site.  Sori told me at the time that he sent her a number of nasty emails and “expected” her to pay up.

Sori provided one of the emails he sent:

“YOU KNOW THAT AND YOU SHOULD HAVE NO PROBLEM PAYING FOR WHAT YOU USE.. THE ALTERNATIVE IS THAT I SHOULD PAY FOR YOU TO USE.. AND I AM NOT GOING TO ANYMORE.. YOU ARE ALL ABOUT YOURSELF DIANE SORI AND IF YOU DONT WANT TO PAY FOR WHAT YOU USE THAN YOU CAN GO BACK TO FBOOK AND THE TPC WHICH IS ALL ABOUIT TIM SELATY MAKING MONEY FOR TIM SELATY. CHOSE AND LET ME KNOW.. I AM NOT BENDING OVER TO PLEASE YOU ANYMORE DIANE. YOUR COMPLAINTS AND YOUR UNWILLINGNESS TO HELP OUT AND NOT TO EVEN PAY FOR WHAT YOU DO IS JUST TOO MUCH.. IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO PAY TO KEEP THIS SITE LIVE SO YOU CAN PROMOTE YOUR OWN BLOG THAT I WILL BE HAPPY TO DELETE YOU.. PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP.”

Keep in mind that Rohter originally said in January that the site would be free.

Here’s what I wrote — based on his words — in January:

“Eventually, perhaps in five years, Rohter wants to give members the option of buying into the network for the small fee of setting up their own page, which, by that time, should already be done. Those who do not opt to buy in, he said, may have to deal with some ads to help defray the cost of the site. Rohter said that unlike some, he is not motivated by money.”

Keep this in mind, because just this morning, Rohter called ME a liar, banned me from his site and unfriended me on Facebook.  To which I say, good riddance.

Rohter also hit me up for money.  I told him on Monday that as I was in the middle of personal issues, including a move, that I would take a look at the situation in a couple weeks after things had settled down and I might consider it.  At the time, he was okay with it, but it seems he let his anger cloud his judgment.

Bear in mind that so far, I have defended Rohter from some who have attacked him and his site, and I have supported and promoted his site whenever possible.  I was even warned about Rohter’s anger, but thought nothing of it since at the time, he had been fine with me.

No more.

It’s not uncommon for sites to politely ask for voluntary donations, but sites whose owners berate and demand cash aren’t worth the visits, in my opinion.

WePluribUS had a bright and promising future, if it was set up and run properly.  But people simply are not going to put up with site owners who bully and berate them.

Update:  My friend and colleague Dean Chambers has more:

Member who have not made donations have had been banned from the site by Rohter. He claims they were not banned because they failed to donate, but because they told him “lies” but Rohter couldn’t specify a single lie told by any of the banned members. Rohter also called Joe Newby’s article about this site on Conservative Firing Line, “a bunch of s**t” and “lies” but could not document a single claim in the article made by Newby that he claims is a “lie.”

You can see all of it here, including links showing Rohter’s history of belligerent behavior.

Update 2:  Seems Rohter is taking exception to me calling him an appliance repairman.  Don’t know why, it’s an honorable profession and it is what he does.  He didn’t seem to have an issue with it back in January, so what’s changed since then?

Maybe this 2008 allegation at Rip Off Report has something to do with it, but that’s just speculation on my part:

“We were in the middle of watching the Olympic games, which he promptly denigrated as a waste of time when there is war in Georgia. Letting us know his conservative political leanings and being very aggressive to make a point about God knows what? Wasn’t he here to fix the fridge? I didn’t realize I was a radio talk show host who was interviewing the popular politically galvanizing refrigerator repairman. I remained neutral and friendly the entire time. I finally had to ask him to leave around 11:20 because he wouldn’t stop talking and had no social understanding of his rude and inconsiderate behavior.”

Then there was this allegation, posted at Rip Off Report in Feb 2013.  And yes, according to the allegation, that’s blood in a washbasin.  Allegedly left by Rohter.

bloodysink1According to the unhappy customer:

“He also continued to cut his hands on the internal parts while trying to repair the machine, and getting blood all over our laundry room. When we gave him a Band-Aid or paper towel to wipe up his blood he would just toss it into our unlined laundry bin and would often miss so his bloody tissues would just be laying on the ground. He made a comment about the blood and I said to him thats fine but can you please clean up your blood before you leave? He quickly snapped at me and said that he was not a cleaner and that I should be glad that he stayed to try and fix our washer even though he was injured and that he shouldnt have. I responded by saying telling him he shouldve stopped when he was injured and that it is unhygienic to leave his blood everywhere. Scott continued to refuse to clean his blood up and he tested the washer again and it was still not working. He did not charge us and walked away.”

 

Update #3:  In a rambling screed at his blog (I’m not going to link to it, BTW), Rohter accuses me of lying.

“He claims that I am demanding people pay me order to use WePluribUS,  or banning them from the site if they don’t contribute something,” he wrote.

But as we’ve shown here and at Examiner, that’s exactly what he’s done.  There’s also this on his Terms of Service, which wasn’t there when I signed up in January:

Your Account is free for the first thirty days. That should be long enough for you to get used to our site and decide whether you like it enough to become a contributing member. Contributing members are those who are asked to pay a small monthly fee in order to keep the site going. This eliminates the need to allow annoying advertising on the site, or hold frequent fundraisers in order to defray costs.

There’s also this (as written):

If there is no activity on your account over an extended period of time (twelve weeks), in other words if you dont log in for three months then your account will be subject to being deleted.. If your account is deleted you have no recourse to recover any fees paid. We want all of our members to paricipate in the conversation here.

In other words, pay up and be as active as he demands, or you’re out.  But that’s not all.  He added:

If you continue to engage in any form of harassing activity including personal attacks on other members your account will either be suspended or permanently deleted. Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated including any personal attacks on another member. If you continue to engage in ad hominem attacks on other members, or if your discussions continue to waiver into areas that have absolutely nothing at all to do with news and politics or the substantive issues that concern our country, then you will be banned and your account will be deleted.

He claims that he did not delete my account, but I have not been able to log on since Friday, when he wrote:

“I have unfriended you and banned your account on We and will shortly delete it as well..”

So, two things.

1)  Either Scott lied to me on Friday, or he is lying in his post.

2)  If my account is still active at Wepluribus, then Scott must, under his own terms of service, ban himself.

I won’t hold my breath.

Update #4:  It seems that in the last few days, Rohter has changed the terms of service, probably due to this post exposing him.  Now they read:

Your Account is free for the first thirty days. That should be long enough for you to get familiar with our site and decide whether you like it or not. After thirty days you are encouraged to become a Contributing Member and help by paying your fair share of the operating costs for our site. This eliminates the need to sell annoying advertising on the site as other sites do in order to help defray costs. If you contribute something then your membership status will be upgraded to Contributing Member, and you will have a voice whenever it comes to making key decision regarding our site. If you chose not to contribute anything then you can remain on as a Basic Member with no voice at all in how this site is run. No one will ever be banned or deleted just for not contributing, and no one ever has been banned or deleted just for not contributing. There has to be another reason besides that in order to ban or delete someone’s account at WePluribUS.

If there is no activity on your account for an extended period of time (ten weeks) you can be banned and your account can be deleted.. We want all of our members to actively participate in the conversation going on here. If you break the Rules you can be banned or deleted. If you repeatedly misuse The Forum or your Home Page for anything other than the purpose for which it is intended i.e. th discusison of news and politics you can be banned or deleted. If you lie to the owner or any of the admins here you can be banned or deleted. If your account is deleted there is no recourse to recover any fees that you have already paid for your use of the site.

Wonder what they’ll say next week, or better yet, I wonder if the users already at the site agree to this, or if they even know the terms have changed.  Twice.  In less than a month…

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