Not All Bloggers Are Banned, Foxwordy Now Says, Just Some (Maybe Just Me)

I wrote here yesterday about the emails I’d received from Foxwordy CEO Monica Zent in which she wrote that “we are not currently including press as members of the Foxwordy community” and that “we have placed those members who have used Foxwordy for the purpose of blogging about the Foxwordy product on hold based on the requests of users.”

Now Zent has issued a statement to the ABA Journal saying that the site does not ban all legal bloggers, but only “a very small sector of the legal tech blogging community whose sole purpose for joining Foxwordy is to blog about Foxwordy and its members’ activities.”

By that she may mean just me. After all, the “legal tech blogging community” isn’t all that big to begin with, and “a very small sector” of an already small sector would indicate that I may be the sole recipient of Foxwordy’s banishment.

Zent’s statement contains a few points that warrant a response.

Foxwordy Invited Me Because I Was A Blogger

Zent’s statement makes it sound as if I joined the site under false pretenses — for the “sole purpose … to blog about Foxwordy and its members’ activities.”

In fact, when I first joined Foxwordy on Feb. 27, 2014, it was at the invitation of the site’s publicist, the CEO of a New York public relations firm named Mark Pasetsky. He reached out to me to announce Foxwordy’s launch knowing full well that I am a blogger — indeed, because I am a blogger — and he provided me with an invitation to join the site.

So, contrary to Zent’s characterization, she — or at least her PR guy — knew full well that I was “joining Foxwordy … to blog about Foxwordy.”

Where Are All These Blog Posts and Screen Grabs?

Zent’s statement said something else interesting about her decision to ban certain bloggers:

This decision was based on a number of legal tech bloggers who have posted screen grabs of the community and its activities which is a violation of our Terms of Service.

I’m wondering who those “number of legal tech bloggers” were who posted screen grabs. I’ll admit, I posted one screen grab in my review, but it was only of my personal welcome page. It did not show members’ activities.

I’ve searched Google and Twitter for other legal tech bloggers who posted reviews of Foxwordy and I can’t find any. I also searched Google images for screen grabs and could not find any. Carolyn Elefant mentioned Foxwordy in a post, but had no screen grabs. I found several news stories about Foxwordy and about Zent, but I have not found other blog posts. If you wrote or know of one, let me know.

I Was Never Warned

According to the ABA Journal, a Foxwordy representative “said the website warned the banned bloggers that its terms of service were being violated.”

In my case, that is simply not true. I never heard a peep from Foxwordy about violating any terms of service. In fact, last February at LegalTech New York, well after I wrote my review of Foxwordy, I met the PR guy who had initially invited me. He reminded me that he represented Foxwordy and was completely cordial. He said nothing that would suggest anything had been out of order.

Read Her Full Statement

Here is Zent’s full statement as it appeared in the ABA Journal:

The following statement is in reference to recent reports which have incorrectly described the Foxwordy policy. To be clear, the legal blogging community has not and is not banned from the Foxwordy community. Many of our members do have their own blogs that they publish to regularly that pertain to their own practice and expertise. Our policy based on user feedback is to not include a very small sector of the legal tech blogging community whose sole purpose for joining Foxwordy is to blog about Foxwordy and its members’ activities. This decision was based on a number of legal tech bloggers who have posted screen grabs of the community and its activities which is a violation of our Terms of Service. We have a duty to our members to maintain the integrity of our private social network.

 

 

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  • DebDobson

    Good morning Bob. I read your post yesterday, but did not have time to respond. Frankly, I am baffled by her behavior and feel she is wrong. Definitely not transparent. Now to be honest, I don’t understand “private” social networks. To me, private means it is not social, but rather a private network online. She certainly doesn’t understand transparency.

    • Bob Ambrogi

      I agree that “private social network” sounds like an oxymoron. However, I do believe there is a place for so-called “walled garden” networks that allow in only lawyers but exclude the general public.

  • Nick Holmes

    Hi Bob. Foxwordy is so behind the curve! I think the first private social newtwork for lawyers was around 1995 – wouldn’t you agree?

    • Nick Holmes

      newtwork – now that’s a new word

    • Bob Ambrogi

      Earlier than 1995. American Lawyer Media launched Counsel Connect in 1993. It was the first true online “social network” for lawyers. The company then known as Law Journal Publishing followed suit a year later, in 1994, with the launch of Law Journal Extra.

      • Leonard E Sienko Jr

        “Counsel Connect” really takes me back. Thanks for jogging my memory.

  • What I find surprising is if she had done just a little bit of homework she would have understood you are one of the most respected tech bloggers. ethical, honest and a true gentleman. She may not have enjoyed your reviews but it certainly was an opportunity to improve her product/service and embrace a relationship with you. Just a little perplexing. I am confident, though, that if she even reached out to you now in a professional and courteous way, you would still be your normal gracious self.

  • Jennifer Ellis

    What a weird situation, Bob. Never even had heard of the site before this controversy. Definitely not interested in going on it after the way you have been treated. I would think that if a well-respected attorney and blogger such as yourself took the time to post, perhaps they could have looked at what you had to say, taken your advice and perhaps improved their offering. That would be the smart way to handle such a thing. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Also definitely not the first social media site for lawyers.

  • David Hubbard

    Here’s Foxwordy’s promo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80miW6p9X0s . Cute. Compelling?

  • cj

    Tempest – teapot. Kerfuffle – kettle. The first I’ve heard of Foxwordy is its ill-advised rejecting one of the best-known bloggers in the lawyer kingdom. Ms. Zent has irreparably shot herself, not only in the foot, but in both feet, and might not stumble into recovery. But, gee, I’ll probably be able to find all my favorite blogs somewhere else — as I’ve done for the past 20 years without the Zentster.

    • Bob Ambrogi

      What’s still not clear is whether I’m the only blogger she’s banned or if there are others.

      • cj

        The only reason I heard of her at all is that your name came up when she banned you. I had a “wtf?” moment, then a long quizzical “who the hell is she anyway — that she not only doesn’t recognize his name, but then she slams the door in his face?” I’m still wondering whether she realizes that she’s blown a huge opportunity to be affiliated with A Big Name in all things lawyer and online. And my next thought was, “She’s more out of touch than I am after a year of retirement. So she’s not of any use to me .” Shake the dust from off your sandals and find a friendlier place to post.
        And with that, I’m outta here and off her list.