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Stay At Home Mum blogger walks out into eye of social media storm

Date

Lia Timson

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Self-confessed daggy housewife Jody Allen, founder of Stay At Home Mum.

Self-confessed daggy housewife Jody Allen, founder of Stay At Home Mum. Photo: Supplied

Rising blog star Jody Allen has been forced to apologise for domain squatting, after being accused of attracting visitors and advertisers to her Stay At Home Mum site unethically.

The Queensland-based website had attracted the attention of advertisers and Melbourne investor Leon Serry with a business model that turned daggy housewife advice into a high-rating encyclopedia.

On Wednesday, rival bloggers contacted media outlets, advising of a concerted campaign to alert advertisers like Suncorp that Stay At Home Mum had registered a number of domains similar to successful independent blogs in order to redirect web search traffic to itself.

“Dear Suncorp, Do you realise you are supporting the unethical business practices of the Stay at Home Mum? You advertise on that home page but Stay at Home Mum has bought up all range of url variations of other successful businesses and now redirects those urls to its website. While not illegal, it is an underhanded way to obtain business and you Suncoprp [sic] are supporting that by advertising on the Stay at Home Mum webpage page,” the notice said.

It went on to offer the example of The Organised Housewife blog (theorganisedhouswife.com.au), an independently successful blogger turned business woman whose domain was affected by SAHM’s ownership of the similar organisedhousewife.com.au (without “the”).

“This is now being highlighted in many, many online networks of small businesses and mumpreneurs, and even to the public likers of business pages - Australia wide,” the notice continued.

“Suncorp I ask that you demonstrate good corporate citizenship and show Stay at Home Mum that you do not support unethical business behaviour by withdrawing your advertising from the Stay at Home Mum website immediately.”

A spokeswoman for Suncorp said the bank has advertised on the site in the past but it was "not a strategic relationship". 

Ms Allen posted an emotional video on Facebook on Thursday, apologising for an error the site had earlier said was committed by “outsourced developers” for redirecting “100’s [sic] of domains”.

“I just like to start by saying yesterday was one of the worst days of my life … but my only error was in judging the advice that I’d been given. Having said that I solely take responsibility for this bad decision," Ms Allen said.

She went on to explain the site was a home-based operation in Gympie, with no shareholders or large corporate apparatus, and offered to speak to anyone who had been affected, in particular to Katrina Springer, owner of The Organised Housewife.

“This redirect was not an intentional action and it is unfortunate if it has inflected any of our fellow bloggers in the process,” the site wrote on its Facebook page earlier.

Mr Sherry who last month told Fairfax Media he had injected cash and taken out an option to acquire 30 per cent of Stay At Home Mum as an investment, was unaware of the claims and ensuing social media storm on Thursday.

He told Fairfax Media he didn’t know anything about it or how it would affect his option.

“I only have an option, I’m not a shareholder. I don’t know anything about it.”

Asked whether it would change his investment intentions, he said he hadn’t yet made a decision on the option.

“I’ll have to look into it. I’ll definitely check it out.”

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8 comments so far

  • It's a good thing she's apologised and hopefully she will make good by offering to transfer the domains to the proper parties.
    Beyond the PR/Social Media nightmare, there are actually some quite serious legal implications for cybersquatting on domain names similar to your competitors:-
    1) Under auDA Policy (by which all Australian domain holders are bound), Australian domain names must be registered in good faith and have a connection to a registered business name, company name, trade mark or product name. Failure to demonstrate that connection can lead to cancellation of the domain name under the Policy;
    2) Breach of s18 of the Australian Consumer Law (misleading and deceptive conduct) by making a false/misleading representing that the trader has "sponsorship, approval or affiliation" with another trader that it does not legitimately have;
    3) Trade mark infringement (if the other trader has a registered trade mark);
    4) Passing off.

    Commenter
    Ben
    Date and time
    June 20, 2014, 12:42AM
    • are they considered 'traders'?
      do they need to be a registered business or company to get advertising dollars?

      what's passing off?

      Commenter
      Raida
      Location
      chewing salty razors
      Date and time
      June 20, 2014, 9:00AM
  • I do believe it's probable that she's telling the truth about a company arranging to get her the maximum hits - which increases advertising value.
    I feel sorry for her - how much less is her site worth now?

    Commenter
    Raida
    Location
    chewing salty razors
    Date and time
    June 20, 2014, 8:59AM
    • @Raida
      Coincidentally ... she feels sorry for herself as well.

      She may well be telling the truth, but I detected no empathy for the people whose hard work she has infringed or is attempting to piggy-back on. Disappointing given that those people (theorganisedhosewife and others) are so similar to her own ... small 'mumpreneurs' who are also struggling to make a presence in a competitive and challenging area.

      Commenter
      Farr
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 20, 2014, 11:32AM
  • She knew exactly what she was doing. She purchased the domain over a year ago plus many others and even back then tried to sell it back. Her claim now is just trying to cover up because she got caught. Don't be fooled by her 'asking for forgiveness' performance. I can't believe the media has not picked up on that which a simple reverse domain search would show - as well as all the other domains she did it with. And let's not forget her business partner - and who else in her family has domains registered to them./ Nope, she took a calculated risk that unfortunately for her did not pay off.

    Commenter
    JDigby
    Date and time
    June 20, 2014, 10:30AM
    • The Organised Housewife was not the only business affected.. There were so many others, read Michelle's reply to a blog post about her run in with SAHM and don't forget that she tried to get another Brisbane mum to pay $150 a month for a domain name or a one off payment of $20,000 ridiculous..

      http://www.workathomemums.com.au/blog/2014/6/Stay-At-Home-Mum-Vs-Organised-Housewife-Scandal-Domain-URLs-Revealed-Mummy-Blogger-Wars

      Commenter
      Jocelyn
      Date and time
      June 20, 2014, 10:48AM
      • It is 2014 and people still don't know what the difference between .com.au domain names - which have rules related to COMpanies (you know, that is why they are .COM) and other domain suffixes that nowadays have basically have no rules at all.

        If stupid link-clickers have no idea about the difference between a .com.au and other types of domain names then let them be "exploited", I am tired of the constant whingeing to protect lazy people from their own ignorance.

        Commenter
        DC
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        June 20, 2014, 12:50PM
        • The importance of morals and ethics is important in any size business. Offering a website service that supports an audience, in this case mums, then sabotaging their businesses must have sounded alarm bells for SAHM. And the furore highlights the need for even the simplest of crisis communication plans in every size business.

          Commenter
          Lisa
          Location
          Brisbane
          Date and time
          June 20, 2014, 1:15PM

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