How to become hated by thousands with a single image

Back in December of 2010 I got together with a couple friends, Mike Olbinski and Rick Young, to shoot the long abandoned dog track north of Phoenix in Black Canyon City. I have shared many of those images over the last few years and have a number of them in a gallery over on my SmugMug hosted site. I have also shared some of them here on the blog recently as part of my #WayBackMachine series of blog posts. It was one of these #WayBackMachine posts that captured some attention that not only made me hated by thousands but also garnered a handful of threats.

It seems that a greyhound rescue group on Facebook came across one of my recent #WayBackMachine posts that featured an image I had titled “Sad” and somehow interpreted it to mean that I was somehow sad that the track had closed and that the dogs were no longer being mistreated at the facility. If you look at the image in question it will be pretty clear why I titled the image the way I did, and I still think that “Sad” is an appropriate title for it.

You might be wondering how I was actually alerted to all of this. I have my blog configured that when a person leaves a comment for the first time it is held for moderation. I am emailed by the system when a blog comment goes into the moderation queue. When I got just over 50 emails within about 10 minutes asking me to moderate blog comments, I knew that something was up. As I was reading through the comments more and more were coming into for moderation. It was immediately obvious that they were coming from a greyhound group and a quick peek at my traffic stats showed that they were coming from Facebook. I actually started approving some of them, and after just a handful it was clear that the comments were getting more and more vicious and in most cases just repeating the same things that other people were already saying. When all was said and done I had just over 200 comments waiting for moderation, most of them echoing what I had already approved and can be seen on the blog right now. A small percentage contained some veiled and not so veiled threats towards me. At that point I simply stopped reading them and also decided that I was not going to approve any further comments.

This is when I decided to do a little investigative work and see if I could find the group on Facebook that had posted the link to my blog. I actually expected that to be a little harder than it was, and found the group right away. The group has just over 14,000 members and it is pretty obvious that they are a passionate group, which is a good thing. I respect passion in people. I actually posted a comment to their FB post explaining that I did not support the dog racing industry, in the title of their post they called me a “sympathizer” to the cause, and that I had simply documented a facility that had been closed for over 2 decades. While I did share what was happening on the different social media outlets that I use, I made a decision to not publicly share what group it was, but a couple of my photographer friends found the group as well and posted some great comments in my defense, thanks guys, that really means a lot to me.  And while those that know me know that I love dogs, have dogs and in no way support the dog racing industry, members of that group made up their minds with absolutely zero information other than an image I created.

By the next morning the post / link had been removed from the group’s Facebook page and things were starting to settle back to normal on the blog, but Monday set all sort of traffic records to my blog. A pretty good percentage of the 14,000+ members of the group visited my site.

On a side note, I monitor the search terms that people use to find my blog and on that day the number one search hit was “picture of Scott Wood,” not something like “pictures by Scott Wood,” so I can only assume that someone out there wanted to know what I looked like, unless they were looking for the basketball player that is having a pretty good year at NC State. :-)

This entry was posted in Photography.

9 Comments

  1. Jim Denham February 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Passion + Stupid is not a good combination. Keep dishing out the great images Scott!

  2. Jimi Jones February 27, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Too bad such negative energy and misguided passion for a cause gets triggered by a lack of information. Only shows how many are simply followers of others.

    I enjoyed the photos for what they represented, artistic urbex images. Post on, my friend.
    Jimi Jones recently posted..Sunset on the BoardwalkMy Profile

  3. Eje Gustafsson February 27, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    What Jim and Jimi said is so true, to many are just followers and will jump on the trail and try to outdo their other believers without any fact checking or attempt to understand a thing. As I write this I feel like one that jumped onto the band Wagon ;)

    Keep up the good work and keep documenting
    Eje Gustafsson recently posted..Playing with shadowsMy Profile

  4. Pete February 28, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    I have to agree what everyone above has said Scott. People blindly following a cause and not stopping to actually gather the facts is a dangerous state of affairs. People all too often read the one or two comments directly above theirs and then jump on the band wagon. The description on the image in question makes it perfectly clear that you don’t support the sport, and that its simply the artistic value of the image you’re interested in. People really should do their research before they decide to hate someone.

  5. Mike Criswell March 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    I agree with above, sorry for the hassle you had to go through, great image
    Mike Criswell recently posted..Blue Hour at The PalaceMy Profile

  6. Toad Hollow Photo March 4, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    I’m still having a hard time believing this all. In the modern world we live in with the internet being as prolific as it is, aren’t we all conditioned to read the words (even if just a quick once-over) on the screen? It’s kind of shocking to think that someone picks up on a picture and without a second thought starts a tsunami of blatant lies… some of which even resulted in threats to you and your family. I am really quite proud of you for taking a stand and helping those who rushed to judgement understand the actual purpose of your underlying story. Great work here, Scott, although it should never have happened like this at all…
    Toad Hollow Photo recently posted..These Shoes Were Made For WalkingMy Profile

  7. Pat gorriaz November 21, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    Hi Scott,
    Recently visited the BCC dog track today (11/21/15) I have a few questions if you have time! Enjoyed ourselves and took some awesome pictures, they looked much different from your past photos! Would love to chat sometime!

    Sincerely,
    Pat Gorraiz

    • ScottWood November 23, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

      Please feel free to drop me an email from the contact button. I will be pretty tied up with family things for the next week or so but will response just as soon as possible.

  8. Alyssa Gorraiz March 20, 2017 at 12:58 am #

    Hello! I came across your blog and this post oddly enough by looking up information about my Grandfather, who was a well known photographer in Casa Grande throughout the 1940’s until the 1970’s, Jim Gorraiz. My cousin, Pat Gorraiz posted a comment above, which showed up in my Google search. I was inspired to read your post about images you had taken from way back when of the racetrack and how people totally misinterpreted your meaning and purpose. Personally, black and white photos are a favorite of mine and I love looking at the way Phoenix used to be. Thank you for sharing your work with the world and I will be continuing to visit!

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