Chris Spies, the infamous 28-year-old who "catfished Odyssey" and tried to "expose" us all, I want to thank you.
You poked holes in a pretty lax system other communities and teams have been complaining about for a while, and I do hope this leads to managing editors and content strategists in New York at HQ to take a more hands-on role with the communities they manage.
Maybe, just maybe, communities will receive a little less clickbaity headline changes from content strategists and a few less passive-aggressive demands out of the blue in a group chat after ghosting their team(s) for a week or more.
Maybe HQ will focus a little more on the quality it's pushing out on its social media accounts versus stirring the pot online for page views.
However, after reading both Buzzfeed's take on the situation and your own account of the story, I am left in frustration.
I was first frustrated by the fact that the prom dress article Odyssey shared (that isn't worthy of being hyperlinked in this article or getting any further attention) was what sparked your adventure into Odyssey.
Communities, EICs, and creators across the country were equally as upset about the article as you were, if not more so. There was an uproar from the “little guys" in Odyssey communities across America demanding change from HQ.
Dozens of response articles surfaced on the site calling both the writer out and HQ out for piggybacking on the publicity of the piece for their own financial advantage. Odyssey HQ knew most of the feedback being generated from the article was negative, and they ran with it, creating shirts and everything anyway.
Us “little guys" who do the grunt work, who write the content, who ARE Odyssey, were pissed.
That article is NOT a sole reflection of who Odyssey is nor are other “trash" articles that make its way onto the site.
If you don't know already, (which you probably do not, considering you only were a part of our company for a little over a week), there are only a couple dozen members who manage content up in New York at our HQ office. There are over 12,000 communities — each with its own staff of writers and editor(s). There are also creators who sign up as writers independently of any teams or editors and their articles. It is impossible for HQ to look over thousands upon thousands of articles every single week, word for word, one at a time. There simply isn't the manpower for it.
We are definitely not the only platform that works this way.
HQ staff does not always handpick the articles featured on their social media either, and it's an important part of why an article like yours would slip through the cracks and make the main page. They are often picked by an algorithm designed to select articles which are already attracting high viewership.
This means that, every once in awhile, a horrible article receiving a ton of criticism makes its way onto Odyssey's main FB page, throwing gasoline on an existing flame.
The difference between us at Odyssey, and you, Mr. Spies, is that we took our complaints to the company and the public itself. We wrote professional articles stating our opinions and truths while you tried to make a joke out of us, cowering behind a mask — a mask you made with the intent of brand defamation.
You took an experience of one community, and a small handful of people involved with the company, and ran with it. You tried to make a joke out of thousands of other writers who do write professional pieces or who use Odyssey to publish beautiful, artistic poetry or creative short-fiction — without doing any outside research.
Yes, Odyssey has its fair share of flops, but so does any other platform, especially Buzzfeed and other sites like it. I can't tell you the amount of times I've found grammatical or simple spelling errors in an article on Buzzfeed (or a horribly written piece in general). This makes Buzzfeed's, and your, attempt to discredit us all the more comical (and to me is a clear sign of pre-conceived bias).
I mean, really, Buzzfeed wants to call us out on clickbait?
Buzzfeed basically created clickbait headlines single-handedly. Buzzfeed has a known rep for trying to call us out any time it can, too, because face it, we are part of their competition. They have an entire “tag" on their website dedicated to trash talking us. It is not a surprise to Odyssey that they'd take your story and want to highlight it. And we are unprofessional?
As much as clickbaity headlines peeve me, a platform whose main readership comes from social media is almost doomed to rely on this method. Especially as a new, up-and-coming company such as Odyssey.
Most importantly, as EIC of an Odyssey community, I can promise you that onboarding a Content Creator without any sort of interview is against company protocol and not the norm of successful Odyssey communities in the slightest.
In fact, Odyssey's onboarding process is as follows:
1. Respond to the applicant's request to join your team in 24-48 hours. Ask a few screening questions and set up a time for an interview via phone or video-chat.
2. Have said interview/screening call; describe Odyssey and our Mission, as well as ask a series of screening questions to see if they are a good fit for the team.
3. After the call, decide if they are a good fit. If they are, accept them.
There is no reason you should have made it onto a team, and for that, I apologize.
There are a few other things you mentioned about Odyssey that were inaccurate as well.
We are “Odyssey."
Not “The Odyssey." Not “Odyssey Online," and not “The Odyssey Online." Our domain name is not the same as our company name. We are a fairly new company and “Odyssey.com" is already taken. We are “Odyssey."
As someone who was selected to be a part of Odyssey, you should at least have knowledge of the company's proper name, as should Buzzfeed. This just further shows how little you actually know about this company.
The way your Editor, “Rebecca" as you called her, handled herself in the GroupMe team discussion chat(s) is a reflection of herself and herself alone. HQ has a pretty hands-off approach when it comes to how EICs and/or presidents manage their team, as long as they are following basic protocols.
Her calling out creators for missing submissions in front of everyone and being passive aggressive is unprofessional, and I'm sorry that became your Odyssey experience.
I do not run my team that way, and in my experience, most other EICs do not either.
Did you ever ask “Mary" or “Rebecca" if they received pay from Odyssey for the work they do before claiming the whole thing is a scam? Because if your team is successful, you do get paid. As an EIC or president, you get paid for the number of articles you edit and how many creators are on your team.
If you're a creator, there is a system for that as well. Creators are considered interns, but there are opportunities for payment on articles that do well. In fact, since you had gone viral Mr. Spies, had your article been accurate and truthful, you too would have received a rev-share from Odyssey for your work.
Instead of giving Odyssey a fair chance, you came in with pre-conceived notions of the company and under false pretenses. You had a hidden agenda and used your unfortunate experience to back up your false claims. You admitted to making yourself unlikable on purpose and then complained that you weren't treated nicely. You “worked" for a company for a week and decided you knew all about us and what Odyssey stood for.
But tell me Chris Spies, who is the real fraud here?