By Dustin Verburg
16 Jul 2014

How I Spent My Summer Vacation | An Interactive Matt Cutts Adventure

Basic SEO

Dope Artwork by Koji Crill

Prologue: You are Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam division and ardent defender of internet justice.

You have recently announced that you’re going on a 4 month summer vacation, but that isn’t the whole truth.

The truth is that you need to work under the radar for a few months. There are cybercrimes afoot. It’s time for Google’s Number One Guy to engage in some Black Ops.

With your Google Glass, self-driving car, Crime Lab and all of Google’s vast data at your disposal, you’re unstoppable—you’re Matt Cutts.

This is how you spend your summer vacation.

click for larger image

You hear a soft beeping in your ear and you lazily open your eyes. Instantly you know it’s the gentle alarm of your Google Smartpillow, telling you it’s time to get up and make the web a safer place.

You get up, yawn and stretch your powerful limbs. As you’re brushing your teeth, you catch a glimpse of yourself in your Smartmirror.

“Dang, Matt Cutts. You’re looking good today and you haven’t even showered yet!” you say.

You step into the shower and make a hilarious afro of shampoo froth around your head. Just then, the shampoo bottle rings. Its waterproof Android touchscreen lights up—you’re receiving a call.

It’s your friend Amit Singhal and he doesn’t look pleased.

“Haha, Matt. Nice shampoo-fro,” Amit says.

“Thanks, Amit. But you don’t usually call me in the shower,” you say, looking into the shampoo bottle’s touchscreen.

“You’re right, Matt,” he says, frowning thoughtfully. “There’s big trouble and it starts with a Capital G.”

“You mean—a new Guest Blogging Network?! I thought we destroyed them all. Or at least made them retreat back to whichever rocks they crawled out from under,” you say, angrily shaking your fist.

“Matt,” Amit says delicately, “this is it. The big one. If we don’t act now there might be no stopping it.”

Amit pauses with no small amount of drama, taking time to look around your shower. “Where did you get your loofah? I’m getting bored of mine.”

“Oh, I got it from Google Bathworks, of course. It was only twenty seven ninety—“

Amit cut(t)s you off mid-sentence. “There’s no time for that now,” he scolds. “Matt, we need you to bring down… The Huffington Post!”

You move under the showerhead, as this is a task that’s too serious for shampoo-fros.

“I’m on it, Amit. I won’t let you down.”


If you head to the Google Crime Lab, click here.

If you hit the streets in search of a lead, click here.


The Google Crime Lab

google crime lab

The vault door clicks and hisses open as you step into the Google Crime Lab. The soothing glow of fluorescent smartlights engulfs you and you sit down at your command chair. You press a button on your Android phone and the cool, pleasant-smelling breeze of the lab’s air conditioning unit caresses your face.

You feel like Robert Downey, Jr. in Iron Man (but much better looking) as holographic smart screens pop up around you. You’re fixated on your dedicated Twitter screen.

“Computer, search Twitter for “guest post,” you say.

The screen comes to life in a whirlwind of activity, displaying a range of tweets from both big players and no-names in the SEO game.

One particular tweet catches your eye.

“First guest post on @HuffingtonPost is live,” the tweet reads, along with a URL.

“Aha,” you say.

You retrieve your Google Glass from the pockets of your khaki pants and activate them.

You enhance the Twitter user’s photo and your Google Glass begins its facial recognition scanning.

‘Twitter Handle: @TardisCat1991’

‘Twitter Name: Jo Werner’

“Google Glass, investigate further,” you command.

Ten milliseconds pass and new information graces your eager eyes.

‘Jo Werner is a pseudonym for Alexandria Mayall, age 23, Fort Collins, CO.’

“I knew it,” you say, “an SEO pen name. Let’s get to the bottom of this, Google Glass.”

Amit’s face pops up on your Glass display. He is smiling and giving thumbs up.

“Good to know that someone’s watching me,” you say with sincerity.


If you reach out to Alexandria Mayall from the comfort of your Crime Lab, click here.

If you take the automated Google car to Mayall’s house in Fort Collins, click here.


Hit the Streets


After donning your Smartpolo Shirt and Google Glass, you decide to hit the streets. You need to take down HuffPo, but you need to find a way in.

The way of the Google Webspam Team is subtle sabotage and psychological warfare. You can’t just charge in there like an Amazon Delivery Drone.

You head to the Google Campus to hit up Google Caffeine, the campus coffee shop. Several people ask you how your vacation is going.

You order a skinny soy latte and sit down, looking around for a lead.

You see a Google employee wearing a Wall Street Journal t-shirt. They’ve been known to take guest contributions. You know it’s your best shot.

Slowly, you approach the man in the WSJ t-shirt. Your Google Glass’ face recognition software immediately tells you this man is named Jeff Roper. He’s a low level software engineer who’s had two DUIs, runs a blog about painting Warhammer miniatures and purchases non-organic Greek Yogurt from corporate supermarkets.

Your Google Glass zooms in, creating a targeting reticle over his face. You frown at what you see—this man has contributed to numerous blogs about painting miniatures for fantasy war games.

“You’re off to a great start, Matt!” says a scrolling message on your Google Glass.

Amit is looking in on your progress. Good. You have nothing to hide.
You grab Roper by the collar of his cheap, non-fair trade WSJ t-shirt and push him up against the wall.

“Tell me everything you know,” you say.

He looks terrified, so it’s a perfect time to take a sip of your latte. It’s cooled down just enough now, so it shouldn’t be too hot or too cold.

Your tongue confirms that it’s the certain temperature, but suddenly you start to choke and wheeze. What’s happening?!

“Your coffee is poisoned, Matt,” your Google Glass suggests in an upbeat and elegant sans serif font.

You clutch at your throat, letting go of Roper. Your coffee cup falls to the floor and milky liquid forms around it in a tepid pool.

“Who… did… this?” you ask.

A shadowy man in a black hat steps out from behind the soda machine (which has never been used).

“A-Agent Blackhat?!” you manage to croak out.

“Better luck next time, Cutts! Except there won’t be a next time. Mwa ha ha! Have a GREAT VACATION!”

You die.


Click here to return to the beginning. You’re dead, so that’s really your only option.


Contact Alex via Computer


You decide it’s best to stay in your state-of-the-art Crime Lab for now, as events in the outside world are sometimes… hard to control.

You sit back in your command chair and focus on the Google Glass lenses in front of you. Blinking twice, you activate the Glass’ Control Remote Desktop Protocol.

As Alexandria Mayall opens up an Imgur window to make a cat meme (a particularly funny and cute one, you note… dang, this lady’s good!) a grainy video of your face appears in its place.

“Alexandria. This is Matt Cutts from Google’s Webspam and Cybercrimes unit. You published a guest post today. Under a fake name. For SEO purposes,” you say.

Your face is chiseled, animated and clean-shaven, but the woman on the other side of the screen is still bewildered.

“Matt Cutts! I thought you were on vacation! How did you get inside of my computer?” she asks, shock written all over her face.

“Now now, Alex—I can’t reveal the algorithm’s secret sauce, now can I?” you reply.

“N-no. I guess not,” she says and pauses. “I wrote a guest post. So what? Last time I checked that’s not against the law.”

Your Google Glass draws angry eyebrows on your face and lightning bolts coming out of your head as you speak, a commonly used video-chat shock and awe tactic.

“It’s against the Google Law!” you exclaim, hitting a fist into an open palm. “That’s the most important law of all! This is a link scheme, Alex. You know it, I know it and Amit Singhal knows it.”

Amit’s face appears in the upper corner of your lens and gives you an approving smile.

“What you did was wrong. I can both penalize your website and penalize every member of your family’s individual websites… or we can make a deal,” you say, stone-faced and serious.

Alex begins to sweat as you mention the possibility of a manual penalty. “Okay, Cutts. What do you want?”

“I want names, Alex. Who approved your guest post?” you ask.

“It was… Arianna Huffington!”

You blink twice and close the interface.

“Junk just got real real, real fast, Matt Cutts,” you say.


If you head directly to Arianna Huffington’s survivalist bunker just outside of Monterey, CA, click here.

If you try to set up a Google Hangout with Arianna to talk some sense into her, click here.


Drive to Alex’s House



You decide you’ll meet Alex face to face since nobody likes an internet tough guy. Sure, ITG is the Google Way but you think a more personal approach is warranted in this case.

You climb in your self-driving, automated Google car, put on your favorite Train playlist (the band, not the vehicle… though you like those, too) from Google Music and belt yourself in.

“Artie,” you say (which is you nickname for the Artificially Intelligent car… you’re a clever one!) “get me to TardisCat1991’s house.”

The car cross references all the data Google stores on everyone who’s ever used the internet and immediately plots a course for Colorado.

Soon enough, you find yourself at a 4-way stop. There’s a large semi-truck with two trailers that has the right of way, but it’s going to take its driver a little while to get through the intersection. Truckers are a kind and courteous lot, so waves you through.

The waving confuses Artie. The car races through its human behavior database and comes up with what it thinks is an acceptable answer.

“Hello human, it is nice to see you too,” Artie says in a robotic voice which blares through its front grille.

The trucker frowns and waves you through again.

“Hello human. It is nice to see you too,” the car waxes robotic, its voice modulation changing to a more cordial tone.

You’re getting tired of this infinite loop, so you say “Step on it, Artie,” to the car.

The trucker stops waving and Artie begins blasting through the intersection, just as the truck’s driver also tires of this perverse technological charade.

Oh no! You’re both going through the intersection at the same time!

The truck plows into your self-driving car, which crumples into a white and red ball of aluminum and billion dollar software. The truck has a bit of white paint on its bumper.

You die.


Click here to return to the beginning. You’re dead, so what else are you going to do?


Google Hangout with Arianna Huffington


Still comfortably seated on your throne in the Google crime lab, you kick up your feet and grab a bottle of water. You’re going to convince Arianna Huffington that guest posts are evil without even leaving the house—and the best part is you’ll be doing it via Google hangout, which is the best way to hang out with anyone.

“Computer, get Arianna Huffington on the line—Google Hangouts style!” you bark, “And I don’t want to hear any excuses like “She’s not near a computer” or “she doesn’t want to talk to you right now, Matt.”

The computer dutifully performs its task, and a little chat window with a green bar at the top pops up on your screen. You’re greeted by a small photo of Arianna’s face and a cheerful ‘…’ that indicates she’s currently typing.

“hey matt how is your vacation going what can I do for you”

“Arianna, this guest blogging thing is getting out of hand. Guest posts are a link scheme and you know it. I need you to stop accepting guest posts, delete every post from every guest contributor on your network and no-follow every outbound link you’ve ever made. That’s the way it has to be.”


“Don’t make me hit you with a manual penalty, Arianna.”


There is a pause, and then Arianna continues typing.

“here matt, go to this link and it will explain our position better than I can

You’re interested in why Arianna Huffington is disobeying Google’s guidelines, so you click on the link. After all, she might not have all the time in the world to chat with you (how rude!).

Amit’s face appears in the corner of your Google Glass.

“Better load that link up on your Glass, Matt. You need to keep one eye on Arianna—don’t want her disappearing while you’re in another tab,” Amit says, nodding wise like an ancient sage.

“Good idea, Amit,” you say. “Glass, open that link!”

The Google Glass on your face chirps happily, displaying “Right away, Matt” in that classy sans serif font followed by a charming emoji you’ve never seen before. Cutting edge stuff.

The link opens in front of your face, and you note that it’s just a 10 hour loop of Nyan Cat. You frown in annoyance and prepare to type your feelings into the Google Hangout chat box, but the smiling face of the poptart cat begins to mutate.

You feel rainbows and MIDI music invade your brain, melting down the barrier between this world and the internet dimension. Cat gifs, celebrity gossip, humorless humor articles and feel good videos invade your brain like hungry Martian vampires.

Just then, you see it—thousands and thousands of blog posts, all projected onto the face of an 8-bit cat traveling through space—and they’re all guest posts. They’re taking residence inside of your mind, setting up shanty towns, building skyscrapers and polluting your psychic environment with keyword-rich anchor text.

Shaking, you feel your nose start to run. That’s odd because you’re in perfect health and you haven’t eaten any spicy food.

You put your hand up to your nose and look down—your hand is covered in something, but what is it?

“Those are chunks of your brain, Matt. Your Brain is melting like a cup of Death Valley frozen yogurt in August,” Google Glass offers helpfully in that same timeless font.

The Google Hangout chat window closes.

The Glass offers a conciliatory emoji, which is the last thing you see.

You die.


Click here to return to the beginning. You’re dead, so that’s the way it has to be. Unless you’re a quitter. You’re not a quitter, are you?


Arianna’s Compound

‘Talking to someone in person’ is frowned upon in the Holy Code of the Google Webspam Team, but you’re not seeing any other alternative at this point.

“Glass, where is Arianna Huffington?” you ask the device on your face.

In just a few seconds, a location pops up on Google Maps, showing you a survivalist bunker outside of Monterey, California.

“Based on current mobile search history, we can confirm that Arianna is currently inside of her compound,” the Glass says with scrolling text.

“I guess that’s where we’re headed, then,” you say. “Amit, any advice?”

Amit’s face pops up in the corner of your eye and he looks worried.

“Just be careful, Matt. There are only 4 computers with webcams inside of that bunker, so we don’t know everything that goes on in there,” Amit says.

You thank Amit, grab your Android phone, snatch up your briefcase and head to Artie, the self-driving Google car.

Though there are plenty of opportunities for the car to crash because it doesn’t fully comprehend the behavior of other drivers on the road, you safely arrive outside of Arianna Huffington’s compound.

Once your Google Glass hacks the code to the gate, you stroll up to the bunker door.

There is a guard waiting for you. He looks sullen and distracted.

“Sorry, pal. I just let two other people in and rules are rules. Arianna doesn’t allow more than two guests on the premises at any given time,” the guard says.

“But I’m Matt Cutts,” you say.

The guard seems unphased at first. “Sorry, buddy. I just told you the rules. You’re kind of a rules guy yourself, aren’t you?”

“Yes, but I adhere to a strict hierarchy when I comes to rules. Google’s rules come first,” you reply.

The guard seems like he’s not even listening to you.


If you ask the guard what’s distracting him, click here.

If you try to muscle past the guard, click here.


Help the Guard


Rather than trying to force your way past the guard, you decide to see what’s on his mind.

“You look distracted, pal,” you say. “What’s going on?”

“Oh—I just want to get my handmade jewelry business listed on Google+ places but I can’t figure it out. This is just my side gig. Beads are my real passion,” he says, dismayed.

“Oh, that’s easy. I can help you with that. Are you logged into Google+?” you ask.

“No, I have two profiles and I’m not sure which one to use,” he replies.

Within 5 minutes, you show him how to verify his business.

As he waits to receive his PIN for authentication, you slip past him.

His face lights up with joy, “So many people are going to see my business in the SERPs!” he says with jubilation.

You chuckle to yourself and open the bunker’s door.

Amit’s face appears in the corner of your Google Glass.

“Good work, Matt! That’s another user for Google+. Can’t wait to see what his YouTube comments look like,” Amit says.

You give a thumbs-up, making sure the Glass’ camera picks it up.

Amit smiles and his face disappears.

Now to deal with Arianna Huffington and her nefarious guest blogging scheme.

As soon as you enter the corridor, you see two familiar faces—Duane Forrester and Agent Blackhat!

Oh no!


If you ask Duane and Agent Blackhat what they’re doing here, click here.

If you’re sick of all of this chatting and want to fight your way past them, click here.


Fight the Guard


You decide it’s time for direct action.

Amit appears on your Google Glass screen. “Time to give this joker a manual penalty, Matt!” he says.

You nod solemnly, cracking the knuckles on each of your hands. The ridiculous amount of noise your joints make draws the attention of the guard.

“Hey tough guy, what are you doing? Go take your vacation somewhere else,” the guard says, looking all sorts of irked.

“Let’s do this, Glass,” you say to the device on your face.

You scan him with your Google Glass. The Glass whirs into action, displaying this man’s name, search history, hopes, dreams, driving records and most private thoughts—everything Google has collected over the years. You have him now!

“Ahh, Gavin Brown. Born in Des Moines, Iowa. 15 parking tickets. Multiple Google searches for unthinkable things… like Beanie Babies! In fact, you operated the Beanie Babies Geocities Web Ring back in the late 1990s. What would your friends and family say if they knew?” you say with a confident smirk.

“They wouldn’t say anything. My friends and family love and support me for who I am,” the guard replies.

Well dang.

Since you’re all out of options, you ready a fist that’s a personalized result for the guard’s face.

“Sorry Mr. Brown, I’m on official Google business. You’ll understand tomorrow, I’m sure,” you say, readying your deadly strike.

The guard puts a hand up to stop you.

“The police are on the way, Cutts. You’re trespassing and making threats. Sorry it had to be this way,” the guard says.

Well dang!

As the police arrive, they read you your rights, handcuff you and push you into the car. Worse still, they confiscate your Google Glass! As those wondrous lenses are removed from your head, you see Amit’s disappointed visage. Your boss, mentor and friend is shaking his head at you.

You’re going to jail. Google’s going to have a hard time covering this one up and removing it from the SERPs, but it can be done. You’ve also lost Amit’s respect, which is a fate worse than death.


Click here to return to the beginning. Some fates are worse than death, and you sure as heck found one of them. But this is a game so you can totally try again. But try to win this time, okay?



Talk to Duane Forrester and Agent Blackhat



“What are you two doing here?” you ask Duane Forrester and Agent Blackhat. “And make it quick. I have a guest blogging network to take down.”

“We’re here to show support, Matt. What are YOU doing here? Aren’t you on vacation?” says your best frenemy Duane.

“We believe in the power of guest blogging,” says Agent Blackhat.

“Guest blogging is a LINK SCHEME and you KNOW IT!” you say, the lens of your Google Glass turning red for emphasis.

Amit appears on-screen and gives you a supportive nod.

“What if I told you,” Duane says, “that Google isn’t the entire internet?”

“That’s crazy talk, Forrester,” you reply.

“Is it crazy, Cutts? Have you ever been able to control ME?” Agent Blackhat asks.

Before you can answer, he removes his black hat, black coat and sunglasses. There is nothing underneath. At least the naked eye doesn’t see anything. Is he the invisible man??

“One moment,” your Google Glass says in that classy sans serif font it always uses. It soon displays a surprised emoji.

Google Glass changes your visual spectrum and you see Agent Blackhat for what he really is.

“My gosh! Agent Blackhat is one of our old algorithms—made sentient! But he’s evolved so far past what we created. How is this possible?” you ask.

“Through the magic of… free will,” Agent Blackhat aka the Sentient Algorithm replies.

“Come on, Matt. Let’s go see Arianna,” says Duane.


If you try to reason with Arianna, click here.

If you try to fight Arianna, click here.



Fight Duane Forrester and Agent Blackhat


“I don’t know what you two are doing here and I don’t care,” you say. “I need to see Arianna Huffington and put an end to this guest blogging network once and for all!”

Duane looks at you with no small amount of incredulity.

“End guest bloggigng? You’re a fool, Cutts. You could no sooner snuff out the stars in the sky,” Forrester replies.

“And nobody will ever defeat my patented tiered system, Cutts. It’s impossible. Get out of here and enjoy the rest of your vacation,” Agent Blackhat says.

“Enough!” you say. You’ve been keeping a tight grip on your briefcase, but now is the time to let go.

You throw the briefcase to the ground like a multi-thousand dollar Pokeball, and smoke escapes from inside as it cracks open.

You strike a Power Rangers pose and exclaim, “Google Panda, Google Penguin, Google Hummingbird—GO!”

From the confines of the relatively small briefcase, a trio of deadly robotic animals emerges: A ferocious cyber-panda, a brutal mecha-penguin and a robo-hummingbird with a lust for violence. And vengeance.

Forrester rolls his eyes. “I knew you’d try something like this, Cutts,” he says as the cyber-panda steps toward him. Its murderous jaws drip with motor oil as it raises a paw to dismember your best frenemy Duane.

Duane crosses his arms over his chest in an ‘X’ pattern and yells “Duck! Duck! GO!”

His smart watch begins to glow with the power of the Duck Totem. A sassy holographic duck is projected from Duane’s watch, and it looks just as annoyed as its master.

“You stole the Duck Totem!” you say angrily.

Duane shrugs. “Duck, encrypt Matt’s search—permanently.”

The holographic duck’s eyes begin to charge with green energy, and soon enough your cyber-panda and mecha-penguin are cut down by its powerful eyebeams. You thought only hologram Tupac could do that!

The Duck Totem’s eyebeams don’t destroy the robo-hummingbird, however. The hummingbird is reprogrammed by the power of encrypted search, and soon enough it’s streaking toward the soft part of your neck like a highly-excitable living dart.

It strikes you in the neck.

You die.


Click here to return to the beginning. You’re dead, but you were actually pretty close to winning. Try again, won’t you?


Reason with Arianna Huffington


With Duane Forrester and Agent Blackhat, the Algorithm Who Walks Like a Man, behind you, you reach the end of the bunker’s entryway and open the door at the end of the hallway.

The old hatch opens with a creak followed by a pneumatic hiss, and suddenly you’re in Arianna Huffington’s control room.

The place is a patchwork of utilitarian grey and black office furniture and a floor composed of rusty metal grating. The dullness and monotony of the bunker’s furnishings is broken up with several neon screens—blue for HuffPo Politic s, Red for HuffPo Entertainment, Purple for HuffPo Business, etc.

This results in the bunker’s control room looking like a worn down version of Times Square at night as advertorials and pop ups constantly flash across those high tech screens.

“Arianna, you have to stop accepting guest posts. It’s a link scheme and you know it. You’re violating Google’s guidelines. You’re betraying the internet,” you say.

Arianna looks up at you from her chair, a sleek tablet device sitting in her lap.

“Oh hello, Matt. How’s your vacation going?” she asks.

“Don’t try to change the subject, Arianna! Guest posts are bad for Google so they’re bad for the world! I’m asking you one more time to stop. As a friend,” you say. “I don’t want to penalize you.”

“You think you can defeat guest blogging? You think you can defeat the democracy of the internet?” Arianna asks, rising from her chair, tablet in hand.

“People have no business skulking around behind assumed names and asking for links, Arianna. Links have to be EARNED. OR, you know, paid for. But only in the approved Google way,” you say.

“You have failed the internet, Matt Cutts,” Arianna Huffington says, sadness in her eye. “I hereby sentence you to an even longer vacation.”

She points her tablet’s screen at you. It begins to glow with an unearthly version of the Huffington Post’s signature green navbar color. Almost all of the room’s ambient light seems to be sucked into the tablet itself as it charges its attack, and then it happens—the tablet releasers an intense green death ray.

As you’re disintegrated, you see Agent Blackhat place is hat over his heart and look down at the ground. Duane Forrester wipes away a tear.

You have been disintegrated.

Which means you die.


Click here to return to the beginning. You’re dead but you were THIS CLOSE. Try again for the good of the internetz!



Fight Arianna Huffington



With Duane Forrester and Agent Blackhat, the Living Algorithm, behind you, you traverse the rest of the entry hallway and open the vault door.

The old hatch opens with a hiss of steam and the creak of rusty hinges.

The place is a patchwork of utilitarian grey and black office furniture and a floor composed of rusty metal grating. The dullness and monotony of the bunker’s furnishings is broken up with several neon screens—blue for HuffPo Politic s, Red for HuffPo Entertainment, Purple for HuffPo Business, etc.

This results in the bunker’s control room looking like a worn down version of Times Square at night as advertorials and pop ups constantly flash across those high tech screens.

“Arianna, I’m here to stop you. We’ll talk later,” you say.

“Glass, analyze her weak spots,” you tell the device on your face. It happily chirps to life, showing several different ‘thumbs up’ emojis as it scans the seated form of Arianna Huffington. She raises an eyebrow at you.

Meanwhile, you take your Android phone from your pocket, activate the screen and swipe through your apps.

You tap the ‘Google Street Samurai’ app and your phone begins to vibrate relentlessly.

Soon enough, your phone begins to shift and convulse, performing a series of perverse pirouettes until it becomes the Almighty Android Sword! (which is just an android phone with a second rate lightsaber blade, but it’s still pretty cool).

You’re momentarily distracted when your Glass starts flashing text across your peripheral vision.

“!!!!!” it exclaims.

Uh oh, Arianna has something up her sleeve too.

Her office chair begins to change shape much like your phone did. Tendrils of armored metal extend from the seat and wrap around her legs. The chair’s own legs and wheels bulge and bend into vulgar robotic spider legs.

Arianna has assumed her mecha-Lloth form!

Your Google Glass once again scans her for weaknesses, and several red circles appear over the joints of her mecha-spider legs.

‘You’re Matt Cutts,’ you think to yourself, ‘you’ve never played a boss fight you can’t beat!’

Amit appears on your screen to give you a concerned thumbs-up. With the power of Amit, Google Glass, the Almighty Android Sword and your own cunning guile there’s no way you can lose.

You dash toward Arianna, whose robot spider legs attempt to kick at you and impale you with their sharp tips. You dodge each attack and perform six precise slices, dismembering 6 of her mechanized spider legs at the knee. Sparks fly and wires fizzle—she’s down for the count.

With a ghoulish hiss her office chair resumes its normal form and Arianna stands up, dusting off her smart business suit.

“Matt, I understand that you’re against guest posts—especially from people who don’t use their real names. Especially from people who just want a link,” she says calmly.

You cock your head to the side. “Anonymity has no place on the internet, Arianna. Guest posts are a link scheme. Your time is up,” you say, raising the Android Blade above your head.

“Matt, do you remember your amateur wrestling days?” she asks.

“Wh-what? How do you know about that?” you reply, taken off guard.

“Oh please,” she says. “I Googled it.”

You lower your sword and allow her to speak.

“You wore a mask then. You wrestled as The Masked Spammer. You won every match you ever had. You were a legend. People loved you. But did anyone know that was Matt Cutts?” she asks.

“No. And they weren’t supposed to. It’s masked wrestling. It was supposed to be anonymous,” you reply. “Not like the internet.”

“But the Masked Spammer—he was a part of you. A small part of your personality. No one knew it was Matt Cutts and you still did good work. People loved it.”

“I guess… the Masked Spammer is a part of me. I guess… people’s internet pseudonyms are a part of them, even when they’re writing for a link. Maybe people CAN do good work with guest posts,” you admit.

“You were the best masked wrestler there ever was, Matt Cutts, but you don’t understand everything. Let the guest posts happen. Content is the lifeblood of the internet and no one wants to stay on their own site all the time,” Arianna says.

Damn her logic.

“Hmmmm…” you say.

“Matt, go enjoy the rest of your vacation. I’ll make sure anything abusive or spammy is flagged for immediate removal.”

“I—I trust you, Arianna. But if these guest posts ever get out of hand again, know that I’ll be watching,” you say.

“Of course, Matt. Of course. Google is always watching. It’s just one of the unfortunate truths about the internet.”


You win! Click here for the epilogue.

cyberpunk matt cutts by koji crill

Epilogue: You leave Arianna’s bunker and return to Artie, Google’s self-driving car.

“I think I understand the internet a little better than I did this morning, Amit,” you say.

Amit appears on the lens of your Google Glass. “Me too, Matt. Maybe guest posts aren’t always such a bad thing. But now that the mission is over and there are no more guest blogging networks to take down, how will you spend the rest of your vacation?”

You reach into the car’s glove box and pull out a sequined Lucha Libre mask. “Oh, I’m sure I can think of something,” you say.

Dustin Verburg

Dustin Verburg is the former Creative Director and Community Manager for Linkarati. He also worked as a Marketing Specialist and Social Media Strategist for Page One Power. Dustin writes about marketing and music for various print and web publications. When he’s not writing, Dustin plays in Boise-area punk bands and frowns at the huge pile of books and Marvel Comics he hasn't gotten around to reading yet.