Most of you WildSnowers are web savvy, but some of you might be new to the game. Whatever the case, to help with getting max value from the big WWW I thought I’d share some of the ways web authenticity is diluted, as well as a bit of scammish email of the sort bloggers get. Below is a list of a few “content” scams you might encounter, followed by a disgusting email I got a few days ago.
Scams and other stuff that dilutes authenticity of web content:
– Some companies hire people to pose as consumers and write web forum posts or blog comments extolling their products, or attacking competitors. If done cleverly, this scam is difficult to ID. I’m a pretty good spotter and do delete stuff like this on occasion, but perhaps a few have slipped through? My guess is this practice is more common in larger arenas with more anonymity, such as house appliances or automotive, but I’m certain it happens to some degree in any sector.
– Folks on web forums register under different names, and have their duplicates talk to each other. Some web forums are rife with this and it can make them look huge when they’re really not. Main thing with this is to watch what opinion you develop when you see a “hot” thread on a forum. Such a thread might actually be just three people with five identities each, basically talking to themselves.
– Blog and other web content created for the sole purpose of wrapping links to a given company or product. Same with comments, which are made under multiple names by the same author, paid specifically to create buzz about or disparage a product — or just make your junk filled blog look legit. Got a blog? You can buy 100 blog comments a month to make you look real, or 1,000 for that matter! Wonderful! For an appalling glimpse into this world, see this review of a service that sells this stuff like they’re selling popcorn.
– Unscrupulous marketing and PR people are constantly trying to figure out ways of compromising social media. An obvious example of this is the practice of registering companies as people on Facebook, when Facebook provides a well organized system of making “pages” for enterprises that are not people. Some of this is innocent ignorance of how Facebook works, but not always.
Also, many companies now have employees or outside agents who’s job it is to work the social media universe. When done well this seems to flow and be ethical (especially if you’re not particularly anti business, indeed, we have our own Facebook page for WildSnow and post as much as possible to promote our endeavor). But paid social media posting could go overboard so quickly that one wonders how thin the ice is and when the whole process could crack. Other, obvious and not so obvious scams abound in the social media world. Here is some info about one such fraud.
– The missive below offers to pay bloggers such as little old me to publish someone’s content, provided I give them a link of their choice. In other words, instead of “real” stuff created by passionate folks such as myself and our guest bloggers, someone wants me to publish pre-written filler and pay me for it. Yippee.
My name is *** from Easy Content Services. We have a client who would like to pay you for the opportunity to post some of their content on your website. All of the content is professionally produced and you can select from pieces relevant to your audience.
The result is you get some free, interesting content for your readers while getting paid.
In return our client is asking for one link that they specify at the bottom of the content (no porn or gambling). Feel free to contact me with any concerns or clarifications you may have.
If you would like to see some examples of our content, please email me at ***.org so we can begin.
Now don’t get me wrong, we sell advertising and we’re proud of our success in doing so. Indeed, in order to keep WildSnow.com going we do everything from selling banners to presenting commercial links to products and services. But we don’t wrap our advertising with “third party” filler content, nor would we ever sell advertising that was not relevant to our core focus (backcountry recreation, usually skiing) and thus able to serve you, our readers. (Note, sometimes we fill some advertising space with Google advertising, resulting in ads that are not particularly relevant since Google selects them, not us. We can control that to some degree. For example, during the last presidential election we turned off all political ads. Doing so actually lost us quite a bit of money, but the pol ads are obnoxious no matter which side of the fence you’re on. So, if you see something that bothers you please let us know and we’ll look at tuning it out.)
Thus, if you like cruising around the net, just remember it’s a jungle out there and what you’re reading may not be exactly as authentic as it is implied to be.
I’ll leave you all with another interesting tidbit. The email quoted above could actually be a sting by Google or someone else to catch blogs that are scamming with outside commercially created content. If I’d answered the email, even to scold or just out of curiosity, I could have been automatically put on a list of scammers and knocked off search engine results or worse. Yikes! Yes, it’s a jungle out there. Readers and writers beware!
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.