A quick post, with some analysis and perhaps a bit of ranting concerning spam. No, not the email kind where you are offered enlargements of your manhood or a Russian wife, nor the kind of comment spam which I have to delete daily linking to sites offering the same crap.
I am talking about blog spam.
That Goblin with the gold fingers we all love (or hate), Gevlon, has at a certain time posted concerning someone trying to get him to feature advertisments on his blog. In his lovable way he openly reveals the tricks used to play into a blogger’s feelings to get them to comply.
Now since my site has gathered some interest, I have noticed an increase in two types of mail I get. And they make me uneasy. For a long time I have walked the edge between making an angry rant about these people and ignoring them to death. Instead, Greedy Goblin style, I am warning you should it ever happen to you.
The first of these are the advertisment partnerships. Some shady guy at an illegal character auctioning site sends me this once-in-a-lifetime moneymaking deal by featuring advertisments. Now I think my stance on selling characters and gold are pretty clear, so I ignored him. Few days later, a follow up. And later others.
“I am Fred, Marketing Representative for <Stupid Company>, the worldwide leader in WoW accounts trading and a major WoW gold provider, and I am contacting you in order to increase our online presence though a partnership with your blog, should you be interested.”
Translation: I am a person (uses a personal name, maybe fake) so don’t ignore me. We are really big players, and we are getting bigger. I even have a job title, which I start with caps so that it seems more important. You can profit too! All of this is of course a lie as these “facts” cannot be checked and companies live and die all the time in that sector. Also note how illegal selling of characters and gold is made to look fancy here. “Trading” and “Provider” instead of “Dealing in stolen goods”.
“Founded by gamers, the <Stupid Company> Team is dedicated to bringing its peers the highest value from its services, with the highest business ethics (100% Security Guarantee Accounts and Gold, member of the Better Business Bureau, no farmed accounts).”
Translation: We’re not some slick salespeople who buy gold and compromised accounts to resell, we are gamers. We are very nice people who are dedicated to our “job”. Also, we do not trade in farmed accounts, and you can trust us. Right.
“At <Stupidcompany>, we have specifically selected your website as a good fit for our affiliate program, since your visitors are already targeted players looking for more information about World of Warcraft. Therefore, we are willing to start a partnership with you.”
Translation: This was a follow-up email, we really want to spread our business, so after all the big blogs turned us down we came to your blog again. Notice how they think “people looking for more information” equals “people who buy gold and characters”.
Blogger “Peer Pressure”
The second kind is emails I get from “fellow bloggers” who feature me in their “greatest sites of all time” list and added me to their blogroll. Carefully checking out the site there’s not all that much more to read than this list, aside from tons of goldspam, advertisments and guides for sale. This person hopes that by adding me to his blogroll he can pressure me (and other bloggers he writes to, all in the same non-personal way) to add him too (by making us feel obliged) thus generating traffic and sales for him.
“Just wanted you to know that I’m a fan of your blog and read it a lot even though I don’t play WoW anymore (got stuck at level 75), brings me back to those days when I still had the time to play a lot. I’ve been wanting to go back but may be when Cataclysm arrives.”
Translation: This person did not even use my name, yet is a big fan, really. Also, he does not play WoW anymore so I should feel special he still reads my blog (why? He obviously reads 49 more…). He is trying to evoke pity by claiming he never got to 80, and tries to make me greedy for a faithful reader when Cataclysm comes and he starts playing again.
“Anyway, I made a blog post on what I believe are the 50 best WoW blogs out there on the net and I included yours in it. Hope you enjoy it. I also added you up to my blog roll!”
Translation: Here I am being stuffed with feathers – I am fairly sure that if you ask the WoW community to make a list of the 50 best blogs I am not even in it. He’s presenting it as his personal preference, sure, but I am not convinced. The fact that his site is mostly basic money-making information (mostly out of date) and bursting with adds does not make me like this person.
What do they get out of it?
By using blogs (the more popular the better) these people get their message directly to their audience. They will add links to their guides, character selling sites and their gold provisioners. They earn really, really big money this way. And they have to do nothing for it. Bloggers do all the work.
The company contacting me even offered to “negotiate a price to buy out my website”. First off, I blog for life, not for money, this page is holy. Second, wordpress is a free site. Someone did not do his research when copy-pasting his standard letter.
“Buying out” in this case giving me a heap of cash, taking my site and making it a spam site. Yeah, that really is what I have always aspired to.
What do I get out of it?
Imagine I go to work covered in post-its with ads on them. That’s what I would feel like working on my blog from then on. Second, I get to have people click through to sites participating in illegal activities which means any reputation I have is down the drain, along with the possibility of being sued for these activities, and possibly being banned because one day a Blizzard fraud employee would see this.
All this for about 10% of the money made on gold sales. Here’s a goblin saying: “10% off something cheap isn’t much”. Another one could be: “10% of something cheap when you don’t know how much I sold it for is even less”.
All risk, no gain.
And I hate advertisments, account sellers, goldspammers and people selling their “one and true bible of becoming rich and successful”. Problem is, it works in WoW as much as in real life, so their practices continue.
Want to hear the scariest thing?
Email number 2 (empty site with ads) could be the direct result of number 1 (selling out for ads).
If you read this and recognize your email, don’t fret. I made sure your name and site were removed so you get no income through me, not even from a rant post. To all my other readers, I apologize for having an angry at this, but each time I receive one of these “partnership” emails I feel my intelligence is insulted.
People get their accounts compromised, privacy invaded and extorted for this, and the only ones benefiting are the people who set them up. Buying gold today can mean finding yourself stripped naked in Stormwind on a strange server the next.
I don’t buy gold, characters or guides – and advise anyone against doing it as well.
And this blog is as ad-free as I can make it!