The WikiMetro scammers strike again!

The scammy scammers from WikiMetro, who take money to put ads on sites that don’t accept them, have contacted me again. See here and here for my previous contact with them.

Hi Drupalcon, Thanks for the email. Let’s schedule a time to talk on the telephone about this. Please go to Choose ‘Phone’ (it requires you to create a username) and choose a time for us to call you back. We’ve been a bit busy, but we can usually call you back in 10 minutes. Lisa Anderson Customer Service Wikimetro

They called me “Drupalcon” again. I know my custom site layout doesn’t follow conventions (I didn’t know this when I built it, and a redesign is in the works) so that automatic site parsers get confused. But starting a business relationship by scraping blogs for contact info is insane. I have never emailed them. And listing my blog on their site as “participating” is an outright lie, as well. Your blog may be listed on their site, too – you can check here to see. Do NOT pay them $25 to have ads appear on this site. If you really want to put ads here, I’m happy to talk, but I’m not sure my traffic is really worth your time. Anyway, I wasn’t sure when they first contacted me, but there is no doubt in my mind that Wikimetro is a scam, and you should have nothing to do with them.

Dancing bananas and surprising websites

Have you ever been to Banana Leaves at Connecticut and Florida NW? I went once when they first opened, and was pleased with the food. The bench seats were freshly varnished and stuck to my jeans, though. They have a pretty goofy website with a little dancing banana gif straight out of 1996, but they also have a pretty neat little online ordering system. It apparently doesn’t work too well in Firefox 3 on OSX (The wife’s computer, not mine), but it was fine on my work laptop (Firefox 3, XP). I just ordered dinner. I’m waiting for confirmation. The interface is a little bit three years ago, lacking the polish that we’ve become accustomed to, but it seems to work well. This is fantastic for those of us who would really like to abolish phones. I try not to ever have to talk on the phone. I did have to call them to make sure they deliver to us, although I could have just ordered and waited for them to say no, but that would have taken too much time. We’re trying to time delivery with the little Fusspot’s eating schedule so that maybe the wife and I can both eat together without a screaming baby. She’s been pretty good today, so we’re hopeful. I’ll let you know how the food is.

Wikimetro says, “We’re totally not a scam”

I got an email from Wikimetro last night telling me that they were not a scam. They did nothing to address my concerns, however.

Dear Complaint Hub (we dont know your real name, sorry), We just saw your comment on Complaint Hub and wanted to reply. Wikimetro is not a scam at all, but rather a marketplace that lets ad buyers and bloggers meet. If you are avail to talk, just email us a tel number and time to call, or give us a call using the contact us page on our site. Jeff B

It was nice of them to actually read my blog this time rather than scraping a header tag for a name-like word, but this was never really my concern. It was more a clue that the email was auto-generated by a script. But telling me you’re a “marketplace” is one thing, and listing blogs as available to purchase ads on when these bloggers have never heard of you is quite another. I’m going to start my own “marketplace” here on Complaint Hub. For $500, Jeff B of Wikimetro will tattoo your name on his forehead. No, he doesn’t know it yet. But when you give me the money, I’ll approach him (Through the convenient contact us page on their site) and see if I can work something out. Or maybe I’ll just pocket the money and never even tell Jeff B he was part of the transaction.

Is Wikimetro a scam?

Recently, I got an email from someone I’d never heard of from wanting to talk about advertising on my site here.

Drupalcon, Who is the contact for discussing advertising on your blog Complaint Hub? We have received 24 requests this week for advertising on Complaint Hub, and the page has been viewed 69 times. Our website,, is the largest online BlogAd marketplace with more than 50,000 blogs in more than 2,300 US cities and towns. Here’s a link to your blog on wikimetro: If you are agreeable to scheduling a time to talk on the phone about this, please tell me a good time by contacting me at this link (choose phone): I’ll cc my assistant to set up a time to talk, if there’s interest. Alex Rawlings Wash DC BlogAd Account Direct Email: Website: Motto: “Everything Local” Frequently Asked Questions: Tel. +1(202) 470-0961

It sounded a bit scammy to me, especially because by addressing me as “Drupalcon”, they clearly didn’t actually look at the site, but just scraped it with some script. A bit of Googling made it sound like Wikimetro was a scam, but nothing really concrete. So I looked at the local blogs they had listed as participants and emailed one I recognized to ask if Off Seventh was actually participating, or just being used to bait others. I got an email back, and it turns out Off Seventh was totally unaware of the deal Wikimetro claimed to have. So, the conclusion I draw from this is that Wikimetro is a scam. If they contact you, I suggest being very cautious. Edit to add: Follow-up from Wikimetro is here.

Cross-platform file syncing and storage

Via Lifehacker, DropBox just came out of beta. Installing it gives you a folder on your hard drive that’s synced to their server. Any file you drop in there is automatically synced to any other computer you have registered with the service. It’s cross-platform – I have my work computer (running Windows XP) and my home computer (Ubuntu) connected, and file syncing between them seems to be flawless. There are tons of other ways to do this, but DropBox gives you two free gigs or lets you pay for more, and the interface is pretty sweet. In addition to the desktop folder, you can access your files from a web browser anywhere. It’s really nice to see the level of Linux support they’re offering. They’re not supporting all distributions, but how rare is it to see a service come right out of beta and already have a Linux version?

Go check out Mozilla Ubiquity

Yesterday, Mozilla Labs introduced Ubiquity, “An experiment in connecting the web with language”. It’s a lot like Launchy or Gnome-Do, except different. Install Ubiquity into Firefox and then hit the shortcut keys to launch Ubiquity, and then start typing. You can search Google, post to Twitter, send an email – all through an intuitive command-line interface. It’s not for everyone – if you spend all your time pointing and clicking, you may not like using the keyboard this way. But for those of you who use the mouse only when you really need it, this may revolutionize the way you use your browser. Remember, the browser knows a lot about you. If you’re signed in to Gmail, for example, and you find a great webpage you want to share with your friend, you don’t have to know your friend’s email. Just type, “email ” and then your friend’s name – Gmail will find the address, and copy the url for the page into a new email to your friend. And this is just the beginning – there are already tons of user-created scripts available, and it’s pretty easy to create your own. There’s even a tutorial. And lest you think I forgot to get in a dig on Microsoft, ye of little faith, let me remind you that this is the sort of functionality that will be in Internet Explorer 17, due to be released around the time your great-great-grandchildren are colonizing Mars. If you’re in Firefox now, install Ubiquity now. If you aren’t, get Firefox first, then install Ubiquity. And if you find or write any really cool scripts for it, be sure to let me know.

Do you ever Google yourself?

Have you ever typed your name into a search engine? I have a relatively unusual last name, at least outside of French-speaking countries, so most of the results for my name are actually me. That’s kind of nice. Then, earlier this evening, a friend told me, “you aren’t that hard to find on teh intrawebs”. That got me thinking – I wonder what else is out there? For the first time, I googled my usual screenname, thetejon, which I’ve used for most everything ever since I had my first AOL account. The results are pretty impressive. Some of the most interesting: Wedding Toasts for the Groom – a blog post that used a picture of me giving a toast at the wedding of one good friend to another. 2006 October PUNK Blogs & News @ PROPUNK.COM! – I suspect this site runs scripts to scrape content tagged with “punk” from wherever it can find it and hopes to generate ad revenue. The picture they got is actually of my cat. большое спасибо мите за лицензионный balance 005 – a LiveJournal entry linking to one of my photos from Costa Rica. The entry is not in a language I’m familiar with. Perhaps you are. So, there you go. Think about that next time you do something stupid on the internet. Google doesn’t forget.

Experimental new stuff from Mozilla

Remember when Internet Explorer was pretty much the only browser out there? Yeah, me neither. IE has always sucked, and IE7, touted as competing with the newer browsers, is really just playing catch-up. And not actually ever catching up. Over at the Mozilla Labs Blog, they have a little video about experimental browser changes for Firefox. The idea is to anticipate your actions in the browser and offer no-cost assistance. That is, when I open a new tab, if my browser could offer me options, like a search bar, instead of a blank page, there is no cost to me, and it may streamline my browsing experience. Anyway, it’s a cool video, and it demonstrates one more time how far Microsoft has fallen in terms of innovation.

Clicking ads is not saying thank you

I like reading Seth Godin’s blog. It’s generally interesting, and he talks about marketing in a very general sense that applies to more than just “professional” marketers. It probably even applies to you. But today I think he is absolutely wrong. He says that you should click on ads to say thank you for good content. Let’s list the reasons why this is not what you should do. First, you’re tipping with someone else’s money. If you want to give the author 10 cents for a good blog post, great. I’m sure he or she will appreciate it. But when you click on an ad (And we’re assuming no interest in buying, if you’re actually looking to buy it’s different), you’re giving the author someone else’s 10 cents. Sure, that person left piles of dimes out, but they left them with the understanding that you’d take one and give it to the blogger only if you really wanted to look at what was being advertised. Second, you are actually putting the blog author’s account at risk – ad sellers take click fraud very seriously, and if tons of people click an ad then immediately leave the advertiser’s site, the ad seller is going to get suspicious. Third, you are under absolutely no obligation to support the business model chosen by the blogger. If the ad doesn’t speak to you, ignore it. If they can’t make a living without your ad click, then perhaps they need to rethink the business they’re in. There is a demand for quality content, and it is definitely possible to be compensated for creating it, even without advertising. If you see an ad for something that interests you, and you think you’d like to know more about the product or service, by all means click the ad. That’s what it’s there for. But if you have no intention of learning more about what’s being advertised, and you certainly aren’t going to buy anything, then just skip the ad. By the way, note that I did not say that clicking an ad with no intention to buy is stealing. It’s not. As I mentioned, the advertiser has put the pile of dimes out there for you to take and give to your favorite blogger. And yes, you have no obligation to support the business model of the advertiser any more than that of the blogger. But if we want to talk about honoring the writer, then we need to talk about honoring the advertiser, too. Edit to add: He’s posted again, clarifying his position, because apparently I’m not the only one who disagreed. I still don’t entirely agree, but the second post is much better than the first.

Blackberry research and crazy Verizon saleschatters

Since our webmail got blocked, I’ve been hoping that work would provide me an alternative internet connection. The best solution from my perspective would be if they would pay the difference between my cell phone plan now and a Blackberry that can be used as a modem for my laptop. So, I was doing some research at Verizon’s website, and a helpful salesperson popped up and offered to assist me. Here’s the transcript of the chat. My comments are in red.

Chat InformationPlease wait for a Verizon Wireless sales representative to assist you with your order. Thank you for your patience! Chat InformationA Verizon Wireless online pre-sales specialist has joined the chat. You are now chatting with Elisha Definitely picturing this Elisha Elisha: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service. May I help you with your order today? You: I have a couple questions You: first, is there a way to make this chat window pop up whenever I want? Elisha: How can I help you with your order? Elisha: Yes, by going to contact us. That is a dirty lie. I tried that. I wish you weren’t a liar, Elisha. You: is it only available certain hours of the day? Elisha: The sales chats are open 8 am to 11 pm. Elisha: How can I help you with your order? You: what’s the difference in the two data plans listed with the Blackberry Curve? Elisha: The $ 29.99 only give you unlimited access to the web and access to personal emails. Elisha: The $ 44.99 gives you unlimited access to the web and unlimited access to business/personal emails. Plus it comes with the tether feature where you can use the phone as a modem. Elisha: Which is best for you? You: so for 29.99 you can’t use it as a modem? What needs to be included in order for that to work? Elisha: Yes, that is correct. Elisha: You can hook the phone up to the laptop to use the phone as a modem. That doesn’t really answer my question, Elisha. Elisha: What key features in a cell phone are most important to you? I already told you I wanted the Curve (Although I really want the Bold, but it’s not out yet) You: I’m curious why I can’t use the phone as a modem on the 29.99 plan. You: it seems to me that bandwidth is bandwidth, and Verizon shouldn’t care what I do with it Elisha: You can’t , you are not paying for that feature with the $ 29.99. Elisha: I am sorry the feature alone is $ 15.00. Elisha: That is the way that the plan is set. Elisha: I am sorry. Elisha: Are you looking to order online today? You: well, I’m sure it’s not your fault You: no, I’m trying to get work to approve the upgrade Elisha: Yes, thanks for understanding. Elisha: Okay. Elisha: I understand, are you sure you don’t want to take advantage of our free shipping and instant online discounts today? You’re starting to sound like a used car salesman here, Elisha You: no, thanks. You: you’ve answered all my questions, thank very much Elisha: Thank you for visiting Verizon Wireless, I look forward to speaking with you again. Have a great day! Thanks for kicking me off the chat as soon as it became clear you weren’t getting a commission! Elisha: You are very welcome!

Anyway, I think it’s ridiculous that I can’t use the phone as a modem without paying the extra $15. If I pay for the bandwidth, why does it matter if I’m using the phone itself, or my laptop through the phone? I know, Verizon has a right to charge me whatever they want. I’m not arguing that they can’t charge me, I’m arguing that it makes them big fat jerks. And Elisha was pretty annoying. I went to her to find an answer to a question that I couldn’t find anywhere on the website. When I didn’t want to buy today, she blew me off. This is a bad salesperson. And I will probably buy through a Verizon brick and mortar store because of my experience. Take that, Verizon’s website!