Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Blogger, Thy name is Patsy

I consider myself a fairly savvy person. I left home at 18 and I learned some hard but valuable lessons pretty early in life. Subsequent experiences have honed my ability to sniff out a crook, a scheme or a scam and successfully avoid being a victim.

Shortly before we were married, my husband went to renew his driver's license. He was arrested on the spot. A former roommate had stolen personal documents, assumed his identity and gone on a petty crime spree that took us months to get straightened out.

A word to the wise: If someone steals your identity, the onus is on you to prove that you are yourself and the adage "Innocent until proven guilty" is more useful in theory than in practice. Especially if the judge is a backwoods tyrant who is suspicious of anyone not born and raised in the holler. Another word to the wise: If you find yourself before the Hon. Harry T. Hayseed, affect a twang and pepper your speech liberally with "ain't" and "ya'll". If my husband hadn't been fluent in Yokel, he would probably still be rotting in that single cell jail, subsisting on chitlins and fatback.

Thanks to that experience, we shred all of our personal documents religiously. We don't leave outgoing mail in the mailbox overnight. We don't use our social security numbers as our driver's license number. We check our credit history regularly for suspicious activity. We keep our personal documents such as birth certificates, passports, and social security cards, under lock and key. When a cashier inquires if she/he may have my phone number, address, or zip code, I politely decline. I always carry my purse crossways over my shoulder and husband keeps his wallet in his front pocket. I discard mail that says "Do not discard" and I leave mail that says "Urgent! Open Immediately!" unopened.

As far as the internet is concerned, I consider myself well informed and I employ various security measures to keep our confidential information as safe as possible. I didn't fall for that eBay thing. I didn't fall for that Nigerian thing. I didn't fall for that Paypal thing. I don't open emails just because they address me by name and have a cute little personal greeting in the subject line. I know that Javier is not emailing me to tell me that "Mom says Hi".

I have never excercised caution when sniffing perfume, and I did not stop using my Swiffer Wet Jet. In fact, any email that has "This is really scary/heartwarming/funny!" in the subject line gets immediately deleted. Most people know not to forward me stuff. The few who do, know me well enough to be confident that I really will find it funny or heartwarming and are cognizant of the consequences if I don't.

However, one family acquaintance insisted on sending me every email myth out there, and finally, I was compelled to send her the link to a Snopes article debunking the most recent one. It involved a class of sixth graders trying to track an email's progress through the internet. Most of us who have even a molecule of understanding about the internet know that this is impossible. Nevertheless, she insisted that she had actually called the schoolteacher in question and verified the story. I did not accuse her of telling a bold faced lie, but merely suggested that perhaps the Snopes people would like to talk to this teacher so they could change the status of this myth on their website.

I don't hear from her anymore.

So, anyway, I'm no Patsy. Thererfore, it really hurts my pride to admit that recently, I was taken in by one of those internet things, and almost taken in by an email scam.

It seems that the Tiger Mother adopts Weiner Pig Babies story is hoax. I know. Shocking. And sad. We all felt a little bit of kinship with that Tiger Mother, didn't we? We could relate to her. And we liked feeling good about something. We liked believing in the innocence that our animals friends possess and the acceptance that they are capable of. Here is the real story. It's a little sad and sordid and frankly, my faith in makind is a somewhat shaken by it. It's true that nobody was really harmed by this ruse. Or were they? Don't these kinds of hoaxes further erode our already diminishing capacity for trusting our fellow man? I think they do.

The other one is even more embarrassing to admit, because the success of scams like these relies largely on the degree of arrogance that people possess. One can conclude then, that my own egotism is to blame for my willingness to believe something that I might have otherwise distrusted immediately. However, I soothe my wounded pride with the fact that unlike other scams, it is marginally more believable.

I received the following in my inbox several days ago:

From: Chad Horton
Subject: Re: Regarding your Blog

Hi,

I found your Blog and figured this might interest you: you can offer your Blog to our users and earn money every month on a reoccurring basis. We have a growing number of content providers like yourself, some of whom are currently earning significant income.

Our social network of 50 million users worldwide allows you to present your Blogs or other content in what we call "Pods". Your Blog posts are pulled automatically from Blogger, Xanga, or LiveJournal and updated on our site. You retain the rights to all your content, and there is no need to make any changes to the way you blog. Simply update your blog as you normally would, and the new content is dynamically displayed on our site.

Our users that add your blog to their homepages pay you a subscription fee through their mobile phones. There is a 3-way revenue share model in place between you, the mobile phone operators, and SMS.ac. You can also send text messages to your subscribers to inform them of new content or exciting updates. Starting in August, your blog will also be available on our users’ mobile phones.

It's very easy to get started, and it will take you no longer than 5 minutes. All you need to do to upload your blog is visit the Blog Wizard at http://www.sms.ac/blogs and follow the 3 easy steps: create a title and description, provide your blog account info, and set the price. It really takes less than 5 minutes.

We are also offering an incentive to help new providers to get started. In addition to the standard revenue share, each Pod published from June 1-30 that reaches 15 users in 30 days will receive a $100 bonus.

If you have questions or would like me to walk you through publishing your blog, please suggest a date and time that I may contact you by phone. Otherwise, feel free to get started!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,

Chad Horton
Pod Development Team
SMS.ac Inc.
619-696-1376
chorton@corp.sms.ac
255 G Street, #723 | San Diego, CA, 92101 | USA


I deleted it, not because I thought it was a scam, but because I just didn't have time to deal with it. I had never heard of SMS.ac, so I had no reason to believe it was not legit. I got this a few days later, and I began to think maybe it might be worth looking into. I mean, obviously, they thought my blog was worthy enough to persue, right? Jeez, how eye rollingly narcisstic can a person be?

Hi,

I hope everything is going well for you. I have not heard back from you in regards to my first two emails. I am wondering if you are interested in importing your existing Blogger.com, Xanga, or LiveJournal blog into an SMS.ac Blog Pod. Please let me know if you need help, or if you even plan on doing this in the future so that I do not bother you anymore. My contact information is below.

I look forward to hearing from you. Have a great week!


Best Regards,


Chad Horton
Blog Pod Development Team
SMS.ac Inc.
619-696-1376
chorton@corp.sms.ac
255 G Street, #723 | San Diego, CA, 92101 | USA


However, something must have penetrated my haze of self-importance, because my bullshit meter started twitching. I asked husband what he thought, and he found this.

So, bloggers beware. You have been warned.

Frankly, I think scammers, spammers and crooks should be taken out and strung up by their nut hair. Especially the ones who target those not equipped to make informed decisions, such as the eldery, the innocent (apparently, the SMS blog scam is really aimed at teens with blogs and mobile phones...yet another reason my son doesn't need a cell phone or an email address.) and the, umm...egotistical.

I suddenly feel even more jaded than before. Sometimes I wonder if the human race will survive the internet. I suppose we will, since we have survived other seemingly insurmountable social evils, but I wonder at the cost. I believe the price will be paid in trust, which will become as extinct as the many species man has extinguished through his arrogance and avarice.

Mr. Horton, get a job.

13 Comments:

  • At 2:19 PM, Anonymous mothergoosemouse said…

    I did some research on SMS integrators as part of a marketing/promotions project at work. While we did not meet with SMS.ac, we met with several other similar companies.

    I exchanged e-mail with Chad and asked him some very specific questions. He did respond appropriately, but also followed up with another generic e-mail like the one in your post.

    While I'm sure that we could syndicate our content for distribution via SMS, I frankly can't imagine why anyone would pay a subscription fee. That fee, plus the charges associated with the receipt of each SMS, are where the money would come from, but again - I don't think it's a viable model.

    And the business development efforts are laughable. If SMS.ac wants to attract bloggers, they should start by having a specific category for BLOGS. That was one of the questions I asked Chad, and literally in the two days that I waited for his response, SMS.ac ADDED a category for blogs. I'm not saying that my question prompted them to add the category, but the timing seems suspicious to me.

    I don't know where SMS.ac got their list of our e-mail addresses, but it's obviously an amateurish business development campaign. Perhaps it was endorsed by the company execs, or perhaps Chad is a renegade.

    Bottom line - I told him I wasn't interested. I don't think any of us should be.

     
  • At 2:30 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Veeeeeeeeery interesting. Thank you for sharing. You are a smart cookie for asking those questions, and I agree the blog category seems a little fortuitous. I am adding him to my blocked senders list. I urge others to do the same.

     
  • At 2:53 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    Add me to the list of people who got those emails. But, like you, if I don't recognize who its from I delete it. It was such a boldfaced scam that I'm amazed and saddened by how many people get sucked in to things like that.

     
  • At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Jenny said…

    Thanks for sharing.

    I think there's a special place in hell reserved for scammers.

     
  • At 7:23 PM, Blogger Ruth Dynamite said…

    Only yesterday did I receive my first Nigerian proposal - which, of course, I blogged about today. Mine wasn't from a "Prince," instead from the wife of some deceased government official. Bad English, ridiculous requests - just like the two I also received from "Chad Horton." Who names their kid Chad Horton, anyway? That was my clue.

     
  • At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Kristina said…

    I have gotten this email every day for the last two months and have deleted it or added it to my spam box. I hate that the Interent has become andother outlet to screw people, but I love that peopl elike you warn us. Keep it up, please!

     
  • At 10:23 PM, Blogger Karyn said…

    By their nut hair.

    When I stop laughing at that line, maybe I will come up with a proper comment.

    You rock.

     
  • At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Kvetch said…

    I am Queen of Snopes. I get stupid, ridiculous, obviously innane (is that a word?) forwarded emails from my friends and family all the time. Most of the time I already know it's a hoax,but I go to Snopes anyway and send the link to every single person on every single forward list on the email I received. Yep, it takes time, but I am so annoyed. To the person who sent it to me directly I send an email saying its a hoax, the link to Snopes, and a suggestion to check before forwarding things. But they don't. In my world, you are guilty until proven innocent. How many times has a fourth grader asked you to put your name at the bottom of a list or put an asterik next to it if it's already there? Oh boy. I'm on a roll. As for the tigers and pigs, it's still really a cute story, although not quite as heartwarming. Even the best of the best like you B.A. has an off day! :-)

     
  • At 9:09 AM, Blogger sunshine scribe said…

    I am a bit of a cynic and ask questions about everything and delete anything I am not sure of. I got this email and ignored it because I figured no one would want to syndicate my blog (ha ha).

    And BA, I can't imagine ever thinking of you as a Patsy - plus I like the story you shared about the pig/tiger babies much better than the real one so we were all into that one :)

     
  • At 4:01 PM, Blogger jennster said…

    thank you for posting this because he emailed me persistantly and i was actually going to give it a look when i had some time.

     
  • At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Gurukarm Kaur said…

    Oh, Snopes.com! I *love* Snopes! They are most excellent in their references and outting of stupid hoaxes and myths - and once when I emailed them to say thanks for their work, I actually got a personal email back from them (no lie - you don't have to look it up on Snopes!) Good folks...

    When I get these stupid emails from friends who should know better I invariably look up the topic on Snopes and send them back the link (only the original sender, not their whole beleaguered list, haha!) with the advice to "look it up BEFORE you send it out". Not once has any of my correspondents ever emailed back to say "oh... ok... thanks" or the like. But it HAS cut way down on my receipt of stupid hoax emails, now that I think about it :-)

     
  • At 1:00 PM, Blogger Antique Mommy said…

    I got the Chad Horton email too and responded just as you did. His second email is still sitting in my inbox because I didn't want to admit that I didn't really understand it. Thanks for the heads-up reporting and link to Snopes.

     
  • At 7:17 PM, Blogger kdyrrPDAB said…

    I was one of the people that signed up... it was all the way back in November, before any of this started. I do actually make money off of the pods I have created for them, but there are a few things you need to know about so that you don't inadvertently do something that will make you upset.

    First, the only reason you may get messages from a bunch of people (or send them to friends) is if you tell SMS.ac to do so. You simply need to read carefully when you sign up. They have an option to send out invitations. This is a great tool for those that want it, and nothing new with online communities. If that's not what you want, however, just don't do it.

    Second, they give you the option to receive text messages if you supply your cell phone number. Again, this is optional. You can easily click on the "Messages" link from your homepage, then the "Preferences" button, and set up all of your message preferences. Nothing is unsolicited. All of these things can be great tools for marketing any pods you create, but they are optional. The easiest way to market pods is through their current subscriber base, since they are already members. Just add some of them to your friends list and tell them about your pods.

    My last few checks have been around in the hundreds, and going up each month... to around $600 for the last one... so it's definitely not a scam if you know how to use the system correctly.

    I noticed that they actually have created their own blog to answer some concerns:
    http://smsac-corporate-blog.blogspot.com/

    I personally think pods in general are a good idea... as well as the blog pods... but it's all just my personal opinion... I just think that buying and selling information/software/music/movies/etc helps to stop piracy, and helps people stay creative, since they're getting something in return rather than working for nothing.

    I hope the info helps!

     

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