Friday, March 21, 2014

Authority Specialists and Weird Blogs

Ever wonder where half of the blogs you read actually come from?   Well, here's your answer!

In the mail today, this bizarre missive:

Hello Mr Robert,

I trust you and your co-workers are fine. I have come across your blog and read some of your posts, I must say, most articles are fraught with juicy details. I am interested to impart my knowledge on your blog.
By the way, I am Keira Genders, a content writer from Authority Specialists. I would love to share my thoughts and write you an original and informative article/guest post for FREE in exchange for a link of our website. 
This can be mutually beneficial and rewarding to your blog, to your company and to us. Upon the publication of my article to your blog, I will help you promote your blog not just my article page. I will help you grow the number of your blog audience and increase your traffic. Hope this sounds fair to you.
Here are the three best topics I think would tickle the fancy of most readers:
·         Top 5 affordable winter-ready 4x4 vehicles
·         Accessories for four wheel vehicles
·         Top 10 Car Maintenance Mistakes Most People Commit
Let me know which piques your interest the most and I'd be delighted to write it the soonest. 
Thank you! It would be a pleasure working with you in the future.

Keira Genders

Now, this isn't the first time I have run into this sort of thing.   As I noted before,  people are grooming the internet like mad these days, and the idea is to overwhelm Internet Search Engines with lame content that blocks out any real criticism or thoughts by real people. 

What do I mean by this?  Well, if you look on the Internet these days, and search on any topic, you may find a number of blog entries that are, well, amazingly similar - and worded slightly oddly, as if someone, perhaps from India, had written them.

What is the point of such blogs and blog entries?   Two things.  

First, some folks run monetized blogs where sidebar ads are placed next to the articles.   If people click on the blog, they make a tiny, tiny amount of money for each click on blog and maybe a tiny amount of money if they click on the sidebar ads.   And if you can get a lot of people to click on these ads, well, you might be able to make a small amount of money.  I have not monetized this blog, and have no intention of doing so - although my content has been copied and hijacked onto other, monetized blogs, for the purpose of making money from it.

Second, some people use these to drown out other blog entries criticizing their business or company.   By spamming the blogsphere with SEO (Search Engine Optimized) entries, their cheerleading postings will float to the top of the septic tank that is the Google Search engine (or any other search engine, for that matter) and drown out any real criticism.

I recently ran into this when a reader asked me about copyrights for church music.  I had written a blog post about Singing in Church, and in it, I mentioned that some of these Christian Copyright groups seem to be trying to scare the little old church ladies into signing.  This blog post, by another author, is right to the point.

But my entry, as well as the other one, are hard to find on Google.  Why?  Well, since I wrote the original article, the number of "Christian" copyright groups has expanded considerably, and there are multiple blogsites out there with titles like, "Does our Church Need a Copyright License?" - and of course these blogs helpfully say, "Yes, you do!"  And of course, they are the first 50 hits on Google.

And while a mega-church might need such licensing for broadcasting modern Christian music on its own satellite network, the tiny church down the street from me, with 12 little old ladies, who are singing from the Presbyterian Hymnal, do not.   But these new blogsites don't always make that clear - and tout things like the recent $3M lawsuit against Joel Osteen (who runs a megachurch, and let a license for "secular" music he runs in his commercials expire) as examples of what can happen to little old ladies if they don't play their cards right.  (By the way, Osteen won, which shows you what happens with you mess with God!).

I have said it before and I will say it again - getting your information from the Internet is always suspect.   You have to be astute and aware and filter things accordingly.   And by "filter" I don't mean to twist everything to your preconceived notions (which is human nature) but to look for tiny things that don't add up.

For example, if you see a lot of poorly worded blog posts on a topic, chances are they are either grooming posts (trying to cover up some bad information about a company or service, that they don't want you to know about) or they are just key-word spam SEO optimized garbage, designed to get you to click, so they can make money from the sidebar ads.    In either case, take what is written with a grain of salt, as it was written to capture eyeballs, not to inform.

And sadly, the news sites are like this these days (as were their television forebears).   On the TV, they used "teasers" like "Snow in the forecast?  Stay tuned for News at 11!" - knowing you might stay tuned and that the forecast is the last part of the new show, next to Sports.

CNN is famous for this, with their "You're not going to believe....!" headlines that are designed to get people to click - and thus generate click-through revenue for their sponsors.   The headline will read something like, "You're not going to believe what this kid did!" or something along that line.   The headline is cheerfully content-free, and it is designed to get you to click, like a monkey curious as to what is inside a cocoanut.

Of course, Ad Block plus takes a lot of the fun out of this game for CNN, but for the time being, they haven't figured out a way to block Ad Block plus (because they stupidly insist on keeping the ads as separate files, which are played in rotation, instead of making them part of the video itself - duh).

We are being herded, cajoled, spammed, groomed, monitored, and lied to.   The marketers want us to spend - on their stuff, their toys, their worthless services.   And anytime someone figures a way around their shenanigans, well, the marketers quickly adapt, and figure out a way to crush any dissent or opposition - or just drown it out with noise.

Maybe the Turkish prime minister should take a page from this playbook, and instead of trying to shut down Twitter and Facebook, just SPAM them instead, with garbage content and grooming posts that will make it harder for people to find out the real truth.   And who knows?  Maybe they can make enough money from click-through revenue to pay off their massive debts!