Beware Of “Writers” Bearing Free Content

Today’s post is not at all about food.

Instead, the theme of today’s post is: Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.

No offense intended to Hormel Foods, owners of this image.

Or, in other words, you get what you pay for – and you definitely should look a gift horse in the mouth.  You know, especially if it’s a free horse that someone you don’t know attempts to hand to you out of the goodness of their heart.  Especially on the internet.  The question you ought to ask yourself is – so, what’s in it for them?

We all hate blog spam.  But, thankfully, for those of us using WordPress, or Blogger, comment spam is more or less a thing of the past – the built-in spam filters place it all neatly into my “spam” box which I check and occasionally empty.  I like a tidy place.  But … that’d mean spammers are out of the blog business – or, are they?

The other day, I have received the following email via the “contact” box on my blog (names and such removed out of politeness):

Name: xxxx
Email: xxx@spammerguild.com
Website:
Message: I’ve been reading eatheroses.wordpress.com and have a story idea that might interest your followers:

We all know we should eat healthy, but, let’s be honest, low-cal food isn’t exactly mouth-watering. Either the flavors are off or the portions are too small. However, getting healthy doesn’t always have to be a drag. I will discuss creative tips for making healthy food more interesting as well as giving some recipe ideas that are sure to help you get healthy, without giving up your inner foodie.

Would you be interested in having me write a guest post for your blog?  Alternatively I could just supply you with some great trend information that you can use to write a post yourself.

Let me know if you’re interested – I think this topic will be of great interest to your readers.

Thanks for your time and best regards,

xxxx.

Spammer Guild
1015 Bee Caves Woods Dr, Suite 102
Austin, TX 78746
xxxx@spammerguild.com

(Please let me know if you don’t want to receive any more emails from me! Thanks!)

Notice how nice and polite he is, and how concerned he is with the well-being of my poor, neglected blog?  I mean, look at it, not updated in ages half a day at that point, and I clearly am neither on-trend nor do I know anything about healthy and delicious food.  I mean, who am I to be able to tell people about those things?  Someone with a couple of university degrees, work experience and a lifelong hobby?  Nah, I don’t know jack, and I clearly need help.  So, very interested in his generous offer (do you need a tissue to wipe the sarcasm dripping off the screen yet?), I write back to him.

Dear xxxxx,

Thank you for your email.  I am really curious to know who is paying you to do this, and in which manner.  Would you kindly provide me with this information, so that I can make an informed decision regarding any content that may be posted to my blog, and the reasons why it would be.

Many thanks and best regads,
Veronika

You know, normally a person would cotton on to something when you ask them who is paying for it, but I have found that if you are really polite (see his first letter above!), people tend to assume you bear them good will.  So, the next morning I get a prompt reply.  With an article draft, no less!

Veronika,

I’m apart of the Spammer Guild.
The Spammer Guild is a unique place for bloggers to get together and
exchange ideas and articles. They provide aspiring writers with a home for the
content they write.
Here is a draft of the article so you can see how it would read and look, and you can make your decision from that. (notice there are links in the article, this is how I benefit)
xxxxx

The article, which I won’t be posting for the obvious reason (why do the spammer guild as I’ve renamed them a favor?), is, to sum it up elegantly, so much drivel in the “eat healthy and low fat and use website x and website y’s products to keep fit” vein.  It is, essentially, a badly-written and outdated (in terms of weight loss and health) advertisement.  That they want me to put on my blog.  As content.  Yeah, right.  Also, the bit about how his guild is a place for aspiring writers and how they provide them with a home for content they write?  It looks like they want ME to provide them with a home for the content they get paid to write – so not as advertised!  (And copypasted from their homepage to boot!)

But my favorite bit here, you see, is that this ‘aspiring writer’ doesn’t appear to know grammar.  Note that he’s apart of the Spammer Guild.  No, oh no, he’s not assiciated with them – he is apart.  So, in the morning, feeling inspired, I reply with:

xxxx, good morning.

I have a couple of other issues which really need to be resolved, before I go forward with anything regarding this –

1. If you are an aspiring writer, why don’t you start your own blog?  They are available free from half a dozen blog-hosting sites such as blogger and wordpress and many more.  So, why not make your writing your own?
2. I am wondering what made you think that I need content from elsewhere or that I lack my own content to write?  Would you please share your reasoning with me?
3. Why should I, a food professional, post anything with links to websites of which I do not approve, that want their links inserted for-pay (not to me) in my blog?

Looking forward to hearing back from you,
Veronika

When the questions get this pointed, apparently even the small-brain spammer comprehends that something is not all happy happy joy joy.  Unfortunately he does not appear to have gotten really good reading comprehension scores on his tests, but no matter – he is now realising that I have no intention for earning his keep for him and using my blog to advertise his crap.  So, this evening, I get a grumpy and innocence-wronged reply which totally doesn’t address the first question regarding why he won’t start his own blog instead of wanting to post on mine:

Veronika,

We don’t charge for blog posts, I don’t know how you came to that conclusion. And as for what made me think you needed content, I didn’t think you needed content, I was just offering to add additional content. Anyways, I found someone interested in the article. Thank you for your time, and I wish you well! Take care.
xxxx

Thank YOU for your time and for alerting me to the fact that spammers have found a new way to advertise – gullible bloggers!  And no, dumb*ss, I did not say you wanted me to pay you – I referred to the fact that you get paid to put those links on my blog.  Of course I understand, it must have been sorely disappointing for him to have spent all that time writing polite emails to me when I didn’t really intend to let him take advantage of me.  How heartless of me, really!  I mean, spammers are people too, right?  Right?

I sincerely hope the comment about having found another blogger who wanted the article was just a face-saving remark and that no other bloggers actually bought into this garbage.  A polite spammer wanting to make a buck off your blog is still a spammer, and I really think it’s very underhanded to approach people (not all of whom are suspicioius sorts like myself) with “here, we want to help you” rather than the way honest advertisers (like Google Ads or various ad-partner firms) would.  Though, have to give them credit for the idea – using people’s vanity and laziness and desire for “free stuff” to place their products.

So anyway, I hope this has at least amused you.  I thought I would bring this to the collective attention of the blogosphere – or at least as much as my blog gets read – because after all, who wants to have someone else post low-quality advertisements on their blog and get paid for that – especially considering that that someone does not know English well enough to realise that “anyway” does not have a plural.

Beware Greeks bearing gifts, and all that.  You know how it ended in Troy, don’t you?

Advertisements

37 thoughts on “Beware Of “Writers” Bearing Free Content

  1. Wow, you even allowed him some back and forth communication. Could tell he was annoyed … hahaha! Serves him right. I get some of these too and I just tell them I’d look into it and don’t, the end. Haha! I like your poke at Troy!

    1. :) Thanks! And well, I am a strong believer in giving people enough rope to hang themselves. Then I don’t need to be the ‘bad guy’. ;)

      And I am curious – do you know just how widespread this s**t is? It’s the first time it happened to me. Do they approach with different “offers” and is it different organizations/people?

  2. Well, I must have received about 5 of them and all of them claim to be from different sites/orgs but not all of them suggest stuff for me to do.
    A couple seem legit altho I wonder what the wedding gown/fan club sites have to do with me. I usually don’t even bother reading the whole content of the mail.

  3. I’m so glad you posted this! I just got an email saying almost exactly the same thing, but with a different story idea. I googled the address of this so called “guild” and it brought me to your page. Thanks for the heads up!

    1. Erika, hi!

      Thank you for stopping by and mentioning this – you are more than welcome and this is exactly the reason why I posted it, so I feel rather gloaty-justified now! I cannot stand this sort of underhanded behavior and approach, and I figured that someone has got to open mouth (or word editor…) and call them on it. Not to mention that it’s insulting to one’s intelligence when they assume we’ll just grab any sort of [bleep] to post on our blog because we are… too busy to post on it? What the heck?

  4. I was also sent the same email and was immediately suspicious. Like the others who commented, I googled them and found your website. I wouldn’t have trusted them anyway (notice no “s” at the end), but seeing the response you got from them makes me feel even better about ignoring them. :)

    1. Apparently, and according to a recent Gawker article, there is a lot of this going around recently. So by all means, ignore them, and/or spread the good word and help keep blogging clean!

    1. You are very welcome!

      It’s both, frustrating, and oh so very insulting to those of us who care about our blogs and the content we put on them!

    1. You know, by now I’m sort of glad I’d received mine too – look at all the interesting people (with interesting blogs to boot!) I got to meet thanks to them!

  5. Also got the exact, word-for-word email, though mine was from a woman’s name so they must share spam template emails. Or have Multiple Personality Disorder. Googled the Guild and found your post. Thanks for digging!!

  6. I got the same e-mail EXACTLY, to the letter. Told Ms. Spammer that my blog, shockingly, was about my readers wanting to connect to ME thru MY writing. I presumed she was offering to write content for pay, but didn’t know it was this level of spam. Unbelievable.

  7. Same story as the others here~ I just got this email too. Thanks so much for saving me time. I’ll just hit delete….hmmm…or maybe I’ll write a nasty email back, asking THEM to do something for ME :)

  8. Dan, Lindsey, Stacey and Jess – it seems they’ve redoubled their efforts, and it’s downright insulting to one’s intelligence that they assume bloggers are such sheep!

    Good work on deleting, and by all means, do write them back – if nothing else, it feels good to give back some of the cartload of garbage they offer us: “Look! Nice ripe trash, delivered for free to your blog – you know you want it!”

    No thanks! ;)

    1. You’re very welcome! I have to admit, I didn’t realise when I wrote this rant, how useful it’d be (it was damn fun to write!) but hey, I guess one never really knows! Glad I could help!

  9. I just got an extremely similar email from the so-called Guild. Argh.
    And like others above, so glad to find your blog as a result of googling the spammers!

    I’ve also had weird things like a person who wanted to “use” one of my posts on her site… and when I checked out her site, I found that it was structured so that all links on borrowed posts went back to…her site.

    Then there was the woman from New Jersey, a “real housewives” type, who thought she had everything that it takes to be the next big food celebrity on TV, except for….cooking ability. And so, she wanted to have me feed her original recipes and ideas, so that she could be brilliant on TV…

    Regards,
    Sue

    1. Sue, hi!

      Don’t you just love it when people assume that you are too stupid to tie your own shoes, yet brilliant enough to produce something they want? You know, the ideal would-be victim for those who want that something for nothing and expect you to give it to them! I know I do. /sarcasm

      Glad I could help, and hope you enjoy the blog!

  10. HI Veronika,

    I am so glad that I spent a minute to Google Blog Content Guild and the mysterious Margot, after having received the exact same email as you and several others.

    I was immediately suspicious since Margot didn’t supply a last name.

    Thanks so much for letting us know about this racket. You have saved me and countless others a lot of grief.

    Happy Blogging!

    Nancy

    1. Hey Nancy and you are very welcome!

      I’m very very happy to hear that my guess at what they were, subsequent jerking them around, and posting it all appears to do so much good!

  11. They tried this same scam with me the other day and when I called them on it, all I got was the silent treatment. The post was riddled with recommendations about certain wines, which I found out were all tied to one distributor. I was thinking, “um, nice try, find yourself another fool. If these folks want play, they gotta pay for advertorials. with full disclosure of course. But of course, they are looking willing and able patsy’s to do their bidding with faux organic blog post.

  12. I was also contacted by Blog Content Guild, with nearly the same initial email message, but for technology content. Like you, I blogged about this scam. Unlike you, I didn’t bother to respond.

    We do need to keep telling other bloggers about scams like this. There are too many gullible people out there. When they’re all educated and stop falling for this nonsense, maybe the spam will stop.

    Keep up the good work!

  13. Bill – yes, isn’t it amusing that they assume that we, bloggers, don’t know shit about what we blog about and would buy into what they offer? The garbage they offered me was so against my philosophy – both in food, and in terms of healhy eating – that it wasn’t even sad, it was funny!

    Maria – all we can do is spread the word. Sadly the world is too full of uneducated people or people who are entirely too gullible for their (and everyone else’s) good, but we do what we can!

    Thank you both for stopping by!

  14. Just got an email from them today as well…it was like one big red flag, thanks for your post confirming so. I was tempted to just reply with a link to this page. :)

  15. They’re getting more creative in their pitches. About two months ago I received one solicitation that screamed “marketer.”

    Today I received another from a different contact, and the way it was worded I had to read it a second time before realizing it was totally bogus. Instead of just copy-pasting the name of my blog, they quoted a post title from earlier today.

    (START) “Hi,

    I just read your latest post “POST TITLE”I think this is a great piece for your viewers.

    In short, my job is to help brands educate and connect with new audiences. With your permission, we would like to highlight your most recent post on our blog as well as provide additional content for your readership.

    I have done some previous writing on major blogs and if you are up for it, I’d like to write a guest column.

    Let me know your thoughts!

    ****, Senior Op Ed Columnist

    Blog Content Guild
    1015 Bee Caves Woods Dr, Suite 102
    Austin, TX 78746” (END)

    Since when do op-ed columnists write marketing copy? And here is the previous solicitation:

    (START) “I’ve been reading YOURBLOG.COM and have a story idea that might interest your followers:

    Buying office supplies for your new business can be tough, especially when you don’t have much money or space to work with. Luckily, technology has allowed us to combine many services into less devices. I review some online services and multi-functioning devices that can help you save money and more efficiently manage your business.

    Would you be interested in having me write a guest post for your blog? Alternatively I could just supply you with some great trend information that you can use to write a post yourself.

    Let me know if you’re interested – I think this topic will be of great interest to your readers.

    *********
    Blog Content Guild
    1015 Bee Caves Woods Dr.
    Austin, TX 78746″(END)

    The earlier email (bottom) was in reference to my low-traffic tech/gadget/random cool stuff blog, with the later (top) emailing me via my tool blog’s contact page.

    I completely ignored the first email but replied to the second asking what they had in mind, out of curiosity and the desire to collect more info for a future post of my own about the matter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s