Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Surrender Your Content! Beware of Social Networks Bearing Gifts

Over the past week I received two spam requests for information from two new women's "social networks." (note: I won't link to these--not going to feed them) Now, spamming someone is not cool--but spamming someone to join or give content to a "social network" is even more specious....

One request, from a "mommy" network, simply wanted a link to my blog. The other, which maintains that it is a Hollywood-based women's professional network, asked for me to fill out some questions so that they could post a bio of me on their site....

And why should I do either? In the first case, I'm not a mommy. Still, I went in and checked the "network"--found that it was nothing more than an aggegator of feeds to other blog (that probably didn't know they are being aggregated) and news stories from wire services. So, there was no clear and compelling reason for me to give the link to my blog or to reciprocate. Remember, blogging is a social thing, and there has to be a couple of individuals involved in the pursuit, and some original content, for me to get involved.

The second network--the Hollywood-based network--scared the begebus out me. It was loaded with adware--from in-context ads (those nasty green underlined things) to fraudulent "videos" that lead to product websites. None of the content was original--all was cribbed from other sources without original thought involved. And there was no discernable "about" information on the person or persons who put the "network" together. So, once again, why should I give this "network" any of my information? So that whomever put it together has free content to help her make money? This is totally unethical and not what forming a network is about.

So, where might these folks be getting the ideas to do this? First, it may be coming from solid information on women's online habits (most of it culled from impotant reports from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that's meant to help us understand what we do and why.)The Pew studies show that women enjoy being online and that life online is important to us. Second, the incentive may also come from the "make money from your blog!" rhetoric that's proliferating these days. This way of thinking has turned blogging from something that is social, that might help one's career (if one wants to write), into a mercenary mission to get as many suckers as possible to generate income from aggregated stolen content.

So, if you are spammed by requests to give links or content to any "social network," check the network out. Ask these questions:

  • Does the network have original content?

  • How many ads are there? are the ads intrusive and overwhelming?

  • Is anybody home? Is there a person with a valid email addy running the network?

  • If nobody's home and all you're seeing is content belonging to someone else, and loads of ads--stay away! This site may be fraudulent and the only motive for this site may be to generate income for the person running it--not for any social purposes at all.

    (that many of these networks are preying on women is even more insidious. beware, ladies!)

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