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  1. #1
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    When Connie first found violations of 2 separate TOS documents of LS occurring with the affiliate that LS is giving a certain award to and she asked me to verify and document what was happening, I knew the most likely outcome was going to be non-enforcement by LS. I realized that since LS had already made the announcement of the award and put a huge PR push behind the announcement, that it was going to be a very difficult situation for LS. In the end, I fully expected the Award to stand.

    However, I have NO intentions of sitting by idly and allowing LS to disparage both myself and Connie as their justifications for standing behind an affiliate who they are giving a $15k cash prize when this affiliate was auto setting cookies in a most calculating method.

    If LS isn't going to enforce both their normal TOS and the TOS for the Cha Ching program fine. Then don't. It won't be the first time a Network hasn't enforced their TOS.

    But Stephen, your Legal department (of all people) should have known better than to make certain statements as their justifications as to why the Award was going to be given. Since the comments were based towards the documentation that was provided, they were directed at me. And to be quite frank, I find the comments slanderous towards myself and my company under which I did the documentation.

    So......a few things here. First I want, no I DEMAND, to know what other parties representatives of LS have made statements insinutating, implying, or flat out stating that the documentation was or could have been doctored or falsified. The same goes for statements stating that the motivation for providing the documentation was just to "get even with the site for something and have their Award taken away."

    Second, I want to be provided by LS whatever PROOF they have to back up such statements within 7 working days. That is proof that could even just lead to suspicion that I falsified or altered any documentation. Not that documenation "could have been" falsified..something that proves that I may very well have done that. I also need to have it clearly spelled out to me how what I provided could have been easily doctored.

    In all the 8000MB+ of information I have documentted over the last few years, I have NOT once changed, altered, doctored, or falified ANY of it in anyway which alters in the interpretation of what was occurring. The ONLY alterations may have been something like whiting out a URL in a broswer window to protect the identity of a web site being infringed upon. I did NOT change my level of ETHICAL behavior in this case. And I have NO plans in doing so in the future.

    So while the affiliate in question may have sent you a written statement saying that they had not done engaged in the actions shown in my documentation for the contest nor had they EVER engaged in such activites (and I believe you have already received information proving that statement to be FALSE..that they have engaged in such in the past....or is the internet archiver doctoring their information also?) and LS has chosen to believe that statement (which maybe lead to my information being doctored and Connie and I were just lying about all this...because someone does HAVE to be lying), LS will be receiving from me within 7 business days a written notorized affadavit stating that the documentation was NOT altered, doctored, falsified, or tampered with in any way to mislead regarding an auto cookie setting technique being engaged in by this affiliate. Something that IS a violation of the general LS TOS as well as the Cha Ching TOS.

    I would have to be one sick puppy to spend the amount of time it would require to fabricate, what was it, over 1000(?) html pages showing the auto cookie set trail for the bulk of the merchants on their site. And that I would (even if I had the skill) fabricate the videos and other documentation that went along with all pointing to the same direction is just ridiculous!

    And to slight Connie's character that she was behind all of this great conspiracy just to get even at this affiliate for some reason?? As true and loyal as Connie has been to LS over the years? Her reputation IS above reproach. She has always earned HONEST revenue for herself, Merchants, and LS. Unlike the person LS is supporting now (because IT IS out there yet what they were doing). And that's just pitiful IMO.

    Of course the activity isn't being seen now on the site. Funny how it magically "disappeared" in what was it now less than 24 hours after it was brought to LS's attention. Which is why I had Connie hold off from saying anything until I had completed documentating. And well it has been close to a month since Connie first brought this to LS attention. And it's been over 2 weeks they've had my documentation (documentation I might add that was asked for by at least one person at LS because they HAD seen it happen at least once and couldn't figure out how it was happening and then it stopped).

    Also funny that none of the Merchants who saw the information had any truoble at all believing what they were seeing.

    LS took a wrong turn by not more closely monitoring the actiivty going on by some affiliates during the contest. Then another wrong turn by not checking out more closely the aff's in the top positions for that award for it was given out. And a serious wrong turn by not checking to make sure all the ducks were in a row before the Award was announced (and I'm giving LS the benefit of the doubt here that there was no prior knowledge of the activity prior to Connie bringing it up).

    Now LS has driven off the road by the justifications they have come up with allowing the Award to stand.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    I am so disgusted right now.
    Is this the way you treat someone who has been a loyal affiliate in your network for over 5 years? Have I not been a big Linkshare supporter? I have talked to countless merchants at your Symposiums that were considering Linkshare and sang your praises. I have stuck up for you guys countless times.

    Stephen, I sent you the Way Back Machine Info, but am sure you will just say that was a year ago and they weren't doing it during the contest.

    This is what I got out of my phone conversation today:

    No one from Linkshare has been able to independantly verify what
    this site was doing.

    The documentation is worthless, could have easily been doctored according to
    Linkshare.

    After they got the documentation they looked at the site and couldn't see
    anything..of course by then it was disabled, he was no longer doing it.

    They think it is just other affiliates trying to get even with this site for
    something and take away their prize. (I had never heard of this site before
    the announcement that they won.)

    Linkshare talked to this person and they swore they weren't now, nor had
    they ever done anything like that.

    They even got it in writing from this person that they weren't doing this. So they believe him because
    he said he wasn't doing it.

    So they are awarding him his prize.

    We are lying and making it up, he is being victimized.

    I feel sick for that hardworking, honest affiliate who deserves to win but is getting royally screwed. And it isn't me, so that is not my motivation.

    You have opened up the doors wide open for people to cheat and have no consequences.

    Kellie's hard work has always been above reproach. Merchants seek her out and trust her. Affiliates trust her. I think she deserves an award!

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador
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    "Kellie's hard work has always been above reproach. Merchants seek her out and trust her. Affiliates trust her. I think she deserves an award!"

    I second that. She's definetly somebody i trust to be truthful and fair.

  4. #4
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    You embarrass me Stephen, I put my faith in your team doing THEIR job. And you have let me, my clients and my partners down.

    Chris.
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  5. #5
    Newbie
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    This thread seems to start in the middle. Can anybody post a link / pointer to where it begins?

    Thanks.

  6. #6
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    http://www.linkshare.com/press/titanium_0504.html

    Connie saw that Merchant's cookies were being auto set by the winner. But she couldn't see any of the typical ways it was being done. She just saw LS cookies ending up in her cookie folder while on the affiliate's site. She asked me if I could take a look and see what was happening and if they were indeed tracking cookies.

    They were and I extensively documented what was happening and all information was forwarded since LS since forced cookie setting is a violation of LS TOS and the ChaChing TOS. And seems that Sarah posted here recently that forced clicks would not be tolerated by LS. And THAT was the only motivation in letting LS know that the winner of their first Titanium Award with a $15k cash prize was indeed doing this.

    Several people have been discussing this privately with LS over almost a month now. Giving them the opportunity to sort it all out.....

  7. #7
    ABW Veteran jc101's Avatar
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    okay reading it now. Edited

  8. #8
    ABW Veteran jc101's Avatar
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    Ah them criminals I was suspicious of them for a while. This disgusts me Linkshare and Stephen.

  9. #9
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
    I decide when the pigs fly!
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    MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador
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    "The leader in performance-based marketing"

  11. #11
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    I will say irrefutably, that:

    1) BLFH is beyond reproach and I would entrust her with my own site ... and I have ... she's a 2002 Best Moderator, as voted by the members. Additionally, I have never seen anything but the highest level of professionalism and honesty from her and her investigations.

    2) I hereby attest that 24houredeals.com has multiple times, in my own testing, blindly set cookies for merchants as well as using "other" unethical tactics to set/overwrite cookies.

    Sales numbers should not be commended when they are ill gotten.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  12. #12
    Merchant Linda's Avatar
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    I wish I could say I'm shocked at what is being said here but I'd be lying if I did.

    TOS is supposed to be in existance for everyone. If it's not enforced for all affiliates equally, then it means nothing.

    Thanks Linkshare so much for being our non-trusted third party.

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    I would love to know who the real winner would be, the one who worked hard and won it honestly...bet they wouldn't be happy to know they lost this way.

  14. #14
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    If Linkshare end up paying this affiliate $15,000 after receiving proof that said affiliate has broken the TOS, then Linkshare should be boycotted.

    This stinks. To award top prize to an affiliate site that has been found to be breaking Linkshare TOS is abhorrent.

    If the prize is awarded, every single Linkshare merchant should be made aware of what has taken place. Every affiliate should be informed.

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    I honestly don't know how Stephen sleeps at night. Someday the people responsible for this will pay for what they've done.

    This is so disgusting.

    This is so wrong.

    Shame, shame, shame.

    Andy

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador
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    All the more reason to only add ShareaSale & ethical independant merchants to my sites. I've finished adding Linkshare merchants. To partner with tricksters ala CJ is one thing, to reward them publicly is a slap in the face to their so-called "valued partners."

    The amount of money involved here should require a criminal investigation.

    Wayne

  17. #17
    Affiliate Network Rep
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    Hi All,

    First and foremost, I want to thank both Connie and Kellie for their efforts, both in connection with this matter as well as throughout their participation in the LinkShare Network. There is no doubt that the Network has benefited greatly from their dedication and contributions, and it is knowing them and the level of integrity and understanding they bring to affiliate matters that makes reading their postings, frankly speaking, so disappointing.

    We have a hard and fast rule at LinkShare. Whatever allegations of conduct we learn about and whoever we learn about them from, we must independently verify them before we act. We decided early on that, despite our own personal inclinations and biases, we would not bend this rule depending on who was making the allegations. This rule is no different then what is held up in our own US court system, and one that we should all be greatful for.

    No one is accusing or has accused Kellie or Connie of lying, fabricating evidence, conspiring or otherwise doing anything other than doing exactly what we want to applaud them for doing: which is caring deeply for the health of the Network and helping us be vigilant about the quality of participation on the Network. If anyone has gotten that impression then I can only apologize for that, but that would not be the reality.

    Without going into the specifics of this matter, you should know that whenever we receive information of this nature, we dedicate extensive time and resources to investigation. Our typical investigation involves tech and other people, including at the SVP and General Counsel level, to analyze the data that is provided to us, as well as chase down leads, look at Internet-based archives and databases, conduct extensive testing across different browsers, different operating systems, at different times of the day, etc. As Kellie attested from her own experience, these efforts take a lot of time. We do all of this prior to our contacting the affiliate at issue and we keep it contained to a need-to-know basis so as to maintain the integrity of the tests. When we received Kellie's (and other people's) materials on this particular matter, we escalated it to the highest levels of attention.

    The beauty of the Internet is that it can be a self-regulating and self-enforcing community. While we, at LinkShare, try to keep ahead of the curve on the latest technologies that affiliates employ, both the good and the bad, the innovative and the unethical, the reality is there are millions of websites out there and we depend in large part on merchants and affiliates alike, folks like Connie and Kellie and others, and community forums like ABW to find out what is "really" going on. In this regard, we really welcome the community's opinions about where the lines should be drawn in terms of ethical marketing practices. We do not believe, however, that it is healthy when that dialogue regresses into ad hominem or attack.

    So why did I say I was "disappointed" to read these postings? I was disappointed that there should be so much cynicism and skepticism about LinkShare's intentions and efforts. I don't think that it is appropriate to go into the details of why we made the decision we made in respect of the Holiday-Fourth Quarter 2003 Titanium Award. Suffice it to say, no one thinks or is saying *anyone* is lying or fabricating anything. Back in the October-December 2003 period and in January 2004 when the award winner was being decided, LinkShare did consider the leading contenders carefully, including doing analysis and testing, and chose the winner.

    In the end, we will do our best to investigate this issue further, but it is also important to us not to have this turn into a witch hunt. I hope everyone can understand that, and recognize that if we just took a knee jerk reaction to all the claims we receive (and we get a ton of them both real and wrong)then everyone involved in this industry would be subject to the risk that they could be shut down at any time with no chance for a fair airing of their defenses. I think that would just be awful.

    I am sorry that this has gotten to be a public issue. Fighting battles in public rarely leave anyone a winner.

    Anyway I need to get some rest before I fly off again in the morning. I will be out for a few days but I will be happy to respond further when I get back. Thank you again for helping us to help look into this matter. It really is a big help for us and we do appreciate it.
    Best regards,
    Steve

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Chris - WSO:
    ... And you have let me, my clients and my partners down. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Any chance of some of your merchants opening alternative indie programs, Chris? Time to rise above all this.

    Wayne

  19. #19
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
    Linkshare should be boycotted.


    All the more reason to only add ShareaSale & ethical independant merchants <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Lets be a tad selective there please, else some very good people who are LinkShare Merchants will get nailed for your actions,mnay merchants may not be vocal/represented here but they are vocal within the LS client base.

    Cheers

    Chris
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  20. #20
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Any chance of some of your merchants opening alternative indie programs, Chris? Time to rise above all this. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    It's hard to fight from the outside Wayne. Moving networks is not that easy. It irritates as many people as it pleases.

    Ultimately I believe this is a battle worth fighting, and I shall continue to battle, from inside LinkShare until such time as LinkShare asks me to shut up and leave.

    Cheers

    Chris
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  21. #21
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Really does leave me speechless to see this POS web site www.24houredeals.com whacking Overstock and the other participating LS merchants with their SE spamming tricks. What 10 year old couldn't put this page together with the template script inside of 15 minutes.

    http://www.24houredeals.com/merchant...=overstock.com

    Must warm Overstocks heart to see one I tipped them to who was bidding on their domain name and all trademarks in the PPCSE's. Same one doing blind cookie setting redirects with multiple merchant popunders and even spoffing the merchants URL in the keyword ads. I sure everyone saw the OS thread today and got their Trademark cease&desist e-mail.

    Google now shows these results for the keyword "overstock.com" and theirs many more PPCSE's out there including those with BHO partnerships pole vautling the SE spammers into prominence.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&l...tock.%2Bcom%22

    Hey..what's a flamingo and a parrot have to do these days to get some respect and a cash award. LS won't even call to try and lower the lousy $10,000 fee to give the a Sales Network plan to curb all this bad PR. This also would allow your pro-affiliate merchant base to actually show their true conversion ratios and truly compete head to head with their competitors.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador
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    I do understand and respect your position, Chris. I do know there are ethical merchants within the Linkshare network, as there are some at CJ. I'm just trying my best to encourage the ones I work with to consider offering alternative programs outside the parasite-coddling networks.

    I know how much work it is when a merchant changes networks. I've had to change complete sets of links before. But when a merchant opens an indie program or moves to a network I can trust, the work involved pales in comparison to the knowledge that I'm supporting a parasitic network that much less.

    It never hurts to encourage merchants to move to safer neighborhoods when it gets too dangerous to do business at their old locations.

    Wayne

  23. #23
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Haiko said:
    Sales numbers should not be commended when they are ill gotten. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Amen! And that's the bottom line.

  24. #24
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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  25. #25
    ABW Ambassador
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    Thanks for sharing that MsB. Hard to see how a strong objection to this activity can be called a "knee-jerk" reaction. (Not a "witch-hunt," either. We like our witch-friends here.)

    Wayne

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