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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
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    Get Rich Quick schemes
    I run into a lot of people who want me to make all manner of "black hat" tools for gaming the search engines. I enjoy making software, and have very much enjoyed working with the affiliate community over the year, but I have some misgivings about some of the things being requested.

    For example, what is your opinion on scraping? Some folks want me to make a tool specifically to steal and modify content from other peoples' sites. Am I being old-fashioned to turn down such requests?

    And then there's cloaking and doorways and wide range of other questionable activities.

    Am I being a hung up old fuddy-duddy missing out on some sort of gold mine here, or does the larger community frown on "black hat" methods, making it better for my reputation to avoid too close an affiliation with that crowd?
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  2. #2
    Yup, Sure ... now let me check ... Cagles Mill's Avatar
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    For example, what is your opinion on scraping? Some folks want me to make a tool specifically to steal and modify content from other peoples' sites.
    Asking people here if they would mind having their sites scraped??? Are you trying to become #1 on everybody's list?
    Rick M.
    I would rather have a bottle in front of me, than have a frontal lobotomy!
    Does your bubblegum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

  3. #3
    Member Streaatz's Avatar
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    Richard,

    It seems that you are respected in this community. I'm sure others as well. I'm sure that others can and will code apps that are less than favorable in terms of morals. Let THEM deal with the masses. Keep being old-fashioned!

    Streaatz

  4. #4
    Content $ Queen Ebudae's Avatar
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    It's not old fashioned to be honest and decent.
    Ebudae


  5. #5
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Hope they get buried in the BlackHats with their butts up in the air.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador
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    Stay away !!!
    IMO

    Stay away from all "blackhat" inquiries

    Real "blackhats" will spec a project and distribute it to Russia, India & Romania.
    They will THEN put the finished product together in Toronto or Bath and it will be finished at a cost of about $20,000 USD

    Only those with a "need to know" will get the finished product!
    DO NOT GO THERE

  7. #7
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    If you'll build some screen-scraping BHO cookie stuffing programs for me, I'll give you 15% of my $40 million dollar Nigerian inheritance.
    Michael Coley
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  8. #8
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    ANY More Questions?





    Sal.

  9. #9
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Richard, come sit over here with me on the fuddy-duddy bench.

    The fact that you've refused blackhat contracts so far says a lot about your character. It's natural to want to use your talents and make a decent income, but sacrificing your principles shouldn't have to be part of that deal.

    Perhaps you could write programs that would help defeat some of these blackhat tactics. You could sell them to us, use your talents, earn your way and still be proud of having stuck to your principles. You would keep your honor and reputation and we'd all be very grateful for your efforts!

    SSS (site scrapers suck).

  10. #10
    Fear and Arrogance jrrl's Avatar
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    Run far, run fast! You really don't want any part of that.

    Instead, you could put your efforts into making WebMerge available to the Windows-free folks.

    -John.
    There's a reason army's wear uniforms even though it makes them easier to spot. Sometimes that's what you want. Uniforms suggest organization, power, and numbers. These, in turn, inspire fear. And, as any good operative knows, there is no more effective weapon than fear.

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  11. #11
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Quite a few thoughts here:

    I'd stay away from the site scrapers. "Some folks want me to make a tool specifically to steal and modify content from other peoples' sites." That is SCUM--it doesn't merely game the engines. The engines get no sympathy from me! But the person who originated the content, only to have some putz steal it, that's another story. Tell those &%(*% site-stealers to put their CC# in at one of the existing scraper-seller's sites--and endure the chance that it'll be sold to the Mafia in the next 10 seconds.

    As for the cloakers, etc. I have no problem with the idea of running circles around the search engines in and of itself. But some hats are a darker shade of black than others... I'd have a lot bigger problem with a site-stealer than a doorway maker! Anyway, you've already got a doorway maker out. Just run a keyword list through WebMerge instead of a datafeed! Or is the person using some other definition of a doorway?

    Mackin's got a good point about the "need to know" basis for custom software. As soon as a program hits wide distribution, Google et al would buy it, dissect it, and kill its usefulness.

    I'm prone to say to stay away from promoting yourself as a black-hat coder even if you accept some "side projects."

    But just PLEASE don't get all self-righteous and insulting about it like so many white-hatters do, with talk of "keeping clutter [or other derogatory term] off the net" and other such insulting stuff.

    help defeat some of these blackhat tactics. You could sell them to us, use your talents, earn your way and still be proud of having stuck to your principles. You would keep your honor and reputation and we'd all be very grateful for your efforts!
    Uh--except for an anti-scraper program (which would be good)--no, WE wouldn't be grateful. I have a lot more regard for people who make programs to help me, rather than to impose some kind of "standard" of arguable merit upon others.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  12. #12
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    You asked: Some folks want me to make a tool specifically to steal and modify content from other peoples' sites. Am I being old-fashioned to turn down such requests?

    Some of the other activities are at least arguably legal, but copying someone else's copyrighted content and republishing it is unquestionably illegal. If the copyright holder seeks to enforce her rights and seeks damages, the deadbeat scammer who's hiring you will "make a deal" and rat you out in a heartbeat, and then you'll get sued by the copyright holder and you'll lose your house. Why in the world would you do this for someone who will probably default on your payment arrangements anyway?

  13. #13
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    You guys are great. Thanks for all the feedback. The way some of these black hats talk you'd think they were some sort of secret majority, like I was losing out on the biggest market possible.

    It's reassuring to come in here and be surrounded by all the positivity.

    All right then: Back to work on the next version of WebMerge....with no black hat features, just good ol' page generation of the sort you fuddy duddies are looking for.

    Thanks again. Damn I love this ABW crowd.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  14. #14
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    I enjoy making software
    So why it has taken so long to come out with the version 3 of WebMerge?

    Forget the crooks that want you to make a product to steal from the rest of us, the honest affiliates.

    It's very easy to get dirty!

    To get dirty any one can just jump on the pig's corral.

    And once the people know that you jumped on the pig's corral for a few dollars more:

    It would take a hell of a lot more than just soap and water to come out clean again, so think about it before you get dirty.

    Just think about the future headlines for WebMerge!

    WebMerge lets you export your data to HTML, generating static Web pages from database files. Build catalogs, e-zines, contact lists, image galleries and more, quickly and easily.

    WebMerge is the Web publishing software that works with nearly any database or spreadsheet data, including FileMaker Pro, Microsoft Access, AppleWorks, and Excel. Generated pages can be hosted on any Web server without the need for costly and complicated database hosting.
    Or ..............

    WebMerge lets you steal anyone content quickly and easily.

    WebMerge is the Web publishing software that works with nearly any crook without the need for costly and complicated database hosting.


    You see,

    Even on this post you can see the future, so DON'T F...Up Richard, We're counting on you to do the right thing.

    Sal.

  15. #15
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    BTW Richard,

    I can see you and GC working in harmony in the future, so again, think before you F... it Up.

    That's my friendly advise, but you can do what you think you must have to do, that's life, and I won't hate you for that, as long as you tell me what's up.

    Sal.

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Sal
    BTW Richard,

    I can see you and GC working in harmony in the future, so again, think before you F... it Up.

    That's my friendly advise, but you can do what you think you must have to do, that's life, and I won't hate you for that, as long as you tell me what's up.
    No worries. Sorry my last post didn't make it clear enough, but I'm definitely convinced I'm not alone in my distrust of black hat tactics.

    So no risk - things here will continue with the same focus on legitimate, earnest site development that they always have.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  17. #17
    Affiliate Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Sal
    So why it has taken so long to come out with the version 3 of WebMerge?
    Well, it's gonna sound trite, but I've been working to save the children. Literally. Last year I got a contract to write a system for pediatric emergency clinics, and the client has since expanded the scope of the project quite dramatically so it's eaten up far more time than I had originally planned.

    Additionally, WebMerge 3.0 is a complete from-the-ground-up rewrite, much like v2.0 was. Huge chunks of it are already completed, including its new query/filter engine, RSS generator, and more than half of the interface. With all that in place I get to do the fun part in two weeks after the clinical software ships: adding the new workflow manager which will be the end of multiple settings file and the beginning of a much smoother and more flexible setup for multi-tier sites.

    And since things have been so busy here I've hired two more contractors, including one who's working on our sandbox server right now prepping for WebMerge Server Edition, which he's helping to develop.

    So while we've not had much visible output over the last few months, there's been good a lot of good work laying the foundation for v3.0 and other new products.

    PS: If RSS generation is of interest to you please send me an email as I have some questions about the workflow I could use some feedback on.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrrl
    ...you could put your efforts into making WebMerge available to the Windows-free folks.
    By "Windows-free" do you mean OS X or Linux? We already support OS X and plan to continue doing so for years to come. We've begun preparations for the new MacTel architecture, so when Apple ships their Intel-based boxes next year our stuff will run on them just fine.

    If you mean Linux I'd like to talk to you. I've considered a Linux version of WebMerge, and while we'll definitely be supporting both Linux and BSD for the Server Edition I've been reluctant to make a desktop product for Linux given its market dynamics. But maybe you could change my mind.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  19. #19
    ABW Adviser Panel Dynamoo's Avatar
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    I personally hate scraper sites because I often find my own content on them - but it's only a short excerpt from the content and that's normally covered under the "fair use" provision of copyright laws (it's typically about 10-20 words or so on a scraper site).

    Scraper sites follow the "live fast, die young" approach to search engine promotion. They tend to flare up for a few months and then die off as Google and other SEs notice them. It's one way of running I business I guess, but personally I prefer sustainable growth that has a chance of being around in a couple of months time.
    Innovative advertising with Slimeware Corporation and Telephore. Mail-order fuel with Petrol Direct.

  20. #20
    Member Streaatz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FourthWorld
    By "Windows-free" do you mean OS X or Linux? We already support OS X and plan to continue doing so for years to come. We've begun preparations for the new MacTel architecture, so when Apple ships their Intel-based boxes next year our stuff will run on them just fine.

    If you mean Linux I'd like to talk to you. I've considered a Linux version of WebMerge, and while we'll definitely be supporting both Linux and BSD for the Server Edition I've been reluctant to make a desktop product for Linux given its market dynamics. But maybe you could change my mind.
    Richard,

    I have Webmerge but would LOVE a Linux version of it. See, whether people want to realize it or not, you can do anything with a Linux box that you can do with a Windows box. It's more stable and it's A LOT cheaper too. Keep us posted and keep up the good work! Linux =

    Streaatz

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by FourthWorld
    You guys are great. Thanks for all the feedback. The way some of these black hats talk you'd think they were some sort of secret majority, like I was losing out on the biggest market possible.

    It's reassuring to come in here and be surrounded by all the positivity.

    All right then: Back to work on the next version of WebMerge....with no black hat features, just good ol' page generation of the sort you fuddy duddies are looking for.

    Thanks again. Damn I love this ABW crowd.
    Im glad to hear this. When I read your first post, I thought 'Wow, what happened.... I thought everyone here at ABW was ethical' but after hearing this, Im glad you reconsidered.


    Stay clean and ethical -- keep clear of the bad hats

  22. #22
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    He got a touch of reality. You can't a SERP spamming tool except to those seeking to eventually PRO a disposable domain. The moment the victims ...shoppers and fellow affiliate got wind of the scraping and doorway cookie stuffing they'd blow the whistle to Google et All. They find a common identifier in your app and rightfully whack every domain on your sales list. Contrary to popular opinion, Googe and Yahoo are dictatorships not some peace nic liberal operations. They'd gladly throw out the babies with the dirty bath water.

    Besides all the above, I'd hound your board with feed feak warnings.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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  23. #23
    More Cheesier Than Ever Cheesehead's Avatar
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    I ran across this site http://www.blackhatseo.com/html/ that you may all find interesting - it showcases all the black hat crap available.
    This World is Not My Home
    We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside and outside. . . And then we're gonna go go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goalline! Quotes from the movie Rudy, 1993

  24. #24
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Kend wrote:
    I thought everyone here at ABW was ethical.
    The problem with that is not everyone has the same definition of ethics and some folks think ethics are for soft-headed saps.

    We could probably use one of those Harry Potter sorting hats that WB Shop sells. Perhaps the sorting hat could sort out who among us wear white hats and who wear black hats.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhea
    The problem with that is not everyone has the same definition of ethics and some folks think ethics are for soft-headed saps.
    Too true... Guess I shouldnt assume anything. And, I suppose I'm a soft-headed sap..

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