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24 Feb 2012 23:08


Tech: Gaming the system: On the rise of YouTube’s search-friendly “reply girls”

  • We’ve yet to see this phenomenon analyzed anywhere in the media, so let’s give this a signal boost: The secret to becoming popular on YouTube is to build heat. Sometimes you create something so great it goes viral on its own. Sometimes you know the right people and the right places. Sometimes, though, you’re good with the timing and keywords. That is actually an effective way to get popular on YouTube — this Pomplamoose clip, for example, was a very well-timed attempt to bank its success on a popular song at the height of its notoriety. But what if you take that philosophy to the extreme? The answer is that you end up with TheReplyGirl. Let’s explain how this works:
  • The concept A woman who claims to go by the name Alejandra Gaitan, above, has been on YouTube since August, and her main routine is to reply to popular videos, load her responses with ads, and wear something revealing, with the goal of enticing a click. She’s not alone — a woman who calls herself Megan Lee Heart, for example, posted a well-tagged video after Whitney Houston died and got 100,000 views. And hundreds of dislikes on the clip.
  • The precedent Gaitan, Heart and others are essentially pulling off an elaborate search engine optimization scheme on YouTube. Their videos show up high on YouTube search results because of strong tagging and they get clicks because of the eye-grabbing visuals. The result is that the videos themselves are extremely low-quality (Gaitan’s clips can be hard to follow at times), but it doesn’t matter, because the goal is to build up ad impressions.
  • Here’s the thing … TheReplyGirl is interesting because it’s a new twist on a relatively old idea — the production of low-quality content that shows up high in search results, which has the side effect of diluting searches. Minus the human being talking, this was basically Demand Media’s business model. The question is, though, will Google step in? They took on Demand, forcing the company to change its model. Will they do the same on YouTube?
  • Edit: Reworded part of this for clarification.

26 Sep 2011 20:38


Biz: Meet the country’s most innovative/sketchy payday loan lender

  • According to the Wall Street Journal, Scott Tucker has a really impressive story. Tucker, a late-blooming race star who scored a third-place finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance race earlier this year, only picked up auto racing about five years ago, and he’s earned such fame that he had a documentary about his life air on the Discovery Channel. But here’s the part this storyline doesn’t tell us — how he got here. Sure, the WSJ’s story calls him a “private investor,” but the Center for Public Integrity notes he earned his significant fortune — enough to start up his own auto-racing team — by running a payday lending company. This company uses partnerships with Native American tribes as a front to get around laws designed to protect consumers — allowing his company to do incredibly sketchy things, such as hiding its address and shielding itself from lawsuits using shell companies. Somehow, this is legal. And Tucker won’t be talking about it himself. “Due to a confidentiality agreement, I am not permitted to discuss the business of my employer,” he said about his businesses. Read the report at the source link — the first part in a series. source

05 Jul 2011 20:32


Tech, World: Data roaming price caps in Europe don’t go far enough

  • 2.23 the average cost, per megabyte, of roaming data charges throughout Europe — $3.22 a meg!
  • 0.90 the price cap currently being proposed, also per meg, for data usage — starting in July 2012
  • 0.50 the price cap suggested after by 2014 … which is way lower only in context source
  • » To put this in perspective: If you hop on your iPhone and reload this page roughly 80 times, that’s about a megabyte. If you hop on Pandora and listen to half of a two-minute Ramones song, that’s about a megabyte. When AT&T implemented its capped data plan a year ago, many people were upset about the 2 gig data cap for $25 dollars. Doing the math, that plan is roughly 82 megabytes per dollar. If the half-Euro-per-megabyte roaming price cuts in Europe take hold, those 82 megabytes would cost around $59 U.S. dollars, considering current exchange rates. Now multiply that by 25. Exactly our point.

04 Feb 2011 21:24


Culture: Reddit’s hivemind accidentally turns on girl’s cancer fundraiser

  • cause A girl who was looking to raise donations for a charity head-shaving event (in support of cancer victims) posted a few times on Reddit for the campaign.
  • effect The Reddit community turned on her after one user claimed she was a total scammer; even the FBI was called. Problem was, the girl was a real girl and not lying.
  • result The Redditor was proven wrong, and she even ended up raising a couple more bucks than she would’ve otherwise – and Gawker even wrote about her. source
  • » Postscript: Now, after scolding Reddit for almost ruining a girl’s head-shaving campaign, the site’s community manager, Erik Martin, is offering to shave his head if the site can raise $30,000. As for the girl, Maya Gilsey of St. Lawrence University, she got her head shaved today. Good for her.

28 Nov 2010 11:49


Biz: Stop everything you’re doing and read this cyber scammer article

  • I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works. No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?
  • owner Vitaly Borker • Explaining how he’s used the negative feedback on his eyeglass-selling site to his advantage. Borker basically has learned that by not caring about what people are saying about his business, good or bad, he can ensure that he gets prime SEO-friendly real-estate on Google. Clarabelle Rodriguez, one of his buyers who was harassed by Borker’s people for weeks after complaining about her purchase and canceling the payment on her credit card, fought back. And now the New York Times has a lengthy article about DoctorMyEyes, which should ensure that you never shop with them, ever. source

17 Aug 2010 10:48


U.S.: Pretend you’re a fisherman: How to get in on some of BP’s cash

  • Apparently, ten percent of claims could be fraudulent. BP, because they’ve bungled just about everything else related to the oil spill, has apparently bungled the claims process, too, with some people pretending to be fishermen just to get some money from the company. But it goes both ways – some con artists have pretended to be BP employees to scam people deserving of money. Note: People suck sometimes. source

31 Jan 2010 10:18


Biz: Speaking of scams, 419 scams via e-mail a big business in 2009

  • $9.3 billion went from your hands to the Nigerians source

31 Jan 2010 10:12


Biz: Evil bastards decide that scamming the unemployed a good idea

  • Nobody sends you money for nothing, except maybe your grandmother. If somebody sends you money and wants a refund for part of it, ask yourself if you’re sure this check is good. Do I want to take a chance and risk everything?
  • U.S. Public Interest Research Group consumer program director Ed Mierzwinski • Regarding the latest permutation of a scam attempting to nail the unemployed. It’s a fake e-mail from a site like CareerBuilder for a job as a “trading assistant.” If you take the bait, con artist sends you a giant check, then asks for parts of the money back. Weeks later, they cancel the giant check (which seems unlikely due to the fact that you got paid for it already), leaving you on the hook for the money you already sent them. This is evil. source

15 Jan 2010 08:44


U.S., World: Cashing in on misery: Beware Haiti relief scams, guys

  • 250 people were victimized in a 2005 scam revolving around a Hurricane Katrina relief fund
  • $48,000 was bilked using PayPal by two Texas brothers; they were convicted in 2007
  • Some people have no soul, apparently. Consumer watchdog groups (as well as the Feds) are warning that scammers could try to take advantage of the Haitian earthquake tragedy, playing on emotion to try to bilk you of your money. Scammers like these showed up during both the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. So keep an eye out, kids. It could be bad. source

21 Sep 2009 13:10


Tech: Nigeria doesn’t like it when they’re called out for their 419 scams

  • In this commercial for Sony’s Playstation 3, Sony suggested that Nigeria was a source for lots of scams. When the Nigerian government heard about it, they freaked, claiming that Sony slandered them. They also asked for their bank account numbers. source