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Like so many older members of society, I am often guilty of wantingto see things revert to what they were “in my day”.
Imagine my surprise when I received some unexpected support for one of my pet peeves – the erosion and abuse of the internet – the support came from a group of young people who had read one of my rants in a public blog.
Do you remember when the internet used to be a great place for discovering facts and information? Do you remember when it was possible to enter a term into your search engine and receive results that were informative, pertinent and valuable? Those were the good old days! Remember?
When people talk about “the good old days”, they are usually referring to times more than fifteen years in the past but when they talk about the good old days of the internet, they are probably referring to times less than five years ago. Isn’t that shocking?
So, what has happened? What is this abuse of the internet?
The internet has been taken over by sharks who are selling stale, old ideas to new and ill informed internet users. Stale, old ideas that once helped a very few people to make money online.
The internet has been hailed as the cornucopia that is going to make you rich by last Friday afternoon – and you won’t have to do a single thing except put your knickers on and click your mouse. The dream of unlimited income has been sold to, literally, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of desperately hopeful people. They have been sold a complete bill of goods that will do nothing but empty their wallets and generate even more abuse of the internet.
If you use Google or any other search engine to find information, ask yourself how many pages of so-called ‘review sites’ you will have to wade through before you find something genuinely useful. Whether you are searching for information on silent dog whistles, recipes, binoculars or clout nails, the probability is that the first few pages of the search results will have subject lines like “Clout nails – the true review”, “Don’t buy a silent dog whistle until you have read my review” or “Chinese Cooking Recipes – a scam?”. Every single subject line will connect you to a so-called review site that is nothing but an inducement to buy the item from the review site owner. If you want to find out how a silent dog whistle works, how to create an attractive meal, the difference between prismatic and Gallileic bunoculars or the different sizes and types of clout nails, you will probably give up on the internet and visit a local shop and ask for information there.
Internet marketers are the source of this abuse but they are not the cause.
The cause of this abuse is a group of people who call themselves ‘gurus’. They have made money online and decided to sell the methodology that they used after it became inneffective. They have a little mantra – find a hungry market – which they teach to all those suckers who buy their methodology. In the beginning, the damage to the internet was not so great because they sold a methodology that could still work to a very small number of people who could afford their very high prices – thousands of dollars. Once the idea of making money on the internet was seen as a viable proposition with a huge hungry market created by the successes the high priced methodologies produced, the gurus started to feed the hungry market.
Methods were sold for small, affordable sums (say, $97) but the methods were deliberatel incomplete. This was seen as a way of producing more sales because the missing element(s) could be sold as add-ons. Eventually (in a very short time), the market for get rich last Friday schemes was developed into a mega-industry. Wannabe marketers started to flood the market with methods of making money even though they, themselves, had never made any. A popular scheme that sprang up recently is ‘the review site’. Gurus sold the idea that if you could write a review of a product and offer a bonus, you could make money. They created ‘training’ that told aspirants to use words like ‘scam’ in their review site subject line to attract attention. To make it easy to produce review sites, the gurus started to sell templates for review sites in which it was only necessary to fill in the blanks. People were encouraged to post as many review sites as they could and target as many keywords as possible in order to stand out from the crowd.
And what a crowd it is!
Review sites are now the dross that litters search engine results. You can always tell when a review site is not a genuine review site by the way it will ‘sell’ the product being reviewed and offer a bonus. You might even see sites that say – Don’t buy “101 methods of blocking a toilet” until you have read my review and seen my special bonus.
Review sites are still being produced in massive numbers because the methodology is still being sold or given away as a get rich quick scheme but as they are already seen to be less effective, the latest abuse of the internet is ‘mini-auto-blogs’. Systems are being sold which claim that anybody can set up hundreds of automatically up-dated mini blogs in order to produce massive income. Face it, if you have 100 mini blogs producing $1 each per week, you have an income of more than $400 per month. With software that is freely available (although it will be sold to the unwary), it is possible to set up enough mini blogs to earn the figure of your choice. 200 blogs = at least $800 per month, 500 blogs = $2,000 a month and so on.
The trouble is, all these ‘new’ blogs are simply scraping content from existing blogs and article sites and are adding nothing to the value of the internet. There is little encouragement to produce new content – indeed, the whole process is ‘sold’ as being ‘set it and forget it’. As the number of review sites and auto-blogs grows, the dilution of the value of key-words will increase exponentially and there will come a time when it will be impossible to find information on the internet without some sort of filter to get rid of, what is essentially, this internet spam.
Let’s hope the search engines can clean up the net and bring back the good old days of just a few years ago.