Dumbass of the Week: Site Scrapers

DuhSitting in the big chair marked Dumbass this week is an annoying little SEO outfit from Manchester called Web Propeller.

I ranted yesterday about how they were evil site scraping bastards because they basically steal the content from this blog within an hour of me posting it. I’m not the only one they steal from. They scrape Marty’s content too, as well as Niall Kennedy’s blog and others, listing us all as “contributors” on their blog home page. What’s up with that? As someone commented on my post yesterday, perhaps they should change that title to “unwilling, unwitting contributors”.

Well as luck would have it, they scraped my post from yesterday. So now they are proudly announcing on their own site what evil site scraping bastards they really are. And the kicker? They’ve tagged the post under the category seo problems. Bwa ha haaaaa!

Web Propeller evil site scraping bastards

And just in case somebody from Web Propeller notices their stupidity and deletes the post from their site (perhaps while on a break from stealing other people’s content), I’ve posted a screen shot:

Some days, I really love my job. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if they scraped this post too?


dumbass web propeller


I think it’s time they changed their catch phrase from “making you rank better” to “making you rank better for your own stupidity”.

UPDATE 3: The penny has dropped. According to a public apology by the scraper himself, Web Propeller is a fictional company and the domain is owned by a company called Creative Suit.

The site scraping was apparently nothing more than an unauthorized experiment by a naughty junior staff member. His boss is plenty mad about it and is asking for suitable punishment suggestions. I was going to suggest they make him use this picture as his screen saver, but figured that was too cruel.

Apology accepted! Maybe site scrapers will think twice now before doing this to anyone else.

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Evil site scraping bastards

Yep, check it out. A mob called Web Propeller are scraping every single post I write on this blog, within an hour of me posting them. Compare my recent post to theirs.  They’ve even stolen my image!

I feel a site scraping bastards Googlebomb coming on! Anyone care to help?

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Dumbass of the Week: Gene Marks

DuhI had this week’s dumbass post all lined up and then I received a suggestion from Sphinnster Incrediblehelp about a more deserving candidate. So without further ado, I give you this week’s dumbass: Gene Marks.

Frighteningly, Gene writes for Business Week on MSNBC and his column is read by a large percentage of small businesses. The link above leads to his very unenlightened post titled Tech “Solutions” Your Small Biz Can’t Use. In the post, he basically states that having an online presence is a bad idea for small business.

This article contains possibly THE WORST advice for small business that I have ever read. Certainly the worst I’ve read this year.

Here are five 13 reasons why this article makes Gene Marks a dumbass:

1. He uses “highfalutin” as an adjective:

“A lot of highfalutin software and gadgets aim to help you run your company, but too little of it is suited for a small business environment.”

2. He claims to speak for ALL business owners:

“We business owners are subjected to an endless array of tools that never fail to disappoint. We’re promised. We pay. And we’re let down.”

3. He claims that the following technology doesn’t work when evidence to the contrary is staring him in the face:

“1. RSS Feeds 2. Spam Filters 3.Antivirus Software 4. Blogs 5. Search Engine Optimization 6. Mobile Applications 7. CRM Software 8. AdWords 9. Online Video 10. Web 2.0”

4. He recommends against using anti-virus software:

“Betsy was looking for just the right technology to slow down her employees’ computers and significantly degrade the performance of her business applications. Well, she found it, and it’s called anti-virus software.”

5. He tars all SEOs with the same brush because he was scammed by one:

“I forked over a bunch of dough to a firm in California that promised to get my company’s name on “all the major search engines” when someone was looking for products that we sell. How did they plan to do this? I’m still not really sure, but it had something to do with spiders, black hats, and link farms. That should’ve been enough of a hint that witchcraft was involved.

6. He recommends against using anti-spam software:

“I get this question at just about every presentation I give to business owners: ‘What spam filters do you recommend?’ My answer: ‘None.’ They all suck.”

7. He recommends AGAINST using anti-spam software! (Thought this one was worth repeating)

“In the end, it’s cheaper for your employees to just sort and delete spam as it comes in.”

8. He considers mobile apps (and renewable energy) science fiction:

“Mobile applications will be a great thing someday. Just like hovercrafts, telepods, and renewable energy. But for a small business on a limited budget, it’s still science fiction.”

9. He sold $20K worth of software to a customer who didn’t need it and blamed the customer:

“I’ve always been a big proponent of customer relationship management [CRM] software. One big reason is that my company sells this stuff… Unfortunately, we have a lot of other customers who haven’t been as successful. Fred, a manufacturer of roofing materials, is one of them. Fred and I both learned that a CRM system doesn’t work for a small business without an internal “champion” who takes ownership of it. His $20,000 system just sat there. No one used it.”

10. He encourages readers NOT to buy his company’s software:

See 9.

11. He writes off pay per click advertising for all small business just because HE can’t figure it out:

“Are you interested in a mind-numbing exercise? Give AdSense a shot. Or Yahoo SM or MSN AdCenter… Here’s a word of wisdom: Leave the mass-market advertising to Coke (KO) and Pepsi (PEP). Small business owners should stick to less mystifying forms of promotion.”

12. His comments about online video are pure fiction and display his total ignorance of the medium:

“Quality videos require production companies. Otherwise you’ll have grainy, useless footage. And videos that run beyond a certain length aren’t even YouTube-able.”

The final clue that shows Gene as a deserving candidate for Dumbass of the Week is this one:

13. He complains that RSS Feeds are meaningless, but his own articles appear in them:

“Bob, an electrical contractor, knows what RSS stands for, and I feel sorry for him. He had the misfortune of signing up for an RSS feed.”

In fact, there is an RSS feed directly under his article. Priceless!

Wow, I started this post assuming I’d only find 5 reasons why Mr Marks is a dumbass, but I ended up with 13. Well 12 really. Judging by the commentary his article has triggered, it seems I’m not alone in my assessment. But it’s scary to think of how many small business owners will read this article and take it as gospel. Let’s hope they read the comments!

Have you got an opinion on the article? Why not contact the editors of BusinessWeek directly, or simply comment on this post. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Dumbass of the Week: The Call Center Cow

phone rage So it’s 10am at work and I am trying to wade through my mountain of tasks in the few hours I’ve got before I need to pick up my son from daycare. The phone rings. The conversation goes like this:

Me: “Hello, Kalena speaking”

Call Center Cow: “Is this Kalena?

Me: “Yes, who is this?”

Call Center Cow: “Hi
Kalena, how ARE you?”

Me: “Fine thanks, who is this?”

Call Center Cow: “Do you have a few minutes?”

Me: “Who IS this?”

Call Center Cow: “My name is
[whatever – didn’t catch it and it was probably made up anyway]. I’m calling from New York Commodities”

Me: [I hang up the phone]

30 second pause and then the phone rings again

Me: “Hello, Kalena speaking”

Call Center Cow: “Kalena, why did you just hang up on me?”

Me: “Didn’t you say you were calling from New York Commodities?”

Call Center Cow: “Yes, but I just wanted…”

Me: “Are you trying to sell me stocks?”

Call Center Cow: “No, actually options are different to stocks”

By now, I’ve got a serious case of phone rage.

Me: “Just a minute…”

At this point, I place the receiver on top of my PC speaker and turn the volume waaay up. It happens to be playing the world’s most annoying song, The Reflex by Duran Duran. (I knew those 80’s CDs would come in handy some day).

When I checked 5 minutes later, Call Center Cow had hung up. What a shame.

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Dumbass of the Week: The Article Broker

I’m introducing a new feature here on the blog. Dumbass of the Week will showcase an email I’ve received from a differentDuh spammer each week as a way of both publicly humiliating them and providing a way to rid myself of the pent-up frustration they have caused me at the same time.

This week’s dumbass is Krishna, who writes:

Dear Kalena…

Hello How are you? Recently I have visited and analyzed your website. We propose to have a text link on your home page that leads to a content based folder hosted at your end. This folder would contain content in the form of articles on various financial and general topics. Eg – www.searchenginecollege.com/folder This business agreement would give an international platform to a number of people to express their skills. These articles are written by a wide variety of professionals who have done extensive study and research and are experts in their respective fields. In the event of us entering into a business relationship, I ascertain that in addition to an agreed monthly fee, you will also benefit from heavy traffic to your site which would in turn increase your earnings.


Dear Krishna

I have 3 things to say to you:

1) As it states quite clearly at the top of the page, this blog is for QUESTIONS relating to SEARCH ENGINES. Not for your unsolicited and unwelcome business propositions.

2) If you’d bothered to do your homework, you’d already know that Search Engine College has an extensive Article Library already.

3) Now, put your hand out in front of you with your palm facing inward, then slap your forehead three times saying: “DON’T. (slap) BE. (slap) A DUMBASS!” (slap).

At least I feel better now.

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