Peak Perks Travel Scam

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Via this scam post I have been informed of a new scam. Here are the emails received by Srihari.

Email One –

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Dear

SEEK determined you as an appropriate candidate for our vacancy and forwarded us your resume.
Attached you can find brief description and job responsibilities for offered position.
In case you are interested, please fill in the application form and send it to sean.talley@peakperkstravel.com:

First name:
Last name:
Age:
Postal code:
Day-time tel.:
Mobile tel.:

Best time to call you:

Are you currently employed or studying:
If yes, please provide your current workday schedule:

Have you ever been convicted of a crime since the age of 18:
If yes, please provide date(s) and details:
(Answering “Yes” to those questions doesn’t constitute an automatic bar to employment)

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APPLICANT STATEMENT.

I certify that answers given herein are true and complete to the best of my knowledge.

I authorize investigation of all statements contained in this application for employment as may be
necessary in arriving at an employment decision.

This application for employment shall be considered active for a period of time not to exceed 45 days.
Any applicant wishing to be considered for employment beyond this time period should inquire as to
whether or not applications are being accepted at that time.

I hereby understand and acknowledge that, unless otherwise defined by applicable law, any employment
relationship with this organization is of an “at will” nature, which means that the Employee may resign
at any time and the Employer may discharge Employee at any tune with or without cause. It is further
understood that this “at will” employment relationship may not be change by any written document or
by conduct unless such change is specifically acknowledged in writing by an authorized executive of
this organization.

In the event of employment, I understand that false or misleading information given in my application or
interviews may result in discharge. I understand, also, that I am required to abide by all rules and regulations
of the employer.

I also understand that if I am hired, I will be required to provide proof of identity.

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By filling above form, I certify that I have read, fully understand and accept
all terms of the foregoing Applicant Statement.

In some cases, it may take some time to verify your application.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need any further information.
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Sincerely,
Sean Talley
sean.talley@peakperkstravel.com
sean-talley@outlook.com
Peak Perks Travel and Tours, Inc.
http://www.peakperkstravel.com
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Email Two –

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Hello

We have received and reviewed your application.
I am glad to inform you that you meet our requirements and we are ready to hire you for Processing Assistant position.

Now we have to conclude the agreement with you.
Please find “Employment Agreement” in attached files.
Read all sections so you will have a clear understanding of your responsibilities and rights.

If you agree with the terms and conditions and you are ready to proceed, please follow these steps:

(1) Print out the attached Agreement, sign and send it via email or fax to +61363019535

(2) For security and identification purposes, please send us a scanned copy or photo of your ID (driver license, passport or student card etc.).

(3) Print out attached payroll form(Adobe PDF file), fill it out clearly in block letters, sign and send it back via e-mail or fax.

We will be able to start within 2 business days after we receive signed agreement.
We provide training on-the-fly, so our probationary period plan will include:
* 1st-10th day – Payments management, preparing reports, general paperwork, simple bookkeeping
* 11th-20th day – Customer support & typical problems solving course, extended workgroup communications.
* 21st-30th day – Independent work with other team members and customers in constant contact.
* 25th day-… – signing of permanent employment contract.

Sincerely,
Sean Talley
sean.talley@peakperkstravel.com
sean-talley@outlook.com
Peak Perks Travel and Tours, Inc.
http://www.peakperkstravel.com
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Email Three –

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Congratulations with your first order!
Our client has already remitted AU$10209.95 to your bank account at 3-40p.m. Sydney time on 29/05.
Transfer should appear on your account tomorrow morning (30/05).

It will be great if you will be able to handle it before 11:50a.m.

Please deduct your sales commission 5%(AU$511) and cost of transfer,
and remit the remaining amount via Western Union to our accountant and her assistant in Philippines:

AU$4821(incl. WesternUnion fee $28)
first name: Ritchell
last name: Mahinay
Manila, Philippines

AU$4821(incl. WesternUnion fee $28)
first name: Ritchell
last name: Mahinay
Manila, Philippines

Please send it in PHP(Philippines Peso).

Use our office address as receiver address:
Peak Perks Travel and Tours, Inc.
M/F Dumrique Building, 209 A. Bonifacio Avenue,
Tanong, Marikina City, Metro Manila, 2000

Your nearest Western Union locations:

NSW CONVENIENCE STORE
119a Macquarie St.
Parramatta, Nsw 2150
+61-1800501500

DALLAS NEWSAGENCY
Shop 6 Connection Arcade
162 172 Church Street
Parramatta, Nsw 2150
+61-1-800501500

PARRAMATTA CBD NEWSAGENCY
Shop16 272 Church Street
Parramatta, Nsw 2150
+61-1-800501500

Please send me email with Western Union money transfer control number (MTCN).

You may indicate “Peak Perks Travel”, “Peak Travel” or “Travel” as purpose of payment.
Please save all documents regarding all transactions you have made.

IMPORTANT! Don’t use Western Union Online transfer to send money.
Bring cash or use a debit card to send money at a Western Union Agent location.

Please confirm that you have received this email.

If your bank branch isn’t open on Saturday then you can try to find other branch on your bank website.

Sincerely,
Sean Talley
sean.talley@peakperkstravel.com
sean-talley@outlook.com
Peak Perks Travel and Tours, Inc.
http://www.peakperkstravel.com
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Snoskred Says –

If this scam is successful, the scam victim will be out just under $10,000. :( And they may do it more than once before the victim finds out the funds transferred in are stolen or fraudulent.

Banks should hold some responsibility here. They do not make it clear enough to people that these scams can happen, and that fund transfers or cheques can be reversed at a later time if the transaction is found to be fraudulent.

I would advise anyone caught by this scam to make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman. The scam victim may be able to sort out a deal with the bank where the bank pays some – or all – of the losses.

I would also place a complaint with Seek, and if they had my resume and information, I would remove my details from there if at all possible.

Angry Snoskred, job scams, what not to do

10 New Reasons I Unsubscribed From Blogs

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With a new blog, I like to test-drive it for 6 months before I declare the blog a keeper and add it to my blogroll. Once a month, I go through the process for blogs added to my feed reader 6 months beforehand – I visit each blog individually and revisit the posts over the past 6 months and then I decide – keep reading, or unsubscribe?

Here are some reasons that have helped me make this decision in recent months.

1. Blogs With A Partial Feed

I read a lot of blogs and 85% of them give me a full feed. When a blogger chooses to provide a partial feed, subscribers only see the title and the first 10-50 words of the post. I do not know why anyone would do this – to me it is like cutting off ones blogging nose in order to try and get traffic to their blog.

Bloggers work hard on their content – it is unwise to make their blog readers jump through hoops to read it. SRSLY, think again. Please, provide a full feed.

This is the number one reason I will unsubscribe from a blog. When I subscribe to a new blog and find it is a partial feed, I will still give it the 6 month trial but I already have a feeling what the outcome is most likely going to be. Sometimes people surprise me and end up in my favourites folder instead.

So if you are reading this, bloggers, do you know what kind of blog feed you provide? If not, best you subscribe to your own blog and find out. :)

2. They Never Commented On My Blog

So, I added a blogger to my feed reader, and I really liked their posts, so much so that I became a regular commentator over at their place, leaving a comment on 3-4 posts each week. After a while though, I noticed things were only going one way – theirs. They never once left a comment on my blog.

I don’t know if it was because they couldn’t be bothered clicking through, or whether they did not like my blog – either way, I’m not into one way only relationships. One tiny comment in return for my multitude of comments was all it would have taken to keep me as a reader, and they had a whole six months to do that in!

If I have only left one or two comments in the space of 6 months, then this is not a reason I take into consideration at all. Just in case you were wondering. :)

3. Too Many Photos All The Time

I don’t mind the occasional post with 10 or more images but when every single post is just pictures with a few lines of text, that can be a deal breaker. Especially if the blogger has not re-sized them – large images can take a long time to load, so I’ll get all the text without any images at all and then when I’ve moved on to the next post in that folder, *that* post will keep loading images and bumping what I am trying to read downwards. Annoying!

Please, bloggers, check the size of images before you post them. If you are pulling them right off your camera into your blog then chances are, your readers are getting way too many megapixels as a surprise. Use something like Fast Image Resizer to quickly and easily resize your images.

Not everyone is on a fast internet connection, so it is worth keeping your file size and your readers in mind. :)

4. Too Many GIFS All The Time

Bloggers, if you have more than one GIF in your post, chances are, you are annoying your readers. What is a GIF? It is like an animated image. Here is a GIF.

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Gifs are all well and good when used sparingly and occasionally, but use too many and they slow right down and do not work as intended. Your funny GIF is not so funny in extra slow motion. It is also not so funny if it comes from a TV show and I have never seen the show it originated from.

I personally limit GIF images to one per post and very rarely at that. :) Of course, it is their blog and a blogger is welcome to post 20 gifs on one post if they want to – that isn’t something I’ll likely enjoy long term, unless their content is incredible.

5. A Lack Of Good Manners

It is fine to disagree with your blog readers politely. It is another thing to belittle, besmirch, or attack a commentator who disagrees with a post. My preference is to treat people who take the time to comment on your blog decently even when they disagree with you, otherwise you risk losing not just the commentator but readers who see the exchange, as well.

Even worse – on occasion I have seen bloggers totally misinterpret a comment someone left and then attack them for having left it!

One the positive side – I have sometimes found bloggers via their excellent manners and wonderful, thoughtful comments in the comments sections of other blogs.

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6. Deleted!

A blogger wrote a post people strongly disagreed with – when people disagreed – politely, mind you – with that blogger in the comments, they DELETED the whole post. Whoa! That is so not cool with me. If you write something, stand by it, even if the comments you receive oppose what you wrote.

Be open to the fact that maybe not everyone agrees. Be open minded enough to allow blog commentators to express their opinions. If people have taken the time to thoughtfully disagree with a blogger via a comment, it is NEVER COOL to delete the post in my opinion, and it will make me hit unsubscribe.

7. Deleting Recent Posts –

I had bookmarked several recent posts intending to link to them on my blog at a future time and when I went back to grab the title and link the post, those posts were gone. And these were not deeply personal subjects – these were recipes that the blogger had cooked and provided excellent photos for, or posts where they had travelled and done a lot of interesting commentary and photos. I’m not sure why these bloggers felt these posts had to be deleted but I was disappointed enough to hit unsubscribe.

It is totally normal for a blogger to go back in time and check to see that their blog content from years ago is still relevant and the links and videos still work, and if not and they can’t find new links or videos, it is normal – and good for your blog – to delete those old posts. But to me deleting recent posts feels slightly unusual and somewhat odd to delete stuff they recently wrote.

Maybe this happens all the time and I just don’t notice it, because I’m not trying to link to the deleted post months later. :)

8. I Left A Comment –

Which the blogger did not choose to publish, but they then used my comment to create their next blog post. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spring-boarding a post out of a comment someone left on your blog. If a blogger is going to do that, they could at least have the decency and good manners to publish the comment, reply to it and say something like “I have been thinking about writing a post on that subject for a while, and your comment has inspired me to write it. Look out for my upcoming post on this topic!”

Whenever I write a post here which was inspired by something I saw elsewhere or a comment someone left, I make sure to mention that and if that person has a blog or a specific blog post of theirs inspired me, I link to that in the post. That is just good manners, in my opinion.

9. They Spelled My Name Incorrectly!!

This one is a very specific example. I emailed a blogger once, they replied and spelled my name Snoksred. Oops, I thought! I am super careful not to accidentally spell peoples names wrong – I will copy and paste if there is any doubt at all. But I forgave it, because perhaps it was a mistake..

But I emailed that same blogger a second time, they replied, and spelled my name Snoksred *again* – and that was the moment I looked for that blog in my feedreader, and hit unsubscribe. Once is a mistake, twice is carelessness and to be honest, a little bit offensive. Especially when my sender name is Snoskred, so when they hit reply my name is right there in the body of the email.

10. They Became Brainwashed

They had a wonderful and very interesting blog. But then they got involved with some kind of multi-level marketing company, or perhaps a brand of skincare, or cleaning products, or something they wanted to sell to the world. And now every post they write is All About That Fascinating To Them But Very Boring To Me obsession. I wouldn’t have minded if they had posted about it once a week and still kept the regular amazing content. However that content went AWOL, and now I’ve gone AWOL too.

14 Reasons

I also have an older post on this subject – 14 Reasons Readers Unsubscribe From Your Blog.

Over To You –

Are there reasons you unsubscribe from blogs that I have not listed in my two articles? If yes, leave it in the comments.. :)

blogging tips, feed readers, what not to do

Rouge Rogues

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If only the rogue dogs were actually rouge, it would make life a lot easier, for people to spot them and for the rouge rogues to be rounded up.

I’m not entirely certain what set confronted means, but it does make me wonder if in the future a news article that contains these words might appear –

Locals say spelling mistakes are a problem in the area, with some sentences making zero sense.

Fail Whale, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2014, what not to do, wrong world

An Epic Story Of Failure.

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If you lived in the USA, you could subscribe to a huge and fascinating assortment of subscription boxes. Mail that comes to you as a surprise, perhaps once a month, or once every so often, or as a once off. There is even a great blog devoted to the topic of subscription boxes – Subscription Addiction – this is one of the blogs that often has between 5-10 posts a day in my feed reader..

But if you live in Australia? There are bugger all subscription boxes, the ones that do exist are generally expensive or beauty related. I’ve put some links right at the bottom of this post if you want to explore what is available to us.

So along comes a little company who named themselves RedPawPaw. They decide to launch a box for just $5 a month – no postage or delivery fees, you pay for 11 months and get one free, as long as you provide feedback on the products via a survey. Sounds great, says I. Do they deliver to my area – a lot of things do not being slightly rural – Yes, they do.

Fantastic says I. Let me sign up. And so I did sign up to receive the June box. They charged $60 to my credit card and I am still not certain why as it should have been $55. If it had been GST, then I should have been charged $60.50. But why quibble over $5, I thought at the time. Big mistake, Snoskred. Clue number one was right there.

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A little while later I received the June box, and it was pretty awesome. My box contained –

Gravox Creamy English Wholegrain Mustard finishing sauce
Zumbo Choc Raspberry Macarons
Ovaltine Crunch
Finish Tablets
Nivea Q10 – 2x tiny sachets
Henry Jones Chia Jam
Berry flavoured Mentos
Mentos Spearmint chewing gum
Taylors Pea and Zucchini Soup
Greens Pancake Mix
Uncle Tobys Oats

I did not blog or take photos but you can see a couple of posts from other people here – Raising MistersCaddie’s Journal.

I enjoyed the products I tried and actually bought some more of some of them which I normally would not purchase – eg the Mentos gum was brilliant and I do not usually chew gum but I liked this enough to start. Plus there were a lot of new Mentos flavours I had not tried and I picked up a couple when paying for petrol because I tried the Berry ones.

So, one box down, 11 to go, right? Wrong. Wronggity Wrong. On the 30th of June, Redpawpaw subscribers received an email titled Important! – No Redpawpaw payment in July. It went exactly like this –

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So we are asking you, our subscribers, to hassle companies on our behalf to get them to send us samples so we can send out samples to you.

Oh, ok, this sounds like a brilliant idea with a couple of logic exceptions – if we know of a company in order to hassle them, does it not follow we already use their products and then why would they need to send us a sample – and two, people are potentially going to hassle the same companies over and over which could get really annoying and then nobody is going to want anything to do with this company.

I personally was not a fan of this idea nor did I participate – why is it up to me to find companies – that should be the job of Redpawpaw? But a lot of people did help them out and ask companies to participate – not knowing that the companies would have to pay a fee per sample to send any samples to the subscribers. None of us knew that until later, though I guess it is a logical concept and potentially a good idea if your business model is for the companies to cover the postage fees.

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Apparently some people did have some issues with delivery. Me personally I did not. But those who did apparently kicked up a huge stink on the Facebook page, which is what supposedly led to this change of delivery partner.

On the other hand, it could also be that the company did not have enough samples and enough companies paying money to cover delivery to send out a July box. Given what happened later I am going with the second option being the one that really happened.

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Second clue there – we hope you will stay with us on this journey with us? What kind of English is that? Sounds a lot like statements my manager at work comes out with that mean absolutely nothing but involve a lot of words, so they seem complex and like the manager has done some work when really she did zero all day because she does not actually know how to do anything. Oops, tangent, lets leave that there. :)

So.. a couple of weeks go by. Then Sunday the 20th of July, the following email arrives. Titled – Relaunch – The Redpawpaw Tribe has Spoken!

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Translation – prepare yourselves, because you are expendable. If you do not like what the tribe has said, there are plenty of people waiting to take your place.

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Wait, what?

I’m paying $5 a month to receive this box, and now you want to charge me a minimum 150% of that each month to get it delivered? And I never had a problem with delivery previously? But hang onto your hats people..

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Err, excuse me?

Firstly, you owe me 11 boxes, not 10. I never got a July box, and you promised everyone they would receive an extra box to compensate.

Secondly, if people do not opt out, say for example they are on holidays or do not check their email in the short window of 8 days you have provided them, you are going to just whack a charge on their credit card as a surprise to them? Popular concept. I’m going with this is a fabulous idea! NOT!

Thirdly, this is an obscene amount of postage. I guess I should consider myself lucky as some people got the full $18 charge. But still, nearly 3x the cost of the box each month to get this delivered? I don’t think so.

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As you can expect, there was an enormous uproar. On the Facebook page of Redpawpaw – you can’t see it now as they deleted a lot of posts and comments – the “tribe” spoke up and they were very unhappy, in particular re the having to opt out option – people felt it should be opt in – and rightly so.

There was a sneaky change to the terms and conditions and also a pesky little wording about receiving over $30 in value which went away, but thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine, the initial terms and conditions can be seen in their entirety. Changing the terms for a monthly subscriber is one thing, but changing it for annual subscribers is quite another. At least, as far as Consumer Affairs and the ACCC are concerned, who thanks to all the outcry are investigating this.

During the next couple of days the story changes on the Redpawpaw Facebook page and we find out that the changes have little to do with delivery issues and more to do with an unsustainable business model. EG they do not have enough money to carry on, and they do not have enough money to send out the next lot of boxes. Plus now people are unsubscribing in droves, and nobody is seeing any refunds, and concern begins to arise that not enough money exists for these refunds to be given.

I mean if there are 1000 people like me who paid $60 who want a refund, they have to pay out $60,000.

So after all the outcry, just 2 days later this email arrives – in the really big text so you know this is serious.

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Yes, because every company needs to be to be financial viable. Missing a ly there, are we?

Bit more honest about the reasons for the delivery fee – they do not have enough money.

Suddenly they decide to *advise* people of the changes to the terms and conditions – though they say nothing about sneakily removing all reference to the value of each box people will receive. But fear not, our intelligent crew on the Facebook page spotted it, and they posted about it continually until Redpawpaw banned them from the page and deleted all their posts.

But wait, there’s more.

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So now, people have to opt in, or else their subscription will be cancelled. Hmm.. Yeah that seems like a plan. I’m sure it will work out just fine.

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And we wrote it in the REALLY BIG TEXT so you know we mean it!

Whatevs, RPP. Imma gonna let you finish, but this is me unsubscribing right here. So I sent an email. No reply. I posted on the Facebook page. No reply. Days went by. I started to get worried about my money returning to me. I sent another email. I clicked on the submit button you see above. I cancelled on the website.

It wasn’t until I sent them an email saying I would start a chargeback via my bank that they finally decided to get back to me and issue the refund. I checked my credit card and the refund was there. Whew. Case closed. Game over. Done.

Or so I – and many others – thought.

On the 1st of August, a lot of people who had unsubscribed found money taken out of their credit card as a surprise to them.

This is a level of epic fail that not many companies can compete with. You’ve upset all these people, you’ve had them unsubscribe and leave very unhappy with your company, and THEN YOU STEAL THEIR MONEY AS A SURPRISE!

People were unthrilled. Let us look at a small sample of their un-thrilled-ness. I’ve removed the personal info of the people involved – some of the posts seen on the Facebook page still remain, many have since been deleted.

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Epic Fail.

There are not enough fail whales in the world.

That is only a small sample of the outcry – much of it has been deleted and is now gone forever.

I’m not the only one who thinks this is an epic fail, many people expressed it via the Redpawpaw facebook page and many of those posts were sadly deleted – I did find one blog post – FFS Friday Business Edition.

And now, for those of you who made it this far, here are the lists of Aussie subscription boxes I promised at the start of this post, many eons ago now. :)

Australian Subscription BoxesJoy In The PostBox List

customer feedback, Fail Whale, what not to do

The Echo Chamber Effect.

There is something called the echo chamber effect. Some people might say that me writing this post contributes to it. I suppose that’s a fair call in some ways.

I have 172 blog subscriptions in my reader. That does not count my Bumpzee communities – the ones I read have well over 600 blogs if you add them together. The week Blogrush was launched was such a horrible week in my Google Reader. I hate to think how many posts used the word Blogrush. It seemed to me like every blogger on the planet was promoting them.

Imagine you are reading 700 blogs. Imagine 650 of them wrote about Britney Spears at the MTV awards and how she blew her performance. Just how many of those blog posts are you going to sit and read before you want to hit mark all as read? How many different opinions on *one topic* can you handle in one week?

I tell you what disturbed me about Blogrush –

– It wasn’t that it seemed like every second post talked about it.

– It wasn’t the fact that it sounded like some kind of scam to me due to the whole pyramid thing.

– It wasn’t the hype.

– It wasn’t the fact that some bloggers made it sound like a cure for the common cold and everything that ails you as a blogger, up to and including cancer.

– It wasn’t the fact that I’d never heard the name John Reese before and now all of a sudden every man and their dog was pretending they went to school with him and/or wanted to bear his children and/or thought he is the marketing guru of the century.

– It wasn’t that at least half the posts sounded like they were written by people brainwashed in some kind of bizarre cult. I began to wonder – is this John Reese the next Messiah and the reason I had never heard of him because he’s been stockpiling weapons in an underground school bus which doubles as a nuclear fall out shelter and a handy basement while collecting himself a posse of brainwashed followers willing to donate all their funds to his empire and do whatever he says?

All of the above were annoying, certainly. So if it wasn’t any of that, what was it that disturbed me?

It was the fact that bloggers I once had respect for and once believed in were suddenly trying desperately to get me to sign up using their referral link. Even when they made it sound like they didn’t want you to use their link – they were all “you don’t have to use my link, just go to the blogrush website because it’s so brilliant”. Yeah right. But they knew a lot of people *would* use their referral link just based on the fact that they are so respected.

None of these leader bloggers involved knew anything more than the sales pitch of what blogrush *might* be able to do for them. The service was new. Nobody knew how well it was going to work – but you had to get in on the ground floor to get any real benefit, so they said. Isn’t this a tactic often used by scammers the world over? The Nigerian 419 scammers use this tactic. The Multi level marketing people use this tactic. Ponzi and Pyramid scams use this tactic.

Even worse is the fact that I’ll never trust some of those bloggers as much as I used to again. They could tell me the sky is blue, and I’d want to check just to make sure. Because maybe they’re trying to sell me blue. Maybe they’re being paid to write about blue but they’re not telling me. At least many of the pay per post and sponsored post people make it very clear – this is a paid post, this is a sponsored post, etc. I prefer that. I think it is much fairer to the readers.

Now, some time later and we’re finding out how UNbrilliant it truly is and how much of a lie we were sold by the bloggers many of us considered leaders – people we trusted, people we listened to, people we believed in. It makes me wonder – how much of the other stuff they told me was a lie?

It was also the fact that now, long after the fact, I see Blogrush offering to pay $5 for a positive post on some of the pay to blog services. I would never post about something for just $5. I’m worth more than that as a blogger. But it makes me question – were any of these well known and much read bloggers paid for their posts – and they didn’t say anything?

Many bloggers this week received emails advising them that their blog did not fit the “quality standards”. They told their blogs were of an unsuitable quality to be members of Blogrush and their blogs would be made “inactive” until they fixed whatever the problem was.

Except, of course, Blogrush forgot to bother to tell anyone specifically what the problem was and there was a long shopping list of options to choose from. I imagine for many bloggers receiving this email must have seemed sort of like –

Dear Blogger,

You suck but we won’t bother telling you exactly how you suck so you can learn *not* to suck in the future. Here are some of the ways in which you might suck, check these out and see if any of these apply to you and your suckiness.

Best Wishes,
BlogRush
PS if you somehow manage to learn how not to suck, let us know so we can let you sit at the cool kids table again!

Another complete botch up and yet another reason why I am glad I never bothered with it myself – despite the large amount of bloggers telling me I should get in on it now before it’s too late!

I certainly hope a lesson was learned by all. The lesson I learned – there’s several. Never jump on the bandwagon just because bloggers you respect tell you to. Wait and see. Make up your own mind. Don’t insult your readers intelligence. If you want to post about something new go right ahead, but don’t make it sound like a paid advertisement – and always always disclose within the post if you got paid so that everyone knows what is going on. It is only fair to your readers.

I suspect the final blow to these Blogrush outcasts might be spam. Everyone who signed up but was kicked out provided an email address. I had a quick look at the terms of service and the privacy policy and I hate to tell you – nowhere does it state specifically that your email address will never be sold or given to other parties. The reason for that might be because they *intend* to make money by selling your email address. Perhaps Mr Reese can drop by and clarify this – and then amend the privacy policy to specifically state this?

There is also a HUGE lesson to be learnt here by the “big boys”. Google, heads up, pay attention – this kind of bad press seen below could be coming to YOU as a surprise if you continue your page rank lowering ways. In fact it’s already started a while ago with big name bloggers like Andy Beard not being afraid to say what they really think – and today Problogger took a hit as well as others.

Perhaps Google think this is a good idea but they are underestimating the power of the blogger. And they forget that many of us are now waking up and smelling the coffee. We’ve given them too much power and it is time to take it back. Use a different search engine. I’m investigating other rss readers and other services I use Google for over the next few days because I intend to move away from Google as much as I can. I need to find a good search plugin for WordPress so I can get rid of Google – any suggestions?

If you’re interested in reading more about these “banned” or “inactive” blogs and what they have to say on the matter, here’s some linkage for you. All of them are fantastic blogs with amazing content – I found a few new reads here. If they’re not good enough for Blogrush – then Blogrush has serious problems. 10,000 blogs were apparently affected. That’s an enormous chunk of the blogosphere These are only a small selection – if you were banned and wrote a post about it, leave a comment with a link..

– this one above is a must read because apparently people can earn $12 an hour “reviewing” blogs for Blogrush.

what not to do

14 Reasons Readers Unsubscribe From Blogs.

Recently I’ve been working on clearing out my feed reader. I have gone from 215 subscriptions back to 143 – a huge drop. This is no easy task, but some bloggers have made it easy for me to make the decision – keep reading, or unsubscribe? Here’s some of the reasons why I have unsubscribed from some of the blogs.

1. Posts Too Long.

Writing one huge long post every week and posting rarely in between. There was one blog on my google reader, I kid you not, who would write posts averaging between 4,000 to 5,000 words once a week. Was it anything I could use? No. It was simply egotistical shyte where the blogger answered a whole bunch of questions other readers had asked – some of you may know the blog I mean..

Their last post in my reader was 5261 words, 28792 characters and just to give you an idea, I pasted it into word. It went for 15 pages. ONE POST!!!!!! And people say my posts are long, ya’all ain’t seen nothing yet! Just for comparison sake – this post is 2199 words long, 11276 characters and was four pages when I posted it into word.

I don’t mind a long post, if you have something useful and interesting to say. If you’re just pandering to your massive ego, I’m hitting unsubscribe.

2. Posts Too Pithy.

Every post they wrote was three lines or less. Every. Single. One. I enjoy pith as much as the next person, but there is such a thing as too much pith. Give me some substance!

3. Where Are You?

Some of the blogs deleted last week had not been updated at all in over 6 months. Hello, these bloggers had people who were reading you and they went and blew it. Maybe they got busy. Maybe they got a life. Maybe they got hit by a bus. I don’t know, and now I’ll never know, because they just left me hanging. I’ve unsubscribed. Readers of this blog will be happy to know, if something happened to me I have a plan all ready to deal with it. You’ll never be left wondering here.

4. They Went Quiet.

They used to post regularly and I was loving it, but now I realise I haven’t heard from them in a couple of months – and their last post didn’t say “I’m going on holidays” “I’m taking a break from blogging” “I have to do (insert important thing) so you may not hear from me so much over the next few (length of time)”. If it did, I’d be ok waiting. Seriously. We all have lives to live.

They have a term for this with nuclear submarines – going quiet. Unless you happen to be living in one, it’s not a good idea to do it with your blog. Readers will unsubscribe – like I just did. It is a good idea for bloggers to let their readers know if they are going to be away for a bit. It’s a nice thing to do for their loyal readers.

5. They Are A Wanna-be.

I linked to them for at least 6 months and I told them I was linking to them via a comment. They never linked back. They never dropped by my place and left a comment. In their links list all I see are “a-list” bloggers. All they talk about is what the “a-list” bloggers are saying or doing. If I wanted to know what the “a-list” bloggers were saying or doing, I’d be reading the a-list bloggers. I don’t read the a-list bloggers. I wanted to read *them*, not some poor soul wishing they could be on the “a-list” and sucking up to the “a-list” bloggers in every post.

I’ll give that link to another blogger who deserves it more. Just a hint they might be able to use – Spread your link love around and base it on content, not what supposed “list” the blog is on.

6. I’m Not Feeling It.

In order for me to read a blog, I have to sometimes know what the blogger is talking about. There is one blogger I deleted because they write these major in depth posts that read like a legal document. On a personal blog. There is never any personal posts, never any images and a lot of 50 cent words you only hear used in spelling bees.

If a blogger is writing like that on their personal blog, maybe they need to take a holiday. Relax. Not that I can’t handle in depth posts and legal wording but from time to time, chill out and have a laugh! Tell me something funny that happened. Lighten up.

7. I’m Overwhelmed.

Some people post too much. Two to three posts a day is one thing. Four every day, a blogger may be pushing it. 5-15 posts a day is way out of control. I want to know about the bloggers I read, but I don’t want to know every single detail that happens in their life! Learn to edit. Write things and put them aside for a wrap up post, one longer post instead of 6 short little ones.

Writing doesn’t have an expiration date. It is perfectly fine to write 5-15 posts in a day but a blogger can schedule them to post over the next couple of weeks. They will feel fantastic because you know their blog is posting the things they wrote, and readers will feel good because they get to read it in small, manageable daily chunks rather than one huge mind dump. ;) Don’t pummel your readers with posts!

8. The Content Went AWOL.

Some bloggers have got into paid posts so much that it is all they blog about anymore. I’m all about supporting a bloggers right to make money but if bloggers aren’t providing non-paid content as well, they will lose their readers, and consequently find it harder to get paid blogging jobs. My preference is that bloggers follow up a paid post with non paid content soon after posting the paid content, at least on the same day.

9. The Content Was Negative

Not one positive post in the whole time I’ve been reading? Some bloggers just want to whinge and they are not prepared to look at the positives in life? Sorry, that’s not for me. I prefer positive thought. Occasional snark is one thing, I can appreciate that. Being mad at the world 24/7/365? It’s depressing the heck out of me. Let me off this rollercoaster ride into negativity!

10. I’m Waiting.

One post a month? One post every two months? Seriously? Are their readers so unimportant to them? They have nothing to say? They can’t find a news article to speak about? They can’t post a photo and one line of text? I have to tell those bloggers, I think maybe they are too busy to have a blog. Seriously. I’m unable to deal with such long gaps between posts unless the content is *incredible*.

11. They Moved.

Without telling me more than once – and now I’ve lost that connection to them. Here’s a piece of advice for moving bloggers. Keep the old blog for at least a month. Once a week during that month, post a reminder that the blog has moved have moved on the old blog. That’s for feed readers of the blog, who may not have received the message that the blog is moving the first time. A reader may have hit “mark all as read” because there were 500 posts in one folder and they couldn’t face reading it.

Give your blog readers every possible chance to follow you when you move. They are not expecting you to move and are unprepared for it. Me personally I’d be posting “I’ve moved here” once a week on that old blog for six to eight weeks.

12. They Were Cliquey.

Some bloggers just want their friends reading. It might be best to make their blog private so readers don’t get attached to them. It can be hurtful to people when a blogger totally ignores some readers and comments, while responding to others.

13. Template Issues.

Every time I visited the blog, there was different template. And I visited the site a lot over the space of a few weeks, I said via comments how much I liked a couple of the templates but one day I got tired of the constant switching, things moving around.. it was just too much. Sorry. The content was ok but not good enough to overcome the massive template indecision.

14. They Told Me They Were Quitting.

I understand. I’ll miss them. In order to keep the blogroll alive, I’ve taken the link to that blog down but if they come back, I’ll put it back up before I finish reading the first post saying they are returning to blogging, I promise. I enjoyed their blogging and I hope they return.

But Wait A Minute?

Some of you may have read this list and thought “I do that” “Ouch, I’ve made that mistake” or even “I never realised how annoying that could be to my readers, I’ll never do it again!” If so, that is fantastic. It will make your blog even better – for me and for all your readers. Perhaps now is a good time to take a moment – to consider whether you are being considerate of your blog readers and mindful of what could make them unsubscribe from your feed.

If your name is still on my blogroll, it means one of two things.

1. You are linking to me, which I deeply appreciate, thanks! I’ll never de-link you while you link to me. If I did it by accident please let me know. This job has been evil and I have been working on it for over a week now and still have not tracked down everyone linking to me.

2. I love you so much I can’t let you go. Even though you don’t link to me. It would be nice if you did, but I enjoy your writing and I’m giving you that link because of it. If you don’t enjoy mine, you probably shouldn’t be linking to me.

My Future Policy – updated 26/1/15

If I like your blog, I add you to my feed reader. Once a month I do a new feeds post which you can find here.

After 6 months, I review the blogs I added and decide whether I am keeping them or unsubscribing. If I am keeping the blog, it will be listed on my blogroll.

Further Reading

This post is now accompanied by a post from Sephy with a lot of how-to info on RSS feeds. He’s great at taking the tech out of technical things so non technical people like me can understand them. Make sure to read it!. You may also want to have a look at these useful articles –

Over To You.

What are your thoughts? What is your policy on linking to blogs? Do you struggle with who you should give the link love to? Do you feel bad or rejected when people don’t link back to you? What about when people delete their link to you? Do you have blogs you’re hanging on to which you would love to delete? Comments are closed, so you can contact me here to let me know what you think.

blog housekeeping, blogging tips, blogrolls, google reader, what not to do

Fat Is The New Black.

Overweight people know what it feels like to be looked at and judged – but maybe EVERYONE knows that? Maybe we all judge each other based on appearance all the time? I know I do it. Do you?

but6

When we are walking down the street, we are constantly looking at people and making quick assessments. Will this person hurt me. Will this person try to mug me. Am I safe here? Is there anyone around not making me feel safe? Logically these are assessments we need to make in order to stay safe. The trouble is, we’re all making wrong assessments. We’re making assessments based on our own history, our past experiences, what we’ve read, what others have told us.

It is no different to you driving past a car accident. How many of you think “He must have been going too fast” “That car must have run into that other car” “He lost control going around the corner”. We want to try and learn from the mistake that driver made. Anywhere you have seen an accident, you will find it difficult to drive past that spot without remembering what you saw. Perhaps not consciously, but your subconscious will do it for you. There’s a whole science to accident investigation. Our assumptions are probably way off. We still make them anyway.

If when you were a kid, Santa scared you, you might subconsciously be scared of men with beards, right? You might have thought, when you saw that above image – that man has a huge beard, I find that scary, I would keep away from him. If you have had bad experiences with people of color, people of a certain sex, people who dress a certain way, teenagers, homeless people, bikers.. you will subconsciously steer well clear – maybe even consciously. People who have had good experiences with those people might give them a smile, approach them and say hi, feel more comfortable in their presence.

A book I highly recommend to change your thinking on many topics is Gavin De Becker’s The Gift Of Fear – here is a quote from it –

Our intuition fails when it is loaded with inaccurate information. Since we are the editors of what gets in and what is invested with credibility, it is important to evaluate our sources of information. I explained this during a presentation for hundreds of government threat assessors at the Central Intelligence Agency, making my point by drawing on a very rare safety hazard: kangaroo attacks. I told the audience that about twenty people a year are killed by the normally friendly animals, and that kangaroos always display a specific set of indicators before they attack:

1) They will give what appears to be a wide and genial smile (they are actually showing their teeth).
2) They will check their pouches compulsively several times to be sure they have no young with them (they never attack while carrying young).
3) They will look behind them (since they always retreat immediately after they kill).

After these signals, they will lunge, brutally pummel an enemy, and gallop off.

I asked two audience members to stand up and repeat the three warning signs, and both flawlessly described the smile, the checking of the pouch for young, and the looking back for an escape route. In fact everyone in that room (and now you) will remember these warning signs for life. If you are ever face-to-face with a kangaroo, be it tomorrow or decades from now, those three pre-incident indicators will be in your head.

The problem, I told the audience at the CIA, is that I made up those signals. I did it to demonstrate the risks of inaccurate information. I actually know nothing about kangaroo behaviour (so forget the three signals if you can — or stay away from hostile kangaroos).

In our lives, we are constantly bombarded with kangaroo signals masquerading as knowledge, and our intuition relies on us to decide what we will give credence to.

Australians are going to have a particularly difficult time forgetting those kangaroo signals, because we see kangaroos reasonably often. ;) Right Aussies? And I can tell you, every time I see one, the above passage is remembered within my skull.

So you may be reading this post wondering – where is she going to talk about fat being the new black? I’ve written before about being one of only two fat people in a room of over 500 high school students to hear a lecture titled “Fat People Are Dirty People”. That was over 15 years ago. Our situation has not improved, people.

Fat people are looked at, judged. People who are overweight can feel the looks of disapproval wherever you go, and they even come from people who aren’t exactly stick thin themselves. If you eat in public, expect disapproving glances. You can almost feel the people thinking “They shouldn’t be eating that”. Fat people are called names, have jokes told about them – and they are expected to laugh! – are taunted, teased.. they find it harder to get a job, they find it harder to be promoted, they find it difficult to travel – seats too small, people don’t want to be stuck next to the fat person.. this list can go on for pages, my friends.

Can you take that previous paragraph and say the same thing about a race, a color? Not these days. It is illegal to discriminate based on race. It is considered inappropriate to shoot disapproving looks at people of color or race. People of color or race are not judged on what they are eating – unless they are also overweight!

It is not illegal to discriminate based on weight. An excellent article you should read is Do We Really Need A Law To Protect Fat Workers? – a couple of quotes from the article but I hope you will go and read the entire thing.

“Hiring, firing, discipline, training, wages, we’ve got more than 40 studies now in both the lab and the workplace,” says Mark Roehling, a management professor at Michigan State University in East Lansing. “People in all of them tell you they discriminate on the basis of weight. I had one guy tell me there was one kind of person he absolutely wasn’t going to hire – a fat girl. And the punch line is, this guy was overweight himself.”

Consider Roehling’s survey participant, the one who told him “there was one kind of person he absolutely wasn’t going to hire – a fat girl.” Now replace “fat” with “black.” It’s the textbook definition of discrimination. And because it would be so unfair, so wrong, so illegal to follow through with it, it’s hard to imagine that anyone in today’s society would dare.

Another very good example of what I am talking about appears to have reared its ugly head on Facebook. According to mo pie from Big Fat Deal in the blog post Face! (Book) which I have put a couple of quotes from but again, I encourage you to read the full article –

Although Facebook does crack down on religious and racial hate groups, fat hate groups are flourishing. I’m not suggesting that these groups should be shut down; I think the worst ones (like “let’s kill all fat people”) have been, and I’m more inclined to let people say their piece than be censored, where possible. Even so, I did a couple of searches and poked around and found hundreds of groups dedicated to fat hate.

Here are some more Facebook groups: “Dammit, I Hate Fat Chicks!” “DISLIKES- FAT GIRLS WHO WEAR SKIRTS AND TIGHT CLOTHING” “Fat Chicks – Exercise or die!” “Fat people should go on starvation diets” “God d@mm!t I hate fat people!!!” and “If you’re fat…we aren’t friends.” A group simply called “I Hate Fat People” has 529 members.

Replace fat with black, hispanic, asian, any race, any culture – would it be accepted? No way! Facebook cracks down on religious and racial hate groups because LEGALLY THEY ARE REQUIRED TO DO SO. They are not required to do so when it comes to weight.

The sooner “weight” is added to the civil rights act in the US the better. The law says (in part, you can read the whole thing here) –

to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;

And maybe a couple of other things should be added there – ie sexual preference and possibly others – what would you add?

Until then, it is accepted that you can say whatever you like about fat people, refuse to employ them, refuse to promote them, treat them with disgust, treat them without respect – and there is no way those people can do anything about it, other than to lose weight. I wouldn’t bother, personally. Losing weight does not always solve the problem, because once you’ve been a fat person you will always appear that way in people’s minds. I’ve experienced that myself as I wrote in my previously mentioned post..

So in the meantime, we overweight people have to accept ourselves as we are, and refuse to hear those who want to treat us badly. As Martin Luther King said –

Don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have the compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight; we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.

Thanks for reading my article, if you liked it, stumble it so the word can get out to more people. If you have a spare moment, please leave your thoughts in the comments. ;)

This post is a part of a two week special on Race, Society and The Internet in conjunction with the Hump Day Hmmm.

Hump Day Hmmm, life lessons, politics, what not to do, wrong world

The big kitty – post 450

You remember the old myth that when you move house you should put butter on the cat’s paws? Here’s a tip – this can lead to experiences you were not exactly expecting. My jaw is on the ground right now, I do not joke.

The Big Kitty LOVES butter or margarine to the point that if you take the container out of the fridge she can hear it from anywhere in the house, and she appears like magic.

You cannot leave bread buttered around here. If you turn away, when you turn back she’ll be licking the butter off the bread. You need eyes in the back of your head, ya’all.

So the other day I made myself a tasty sandwich snack and I mistakenly left the margarine container out on the counter. While I was in here reading blogs and doing stuff, I heard some funny noises out there in the kitchen. I just figured those kitties were chasing each other around. As they do.

When I eventually made my way into the kitchen, I found the big kitty had knocked the margarine container onto the ground, at which point the lid came off. What happened next I cannot be sure as I wasn’t there and no video camera was recording, but there was margarine *everywhere*. On the floor, on the cupboards, on the dishwasher, and there were these buttery kitty paw prints that went from room to room. And, the big kitty was wearing what can only be described as butter socks. Only they went way up past her knees. More like butter stockings, really.

I cleaned up the mess (do not ask how long this took) and threw the margarine out. When The Other Half got home he was looking for the butter and came in to ask me for it, at which point, I lied. Because I was busy! I was in the middle of stuff and I didn’t want to get into the whole sordid buttery tale. And I knew she’d be in trouble. So I said I didn’t know where it was and he should use cream cheese instead. He turned the fridge upside down looking for the butter and I came out just as he was replacing the last items in there.. at which point I broke down laughing and had to tell the truth.

Now, today, he asked me to make him a cake. Now that big kitty is really in for trouble. It said grease and flour the cake tin, which I did.. I left it on one counter while I got on with making the cake. I turned around to find that big kitty attacking that cake tin with gusto and her little pink tongue.. it’s so cute, there’s little tongue marks all over the place..

I’ll be in trouble too, because instead of making his cake I couldn’t resist coming in here to blog about it.. ;)

We get our car tomorrow.. ;)

cooking, kitties, what not to do

This will not come as a surprise.

Ms Rein has made the decision to sell the Australian part of her business, because her husband wants to be Prime Minister more than he wants to back her up as a husband. Oh, she probably wants to redecorate the Lodge herself, so it’s not an entirely selfless choice, however it shows that an ambitious man can be the downfall of a highly successful woman. It was predictable and we all saw this one coming a mile off, but I cannot disguise my disgust.

As yet there seems to be no outcry of outraged women, which is highly surprising to me. Could it be all the feminists vote Labor and they don’t want to say anything for fear of losing yet another in a long string of elections to a man who honestly looks like he should be on the muppet show?

What is right is what is right, regardless of which party you support. The fact that Kevin has not said – she made a mistake but her business concerns have nothing to do with me as a politician and we’ll put whatever procedures in place to make sure everything is 100% above board and nobody can have any complaints of favoritism or whatever. She’s my wife, this is her business, and I don’t give a shit how politically damaging her mistakes in business can be to me, because I’m a man with a set of balls who can stand up for himself and say hey, leave my wife alone. You want to pick on someone? Pick on me.

However, he did not do that, and what he’s saying to everyone by the course he is taking is – you win. You want to pick on anyone else in my family? I’ll convince them to give up whatever you want if it means I can have the top job. Bully me some more, it’s fine. It’s perfectly ok, because I’m going to cave whenever I have to just to shut you people up.

Ms Rein, this choice you have made is absolutely a backward step for women in this country.

politics, what not to do, women