10 November 2011

Signing Up for Stuff

A few months ago, in a post titled Spraggett on Smirnov, I wondered about some obvious differences in opinion between those two GMs, one a former World Championship candidate, the other a purveyor of chess courses using online marketing. Curious about the chess courses, I followed the link from the video that was the source of the disagreement, found Smirnov's home page at Chess-Teacher.com, and signed up for the 'FREE video course'.

Since then, I've received about 15 email messages from GM Smirnov. The first few were about the promised free video course, the rest were a mixture of links to new videos and promotions for the not-so-free courses, e.g. 'The Grandmaster's Opening Laboratory'. While I'm not willing to sign up for any of the not-so-free courses, the free videos I watched were all of a reasonable quality, comparable to the one that first caught my attention. Smirnov knows what he's talking about and although his English is far from perfect, it's good enough to get his points across.

One problem I had while working on this post was to understand exactly what was being offered and by whom. Emails link to pages that link to other pages that offer discounts on products that don't seem relevant to the original email. The original video that got my attention appears to be part of an affiliate program. Would I run those affiliate links on this blog or on my own site? No, not yet, but I'll keep it in mind.


As I once explained in a post titled Apples to Apples, I use Google AdSense as a cheap source of statistics. Lately I've been seeing a proliferation of ads on my pages like this:-

Hottest Brazilian Girls
Connect with 100s Brazil Beauties Find your Perfect Match & be happy!

[domain name]

Are these services legitimate? To find out, I signed up for membership on three of these sites. I know, it's a thankless job, but someone has to do it (and, no, I didn't tell my wife). I never heard again from one of the services, while the other two were obviously part of a network of related sites, probably run by the same promoter.

For those two sites I was immediately bombarded by several email messages every day. The emails were links to the sites where I could read messages from the 'ladies', send them virtual gifts, etc. etc. Of course, none of this was free. I was expected to buy credits that could be tapped for each message I read or each gift I sent. After a few weeks, I got tired of these emails and tried to remove my pseudonym from the sites. The unsubscribe options led to dead ends -- one of them was a captcha that displayed no garbled text to copy -- so I was eventually forced to enter a bogus email address that wouldn't come anywhere near me.

Google AdSense has a function to 'Allow & Block Ads' and lists these sites, collectively known as 'Dating' sites, under 'Sensitive Categories' along with 'Cosmetic Procedures & Body Modification' and 'Ringtones & Downloadables'. Should I turn them off? No, not yet, but I'll keep it in mind.

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