Infrequently updated blog of thoughts and feelings whenever I have time to sit down and write. It seems as though I have less and less time to sit down and write these days. That's why this page is static most of the time.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Attack of the Click Whores

The essay that follows was posted on my blog http://www.armadillodreaming.blogspot.com/ back in January. It could have been my APA-50 contribution to the March mailing (#179), but I flaked out and missed the deadline. All that mattered to me at the time was getting the thing written and out of my system because I was a bit emotional about it. You’ll understand more once you get that far. That is, if you bother to read beyond this long-winded introduction.

While I started the blog late last year, it turns out that I’m not a very good blogger. I don’t update it very often. If you ever visit my blog, you’ll see that I only post something there every few months. I’m not an obsessive blogger. Most folks with blogs will post almost daily or weekly rants about something or other. Maybe no more than a paragraph or two, or a short essay. Or maybe just some links. In fact, the very first blog, http://www.robotwisdom.com/, created by Jorn Barger, the person who coined the term “weblog,” is really not much more than a collection of links compiled by someone who surfs the web all day long. Even some of today’s most popular blogs, such as http://www.boingboing.net/ and http://dvorak.org/blog do pretty much the same thing, but with some editorial commentary and long discussion threads about each story. That takes a level of commitment I just don’t possess. I will post my apazines up there on armadillodreaming, but asking me to update it daily is asking for just a bit too much. I don’t really care about it, except that I can point people to it who aren’t in APA-50.

But since my earliest days in fandom, from eagerly waiting for the mail to see how many fanzines would show up in any given week, egoboo has been the primary reason for doing any of this, whether it was traditional fanac or this new-fangled blogging. You want people to read your words and respond to them. That is why I have been doing this apazine ever since 1974 when I was a 15 year old high school nerd. That’s why my blog postings tend to be long and include mailing comments to other APA-50 members, even though these are probably complete nonsense to anyone who just happens to stumble across http://www.armadillodreaming.blogspot.com/ and doesn’t know anything about APA-50. But that doesn’t matter either, since no one seems to read my blog. The only comments posted on my entries come from what I call “click whores.”

Click Whore is a term I just made up the other day. Ever since I first sent a message to Wired magazine’s JargonWatch editor seven or eight years ago, I’ve wanted to contribute an original term to the column. I received a response from Gareth Branwyn pointing out that all of the terms I forwarded had appeared in earlier issues of the magazine (I only started reading Wired during its second year of publication). So I have been faced with a challenge for almost a decade of trying to find a new techno-term that was original and meaningful. Click Whore seems to fit the bill to a tee. I’ve done a Google search and the term does not seem to exist anywhere else in cyberspace -- except on my blog, http://www.armadillodreaming.blogspot.com/. Therefore, I am now donating it to the world under whatever free language licenses are acceptable to anyone who chooses to use the term in its correct context (e.g., creative commons license http://www.creativecommons.org/ or GPL, the Gnu General Public License or any one of its several variations you prefer). Just give me credit for inventing it.

Click Whore (klik-hor) n. an internet bot that scans hundreds of thousands of weblogs and posts completely non-sequitur comments to drive traffic to commercial websites much the same way that spammers do. The click whore’s purpose is to tempt the blogger or the casual blog reader into clicking on a link in a comment that re-directs them to a commercial website from which their creator makes money. The folks who write these little programs probably have a different name for them, but I like to call them click whores. These are the only entities that seem to ever come to my blog http://www.armadillodreaming.blogspot.com/. Or at least, they are the only visitors who bother to post comments.

Whores are not prostitutes. Prostitutes perform a valuable service to society. Whores do nothing of the sort, but act as “parasite prostitutes.” Don’t get me wrong. I love prostitutes. Well, not like that. After all, I just got married a year ago. What I mean is, I have nothing against prostitutes, and know several of them quite well. But not that well; come on, get your mind out of the gutter. Prostitutes are generally cool, friendly folks who are just making a living at something they enjoy doing and provide a product that is, and always has been, in great demand. You know, the “oldest profession in the world” and all that. Prostitutes make a business arrangement with their customers and deliver exactly what they promise. That’s why they continue to have regular customers who come back again and again.

Whores, on the other hand, are not prostitutes. Whores promise you things they cannot deliver. They promise many of the same things a prostitute does, such as casual sex, an attractive companion for a night out, simple affection, the illusion of love, or even just a good time. But no one who takes up a whore on this promise ever seems to get satisfaction from the outcome of the transaction. That’s why whores have to keep finding new customers, because they don’t generally have repeat business the way a good prostitute does. Spammers are kind of like click whores, but they have their own name and their own tactics. We all know what spammers do and how they do it. Click whores have a new technique, but it is just as despicable.

Here is a comment posted to my blog by a click whore:

darrelhunor21774890 said...
I really enjoyed your blog. This is a cool Website Check it out now by Clicking Here . I know that you will find this WebSite Very Interesting Every one wants a Free LapTop Computer!

Here’s another one:
sarafisher5428 said...
I read over your blog, and i found it inquisitive, you may find My Blog interesting. So please Click Here To Read My Blog (somethingaboutpennystocks.com)

I’ve deleted the embedded links because you really don’t need to go there. Of course, I didn’t bother clicking on Darrel’s “cool website” or SaraFisher’s blog because I know these came from click whores. The two comments that followed were from other click whores trying to tell me about more great penny stock investments and some unbelievable mortgage refinancing options.
Whores pretend to like you. They want you to like them. Click whores want you to click on their links so the coder who created them can make some money from idiots who think the whore likes them. They say they’ve read your blog, but you know they haven’t. They’re not humans; they’re bots. They don’t have the time. They hit your site just long enough to copy their template comment to your post and then they continue to the next link in the directory on blogspot. They probably only come by for two seconds or less, hardly enough egoboo to even be called a “quickie.” Even the most insincere RAEBNC (Read and Enjoyed, but No Comment) means more than a click whore posting, because something with an acronym so obscure and specific to fanzine fandom can only come from a human being. And a fan.

I’m not much for self-promotion. I don’t include a link to my blog in my standard email signature. I haven’t even put an RSS link on the site so that those few people who do read it can be notified when a new update appears once in a blue moon when an APA-50 deadline looms and I put another post up there. It would be nice if people read the blog, but the people in APA-50 will read APAHELION when the paper mailing is delivered to their home. The other folks to whom I send my zine through email may someday decide to read the blog, but so far no one has left comments on the site except click whores.

This doesn’t bother me. Really, it doesn’t. Well, I guess I have to confess that it bothers me enough to write an apazine about it and come up with a completely original name for the phenomenon. Of course, I would love to see more traffic directed to the site. Perhaps I could put some Google Adsense links there and make a few pennies on the deal in a much more acceptable way than the click whores try to do. But there are so damned many blogs on the internet, it just doesn’t surprise me that my only audience consists of click whores. There’s nothing spectacular about my blog, and in fact, I haven’t put a lot of effort into making it stand out from all the others. As I said earlier, it’s just a way to post my apazines on the web without having to clog up everyone’s email with PDF versions like I’ve been doing for the past few years.

Shameless self-promotion and a good spam filter probably keep http://dvorak.org/blog free from click whores and loaded with interesting discussion threads, but John C. Dvorak is probably the exception, rather than the rule. He claims he gets no spam, yet recently mentioned on his Cranky Geeks podcast that he collects Nigerian 419 scam messages to eventually donate to the folklore collection at U.C. Berkeley. So much for John C. “I Get No Spam” Dvorak.

Welcome to Terrytime at http://ww.armadillodreaming.blogspot.com/. I’m the rule, rather than the exception. I’ve since modified the properties of the blog so that click whores can’t post comments anymore. But now, no one reads my blog and there are zero comments, even on a post like the one that follows, that actually means quite a lot to me. Perhaps that will change if I continue to insert http://ww.armadillodreaming.blogspot.com/ periodically throughout everything I write.

Now, after that long winded introduction, here is the posting I put up there last January 31, 2006:


At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was great what you wrote about Jimmy Foulkes...and thanks for cluing me in to the wherabouts of your excellent blog. Funny that about click whores - I haven't been so visited yet at http://typepad.com/kenscomics but it's probably only a matter of time. Talk to you soon!
-- Ken

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Terry,

I must congratulate you on that truly epic blog-entry introduction. Cecil B. DeMille would be proud. :-)

Your friend in the Free State of New Hampshire,
Sandy P.


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