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A weirder tip than most

flat belly

Y’all ever click this sucker? If you did, you likely saw a totally different product than I did. That was the scam — it was an advertising frontend that could be rented by anyone with a diet product.

And some very dodgy companies lurked behind it, too. The Washington Post traced it down a couple of years ago (which was only right, since the Post was one of dozens of ‘respectable’ sources that ran the ad). Most of these scams demanded your credit card details before sending “free” samples — later followed by regular, hard-to-cancel shipments of expensive products.

And needless to say, there was no “one weird trick.” I clicked the ad hoping to squeeze a post out of it, and was whisked away to an audio presentation which warned me up front to listen all the way to the end for the one weird trick. And then droned on and on about “I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to lose weight. My wife and I were very concerned that being overweight would affect our health, and we had children to worry about.” In its way, it was a masterpiece of utterly contentless chatter. I wish I’d hung on to see how long they could keep that up, but I’m not entirely sure the damn thing didn’t sneakily loop back on itself.

After half an hour, I lost it and closed the page…and got the entirely predictable series of breathlessly panicky pop-ups offering me specials and freebies and warning me I was turning my back on the offer of a lifetime. I have no effing idea what they were selling.

Thing is, this thing ran for months and months. Remember? It ran in the LA Times and the Washington Post and dozens of other places I visited, and I can’t help but think it succeeded so well because no-one could believe an out-and-out con would show its face in so many respectable places.

Eventually, the FTC shut down the marketers behind the front end. But, honestly, I don’t see how Google (the ad server) could be so casual about the company it keeps. And I don’t understand why papers like the Post and the Times weren’t up in arms about the hit to their reputation.

Having said that — ahem — I’d practically forgotten I had sidebar ads until I got a message from AdBrite tonight telling me they’re going out of business at the end of the month. So, ummm…if my spotless reputation has been used to sell you bath salts and Russian hookers, I’m really very sorry. I’ll stop doing that as soon as I feel like digging around in my sidebar code and extracting the ad dingus.

Until then…errr…I wouldn’t click on anything over there.


Comment from Nina
Time: January 28, 2013, 11:56 pm

I don’t see anything but your stuff anyway, so I think I’m safe.

Am I safe? Never assume. :)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 28, 2013, 11:59 pm

You must be running an ad blocker. The links are in the left sidebar, underneath the restesing weasel.

Needless to say, this was not much of a money spinner.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: January 29, 2013, 12:05 am

You mean it would have helped you if I’d clicked on those,

Russian Girls want to have your baby TONIGHT! links?

Now she tells me… I could have told Mrs. Vegetable that I was just doing it for an old friend…. or something.

Comment from dissent555
Time: January 29, 2013, 1:26 am

(1) As Phineas Taylor Barnum would say . . .

(2) ” And I don’t understand why papers like the Post and the Times weren’t up in arms about the hit to their reputation.”
Hit to their reputations?!!! LOL. I bet they hardly noticed.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: January 29, 2013, 1:26 am

Actually, I prefer your version….

Comment from dissent555
Time: January 29, 2013, 1:29 am

oh, yeah, I see the links now. I had to (temp) allow adbrite in NoScript. Man, I guess I’ve been missin’ out.

Comment from bjm2009
Time: January 29, 2013, 1:38 am

Okay dokay…but what about them chickens…they coom out yet?

Comment from PatAZ
Time: January 29, 2013, 1:41 am

I saw this ad somewhere today. I have never clicked on it. I’m surprised you did, Ms Wez.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: January 29, 2013, 1:57 am

…and tiny url(s)…
There’s a blog I read, because I have too much time on my hands, that reduces all it’s links to tiny urls. You don’t know where you are going with one of those links, and you don’t know what you are going to get.

The way politics is being played right now, clicking on a link can get you hacked. And my anti-virus program is being triggered ‘way too often. I’m suspecting ad servers.

The internet has become a very dangerous place.

Comment from Janna
Time: January 29, 2013, 3:31 am

Skandia… go to tinyurl.com/preview.php
Turn that sucker on.
It gives you the final destination. Then asks if you want to proceed to this site.
You can look before you click.
On Ace’s site, well, it’s a good thing.

Comment from MIke C.
Time: January 29, 2013, 8:19 am

Check out the ads on Fox News or on some of the “Bigs” in the blogoshpere, like Power Line. Complete crap. Okay, I can kinda understand it on Fox, because it’s “one of those ‘for profit’ deals.” But why in hell 3 apparently successful lawyers need to trash up their site (Power Line) for lunch money is beyond me.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: January 29, 2013, 8:57 am

I’ve seen this ad at various times in internetland. Never felt any need to click on it though, since my belly is like the road surface approaching a roundabout.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 29, 2013, 12:43 pm

It was all in the interest of science, Pat. And I was using my Linux laptop, so I didn’t think I was in much danger (worst case, I wipe the whole computer and start again).

I know, Mike. I know everyone’s desperate to make some coin with this here internet thing, but those Google ads so bring down the tone of a website.

Have you all noticed a new-found sense of…desperation about web ads? I mean, NRO does sneaky Netflix popunders. HotAir (and others) doing that thing where your screen suddenly goes dark and then a sign-up app appears in the middle of the screen (this always annoys me, because I usually have my hands wrapped around a cup of coffee, happily reading, when the daggone things pop up). Oh, and we’ve seen a return of the annoying trembly spastic ads (there’s one that pops up in rotation at Ace’s now).

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 29, 2013, 12:48 pm

Oh, I’m also getting shit-tons of low rent commercial mail via people like NRO and the Weekly Standard whose newsletters I signed up for.

Comment from Redd
Time: January 29, 2013, 3:23 pm

“HotAir (and others) doing that thing where your screen suddenly goes dark and then a sign-up app appears in the middle of the screen …”

I always imagine it is Allahpundit in the ad. It certainly resembles his depiction in the infamous Taiwanese News video they did on HotAir.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 29, 2013, 3:23 pm

I don’t think my Russian hooker ever arrived. Possibly lost in the post. Could you send another?

Comment from AltBBrown
Time: January 29, 2013, 3:34 pm

Been on the ‘net so much, my brain has developed it’s own ad blocker. Rarely see ’em at all unless they’re goofy/funny popups.
Didn’t even notice the G-Ads on this site until you pointed them out.

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: January 29, 2013, 3:54 pm

I know waaaay too much about web ads. I used to sell my soul to a company that hosted ads, it was how they made money. The free service they offered the outside world drove eyeballs to the ads. (Never forget, children, if it’s “free” YOU are the product.) Anyway, the ad thingies work very much like a Chinese supply network. Ad service A has a little space it hasn’t sold personally, so they sell it cut rate to ad service B, who does the same thing and pretty soon you get to ad service Z that sells text ad space to Nigerian princes for a few chickens. Somewhere between A and Z *somebody* doesn’t check submitted ads for embedded code exploits, or unfinished php tags, or links to a virus server, and all hell breaks loose. Which is why I adblock. I am happy to send monies via PayPal to sites I like that need the moola, but I will NOT view your ads. Sorry. I hate the taste of melamine.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: January 29, 2013, 4:35 pm

You can still see the “one trick” ads out there, its all sad stuff. There’s some lousy advertising out there and you can always spot the ones you can’t trust.

I’m like AltBBrown, I don’t even see ads most of the time, plus I have so much security set up on Firefox, it scrubs nearly every advertisement off all pages.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 29, 2013, 5:04 pm

Ignoring the advertising? Why, that’s downright UNAMERICAN!

You MUST accept the programming your betters have arranged for you, at great expense. Yours.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 29, 2013, 5:16 pm

I miss advertising. I live in England. Now, how’m I supposed to know when something’s new and improved?

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: January 29, 2013, 6:17 pm

They don’t advertise in England?

Comment from mojo
Time: January 29, 2013, 7:01 pm

It’s ALWAYS “new and improved!” (exclamation mark required), whatever it is.

You should know that.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 29, 2013, 7:46 pm

Noticeably less, Can’t hark. Most of the TV and radio we consume is BBC, so no advertising. And they are far fewer things like billboards.

Also, when we watch pre-recorded TV on commercial channels, Uncle B fast forwards right past the ads. I blame an impoverished upbringing.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 29, 2013, 8:22 pm

No adverts on the BBC? Well, except for the loving tongue-bath the latest lefty craze inevitably gets, anyway…

Comment from Redd
Time: January 29, 2013, 9:36 pm

I download everything off the internet I want to watch on to a usb drive and watch them on my television. Therefore, no commercials.

Comment from BJM
Time: January 29, 2013, 9:44 pm

@ Wez…Oh, I’m also getting shit-tons of low rent commercial mail…

I set up an addy on a sub-domain with a low storage limit for signups and commenting…when it reaches the limit I sweep it out.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: January 29, 2013, 10:38 pm

I’ve used AdBlock for years. One of these days I’m going to learn GreaseMonkey in earnest, and then all these pop-up excrescences will be gone. I already have a bash shell script that scrubs Firefox’s sqlite3 cookie database to get round the annoying (and badly-coded) Daily Telegraph paywall. It’s amazing what you can do when you know some of the tricks.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 29, 2013, 10:48 pm

The Telegraph is behind a paywall? Since when?

Comment from David Gillies
Time: January 29, 2013, 11:10 pm

They have an article limit of 20-30 per month and then the shutters come down and they try to flog you a subscription. It’s piss-easy to circumvent: just kill all cookies with base domain *telegraph*. You can do this manually, but in Firefox (on Linux and Mac, anyway) it’s easier to just zap them directly in the cookies file: sqlite3 -line <path to cookies file>* “delete from moz_cookies where baseDomain like ‘%telegraph%';” from a terminal window. I imagine a similar sort of thing is doable in Windows, although probably with more grunting and squealing.

* which is usually something like ~/.mozilla/firefox/43x8qrch.default/cookies.sqlite

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: January 30, 2013, 12:36 am

js whitelisting is your friend.

I mean, most of the useful stuff on the web is text, most of the rest: pictures, & if a site requires js to see the pictures or the text, then it’s probably not important enough for me to look at.

Comment from Carl
Time: January 30, 2013, 2:49 pm

The Daily Telegraph website is still free to users in the UK. The paywall for non-UK users was introduced in November 2012.

I find that the New York Times paywall (which kicks in after only 10 articles in any month) is easy to get round. I simply copy some of the text of any item on the home page (or one of the indexes) and then Google it. Works 90% of the time. Maybe that will work for the Telegraph.

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