Legal Donations Accepted...

[Update: I believe my case is closed, and thus I am no longer accepting donations. Thanks to everyone who helped me. If you would like to support free speech online please donate to EFF or Public Citizen. Optionally you may also want to read the EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers, Chilling Effects or CyberSLAPP, all of which are great resources.]

So I got the agreement paperwork today for Traffic Power to drop the lawsuit. I am not sure what parts of it I can share, and need to talk with a lawyer about it on that front.

I am unsure how adequately I can guarantee I could comply with it, especially since I believe this offer widened up a bit from what was shared over the phone. Although I think that is somewhat common in legal proceedings, I am not really comfortable with the document as it appears right now.

The hundreds of blog comments, blog posts, emails, forum posts, phone calls, articles, and other forms of communications I have seen or heard tell me that this is an issue that many people care about across the web.

This suit is not about Traffic Power. This suit is not about this blog. This suit is more about free speech, which is the very fabric that holds the web and democracy together. An issue far more important than I could ever pretend to be.

If I do not face this suit, then it is easier for the next person to get trampled. After all the support people have offered I do not think it is the right decision to tuck tail and run, especially since I am still unaware of what specifically is wrong - and never once has there been an attempt to tell me.

Not that I am by any means rich, but I have a bit of money. I know legal stuff can get costly really quickly though. I have been offered some pro bono representation, but I can not guarantee that it will go through, and those lawyers also recommend I hire the services of a commercial lawyer from Las Vegas.

Some of the people who care about this case and want to help with it are better lawyers than money can buy, but I believe they may end up busy juggling other cases and this lawsuit may require a local lawyer as well, at least off the start.

The 20 days are passing quickly, so I have no time to waste. Tomorrow I will try to hire a lawyer (as I have already talked to a few, so I can't imagine it will be hard to get one of them to accept the case if I have enough money, which I think I should - at least to get started).

There are some people who have already helped me a bunch for free. There time and attention is worth money and their help was available only via donations from others.

I am not sure how much people will donate, but if direct donations exceed legal costs for the Traffic Power case the remainder of the donations will be sent to organizations such as EFF and Public Citizen.

If you have more web reach than money a brief mention of what is going on may help more than a direct monetary donation. I don't want people donating if they are in bad financial shape (as I suspect this suit will not ruin my finacial health, especially if a couple of my closer friends donate). I also do not want donations from people who only sorta care about the issue of free speech online.

My quality of life has been greatly enriched by feedback others have gave me, and I don't want that feedback to go away because people are afraid to speak their minds.

If you have some spare cash, and/ or your livelihood or quality of life depends on free speech online please consider donating directly to one of the above listed charities.

Stuck in Ruts

Aug 18th

My internet connection was down for 4 or 5 days recently (due to a short in the line), and when I came back to it I did not feel that I missed that much (eek, what an underinspiring blogger).

It is kinda weird, because most any success I have ever had has came from the web, but sometimes I do not necissarily appreciate how fortunate I am, while other times I feel so lucky that I resist change at nearly any cost. Both of which are opposite extremes and probably a bit bad.

It is easy to think that what made you do well in the past will make you do well in the future, but that is not always true. While offline I did not go out link hunting, I created no new content, and did not post on any forums. Oddly enough my income was about the exact same as it was when I was online a bunch, which means that something outside of what I attributed my doing well for was causing my income.

Ultimately a lack of posting will lead to less visitors, a lower share of voice, and lower income, but sometimes it is worth changing things up a bit though. I think if I posted far less frequently and put far more thought into each word I would be more helpful to others and far better off myself.

At times I think I have gotten a bit ahead of myself, and realize that most any success I have had has come from friends my than myself. Recently I pissed one of them off really bad, and to her I say sorry.

I hope to be spending a bit less time on the web in the near future such that I am more efficient with the time that I do spend, and so I do not get stuck in ruts.

My customer of quality service has probably slid a bit recently due to downtime and deciding that I need to have a business model that makes sense. Some people send me like 40 emails that take a half hour each to answer, and that is a lot of work for one ebook purchase (although I am sure it leads to word of mouth marketing) but there has to be some balance to that.

I need to take time to re evaluate many of the things that I am doing such that I am not stuck in ruts and I need to make sure I do not piss off friends, because without them there really is little point to the web.

RSS Updates to SEO Book

So some people at Threadwatch suggested that I made RSS updates to my ebook available. If I did that, what is the best way to add security to the update mini site, and should I enable comments on the updates?

Max D Spilka & Traffic Power Cease and Desist Letter

Jul 27th

A while back I got a cease and desist letter from Traffic Power, citing an obscure federal law about hacking information systems which seemed less than relevant to my websites.

The only way I could have complied with it is if I shut my site down and gave them contact information of everyone I have ever contacted. Since it was impossible to comply without destroying my business model and potentially getting my friends and customers spammed or cold called I asked a friend about the situation.

A well known friend (I am not sure if he wants to be identified, but he knows who he is and to him I say thanks) asked them some questions, like why there were no specifics in the letter, etc. and Traffic Power backed down from their cease and desist position.

I have been told that other people recently got similar letters and I am not too pleased with the bully activity. When are these people going to learn? The whole reason I took well to the web is that it allowed me to avoid that sort of crap.

Some other sites have already caved to pressures from Traffic Power, but it is not something I intend on doing anytime soon. A copy of the cease and desist letter which now hangs on my wall is posted in the extended portion of this entry. Max D. Spilka, Chtd.
Attorney at Law
830 West Sahara Avenue, Suite 290
Las Vegas, Nevada 89117
Telephone (702) 933-5400
Fax (702)227-0799

June 10, 2005

(Via Certified Mail #7005 0390 0001 2059 5176 and U.S. Mail)

Aaron Wall
SEO Book.com
144 Dahlia Drive
State College, PA 16803

Re: Software Development and Investment of Nevada dba
Traffic-Power.com ("Traffic Power")

Dear Mr. Wall:
This office represents the above-named Traffic-Power and related
companies. It has come to our attention that on a website you control,
namely www.SEO Book..com, proprietary and confidential information
related to Traffic Power's business has been published. The published
information violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18
U.S.C. Sections 2510-2521, and is subject to certain contracts between
Traffic-Power and its former and/or current employees. The published
information has been pirated from Traffic Power and you have obtained
the information illegally, all of which you knew or should have known.

You are to cease and desist immediately from the same or any similar
activity. In the event you fail to do so, Traffic Power is prepared to
initiate litigation to obtain an injunction to enforce its rights. In
addition to obtaining an injunction, Traffic Power intends to seek
redress for any legal damages sustained, which damages could exceed
the sum of $1,000,000.00.

Finally, consistant with recent court rulings you may now be obligated
to disclose the source(s) of your information. Accordingly, within ten
(10) days of this letter, you are to do the following:

1. Provide a list of the sources of your information complete with
name, address, and telephone number; and,
2. Remove from www.SEO Book.com website all information relating to
Traffic-Power.

Your failure to do so will result in initiating the aformentioned litigation.

Govern yourself accordingly,

Max D. Spilka

MDS/kd
cc: Traffic-Power

Cleaning Out Domain Junk & Renewing Domain Names

Jun 20th

I recently chatted with a friend about domain names. I ended up deleting about a dozen of my domains. I could probably delete another 50 to 80 more and still be fine. It is almost like an addiction buying those things, and they are so hard to let go.

I also renewed some of my domains for many years, which I think is probably a good call, especially since search engines may look at a longer domain registration as a greater commitment and reward it with a greater level of trust. Ever so slightly higher rankings can land a few more customers, and just one good one pays for a decade of domain registration.

Have you renewed your registrations on your best sites and do you find it hard to let go of a domain name?

Piss Poor Usability in SEM Services: Overture & MSN Small Business Directory

Jun 20th

Overture:
I am sure I am the guy in the glass house throwing stones here, but why is it that after you get to the bottom of your Overture add listings page the button right there is the opposite of what you just did.

Like if you make 50 different listings the button there would be for the create one ad for all keywords, and the regular continue link would be a little lower over on the other side of the page. Click the more conveniently located button and erase your work. Yippie!

There are many other factors that make using Overture a purely frustrating experience, but that was just one example.

MSN Small Business Directory:
I can't log into my damn account because my one stupid proprietary MicroSoft account does not match up with the other stupid proprietary MicroSoft account. They give me some bullshit options to create security keys and other security garbage.

  • Why the hell did they give me one account if they already knew they wanted to migrate me over to their other dubious services?
  • Why is the migration wizard such a hunk of crap?

  • Why is the original SBD login stuff hidden away until after I tried my non matching Passport email account?
  • Why do I have to fill out a ton of forms to send an email for a personalized response when they really ought to know that their migration wizard is a hunk of crap from the feedback many people have surely already gave them?

Passport.net = hunk of shit. As a bonus I like how it disables the back button.

Here is an example of the login experience:

  • click the sign in button: nope. that's NOT your correct Passport details. Don't have a Passport account? try our supper cool migration wizard (and don't ask us why we wasted your time creating that other account. don't ask us why this process isn't seemless or automated).

  • thrown off by the Passport stuff you can forget your login details, so you click the I can't remember my bCentral password button.
  • that launches a help pop up with a couple options, namely:

    If you've lost or forgotten your bCentral password, go to the Password Retrieval Form, type your e-mail address, and then click the Submit button.

  • click that link and you wind up here, where they say "Type your registered e-mail address and click SUBMIT once."
  • they know they are migrating the account service over. at this point you have indicated that you do not know your password three times, so you enter your email information and think nothing of it. click submit.
  • the next page gives me drop down form options, where I have to specify account type, product, and problem, and then give them my email and information AGAIN.

I just sent them this feedback:

Complete hunk of shit usability IMHO. Bad enough to write a blog post about. I hate your migration wizard and am unsure what account I signed up with. If most business had this type of usability and customer interaction they would go bankrupt.

On Being Wrong...

So yesterday I posted about Corey Rudl dying, and a couple people sent me anonymous hate messages. I just posted about it on a group post in passing. I figured it would be interesting for some people, but I did not know the guy well. Some people took great offense to my mention, going so far as calling it pathetic.

My Corey Rudl Experience:
A while ago I bought his course because I was going to make a marketing review site. While I am interesting in marketing, I probably am no longer interested in creating such a site. I have not yet read his course, but I did watch the upsell DVD series.

I do find it interesting how attached many people were to him. But I also found the followthrough on some of his techniques less than desirable. For example:

  • After buying his course weeks later I got more emails asking me why I had not bought it yet

  • His DVD contained information about SEO that was nearly a decade outdated. Others have proved that you can make audio or videos that stay relevant as time passes. His info was generic and dated. He owed it to his customers to give them accurate information.
  • Occassionally when people order my ebook the order messes up. I tell them sorry and send them a download link promptly.

    After people copied my ebook and placed it on their site to sell or give away I bought Corey's ebook program to make it harder to steal and redistribute my ebook. I never got a download link. When I told them that I got an email telling me I was all screwed up and I needed to whitelist their email address.

  • I acted as though I was interested in buying a mentorship program that I probably did not need just to listen to the sales messages. I never followed through with it, because I ended up finding some of the hard sales techniques offensive.
  • When I got an affiliate check and letter the letter said "dear valued affiliate". how hard is it to personalize that? You already have my data if you are writing me a check.
  • One of my first SEO customers bought his affiliate software and course and whatnot. He was losing a ton of money. Within a couple months of meeting me that same customer started to make many thousands of dollars profit per month. At that point my personalized service cost less than what my friend considered old school outdated techniques. I was selling a service and not a dream.

Personal Biases:
The above was my own personal experience with what I knew of Corey Rudl. It does not necissarily make him good or bad, just states that my personal experience was not that great. He still got some of my money though, so he must have been doing something right.

I did admire how well recognized he was and how good he was at selling stuff. Often though many of the most successful people that sell courses, services, and products about living a dream grow detatched from reality.

Not saying that his stuff is bad, just that as time passes successful people tend to become detached from reality. I wrote an article about blinding success long before I was in any way successful (which I still don't really consider myself so today in the grand scheme of things). It is one of the things I fear most. In many markets you have to build a reputation before you can compete, but after you build that reputation the things that are true to you are not true to the average person. To me the just make quality content (without mentioning social interaction) advice many SEOs give parallels the problem of people forgetting where people came from.

Before I get any more hate mail for kicking a dead guy, that is not the goal of this post. The goal of this post is to show why my perceptions may not have matched some of my readers, and perhaps why his death did not mean as much to me as it did to some of the readers of this site.

Selling a Dream:
When people learn new subjects they need somewhere to start. Even if a large amount of the things I say are without tact or in some way wrong, hopefully I am generally helping people.

I think think the same way with Corey, but on a much larger scale. I am sure thousands of people are doing well due in large part to Corey's guidance.

With a decade of experience and front runner marketing techniques it makes sense that many people are attached to Corey and sad to see him go. The guy did die doing what he loved though, and most people who live to 100 do not expereince as much enjoyment as he probably did in his short life. Perhaps that is another reason I was not as sad as some people were about the issue. Most people never get to do what they really want to. At a young age he already did.

Sorry:
Was I wrong to post about Corey dying? I don't think so. Could it have been done with more compassion? Yes.

On another site I covered the topic more in depth, but I did not think that most readers of this blog would want in depth coverage.

When you get lots of readers and do not get lots of feedback it is easy to do things that offend some of them. If I offended you sorry. Here is a good thread about Corey if you want to post.

Editing & Deleting Old Posts. Hmm. What to do?

May 28th

So I just got an affiliate commission notification for a piece of SEO software that I thought was cool about a year ago, but no longer think is that great.

So the question is, how do you go about maintaining older posts. Is it ok to delete or edit profitable posts if you feel that they undermine your current credibility? Should you edit them? Should you delete them? Even if you do prune the past you will likely miss a few posts. Should you feel guilty because someone bought bunk software? Should you not feel guilty since the person ignored the post was a year old? Should you feel guilty editing or deleting them as though you are hiding your past?

This also reminds me about handing out recommendations and testimonials. It can be a great link and reputation building activity, but after stuff ages and loses its value (as SEO software is known to do) it could likely wear your credibility thin to endorse too many products. Many people who are eager for testimonials are also greedy hucksters who will make sure you pay for your endorsements. As a web marketer my reputation is by far and away the most valuable thing I have.

I am not afraid to admit that I am sometimes wrong or make lots of mistakes, but it does make little sense to leave errors that could and should be easy to fix, right? I think the forward going answer is to always be cautious and forward looking with your endorsements.

Am in the UK now. A few observations:

  • everyone uses the word "ish"

  • NFFC was wearing an eSpotting looking shirt. Clearly a reason to like FWHT :)
  • the Down Hall hotel is in a pretty cool remote setting
  • JasonD likes the Gaping Void t shirts
  • a bartender gave a mate 7-UP when they ordered a lemonade
  • they have street signs that say Queing
  • Gurtie does not like the nickname TheGurtster
  • Z is for some reason zed in the UK
  • Rumours have it DaveN was showing off his back end?
  • my friend argued that they drive on the right side of the road, but clear as day it is the left side

Just got done doing another update of my ebook right before I left, and would think everyone is really really cool if I sell a bunch of them while I am gone. Of course, they may be cool anyway, but like peanut butter, SEO Book makes everything better. Buy the book. Wear a smile ;)

Amazing Scoop... Passed Up

May 23rd

A major site is hiding a few ;) links. Tempted to gain the 50 - 100 links & readers I would have got from mentioning it, I bet on the side of good karma and sent them a kind email instead.

Hopefully they fix the issue before someone else posts on it, or I will be mad that I missed the scoop, and they still got screwed bad.

These hidden links could totally undermine the credibility of that site.

To give a hint of what is going on, in an internal message I intercepted

At the suggestion of Mike xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxx Website Development, I've used the CSS attribute "display:none"

The message continues:

This trick is, I'm told by Mike, who knows more about SEO than most, is search engine friendly.

Mike should be drug out in the street and shot. Not only for providing such bad advice, but for assuring them that its search engine friendly.

Chatting with Todd, he said:

you'll be reincarnated as an eagle rather than a hunk of donkey dung
damn...those links are workin' well too
did you check the rankings on some of those?

I sent them an email and Todd said:

nice....you will make a wonderful eagle;)
at least you can know you gave them a chance
it is a good story
but it is also enough to destroy an entire organization
who is probably 99% good

Will let you know how it goes.

Demystifying Depression

May 16th

Parts 1 & 2

While those articles are not directly associated with SEO, I know many SEOs who:

  • rarely sleep

  • rarely exercise
  • smoke & drink
  • have lots of caffiene
  • eat unhealthy
  • are under heavy stress
  • constantly multi task
  • etc.

I don't think depression is just a physical or psychological issue, but is deeply intertwined. The articles focus more on the physical reenforcing aspects of severe depression.

Before doing SEO I was in the Navy and then later a mid level manager for another company. At my prior jobs it was not uncommon to drive & work 80 (mid level manager guy) to 120 (Navy) hours a week. I also did much of my initial learning SEO / marketing / web while in that mid level management position (and got so many speeding tickets during that time period too).

When you are first getting started in SEO you may have to work long hours, and sometimes it can be hard to escape work when there is so much to learn and it rests just beyond the edge of your bed. This is especially true when the alternative is to go work for a company that wants to chew you up for all you are worth, and then fire you or go under before you get any benefits out of your retirement.

A few other things that make it easy to stretch yourself too far doing SEO are

  • that many times you do not have to leave the house or interact with society in general to get by

  • pricing SEO services can be somewhat hard, especially when you are new and do not appreciate the value of your services. about a year ago I had like $20,000 of credit card debt, which has since been joyfully erased.

I don't necissarily agree with everything those articles said (particularly the endorsement of the prescription drugs), but did find the articles interesting.

Hopefully this somewhat off topic post helps more people than it makes mad.

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