A number of fellow bloggers and friends have recently received appeals from seemingly unscrupulous individuals at for-profit startups and more established websites "to join their rapidly growing network of bloggers." In other words, they are trying to recruit bloggers to provide free content for their companies so the owners can make a profit.
The first one is from Mark Lyall. You can watch his intro here or on YouTube.
Subject: TPCOK, so he wants to reaggregate videos from other sites and feature blog posts by unpaid writers and students. For what? For free!! (and perhaps for promoting his seminar, Collective Momentum).
My Name is Mark Lyall, Psy.D. and I am a segment producer for The Psychological Channel. The Psychological Channel is a new website: www.thepsychologicalchannel.
comthat will be launching on or about September 1, 2008. This site will be streaming videos from various sites (youtube, Google video, etc.) that were hand picked for their educational, therapeutic, or scientific value. If you have a video on a topic, send us the name and the site it is hosted on. If you have a video and need assistance uploading it, feel free to contact me. The Psychological Channel will also have articles on different topics having to do with psychology (blogs), and a message board. We contacted you because we are looking for high quality content. Please feel free to submit any written material as a blog on any topic within your area of expertise. Materials that have already been published can only be used if what you send would constitute a different version of material than what has been previously published, so as not to be a copyright infringement [because he wants to own the copyright, apparently]. If you have students that you feel have done an outstanding job on a topic, have them submit it to us for a blog.
We are not looking for videos or blogs that advertise a service, however if they meet our criteria of having scientific or educational merit they may includes contact information.
After September feel free to participate on our message board.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me at:
Thanks for your attention.
Mark Lyall, Psy.D.
The Psychological Channel
Changing the world through communication
Maybe The Neurocritic is being too harsh here. The Psychological Channel hasn't even launched yet. He did expressly state that "We are not looking for videos or blogs that advertise a service" (at least in his appeal for writers and contributors).
It may turn out that The Psychological Channel will be a legitimate website that does not push an expensive 3-day seminar claiming to jumpstart your life by providing you "with the momentum to rewiring your brain the way that you want to have it wired."
But just call me jaded after reading the pitch from Dr. Geoff, who at present runs a chaotic site on Wellsphere called Dr. Geoff's MedBlog. The topics currently include plastic surgery, the Happiness Project, a long and highly technical review article on Lyme disease, dental hygiene, the treatment of Chiari malformation (with a case study on "Chiari syncope"). God knows who the audience is supposed to be.
On the WellMix 360beta page for occipital lesion, bizarrely, my recent post on the neural correlates of compulsive hoarding comes up as link number two under blogs on the right hand side:
The Neural Correlates of Compulsive HoardingThe post didn't have anything to do with occipital lesions at all! There's most definitely a splog-like aspect to some of the pages, including some that are obscene, others that are just funny (disco malaria and disturbed lyric). With this cursory knowledge base in mind, here's the pitch.
Negative correlations were observed in the left dorsal anterior cingulate gyrus, bilateral temporal cortex, bilateral dorsolateral/medial prefrontal regions, basal ganglia and parieto-occipital regions. These results were independent...
Geoffrey W. Rutledge MD, PhD wrote:Wellsphere, eh? You don't have to dig very far to find the dirt on that company. Let's start with Valleywag (Silicon Valley's Tech Gossip Rag) and a post titled Failure (from Tue Jul 31 2007):
I was searching for the best medical bloggers when I discovered your blog at http://a blog dot com. I want to tell you I think your writing is great. My name is Dr. Geoff Rutledge, and I've taught and practiced Internal and Emergency Medicine for over 25 years at Harvard and Stanford medical schools. I'm also the Chief Medical Information Officer at Wellsphere (www.wellsphere.com), where we are building a network of the web's leading health bloggers, and I think you would be a great addition.
Wellsphere is a fast growing, next-generation online platform that is revolutionizing the way people find and share health and healthy living information and services. Our platform connects millions of users with the valuable insights and knowledge from health leaders and knowledgeable [GULLIBLE AND UNPAID] writers like you [WHO WILL PROVIDE FREE CONTENT ON OUR FOR-PROFIT WEBSITE].
We are now launching a new health community on Mental Health, and I would like to invite you to be a featured blogger for this community. By joining our network of hundreds of leading health and healthy living bloggers, you will be in great company, and will benefit from exposure to the expanded audience of the Wellsphere community. When you join, we also will feature you on our very popular WellBlog (http://www.wellsphere.com/blog.s), with a link back to your blog.
We will republish the postings you've already written for you, and feature them not only on the Mental Health community pages of the site, but also within a new dynamic magazine-like Wellsphere360 section, where we give users a comprehensive view of expert information, news, videos, local resources, and member postings on topics you write about. Your profile page on the site will give you special status as a featured blogger in the Mental Health community. If you are an active contributor, we also will feature you on our homepage at www.wellsphere.com.
By connecting to the Wellsphere platform, you will greatly expand the audience for your postings and attract additional readers to your blog. Also, your posts will link back to your blog, so you will benefit from Wellsphere's high ranking and large readership interested in your topic, which will give you more traffic, additional relevant audience, and a higher ranking for your blog.
If you would like to be a featured blogger in the Mental Health community, just send me an email to Dr.Rutledge@wellsphere.com. You can see a sample of a Wellsphere360 special section at http://www.wellsphere.com/Wellsphere360/diabetes-type-2.htm
Geoffrey W. Rutledge MD, PhD
Chief Medical Information Officer
Wellsphere, an Internet-health startup, gets the velvet-glove treatment from TechCrunch — and a savage expose from Uncov [i.e. Ted Dziuba]. An ex-employee emails Valleywag to add this about Wellsphere CEO Ron Gutman: "The most despicable human being I've ever come into contact with."Uncov in its previous incarnation is defunct, but that site made Valleywag look like a proper English grandmother at high tea. One can find the remnants of a comment thread on Wellsphere Is On Its Way Out. But it's better to check out the comments on this post, Getting Drunk & Healthy with Wellsphere:
SnakeOil said:You can also read a number of comments from disgruntled former employees and warnings against being conned by the CEO. The most succinct:
Let's review: you throw a big launch party, stick a video on YouTube, have the same positive and upbeat posters on VentureBeat and TechCrunch, and have a Website full of bugs and limited functionality…
This is professional PR management and not true grass roots community excitement over an innovative and exciting site. Look elsewhere folks. You're being taken advantage of.
RealityBites said:Wellsphere initially received funding from Gemini, an Israeli venture capital investment firm, but it's not clear whether that's still the case. There's more dirt here (scroll down to the entry Wellsphere Is On Its Way Out, October 22nd, 2007):
Ron Gutman has hurt so many people I know, it's high time people become aware of it. He is a pathological liar who will manipulate and fabricate without hesitation. COMMUNITY BEWARE!!
...It's a catastrophic failure of a "wellness portal", done up in the typical Web 2.0 fashion. However, all of the busting we've done on Wellsphere has been on its management team, whose collective business incompetence borders on mental defect.. . .July 30, 2007: We smack Wellsphere's shit down after sitting down to lunch with a bunch of informants. Same day: one of our readers finds a bunch of XSS holes in Wellsphere. Much win is had by all. Next day: The second part of Uncov's punishment of Wellsphere goes live. August 2, 2007: Wellsphere's psychopathic management team raids the comments on both Uncov articles, and a quick post at our prison-bitch site, Valleywag...What's a blogger to do when receiving a request to join such a network? The Assertive Cancer Patient (Jeanne Sather) has a great post where she reproduces a series of e-mails, including Dr. Geoff's pitch and her initial reply. It's rather amusing. Here's how she introduces the exchange:
Wellsphere: Use the Content of My Blog for Free? (I Don't Think So ...)$3,000 a month sounds about right to me... NeuroValleywag, are you listening?
Every so often, I get an e-mail from someone who is starting up a new Web site and wants to use the content of my blog, for free.I'm always pretty amazed by these folks--they want to use my blog, which I've spent countless hours writing, and not compensate me for it. This is my intellectual property, after all. It's how I make my living.Their pitch usually includes something about how MY blog will benefit from the wider readership of THEIR Web site, but in fact, the reverse is probably true: Their Web site would benefit from having my content.So I always say no, but, just for fun, I always tell them first that I'm willing to discuss it if they are willing to pay. I think a retainer of $3,000 a month is about right for the use of any and all content on my blog.
ADDENDUM: The Psychological Channel and Wellsphere are not related in any way. Just thought I'd clear up any confusion on the matter, in case that was unclear in this post.
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