“Content from the Web”

Most websites have them. Clickbait links that are randomly generated by affiliate marketing programs like Google’s AdSense. Here’s an example from one of my favorite news aggregators, Newser.com:


This isn’t content; every single one of these are advertisements, and direct users to deceptive or disreputable websites.

These links lead to the following websites, from left to right and top to bottom:

1) Instantcheckmate.com: Flagged by WOT for spam and scam. Sample comment: “Started receiving huge amounts of spam immediately after they got my email. Luckily I did not give my credit card details to these scammers!

2) TotalLifeGuru selling a product called Test X180 Ignite. Your “free sample” will cost you $4.99 S&H, for which payment you will be required to provide your credit card information. Per their terms and conditions, you will automatically be enrolled as a “member” in their Test X180 Ignite VIP Membership Program. As a reward, 18 days later, and every 30 days thereafter you’ll get a new supply for only $79.95 plus $4.99 S&H plus tax. And you can be very, very sure that this program is either impossible or ferociously difficult to cancel. But they have your credit card, and those charges will keep coming, and coming, and coming, just like the Energizer Bunny.

3) Again, TotalLifeGuru recommending a penny auction site called Quibids. Flagged by WOT for scam, misleading claims or unethical, poor customer service experience, and others. Penny auction sites are a guaranteed money loser for all but a very few. From the AARP website:

“That $30 camera represents 3,000 bids. At a dollar a bid, the website could take in $3,000 on that auction item; not a bad haul for a $600 camera. However, even if you are the winner, you will likely end up paying more than the final sale price, depending on how many bids you submitted along the way. For example, if you placed 100 bids at a dollar each, your out-of-pocket will be $130. Still a good deal, but not as fantastic as it might appear at first.”

4) Weekly Financial Solutions recommending a loan program called “EasyLoanSite,” with the headline ”

Little-Known Government Lending Program Offers Ridiculously Low Mortgage Rates!

EasyLoanSite functions much the same way as “Lower My Bills;” in other words, they will gather as much personal information from you as you are willing to provide, “recommend” a few mortgage loan affiliates, and sell your information to every marketer in the world and a few on Rigel V. A sample comment over at ripoffreport.com

Filled out all the requested information to get an estimate of what I would save by refinancing my mortgage…when I get to the final screen they say “sorry we’re not able to help you but here’s a list of mortgage companies (ads) we recommend you contact.”

5) Again, TotalLifeGuru selling a product called Probioslim. Your “free sample” will cost you $2.99 S&H, for which payment you will be similarly required to provide your credit card information. Per their terms and conditions, you will automatically be enrolled as a “member” in their Probioslim VIP Membership Program (sounds very similar to the program mentioned above in No. 2.) Similarly, 18 days later, and every 30 days thereafter you’ll get a new supply for only $69.95 plus $4.99 S&H plus tax. The most unsettling part of this agreement is as follows:

I understand that this consumer transaction involves a negative option and that I may be liable for payment of future goods and services under the terms of the agreement if I fail to notify the supplier not to supply the goods or services described.

This is legalese authorizing the company to bill you for future shipments, even if you failed to read the fine print. Companies that operate in this manner have the ethics of a hungry honey badger, and should never be dealt with. Their products are also, in all likelihood, ineffective garbage with no discernible value.

6) Leads you to a long, noisy whiteboard presentation for Pimsleurapproach.com, about which I have already written on two occasions. The Pimsleur approach as marketed by Simon and Schuster is great. I love it as a springboard into a language. Pimsleurapproach.com, however, uses the same ghastly marketing techniques of offering you a cheap intro, followed by a membership program that will send you a new “evaluation” course every 60 days, for each of which you will be billed only four easy installments of $64.00 unless you cancel – which will be very hard to do. This bottom-feeder company thrives on those who don’t read the fine print and who won’t understand why their credit card is being billed for so much and so often.

7) One more TotalLifeGuru shill page for a vitamin called “GetAwayGrey.” A mix of common ingredients mixed with wild claims, this vitamin compound claims to reverse grey hair.


Stay away from such rubbish. It’s like taking sugar pills, but very expensive ones: $29.95 plus S&H for a month’s supply of worthless trash.

8) Lastly, another TotalLifeGuru web page hawking Kerafiber, junk you put on your head to minimize the look of balding. A recent user review at Amazon:

Clumpy, powdery and a waste of money. Would never leave the house with this on. Nothing natural looking about it.

At least this website doesn’t sign you up for a recurring and annoying autoship program without your consent. Regarding TotalLifeGuru, I wonder how many junk products his website shills for, and how much they get for redirecting traffic to these worthless products?

The bottom line is that every one of these “Content from the Web” links are worthless, deceptive and, to my way of thinking, unethical. Companies that value their reputation would do well to stay away from programs that inject such garbage onto their websites.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Net is a Myth


In a recent blog post about the feud between Peter Jackson and the Tolkien estate, it was stated,

Like many quarrels in Hollywood, the Tolkien/Warner Bros. spat can be narrowed down to an argument about money. Part of the author’s estate’s contract with the film studio said that a percentage of the profits from any adaptation of Tolkien’s work would go back to them, and it became a bit of a controversy following the release of The Lord of The Rings trilogy. The three movies made a reported $2.9 billion at the global box office, but when those box office totals were combined with project’s expenses, the studio claimed that the movie didn’t make a profit – thus reportedly shortchanging the Tolkien estate. In an interview with Le Monde back in 2012, Tolkien Estate lawyer Cathleen Blackburn recounted, “These hugely popular films apparently did not make any profit! We were receiving statements saying that the producers did not owe the Tolkien Estate a dime.”

This isn’t an entirely rare thing in Hollywood. In 2010, a net profit statement for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (another Warner Bros. film) was leaked and reported that despite the movie’s $934 million box office take, the studio actually lost $167 million when the final calculations were made.

A very revelatory post by The Furious D Show elaborates on the kind of jiggery-pokery that Hollywood studios engage in to avoid having to pay actors and other involved parties, and offers a few well-considered suggestions.

“A major summer blockbuster can, through the magic of ‘colourful accounting’ lose a fortune because the studio’s corporate parent lost money on cattle futures in Argentina. What survives this whittling, or to be more exact, hacking, is called the ‘net profit.’ Except there is never a net profit. The net is a myth. It’s a fantasy. It’s the corporate equivalent of bigfoot. Traces have been reported, but no one has ever actually caught one.”


Stop playing games with the money. Make a plan so that if the film really does make a profit on its own merits, that those profits are divided equitably among all involved. Trust me, playing with the books costs more money than it saves, ask Enron.

Pay actors what they’re worth. I’m not saying that you pay them scraps, but pay them a salary based on their real box-office appeal, not just the number of times Mary Hart drops their name or how many magazine covers they get. It has to be based on bums on seats, and if they are box-office gold, they’re profit more from a intelligently run profit sharing system and won’t demand the immense up front money.

Simplify the business plan. You see when studios offer a mission statement, they always talk about ‘paradigms’ and ‘maximizations’ and other pointless buzzwords that have nothing to do with making movies. The real business plan of a studio is to tell stories and sell stories. Remember that and you can’t go wrong.

For any rational human to believe that the Lord of the Rings, or any Harry Potter movie, actually lost money is to ask one to believe in the tooth fairy. Hollywood and their legions of accountants and attorneys would do well to go back to school for some remedial work in corporate ethics. But I’m not holding my breath.

The Old Wolf has spoken.