Money for nothing, and your clicks for free!

by | Nov 24, 2008 | Blogging, Crime, Economics, Philosophy, Technology, Worth Reading

I knew that website developers would go to great lengths to rise in Google rankings. What I didn’t know was just how far people were willing to go, till I received this email.

Note: I have deleted all the links and names, since that would be giving free publicity to the sites in question – something they are after.

I’m the webmaster of r a s m u s s e n [dot] e d u
I wanted to know if by any chance you would be interested in doing an unbiased review of our site [URL] on your blog
If you agree we will send you a payment for the review.
Please let me know if you are interested.
If you are interested please click here to receive your money: [LINK to a page on sepblogreview [dot] com with a long alpha-numeric identifier / parameter
If you want to receive more paid review proposals, just click the following link: [LINK deleted]
If you don’t want to ever receive mails from us, just click the following link: [LINK deleted]
If you have any questions just send a reply to this email.
Thank you

I was sufficiently intrigued that I clicked on the second link, the one that asked me if I was interested in getting some money and this is what the page told me:

We are interested in having a review of our product published on your blog.
The review doesn’t have to be positive, you are free to voice your opinion whether it’s good or bad. The review must at least 300 words long and contains at least 3 links pointing to the pages we will provide you and with the anchor text we will provide.
The website you will have to review is [Link]
The review must come from the blog

Here is more information about the product:
R a sm us sen College has educated people for more than a century and has taken revolutionary strides toward developing career-focused curriculum that will prepare you for your future career. [LINK]
We can send you money as payment for the review.
Click here [LINK] to recieve (sic) payment.

Now I was even more interested – so I clicked on the last link (despite the spelling mistake) and was redirected to a web-form, which asked me to write down the amount of money I would like to receive for the review. I was also warned that if the amount I requested was too high my offer would be rejected. There were other details such as the minimum length of the review (300 words), that it should have a certain number of links to the site being reviewed (at least 3), and that my review should be published within a specific time period (2 days of receipt of the money).

This is where I decided to stop clicking and started writing this post, wondering about the ethics of all this. Turns out that this is pretty standard procedure as this page indicates: How to buy blog reviews for SEO link building

Now I am as fond of free money as the other guy – but isn’t there something problematic about buying links? What would be a right price-point for me to feel ok about writing this review? I mean, all of us have a price, don’t we? Most interesting was the fact that the site in question didn’t care whether or not the review was positive or negative – what mattered was that the review would have three (at least) links! What a strange world we live in?

A few randomly selected blog posts…

Design for age, design for all

The NYTimes has a story (For the Advanced in Age, Easy-to-Use Technology) about companies that are creating tools that are "helping those in their 60s maintain their youthful self-images." What is interesting is that these technologies are typically not directly aimed...

TPACK Game On (or Precocious us)

I just discovered that Learning & Leading with Technology had an article, back in 2010, about the TPACK game. The TPACK game is something Matt, Judi Harris and I had come up with for the National Technology Leadership Summit in Washington DC, back in 2007. Matt...

Back from India…

Got back yesterday from a short, hectic but sweet trip to India. I had a wonderful time and still have a lot to do to just document all that happened and connect with all the people I met (hopefully over the next few weeks)... but now it is time to get back to fall...

TPCK, in the news

The TPCK work by Matt Koehler & myself is featured in the Winter 2008 issue of the New Educator, the magazine published by the College of Education at Michigan State University. You can download the full issue here [pdf], or just the article here [pdf]. Glen Bull,...

New Gandhi ambigram

The quest for a better design continues... Much better, I think, than my previous attempt

Top 10 tips for doctoral failure!

Tara Brabazon, professor of media studies at the University of Brighton, has an essay in the Times Higher Education, titled How not to write a PhD thesis, providing her top ten tips for doctoral failure. Though the essay is geared towards dissertations in media...

Goodbye 2016, Welcome 2017

Goodbye 2016, Welcome 2017

Since 2009, our family has made short videos to welcome the new year. These videos are great fun to create, often requiring days of discussion, planning, construction, shooting and editing. They are always typographical in nature, often with a visual twist...

TPACK in Science: New book & chapter

I was invited to write an epilogue for a new book on the development of science teachers TPACK (with a specific focus on East Asia), and I "volunteered" my colleague Danah Henriksen to help with it (thanks Danah). The book was recently published. Here is the citation...

New presentation tool

Todd Edwards at Miami University just told me about this new presentation tool called Prezi.... You have to see it to believe it. Just amazing. Check it out at


  1. mark green

    edu sites are considered to be very helpful for seo purposes so no wonder savvy marketers are willing to pay good money for those linx

  2. Eric Carter

    It’s so easy for many people to go for the fast money nowadays, and throw their ethics out the window. In the end it’s not worth it.

  3. jd webb

    Hey, thanks for this!

  4. Microsoft Cash Back

    Haha. I think that is only the tip of the iceberg as far as how far they are really willing to go.

  5. Link Building

    lol! i like the title and beleive in free clicks too. thats why i do seo on my site than spending money on PPC or any other paid adverting.

    btw, i’m a dire straits fan

  6. Ultratuga

    That´s a little scary indeed. Everyone wants more traffic and forget all about ethics. It´s hard to create a a trustable and respectable name online, so they keep looking for shortcuts and fast money only.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *