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Is FREEBIE bookshop a scam?

Discussion in 'Products & Tools' started by Linkbacker, Apr 8, 2005.

  1. T0PS3O

    T0PS3O Feel Good PLC

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    #41
    There's a huuuge difference in voicing your opinion about the software in question and calling him the bad stuff you just did. If you think the software is crap, fine. But that doesn't give you the right to call Eric a scammer, cheat and a rip-off.

    There's only 1 mistake and that's the coding error outlined above. Even if it isn't an error but done intentionally then it still works as described on the site apart from the bonus 50%. That would be similar as Shawn pulling the plug on Co-op referals and me calling him those bad things because I will loose out big time then.

    A sitewide link back is fine IMO for free stuff. Not many people show appreciation for hard work by programmers. If a forced link back is something to at least gain a bit out of it then I'm perfectly fine with it. OsCommerce pretty much makes me give them a sitewide. Most professional Open Source actually does.

    I hope your own version proves you're not the unthankful spoiled asshole who expects a mountain of gold for nothing in return you look like. You ringing him is a start at least...SEMrush
     
    T0PS3O, Apr 9, 2005 IP
    SEMrush
  2. leeds1

    leeds1 Peon

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    #42
    I would say owlcroft's intentions were 100% good for the seo community

    I just think there may be a coding error somewhere that does not split the profits (as I found out -- see the seo-guy link)

    Not intentional at all I believe -- a genuine mistake

    If others have emailed/ telephoned, I am sure he will be here with explanations
     
    leeds1, Apr 9, 2005 IP
  3. Bulldog San

    Bulldog San Peon

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    #43
    If I've got thousands of pages indexed by Google and all of those pages have Digitalpoint Co-op ads on them, my weight is significantly increased. So the number of links back to me increases significantly.
     
    Bulldog San, Apr 9, 2005 IP
    Epica likes this.
  4. ferret77

    ferret77 Heretic

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    #44
    its a very common coding error and for some reason it doesn't register when you look thru the code

    I actually spent a little while the other day, scratching my head wondering why some code did work for the same reason
     
    ferret77, Apr 9, 2005 IP
  5. T0PS3O

    T0PS3O Feel Good PLC

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    #45
    I can confirm that. Coding 100s of lines daily myself, forgetting the second = is as common as a closing ', ", } or ?> . And very annoying indeed because it doesn't break per se so it sits there silently working in a way you didn't expect without spitting out useful errors.
     
    T0PS3O, Apr 9, 2005 IP
  6. noppid

    noppid gunnin' for the quota

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    #46
    This guy bills himself as an SEO expert.

    NOFOLLOW tags in all the links but his.

    Munged keywords. All your keywords. In quotes, with dashes, preceeded by special characters. In text and anchors. But no quotes on his keywords. If special characters are good, Then when we see a member with an anchor that has a seperator in the anchor and not before or after it, why do we tell them to fix it?

    The 50-50 not working. Again this is a "mistake" by a guy that was able to make sure he used === to properly get error returns. That's a good understanding of things by example. Has he ever, or you ever, tested the code by refreshing a page to see if your associate ID came up? I'd expect him to at the very least. Come on here folks, he's an expert, of course he tested.

    Then there's the double DDOS threat. He totally dismisses it. Well if you do too and you let this code hang out live on your site, that's just foolish.

    Experts do not make these mistakes.

    Phone home code. Why is this necessary? Is a back link that important that you police where your code is to that degree when it's free? Well if we go by example, of course you do. As exibited, the guy that changed his code to his advantage for profit of his own, was called out to remove the store. The author is just not happy with a link back only.

    FREEBIE is no freebie.

    Of course he has the rights to call the license agreement, but let's be real frank about what you get folks with that agreement, it's not free.

    An educated consumer is our best...
     
    noppid, Apr 9, 2005 IP
  7. anthonycea

    anthonycea Banned

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    #47
    Very interesting thread guys, but please stick to facts and stay away from insults so we do not ruin this thread :eek:
     
    anthonycea, Apr 9, 2005 IP
  8. Jim bob 9 pants

    Jim bob 9 pants Peon

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    #48
    Could you please explain this to me!
     
    Jim bob 9 pants, Apr 9, 2005 IP
  9. noppid

    noppid gunnin' for the quota

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    #49
    I dunno, when I code, I force my conditions to see the errors and functions work.

    Missing a 50-50 that is so easily tested is silly. It's advertised as doing so, how could it get to release if that was not a fact?

    I feel like a fool for assumimg it worked. But I've since read alot of the code.

    First the not follows, then the complaints of months and no indexed pages, then the 50-50 thing. What's up with the munging of the keywords? Does someone recomend this somewhere?

    I spent about two weeks playing with this code and getting what I thought was a nice add on. Damn right I'm ticked off at how naieve I was.

    I coded a new shop backend in about 12 hours, I spent more customizing FREEBIE then that.

    I've said all I've had to say on this. I've told the author on the phone of some of my concerns. I won't mock the product, it's a great idea, I will however stand by my explainations of the above matters as written.

    I now move on to positive things, I look forward to the same for those of you using FREEBIE.
     
    noppid, Apr 9, 2005 IP
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  10. T0PS3O

    T0PS3O Feel Good PLC

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    #50
    I just inspected the no follows, they seem logical to me. All the W3C, FireFox and Amazon links are nofollowed. Makes sense coz that leaves more link popularity for those 2 types of links that do matter. First of all the links to the person who uses the script including the links back to the homepage and secondly the links to the script author's pages. Fair enough.

    I've explained the "" above; they don't make a difference for ranking and they make sense from a readability point of view. They aren't even in links I've seen. I only see them in the titles.

    You just don't get the point of this software. Use Amaxoop or indeed write your own stuff without making stupid allegations if you want it to do something it wasn't designed to do.
     
    T0PS3O, Apr 9, 2005 IP
  11. noppid

    noppid gunnin' for the quota

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    #51
    Well that's cool and I said I was done, but I went off to read the amazon TOS before I release any code. I found this real interesting.

    I won't address stupid in light of the evidence in this thread and how ironic that sounds.

    Seems to me that's says an a product can't be made that has other people make money for you.

    It also says you can't pull pricing without being an asscoiate if I read it right. So he can't share his store as a term of agreement IMO. But I'm no lawyer.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.htm...TF8&node=3440661&no=3434651&me=A36L942TSJ2AJA
     
    noppid, Apr 9, 2005 IP
  12. T0PS3O

    T0PS3O Feel Good PLC

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    #52
    So you basically accept defeat on most if not all of your allegations and now look desperately to find at least something to have a go at this guy...

    8 says you have to be an authorized participant which he is.
    9 says you may not use the returned data for spam.
     
    T0PS3O, Apr 9, 2005 IP
  13. noppid

    noppid gunnin' for the quota

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    #53
    What planet are you on? I'm not defeated, you have defeated yourself falling to this guy's feet. Put your pride aside and try to absorb this, you were advertising and providing profit for this guy for a few pages of content. If you are that desparate to run a site that you would promote someone else to profit at that level, you need to take a new biz course.

    When your hero addresses my points, in his software, not verbally, then maybe we'll have someting here. For now it's a scammer that got caught IMO and all of you people that used or now use his software are his huckleberries.

    TOS aside, I'm not gonna try and play lawyer, but I will play software police, I mean after all we have an adsense cop! :p

    Good luck.
     
    noppid, Apr 10, 2005 IP
  14. Owlcroft

    Owlcroft Peon

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    #54
    Fortunately, someone was kind enough to email me about the existence of this thread, which I might not have otherwise noticed for a long time as I have been very busy lately on a multitude of things unrelated to the internet.

    I have not even now had time to do more than glance at the first few posts. But I see that yes, there was a very small, very silly, but horribly devasting error in the coding.

    I have been working for some hours on what to do and how to do it, and have come up with the best I can. I have now sent the following message by email to everyone I know of that is or was a Freebie user, but I have no way to know how complete my mailing list is; it describes the situation and my response:

    Dear Webmaster:

    Our records indicate that you are using, or at one time were
    using, the "Freebie" site-augmentation package.

    I regret that I have found another serious problem, and this
    one affects all users: sales commissions, if any, were not
    being properly allocated. The programming error was tiny,
    and I'll explain it in a moment, but its consequences were
    huge; I cannot say how mortified I am.

    This is what I am doing to try to make reparations; if you
    have other suggestions, please let me know by email.

    The current release, 2.20, is available for download. It
    not only fixes the error, it provides for a 'payback', like
    this: you specify, in the usual main customization file
    (customize.inc) the date on which you first began using this
    package on your site. The package will calculate the time
    between then and the nominal fix date--which I am setting at
    12 April 2005, to give everyone a couple of days to get the
    upgrade installed--and it will then project an equal-length
    period past the fix date as a 'payback window' of time.
    Within that time window, you will receive 100% of any sales
    commissions (this all applies to both Amazon and ABE). You
    will thus have had a period of 0% and a period of equal
    duration of 100%, so in the end it will average to the
    claimed 50%. (But it thus behooves you to get the new
    version installed within a couple of days.)

    Naturally, the unscrupulous can, and some probably will,
    take advantage of this by lying about when they first
    installed the package. I cannot help that--and, in any
    event, all PHP-based packages, being straight text, are
    inherently liable to fiddling anyway--and I can think of no
    easier yet practical approach. I trust to your honesty, as
    I hope you still trust in mine. I know that most of you
    will not be able to pinpoint your start date: just make your
    best guess. (You could try the Wayback Machine site to see
    when you added the bookshop link to your pages.)

    What happened, for the curious, is devastatingly simple.
    In all the other programming languages I know (though I
    am not a master programmer), to check if two things are
    equal, one says, in more or less this form--

    if (x=y) then blah blah blah

    --but in PHP that does not _test_ if a is equal to b, but
    rather SETS x equal to y, as if it were a standalone
    statement, x = y. To test for equality in PHP, one has
    to say--

    if (x==y) then blah blah blah

    That second (and in some situations third, x===y) equals
    sign is necessary in PHP. I, at least, find it terribly
    easy to get that wrong, and do so several times a day every
    day in writing PHP code, and spend frustrating time tracking
    down the consequent errors.

    Here, there was no manifest error. When I first released
    this package for public use, I was, of course, very, very
    careful to be sure it was assigning commissions on the
    specified random 50-50 basis, and it was; since then, in the
    course of one or another upgrade, somehow the code got
    changed. The method used for assigning is very simple: the
    code generates a random number that is either 0 or 1:

    $dice=rand(0,1);

    It then assigns the possible commission for that visitor
    view based on which digit came up by saying:

    if ($dice==1) then blah blah else blah blah

    But at some point that was rewritten with a single equals
    sign, and the consequences evaded my notice.

    For that, I can only apologize deeply. I am trying to make
    reparations in the only way I can see practicable, and hope
    that you will stay with the package (especially now that
    some commissions might flow after all).

    (I will add that the cumlative net of all the packages out
    there was never very much, so there was no obvious cue to me
    that anything was wrong. I will also add that the very
    snippet of code that is defective was posted by me in public
    forums for the specific purpose of demonstrating how the
    script does its sharing out, and other people, who also know
    PHP, looked at it--and at their own copies of the package--
    and said, Yes, it does what he says. So I am not alone in
    being able to miss that detail, even when looking right at
    it.

    The Freebie download page remains:

    http://seo-toys.com/freebie-seo-package/freebie-package.shtml

    Be sure to read the package docfile Upgrading.html for more
    detail on this easy-to-do upgrade. Modify the new
    customize.inc file to match your old one, thewn add in, at
    the new Datum #12, your estimated start-of-use date, then
    just pour the new files over the old ones (excepting any you
    may have otherwise customized, such as .htm files).

    I very deeply regret this inconvenience. Thank you for your
    time in reviewing this email and your patience.

    I think that covers the bare situation. I will now take the time to read all the posts here, and will then have a further response.
     
    Owlcroft, Apr 10, 2005 IP
  15. Owlcroft

    Owlcroft Peon

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    #55
    Let me first re-state the basic idea of this package.

    It is designed to be a valid, legitimate (in Google sorts of senses) addition to any site that will add many thousands of unique pages, all changing frequently (both the uniqueness and the change derive in good part from the inclusion of all Amazon reader reviews of each book), and a good share of those pages--(ideally all, except that Amazon is quirky about some of the things it returns in keyword searches--plausibly related to your site's theme in a manner you expressly control by the search phrase you choose.

    The chief virtue of the package is its simplicity. I do not claim, and never have claimed, that this is the most exhaustively superior tool for selling Amazon products that there is or ever was. I don't know all the others, but I'd reckon it's not. What it is, though, is a tool that is very fast, simple, and easy to deploy and which requires virtually zero ongoing maintenance. You would probably spend much more time reading the exhaustive docfiles than actually installing the product, and all you need to enter to be off and running are a dozen simple data.

    I have, from the outset, been very, very open about what you were getting and especially about how the money, such as there might ever be, would work. No one has to take my word for any of this: you can visit the web site, you can visit the package's home page on that web site, you can use the Wayback Machine to look at earlier versions of those pages, and you can download the package and actually read the documentation files--and, it being PHP--review the code itself.

    Now to some specifics as posted on this thread:

    -----------------------------------------------


    Who searchs with quotes and bullets?

    Who cares? The words that are in quotation marks are the phrase you set as what Amazon will search on to find book titles for you to list. They are in quotation marks because otherwise--depending on the exact phrase--they can look rather silly in the midst of the page text in which they are set. (Not always, of course, but often enough--the occurrence of such cases is why they were added.) More to the point, those phrases are not intended, nor would any reasonable user think they were, to be a search-engine magnet. The chief SEO value of this package is that it adds many thousands of pages, each an information (and buy) page for a particular book that is, one hopes, plausibly relevant to your site's theme (but that depends on what Amazon returns for the search, which neither you nor I can fully control), and each with a link to your site's front page.

    (Those not well familiar with what we're talking about here can look at an "out-of-the-box" bookshop front page--and all else--right here , on my SEO Tools site; the search term used, because it returns about the wanted number of titles, is "The Web".)

    And, just by the way, the quotation marks in question appear in a file which the package docfiles make plain that you can and should customize to your own tastes, even though it works fine as is.


    The install files are a DDOS threat. I can go to any of your bookstores and run your install proceedures.

    Yes, indeed. You could also, with drastically less effort yet the same result, just do what most email harvesters do, take site pages as fast as you can. If someone is going to want to take the trouble to attack your site, are they going to use a generic method, or are they going to examine in detail the operation of a small package that not so very many people are using? You're just being silly, and I told you so before on another forum, which, I suspect, is why you're so hot to start trouble on this one.


    I submit the author should step up and make the playing field level for you

    The author has, from Day One, been extremely explicit as to exactly what the package does and doesn't do, and on exactly what he and you do and don't get out of it. If you, or anyone, doesn't like it, all you have to do is not use it. Jack Paar once remarked "I've never watched a television program I didn't like." Follow his approach.

    ----------------------------

    I think I found the bug in the code, that makes owlcrofts id appear all the time

    if ($dice=1) $myid=$owlcroft;

    it shoudl be $dice==1, which is a comparision $dice=1 will always be true because that sets the value of $dice equal to 1



    That, regrettably, is exactly correct. I was deeply shocked, and I have already posted here about what I have done to try to make it good to all prior users. I can assure you that, as it said in the email I sent those users I know of, the cumulative cash flow from all the sites using it has not been any great number, so there was noobvious clue that something had changed.

    If anyone has a more exact way of making things good than to extend an equal-time 100%-pay period, email me. That was the best I could come up with on short notice, and I wanted to get something in place at once.

    ----------------------------

    This must be a "mistake" just like the NOFOLLOW tags were? This guy is using you people, he's a rip off. There "I" said it.

    That's right, I cleverly planned it all out, putting in dozens of lines of related code just to disguise it all. I then added the fiendish touch of posting the exact little snippet of defective code on a public forum for the very purpose of showing how the division is done--what better way to hide it?--and all that anyone posted is "Yes, I looked, and he is indeed doing what he said", meaning that other eyes can overlook a missing extra equals sign, too.

    And what, pray tell, were the "nofollow" tags supposed to be doing to help me? They weren't there very long at all before getting fixed. How long this problem has been there, there is no way to know now. But, as I said, if you have a better fix in mind, email me.


    -----------------------------


    This guy bills himself as an SEO expert.

    RTFM. From the front page of my SEO-related site:


    I do not present myself as a major SEO expert. Of SEO, I can say what Will Rogers famously did: I only know what I read in the papers. For deep expertise, look to places like The SEO Guy (who has an SEO Forum), plus other SEO-related forums like the Digital Point Forums and SEO Chat Forums.​

    (Those are all links in the original.)


    -----------------------------

    So he can't share his store as a term of agreement IMO.

    The quoted passage from the Amazon TOS means, in simple English, that you can only use Amazon-obtained data to help sell Amazon products. And I am "an authorized participant in the Amazon Services Associates program and [am] using that data for the purposes of merchandising Amazon products on or within [my] Application..."

    They use "application" expressly because many people make derivative Amazon-selling products.


    -----------------------------


    Well, there it is. I am feeling rather bad about such a stupid mistake, so I am not full of my usual vinegar, but I will say that I am not overfond of being called vile names by people who can't even spell, yet who presume to sit in moral judgement on someone about whom, and, it appears, about whose product, they know little to nothing.

    I have put, by now, probably many hundreds of hours into this thing, and I can assure you that a cash flow substantially larger than even the erroneously high one to date doesn't come close, at any plausible hourly rate, to paying for what's already in there, not to speak of continuing future efforts at improvement. I do this thing more out of pride than anything, which is why an error so silly is so particularly painful.

    I have labored all my adult life to be honest and honorable, and if someone out there wants to call me a thief, why doesn't he hop on his tricycle and come out here and try saying it to my face?

    You reading this, judge these things for yourself.
     
    Owlcroft, Apr 10, 2005 IP
  16. anthonycea

    anthonycea Banned

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    #56
    Just by virtue of the effort you have made to respond to this matter and taking into consideration all of your past posts on this forum I take you at your word Owlcroft and hope that everyone else does also.

    You have always shown yourself as a man of great integrity around here and have always been a valuable contributor to Digital Point forums.

    Thanks for the explanation and we wish you the best in getting this thing all straightened out my friend.
     
    anthonycea, Apr 10, 2005 IP
  17. Owlcroft

    Owlcroft Peon

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    #57
    I want to stop and say what I should have before, which is a heartfelt "Thank you" to those posting here who have been kind enough to suggest that they, too, have heard of people buying pencils that come with litle rubber things on the end, as opposed to the plain kind that the superhumanly perfect critics posting here apparently get by with.

    Again: thank you.
     
    Owlcroft, Apr 10, 2005 IP
  18. noppid

    noppid gunnin' for the quota

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    #58
    That statement pretty much sums up your concern I'm sure.

    I care and anyone using this for so called seo should.

    May we put your anchor in quotes and bullets if we use the store?
     
    noppid, Apr 10, 2005 IP
  19. Owlcroft

    Owlcroft Peon

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    #59
    Taking phrases wildly out of context is not a great enhancer of street cred on a forum, where the full, actual message is just a PgUp away from your continuing attempts at character assassination.

    I repeat here what I have said before: anyone interested in this matter can go direct to the source documents: the web page, the package docfiles, the actual PHP code. There are not--and, by the nature of PHP, cannot be--any secrets.

    May we put your anchor in quotes and bullets if we use the store?

    What you may do is use the thing as it comes to you or not use it. That--along with some other things not so far away--seems pretty simple. Want double your purchase price back?

    There are right ways and there are wrong ways of opening and of discussing questions about a product or a supplier. I leave it to those reading all this to decide for themselves which has been done by whom.

    (And, as many who have used the package know, I am always perfectly willing to assist, and to work out--even at great length--customizations for people, and have even done some entire installs for which the users have given me their logon information. Why not ask them what dire deeds this cheap thief, as you would have me, has done to them?)

    I could easily offer several sarcasms about why you persist in these personal attacks, but in fact I find it rather sad. You do not build yourself up by trying to cut others down: that is an ultimately futile path in life. You apparently want to consider yourself, or be considered by others, as some sort of expert on these matters. If so, then exhibit that expertise by intelligent propositions reasoned from definite data; don't just whine and turn vengeful because someone has suggested that your points are ill considered and improbable.

    If you can elucidate, for example, some persuasive argument that a would-be kiddyscript vandal is likely to hear of and spend some time examining an obscure package used by a small number of persons to discover potential vulnerabilities, especially when those vulnerabilities ultimately amount to nothing more than that an attacker can attempt a denial-of-service attack--which can be done to any site quite without any examination of any individual site pages--then set forth that argument.

    To say "This has potential DoS vulnerabilities", as if your mere word carries the argument ipse dixit, when the overwhelming preponderance of elementary common sense rises in repugnance against the thought, does not alone suffice. And to then, when those elementary points are made, take on a personal vendetta against the one who made them does not suggest mature adult reasoning at work.

    The recent Google patent document has, I think it safe to say, much augmented the long-held belief that large numbers of unique, real-content, frequently changing and reasonably relevant pages are a plus with Google; in any event, I can scarcely imagine any argument that they would be a minus. This package delivers such pages. It also can deliver a little income. I made a simple and silly but easily made and overlooked error; unlike some, when I discover an error, I don't try to pretend I didn't make it, and am somehow always in the right. I made the error, and I will be paying for it, literally, by restitution as best as I could see to arrange it.

    I might point out that a pro bono site that I do for a small-town rural history museum, where they have--from the site's inception about a year ago-- been custom hard-wired for 100% of the commissions, has so far accrued $29.74 in Amazon earnings. The site is a PR 4 and is on the first or second page (it varies day to day) of Google for the phrase "xxxx State museums" in a State with about 500 museums, many in major urban areas. There are two points here: first, a site with a dozen pages, however good (as I think they are), about a smalltown history museum doesn't get that kind of ranking without the bookshop; and second, there is not a lot of money at issue here, and I never suggested otherwise to anyone.

    Frankly, I am tired in engaging in a "When are you going to stop beating your wife?" dialogue with "noppid"; if he wants to continue ragging on this, fine; I no longer feel like repeating myself to him. If anyone else has something to ask me or tell me, I'll be tuning in here.
     
    Owlcroft, Apr 11, 2005 IP
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  20. Will.Spencer

    Will.Spencer NetBuilder

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    #60
    The bottom line for me is this:

    I own my computer.
    I choose what software I run on it.
    I take responsibility for those choices.

    In this case, we were even given the opportunity to read the source code. Such a deal we would not get from Microsoft!

    noppid, taking responsibility is not easy -- but it is a critical part of growing up.

    Owlcroft has stood up and taken responsibility for his screw-up. Done. Fixed. Over. I've made that same coding error myself -- more than once. Of course, that doesn't mean that we may not tease him mercilessly, but still...
     
    Will.Spencer, Apr 11, 2005 IP
    Epica likes this.