Ok, so. I have a blog. Blog lists an e-mail address. So I get SEO spam requests. "Dear R, I read your blogpost <url> and I really think it would benefit from the link to my post <url>".

The post being peddled is inevitably just dull or bullshit. It's only purpose is to rack SEO for the main domain, that always sells some shitty service or another.

I usually ignore such e-mails…

…but this time the guy is really persistent. And is getting on my nerves.

So, I have an idea. And I want to know how bad it is.

I want to respond with:

"""
Hi,

thanks for reaching out. My going rate for a link placed on my blog is $500USD, and I get to decide where and how I place it, and in what content. It will be placed in a regular blogpost on the blog in question, reachable by search engines, of course.

I require payment of the half of the sum (non-refundable) before I prepare the specific placement offer, for you to accept or reject.

(cont.)

Follow

The offer is final, and once rejected, I understand you are no longer interested in placing a link on my blog. At that point the initial payment is considered payment for my time and expertise in preparing the offer.

If you accept the placement offer, I will put the link on-line within 10 work days, and I will expect payment at the latest a month from it went online.

(cont.)

· · Web · 1 · 0 · 14

Please be advised that any further communication that is not a clear rejection of this deal as outlined herein will accrue a $50 processing fee; any such further communication amounts to acceptance of these terms.

Please let me know if these conditions are acceptable. I am looking forward to doing business with you.
"""

Now, the questions are:
1. is this clear enough such that when the guy is unhappy with my placement offer, he doesn't get to sue me for some bullshit;

(cont.)

2. will actually placing his link in a blogpost about how annoying SEO spam is and how bullshit the article in question is, still lead to his site getting the sweet sweet SEO juice?

What does fedi think? :thaenkin:

The annoying SEO spammer is back. Sending him this e-mail. Hold on to your socks.

I even found out their invoicing details and included them in the e-mail as "The invoice will be made out to...".

I fully expect never to hear from them again. And now I have a template for such dweebs.

So here's the big question: when I inevitably do not hear from them again, should I do a follow-up e-mail next week (they did 5 already)?

That would be funny, wouldn't it.

Just got another SEO spam e-mail and I kid you not the website in question (crypto peddling crap) has *glitches* in their huge header image, and Lorem Ipsum all over the place.

Sent them the e-mail, waiting impatiently for their response.

(never gonna come, I bet)

@lordbowlich @rysiek For completeness:
rel="nofollow ugc" referrerpolicy="no-referrer"

"nofollow": search engine crawlers are less likely to associate your site with theirs.
"ugc": user-generated content, i.e. they won't assume you actually included the link on purpose. Often used for comment sections
referrerpolicy="no-referrer": Do not send a "referer" (sic) header contianing your domain name when a user clicks the link, so they can't tell that users navigated to their site from yours.

Bonus points: add the "hidden" attribute to keep it from being rendered or showing up in the accessibility tree.
Extra bonus points: add fake google analytics url parameters ("utm_*") to the URL to mess with their analytics.

Visit the page a bunch of times from different IP addresses with an Internet Explorer 10 user agent. Spoof a fake URL to a sketchy Tor hidden service (.onion URL). Keep them on their toes.

Eventually, remove the URL from your site and report them to search engines as spam. Then share the URL on here (as a followers-only so it doesn't give them any link-building credibility) post so others can join in on the fun.

I get an email or two per week like this and I just might try something similar.

@rysiek I like the idea. You should go ahead and try it out.

Its biggest drawback is that your proposal is more solid than anything such SEO scum usually deal with.

My bet: 80% sure you’ll never hear back.

If you’d make your texts available as a template, I would consider that a service to humanity.

@kgerloff

> My bet: 80% sure you’ll never hear back.

This is a win. 😃

> If you’d make your texts available as a template, I would consider that a service to humanity.

Yeah, that's the plan, if I go through with it.

@rysiek You ask $500USD, but don't state for how long the link will be active on your site for that money. (E.g. is it for one year, is it longer, do they have to renew, what are conditions for renewal, what if you want/need to bring the link down sooner...)

For the rest I really really love the idea. One lesson in live I've had is to not say "no", but rather set out terms. This is exactly that. One problem here ofc is that I'm not sure about any legal aspect whatsoever here so I'd worry about that too.

@ilja yeah, I would add "the blogpost along with the link will stay online for at least a year".

The point is the blogpost with the link would talk about how shit it is anyway.

@rysiek This is thoughtful and beautiful and elegant.

My own impulse would have been to reply along the lines of “contact me again, ever, and I will find you and nail your testicles (if any) to your forehead.”

But you do you.

@rysiek I don’t know whether I’d recommend upping the price to try and get more out of this person or do it for dirt cheap so they’ll definitely go for it and you can article to your heart’s content 🤔

@afontaine that was the consideration for me also. Otherwise I'd go for 50k, why not.

@rysiek ref nofollow :-)

I like the idea, not sure he can't sue you though

@usul if he doesn't like the terms he is welcome to just walk away. In fact, he's encouraged to! 😉

Just thought any invoice should mention the project as "CAVEAT EMPTOR".

But honest question, what do you think he could sue me for? I assume that would be once he sees the placement offer and doesn't really like it?

@rysiek I think “any such further communication” wouldn’t actually hold up in court as having agreed to the terms, but I’m not sure. he could say maybe “he didn’t read that sentence” or whatever, and it’s not really a contract

@amatecha shrink-wrap licenses are a thing. Why am I expected to read and understand 15 pages of legal text to watch a cat video, but this guy can't be expected to read a 1.5 page e-mail response to his own unsolicited e-mail, right?

@amatecha come to think of it, I should add a shrink-wrap license to my blog, mentioning unsolicited SEO link spam, perhaps.

@rysiek considering how those e-mails are sent by an automated service, I don't think it will have any effect

@deshipu they are sent by automated service, but I'm expecting the replies to have a human eyes on them at least some of the time.

And do I care if these are automated e-mails? I have their domain, I have the link they want to post, I can find a way to invoice them the $50 for their automated response. 😉

@rysiek And then what? I get dozens of invoices sent to me by similar automated systems, and somehow I don't feel compelled to pay any of them at all.

All you achieve is having your e-mail marked as active.

@deshipu cool, cool. I'll still probably try it and see how it goes. Sounds potentially fun. You're welcome to disagree, of course.

just some rando outside ur jurisdiction 

@rysiek after the 50 day period interest should accrue at 12% p.a. (calc'd annually not in advance if u want people to do it in their heads)

i'd make it explicit that:

- the placement, context and meaning of the link shall be determined at your sole and absolute discretion

- there is no representation or warranty whatsoever as to whether the link is placed in a way that would imply an endorsement, or even fail to be an explicit or implied disparagement

just some rando outside ur jurisdiction 

@rysiek and any and all disputes must be subject only to the law of your jurisdiction and handled solely in the courts therein

just some rando outside ur jurisdiction 

@carcinopithecus hah, great points! Yes, jurisdiction is another thing I already thought of adding.

Interest bit is 😗 👌 , totally doing it.

The representation/warranty bit: I don't necessarily want the guy to run scared. I would love to actually get his dough for publishing the blogpost. So I wonder if it was enough to soften this a bit. Like:

"there is no r. or w. that the link as placed might not be seen as explicit or implied disparagement."

I'll have a thunk.

@rysiek Not if you specifically put that blogpost in your robots.txt file :blobthinkingsmirk: - You could have a whole category for asshole SEO spammers that's all robots-blackholed and rel=nofollow, if categories naturally appear in the URL for each post it would be pretty straightforward.

@rysiek I know someone in the UK who did the continued invoiced for each call from a company, to then sue in small claims court to have the judge double the cost to the defendant. Otherwise, I think I'd look at GDPR maybe

@oiyouyeahyou hah, so I guess it worked out for them? Good. Another reason to do it.

Yeah, no, the e-mail in question is publicly available on my blog, the GDPR angle is substantially weaker.

@rysiek yeah much so. Yhey did have some help from, I think, a para legal

@rysiek damn, I wish I could subscribe to fediverse thread in Mastodon

@kuba yes, this is a huge missing feature! I've had the same thought many times.

@kuba @rysiek this is something I always wanted the birdsite to have, too. A thread looks interesting, so let me follow it. Either just toots from the original author, or all toots in thread. Put those in my Notifications please and thank you.

@magnus919 @rysiek just gonna practice wishful thinking and cc @Gargron here. We know you had an extremely stressful week. You rock! No pressure. Just sharing our thoughts

@rysiek keep sending the invoice and threaten a collector lol

@DrWhax kek.

At some point it would edge too closely to "wire fraud" I'm afraid. Question is, where that point lies, exactly.

@rysiek IMO, when you don't hear from them again, you should put the template somewhere public (under a free license and maybe somewhere where people can provide feedback). When you *do* hear from them again, you may also put it public, but accompany it with an explanation of further steps to take (what channels are used to get the money, are extra contracts needed, any pitfalls to be aware of when doing this...). I'd love to see this become a more common thing.
Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon for Tech Folks

This Mastodon instance is for people interested in technology. Discussions aren't limited to technology, because tech folks shouldn't be limited to technology either!