Not in the wine trade but want to post my URL!

February 10th, 2010

Spam. From: dynamixsolutions.com

Spam.

How open is the OpenWine Consortium? So open that it is becoming a popular community to post your profile and URLs – regardless how unrelated your business and web site are to wine. I take no pleasure in making this criticism. As one of the first admins of the community, I worked very hard to promote it because I believed in its potential. I believe in the OWC’s potential, but the community needs some TLC to realize that potential.

At the top of the list of what needs to be done, is active elimination of  the “spammy” profiles that increasingly pop up on the OWC. On the morning of February 9th, I reviewed the 63 most recently created OWC profiles (pages: one through three). Eleven are clearly bogus profiles and one is in the grey zone. Numerous others lack a bio, an “about” section or a link to a web site and their creators seem to be inactive.

Most of these profiles have some form of profile picture. The majority use some sort of candid or head shot photo – not infrequently of a young, attractive woman with a welcoming smile. I wanted to spotlight a few of the more intriguing.

On the first page, seven of the 21 members seem to be not even remotely involved in the wine business or other ancillary industries:

Take, for instance, Claire Smith who identifies herself as a “Winery” but her profile promotes a “modern contemporary sofa sectional set couch traditional fabric leather beige black white” and links to a blog about leather furniture. I guess it’s stain-resistant leather for those who frequently entertain with wine…

Emily Murphy, who says she is an architect, lists “practicing yoga and tantus feeldoe positions” among her hobbies. She really wants you to see the glass dildos she handcrafts as well as her collection of lesbian toys and memorabilia (all for sale, of course). Fascinating stuff… I wonder if those glass doodads can rapidly soften a harsh red when inserted into the glass…

Then there is the lovely Alexa Grim (a.k.a ~Business Lawyer~), who describes herself as “Press, Blogger, Other”, but her scant bio links to what appears to be a London-based business law practice. But wait! She either has a twin or has set up another profile with the same head shot under the name of Ayesha Stampler, where she describes herself as “Other”. Ayesha wants you to know about the Esani Institute (a beauty school in Atlanta) as well as other cosmetology-related sites. Twins. Every man’s fantasy. One could do my mani-pedi while the other takes care of my branding documentation…

Dan Dole, says he is a “Vineyard Owner” and his passion is working from home. He tells us about schemes where “you can earn cash by filling out surveys” and goes on to tell us: “i know if it helped me, it can definitely help you“. Well, filling out surveys is like commenting on blogs. Maybe it will prove to be more lucrative…

Rosy-cheeked Fely Mage is a “Winery” in San Antonio, TX. She wants you to buy fishing tackle and she provides an overseas telephone number. I think the connection to wine here is that you save the the swim bladders from the fish you catch with the bait and tackle and exchange them for a discount. Fely will, in turn, extract isinglass from those bladders…

John Groom says he is “Not in the wine trade but want to learn!”. This “regular guy that have a great interest in wine industry” says he “will be getting married in a month’s time” and wants us to know about a site which “make[s] the preparation of the wedding slightly easier as I need to prepare my groom speeches“. Mazal tov, John, I say. May I recommend that you connect with winesforawedding.com?…

On page two, one profile is particularly…”perplexing”.

Justin Kemp’s avatar suggests he may be a “Gen-Y’er”. Among the things most important to him are: mail order male enhancement pills, ordering movies from a popular online service and teeth whitening. Tubular…

There are seven profiles on page two which have no bio or “about me” info beyond describing themselves as “other”, “not in trade”, “winery”, “services” or “distributor”. Although their profiles seem legit, if incomplete (including no link to their web site), these people have not participated in any discussion or other OWC activity.

Finally, page three:

The “Grape Grower” named “roulette 27″ is from Sacramento. His real name is Jack. He is also a “programmer in a private concern“. He says he is: “damp fond of playing craps roulette table. It is very interesting and makes me passion over it while it starts playing. So, I enjoy the to fed up with this game. Thecraps roulette table is a type in the game.The roulette or crapsis a mind refreshment game.” What Jack won’t tell you is that he also runs engrish.com…

Rebecca Hill describes herself as a “Retailer, Other”. She says she is “a gadget guru and fan of desk toys, office toys, and all geek stuff!“. She wants you to go to her sites and buy Office Toys, Geek Shirts and Unique Gifts. Hers looks like a legit business site. She may even be into wine, but it’s hard to tell because I can’t find any evidence of her interaction on the site. As for the relevance of her business to the mission of the OWC: I guess with wine sales so slow, the cellar staff needs something to keep their hands (and minds) busy. Idle hands and all…

Joe Dean is a “Blogger” who says he’s “just a guy trying to make it on my own and doing ok in that area“. He wants us to know about Forex trading, video game testing and online movie rentals. Either his business is in a slump or his priorities are not on quality grapes (he is in the Sacramento area, after all)…

Perry N. Lunn is a casual guy who checked off the “Tech Company” and “Other” boxes when creating his profile. He sells discount nutritional supplements and says he’s on OWC for “just meeting good friends! I think Life is something that everyone should try at least“. I concur…

What was to be THE online wine biz community continues to stagnate. As my recent review of membership illustrates, it is becoming increasingly cluttered with spam profiles. These profiles exist only for one of two purposes: 1) to post a link to another site (unrelated to wine) on an existing site or, 2) to spam OWC members (which, in all fairness, is a rare occurrence). I know there are members of the OWC who engage in socializing and networking. I know the Wine Blogging Awards are coming down the pipes. But is this all we should expect from the OWC?

Before any leadership or movement can emerge at the OWC, the site has to be monitored and administrated more closely. Bogus, “spammy” profiles diminish the quality of the site by diluting the membership.

UPDATE: 2/11/2010

Since this post was published, the mentioned profiles have no been removed. Three more interesting profiles have been created: one about iPad news, another promoting Work-At-Home jobs and one selling muscle relaxants without prescriptions online.

UPDATE: 2/16/2010

They just keep coming. These fake profiles keep sprouting up on the OWC and I no longer want to keep count.

(Channeling Jack Cafferty): Question: Do you think it was a good idea for Tom Wark to hand over the Wine Blog Awards to to the OWC?

 

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One Response to “Not in the wine trade but want to post my URL!”

  1. Burgundiva Says:

    But indeed there is a connection! You can get tips about male enhancement pills (and other miscellaneous “wellbeing” products) along with advice about Valentine’s Day champagnes. It’s like one-stop shopping.


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