Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bad Arguments: Shill Reviews / Astroturfing

Fake Eyelashes
Fake Eyelashes, better than fake testimonials
EDIT(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
EDITOR'S NOTE: An expanded version of this post with even MORE "proof" can be found here.

Sometimes supporters of a particular scheme will basically write a review of a particular MLM, then at the end including a recruiting link, i.e. "join as my downline!"

That's about as smart as Nokia reviewing a Nokia phone.

Yes, that did happen. Nokia's advertising agency had an employee "Adam Fraser" who posted a positive review of Nokia Lumia 620... on Nokia's website. When questioned, he said the review is 100% true.

Buddy, the very fact that you WORK for Nokia's advertising agency should have stopped you from posting anything for Nokia purely due to "conflict of interest".

But that doesn't stop tens of thousands of various MLMers from doing exactly the same thing: review the scheme they're already in, use various bad arguments to imply it's not a scam, SAY it's not a scam, AND you'll make bazillion bucks with almost no work, and you should join as their downline (so they can make money off of you joining).

Welcome to the world of shills and astroturfers.

It is incredibly easy to appear to be an expert on the Internet... Just launch a website with some content. It doesn't even have to be real content. Steal some content off content farms is one way. Another way is simply clone your articles by basing them off the same template, using almost all the same words. For example, a "MLM review site" can just review multiple "opportunities" in a few hours using minimal effort. It doesn't even matter if you don't know anything about web design. Hire a freelancer for a few hundred off eLancer, and you'll have a website launched in one weekend.

Oh, but you say, if multiple people say the same thing, it should be right? Wrong again. Remember, "On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog."  Or in this case, it is very easy for one person to pretend to be different people. This is known as astroturfing. And even if they are NOT the same person, they operate in informal "cliques" (i.e. "marketing groups") that will offer testimonials for each other in an informal tit-for-tat (i.e. "if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours")

Now these schemers ran out of excuses right? Wrong. They invert reality. They claim that you have to join the scheme in order to talk about the scheme, and nobody "know" it like they do.  Why? Do funeral directors have to die first? Does corrections officer have to be criminals first? Sheesh!

Don't believe positive reviews just because they are positive reviews. You can BUY positive reviews and testimonials on Fiverr and other micro-job sites.

This sort of bad argument requires a bit of investigation and skepticism, as it's not a straight logical error, but rather, somewhat orchestrated low-level fraud. However, when low-level fraud is used to cover up high level fraud (like pyramid or Ponzi schemes) then perhaps they are all accessories.

Often, you will find certain people who simply push one scheme after another. Most of them will have failed. Certain message boards and communities cater to this sort of individuals, and you can often find evidence of whatever they pushed, and how did they turn out.

You can only accept that "oops my bad" so many times. If a person consistently and repeatedly promoted schemes of shady nature, why would you trust them ever again?

But you need to do your own research to find such "failures", as they will often "spin" their failures simply into "experience". They will claim "20+ years in Internet marketing". If you don't investigate, you may regret in not knowing that perhaps that really meant "20+ years of pushing 50+ losing schemes, several shut down taking participant's money, and a few even declared pyramid or Ponzi schemes by the government, so I can't pick schemes worth a ****".

Or worse, this "experienced" internet marketer may actually be RUNNING the scam, instead of merely recruiting for the scam as they claimed.

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