Pimping the blog

Last week I received an email from one Taylor Dardan:

I wanted to send you a quick message, and see if I would be able to write a guest blog on your site. I am very passionate the health concerns that can endanger first responders. I am trying to raise the awareness of the many environmental toxins that first responders can come into contact with on a regular basis. I feel that I could write a compelling article that would be of great interest to the readers of Notes from Mosquito Hill (http://notesfrommosquitohill.com/).

Please feel free to email me back if this interests you.

I don’t publish a bare email address on this blog; this person (or bot?) took the time to fill out my contact form.  A few of the other bloggers I read have been approached by various people offering to create *fabulous* content for them, but this is a first for me.

As usual when something seems odd, my first stop was Google. I found articles by this Taylor Dardan person on multiple websites.  Mr. Dardan is alternately identified as he/she, and is described as “a cancer treatment advocate and extremely interested in insuring [sic] that cancer patients’ medical privacy is fully protected in our current healthcare system,” “a dedicated advocate of veteran’s benefits,” and “a brave soul that is bringing awareness to those that are unaware of the sacrifices that not only a soldier makes away at war but those they endure most times with the families upon their return home.” You will note that above he identifies himself as “very passionate the health concerns that can endanger first responders.”

Whoever this person is, he seems very dedicated to multiple causes including HIPAA, veterans’ benefits, “chemotherapy and natural forms of treatment,” and public safety among others.

Each article begins with a paragraph or two devoted to the core interests of the blog in question.  In paragraph three, we reach the dreaded (wait for it. . . . . . . . . . . )

MESOTHELIOMA.

All of the articles contain one link to the same website dedicated to information about the disease.  A brief bit of digging reveals that it is owned and operated by a major law firm, of the type most commonly seen on mid-afternoon TV commercials.

I was curious to see how far I could push it, so I sent the following reply:

I’m interested in your proposal, but I have a few questions first.

1.  Who are you?  What is your background?
2.  What is your message?
3.  Why not just start your own blog?  It’s cheap (free!) and easy.  I started with blogger.com years ago, and I often post links to other people’s work which I feel worthy of notice.
4.  Why me?  What can you tell me about me to prove you’re not a spambot?
and finally
5.  Not to sound crass, but what’s in it for me?  You seem interested in reaching my legions of fans with your message.  Where’s my benefit?
Awaiting your reply. . .
–James
The silence has been deafening.  I guess my legions of fans will just have to keep waiting for the miraculous message.

3 comments

  1. Zilla of the Resistance

    Wow. I’ve gotten almost the identical email from two different people AND a fellow blogger just got that same letter from Taylor but offering to write about a different topic. It seems that there is a generic template somewhere that these guest blogging hopefuls are sending out to everybody and just changing a few words! Here’s one of the queries I’ve gotten:

    Dear Zilla,

    I wanted to send you a quick message, and see if I
    would be able to write a guest blog on your site. I am very passionate
    about our nation’s fiscal responsibility and believe that under our
    current administration, key budgets have been slashed in favor of trendy
    “green” environmental policies. I feel that I could write a compelling
    article that would be of great interest to the readers of Zilla of the
    Resistance (
    http://zillablog.marezilla.com/
    ).

    Please feel free to email me back if this interests you.

    That was a few months ago and I should have asked more questions but the article he sent looked good and I checked to make sure it wasn’t plagiarized and it wasn’t so I posted it. Then I saw the same thing article from him get posted to other blogs, which kind of annoyed me because I don’t want to publish duplicate stuff. And then just the other day another person sends me this:

    Dear Friends at Zilla of the Resistance,

    I am writing to you with
    a great interest in composing a guest blog for your website. I am a
    health, safety, and political advocate with a passion for economics and
    our nation’s fiscal responsibility. I believe that under our current
    administration, budgets have become lopsided in favor of trendy “green”
    environmental policies. In light of the recent push by the House GOP to
    curb some of the overzealous EPA regulations, I feel that I could write a
    compelling article that would be of great interest to the readers of (
    http://zillablog.marezilla.com/
    )

    Please feel free to email me back if this interests you.

    ***

    See what I mean? I’d really like to get to the bottom of this, as it smells like a scam but I can’t figure out what they have to gain from this, it’s not like I’d pay anyone. What do you think?

    I found your blog by doing a google search with a sentence from the weird form letters these people are sending out. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who sees something amiss.

    • mack505

      I’m not sure scam is the right word. The website seems designed to drive people toward the law firm, probably for some sort of class action.

      The blog posts all drive traffic toward the website. They are simply using well-meaning bloggers to drive business. ‘Guerilla marketing’ might be a better term. Still it’s not something I feel comfortable supporting.

      I suppose it’s like the Nigerian email scams. If 5% of their soliciations work, they make money.

      If you are exploring them, head over to Firegeezer.com and enter ‘mesothelioma’ into the search box. Bill has been dealing with them for a while, and some of it’s pretty funny.

      • Zilla of the Resistance

        Wow, THANK YOU for the explanation, it has been driving me crazy! The first one
        I got, the guy actually sent a decent original article, which I posted, and then
        I felt stupid when I got the same email from someone else and then another
        friend got the same email from different folks offering guest posts on slightly
        different topics & I started googling. Well no more guest posts for me unless
        it’s from a fellow blogger that I know & trust. I fear my vanity allowed me to
        be made into a rube, because it felt kind of neat to think that someone wanted
        to write at my lil blog. I’m reading Firegeezer’s stuff not, thank you for
        providing that link and for solving the mystery so I can get off my computer for
        the night.

        ________________________________