HostPapa Hosting Still Sucks: Now Extorts Customers

A few years back I blogged about HostPapa getting hit with a widespread hack that they lied to their customers about, and instead tried to blame on a non-existent WordPress security issue. More than just WordPress sites were affected, so obviously it was not that. It was most likely a cpanel bug that other hosting companies actually let their customers know about, and while they never did admit wrong eventually the sites stopped getting hit, so odds are they just quietly fixed it behind the scenes. However, since lying to your customers is bad form even if you eventually fix the problem, ever since then I have done my best to warn people against hosting with them. There are a ton of decent hosts out there at reasonable prices (my recommendation as always is Hostgator), so in this day and age there is no reason for anyone to go with (or stay with) one that gives crappy service.

A couple of days ago a woman named Kristina Birkhof (@sexypartyanimal) contacted me about helping her dehack her website, highclassbadass.com, since I clean hacked WordPress installations professionally. She said that HostPapa told her

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Best.Nigerian.Scam.EVER! (We gonna send you to jail if you don’t read this email, do you get me?)

I have seen some pretty off the wall Nigerian Scam letters in the past, but this one has to be one of the most amazing I have ever received. Reading through this is an anthropological goldmine of insight into just how disconnected the scammers in that country are from how life really works here in the US. The basic premise of the letter is that they are going to arrest me (through email, no less) if I don’t “read the attached email and comply”… but if I do they will send me $10 million. What a deal, huh? 😀 Oh, and on top of that these people are apparently under the impression that the Director of the FBI sends out arrest warrants to people via his personal AOL email address.

Here is the email in it’s entirety for your reading pleasure, as it came to me in an attachment actually named “warrant of arrest.txt”:

Read moreBest.Nigerian.Scam.EVER! (We gonna send you to jail if you don’t read this email, do you get me?)

Google Says “Fuck It” For The Christmas Season, Removes The Ability To Report AdSense Violations

Google Cant Hear You!

It has to be tough policing a program like AdSense. It must be exceptionally difficult during the holiday season, when the payoff to running scams grows so much more. It is so tough, in fact, that this year as the holiday shopping season grows near, with Black Friday just a few short days away, that apparently Google has finally decided to say “fuck it”, make it easier on themselves, just remove the ability for anyone to report any violations of the program whatsoever, and allow the scammers to have a field day in the mean time.

While Google may want to give the impression to their stockholders and the public that they have both the search engine spam and advertising program cheaters fully under control, the truth is that they rely quite a bit on reports from the community and consumers for both spam and AdSense violations. For any spam that they find, Google asks

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Matt Cutts Criticizes Deceptive Ads, Doesn’t Realize Google Is The One Serving Them

Yesterday over on Daggle.com Danny Sullivan published a post titled, Of Misleading Acai Berry Ads & Fake Editorial Sites. In the article Danny discuses a rising trend of deceptive marketing practices involving fake news sites, the way they rip people off with products they are selling, and the fact that authority sites such as the LA Times are the ones carrying these ads, lending them some credibility in the public eye. Danny states in the post that the ads showing are being served by Zedo, and that he wishes the ad network should raise it’s standards and not allow such blatantly misleading advertising:

Personally, I’d like to see Zedo up its standards for the type of ads it will accept. This type of junk shouldn’t be allowed. – Danny Sullivan

He’s right, too, the ad networks should be policing this type of deception, by all means. Matt Cutts, Google’s head of the web spam team, agrees. He tweeted about the story, and also

Read moreMatt Cutts Criticizes Deceptive Ads, Doesn’t Realize Google Is The One Serving Them

*Proof* That The New SEOmoz Tool Is At Least Half Accurate

There has been quite of bit of controversy over the past few days arising from the new LDA based tool recently released by SEOmoz. While there may have been some very well thought out, compelling arguments against giving this tool any credit whatsoever, I have to tell you that in my opinion no argument, no matter how well worded, is going to win over a good old fashioned demonstration.

I am a big one for testing, and test this tool I did. Now, I know, I may have voiced some opinions in the past as to my doubt of the sincerity of Rand Fishkin and the folks who run things over at SEOmoz, but regardless of what I said before, for me seeing is definitely believing. I plugged both the url for the post introducing the tool itself, along with the phrase

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I Finally Figured Out Who Jason Calacanis Reminds Me Of

In all of the discussions and posts about Jason Calacanis, whenever and wherever he replied to people calling him on his bullshit, it always had the same tired familiar ring to it. His statements have that tone that all scam artists and con men have utilized throughout the ages, professing their innocence despite the preponderance of evidence against them. Finally it hit me who it is that he sounds like when he is trying to defend his spammy sites…

Read moreI Finally Figured Out Who Jason Calacanis Reminds Me Of

zOMG! Jason Calacanis Lied Again?? Shocker!

Last Thursday, in response to Matt Cutts stating that he needed more than “arbitrary inurl searches” to sway him (which was in turn in response to a Hacker News submission about Mahalo and the plethora of keyword rich domains they were apparently building out) I wrote a post explaining in some detail how the latest Mahalo spam is in fact spam. I demonstrated in the post how Jason had developed a linkfarm which was being used as a link source back to Mahalo.com. It wasn’t just that the individual sites were all linking back to the mother site, which would in fact be normal, but also that the pages were linking back to specific pages within the main site, pages that in many cases had few, if any, links going to them aside from the ones from this linkfarm.

Each time it happens Matt’s defense of Mahalo spamming Google just gets more perplexing. In this latest round he started by saying that his job was not to have knee jerk reactions, as if Mahalo hadn’t already established a pattern of spamming over a long period of time, and that Matt is pretending he hadn’t already had a talk with Jason and told him that if he didn’t raise the bar with his site that Google would take action on Mahalo. From there it got even weirder – Matt looked at the linkfarm and basically told me that a) he didn’t care as long as it wasn’t passing link juice, and b) he’s the only one who could tell if that was the case.

I could have sworn that it was if you were caught trying to spam you were penalized, and you couldn’t get the penalty removed unless you promised not to do it again. Now, where did I get such a crazy and wild idea? Oh yeah, I remember now…

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Need Help Understanding The Latest Mahalo Spam?

On Tuesday of this week someone posted the following question to the Hacker News website: How long has Mahalo been using keyword domains like this? The link in the story points to a search in Google, [inurl:tip_guidelines mahalo]. The results of this query show a list of somewhere between 180 and 270 sites (Google doesn’t show all of them, just the first 184 or so) all belonging to Mahalo.com, all keyword rich domains, all using the Mahalo Answers platform, and all covering material that Mahalo.com already covers. I am sure most of you are familiar with that fact that Google labels sites that have little or no content and are designed to drive affiliate conversions as Thin Affiliate sites:

These sites usually have no original content and may be cookie-cutter sites or templates with no unique content. – Google Webmasters Tools Help, on sites Google does not like

These sites that Mahalo has started churning out, all that were apparently created just this year, would appear to be the AdSense version of the classic “thin affiliate” website.

I showed Matt Cutts the link to the search itself, and asked if he thought that the list of sites

Read moreNeed Help Understanding The Latest Mahalo Spam?

WordPress Hacking, Matt Mullenweg, And Some Screwed Up Priorities

I clean WordPress installations for people who have been hacked. I can help fix non-Wordpress sites as well, but since often times the way people find me is through the guide I wrote on how to fix WordPress after you’ve been hacked it turns out that’s what they need me to do for them a fair bit of the time. I have a process that I go through, and a specific set of things that I look for on every WordPress installation that I work on to make sure that it is indeed hacked, and to determine how bad the damage is. Different intrusions can leave various symptoms and clues as to how the hacker got in, and knowing this can be helpful in diagnosing the situation.

One of the hacks that has been around for a few years

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