Friday, October 29, 2004

Comment Spammers: Internet Pigs and How They Feed

internet pigs and how they feed Posted by Hello

NOTICE: This is an exact copy of today's Vaspers the Grate web usability blog post. This topic is so important to users, blog and web site administrators, and the entire internet, I felt it needed maximum readership.

ABSTRACT (SUMMARY): Comment spam is irrelevant, unethical, offensive, or unwanted, typically commercial, message propagation on comment posting pages of blogs and web sites.

Comment spam is invading every interactive and community building functionality on the internet.

Here's what you need to do to protect yourself, and to help stop this unprecedented attack by these "internet pigs."

PERSONAL AGENDA: Comment spammers killed one of the best blog directories, Blizg, which enabled bloggers to paste meta-tags into their templates.

Comment spammers are killing my favorite art magazine discussion forum. It's time to launch a savage techno/psychological assault on these depraved idiots.


If you operate or regularly visit internet discussion forms hosted by online magazines or professional organizations, I'm sure you've seen this foul predator.

If you operate or regularly visit blogs, I'm sure you've encountered this disgusting fiend.

Comment spam!

You know--you're interested in a question, issue, or idea being discussed online. You click on (select) the "thread" (topic) and begin to read. You enjoy good user-generated content, which enriches the value of this web site.







(Then....) What??????


Ladies and gentlemen, may I have the distinct honor to introduce to you all the Next Big Thing in internet garbage, your new and relentlessly ruthless Enemy: COMMENT SPAM.


(1.) automatic irrelevant drivel generated by spambots (program code strings), generally signed "buy levitra" or some other dubious commercial crap, and usually accompanied by URLS

(2.) human created drivel, or too brief, generic, stilted comments ("Hello. This is my first time here. I read almost the whole article. Nice work on an interesting topic. Will return to read more later. (etc.)"), usually accompanied by URLs

(3.) lengthy irrelevant lists of domain names for sale, pornographic sites, municipal law codes, literary reviews, news items, etc.

(4.) comments that are extremely offensive or irrelevant and Off Topic (OT).

I'm not refering to just plain dumb and dumber comments.

I'm talking about nonsense, confusion, insincerity, gibberish, or cut and paste editorial that is totally irrelevant, if not X-rated sexual crap, race hatred, or partisan political frenzy lunacy.

I call these spurious commentors Internet Pigs.

The comment spammer Internet Pigs seethe with rage and loathing for people like me, who expose them and teach others how to identify, throttle, thwart, and harm them.


Usually this comment spam will have URLs (web addresses, starting with http://www.) attached at the bottom or embedded in the text.

This is done to get readers to click on (select) them and thus boost the comment spammers Search Engine Ranking to drive user traffic to their site, or the site of some company they are promoting.

Just posting these URLs will boost Search Engine ranking for the spammers.

Sometimes the destinations of the URLs, the web or blog entry addresses, are legitimate.

But the comment spam is not legitimate, not ethical, and will soon become totally ILLEGAL.

Some people whine and moan and wave their "freedom of expression" flags in the air like we have to salute them, no matter how ridiculous or offensive that expression may be.


Discussion forums and blogs are not dedicated to editorial anarachy or "freedom of expression" at the cost of integrity, decency, intelligence, and relevance to the topic thread.

Comment spammers use "copy and paste" (copy text from anywhere on the web, then paste it in a comment posting area) and "random text generators" (meaningless, garbled word salad, strings of words that may almost make sense, but go nowhere fast) to do their dirty work.

If you've ever accidentally opened a spam email, you've probably seen some random text: (EXAMPLE) "She shopped near the tree crumb bloat factory bread as many unseen fingernails succumbed to ill noticed color dimension airplane meanderings in the smoke flush dawn bleak report."

This nonsense wording is used to sound somewhat literate, thus fooling the spam and virus filters on your email program. The same thing occurs on comment posting pages of web sites.

Spambots and human comment spammers will use philosophy quotes, quotes from Hollywood stars, song lyrics, anything innocent sounding, to trick filters into thinking the comment is real, relevant user-generated content.

Or you'll see weird little hash marks, umlauts, or accent marks hovering over letters. Another method for tricking rhetoric/syntax/vocabulary based filters.

If a comment is repulsive, misleading, hate-mongering, trolling, baiting, stupid, or just plain off topic (OT) will, or should, be deleted forever.

Some comment spammers cry about "strange" comments being possibly innocent "art". Or simply innocent blog/web site promotion tactics.

Who are they trying to fool? You shouldn't promote anything, without at least contributing an intelligent, informative comment that adds to the overall thread conversation.

Comments are content. Not an opportunity to blabber stupidly or unethically.

My reply to this, from an actual comment I made on a art discussion forum:

"Comment spam has been defined and so has freedom of speech.

If you don't know the difference between spam and legitimate comments, between search engine ranking techniques and bonafide conversation--how charming and quaint your hicktown aesthetics are, so unspoilt by technical considerations.

A forum is not a chat room, nor a page rank booster, nor a free advertising arena."

I got lots of hostile, obscene, foul-mouthed, spam-comment replies to that announcement in the art discussion forum. Which proves how sick these spam perpetrators are.

Sometimes a blog commenter will post a comment with a alleged link to an article he wrote on a web site, but when you foolishly follow the link, you're taken to some page of the site that has nothing to do with the alleged article.

This too is comment spam.

Blog commentors: get your act together, please quit commenting sloppily--or you'll likely be considered an Internet Pig comment spammer.

According to Adam Kalsey, CTO of Pheedo, comment spam began at Usenet, migrated to Email, and now is viciously attacking Blogs and Discussion Forums.

Spammers are hitting Trackbacks, Blogrolls, Email This Article To A Friend, RSS Feeds, Guestbooks, any interactive functionality they can exploit to their greedy advantage.

Elise Bauer at the MT tutorial site has a good explanation of these different spamming methods and site vulnerabilities. She also has a great policy statement on deleting any comments she considers OT (Off Topic), ignorant, or simply insubstantial in regard to the topic being discussed. Hooray for lovely Elise!

The Internet Pig Comment Spammers must really dread having to flip burgers at McDonalds, selling appliances at Sears, or going to college to learn a skill.

I rank the skanky Internet Pigs almost as low as crack whores/pimps or pharmaceutical companies anxious to dope teenage Johnny for just being a normal, active, authority-questioning male.

Joi Ito asks in her blog: are blogs "parties" anyone can attend...or publications that may be strictly edited? Depends on the blog, but most are both to some degree.

But her blog article discussing comment spam has spam in comments #27 to #32, which I complained about in a comment posted to the discussion. I must await her approval before seeing my comment posted. Good for her! That's one good way to combat the Internet Pigs.

Photo Matt blog states in "Weeds in the Garden":

" a good read. Now scroll down to the comments. Dozens and dozens of spam comments. I see this over and over again on MT and s9y sites. What’s terrible is these pages are just as dangerous as dedicated spam blogs. Think about it: I shouldn’t even be linking to it now."

Blogging expert and pioneer Dave Winer thinks that comment posting in blogs is not vital. As far as I understand, blogs were originally just lists of URLs of interest, not random drivel about boring personal feelings and activities.

Mark Pilgrim of Dive Into Mark blog compares the two possible comment spam riddance solutions to The Club or Lojack approaches to prevent or punish car theft. It's a very good, heavily-linked (full of linked external resources) read for all you intellectuals out there.

Amy Gahran, sort of a protege of Jakob Nielsen, discusses comment spam in her Contentious blog.

Jay Allen, Jeremy Zawodny, WIRED magazine, Steven Berlin Johnson, Jeffrey Zeldman, Google bloggers, Sun Microsystems bloggers, and many of the major web design and developer experts have recently been posting warnings and manifestos of war against comment spammers.

There are ways to hurt the comment spammers and deprive them of their sources of income, but you have to be fairly geeky to do it.

It includes reporting them to their hosting providers, telling ISPs what their connections are being used for, and complaining to the product manufacturers the spammers supposedly represent.


Mark Glaser at Online Journalism Review, provides these tips (my paraphrase, plus I add one or two to his list):

1. Turn off comments. Users and spammers both are unable to post remarks.

2. Turn off comment posting on older posts (spammers love them).

3. Don't allow URL links in comments.

4. Use a blacklisting (forbidden domains, email addresses, etc.) service.

5. Use a whitelisting (allowable domains, email addresses, etc.) service.

6. Redirect all links from your blog comments (no boost in Search Engine rank).

7. Require user registration prior to comment posting.

8. Require users to preview comments prior to posting.

9. Use a "captcha" device (numbers or letters contained in a graphic image that users must enter in a box, or an easy math problem users must enter the answer to).

10. Email verification of comment (users must reply to an email asking if they actually authored the comment).

11. Moderate the comments, imposing an indefinite delay on posting.

12. Issue legal warnings about criminality of comment spam.


Comment Spam is a hot topic right now. You should educate yourself on this.

USERS: Write emails to editors, administrators, and operators of blogs and online forums and demand that they either moderate the comments, add bot blockers like captchas, or install some type of anti-spam software.

BLOGS & FORUMS: Quit whining. Manual deleting of comments is not impossibly hard. Generally, it's just clicking. Even if it's 200 per day, so what? Hire a retired person do it for you, or a give a high school kid free pizza and soda for doing it. Find a solution.

USERS: Don't have a hissy fit if a blog or forum asks you to register, preview, or email verify before your precious comment will appear on a site. You can't wait for your comment to be posted? Comment posting is a privilege, not an inherent right granted by God to you.

EVERYBODY: Thanks for getting off your butt and helping to fight the comment spamming Internet Pigs.

Declare all out war on Comment Spam, before this blight forces us all to no longer allow comments anywhere, thus reducing the interactive quality of the entire web.

And a rampant disabling of all interactive/community building functionalities is doomsday for the internet.

In fact, along with offshore outsourcing, comment spam has the potential to severely damage information sharing, and ultimately, the United States economy--along with the inherent value and effectiveness of the global internet.

Makes you wonder who's really behind all this, doesn't it?

Friday, October 22, 2004

Mentally Correct Means Effective and Ethical

Posted by Hello

I spend a great deal of time yesterday debating an issue. The debate occured on a web developer's email discussion list.

"Pre-selection" of options on a form was the hot topic. As usual, I was the one who pretty much started the war.

You know what I mean: you register at a site, or sign up for an email newsletter, and you are presented with all these other options to choose from. Special offers from other advertisers, other newsletters and email alerts, etc.

Often certain items have check marks already in the boxes, and you have to click on the boxes to "unselect" them.

Someone had asked about code for pre-selecting choices on a form. But he meant post, not pre, selection. He refered to when a user updates a profile, and wants to see what he had already, previously selected.

I misunderstood the context, and dropped a bomb on "pre-selection" calling it an abomination. I was refering to actual pre-selection of check boxes on a form or function, forcing the user to "de-select" or "uncheck" the boxes, which is, in most cases, ridiculous.

Pre-selection, pre-checked boxes on a form or function violates the concept of the web: user empowerment, unconstrained by other parties, who may have dubious motives and agendas, greedy for easy income from unsuspecting people.

Someone actually argued that presenting users with unchecked boxes is coercive also: you're forcing the "No" option on them.

No: you're allowing users to decide "Yes" or "No". You are abstaining from forcing users to void your decision and replace it with their own.

That argument that unchecked boxes are coercive is like saying that not raping a woman is forcing on her the decision to not be raped, so it's just as brutal to not rape her as to rape her. Both acts are aggressive. What a pile of you know what!

I'll post a more in-depth article on this pre-selection topic over at my web usability blog, Vaspers the Grate.

But the lesson for all marketers and sales professionals is this: never bully or try to trick any customer into opting into something they don't really want or don't give their fully informed consent to.

I suspect that some unscrupulous marketers advocate the pre-selection of checkboxes in the hopes that users, who are nearly always impatient, inattentive to fine details, and in a big hurry, will not notice these pre-selections.

They hope some users will end up getting items or signing up for what the marketers want to push on them, rather than what the users knowingly opt in for.

Con artistry, manipulation, scamming, ripping off, lying, deceiving, misinforming, bullying, tricking, taking advantage of people is always wrong.

Unethical business practice is a guaranteed way to be miserable, to lose money, to ruin a company, to generate bad word of mouth, to turn public opinion against you, to acquire a lousy reputation, to attract negative forces into your life.

This is not "mystical" or idealistic or religious.

The Golden Rule: it's a proverbial, pragmatic truth that has been on the lips of the wise for millenia.

Treat others with respect, compassion, and truth.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Is Your Marketing a Corpse Flower?

Photo credit: Claire Ehrlinger, Quail Botanical Gardens. Posted by Hello


University of California, Davis Posted by Hello


from an article by
John Pickrell in England
for National Geographic News
July 18, 2003

"A flower taller than a man, stinking strongly of putrefying roadkill and colored deep burgundy to mimic rotting flesh, sounds like something from a low-budget science fiction movie. But Indonesia's titan arum—or "corpse flower," as known by locals—is a real, if rare, phenomenon, pollinated in the wild by carrion-seeking insects.

But corpse flowers are not only found in the wild and many have bloomed in recent years in botanical gardens worldwide from England to Arizona."

[Also see other National Geographic articles on the "stinky flower" and weird plants.]

Is your marketing a corpse flower?

Does it smell of rotting flesh, decaying substances, putrid decomposition?

I'm sorry. I don't mean to be gross, vulgar, or obnoxious. This is probably the strangest post you'll ever read on this site. But at least it will get your attention.

Let's face it: some marketing programs get you nowhere. They seem dead. Useless.

Some marketing fails to emphasize the one strong point that differentiates a company or product from the competition.

It uses "we-oriented" corporate fluff talk. "We (blah blah blah)...our products are (blah blah blah)...our expertise is (blah blah blah)."

It fails to provide photos of the product in use by people as they solve a problem, gain a benefit, or enhance their life.

It fails to provide complete, easy to understand details, complete lists of features accompanied by strong, desirable benefits of each feature.

It fails to clearly identify who the product is made for and why this type of user needs it right now.

It fails to explain powerfully how the product is honestly superior to competitive brands (if this is indeed true, not hype).

It fails to provide all the information the customer needs to decide which model, size, color, options, etc. best suited to their individual needs.

It assumes that customers already know certain things they may not know at all.

It has an arrogant, strident, hard-sell, old-fashioned "push the product on the customer" tone.

It consists of a web site constructed by someone's daughter as a college project, copy written by someone who knows what they want to say, but not how to say it as a professional copywriter, and art that is boring, building-oriented, or full of generic smiling people who are obviously stock images and not real personnel or real customers.

It fails to use satisfied customer testimonials or pretigious endorsements.

It fails to use 100% money back guarantees, limited time offers, or discount deadlines.

It fails to provide incentives for customers to refer friends and relatives.

It has reluctant, half-hearted, outsourced, impersonal, inept customer service, thus no sense of customer loyalty or word of mouth advertising power.

It's out of touch with dynamic business blogs and highly interactive web sites as marketing tools. It has no user-community building apparatus.

It's a big stinking Corpse Flower.

So everybody has to try harder. The sales staff, business process workers, customer service, dealers and distributors, advertising agency--everybody has to double their efforts, as they drag around a cadaver.

The corpse flower, stinky flower, devil's tongue, rotten flesh flower, or whatever it may be called, hides underground in a storage tuber and arises from its sepulchre once every one to three years.

It blooms, around midnight, for only 48 hours, then collapses again. While it's in blossom, it send out its hideous stench in undulating waves that alternate from the smell of dying elephant to rotten eggs.

The amorphophallus titanum stink flower attracts those creature that enjoy feasting on, and laying eggs in, decomposing carrion. Flies, carrion beetles, etc.

Heralded as the world's largest and stinkiest plant, it can grow up to 12 feet tall.

I first heard of these things on the disreputable Art Bell radio program about 10 years ago. I thought it was a hoax. It's not. These things exist. Nature is not exclusively beautiful, peaceful, and nice smelling. There are some real horrors and stinkers out there.

Similarly, all the flowers springing up in the garden of marketing are not pretty and pleasingly fragrant.

You must elevate your vision and seek marketing strategies that are living, in touch with how people really think. Mentally Correct.

If you're slogging along with mediocre, schlocky promotional material that doesn't do justice to your products, that keeps your business from growing vigorously, consider the root of the problem.

Maybe you need to dig up the stinky, sluggish, slop-bucket marketing "plants" and replace them with beautiful, professional, prestige marketing "flowers".

Step up to the bright light of living, real, vibrant Mentally Correct Marketing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Derrida documentary film

Rent it at Blockbuster or other film rental outlet. Posted by Hello


Yes, according to the description
at the web site,
in this film, Jacques Derrida
does indeed "deconstruct himself",
that is, analyzes his own
previous interviews.

Here it is folks, Jacques Derrida
in his own words. The leading,
and perhaps most controversial
, of the 20th Century.

Did Derrida really say
there is no "absolute truth"?

Well, I know that when asked
about O.J. Simpson, Derrida
simply said that only O.J.
knows for sure if O.J. is
guilty or innocent.

That's all he said, at least
in the press statement I read.

And that paragraph above
illustrates how Derrida claimed
that "truth", as used in philosophy
at any rate, depends greatly on
the intersections of various texts
and their contexts.

It is true that that is all
Derrida said about O.J. Simpson that particular moment,
according to that particular report,
by that particular journalist.

Derrida may have said many other
things regarding O.J. Simpson.
I don't know.

This is very different from
saying "there is no absolute truth."

O.J. absolutely did...
or did not...
kill that woman.

Bill Clinton absolutely did...
or did not...
"have sex with that woman."

The definition of "is" is "is"!

"Is" was "is", will be "is",
and is "is". Okay?

How does all this affect
Mentally Correct Marketing?

Derrida's analysis has major
benefits for marketing strategy
and advertising critiques.

Once you follow Derrida as he
uses, say, Freud against Freud
(as one example of
"text against text"),

showing how all textual empires
crumble from hidden flaws,
contradictions and inconsistencies,

it's easier to deconstruct a
mundane television commercial.

I love Derrida's books, and I
will soon view this
documentary film.

Though I may not agree with
all Derrida's opinions,
I do admire his analytical
methodology, the choices he
made for philosophical texts
to rigorously examine and
critique, and just the writing
style he employs.

Just check out my Derrida quote
and my commentary on it over at
my Vaspers the Grate blog,
the article "Blogs as
Deconstructionist Monsters

What Derrida says about
new forms of art, new media,
new anything being typically
perceived, at first, as
"monstrosities" is funny,
yet sadly accurate.

Derrida, the most difficult writer
I've ever read (with the possible
exception of Jacques Lacan), and yet,
at the same time, my favorite author
of all time (with the possible
exception of Proust).

We miss you JD.

Death is itself going
to be deconstructed
[if you know what I mean].

goodbye JD Posted by Hello

Friday, October 08, 2004

Beheading Videos: Poor Usability

Terrorist "marketing" strategy is off target. Posted by Hello

I think it's time someone stood up
and proclaimed the Triumphant Truth:

Beheading is not
what it's cracked up to be.

"Gruesome" is not the word for it.

"Ridiculously Underwhelming"
are much more appropriate words for
this desperate attempt by terrorists
to gain attention.

All beheading accomplishes is loathing,
and longing for more "shock and awe"
bombing of all nations that harbor
such timid and ineffectual villains.

DISCLAIMER #1: I have not
viewed any terrorist beheading videos, nor
will I ever do so.

However, I will, from a usability
perspective, engage in a critique
of this concept: beheading a person,
videotaping the process, releasing
the video to the public via web sites
and media coverage, and making
unreasonable demands based on
such vain nonsense.

DISCLAIMER #2: I mean no offense
to the families and friends of the victims of
terrorist beheadings.

I sympathize with their suffering and grief.

This analysis is my way of supporting them.

This analysis rightfully mocks the
ineffectiveness and futility of such
terrorist activity, which merely angers
us, and does not "shock" or "terrify"
us at all, in spite of what mainline
establishment journalists announce.

Dual Usability Factors:

Usability has a dual nature.
For a promotional or public
relations effort to be useful,
in a comprehensive sense,
it must accomplish two goals:

1. Influence the audience (the supposedly
"terrorized") to be sympathetic toward
(or frightened into groveling acceptance
of) the sponsoring organization's
(the "terrorists") goals, and decide
to support these goals, or
exert pressure on those who can.

2. Enable the sponsoring organization (the
"terrorists") to communicate an accurate,
motivational message to the audience about
the sponsoring organization (the "terrorists"),
to the end that this message is clearly
understood and endorsed by the audience.

Terrorist Beheading Videos
Exhibit Poor Usability:

1. Negative Message About the Terrorists:

The terrorists display themselves as cowards
with their faces covered up.

Like bullies on a school playground,
they represent themselves
as picking on weak, easy prey,
unarmed and unguarded civilians.

These civilians are then executed by way of
beheading, which is a relatively quick and
painless death (compared to many cancers
and other diseases and fatal injuries).

Civilians expiring in such manner should be
awarded Congressional Medals of Honor and be
celebrated as noble, involuntary martyrs for
freedom of thought and freedom of religion.

2. Undesired Response from Audience:

The results of terrorist beheading videos are:

(a) governments become more stubborn about their
refusal to negotiate with terrorists,

(b) the families of the victims hate the
terrorists and their cause,

(c) the general public is disgusted
with the terrorist tactics and
condemns their cause.

3. Wrong Tactic by Terrorists:

While it may be shameful to admit this point,
it must nevertheless be stated:
Americans in particular have
no strong aversion to gratuitous
violence, suffering, or gore.

Sorry, terrorists.

A beheading simply is not "gruesome" or
"repulsive" when considered in the context
of the standard entertainment fare of average
American teenagers or college age males.

The act itself is morally reprehensible,
and the terrorists are to be condemned for
such an act, but its effect is greatly
diminished in Western culture.

We avidly flock to R-rated, ultra-violent films.

We abundantly produce and purchase sadistic,
ultra-violent video games.

We gleefully watch the gross
"Fear Factor" reality TV program.

4. Wrong User Interface:

The people who are most affected by a terrorist
beheading video are the friends and families of
the unfortunate victims. But the video provides
no means for this segment of the public to
interact with the demands of the terrorists.

Individuals have very little influence on
governments or national policy makers.
Even the companies the individuals work for
are in no strong position to assist the
terrorists or influence their governments.

Message to Mainstream News Media
and Journalists:

Get with it. Terrorist beheading videos, and
news reports glamorizing or sensationalizing
such acts, are not influencing us at all.

The beheadings are not "gruesome" or
"alarming." For jaded American audiences,
they're not even "disturbing."

Quit trying to impress us with video
productions made by our enemies.

Quit subtly promoting such things
for their supposed "news value."

Genocide in the Sudan, North Korean nuclear
weapons development, partisan bias in
mainstream journalism--now these are
truly upsetting and horrific.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Earthlink Scores Big: TV, Web, Core Values

Earthlink Woman w/Orbiting Globular Object Posted by Hello


Here's a rare commodity:
a corporation that scores
big marketing and ethics points
in three major areas--

* TV commercial

* Web site

* Core Beliefs & Values

I just got blown away by the new
Earthlink television commercial.

Two women at kitchen table talking.
Woman A is criticizing Woman B.
"The other ladies are concerned about you."
Catty complaining over coffee.

Woman B has a "dangerous looking"
ball or globe or whatever (see photo)
orbiting, circling around, her head.

This is science fiction, avant garde
advertising at its best, and it also
conveys, in a remarkably memorable manner,
desirable benefits and problem solving aspects
of the product: Earthlink ISP
(Internet Service Provider).

I have seen this TV commercial only once,
but I have one strong impression in my mind:
the orbiting mini-planet is not dangerous,
but Identity Theft is, and Earthlink has
something that can prevent this crime
from being foisted on you.

I honestly don't recall much more.

But that's not bad for seeing just it once.

I remember their company name.
I remember their product.
I remember their logo (orbit & woman).
I remember one or two product benefits.
I remember their creativity.
I remember their innovation.

I remember their "rebelliousness"
(the woman with the orbiting globe
seems "different" but secure and
confident, asserting her secret.)

I crave a repeat viewing of this commercial.

I have a video cassette ready in my VCR
so I can record it and study it in
greater detail. It's bizarre.

Earthlink entertains me, shocks me,
amuses me, informs me, impresses me
pleases me with this new TV commercial.

So I went to their web site.

(For a more detailed review,
check Vaspers the Grate.
Soon I will have a brief
analysis of their site:

Earthlink Web Site comments:

A wonderful "About Earthlink" page,
with a wide range of sub-categories
such as:

* Subscriber Benefits
* Our History
* Contact Us
* Investor Relations
* Our Leadership
* Awards
* Global Internet Alliance
* Policies & Agreements
* Refer a Friend
* Press Room

...and more.

Under "Our History" I found:


Core Values & Beliefs

What's important at EarthLink?

We are convinced that the key
to creating a truly great
organization is an intense
focus on the values that
guide its people's actions.

These are EarthLink's
"Core Values and Beliefs".

If we don't seem to be
living up to them, call us on it!

We respect the individual, and
believe that individuals who are treated
with respect and given responsibility
respond by giving their best.

We require complete honesty and
integrity in everything we do.

We make commitments with care,
and then live up to them.

In all things, we do what
we say we are going to do.

Work is an important part of life,
and it should be fun.

Being a good businessperson does not
mean being stuffy and boring.

We love to compete, and we believe that
competition brings out the best in us.

We are frugal. We guard and conserve
the company's resources with at least
the same vigilance that we would use to
guard and conserve our own personal resources.

We insist on giving our best effort in
everything we undertake.

Furthermore, we see a huge difference
between "good mistakes"
(best effort, bad result)
and "bad mistakes"
(sloppiness or lack of effort).

Clarity in understanding our mission,
our goals, and what we expect from
each other is critical to our success.

We are believers in the Golden Rule.

In all our dealings we will strive to
be friendly and courteous, as well as
fair and compassionate.

We feel a sense of urgency on any matters
related to our customers.

We own problems and we are always responsive.

We are customer-driven.


I don't use Earthlink, and don't plan to.

I'm happy with my current ISP.

But if I ever become dissatisfied,

I'll start satelliting around their planet

to discover more realms within Earthlink.

Thanks for the user-friendliness, Earthlink!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Streight Eye for the Dairy Queen Guy

DQ logo with my recommended slogan added. Posted by Hello


I can't hardly believe the bad news about Dairy Queen.

I'll try to be civil, generous, and diplomatic.

Oh, flap a banana at a flop boat, I just can't be kind about this.

Thanks to Katherine Stone over at the blog Decent Marketing for this story.

In her blog, Ms. Stone refers to a Brand article about Dairy Queen seeking a whole new look and marketing platform.

Michael Keller, Executive VP, Marketing and R&D, International Dairy Queen (IDQ) says that by turning Dairy Queens into Grill & Chills, with upscale menus, special viewable ovens, and a (disconcerting) "take a number and wait for the food to be delivered to your table" service:

"'s clear this isn't your father's Dairy Queen..."

And he goes on to say it also isn't a standard QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) otherwise more clearly known to the discerning public as a FFJ (Fast Food Joint).

He also suggests that "Dairy" and "Queen" are not "food friendly" terms.

Mr. Keller admits that Dairy Queen is most famous for its Peanut Buster Parfaits, Dilly Bars, and Pecan Mudslides.


This is, in my quick, gut-reaction assessment, marketing suicide.

An established, well-liked company should emphasize what it's famous for, not destroy it.

Take what the public already likes about you, and think of new, creatively fresh ways to maintain that heavily promoted, highly financed position. Ever heard of "legacy"? Apparently not.

So many companies are ruining their brand by deviating from a solid position, in favor of some wild and reckless "new, more contemporary" hype-mongering.

Mentally Correct Marketing is very similar to the Ries Doctrine of Positioning: take the established mind-set and enhance it.

Why trash a good position?

Why try to change what customers already love about you?

Why try to force people to think about you in a completely new and different way?

Is your old, traditional marketing angle so rotten and worthless you have to throw it in the garbage? I doubt it.

I think this is Panic Marketing.

Too many old-fashioned, reliable, nostalgic things are passing away. Now we have to add "your father's Dairy Queen" to that poignant list? Please tell me this is just a nightmare and not true life.

I repeat: take what is already good, and enhance it.

This is why I, after thinking about it for 5 seconds, came up with the proposed Mentally Correct Marketing slogan:

"Dairy Queen. Where the food is now as tempting as the dessert."

If Dairy Queen paid me, I'd spend more time trying to resolve their marketing "dilemma" and maybe be lucky enought to come up with even better slogans and marketing ideas.

But for now, this is my answer.