An Alternative to Annoying Ads (Is there one?)

I often have brilliant ideas (for websites) while trying to get back to sleep in the early hours of the morning.

If I can still remember them I do a little research, only to discover that the idea has been done, and often done to death and there is now a website listing all the websites that have successfully implemented “My Big Idea” (MBI).

Scamdex/Scamalot uses online ads to generate income to pay for the hosting etc and to give it’s owners a trickle of income to compensate for the significant effort in keeping the sites running.

No one likes ads on websites. It’s a fact, proven by the enormous popularity of ‘Ad Blockers’. This is made worse by deceptive, loud, fraudulent, offensive etc ads that make your browsing experience unpleasant.

Scamdex/Scamalot uses Google Adsense mainly, this is because I trust them not to try to trick my visitors, they use their vast databases to attempt to tailor ads to the visitor’s interest and also because they pay ‘per click’ – so if someone clicks on an ad on my site, I get a couple of cents (the amount varies widely). This isn’t exactly a quid pro quo – I have a Click Rate of around 1% – so for every 100 visitors, one person will click on an ad that they see there.  I also use a couple of other ‘Affiliate’ ads, one for a respectable on-line lottery and one for, oh and one for, a search engine for people. I am not making much, let me tell you!

So, ads are annoying and they bring in a pittance – what alternatives are there?

Well, there’s only one – a ‘Paywall’ – You need to signup and pay to get into the website. Like the newspapers do. But everyone hates that idea. We all visit hundreds of websites and only the very big/popular sites (Think ‘New York Times’) can possibly expect to get signups (and even they struggle!). A low-volume website like Scamdex would simply not get enough visitors to justify the implementation.

Anyway, you see the problem now?

Back to my early-morning “Eureka” moment – I was thinking of a way for public websites to generate incremental income without showing ads and I came up with this:

  1. Create a website called ‘Pennies from Heaven’ (PFH) or somesuch that allows people to click a link and automatically credit a website that they are visiting and appreciate with a penny (or more), from their account.
  2. PFH would aggregate these micro-donations and, assuming a certain threshold, pay out monthly.
  3. The websites would be free from annoying ad clutter and be free to fill in the gaps with more content.
  4. People would become members of PFH and set a monthly maximum amount to donate. At the end of the month, that amount would be billed to them.
  5. A discrete button on PFH-affiliated pages would invite the visitor to contribute, ostensibly to support the site financially and to thank the site for not showing ads.
  6. Another option would allow visitors to websites to automatically contribute based on page views or some other scheme – monthly, perhaps.

Sounds good eh? A Win-win as far as I can see – except perhaps for the ad companies (and the ad-blocker companies )

Well I went to a website last week and saw a button that just said ‘Flattr us’ –  Flattr this – and knew immediately what it was – My Big Idea! (MBI)

I signed up and you’ll see the button on a couple of pages.

They implemented MBI in a slightly different method, probably due to some major brainstorming sessions and logistics (I’m guessing some thresholds to do with payment processors).

So How does Flattr work?

  1. After signing up, you choose a monthly budget – say $20
  2. Every website you visit (that’s part of the scheme), you can click on the Flattr button and make it a recipient of part of your budget (for that month).
  3. At the end of the month, your budget is divided up between all the websites that you’ve ‘Flattr-ed’
  4. 90+% goes to the website(s) and the remaining 10% is split among the Flattr website and to pay Payment Processing fees.
  5. You can be a Contributor and a Recipient of Flattr income – as I am.

Ok, so it’s not MBI, but it’s close and I can see a great future. I think Micro-donations (and Micro-payments generally) are the way forward. aggregating is (currently) the only way to achieve this, mainly due to minimum charges made by payment processors – I think it’s around 30-75c per transaction.

I haven’t looked around to see if/how other micro-donation sites are doing, but if you know of one, please feel free to let me know – and your views on this subject


How do they make blog spam so hard to detect?

Anyone that has visited a blog or forum will have seen those vaguely annoying one line posts that are generally bad grammer and say nothing except what a great blog it is, how they’ll be back soon and to keep up the good work, right?

Well that is so-called ‘Comment Spam’ and it is the bane of website owners like email spam is to, well, just about everyone else!

What they’re doing is embedding a link to a website either in the profile of the user, the ‘sig’ in the post or even inline in the comment. The vain hope is that ubiquity = high search engine ranking. Anyone who owns a forum will tell you that 90% of their time is spent combing comments for trash like this. Services such as Akismet can catch an awful lot of spam, if supported.

PHP Exploit URL foxes Apache

There are a lot of smart people out there who know way too much about computers and software and stuff, like this guy: ‘Perishable Press‘. So, can someone clever please tell me why this simple url hangs up a bunch of seemingly dissimilar web servers:

My banana was once part of a bunch very similar to this one

My banana was once part of a bunch very similar to this one

Here’s the deal – when someone asks for a webpage on Scamdex that doesn’t exist, it shoots me a quick email to tell me about it. That way I can see if anything is broken and if anyone is trying to hack my site. My normal response to obviousl hack-attempts  is to block the IP address or use .htaccess rewrite rules to send them to an oh-so-friendly  ‘go away page‘ :).

In this case, the URL carries a payload that is itself a  link to a file on a remote site, which it hopes I will allow to run on my server. The code (which is reproduced in it’s entirety here) will, if allowed to run, return the word ‘FeelCoMz’ to the ‘sKriptKiDee’, aka ‘Wanker’  on the sending end.

<?php /* Fx29ID */ echo("FeeL"."CoMz"); die("FeeL"."CoMz"); /* Fx29ID */ ?>

So… it didn’t work, I trapped it and it raised a red flag, but then why, when I try the URL does it make a browser stand blinking like a deer in the proverbial headlights for 120 seconds before falling flat on it’s back?

Analyzing the url gets me to this reduction of required parts:

* any .php file path.
* any query string, that contains a ‘http://’ in
* must have a file extension such as txt, gif, png etc.
* must have the trailing ‘?’

will cause the same problem on an awful lot of famous name servers. For example, including mine:,,,, etc etc.

For example, in the following link, everything except ‘’ is made up

but it still exhibits the same behaviour – WTF is going on?

and why, oh why can’t I detect it in my .htaccess file?

First person to:
1. Tell me why it’s happening.
2. Tell me how to detect it and stop it happening.
3. Tell me why Google hates me.

gets a really major serious prize like my personal desktop banana, or this lovely (chipped) coffee mug with the name of a football club I don’t support on it – or even my second best earphones.

Good luck!


Still no replies and it’s still happening…. where have all the gurus gone?

Gringotts Bank Business Opportunity – Harry Potter Spoof Email

In a lighter vein, here’s one I knocked up myself – guess what I’m reading at the moment!

Though seems unsolicited, this owlmail is a business proposal to you. I appreciate the fact that you have every reason to be suspension, please note this proposal is very real. I will employ you to read it with open mind and act in the best way as directed by your mind and instinct.

My name is Amelia Bundweazel, Chief Operating Goblin (Magical Transactions) of Gringotts Bank (Durmstrang). It is understandable that you might be a little bit apprehensive because you do not know me but I have a lucrative business proposal of mutual benefits to share with you.

In June, 2001, a late client of the bank, a Wealthy Wizard from the Ministry of Magic whom we presumed (rightly or wrongly) to be a relative of yours made a numbered fixed deposit of Twenty-one million Five Hundred Thousand Gold Galleons (GG 21,500,000.00) We later found out that he and his family had been killed in an unfortunate accident involving a mid-air collision between a Magical Defense Forces High Speed Dragon and their flying muggle car (A Reliant Robin).

(See for details).

After further investigation it was also discovered that he did not declare any next of kin and no one except me knows of his deposit in our bank and the secret password (‘Hamza Scamza’). So, the gold is still laying unclaimed deep in our vaults. What bothers me most is that according to the laws of my bank, at the expiration of seven {7} years the gold will turn to ashes and the vault will disappear if nobody applies to claim the funds.

Against this backdrop, my suggestion to you is that I will like you to stand as the next of kin so that you will be able to receive the funds.

I want you to know that I have had everything planned out so that we shall come out successful. I have a memory modification spell prepared that will show that you are his next of kin (AT NO COST OF YOURS), all that is required from you is to provide me with your Full Names and Address so that I can complete the spell. After you have been made the next of kin, I will help move the contents of the vault to your own, or made accessible to you with a Wizard Unionâ„¢ (Secure Floo Network) MTM spell.

There is no risk involved at all in this transaction, As a bank goblin, I am forbidden to reveal the banks secrets so I am taking a great risk in discussing this with you. I am the only one who knows of this situation, good fortune has blessed you with a name that has planted you into the center of relevance in my life. Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion in all matters concerning this issue. Once the funds have been transferred to your vault, we shall share in the ratio of 50% for me, 40% for you and 20% for bribes to Dragons (but this can be subjected to further negotiations). I send you this mail not without a measure of fear as to the consequences, but I know within me that nothing ventured is nothing gained and that success and riches never come easy or on a platter of gold. Please observe this instruction religiously.

Should you be interested please send me your,

1, Full Names,

2, Current Contact Address,

3, Bank Vault Personal Identification Spell (PIS)

And I will prefer you reach me on my private email address: Graham.crabbe@yahoo.wiz and finally after that I shall furnish you with more information’s about this operation. Your earliest response to this letter will be appreciated.

Kind Regards,

Amelia Bundweazel,



Yahoo.wiz – Get your own free owlmail account today!

Was this message Owlspam? Report it to owlspam@yahoo.wiz
Yahoo.wiz is not responsible for nips, droppings or other owl damage.  Please remember, Owls are only the messenger, treat all owls kindly!


On a related note, Warner Bros have the following warning at the top of their massively successful-but-oddly-named “Harry Potter Dialogue Centre“.

There have recently been a number of emails circulating claiming to be casting for upcoming Harry Potter films. Many of these emails request personal information and some have the subject line of “WARNERBROS CASTSEARCH” or something to that effect. This is to advise that Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. does not engage in casting activity through email. These emails are fraudulent and you should not respond to any such email. Feel free to forward any such messages to and we will do our best to investigate the fraudulent activity.

It’s a nice place, the gorgeous design and graphics you’d expect from a movie studio, but the website nazis have been in and issue the usual anti-fan type warnings about posting links to your own websites. I hate this arrogant stance – they abuse and allienate their biggest fans (and customers!) with their intolerant and snarky ‘Intellectual Copyright Protection’ crud.  I once got the most miserable letter from a lawyer when I posted a photo of ‘Miffy’ on a website. I pointed out that this character was my daughter’s favourite, but that thenceforth and notwithstanding, I would be unwilling to buy any more of their ‘Miffy’ themed products.

We have been seeing a lot of members advertising their own websites on the boards. This is not allowed as per our Community Guidelines and the Terms of Usage of the Harry Potter Message Boards. The only place you are allowed to post links to other Harry Potter related sites is on the Web Masters board. If you have a link to your site in your profile you also need to remove the link.

…. if you call yourself any name of any character in the Harry Potter series or allude to any character in the Harry Potter franchise or even mention the name ‘Harry’ and/or ‘Potter’, you will be banned for life and a WB representative will turn up at your house and publicly burn all and any books, posters, videos, video games, Lego, action figures, bedside lamps, keyrings, cellphone covers, candy and/or sleepware (including sheets and all other bedding) that is under the ownership of Voldemort Warner Brothers.

Wall Street Bail-out Scam Email Joke

As reported in the Washington Post’s “The Trail‘ section, here’s an email that’s making the rounds in Washington, and now, the rest of the world. No one is claiming authorship, but the ‘trail’ seems to start at the SEC. Enjoy!

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

‘Lord of the Rings’ Spoof Scam

This spoof scam has been around for a while, but it bears repeating. Obviously done by soemone with a high geek factor AND a GSOH!

I think I’ll do one in the style of ‘His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman)’LOTR cover

Dear Beloved,

I am Danladi Majah , The only Son of late Counsellor Gríma Grimbeth Majah of the Kingdom of Rohan.

My father was Chief Counsellor [equivalent to Prime Minister] to late lamented king Théoden of Rohan. In his position my father altogether legally and correctly acquired significant assets throughout Rohan in order to protect the Kingdom from enemy forces within and without. In the course of lamentable events succeeding, my father was illegally deprived of office and expelled from the Kingdom.

Before this he had with foresight already entirely legally deposited gold worth US$4.5m with one of the Africa leading Banks in Cote d´Ivoire of which I will let you know if you identify your interest . While in exile in the north he was assaulted and murdered by a band of northern Orcs. My family was obliged to seek refuge in northern Dunland among some of our sympathisers.

My father left to me all documents necessary the retrievement aforesaid from the Bank. However, in the current political circumstances my solicitor believes it unwise for me to attempt to make the trip from Dunland to Cote d´ivoire, and has recommended that I seek a trustworthy foreign business partner to tranferred this amount into your account.

This appears to be the best option as we are unable to open an account in Dunland. Therefore I am seeking your trustworthy assistance and cooperation.

You will provide information about your account that will enable a deposit to be made in your name. I will contact the Bank and inform them that the money is to be placed into your account. Upon completion of the transaction your share of the proceeds will be 15%.

If the transaction goes well I will also look forward to maintaining you as a profitable business partner for future ventures. Therefore I will need your phone and fax numbers to enable me send them to the bank immediately as well as the account number of which this fund will be transfer into.

It goes without saying that I can expect your complete cooperation in keeping this matter confidential prefatory to completion as I awaits your urgent response.

Best regards,
Master Danladi Majah