My Letter to Jerry Kelly at Madwire

[Jerry Kelly at Madwire wrote me, apparently hoping to get on the phone with me to discuss my post about Madwire.  This is what I wrote in response.]

[To Jerry and everyone else at Madwire, I will not go away so easily.  I believe that you sometimes do things that are, in my opinion, very uncool to unsuspecting small business owners, and it’s time to either change those policies, or deal with the push-back you are owed as a result.]

All of this is hypothetical.  And all of this is my opinion.  All of this is intended to be seen as the point of view of one individual whom is speculating.  I do not intend to defame any company.  I am merely posting an email I sent, to the best of my knowledge, and altered only as necessary to protect myself and other people,  so that others can read what I wrote, as a matter of historical fact concerning what I wrote, and as a matter of historical fact concerning my feelings and opinions at the time.

[For the record, someone I know signed a contract with Madwire, and when they became unhappy with the results of the relationship, as far as I recollect, they copied the new website Madwire had enabled for them to their own hosting account, which as far as I recollect, was a breach of the contract they signed with Madwire.  As far as I recollect, Madwire (or Madwire’s legal representation did) then give the person I know  a certain number of days to either pay a certain number of dollars, which I recall being around $6,000 (but someone involved closely recalls it as more), or if the amount was not paid, to the best of my recollection, Madwire would sue the person that I know.   To the best of my knowledge, and to the best of my recollection, this really happened.  If Madwire continues to harass me about talking about this, I will be forced to post actual documents such as credit card billing records and emails from Madwire’s legal representation]


Hello Jerry.

I’d prefer to talk via email for now.
I have not worked with Madwire myself, but I do know someone who has. That person felt very abused by the experience.  And I know for a fact that they didn’t recieve the results they were promised by Madwire’s sales people.  And in the end, when they tried to end the relationship, they were not only told they couldn’t take any of the dev work with them (fine if that’s what they agreed to), but that they needed to pay a big chunk of money (for damages?) or they would be sued.
Intellectual Property is a valid thing, and I can’t blame anyone for wanting to protect their rights.  But making a few minor customizations to an off-the-shelf WordPress theme and then claiming that it’s your own intellectual property is pretty bogus, especially since WordPress is itself GPL software and so was the theme in question.  I know because I looked at the GPL License statement in the theme’s stylesheet.
And then, attempting to extort (or something like extort… this is just opinion) money over the matter is really uncool, beyond being unothadox for the kind of claim in question.  A simple cease and disist or DMCA takedown to the hosting company would have sufficed and is the proper procedure, as I’m sure you know.
Meanwhile, I don’t think Madwire is “evil” or anything silly like that.  I think Madwire has some practices that may need to be tweaked in order for some customers to not end up feeling lied to or preyed upon.
If Madwire is going to do business with people, then Madwire is accountable for its customer relations.  Throwing money at trying to surpress customers’ bad experiences is not a sustainable approach to marketing.  Eventually, every company will have some disgruntled former customers out there.  Madwire should expect to be no different.
So since Madwire has done such a good job covering up any bad reviews, and even creating dubious positive reviews, my little blog post has become a focal point, since almost nothing else out there seems like legitimate customer feedback.  I have been contacted by dozens of people wiith stories similar to the person I know that worked with Madwire.  If they represent a small minority of Madwire’s customers, then that small minority is going to be reflected online somewhere, whether it’s commenters on my post, or somewhere else.
And to be clear, I don’t have particularly strong feelings about Madwire, as much as I have strong feelings about accountability, honesty, the freedom and democratization of speech etc.
What would Madwire expect to happen if it (even only occasionally) [redacted] people with baseless lawsuit threats or routinely over-promises results?  I would think that Madwire would expect to get a little bit of pushback from those things. Perhaps that pushback is part of the cost of doing business.  Or maybe it’s an indication of some policy changes that need to happen.  Or maybe a little of both.
I hope this clears up for you where I am coming from.
And Also, I suggest that you try to be involved in the conversation about your company directly.  For instance, you could comment on blog posts like mine when you come across them, and try to be a reasonable and tranparent voice for your company, rather than [possibly] sneaking around, [possibly] trying to take people’s websites down, [possibly] having fake commenters and reviewers troll and spam the web, [possibly] filing things in courts to get unfavorable websites un-indexed and all that stuff, which at the end of the day, just makes your company look a bit shady, don’t you think?


The Embarrassment of Past Posts: SEARCH SUCKS

I just can’t stand how stupid I sound, even one year ago, what I wrote, what it was about, the words I used, the style, the punctuation.  I can’t really even go more than six months back in these posts before what is there makes me really uneasy.  I get really, really uneasy.  I feel embarrassed and stupid.

Meanwhile, the reason I originally believed in blogging, which I have believed since around 2005, is still a good reason for me to also believe that the Web, and especially personal archiving, can be better than some sort of vanity exercise.

Someone that argues with me a lot recently said that they had stopped blogging when they realized they were just contributing “noise.” I took this as a jab, as if I am making noise as well.  After thinking about it a bit, I have concluded that I am not making noise, not compared to the vast majority of sites that get click-thrus. On the few searches that I appear prominently on, I am the opposite of noise.  I give out helpful information.

Meanwhile, I do also talk about all sorts of non-helpful things.  I even make joke posts.  Is this bad for the Web?  Is it noise?

No.  Because we have plenty of room.  We don’t have a space problem, we have an SEO problem.  The fact that satisfaction with search results is plummeting is not a result of excess content.  You’ll notice it’s often the same sites that let us down.  The problem is that search is not improving.  Search is asleep at the wheel while the link-bate space has exploded.  Here we are.  Answers.666,,, these sites offer often very inaccurate information, mostly voted into place by people with no accountability!

The cluttering of the Web used to be something we could blame on people that make useless websites or spam identities.  But not anymore.  Search is failing to help us find better content.  And it’s really tempting to assume this is not an accident on the part of Search.



The Best Ecommerce Solution for Artists

Crowdfunding is an obvious need for undiscovered artists and creative type people.  It’s hard to put musicians, photographers and software developers in the same box, but when it comes to E-commerce, there are some obvious common threads.

There are projects that us small time creators just can’t do without a garuntee of cost offset.  If we know we have a certain amount of support from our community, we can do bigger and better things!

Crowdfunding is growing in popularity, and since I am a long-time supporter of the democratization of virtually everything, I have always been interested in trends related to crowdfunding and other non-gatekeeper models.

I recently experimented with selling an album (mp3 320) via a common WordPress ecommerce plugin, and was trying to make the transaction pay-what-you-want, but I had a hard time editing the checkout process.  It was just really hard for me to find where in the plugin I was using to patch/hack the checkout form to do what I wanted:

  • Pay What You Want (even nothing)
  • Collect emails
  • Gracefully redirect back to my site (from PayPal or other payment gateway) after opting to pay (One of the biggest problems I had is dealing with payments of $0, because the forms for ecommerce usually assume a value, and redirection happens after purchase… but then, what about the email collection and redirection to a thanks page?!)

The real value to me here is the email address, not the payment, which I can only expect to be a few bucks here and there at this point, since I’m not super famous (yet).  But building a fan-base, if I can do that, is very valuable.

What I’d like to be able to do is easily set up, both things for sale, like mp3’s, and also, take pre-orders for things I’m working on. It’d be great if people like myself had an easy way to paywall content or allow paid subscriptions to certain pages or downloads on my site. And it’d be very cool if I had crowdfunding abilities.  As far as I know, this is not an open-source or turnkey possibility. But stay optimistic!  Things are moving fast in these spaces.

I hope all this stuff gets easier for Creatives soon.  Let’s overthrow that gatekeeper legacy we hate so much!

I will do my best to update this if I get new info!  Comments welcome as usual.



How to Find Love (for Jesse)

axe-body-sprayI wrote this for Jesse. Jesse, you know who you are.

Jesse (pronounced “Jess-EEE”) wrote: “Howcome it’s so hard to find a nice lady to hang out with in this town?”

I had some advice for him.  Here it is.

Jesse, you may need some Axe Body Spray.  It’s great stuff.  Ever since its introduction, I have been enjoying how I get to smell other men’s bodies from a distance.  If the wind is right, I can smell a stranger’s chest or scrotum from a block away. And how sweet it smells!  Women love Axe Body Spray.

I spray Axe Body Spray on my dog. I spray it on the neighbors’ children.  I spray it on strangers in the ninety-nine-cents-only store.  And I’ve even begun using it in soups.

It’s not good to brush your teeth with though.  Your mouth will smell great, sure. But Axe doesn’t actually contain fluoride or electrolytes.  It is, however, gluten-free in case you’re wondering. 

To the haters: Maybe if you guys tried Axe Body Spray, you just might make some new and interesting friends. At least try keeping a bottle in hand as a conversation starter for wine tastings and open houses. 

Axe, Jesse. Axe. And if Axe doesn’t immediately work on its own, maybe also get a Jäger tat.jeger-tattoo

Another thing that works like a charm for me is to sign up for an online dating site and fill everything out, being completely honest, especially about my height, weight, income, and how much I drink. Do that, and also take a current picture which includes the background of where you really are right now and what you’re wearing without any preparation.

Take her to the Olive Garden or Applebees, let her pay for her own food or the whole bill.  Have at least three drinks before the food arrives. And most important, eat the way you normally do.  Women appreciate sincerity.  

The Axe, in this case, is a sort of romantic garnish. She’ll be in love.

Talk about other women the whole time too. That also helps because women are competitive.

Back at your place, put on American Pie or an Adam Sandler film. Chicks love cinema, especially art flix like those.

Go in the other room and slip into your sweats. Then have her sit on the floor so you can lie down on the couch and stretch your tired legs out. Women have a nurturing instinct.  Understanding women will help you find and keep the love you and she both deserve.

fridgeAsk her if she minds getting you a beer from the fridge. When she tells you you’re out and there’s only old Jack-In-The-Box in there, ask her to run to the store and get you a few forties of Hurricane, and whatever she wants for herself, as long as it’s under 4 dollars.hurricane-forties

Then when she comes back, your best friend or band-mates will be there. Don’t introduce her though. Don’t make it too easy. Ladies like a challenge.

Next, it’s time to start talking about 70’s rock super-groups and the best guitarists and drummers. Be sure to get really passionate about it too. Or sports stuff. Or construction techniques.

Heck. If she’s a real catch, she might even be down to sit in the corner while you jam with your friends and smoke bong hits! Most good ladies would be.

Be sure to forget her name.  Maybe a few times.

In the morning, having shared a minute or two of passionate love-making, tell her she has bad breath but explain that it’s ok, becuae she has to leave anyhow, so you can eat breakfast and have coffee.

To seal the deal, wait at least six months to text her. You don’t want to seem too desperate. When you finally do text her, just write “sup.”

Jesse, I hope this helps you find a lasting love.  Some details may need to be changed to suit your needs.  For instance, if she’s a King Crimson fan, don’t talk about 70’s prog-rock with your friends. Instead try engine maintenance, or equipment rental prices, or properly venting drain pipes.  The point is that ladies like a good show.  You gotta keeep ’em guessing.  So you need to talk about something that allows her to sit back and be in the front row!