Why do I say "it's a jungle out there"?
Why do I warn of stalker links and other evils on web pages?
Here's the REST of the story
I've always said "surf with care" ... and in Photoshop Madness, I always warn you about stalker links and so forth.
So, one day, I get this email from a highly disgruntled reader (possibly one of those tweet jerks I wrote about) who flamed me royally for always warning readers about stalker links and the denizens of the web in my articles. I appreciate feedback, but I don't appreciate it when it flames me, and calls me a liar. Anyone who knows anything about the web knows that my assertions of caution are well grounded in truth, proven again and again. But this writer wants me to cease calling attention to bad tweets, misleading links, and dishonest behavior on the web. Well folks, when it stops, I will stop talking about it.
I won't publish his post here -- but what I will do is provide you, and him, with an example of what I'm talking about. If you don't care to be warned about such low-lifes, then don't read this article, move along. If you've got some time to kill, you can run this exercise for yourself.
Trapped in Twitter Hell
The keywords are always there -- enticing and compelling: amazing, inspirational, free, downloads, brushes, actions, templates and lots more to wet your appetite for something awesome or something of real value for free. Twitter is perfect for the "bait and switch" technique that in other media would be totally frowned upon, or illegal. The tweet says: "200 amazing free Photoshop brushes" but you click to find only a web of links that give you nothing but gives the site owner lots of juicy views and clicks. It's like the grocery store ad that reads: "Fresh, organically grown Chicken, now just $1" and you get to the grocery store to find the product at $6.95. The guy says "sold out." How many did they price at $1? One, maybe? They baited you, then switched. You've been had.
For my demonstration I opened the Photoshop 911 Twitter account, scrolled down and picked the first link that looks promising. I had seen the 200 actions and all the others tweeted ad nauseam -- many of the Photoshop tweeters tweet the same links over and over. But there appeared one I hadn't seen before:
Artistic Edges - Rons Collection Photoshop Brushes
Okay, that sounds really great ... let's go:
So I clicked. I was immediately taken to a page that looks like this:
So, where's the content? The header is there, you can see that -- but it looks like nothing else but advertising links. So I look more carefully -- yes, there's the link -- it says "Photoshop Brushes"
In this diagram screen capture you'll see the obvious link for the aforementioned downloads. Hovering over that link reveals the 'ad' pop-up -- which, as you can see has nothing to do with Photoshop Brushes what so ever. Clicking the link, WITHOUT the hover pop-up took us here: click for screen of arrival.. The site just got paid for my click - to 'tooth brushes' not Photoshop brushes.
But there's more... notice how this crook cleverly set up the "actual" link as plain text - no hyperlink. Sure, he wanted you to click the ad link. (Is this illegal? No. Is this dishonest? I think so.) Now, I see the actual link -- copy it and paste it into a new browser window. Here's where the fun begins.
... continues on the next page!