An Open Letter to Readers

I’ve been busy the past few months, and because of that, I haven’t been doing much due diligence regarding the info posted here and in the Superguide… but I’ve been spending a bit more time on this recently.

There are several “personal finance” bloggers out there these past few months who have taken to poaching portions of the Communications Superguide and Technical Meshugana proper, passing the research here and in the guide off as their own with zero attribution or links, and then embedding referral links to services that I refuse to recommend within it. Some have at least tried to re-write what I posted, but not well, and not enough to demonstrate any real knowledge or effort on their own end toward the subject materials. I especially like site disclaimers like these that accompany those posts:

When you click on a link that we recommend, we may receive a commission.  Not every link is an affiliate link (one we get paid for), but some are. We don’t make recommendations based on affiliate income, we make them because we think they are useful. (Emphasis mine.)

That’s because you think the top two MVNOs you link in your recommended cellular provider list genuinely offer the best service and price, even though you’ve clearly read and are using my content and advice to others… right? That’s why you’re not using them and admitted to using Platinumtel, Airvoice, Ting, or Virgin Mobile for your own services instead, right? It can’t possibly be because of their 22% or $30 commission payouts through Commission Junction, could it? Remind me again why you seem to have more ads than content on your blog?

Some have at least linked the Wireless Plan Calculator, but sometimes they don’t even bother with that. I could link and shame these people, but I won’t. It would be tacky. To those who are doing it? You know who you are, as do I. Make this right.

Let’s get something straight… the guide and this site has never been about a cash grab and quick buck for me. This has been a labor of love for the FIRE community and to folks in general, and I have done it specifically to help ensure people get the best services for their money and don’t get ripped off by people chasing a quick referral buck with recommendations in the communications end of things. It’s why I’ve refused to sign up for these commission options, even if some of the recommendations I make have some modest referral programs. If I’m making a quick buck off my advice, my advice’s integrity comes into question. Have I peppered in an Amazon referral link here and there? Yes, but it’s only been for tools related to information and guides where research time was spent, and anyone familiar with the Amazon referrals program knows that it doesn’t pay out crap unless you’re an absolute clearinghouse of consumerism. I am not that. The money I earn off of my readers should be money willingly given by them out of appreciation for the research and knowledge I’ve provided… not because you’ve been fooled into spending money on a service that doesn’t actually fit your needs. All I care about is providing solid and reliable advice, and I primarily want to do so for the betterment of others in this world.

Technical Meshugana is an anomaly. It is supported only via Amazon affiliate links and free-will donations which is made clear in the legal boilerplate, and let me tell you, it’s not supported well. This is not said to slight the people who have given generously, and to you, you know I’m appreciative. Folks like you help keep the server lights on. This is also not said to try and bang on the fund-raising tambourine, though if you feel inclined I certainly won’t turn your donations away. The button’s on the right near the top, just click the piggy bank icon. I have deliberately refrained from advertising, service affiliates, and any other exploitative cash grab opportunities milking my readers for money. How many websites do you know that don’t assault you with trackers and advertising these days? I know who has given back to me regarding this stuff, and none of the people who have done this are those people.

The only person I’m letting this slide on is with MMM. He does this as well, but he’s also generous enough to let me stay in his forums and speak toward the ugly details about the services he’s earning commissions off of without censoring me. He links and recommends these services right next to a link he placed straight to the Superguide where I give well documented and researched reasons why I’d never recommend those certain carriers. It’s a fair trade given I’m the one who posts the information to his site in the first place. I knew the game going in, and he’s not stealing my content and passing it off as his own. I may not philosophically agree with his decision, but he’s not exploiting my knowledge for his personal gain beyond what I allow through personal participation.

This clearly is not the case with others who are actively doing this. You want this resource to continue? All I ask is that you don’t abuse my goodwill.

Poaching my research for your own use without asking permission or providing attribution? That is abusing my goodwill.

Passing my content off as your own work? That is abusing my goodwill.

Twisting my advice to make a quick buck yourself knowingly recommending services that I wouldn’t? That is abusing my goodwill.

I know this is the internet, and that people “steal” content all the time. Information wants to be free, etcetera. I’m fine with that. What I’m not fine with is people monetizing this content without my permission and without attribution for their own benefit, passing it off as their own hard work, and then slapping it behind a copyright and cashing out referral programs while doing it. A majority of my website’s content is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. This does not cover any custom coding I have done. You want to use it for your own personal gain? Go for it, but do so by the letter of the license. Give proper attribution and release under the same license, or contact me directly to arrange otherwise.

Thank you.


Article photo by Horia Varlan and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Readers

  1. Daley,

    An excellent letter. I haven’t stumbled across the offending sites myself, so I won’t comment on that.

    But I want to assure you that your integrity shines through every comment and post you write and I’m absolutely sure that your in-depth research will consistently be found by those hungry for real knowledge.

    I wish you continued success…keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Thank you, Joshua. The sentiment is greatly appreciated.

      Any thoughts on when RPF might come back? ;)

      As to the other blogs in question, they’ve got a relatively low search engine and Alexa ranking. Linking them will only help their traffic. As a firm believer in the Streisand Effect and no such thing as “bad” publicity, the best thing I can do is let them languish.

  2. I’m so sorry somebody have been stealing your contents. :(

    I have referred to your Superguide quite few times since I found it on MMM forum. Thank you for helping me saved so much money on cellphone service. I appreciate the time and effort you put into the superguide. Thank again!

    • I appreciate the kind words, Jordan, and I’m happy to hear that my advice has helped you save so much money.

      If I may clarify… I don’t want sympathy, however. All I want is to not have my goodwill abused. Unfortunately, the offenders in question still have not responded publicly or privately.

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