Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fog On the Internet

Let's face it. There are a like a trillion different paths you can follow on the world wide web. Every day it seems there are new gadgets, buttons, counters, feeds, sites and new social networking tools. In the last month I have been invited to join Facebook and Twitter to network with known friends and relatives. I ignored these invitations. Not because I didn't want to be their friend, because I didn't want to deal with joining another site. I can only cope with so much technology and networking on the internet. I have hermit genes. I live in the wilderness and love it for heaven's sake.

A little flattery will get me curious however, so when I received a comment on a post telling me what a great writer I was and would I be interested in being a featured blogger, I had to check it out.

"I think your writing is great! I would like to feature you in the Gardening Community on Wellsphere, a top 10 health website that has well over 2 million visitors monthly."

So I went to Wellsphere and had a look around. The place looked legit and well designed and a resource I could even use. It was easy to get around and it wasn't chock full of annoying ads. Actually it was eerily ad free. They must be hiding some where. Whatever. Someone is interested enough in my blog and my writing to ask me to be a blogger there. What does it pay?

I responded to this inquiry for my services and let him know,
"I read this page, about blogging for the site and the terms of service page. My impression is that wanting to add my blog is a site and community building effort on your part for Wellsphere.

I would be interested to hear what the particulars are if I was to consider joining Wellsphere as a blogger. In essence you need to entice me to join and spend time at Wellsphere.

I read the Terms Of Use:

You agree that any and all comments, information, photos, videos, feedback and ideas that you communicate to Wellsphere or submit or post to the Website or give Wellsphere permission to post to the Website (“User Materials”) will be deemed, at the time of communication to Wellsphere or submission or posting to the Website, to be the property of Wellsphere, and Wellsphere shall be entitled to full rights of ownership, including without limitation, the unrestricted right to use or disclose such User Materials in any form, medium or technology now known or later developed, and for any purpose, commercial or otherwise, without compensation to you. In the event that you have any rights in the User Materials that cannot be assigned or waived you hereby grant to Wellsphere a royalty-free, paid-up, exclusive, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to (i) use, make, sell, offer to sell, have made, and further sublicense any such User Materials, and (ii) reproduce, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform and publicly display the User Materials in any medium or format, whether now known or later developed.

When you post your own copyrightable content on the Website or give Wellsphere permission to post your copyrightable content on the Website, you retain ownership of any copyright you claim to your submitted content. However, by posting your content or giving Wellsphere permission to post your content you automatically grant Wellsphere a royalty-free, paid-up, non-exclusive, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to (i) use, make, sell, offer to sell, have made, and further sublicense any such User Materials, and (ii) reproduce, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform and publicly display the User Materials in any medium or format, whether now known or later developed.

Say What? I've been down this road before. How much does this pay again?

Part of the reply, sales pitch I got back:

"I would like to invite you to be a featured blogger in the Gardening Community on the new Wellsphere site. By joining our network of over 1700 leading health and healthy living bloggers, you will be in great company, and will benefit from exposure to the expanded audience of the Wellsphere community. When you join, we also will feature you on our very popular WellBlog with a link back to your blog.

We will republish the postings you've already written for you, and feature them on the community pages of the site, but also within our new dynamic magazine like WellPages, where we give users a comprehensive view of expert information, news, videos, local resources, and member postings on topics you write about. Your profile page on the site will give you special status as a featured blogger. If you are an active contributor, we also will feature you on our homepage.

Let me know what you think."

No contract, no mention of compensation or ability to generate some income.

What do I think? Sir.

It sounds to me like you are asking for permission to republish the entire content of my blog OutsideClyde on your site, past and future, the words and photographs, and grant Wellsphere Inc. equal copyright privileges. What I will get in return is maybe a few more hits to my blog from a direct link from your site and some exposure I could possibly use to self promote my work if I was so inclined.

Asking someone to be a writer and contributor of content should come with a formal legal agreement at a minimum between the author and a business entity. Even token monetary compensation is not an unheard of notion.

I am not enticed.

It's not like I think I am the next Henry Mitchell or Ansel Adams waiting to be discovered. I just don't think I need to consent to some larger business entity on the web going around and sucking up content like a vacuum cleaner to do with as they wish for their sole profit and screwing me in the process. Wellsphere your kind invitation is rejected.

The road ahead is not always clear. That's ok. Even this hermit knows he has friends out there all along the way.

Other blogger's take on Wellsphere are here:
The Assertive Cancer Patient
Wellsphere On Trial
The Trials and Tribulations of Garden Voices and Other Cautionary Notes


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of double talk to steal your work. Don't think so. It sure is amazing how some people will go to get something for nothing.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yep, that is one of the hazards you good writers have to watch out for, someone trying to horn in on any success you might have now or ever. I think you made the right decision.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. I suppose horrifying, too. So you just hand over your words and photography? Some people's greed is just beyond my comprehension.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I love your reply! You may be a hermit, but you're a streetwise hermit!! ((:
I do think you should pursue some sort of writing, however, as I've mentioned before. (Just look at what Ken Druse has made out of it, whatever your opinion of his later books...). A Henry Mitchell-esque collection of essays on life Outside Clyde I think would be well received.
I still miss Henry, each and every day - if only he hadn't been a smoker.....


Anonymous said...

Yikes, what a maroon, as Bugs Bunny would say! Who would willingly give up their precious blog material like that? It's a wonder they have any takers to that offer at all. I have had sites lift my whole content, without credit or permission, one in particular called My Ani, from Europe, maybe Sweden that I have contacted several times and finally got them to stop it, I think. They did not even use the name Fairegarden at all, just the title of the post, the text and the photos. It is one of the reasons I am now putting the blog name on every picture, no matter the quality. Cretins.

I loved your second comment on Garden Rant to Carol, too, HA. I think she liked it too. :-)

Christopher C. NC said...

That's right Lola. To me it is just legalized theft.

Lisa I'm just a small fry in a big pond. This is an effort on their part to lure in garden bloggers in general to build their site. I got a form flattery invitation.

Kim, pretty bold of them isn't it?

Bev, your flattery I believe. All the more reason not to give away my early work.

Christopher C. NC said...

Frances, don't be surprised if you hear from Wellsphere too. They are currently targeting garden blogs to add to their site.

Anonymous said...

I second what everyone has said here. Pretty bold is right! Iloved your response.

Anonymous said...

I did join Wellsphere.
Now I have second thoughts.

Christopher C. NC said...

Sorry to hear that Naturalgal.

I have added a couple more links at the bottom of this post to help get the word out on the internet about the grabby Wellsphere.

lisa said...

Thank you for posting this! As much as I also feel that blogging, writing, photography would be fun ways to be able to make a living, it seems leaches and barnacles are at every turn. Hollow, transparent parasites...wascally wabbits...fart-knockers! :)

susan said...

They got me too as a mental health blogger.

I am not a happy camper.

Very good article, and you have a lovely blog sir.

I also loved the photo of the cat walking alone, like Kiplings. Is she yours?

Christopher C. NC said...

Lisa,the death prattle of print journalism and the growing power of the internet are going to make for a bit of a wild west scenario for a while I think.

Hi Susan, sorry to hear you got snagged. There is a major uproar in the medical/health blogosphere about this. Some folks were editing their profile pages at Wellsphere to make it unpalletable for them and got their stuff deleted. One commenter who said she was an attorney, claimed their copyright grab is invalid because to transfer those rights it must be done in writing. Plus most bloggers never were prodded to click a "yes" I accept the TOS button.

You can do a blog search on Google or Technorati on Wellsphere and all kinds of stuff comes up about this recent sale.

Yes that is my cat Spot who adopted me back in October. I think someone dropped her and her two kittens off in the woods.