Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Does Wellsphere Scam Bloggers? (continued)

Continued from part 1

After reading a bunch of the articles I found – just Google “wellsphere scam” and you will see the same articles – and thinking about it for a while, I realized that best case, I had entered into this way too hastily. I should have at the least used Google myself prior to committing to be a Wellsphere Health Blogger. I had been seduced by the flattery in the note. But there was a huge clue in the soliciting e-mail that should have told me that this was just a mass produced come-on: the introduction:

“Dear Racn4acure:”

Anyone spending five minutes on my blog would be able to know my first name. Anyone spending 15 – 30 minutes and doing some poking around on links could learn my full name. Obviously no one had. They looked at the fact that I wrote about cancer in some way, saw that I posted things fairly regularly, and decided to see if they could add me to their blogger list with a flattering note. By stroking the ego of people who write, they got plenty of takers, including me for a week. And had my friend not filled me in, I’d probably still be part of Wellsphere.

Now if I were still a member, what would I be giving up? At the very least, if they really liked what I wrote, and published it as a book either by itself or with some works of other bloggers, and it became a best seller, they would not owe me a dime. Clearly, the conditions they listed right up front gave them that right. Thinking about it quite a bit since, I think that was foolhardy on my part.

Now worst case, what if I used my blog postings to create a book? Or say I wrote a book, and used a few of my blog postings in it? Let’s say it became a best seller (go along with me here, people, as farfetched as it sounds) and earned me a million dollars. If the terms of the more stringent section applied, in theory, Wellsphere could sue me because their loading my writing automatically gave them intellectual property rights and ownership of everything I wrote on my blog. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants – to be sued by someone because you published your own writings?

Not being a lawyer, it is impossible for me to know if (1) this latter scenario could happen and (2) if it was deliberately set up by Wellsphere’s lawyers to sucker and scam bloggers. But I was not willing to take the chance, and there are enough people out there saying very negative and angry things about Wellsphere to make me leery. The world wide web can be a very nasty place, so caveat emptor.

One of Wellsphere’s claims in their pitch was that readership of your blog would increase if you became a Wellsphere health blogger. But upon looking at the posts of bloggers who’s content was placed in Wellsphere, all of their blog links were internal. In other words, when you clicked on one of their posts shown in Wellsphere, it would go to that post in Wellsphere, not in their blog. There was a link to the author’s blog in their Wellsphere profile, but all other links to their material stayed within Wellsphere. So the claim that it would increase readership seems unlikely.

So does Wellsphere deliberately scam bloggers? Well, I don’t know how to definitely answer that. If they deliberately set up conflicting terms of service so that they can claim intellectual property to anything that a blogger writes, then clearly the answer is yes. But even if this is not the case, by allowing them to publish what you write, you clearly are giving them the right to use your stuff in any form they choose and make money on it without any compensation to you. That seems like a bad deal in exchange for possibly a few more people dropping by your blog – if they don’t just choose to read your blog totally within Wellsphere’s portal.

So for this blogger, the negatives and potential negatives far outweighed any potential gains that I might realize, once I got over the heady flattery of being chosen to be a Wellsphere Health Blogger. What I write may never make me rich – it may never even earn me a dollar – but it is my creation, and I am not willing to give the possibility of earning a buck to someone else for no compensation. And I am certainly not willing to risk giving away my intellectual property to someone else through a possible weasel clause created by clever lawyers. So therefore, I, for one, will remain unaffiliated with Wellsphere.


Anonymous said...

Hi Art! First, Wellsphere sounds criminal, and usually if it sounds too good to be true then it usually is. Second, I recently read your comment from my "marathon training" post and thank you so much for your supportive words. I am on track for the marathon still and my hubby is still training as well. Also, I LOVE triathlons! I have been doing them since 1996. In fact, some would say I'm addicted! Thanks for your kind words.

Hopesrising said...

Thanks for the heads up Art. Glad you did some homework on them. I have heard others say similar things.

fernpixel said...

Oh my gosh! I almost said yes to them! I got a very flattering email too and I was lead to believe that I would own the content. They never got back to me after I sent two follow up emails. I got a reply after the third saying that they would send me a link to join. Its been a month and I still haven't heard back.

I googled "wellsphere scam" just now and found your blog and in-depth warning. I was glad I did! Thanks for blogging about this.

Racn4acure said...

Hi Fernpixel - yep, there is enough out there to be disturbing. It all may be fine, but just be aware and proceed with caution. Art

jacob said...

I signed up for them and wrote an original article in exchange for a link to my blog.

Figured I would give them exclusive content in order to get a link to my blog.

They put a no-follow on the link and there is coding to prevent google from indexing. The link is completely invisible to google but it appears they kept their side of the deal.

Bunch of scammers.