I remember when Lycos was the Web search engine of choice. I remember Excite, Infoseek, Inktomi, Northern Light and AltaVista. And I remember that none of those early search engines were terribly good, and the total page count on the Web wasn't that huge back then. And so people's "Links" pages were of real value when you wanted to find interesting and/or useful stuff on the Web.
Today, of course, nearly all of the Web's Links pages are just Google PageRank scams, promoted by unsolicited e-mail. They do a search for keywords, they find contact addresses for the (usually hilariously irrelevant) pages they find, they send off link-exchange spam.
Today, in quick succession, the following two showed up.
First, the less funny one:
From: Rodney Thomas
Subject: Can We Exchange Links!!!
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2006 1:59:21 -0500
Hello, My name is Rodney Thomas. I have visited your site http://www.dansdata.com/personal/quacks2.htm and found it to be a great resource for our visitors. I would like to add a link to your website, to our. Would this be possible? If so, please add our link to your website and tell us the location you have added our link. I hope to hear from you very soon!!!
P.S. If you would like to view our site click here: http://www.dontforgettotakeyourvitamins.com/[his affiliate number]
Wow, "The Greatest Vitamin In The World"?! How could I lose?
The FDA's only warned them to knock it off twice, though (direct PDF links: here and here), so I suppose The Greatest Vitamin is actually quite a good product, by multi-level-marketed-dietary-supplement standards. You'd still think they'd spend five seconds to see whether the content of the page that tripped their auto-spam software suggested that they were about to e-mail someone who would in return publicise them, specifically, Rodney Thomas, Greatest Vitamin affiliate #1523, as an assistant in a well-known and despicable scam who deserves to contract an ironic disease.
On to the funny one:
From: Deck Tiles Wholesale
Subject: Reciprocal Link Exchange Request
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2006 00:51:33 -0500 (EST)
Dear owner of http://www.dansdata.com/deck.htm [a review of a keyboard]
I'm the webmaster of http://www.decktiles.org [not about keyboards].
We came across your site on the Internet and feel that it would fit
perfectly into our collection of quality software-related links at
The Google PR of this site is currently .
We've already placed a link to your web site along with a description
at our site on the http://www.decktiles.org/links-exterior-flooring5.html page,
which we encourage you to check for accuracy.
We'd appreciate it if you place a link back to our site using the
following HTML code (just copy and paste it into your links page):
[blah blah blah]
If you'd like the description of your site modified, the category
changed, or if you have any other cross-promotion ideas, feel free to
Please note that if you don't place a reciprocal link to us somewhere
on your site within a week, the link to your site will automatically
be removed from our directory. Please link to us using the code above,
and let us know where we can find the link.
Deck Tiles Wholesale
This is NOT SPAM -- this is a one-time reciprocal link request. We
have NO INTENTION to email you again. You can also reply to this email
with REMOVE in the subject line to make sure we'll NEVER send you any
more e-mails in the future.
Powered with LinkAssistant SEO Tool
So much fun to be had, here.
Start with the fact that this doofus has made the standard link-exchange relevance error, which you can see in full flight on the page on which he so proudly put my link. I share real estate there with cruise-liner deck plans, the observation deck on Seattle's Smith Tower, tarot decks, fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Why? Look at their URL!), little toy skateboards... and one site that's actually about the same kind of deck which actually interests this twerp.
I suppose he's annoyed all of those people, and all of the others on the link pages before and after, with similar e-mails. Which are a one time mailing, and you can also opt out of receiving more (kettle logic!).
If you run a perfectly legitimate business, and some slick salesman or consultant has come along and promised you $$$ if you buy some Search Engine Optimisation package that's supposed to make you the number 1 Google hit for most of the words in the dictionary, please send said carpetbagger on his way, or you're going to end up doing this sort of thing too.
I don't know whether this ham-fisted mess of an e-mail is actually a fair indication of the quality of the "LinkAssistant" software, by the way. LinkAssistant is billed as "The Most Effective SEO Tool", which I suspect to be an overstatement, but the particular awfulness of this message is probably a Garbage In, Garbage Out situation. Apart from failing to vet the list of people LinkAssistant was about to spam on his behalf (I presume it allows you to do that...), this schmuck has used the default settings and a standard form letter, but failed to fill in the little box for the Google PageRank of his site (currently a magnificent zero... maybe that's why there's a blank there), or select something more from the Category menu other than "Software", because that's not the business he's in.
Oh, and he hasn't even bothered to make a link from his front page to his oh-so-terrific links pages, thereby ensuring that the only people who'll ever see them are people he's just spammed about them. Slick.
It's just barely possible that link-exchange schemes can actually provide some benefit to site owners, even in this modern age of, y'know, search engines that work.
But if you assume a piece of "only $149.95!" software can mystically discern, all by itself, the difference between the "deck" you sell and how it differs from every other "deck" in the world, then the result is going to make you look like a bit of a deck.