AboutUs.org - a sham

Update: Molly Holzschlag also shared her thoughts on the the topic - here.

Today began like any other Saturday. I sort of lazily woke up, checked email, looked at my Mint stats to check the incoming referrers - nothing too exciting. One URL in particular caught my eye though, that of AboutUs.org which had a page written up about me. Flattering as this may be, it was also a bit disconcerting to see that they had listed my personal info such as email address, phone number and home address - with a Google Maps indicator showing exactly where I live. I clicked on the AboutUs privacy policy to see what their terms of use are, and was greeted by this ill-conceived attempt…

AboutUs: privacy policy

It simply reads: "Please Do not abuse with the System" - with capitalization errors and all. This part of the site seems the least developed, when really it should be one of the more important aspects, especially if you are scraping aggregating data about people around the web. I looked around for some sort of opt-out choice, but there was none to be had. Forgive me for being blunt, but the mere existence of AboutUs seems like such abuse of other people's information. It rips most of its info straight from Alexa, and then the additional supplimental stuff is just a copy and paste from the original sites.

As far as I can tell, AboutUs offers little by way of original content, or original thought for that matter. It does not seem to really do anything. For instance, at least Alexa tracks traffic related details, and offers some semblance of usefulness. This is not so with AboutUs, which only regurgitates recycled information in an attempt to create the illusion of an authoratative website. Don't get me wrong, I do think that wikis have great potential for usefulness, such as Wikipedia. However, the drawback of wiki type software is that any goofball can do whatever he wants with it, in this case namely Ray King.

I also find it laughable that he is asking for volunteers to police the wiki, and is trying to get donations to fund his site. Here's a news-flash for Ray: You're not doing anything new. All this data already exists with real registrars. If people really want to know about these sites, they'll just visit them directly. So perhaps you can find better ways to invest your time, and give up on pan-handling. It all just comes across as a pathetic attempt to generate Google ad revenue if you ask me, by linking to high ranked websites to increase one's own relevance / page ranking. I'm on to your game.

I have talked to several other people from the 9rules Network whose info has been prominently displayed on this site without permission, and the general consensus is that AboutUs is rather pointless. Now, I don't want to be mean, but I figured someone should clue this guy in that what he is attempting to do is completely unnecessary and will probably get more people upset with him than anything else. If he wants to make a name for himself, he should do it not by being a parrot, but by doing something useful instead. I am not sure what that could be, but Ray - I sincerely hope you find your niche.

Note: All outgoing links to AboutUs.org were using rel="nofollow" - Info.