spam I saw a post by Max Klein today, How to become rich even if nobody is following you on twitter, it made me sad. Go have a read – I’ll wait…

Do you know why I am sad? Because, there is a name for what he is advocating, it’s called spam! I’ve been interested in marketing (the regular kind and the online kind) for almost 2 years now and nothing Max said is a revelation. The shadier parts of the online marketing world have been doing it for years, it’s got many names, micro-niche blogging, micro-niche sites, made-for-adsense sites etc. It’s not new, but it has hung around for years, because it works. You heard me, it works, which doesn’t make it any nobler.

I know he is not just advocating building made-for-adsense sites, it’s not the method, it’s the attitude that goes with it, that is the real issue. Lets not care about providing any kind of value, lets not worry about any sort of professionalism, all we want to do is scam some suckers out of $1 a day and believe you me there are plenty of suckers on the web. Let’s turn our craft into a factory that produces cheap, low-value crap, but can churn it out in hundreds and thousands. And maybe after a little while we start calling ourselves a ‘guru’, no ‘junior vice guru’; oh hell, let’s not mince words – ‘marketing consultant’. We’ll branch out into SEO and ‘brand management’. We’re no longer in the code business, we’re in the making $1 a day business.

There are hundreds of these ‘marketers’ lurking around the internet. Releasing “product” after useless “product” specifically designed to sucker poor shlubs into parting with their hard-earned cash. It’s a self-perpetuating meta-industry which makes money, from selling people products, on how to make money. It’s sickening, but also in a strange way seductive, maybe those poor suckers deserve to be taken for a ride, cause that would make you feel like less of a sucker yourself.

Thousands of people follow these spammers on twitter and everywhere else, they want to emulate these guys, I’d like to think that we programmers are better than that as a community. Not just each individual developer, but all of us together. Let’s face it, we’re smarter than your average sucker, more aware, capable of making a difference. It doesn’t matter where we live, we have the tools, drive and ability to succeed without having to resort to producing rubbish (but doing it quick) and spammy tactics.

And if you do happen to live in a country that is not considered part of the first world, think what this kind of attitude will do not just to your reputation, but your nation’s. Many countries in Eastern Europe and Asia are already considered havens for spam, hackers and porn. Whether rightly or not, do you want to perpetuate those beliefs and make life that much harder for the developers that follow you?

Surely if you can create even a marginally worthwhile product that can make you $1 a day, then a little bit of extra effort can turn that $1 into $2. A couple more features can turn that $2 into $4; some sensible promotion can turn that $4 into $40. If anyone (even one person a month) is willing to part with $29.95 to buy an app, then there surely are many others who will consider it (more than 12 people a year), I refuse to believe otherwise. All it needs is a little bit more work, maybe better documentation, maybe finding more people to spread the word. Abandoning it in a half-done state and moving on to build half of another crappy app is certainly not the answer.

I’ve got no problem with people trying to make some cash. But, as a developer you surely have enough skill and brains that you can do so and still maintain at least a semblance of respect for yourself, your craft and the people who use your products.

I really do hope that if you go down the path of creating a $1 a day empire of crap, nobody follows you on twitter, the world has enough make-money-online ‘experts’ we don’t need any more.

Image by chotda