Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Despicable behavior from a Korat forum Administrator

About a year and a half ago I joined a well known korat forum. I'don't want to say the name of the forum but I will tell you that it is a copy of the original koratfarang forum. The difference being a hyphen strategically placed within the name. What I have discovered that the admin of that forum is doing and continues to do is shocking. In the past I suspected something wasn't right when I tried to log in to my account only to find that I was unable to because the forum displayed that I was already logged in. How is that possible? Some of my PM's which I had never read before were already marked as read. It didn't dawn on me on what was going on until I spoke to a fellow koratian this afternoon at a popular expat bar who is also a member of that forum and experienced the same things I did. What this person shared with me was disturbing. Apparently what the admin of that forum is doing is logging into people's accounts and going through their private messages and profile information. How is he able to do this you might ask? I will tell you how. When I originally joined his forum he assigned a password for me. It was never chosen by me or assigned to me by the forum mechanism. It was selected by the administrator and carefully put together with the initials of my first and last name and date I joined. This is how he created and assigned passwords to his new members. I was stupid enough not to change it for quite sometime which allowed him to go through every private message I had ever written along with every private message that was sent to me. Some of those private messages contained some very personal information like home addresses and phone numbers. Several inquires I sent via email to the admin were never answered. At that time I thought it would be a good idea to change my password and the problem would go away. I was wrong. I discovered today that my password was changed again sometime within the past two days because I am unable to log in. I even tried to reset my password using the forgot password function of the forum but never once received an email with a link to reset my password. I am convinced 100% that this is the doing of the admin. The admin of a forum can change any member's password then use it to log in to anyone's account. I am at a loss of words as I cannot understand why someone would do something so low as this. There is a certain element of trust when you join forums and discussion groups and are asked to provide personal information in order to create an account. When someone does something disturbing like what this admin has done it destroys the trust, faith and confidence within the community. I am mortified.

I have sent an email to that admin firmly stating to delete my account and all posts I have made or associated with me to be deleted. I won't hold my breath as I have not received a response yet and I don't expect one either.

I am making my story public because I want to warn people to be careful and hope that they don't fall victim to this as I have. If you have not changed your password on that forum do it as soon as possible. DO NOT KEEP THE PASSWORD HE ASSIGNS YOU!!!!! Be careful about any information you have saved in your private mailbox and profile. There is a wealth of personal data and information that can be collected without your knowing.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Vandalizing a Wiki

"A wiki is a web application which allows people to add, modify, or delete content in a collaborative environment, usually using a simplified markup language or a rich-text editor." (Encyclopedia Brittanica)

"The encyclopedia project Wikipedia is the most famous wiki on the public web, but there are many sites running many different kinds of wiki software. Wikis can serve many different purposes both public and private, including knowledge management, note-taking, community websites and intranets. A wiki enables communities to write documents collaboratively, using a simple markup language and a web browser.

A defining characteristic of wiki technology is the ease with which pages can be created and updated. Generally, there is no review before modifications are accepted. Many wikis are open to alteration by the general public without requiring registration of user accounts. Many edits can be made in real-time and appear almost instantly online. This can facilitate abuse of the system. Private wiki servers require user-authentication to edit pages, and sometimes even to read them." (Wikipedia)

Anybody can just start a wiki at one of those free hosts, like anybody can start a forum at a free host. Others may contribute by adding information like inserting the link and description to their own sites or forums, if they see it fit.

But what about an individual who vandalizes a wiki, changing the links and descriptions to other sites, he might see as a competition to his own, using insults of the lowest degree? He must have overlooked that his IP address was displayed together with the changes he had made, that apart from his already known style, vocabulary and sick behavior he can't remain anonymous, just like a forum troll...

"Most wikis keep a record of changes made to wiki pages; often, every version of the page is stored. This means that authors can revert to an older version of the page, should it be necessary because a mistake has been made or the page has been vandalized." (Wikipedia)

So, reverting an act of vandalism isn't a lot of work, just a few clicks. But the act of vandalism itself was an anti-social act, directed against the internet community of people interested in that specific wiki.

What do you think, Vandalfie, another way to go?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

RSS feeds for an easy overview

Social media of the foreigners in Korat have split from its one forum "koratfarang.com" for various reasons: some got banned with the advice to run their own forum, others felt like they should run their own forum by themselves. Attempts of cooperation between this multitude of forums by connecting to each other failed. Some expressively placed links to the others on their site to help the reader on his daily way around Korat's expat information services and social media, while others declared "No links to that forum on here!"

With the interest of the reader in mind one participant found another way to give this overview by opening a website with the RSS feeds of all the forums. But that obviously didn't suit those who don't see their forum as part of a whole, but singular. the two with the least visitors turned off the RSS feeds, maybe thinking that way they could make people visit their sites directly to find out about new posts. Or was there another reason behind it? It's hard to take a look into their heads. In any case the people who lost are not only those in the Korat expat community, who are interested in the overview, most did those two admins themselves loose. Because people who did follow their forums by subscribing to the RSS feeds via an email client don't get updates anymore either. C'est la vie!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Copyright/Copyfraud Game

It's well known that some people are using the internet to actively make fools of themselves and others.

So a couple of days ago somebody posted on the KoratFart forum the following:

"It has been brought to my attention that the user "thaiga" and other people have been copying my blogs with pictures and posting on these forums with no credit to me or link back to my blog. I count four blogs taken from my website on this one page alone. It's not really fair for you to just copy and paste my work and let other people believe that it is yours. Blogging is my fulltime occupation. If people don't visit my blogs and click on advertising then I cannot earn my living. Can you please remove all of my copyrighted blogs from these forums.


Richard Barrow"

 An investigation into the matter revealed that not only no copyrights had been violated, but the person claiming the copyright infringement himself violated laws by alleging  ownership not only of information in the public domain but also of material he obviously had copied himself. He did not supply any further details when asked to supply those founding his allegations.

As the poster indicates in the first words of his false accusation he has been lured into making that false claim by a mischievous person. In any case he himself can be blamed for not carefully checking whether there is any truth to it before he made a fool of himself with an unlawful act. But as we learn from other accusations obviously passed on by the admin of a competing forum to a naive person, who also posts those on the internet without any attempts of confirmation, it can be suspected that this possibly also was an attempt of unfair competition. Obviously this is normal procedure in the "summer theatre" of Korat's internet services.

Now to the topic "Copyfraud" itself:


Copyfraud is a form of copyright misuse. The term was coined by Jason Mazzone (Associate Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School) to describe situations where individuals and institutions illegally claim copyright ownership of the public domain and other breaches of copyright law with little or no oversight by authorities or legal consequence for their actions.


Mazzone describes copyfraud as:

    Claiming copyright ownership of public domain material.
    Imposition by a copyright owner of restrictions beyond what the law allows.
    Claiming copyright ownership on the basis of ownership of copies or archives.
    Claiming copyright ownership by publishing a public domain work in a different medium.

Mazzone argues that copyfraud is usually successful because there are few and weak laws criminalizing false statements about copyrights and lax enforcement of such laws and because few people are competent enough to give legal advice on the copyright status of commandeered material.

In the U.S. Copyright Act, only two sections deal with improper assertions of copyright on public domain materials: Section 506(c) criminalizes fraudulent uses of copyright notices and Section 506(e) punishes knowingly making a false representation of a material fact in the application for copyright registration. Section 512(f) additionally punishes using the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to remove material the issuer knows is not infringing. But apart from these two sections, the U.S. Copyright Act does not provide for any civil penalties for claiming copyrights on public domain materials, nor does the Act prescribe relief for individuals who refrain from copying or pay for copying permission to an entity that engages in copyfraud.

Section 202 of the Australian Copyright Act 1968, which imposes penalties for 'groundless threats of legal proceedings', provides a cause of action of any false claims of copyright infringement. This should include false claims of copyright ownership of public domain material, or claims to impose copyright restrictions beyond those permitted by the law.

Legal scholar Paul J. Heald, in a 1993 paper published in the Journal of Intellectual Property Law, explored the possibility that payment demands for spurious copyrights might be resisted under a number of commerce-law theories: (1) Breach of warranty of title; (2) unjust enrichment; (3) fraud, and (4) false advertising. (Wikipedia)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Renaming this blog

Regular visitors might have noticed that I did rename it to make its title fit better to its content, mainly for the purpose of being found easier. So people can already tell by its url what to expect to find here.

Sometimes the purpose and content of a blog do develop differently from what was intended first. Luckily it's no problem at all to rename  a blog on Blogger and have its url change to one more meaningful. I count on your understanding of this decision.

Of course it can still be accessed by its old url, just gets redirected then. And the search engines will adapt to it. But Alexa won't assign an own rank to it anymore, it gets counted together with all other korat.info sites, just below "Where Visitors Go on Korat.info" it might get listed as subdomain, if traffic reaches a significant share.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Boosting the Alexa Rank

I wonder what the admin of a local community forum thinks what benefit boosting his forum's Alexa rank could have, as by that he gave evidence to everybody that the rank has been artificially boosted? Does he have business in mind?

Boost your website's Alexa ranking

Good Alexa ranking is a key indicator of a successful website or blog. As a rule of thumb, the better the Alexa ranking, the more business you'll get. Boost up your Alexa ranking by surfing websites with thousands of other Alexa Boostup users.

Funniest is that just the Alexa ranking tells you clearly that it has been manipulated and how, simply by the CLICKSTREAM data, because that "Alexaboostup.com" site has to be accessed by the "Autosurf Booster" again and again for reading on the rotator there which link to "click" next. So there is no other explanation than  that site having been used for manipulating the Alexa ranking and the forum's page views and visitor numbers. The indication of manipulation has been boosted the same!

Free Alexa Auto Rank Booster - Boost alexa ranking

        Boost up your website Alexa ranking for free by using free Alexa Booster.

        Alexa Boostup is compatible with Firefox Browser only.

        Here is how it works:
        User with a Firefox browser and Alexa Toolbar/Plugin signs up and verifies account on Alexa Boostup.
        User logs into Alexa Boostup menu and enters website to boost its rank and enables the website for rotation.
        User can start autosurf by clicking the autosurf link.
        User gets 0.5 surf points after each 40-60 seconds. No need to do anything, just minimize the window and see your Alexa Rank rocketing up.

        Just signup at http://www.alexaboostup.com if you want to increase your Alexa Ranking for Free.

        If you do not want to surf to earn surfing points, then you may purchase surfing points at very cheap rates from the user menu via Paypal.

That must have been a really desperate move. I wonder whether alexa.com already did insert a loop into their algorithm that excludes these clicks from being counted? Or is the actual Alexa rank of those boosted sites so extremely low?

Added on 6/5/2013:

Quite an interesting business idea: organize people helping each other to deceive, and turn a profit.

That site was on auction at flippa.com and found a buyer for $1,500 two months ago.

Interesting is its description there:


Good Alexa ranking is a key indicator of a successful website or blog. As a rule of thumb, the better the Alexa ranking, the more business you'll get. Alexaboostup.com is a unique service that offers a boost in Alexa Ranking. Here is how it works:

User wishing to improve website Alexa ranking signup and get 100 surfing points as a signup bonus. Users have Alexa toolbar/plugin and Firefox browser (which is a condition for signup).

User surf other websites to earn more points. For each point user get hit from other alexa toolbar surfer to their own website. Hence for each point user earn by surfing other website the user in return get a hit to website from other users.

Alexa ranking only counts the visitors who have alexa toolbar/plugin installed on the browser. Since each surfer has alexa toolbar/plugin installed, so all the websites rotating get a boost in Alexa Ranking.

The signup and surfing is free. User get 1 point for each website they surf.

The main earning source of this website is surfing point sales. Users who do not wish to surf to earn points, buy the points via Paypal.

You can signup and see the user menu for all other functionalities of the website.

This is not an ordinary autosurf website. In an autosurf website, the website opens in an iframe window, which is not counted as a hit by Alexa toolbar, hence the ranking does not increase using other autosurf website. In Alexaboostup surfing, the websites open in new tabs and close automatically after about 1 minute.

Within 1 week of surfing a major improvement in any website can be seen. Within 1 month, the ranking typically improves from 1 million + to below 150,000.

Typically 30 to 50 surfers are online at any time and has about 70 to 100 daily surfers.

The website comes with an admin panel to manage the users.

The website has an impressive 3 month Alexa ranking of less than 35,000. The website is about 4 months old. The ranking is getting better with time as more and more users are using this service. Its 1 week ranking is about 10,000.

The website is on a shared host and the hosting expenditure is next to nothing.

The website has a great potential as it provides a unique cheap service. As the users grow, the number of users wishing to buy points instead of surfing will also grow. This not only increases Alexa ranking but it is also a great marketing strategy for new websites.

Total verified members are about 750 and each day 5-10 new signups.

Looks like it works in finding people stupid enough to expose themselves as deceivers. Alfie showed us!

Now I wonder whether at Alexa.com they haven't heard about this interfering business, or cannot simply render it useless by adding a check to their algorithm, not to count those visitors being referred from and immediately returning there for the next link to "click" - or did they do that already, now enjoying the deceivers exposing themselves via the CLICKSTREAM reading?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Most users online

Forums usually show at the left bottom figures how many users were online within a set time frame, and at which date they had the most users online. Some admins do think high figures there would give prospective members the impression of a really interesting and active forum to join. From that viewpoint mods were developed to manipulate this figure. So it isn't really a figure to care about, unless you're sure the site's admin is honest and not so dumb to believe, that "telling lies" were a good way to compete.

A few days ago a friend asked me, what I think of a certain forum all of a sudden having changed the time frame for the users online threshold from 3 hours to 24 hours. And above showing numbers "just not likely at all". A short look there made me remember what I had read about that "fake users online mod". It was just too obvious that the admin kept playing with that. About every two hours 25 users more kept opening that site. Now, I'm familiar with the internet. So I looked up other sites collecting data about webtraffic. And they revealed that the amount of visitors to that forum had actually decreased. Something I found very credible, since my webmastering experience of seven years told me that at the beginning of the hot season the interest in Thailand-related websites vanishes for a few months due to the Winter expats going home.

Well, what advice could I give to that admin who lost his credibility by not well-thought-of "tricks"? Resetting the values were one thing possible, but it could hardly keep people from chuckling every time they see his users online figure, knowing it just can't be true. Looks like he has to live with having made a fool of himself again!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pretending info – doing unethical competition

Advertising by the means of media does cost money. That’s why some companies have changed to running media themselves to reduce costs. The internet makes it possible for a company’s own website to be as accessible as professional media. It can give general information to keep people looking it up via Google search results etc. Nothing wrong with that – so far!
But people are being deceived when links on a website pretending to give general information are denoted wrong. The person viewing that website might think by the denotation of a link, clicking it would lead to the business’ website indicated there, unless he first checked the lower left of his browser showing the real url when hovering with the cursor over a link. That’s the only way people can protect themselves against deception on dubious websites. But more severe is the search engines’ assigning the keywords words used for the name of that company with the link it has been assigned with by the programmer of that site with their indexed search results, leading to deception by the search engine results – just as they have been “designated by the deceptor”. Company names are trademarks not allowed to be abused for unethical competition. It is legal to include the names of competing companies on one’s own website to show prospective customers what alternatives there are. Giving them as links that do not lead to the right websites, but one’s own or one is associated with is not only unethical, hijacking internet traffic by deception, stealing customers by hijacking, is definitely illegal. But what does a person mind, who claims to be educated in laws?