GoDaddy + Hoder = Outrageous

Hoder and GoDaddy

While I am the first to admit I’m a little on the cranky side, it actually takes quite a lot to trip my moral outrage switch.

But GoDaddy has tripped it in spectacular style.

The well-known blogger Hoder is a dual Canadian/Iranian citizen who is generally considered to be the daddy of Iranian blogging. He has written passionately about politics and censorship, been published in mainstream publications including the Guardian, and visited Israel in 2007 as a citizen journalist and peace activist.

On November 1, 2008 (almost exactly a year ago), Hoder was arrested while visiting his family in Tehran, probably because of that visit to Israel. He has since spent at least ten months in solitary confinement, and has been repeatedly beaten and tortured. He may still be facing the death penalty.

His domain is registered at GoDaddy. Hoder.com, and thus the site housing the online archive of his writing, expires in 21 days. Many, many  members of MetaFilter, where Hoder is also a member, are more than willing to fork over the renewal fee to preserve his domain while he’s imprisoned. GoDaddy’s response to this request has been thus:

They refused citing security issues. However, if any of Hoder’s family can provide his password or the last 6 digits of the credit card used to register, the company will allow renewal, even with a different CC.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

Would GoDaddy like the Iranian police to beat that Visa number out of Hoder? Perhaps his family should stop their efforts to get their son released and instead expend energy requesting he be “interviewed” to get his GoDaddy password?

This attitude is frankly beyond indifferent and appalling and into territory previously uncharted by my vocabulary. I am literally at a loss to find the adjectives to describe how stunning this is.

This is a problem that is very easily solved by simply crediting Hoder’s hosting and domain account, and would already be solved by any company that hadn’t had its last ounce of human decency sucked out of its mindless, bureaucratic soul. This requires nothing more than a little ordinary customer service in an extraordinary situation.

There appear to be actual people behind the @GoDaddyGuy account on Twitter. Let us hope that Twitter requests to renew #hoder’s domain registration will be treated with vastly more compassion than GoDaddy has shown to date.

They could hardly show less.

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media in Four Tweets

Hint: This image is NOT from Shutterstock. And never will be.

Exhibit A:

My Tweet

Super Glue's retweet

Exhibit B:

My Tweet about iStock

Shutterstock's reply to me

I sincerely think that is everything you need to know about social media in four tweets.

Alternatively, you could just watch @shutterstock shill on Twitter for an object lesson in what not to do.

(I did try to illuminate the path for them, just because it pains me so to watch these companies vomit all over their expensive branded shoes. Not surprisingly, the PR muffin or graduate intern or highly paid Social Media Expert™ or whoever they have working that account totally did not get it.)

Screenclick = Worst. Website. Ever.

screenclick rating: fail

For someone who likes films, I see surprisingly few of them because I am, conversely, not a big fan of cinemas. But I was a big fan of Moviestar.ie, the Irish version of Netflix. Moviestar provided a great service, had a great website, and as a bonus, provided me with several nice DVD players and bottles of champagne via their sponsorship of various awards I was lucky enough to take home.

Then I got an email in January announcing that they had been subsumed by Screenclick, and that I was now going to get “even better service and wider choice of movies on DVD.” What I actually got was no movies. At all. For six months.

Apparently, the postal address I provided to Moviestar (the one I, you know, live at) and that worked through my entire relationship with them simply didn’t work when Screenclick dispatched films. I went through this with customer support several times in April to no avail, and then in June films suddenly started arriving again.

The magical, successful apparition of movies in my mail slot and several emails nagging me to update my rental queue prompted me to finally log into the Screenclick.com website for the first time ever last night. Ten minutes later, Hollywood-horror-flick howls of rage and frustration were heard ’round the world. And they were not emanating from my DVD player.

Screenclick is broadly fine if you can type the name of a film you want to rent into the search box. For anything else, it’s useless. If you want to actually browse films, for example, you’re screwed:

  • DVDs are listed by category and displayed alphabetically. Want to find a TV series to rent? You better like 24, because it takes up the first three pages of television listings.
  • The “Watch Trailer” feature for individual film selections delivers audio only. Presumably this would be useful if I wanted to rent the podcast version.
  • If I liked Juno, I want suggestions of more films like Juno. Telling me that someone who rented Juno also rented Die Hard 2 just makes me want to start taking hostages.

I strongly suspect the people behind Screenclick are just popping down to the warehouse to pick up whatever they want to watch, because anyone attempting to actually use this site would have killed themselves or fixed it by now. (Here’s a tip: if your customers resort to checking Wikipedia listings of Academy Award winners just to come up with titles to add to their subscription queues, your user interface is really, really broken.)

And the real pisser:

Screenclick (formerly DVDrentals) was established in 2001 when we realised Ireland could really use a service which was more convenient and less expensive than traditional video stores.

Thanks. We had that. You bought it, ate it, and killed its young.

I hope the Moviestar guys made piles of cash. Because they have to be spinning in it. And buying their films from Play.com.

NetExpo Parties Like It's 1997

When something bills itself in 2009 as “Ireland’s first online only event” – which is an epic pile of spinning PR bullshit – you know you’re off to a great start. And when it’s promoted with a video as completely and totally hilarious as this one, you know this “dazzling selling experience” is going to be too good to miss.

And so it proved to be with NetExpo’s  Search Event 2009. I could try to explain to you the complete and utter trainwreck this turkey turned out to be when it opened today, but I genuinely don’t think I could do it justice and a picture is, as they say, worth a thousand words. Click for larger images:

Main Hall

That’s the “Main Hall” – you have to click the tiny text for Hall A or Hall B to visit the exhibition halls:

Hall B

This is Hall B. You can’t actually click any of those exhibition booths – which is just as well because how much would you not want to be the tiny ones at the back? – you have to click the imperceptible “Show Booths” link at the top:

Example Booth

And that brings us to the “exhibitors.” This is the Blacknight, erm, booth. I don’t think Blacknight is particularly being punished for something; they all more or less look like that.

There are a million crap ideas crappily executed every day, so I’m not sure why I find this one so completely irksome. I think it has something to do with the fact that they’ve illegitimately promoted it as some kind of ground-breaking first for Ireland,when it is in fact the opposite of ground-breaking and what’s more, completely embarassing.

In all seriousness, it’s like these people just discovered the internet the day before yesterday and have stepped straight into a time machine headed for 1997. They’re saying things like “deliver your sales message to customers new and old right into where they work during their regular business hours!” and I think they actually mean it. They have a blog entry titled “Why you should do business online” and I think they mean that, too.

The thing is, this is not the worst idea ever. There is arguably a market for and a value to bringing companies together in a virtual space for time-limited promotional event with a lot of buzz around it. But the execution here is just so, so appalling that I actually called a few exhibitors to find out if they knew it was going to be like this – because I couldn’t believe anyone had signed up for this pile of horsehit.

Predictably, the most common response was “Oh my God. Oh my GOD. OH MY GOD!” followed by the sound of foreheads crashing into keyboards. So I’m guessing no.

Hilariously, under each booth is scrolling text that says If You Would Like To Find Out More About Hosting Your Own Online Expo….Contact Us At…

That would be 1997@compuserve.com, yes?

Searchles: Artles, Tactles and Clueles

This afternoon, I received an email off my contact form from the unfortunately named Elias Shams at the unfortunately named Searchles. According to the email footer, “Searchles” rhymes with “circles.” I can’t help thinking, though, that there’s a fundamental problem with you brand when you have to point out to people that it does not rhyme with words like artless, tactless and clueless.

Anyway, the email just smelled spammy; it was not addressed to me personally, and not about anything I’ve ever expressed any interest in. So I double-checked with Twitter and indeed: Suzy got it once, Damien twice, Darragh twice, Lexia twice, and Redmum also twice.

I believe, campers, that we call this Yahtzee!

Just to be clear, I don’t mind at all when people use my contact form to contact me. I do mind, however, when people use it as a dumbwaiter for delivering piping hot spam direct to a random Inbox. And I particularly mind it when the communication attempt is as wildly inept as Elias’ was:

  • If you want to contact me, have the courtesy to actually figure out my name and address me. (BIG HINT: My name is IN MY URL.) It helps to foster the illusion that this is at least a little bit about me and not all about you.
  • The email has six links to six different sites within it. You have my attention for less than thirty seconds; give me ONE PLACE to go.
  • It has no specific call to action. Again, you have my attention for less than thirty seconds; give me ONE THING to do.

A good pitch email just isn’t that hard to put together. And when you’re sending it to hundreds or thousands of bloggers, each one vocal and each one carting around their own personal soapbox, it’s particularly important that you get it right.

As I pointed out to Elias when I wrote back to him, if you spend half as much time copywriting your email as you do trawling for random bloggers to send it to, you’re much more likely to end up with a pitch that doesn’t suck out loud.

Elias replied to tell me that this wasn’t spam, that he picked me to write to because of the Ladies Tea party post; apparently, he loves women and thinks we’re the best thing ever. (I’m sure Damien and Darragh will be totally flattered to hear that.) And apparently, my little missive has broken him as a man:

I can’t believe you think my pitch suck :-( u just put a huge crack on my heart :-(

And so, courtesy of Suzy, I leave this as consolation for poor Elias:

[youtube width="415" height="336"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvH93O8N7wQ[/youtube]

MOLI Fails at Internet Bingo

molibingo.png

Please join me in a BINGO adventure as we score MOLI.com on their PR ability, commitment to transparency, crisis management rating, and customer service skills.

Believe me, even I am getting a bit bored with how shit they are at all of this, and I regret that this post will only be of interest to venture capitalists, DEMO attendees, TechCrunch readers, Valleywag whores, users of Wikipedia, members of social networks, people in PR, people in marketing, people in communications, and those who want to see how MOLI.com finally responded to being caught astroturfing. A small audience, in other words.

Due to the fact that MOLI has racked up quite a few chits on their Bingo card, it’s a bit long. So in honor of Valleywag, who covered this story last night, “more after the jump.”

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