Why I Am Leaving GoDaddy After 5 Years of Defending Them

I have always had my domains registered with GoDaddy, despite myriad scandals and frustrations. This week I read about Naoki Hiroshima losing his Twitter name due to a hacker. It seems GoDaddy would not believe that he owned the domain and refused to help him. I've heard these stories before about people's domains being stolen as well as their writing work stolen and put on sites where the domain and hosting for the offending site were registered with GoDaddy, but they would do nothing, even when presented with a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) takedown notice. Still, they were cheap, and they had never done anything to me, so I kept on buying my domains there.

After reading the Hiroshima story, I went to my GoDaddy account to remove my credit card information. Now as anyone who uses them knows, they are CONSTANTLY changing their interface, but what I found this time was off-the-wall unbelievable! After signing in, I found that my payment information is no longer hidden until the payment page, but is easily accessible to anyone who can hack into your account. Anyone who knows anything about credit card fraud knows that for someone who knows credit cards, it isn't that hard to put together the rest of the info if you have the type of card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover, etc.) and the last 4 digits.  I tried to remove my credit card information, and got one removed, but they would not allow me to remove the other. I asked them when they had changed the interface, and why they would do something to compromise our security, to which they replied that they had the most secure system available. Well, try telling Naoki Hiroshima that!

I sent in a complaint through the contact link, since telephone support gave me no help, and this is part of what I got in reply. The rest was just copy/paste from the GoDaddy website.
Dear Sir/Madam, Thank you for contacting Online Support. I understand you want to delete your credit card from your account. Our site is most secured site to relay on. Unfortunately, you can not remove payment method however, you can update your payment method to new card.

That does it! I'm sick to death of dealing with customer service reps that do not even understand English enough to write or speak it properly. From the construct here, I am imagining this was written by someone in or from China. 

I have four domains that are coming up for renewal in February, so those will go first. Money is tight right now, but I hope by the end of February to have all my domains transferred to another registrar. If you have any suggestions for someone who does cheap specials on transfers and does not have your payment info out in the open, please let me know in the comments either here or on G+, because I'm done with GoDaddy. I want a registrar who doesn't put my payment information out there where any old hacker can find it. Before they did this, it was only on the payment page, and they need to go back to that. Still, that won't save them for me.


5 Signs a Writing Revenue Site is Dying

I've seen so many writing sites go by the wayside since Panda. Suite101 and Mahalo are basically now defunct, and only left up to gather the small amounts of ad revenue they may garner from what is already there. Suite101 is actually asking people to write for free. Demand Media has stopped advertising for writers, and I don't know of anyone who has been accepted there. Examiner is still alive, if barely. It keeps writers for awhile, until they find out they can't make any money, then they are gone. Hubpages keeps trying to reinvent itself, but it just isn't working anymore. Helium has gone through yet another upgrade, which doesn't really change the fact that it is not a good place for earning residual income.

To be sure you don't get caught unawares, these are the signs I have seen that precede every site closure or downfall. Be aware and you won't lose too much when they are gone.
  1. Things Become Secretive. You'll hear a lot of double-talk and "noise signifying nothing" from staff during the last days. They will either flat-out lie, twist the truth, or just not answer questions at all. This is the time to get out, not when the walls collapse around you. This is the first sign that the end is near.
  2. You Suddenly Are Making Less Money. Case in point: Yahoo Contributor Network has started cutting out well-paying positions for writers, such as Featured Contributors, and is cutting pay for beat writers, not to mention that it doesn't count page views from mobile devices. Upfront payments have gone for $9 to $15 dollars to a measly $1 to $3.
  3. Long-time Writers Start Moving On. Most smart writers see the writing on the wall way before a site collapses. If there is a forum, you will see long-time writers talking about private clients and other sites that pay more. You will see the less prepared start asking for referrals to better paying sites. This is the desperation phase, where all those who have put all their eggs into that basket start to panic. New forums and groups will spring up on social sites to "keep us in contact, just in case."
  4. Excuses, Promises and Lies. This is the endgame. To keep things going just a little longer and keeping all their little rats from jumping ship, the site staff will start making excuses, such as saying things were just as bad last year, when you know they weren't. They will promise things will get better and that big things are in the works. They will sometimes flat-out lie to you to keep you on board until the very last days, by creating new "opportunities" that are smoke screens to keep you happy and feeling like you are special before they drop the ax on you. They will start blaming things on corporate, search engines, their clients or anyone to garner your support and sympathy. DON'T FALL FOR THIS! This is the point where you need to GET OUT FAST! Start deleting or copying your work on the site in preparation for #5.
  5. The Final Days. Jobs will start to disappear, but they will gloss it over. Pay will be cut, and time limits will be put on projects. Some sites will suddenly (sometimes in the middle of the night) change the TOU to rob you of your rights, shut down the ability to remove your content and steal your work. Mahalo did this and triggered a class-action suit. Examiner did it and locked out their writers unless they agreed to the new TOU. I still have content on Examiner that I cannot remove, so they may as well have all the rights to it. This is all perfectly legal, but don't let it come to this. When the excuses and lies start, if you still have the ability to access and remove your work, do it THEN. You should have been writing offsite anyway, so you will have copies of your work that can be rewritten for other sites or your own blog.
How Do I Protect Myself and My Content?
What you should be doing from day 1 on a writing site is writing offline and saving to your computer to protect your copyright. Using Mahalo as an example, they changed the TOU, locked writers out of the site, and took the writers' names off their work. If you have written and saved to your computer, you have a record of the date the content was created. Better yet, before you post content on the site, open a free, private blog somewhere, post it there with the date and time, and THEN post it to the site.

Unless you have signed an agreement giving full rights to the site for your content (Helium is such a site, and some assignments and beats on Yahoo Contributor Network require this), you own it from the day it is written.

COPY THE TOU of any site you join on the day you join and save it, so you can prove your case. For example, both Mahalo's and Examiner's original TOU let writers maintain full rights to their content and gave them the right to edit or remove it at any time. This information is essential in proving the case in a law suit when they steal your content and lock it down. You are the one who must prove your case, so be sure you are armed from day one with the ammunition you need.


Are You Tired of Bloatware In Your Freeware Programs?

I love freeware, and I must try at least 5 new programs a month. I haven't run a paid program on my computer since I can't remember when. There just is no need for me to do so, since I don't play games or do any high-level functions on my computer. I can get all the functionality I could ever need without spending a cent. I do contribute to these developers from time to time, because they are saving me a lot of money, so I will pitch in $5-10 dollars now and then when I update. It's only fair.

Yes, freeware is wonderful, except when it contains bloatware. These are the extra programs and toolbars that are added into freeware downloads that help pay the developer so s/he can keep the software free. Unfortunately, some of this stuff can take over your entire computer, change your search, change your home page and is EXTREMELY difficult to remove. Wouldn't you like to know if an installer has those types of things in it before you install them?

Well, enter Unchecky. This is a neat, tiny program that sits in the background and lets you know if you are about to download an unwanted program.

According to my favorite freeware site, Gizmo's Freeware:

"Unchecky is free, malware-free according to Web of Trust and VirusTotal, and runs on Windows XP and above.  It's only a 0.6 MB download (presumably because it doesn't carry any additional toolbar installers!).
You'll find it at http://unchecky.com/"