Weekly Wrap 22

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets and in the media and so on and so forth — and this week I’ve done a lot of writing.



  • Patch Monday episode 63, “The govt’s data retention dreams revealed”. If you’d prefer to listen to the edited highlights of that Senate hearing rather than read about it, this is the go.

Media Appearances

  • Parity Bit episode 1. A new IT-related video podcast produced and presented by Owen Kelly. I was chatting with him and the other panellists about #ozlog and other news stories. I didn’t swear once.


Not a sausage.

Corporate Largesse


Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags.

[Photo: Enmore village in the spring rain, taken from the Warren View Hotel. Compare this with the similar view from a few weeks ago.]

The Online Circle apologises, makes good. Bravo!

Last night I gave one hell of a serve to The Online Circle, a “full-service interactive agency” who I accused of… well… read it for yourself. Today their CEO Jeff Richardson emailed an apology, and I reckon he’s more than made good. Bravo.

I’ve always said that the true measure of a business is how it responds when something goes wrong. Too many try to cover the cracks with bullshit — I’m sure you know the kind of hollow corporate PR-speak I mean. It takes integrity and, indeed, guts to respond directly to criticism, particularly when it was a direct and as harsh as mine.

Mr Richardson, Sir, it takes a solid effort to write an email like yours, which I thoroughly appreciate, and of course I accept the apology.

Here’s the full text of Jeff’s email:

Continue reading “The Online Circle apologises, makes good. Bravo!”

Oi, The Online Circle! Don’t spam! Don’t lie!

[Update 8 June 2010: The Online Circle’s CEO Jeff Richardson emailed an apology and explanation today. I think it’s a superb response, dignified yet accepting the very harsh criticism I served out. I’m impressed. And of course I accept the apology. So do bear that in mind as you read this rant. — Stilgherrian]

Speaking personally, I wouldn’t trust a “full-service interactive agency” that can’t even get the basics of the Spam Act 2003 right. So here’s my Big Fat Monday Night Hello to The Online Circle, the arsehats who just spammed me.

Guys, here’s how your email starts:

Hi Stilgherrian,

Firstly, thank you very much for your effort and involvement in our [redacted] campaign (We hope you enjoyed the chocolate). We saw some great blog articles and Twitter updates written that have really helped people understand more about [redacted] and why we all should get involved.

Erm, I wasn’t involved in this campaign, with or without any effort. So there’s arsehattery #1. And I never got any chocolate. There’s arsehattery #2.

Oh, and that sentence in parentheses? The full stop should be inside the closing parenthesis. That’s #3.

I’ll skip over the plug for your “we’re excited to announce” thing because — and OMFG how original is this? — you’re inviting people to upload videos to promote your client’s product! A video competition! How unique is that?

“Not at all,” is my answer there. Video competitions have to be the most overworked cliché in social media marketing.

But here are the bits which really shit me.

You are receiving this email because The Online Circle has found you to be an online influencer in Australia. This is our first contact with you and we promise not to share your name or any details with anyone.

An “online influencer”, eh? So it’s not that I’m an “interesting writer” or “respected commentator” or “glutton for chocolate” or even just “nice guy” or perhaps even “dangerous psychotic” — but an “online influencer”. Great. I fit some smegging buzzword du jour category for your marketing effort. T’riffic. How depersonalising.

“This is our first contact with you,” you say?


You previously emailed me on 24 February, subject line “Social Media Influencer — How about free samples?”, to say that you “understand generating content for your blogs and social media channels can sometimes be challenging”. No, I don’t “generate content”. I write. I take photos sometimes.

And you emailed me again on 1 March, subject line “We are ready to send you some free chocolate”, with the same content.

All three emails claim “This is our first contact with you”. Liars.

And if you’d bothered to even look at my website…

… as opposed to, I presume, just finding me on some list of Australian bloggers somewhere, you might even have discovered that I don’t fill my website with random plugs for multinational corporations. Especially corporations that pull more than USD 7 billion a year in revenue but still want the punters to do their creative work for them in exchange for a few chocolates.

Arsehats. Exploitative spammy bloody arsehats.

Is McDonald’s doing comment spam now?

[Update 20 October 2009: It turns out this new purported McDonald’s memo is itself a fake. The comment spam attempt was not from McDonald’s.]

Fake McDonald's memo: click to embiggen

Well-known burger-tossers McDonald’s would be pissed off about that fake email tarnishing their reputation, and understandably so. But are they now responding with unethical tactics?

I don’t know. But here’s my little bit of evidence, and maybe The Power of Crowdsourcing [read: “expecting everyone else to do your work for you”] can fill in the gaps.

  1. A document purporting to be a leaked internal memo outlining McDonald’s response policy, and claiming they’re taking legal action against prankster David Thorne, was posted on Reddit — which happens to be where Thorne promoted the original fake memo. The account used to post this new memo, the oh-so-revealing 9911882882288, was created at that time and this is their only post. I’ve included the full text of the purported memo below.
  2. This morning someone tried to post a comment here which was merely a copy and paste of that same memo. They used a clearly false email address, which is presumably what caused their comment to be tagged as potential spam, and an Apple Mac running Safari sitting on an IP address on the Hutchison 3 mobile network.

This strikes me as rather curious.

Since McDonald’s is the big fast food chain that haters of big fast food chains love to hate, I don’t see that many anonymous bystanders rushing to its defence. Something in my waters says this is more likely to be someone acting on McDonald’s behalf — but that’s just a gut feeling.

And since McDonald’s is a big company, presumably they have a big respectable PR firm too.

So why, therefore, the anonymity?

The Public Relations Institute of Australia’s Code of Ethics talks about “dealing honestly”, which in my books means identifying yourself — although I’ll admit I’m hazy on how the PRIA itself would interpret that.

Has anyone else had someone attempt to post this memo as a comment? Is anyone seeing McDonald’s posting official comments in their own name?

And what do you make of the fact that prankster David Thorne works for a design agency which lists McDonald’s as a client?

Continue reading “Is McDonald’s doing comment spam now?”