Spam From Citysearch (continued)

Just three hours after I posted my rant on Citysearch spam I got a new message from the Angie Eckford. You might think there was an apology or at least a word “sorry”…

So did I. Boy, were we both wrong!

Through 157 words of the reply (not counting signature and subject) there was not a single use of words “sorry”, “apology” or “regret”. What was there, though, are explanation on what went wrong (okay, I don’t know how to use Mail Merge too, but I don’t use it as an excuse), what that person was trying to do (send out a promotion to as many people as possible) and accusations that my previous post made “the entire company tuned into your message you placed online and negative comment about me“.

At least someone listened this time.

Since the first post went public I feel the need to reply here, on this blog as well. I do hope this won’t happen again – neither to me, nor to other people who might have been interested in Citysearch services. After all, CItysearch service seem to be popular and someone somewhere is probably very happy using it.

We have learned our lessons here – mine are “think twice before doing business with Citysearch” and “don’t use your main e-mail even with companies that look big”.


Spam From CitySearch

It’s quite interesting how some people take their jobs as a carte blanche to do pretty much anything they want. Some time ago while doing a marketing research for our clients for web development, I got in touch with Citysearch. Client and I were thinking of trying some of their services but it turned out my other client was already using them and was less then happy. I, for one, thought that it’s the case of “marketing – you’re doing it wrong”, but that’s not the point of this post.

While on the phone with CitySearch sales agent, I was really pushed hard to purchase their services. I actually ran out of polite words to decline – even though I stated the honest reason that we couldn’t take any more clients at that moment. Sales rep kept pushing me almost to the point when I was ready to hang up on her. But – we worked it out, so I hoped it’s over.

I was wrong.

Recently, starting about a month ago, I started getting correspondence from Angie Eckford, the city search rep of some sort. Of course all the e-mails looked personalized, but how personalized can a message be given the subject is something along with “Business Owners Receive 50% off Direct Connections to Qualified Customers” – you can guess all by yourself. To me there’s nothing personal, SpamAssassin on my servers kills plenty of those in a day. Plus the regular Viagra stuff – you know.

Given that there’s a direct phone, personal e-mail and a thin memory that I talked to some human being from that company I replied with the question of “When did I double opted-in into this spam list?”. The reponse was just what I thought it would be: it’s not a spam list, it’s a personal message.

Yeah, right. Viagra guys also sending me personal messages. You know, those that start with “%FIRST_NAME% %LAST_NAME%, you will be suprised!“.

Politely, I replied with “Please, don’t do that again.” – only to get one more piece of citysearch junk in my inbox.

Sure, Citysearch works for some people, most likely – restaurants, local places to go and so on. But I’d rather spend some extra hours working out Google AdWords campaigns to target my clients’ markets, than be a subject of such a dishonest treatment by CitySearch representatives.

Oh, and did you know that cost per click is about ten times cheaper in Google AdWords than in Citysearch campaings?


Version or Revision Control Software

It has just occured to me that I don’t know any single small web development suite (from UltraEdit all the way to Dreamweaver) that would have a simple version or revision control. Of course, there are SVN, CVS, Visual SourceSafe and that monstrous Team Foundation Server, but they are not the solution.

But what a small business owner to do? Or a freelancer? Or a team of less then ten-twelve people? All these creatures seem a bit… overpowered. It’s like purchasing a freight truck instead of a van. For a team of ten hardcore programmers – it’s a great tool. For web designer, couple of coders, technical writer and their project manager – it’s the common pain in their individual necks.

So what I want to see is the tool that can:

  • integrate into popular HTML editors, like Dreamweaver, UltraEdit or others
  • act as a standalone application
  • take “snapshots” of selected folders
  • produce list of new/altered/deleted files between any two snapshots or current files
  • export full or partial set of files based on selected snapshot and provided criteria
  • produce delta between various file revisions (at least plain text files and documents)
  • produce various simple reports based on criteria selected
  • work on both Windows and Mac OS X platforms
  • be integrated into client-server environment

This, the way I see it, is a huge potential niche for someone who can throw such software into it. Traditionally, small businesses or freelancers relied either on multiple copies of files or backups. Another culprit is that most of version control systems designed by programmers and for programmers, so average person would have a hard time figuring things out (which is why it isn’t worth it).