March 12, 2009

Infobionics attempts something sleazy

Infobionics is attempting low-rent, sleazy search engine optimization.  Below is the text of an email I recently received on their behalf:

To Whom It May Concern,
I recently came across your Text Technologies website and was wondering if you would consider a link exchange with InfoBionics. InfoBionics is a new age company offering their revolutionary new platform for developing flexible mining applications for use in business intelligence, predictive analysis, and bioinformatics with less IT involvement, it proves to be the next generation in information management technology, cellular technology, and mining
applications and activities.  Please feel free to check us out at:
I would be happy to add your website once you have confirmed that you want to reciprocate our links page. Please send me your linking information and I will post your site.
Linking Information:
Title: InfoBionics
URL: [redacted]
Description:  InfoBionics revolutionary Knowledge Server offers an ideal platform for developing flexible mining applications for use in business intelligence, predictive analysis, and bioinformatics with less IT involvement.

Shotgun link-exchange requests like that are nothing more than attempts to get the appearance of a real recommendation (the incoming link) via a bribe (the reciprocal link).  Bad move. Amateurish move. I would advise against buying enterprise software from any vendor doing that kind of thing. In particular, I would be skeptical of whatever marketing message they are pushing with that kind of sleazy scheme.


23 Responses to “Infobionics attempts something sleazy”

  1. Mark Jaklovsky on March 12th, 2009 7:00 pm

    Hi there,

    What is sleazy about requesting a link exchange with a relevant site? Millions of reputable businesses contact each other to exchange links – that’s the whole point of link popularity based search engines. Google’s own blog suggests that manual link requests like this one are acceptable – its automated link requests or “pay per link” that are consider verboten:

    Why would you single these people out in this way? They mean you no harm. Further, if you look at the actual site, you’ll see that its database technology is relevant to web sites that you link to so the request is not totally off base.

  2. Curt Monash on March 12th, 2009 10:49 pm

    For starters, if they’d actually thought for a moment they would have realized it didn’t fit my site. Ergo, they didn’t think; they just blasted out the request.

    Second, the quid pro quo was too explicit.

  3. Daniel Weinreb on March 13th, 2009 8:42 am

    I’m not in this end of the industry at all, so I am not very well-informed; I just overhear things. Do you know if there’s somewhere one can go to find out the rules for distinguishing “white hat SEO” from “black hat SEO”? I know, there’s probably no one official definition, and perhaps, pragmatically, what really matters is whether Google will sanction you…

  4. Curt Monash on March 13th, 2009 9:00 am


    1. It’s fiercely debated.
    2. What’s ethical and what avoids punishment are not necessarily identical.
    3. In my opinion, what’s appropriate varies by context. The South Succotash Little Sisters of Cookie Selling can ethically engage in more link trading, I think, than an enterprise software company that should be able to generate all the links it needs via other kinds of marketing.
    4. Quick standard: Is it deceptive? I think Infobionics was, for reasons I explained.

  5. Mark Jaklovsky on March 13th, 2009 9:15 am

    The only fierce debate is being created on your blog so you can get more attention. That much is clear from the tone and the baiting going on in previous posts e.g. the one about rel no follow.

    It is clear that you list data mining products and that is one of the applications of Infobionics products, so it was 100% valid for them to request a link.

    The only sleaziness here is your issuing of defamatory, libelous statements in a public forum with the intent of creating controversy.

  6. Mark Jaklovsky on March 13th, 2009 9:18 am

    Case in point, one of your blogs:

    Which is related to database management and discusses topics relevant to Infobionics’ cellular database technology.

    Give people a break!

  7. Curt Monash on March 13th, 2009 10:38 am

    That’s not the blog mentioned in the spammy pitch letter … which underscores my point.

    Also, it should be obvious from looking at my blogs that I don’t do link exchanges of the kind they asked for. This also underscores my point.

  8. Mark Jaklovsky on March 13th, 2009 11:18 am

    Regarding your first point, the text technologies blog is also related. Lets compare the company’s product with the “about us” page on your text technologies blog :

    Your own “about us” page states:

    “Text Technologies is a blog for people who care about language-oriented technologies — such as text mining and search — or about text-centric internet technologies such as social media and networking.”

    Infobionics creates cellular database technology that allows for more flexible queries of certain data sets and applies to langauge oriented search. For example, a book’s content can be organized into cells comprising individual words, cells comprising sentences, cells comprising topics, etc. without major reordering as might be required with a relational database. The query writing is faster as is the actual search, and relational tables do not have to be rebuilt to accommodate new data schemas, which makes text mining easier.

    Natural language search is thus an application if Infobionics, so obviously the request is relevant to the blog.

    As concerns links, you link to competitors of Infobionics throughout your blog. Just because you don’t have a “link exchange page” doesn’t mean that you aren’t linking. Examples include:

    It seems that the only remaining objection you can have is the approach of the person – i.e., HOW the email was written (not WHY it was written or sent to you). You claim that its “spammy”. A good definition of spam is provided on Wikipedia:

    “E-mail spam, also known as junk e-mail, is a subset of spam that involves nearly identical messages sent to numerous recipients by e-mail. ”

    In order for the email you received to be accurately considered spam, it would need to fulfill two criteria:

    1. it would need to be identifcal to others
    2. it would need to have been sent to multiple users indiscriminately – for example, emails harvested from a chat room or user group or other public resource.

    On the first point. you cannot know for sure if this email was identical to others. That is an assumption you made. One clue that it is not is that it makes reference to topics discussed in your blog and your “about us” section.

    As concerns the second point, you also cannot know if this email was obtained through spam methods like email harvesting without contacting the writer. Its easy to do that – write back and see if you engage someone in a conversation. Did you actually do that?

    If a human being signed that email and wrote you, rather than a bot, then your claim of spam would be misguided at best. An email is not considered spam simply because someone appears to have reused some text from other communications in some parts of that e-mail.

    Further, you solicit contact on your own site here:

    Maybe you don’t like the manner in which you were contacted, or the way the email was written, but calling that marketers approach sleazy and low-rent is an exaggerated response.

    If you received an automated e-mail, that would be one thing. I am sure you get 100s of emails from automated link exchange requests every day. Those are spam and potentially sleazy. A human being emailing you because you discuss a topic related to a site they are trying to get exposure for is not spam.

    I also don’t think that this is good for your business – first, engaging in hyperbolic, knee jerk criticism destroys goodwill in what is a relatively small community and gives your blog and business the appearance of churlishness. Second, your blog is supposedly focused on analyzing how text / language solutions function, not how they market themselves.

    Even if Infobionics was engaged in spam, how would that be relevant to their solution and thus a topic relevant for your readers who are interested in data mining / natural language search, and not marketing?

  9. Mark Jaklovsky on March 13th, 2009 11:37 am

    This blog, Text Technologies, is ALSO related. Your own About Us page, states “Text Technologies is a blog for people who care about language-oriented technologies — such as text mining and search…”

    Infobionics solution is a cellular database solution that makes the organization and querying of language much easier than traditional relational databases. For example, a book can be broken into individual cells that comprise words which are in turn linked into sentences that are in turn linked into topics, chapters, or other meta relationships. The database architecture allows a database developer to recode queries useful to natural language search much faster than in a relational database. The solution is also well adapted for competitive intelligence – another topic you cover and that the writer of the email specifically mentioned (he/she called it “business intelligence”) – in that it allows disparate pieces of data to be linked and queried faster.

    I don’t know what “spammy” means, but I do know what “spam” means. It generally involves the indiscriminate e-mailing of unsolicitied, identical messages to a large group of users whose contact information has been obtained without their permission. See

    1. Is the email indiscriminate – you cannot know if the email meets that criteria without contacting the writer. If you do so, you would determine if the email was written and sent by a human or a bot, and if the writer’s intent was to contact you because of your specific content, which does appear to be the case based on the nature of this solution and the topics you cover.

    2. Is the email identical? As concerns whether the email is identical, that is something you also cannot know unless you have other copies of this email sent to others and they have identical text. It is very possible that the email reused some text link the link, the description, etc., but that is not spam – humans reuse and adapt text in day to day communication all the time. I wonder if you actually responded to that person to express your dissatisfaction before reacting on your blog?

    3. Is the email unsolicited? In fact, it is not, since you invite soliciation here:

    and, to a less degree, here:

    Finally, as to whether you exchange links or not, that is not clear from your blog. Simply not having a page called “links” or “resourceS” does not imply that you don’t link to solutions relevant to your blog. Someone reading your blog for the first time might want you to take a look at another solution and link to it – offering a link back to you in exchange is hardly “sleazy”. In fact, you DO link to a variety of natural language / search / mining solutions throughout your blog, in dozens of posts like this one:

    I am not sure how yesterday’s post is relevant to your blog, which supposedly discusses natural language / mining / search technologies, not how those technologies are marketed. Are you trying to suggest to readers that Infobionics is a bad company because of their marketing methods, however you choose to categorize them? That seems like a red herring.

    Most of your postings are quite critical and designed to be sensational. That can work to a point in getting responses, but there is a point where a blogger can cross the line and destroy goodwill with knee-jerk, hyperbolic criticism that’s not fair to the other party, or to himself.

  10. Curt Monash on March 13th, 2009 12:22 pm


    It was completely inappropriate for Infobionics to:

    1. Ask me to write something specific about them.
    2. Offer me a (cheap!) bribe to do so.
    3. Ask for a link in a format that I don’t give (which I obviously don’t, even if you lack the reading comprehension to notice that).

    A rough analogy would be a man standing on a street corner offering cash in return for sex to any woman he viewed as attractive walking by.

    And by the way, the analogy goes further. The phrase “link condom” was invented for a reason …

    Just to be clear, I think there are many ethical SEOs. However, based on nothing but your comments here, I’m guessing you’re not one of the ones I would regard as such.


  11. Curt Monash on March 13th, 2009 12:24 pm

    And by the way, your claim that there no fierce debate about the line between “black hat” and “white hat” SEO is a blatant, transparent lie.

    I’m coming to suspect that you don’t care one way or the other whether what you type has any particular relationship to the truth.

  12. Mark Jaklovsky on March 13th, 2009 12:37 pm


    Your comments are ridiculous.

    1. People ask writers to write about them all the time. Its called “PR”… hello??
    2. A link is not a “bribe” – there is no monetary value.
    3. So what if they asked for it in a format you don’t provide? It doesn’t make the approach “sleazy” or “low rent”.

    The only thing sleazy here is your tone. Since you are degrading yourself to point of making analogies with prostitutes, lets remember that you’re already standing on that proverbial street corner, telling people how to solicit you here:

    As to your second point, link exchange with relevant sites, which we’ve established with 100% certainy is the case here, is not a black hat tactic. Link farms, cloaking scripts, etc. are example of black hat tactics, not a human requesting a link to a related site. That’s a ludicrous claim and you should be ashamed to make it.

    In years online, I have never seen a blogger so unprofessional.


  13. Mark Jaklovsky on March 13th, 2009 1:16 pm

    Curt, if you care about the truth you should not be afraid to unhide the other longer post that you have kept unmoderated.

  14. Curt Monash on March 13th, 2009 1:22 pm

    Sorry. Missed those. I’ll actually read them later.

  15. Curt Monash on March 13th, 2009 3:11 pm


    My definition of “spam” is somewhat stricter than that favored by people who actually engage in it. See, for example,

    Second, it’s extremely unlikely that the email was sent to me based on a careful manual analysis, since:

    A. Infobionics doesn’t seem to do much in the areas this blog covers.

    B. I write another blog for which it would be a better fit.

    Third, as I’ve said, the email sent was obviously inappropriate for any site I run, and in particular this one, again leading me to doubt much thought went into the solicitation. The only people who would confuse me with a cheap opinion-whore are, I hope, those who — like yourself — view the whole Web through recommendation-prostitution lenses.

  16. Mark Jaklovsky on March 13th, 2009 6:06 pm


    If we accept the definition you link us to

    “Bottom line re communicating with customers and prospects: If they think it’s spam, they’re automatically right, so you automatically did something wrong.”

    …is ultimately a tautological definition since one cannot call something “defined” if its meaning varies from person to person.

    Logical fallacies aside, you are entitled to your opinion, of course, including erroneously believing that Infobionics cellular databases are not related to the Text Technologies blog, which covers data mining and competitive research (both applications of cellular database technology).

    This is my last post on the thread, so I’ll close out by saying that its really a matter of politeness. You smeared a perfectly respectable startup using words like “sleazy” and “low rent”, justifying it with a highly subjective definition of a particular word. If this is the kind of image you want to portray, then I would agree that nobody should in fact be contacting you – just you.

  17. Curt Monash on March 13th, 2009 11:12 pm


    You’re giving one reason after another why an enterprise software company shouldn’t hire a clueless SEO. I agree that a search engine could probably be deceived into thinking Infobionics is relevant to this site. But I’m not a search engine — I’m the site’s owner and sole author.

  18. At it again on March 15th, 2009 12:41 pm

    Have been entertained by this exchange for some time now, but lets get real about what Curt really is all about:

    Curt I suspect its your latest ploy is to get noticed or maybe get some consulting work with Infobionics, eh?

  19. Curt Monash on March 15th, 2009 6:09 pm

    I’m not sure I see the connection between my technical views about database management system architectures and my moral views about SEO and spam.

    Anyhow, if you’re looking for more random negative opinions about me, you can go back (in effect) to the well and search on a string like “fabian pascal curt monash”. You can probably find some others by searching on “curt monash mysql” and “curt monash filemaker.” Even better, I get criticized for diametrically opposite things in those various sources (liking RDBMS too well or not liking them well enough, as the case may be).

  20. Curt Monash on March 15th, 2009 8:14 pm

    I should add that I’m getting a little bored by slams coming from anonymous sources. If you take your own opinion seriously enough to think it’s worth listening to, why not sign your name to it?

  21. Dave Kellogg on March 27th, 2009 4:28 pm

    This strikes me as an unnecessarily heated exchange about what is and isn’t “right” in in SEO.

    It’s Curt’s blog. If he doesn’t like it when people offer such quid pro quo links he has every right to say it.

    And, for what it’s worth, I don’t like them, nor do I accept them, either. I link to other blogs when I think there’s a post that merits being linked and discussed.

    I believe the whole assumption behind PageRank is that’s why people link and therefore any other motivation to link would strike as some shade (black, white, gray) of gaming the system.

  22. whatever111 on August 19th, 2009 5:24 pm

    Infobionics announced 7/15/09 to shareholders that they are shutting down operations due to lack of money. Take out your tiniest of violins and weep.

  23. Steve Jargons on January 20th, 2011 5:35 pm

    Here’s the final say on this company: Name me one inside investor in Infobionics that did not lose all of their stock value. It was $1/share and each share gave a free call warrant and a free put warrant. They were all taken to the cleaners. Completely wiped out. Now what was that you were minimally worried about as to whether they were scamming their link exchange or not. I predict nothing but loss for anyone who involves with this company.

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