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How to Make Money

Look at the prevalence of spam and other various scams online.

How to Make Money (By Being a Dick)

Maybe I’ll write something more in-depth on this at a later date. For now, just a brief overview of the practice. It’s not that far removed from e-mail spam, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you or me. Basically, there is a way to make money, and lots of it if you work hard at being a dick.

The basic business model is generating web traffic for bullshit. We’ve all seen it happen via placeholder pages and the like, but those are not proactive dickery. The proaction comes in the form of comment spam, message board spam, and the like. And now, a new flavor: wikispam.

Basically what happened was this: I recently, out of curiosity and such, joined Wikipedia. In the process of the ins and outs of checking on pages of interest to me, I came across a curious change: someone changed an innocent amazon.com link. At first I thought better of it, they were just optimizing the link or such. Upon further investigation, I found out they were doing no such thing. They were optimizing the link, to generate revenue for themselves. Basically, they have an affiliate account with amazon, and when someone clicked the link and actually made a purchase, they made a commission off of it.

I looked at the other edits by that IP, and what did I find? “Drug information” pages that were no doubt facsimiles of other information, with adsense embedded in the page. A small, three-byte edit of an author’s page: .net becomes .com. The .com page contains links to the author’s works for purchase on amazon, with the referral link.

Basically, there is a new type of entrepreneur emerging in the internet age. It’s not entirely new, with spammers having been around, but more and more it’s about getting traffic without giving content. Making money by putting yourself between the transaction… becoming a middleman with very little effort. Well, not little effort; no doubt such people spend an abundance of time optimizing their routines, and getting their traffic generating links wherever they can manage.

Awhile back I even read a story explaining how one man pulled in $500,000 in a year by maintaining hundreds of sites, and no doubt making himself as big of a dick as possible.

I’ve thought about that job, about putting ads on this page, or setting up a garden of pages to generate revenue… but at the end of the day unless I’m actually providing something positive, I’d rather starve. If I had something I felt like deserved monetary reward on here, I’d probably put a paypal link or such, maybe some adsense, but I don’t. And I don’t think I ever will; there’s no real traffic generated by this little site, and the amount of effort I put into it is purely for the sake of learning and enjoying that.

Sure, I wouldn’t mind $500,000 a year, but being a dick is too high a cost.

hosts file batch switcher

This is a simple batch (.bat) file to switch between a default (“empty”) hosts file and one that contains your definitions to block ad-sites. You should probably be blocking at the browser level, but if you are on Win32 and use a hosts file…

This is a simple batch (.bat) file to switch between a default (“empty”) hosts file and one that contains your definitions to block ad-sites. The purpose of this is to allow you to “turn off” the hosts file, in order to view content such as advertisements that you otherwise want blocked. This can be necessary as certain sites such as salon.com give you a ‘free’ daypass to view content if you first view advertisements.

You’ll have to close whichever web browser you use, run the batch file, then reopen the application, as browsers ‘cache’ the hosts file upon loading.

First of all, if you don’t use a hosts file, check out the wiki on what they are, and then download one. At the bottom of the wiki are a number of hosts files you can use. Please note that I’m not recommending a hosts file for security, and you may decide as you wish what performance hit it gives. I haven’t ever noticed a performance problem as a result.

First, make sure you have a backup of the original hosts file. It’s just a text document with the definition: 127.0.0.1 localhost
All this does is define the loopback so that if you try to visit http://localhost, it’s directed to http://127.0.0.1, which is your local computer.

So you’ve got the default/original hosts file, and your spiffy ad-blocking hosts file.
Name one both hosts.1 and hosts.2, and the other just hosts; it doesn’t matter which is which, but you’ll want to be able to see the filesizes so you can easily differentiate between them. During normal operations you’ll want the larger file/ad-blocking file named to ‘hosts.’ I recommend you backup both of these, just to be sure everything works right before you risk having to go back and recreate them.

Now all you need is to create a blank text file, and add the following:

copy hosts hosts.1
copy hosts.2 hosts
copy hosts.1 hosts.2

Rename the file to (whatever).bat and place it in the \WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc directory. It can be run via a shortcut, by double clicking, or the command line. Hell, if you needed to have a scheduled process run with the alternate hosts file, you could even schedule this to run before and after the process via the “at” command, or the windows task scheduler.
You can determine which hosts file is loaded based on the filesize of the hosts file. If it’s 1K, it’s the default/”empty,” larger, it’s your ad-blocking hosts file.

I don’t know much about batch files, so there may be a way to improve this to allow you to recognize which one is loaded without the use of filesizes. Please feel free to add a comment if you know a superior method than this.