Suspicious Emails

by on 2017-10-20 | License Permalink

Note: Looking back on this post, it was clear that I was experiencing a standard type of SPAM email address designed to get people linking to alternative web pages for common resources. I hadn’t encountered it at the time, and it was still unusual at that point for people to email me about a blog post so I got over-excited.

I woke up this morning (20/10/2017) to an e-mail from someone called A, who is (as far as I can tell) an accessibility intern at Accessible United. She notes an accessibility issue with the “Home” page with the url, in that I linked my definition of Kaizen to the wikipedia article. A tells me that Wikipedia is very inaccessible for people with sight impairments, and asks if I’d consider linking to another url which she gives me. Apparently they “take open-source Wikipedia articles and make them web-accessible”. My first pass of the email was read as “Oh my, someone actually read my post”.

Then I started noticing little things; the link that was presented as being problematic was, which seemed a little odd. If they were referring to the Kaizen Post, why not actually just say “In your post about Kaizen I found a problem”? It’s not infeasible that someone looked through a backlog of my posts, but April was a little while ago and they’d have to trawl through loads of Notes/Twitter stuff. Then, they described their preferred URL as a service which “take[s] open-source Wikipedia articles and make[s] them web-accessible”, but the URL given was from :-/ Which, fair enough, did what A described and had very clearly parsed or copied text from Wikiepdia. It might even be more accessible, I didn’t check The website as a whole, however, seems to be about learning finance things. I have an adblocker on so I can only presume that there are ads there that are supporting the site.

So what do I think happened? I think that paid a service to use a web crawler and find pages that linked to Wikipedia articles that they also have versions of. I think that the web masters of these pages were sent automatic emails trying to convince them to change the reference, and I think that this is for the purpose of bolstering’s Page or Ad ranking. Ofc I could be totally wrong and talking out of my bumhole. It could be a genuine email. On one hand, I don’t want to ‘fall’ for this and take part in bolstering the traffic of a site that resorts to these tactics, on the other hand – accessibility is a genuine concern for the web and I should be promoting the sites that at least attempt to do accessibility. I guess I’ll post a link to the site in an edit to the page, in addition to the Wikipedia one. It won’t really cost me anything and if, by some miracle, people actually find my blog and read it then they’ll at least have an accessible link to visit in order to learn more.