Friday, May 16, 2014

+5 vs Scammers

I thought something smelled funny, but I kept it around anyway. Today I looked it up because it was really starting to stink, and I found this:

How did I not know about Salty Droid before? This is awesome.

I love a lot of things about the internet. Probably my favorite thing (besides cute overload and instant communication with family and friends) (and art stuff) is how it can be such a great tool for education. I've been educating myself via the web for a while now, and I'm learning to get better at it.

Sadly, the internet is also a great place to get scammed and misinformed. Well-meaning friends (myself included) unknowingly spread stuff that isn't true or even actively harmful. This is why we need resources like Salty Droid, which outs scammers, and Snopes. What? You haven't heard of Snopes? Please. Please please please become acquainted with Snopes, an urban legend website. It's not perfect. No site is. But when you get one of those forwards from someone about the dangers of eating pop rocks and drinking cola at the same time, before you send it to everyone on your email list, first, go to Snopes and check out if it's true or false. There have been false positives and false negatives, of course, but they do have a mechanism for correcting those. At the very least, it's a great place to start.

Whatever you do, though, don't start reading around Snopes or Salty Dog because you'll get sucked in and before you know it, three days will have passed and you'll have no clean dishes or laundry. (But at least you'll be better informed!)

Often, the easiest way to keep your identity and your money safe on the internet is to simply use the internet itself against internet scammers. Salty Droid, just like Snopes, is one resource out of many and may not be perfect. For one thing, you have to be able to read nerdish, which can be byzantine in construction and unclear as far as what is meant as sarcasm and what's meant as an actual statement. Anyway, Salty Droid and many others out there exist purely to help you make certain that money or time (and let's face it, the time is usually more important than the money) isn't wasted on someone or something awful or potentially damaging to you. A few minutes of searching is time well-spent to defend yourself against bad things.

Of course, no Kami blog entry on scams and lies would be complete without a (re)mention of Writer Beware!®:The Blog and the Absolute Write Water Cooler. All you writers out there, if you get the least bit of opportunity, be sure to spread the word about this invaluable resource. There are still plenty of newbie (and some experienced) writers out there unaware of the horrid that is bad publisher and agent behavior, not to mention the many other pitfalls of writing.

Sometimes it feels like there are more pits than road.

The more mention there is on the internet of these kinds of resources, the harder time bad people will have stealing, and the better educated we all will be as lies and misinformation are snuffed out. Or revealed for what they are, which are stinky piles of stink. Or perhaps just laughed at. Maybe turned into silly videos we can all enjoy on YouTube. With cute kitties illustrating the main points.

Thusly armed, you can enjoy the wealth of educational materials (for free!), business opportunities (real ones with real value provided!), and of course, the ability to quickly communicate with family and friends on a scale unfathomable just twenty years ago (and look at cute animal pics and videos) and have a far smaller chance of getting ripped off or victimized by people abusing the awesome that is the internet for selfish gain w/o actually generating any value for the people they're hustling to.

It's like using the internet against the internet to better enjoy the internet. Somehow, it works.

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