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Hidden ads from inkoutbreak.com?

 
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wendyw
The Bomb-diggity


Joined: 10 Jul 2008
Posts: 4120
Location: North-East England

PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:05 am    Post subject: Hidden ads from inkoutbreak.com? Reply with quote

Christopher Wright over at eviscerati.org has posted an article about what seems to be some very odd behavior going on over there. There hasn't been any response yet, but the site's twitter account has been unusually quiet since the 19th so there might not be anyone around to respond at the moment.

Anyway, I can't vouch for the accuracy of this article and it's findings,code just makes my head hurt so I get someone else to do it, but I thought it was worth linking here to get the opinion of those that do understand these things and when Brian over at inkoutbreak.com does respond I'll post that too.

https://www.eviscerati.org/articles/2013/01/Inkoutbreaks-Hidden-Revenue-Stream
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wendyw
The Bomb-diggity


Joined: 10 Jul 2008
Posts: 4120
Location: North-East England

PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I spoke too soon. On refreshing the page there were some new comments at the bottom including this one from Brian:

Quote:

The technorati ad that you see was from developing an "ad rotation" to help raise money for ink, this WOULD HAVE be an opt in "help ink out" kinda thing. I started work on this a few months back when I really needed money when slackstack was no longer splitting the server bill. The bill is extrodinarilly high due to the traffic / bandwidth of the exchange ( 368$ / month ). The code has been removed and anything ad based will likely never be needed because another company covers the expenses. This code made its way in from an ealier build that was rushed out.

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Zoe Robinson
Resident Diet Lawyer


Joined: 02 Jul 2007
Posts: 1866
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This looks genuine and it's advertising fraud. Not quite the worst case I've ever seen, but pretty damn shady nevertheless.

Just another reason why joining these networks and web rings isn't worth the time and hassle.
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 2928
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The person who wrote the article had a surprisingly poor understanding of the terms of Ink Outbreak's listing service, ie that it is free and the ad rotation boxes are completely optional. They also seemed to have a confusing notion of how the Ink Outbreak iframe thingy works. But also, whoever runs Ink Outbreak would know that an ad service like Technorati would suspend their account if they were found trying to gain ad impressions for hidden ad displays; jumping to the conclusion that this was done maliciously was a bit extreme, and not particularly logical. It's nice that they found the bug, though, even if it got reported in a kind of roundabout way.
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Zoe Robinson
Resident Diet Lawyer


Joined: 02 Jul 2007
Posts: 1866
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be perfectly honest, it seems the only logical conclusion given the amount of space that's left under the initial advert and the lack of scrollbar on the iframe. Why combine those two factors if not to hide something?
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 2928
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dunno about the space, but disabling scrollbars is pretty standard I think, you don't want them showing up accidentally in some wacky browsing scenario and screwing up the look and spacing of the iframe area.
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Zoe Robinson
Resident Diet Lawyer


Joined: 02 Jul 2007
Posts: 1866
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

smbhax.com wrote:
disabling scrollbars is pretty standard I think, you don't want them showing up accidentally in some wacky browsing scenario and screwing up the look and spacing of the iframe area.


Did you miss the bit about how combining no scrollbars with line breaks to move the advert off the page was the important part? I wasn't talking about site layout.
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 2928
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No no I saw that. You could very well be right. The uneven application of line breaks struck me as something accidental, code generated, rather than deliberate--there'd be faster means of pushing something off than all those irregularly typed line break tags--but maybe it was written deliberately that way by a weird person, I dunno.

Re-reading the InkOutbreak person's reply, maybe they did do it that way quickly as a test just to see if they could get the ad tag working. And, as they say, accidentally left it in a version that went out. Or maybe they really thought they could get away with something, which would be even dumber. Anyway, yeah they screwed up, but I still think the article's author jumped to accusations of malicious intent rather quickly.
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Clint Wolf



Joined: 15 Apr 2010
Posts: 298

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My interactions with Brian have at times been frustratingly slow (though he's not alone in that... *cough*TWC*cough*), but he never came off as malicious or shady. He experiments a lot with Ink and some of those experiments don't work out well, so I buy his explanation that this was another one of those, especially since it's an artifact of back when he was in a bit of panic over his bandwidth bills (he since got that sorted with a voluntary donation drive).

I'm no FBI profiler, but the history of InkOutbreak is that of an enthusiastic webcomics fan who is struggling to keep up with the dream he started, and his site is constantly singled out by webcomic artists as an example of how to do a listing right without impacting individual creators' traffic. He's constantly experimenting with his format and his code doesn't always work, but it's an ultimate irony that he would be branded as a scam artist.
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afterthedream



Joined: 24 Mar 2011
Posts: 246

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So possible ad shadiness aside, is Ink Outbreak worth joining? From Project Wonderful I've noticed Ink Outbreak giving a decent number of referrals to various webcomics. I visited to the site when it first launched and it seemed rather bare bones, but having just visited it again for the first time today it seems to have a nice layout and numerous participants. I'd be interested in hearing folks' thoughts on it.
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ttallan
Postpostpostpostpost!


Joined: 28 Feb 2008
Posts: 1128
Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I signed Galaxion up on InkOutbreak a couple months ago based on a friend's hearty recommendation. Since then... well, occasionally I'll notice a few hits coming my way, but not much. Near as I can tell I have acquired no followers on the site.

What I find a little frustrating is the apparent lack of information on how to improve this situation. Clearly it's better to have your banner closer to the top of the list of, say, recently updated comics. At first I thought it was random, but now I suspect the placement has more to do with your popularity rank by followers? And I'm not even sure that's right. Do I need to put the InkOutbreak box on my own site to enjoy better placement? Another question I had was, how are the featured comics chosen? Its all a mystery to me.

I'm not a big user of list sites (present company excepted, TWCL!), and I've certainly never made any effort to "game" them, so I suppose it's possible that most of this stuff is obvious. Even if that's true, it would be nice to have an FAQ. I'd planned to eventually email the guy behind it with my questions, but based on what I've read here I'm not sure if he'd have time to answer them!

Also I can't log in anymore. I see the note that they've made some changes to login, but I don't know how to address that. Do I need to make a new account?
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 2928
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those are all pretty good questions, Tara. For whatever reason, these days I get traffic way more regularly from Comic Rocket, which is similar if maybe a bit easier to use, than I do from Ink Outbreak, which is also pretty sporadic for me.
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vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 752

PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whatever the intent of Ink Outbreak, I am now pretty uncomfortable using it or any other vote/traffic site making me use iFrames. I can see something like this being a potential security issue for my site visitors, unless the site is 100% on the straight and narrow. Sad
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