As one of the early consumer hair advocates residing on the Internet since 1995 I have watched the landscape change dramatically.
Is there such a thing as hair garbage on the web? You might think I am referring to old clippings, used styling tools or other hair trash. Not exactly.
What I am referring to is the massive number of constantly multiplying parasitic websites that blatantly steal content, images, intellectual property and traffic from established and reputable URLs.
You've probably seen them when type in a hair or beauty phrase. What you may receive is pages of links to sites that contain maybe two paragraphs, usually lifted from an established site, that are wrapped around a page jammed with ads for everything for mail order brides to contests.
These same sites trick the search engines with massive hidden link farms that instantly hide their true size and completely veils the quality of information provided.
As a result, unsuspecting web visitors are lured into the sites built only as a way to get rich quick.
How The Web Has Changed
My company, HairBoutique.com started life as a fledging website originally dedicated to offering no charge consumer hair information that met certain quality requirements. Although we utilized some advertising to help defray the costs of running a site, my goal was always to be good content with a smidgen of ads.
As an early generation website, I have watched over the past 12 years as the landscape has changed dramatically.
In a way, the hair and beauty Web landscape has evolved similar to a sleepy little village that is now a heavily populated city.
With growth comes lots of opportunity. On the flip side there is also chaos and an element of the Wild Wild West with increased lawlessness.
Do I mean that Web users are at risk for catching a bullet when they visit? No, of course not.
What I do refer to is all the other dangers such as phishing, credit card fraud, virus attacks and a wide array of predators. Does that mean the web isn't safe?
Depending on the boundaries you set for yourself and your family it can be as safe as shopping on 5th Avenue in New York or as safe as wandering around an array at night famous for muggings.
The Web As A Barometer
Is the Web a barometer for society or vice versa? Depending on which side of the street you're on, it can be argued that it's both.
For me the most challenging aspect is in the hair and beauty world. In the early days there were only a few websites devoted to providing consumer hair care information.
As con artists and hustlers found their way to the Web an explosion of flim flam artists figured out ways to beat the search engines in order to suck up lots of advertising revenues. Sort of the lazy way to riches.
The reality of the situation is that there is no quick way to instant riches that some might have you believe The other reality is that to run a website is similar to opening a brick and mortar. In some case more complex and costly.
As a result of these factors there has been a glut of get-rich-quick parasites invading many areas of the web throwing up fake web sites, scamming the search engines and drawing in people with tantalizing titles that in reality are nothing more than a few paragraphs wrapped around pages and pages of ads.
As the parasitic hair and beauty sites continue to multiply I have noticed even more blatant illegal use of images, content and other intellectual properties. What these sites either don't know or don't care to know is that images taken from legitimate sites are copyrighted materials that someone has paid hard dollars to produce and provide.
What can you do about this situation? What would you do if you saw a child being abused in a playground? You would probably either call the police or step in to help. Most people would do something if they knew an injustice was being done.
How can you help shut down the web scammers and IP thieves? Consider some of the following options:
1. Click right out.
When you visit a new site, if you see photos, images or written content without clear credits, it is likely the information has been taken illegally. Help to stop sites like this by clicking right out after you click in. If you don't stay in the site, don't return and don't click on any of their ads, they will not continue to prosper.
2. Report any obvious abuses.
If you notice images or content without clearly published credits that you have seen on other sites like Wire Image, HairBoutique.com or iVillage, report this to the original sites.
Although legitimate sites will license or pay for all their content and images, they are often the target for sites that steal their intellectual property without paying for it.
Send an email to the webmaster of the legitimate site and report that you have seen their non-credited content or images on another site. Provide the URL for their reference.
This helps tremendously. A site that has experience their images and content being blatantly stolen and used has many legal options. These options can't be utilized if the legitimate site is unaware of the other sites illegally using their property.
3. Report scam sites to the search engines.
Everyone is unique and deserves to follow their heart. Life is too short to suffer with a hairstyle that goes against your true comfort hair zone. So go out there and find the style that gives you true joy.