Knoji: The Rebirth of Factoidz Ponzi Scheme

By Kevin Leland

This article is quite an involved read, and only repeats some of the good information about this bad scheme played on beginner Content Producers. However, I guarantee that the time you spend reading it, along with the links provided along the way, will not be a waste of time. Those links along the way, will be provided again at the bottom of the page. This is just about everything you need to know before you start working hard at posting content that you develop yourself on the Internet.

To keep it unbiased, here is a disclaimer: Yes…Because there is strength in numbers, and a multi-authored site does better than a one author site, we would love to have you join us here at Bangari Content Gallery. However, we are still new, have not fully developed a democratic TOS, and haven’t even made enough revenue to demonstrate how the split will work. But, it will be fair!

These bad experiences with the content farms that I discuss in this article inspired me to develop this site. I helped Mike Quoc start Factoidz, and was his biggest shill, until he started ripping off the other writers that helped him start the site. I complained…and got shit-canned, and then had my work stolen. I had to threaten to fly to Cali and punch him out before he took my work down, and I suspect that he still has it on his site somewhere in the background, so that anything I repost here is considered duplicate content. I think the Google bots are onto that problem, especially since the Penguin change. This change devastated the content farms and penalized unnatural SOE work, and bad links.

Bangari Content Gallery is not another Content Farm! It is a place where you can post your best stuff. You keep full rights to it. You collect a small amount of passive revenue. This amount is small because we keep the advertising to a minimum in order to keep the quality of the site and the searchers experience the best it can be. Passive advertising revenue doesn’t amount to a lot anyway, until enough time in earning that revenue has gone by. I’m working hard on building a program that will calculate and explain that concept.

The goal behind posting content at Bangari, is to get ‘content production’ gigs. We have landed a few. Not many. Why? Because as members of the Freelancer’s Union, we demand a living wage to produce quality content, that we give up for cash on the barrelhead. We charge .05 per word. We pay .04 per word to the content producers, and the person who manages the project receives .01 per word for all the content produced that they edit and oversee.  In addition, we DO NOT ghostwrite, except in special cases.

Disclaimer over! Now here is a repost of an article I wrote in 2011, before Knoji existed, and before Google’s Penguin change came around, and put the final nail in the Content Farms’ coffin. I hope it helps you make an informed decision. I hope you decide to write for yourself…and not some con artist. If it scares you out of posting your content on anyone else’s Web property, including Bangari, so be it! If you decide to trust us, and try it out, that’s good too. Fill out the content form at the bottom of the article, we’ll get back to you ASAP.

Mike Quoc 2013-08-13_1227

Note: This is the “Beard the lion in his own den” piece I posted on Factoidz on 7/11/11. It lasted for about two days before it was taken down. Mike must have been busy spending all the money everyone else is earning for him, and not paying attention. The links to it have been redirected to the Factoidz Home page, and, sniffle, I have been demoted.

How did one of the first ‘Made for Adsense’ sites, Ezine Articles get it’s start?

Before we get to Factiodz, later, Knoji, let’s talk about the Ezine Articles. The firstborn of Content Farms, EzineArticles, got it’s start the Corporate-American way: Other people’s money, well, in this case, other people’s intellectual property. In 1999 Chris Knight founded EzineArticles.com, a useless content farm and the ultimate made for AdSense site, by purchasing several thousand articles from ArticleCity.com. Maybe ArticleCity preceded Ezine Articles, but the later became much more famous.

My source could not confirm how much Knight paid for this body of content, but many of us who have written or spun articles to “get our start” in writing online, are guilty of accepting as little as $3.00 for seven hundred words, er, ghostwritten…Duh, we got our start, yeah, and some practice…Knight got lots of dough from his shrewdness. Our own stupidity? Yup. Anyone who has ever ghostwritten an article for $3.00…run a check. Watch how many show up at EzineArticles and other content farms as well as other made for Adsense sites.

Note: I hope you have saved copies. They make great ‘stems’ to build onto and rewrite to produce the kind of quality stuff we want to post here at Bangari, to sites that will make it a center piece of their content collections.

Knight took this content and posted it under a bunch of made-up user names. They posted AdSense all around and bada-bing bada-boom…Return on investment! Now he needed to get more content for this ultimate MFA site, that is; “made for AdSense” as Steve Weber coined the phrase. Knight knew that he couldn’t bring himself to continue paying such a ridiculously low amount of money for the handcrafted intellectual property of others. He needed to figure out a way to get this stuff for free. The “give and take” concept was born! Writers give Knight their intellectual property, and he takes the first-fruits of their efforts, i.e; the first and last dibs on AdSense click-throughs.

What was in it for the Content Producers?

The writer would get a little box at the bottom of their article to post a link to their own site. The writer can not so much as mention their first name in the “give” box, which is the body of content written by the owner article. There are endless debatable submission rules regarding keyword density and placement, the sole intention being to game Google search-bots, that it makes a writer ask “am I writing an article or doing a fricken’ word puzzle?”

Note: This was the purpose of Google’s Panda change. This new algorithm read the entire body of content, and evaluated it for ‘keyword stuffing.’ As I predicted, before this change, the robots learned to tell the difference between an author’s attempt to write their best stuff, to inform human beings vs. an attempt to write crap that tricks machines into trying to feed it to people.

Oh, and be careful with those naughty words -the EZA editors banned my  article, ‘Vasectomies and Christmas Trees: When Balls are just for Decoration’ -labeling it “obscene” because I used the word “balls” -referring to testicles…Gasp! Ironically, the VP of EzineArticles, Chris Knutson is known to use plenty of profanity during his frequent power-tripping tantrums thrown on the underpaid, overworked employees of EZA that aren’t Knutson-Yurchin’s (as some employees secretly called him) personal friends and family. Can you say “hypocrite?” How ’bout “control freak?” Strawboss. Get a real identity.

How could you get paid from having content posted at Ezine Articles?

First, a Web surfer, after finding you’re article on EZA, would have to read it, then, click the link to your own MFA site that you must build, and of course stuff with more spun redundant crap content. Then, if after that, the searcher, now traveler, clicks on an AdSense ad you posted there…you get paid. Three clicks is a long way to travel down the Information Super Highway and the revenue as compared to Chris Knight’s first fruits are like the wormy apples you pick up off the ground.  It’s no fun to wade through piles of shitty, empty content so that you are forced to click an ad in a desperate attempt to get some specific information.

Google gets wise to Ezine Articles’ ploy…

Google figured out a way to shake out the higher quality content, with their Panda change. Google will always be more concerned with the quality of the user’s experience than the quantity of click-throughs. AdWords purchasers sure don’t mind less clicks divided by more conversions.

Note: Google is sunsetting their AdSense program. I’m sure, as usual, they have figured out how to stay ahead of the scammers who pollute the Internet with nothing but crap that generates money and does nothing for those who use the Internet’s search engines as a tool for living.

As Matt Cutts, of Google explains:

“One piece of advice I give to SEO masters is, don’t chase after Google’s algorithm, chase after your best interpretation of what users want, because that’s what Google’s chasing after.”

We want to live by these words at Bangari. We know that users want quality content. If they are going to spend a few volts of brain energy reading a piece of content, they deserve to have those minutes spent reading something produced with pride by the author. Writing is an art. Art connects two human beings in a concept. It’s personal, and there should be a little mutual gratitude involved.

Note: I’ve been accused of contradicting this sentiment. That accusation wasn’t unfounded. However, it was misinformed. It stemmed from the fact that here at Bangari, we sell and use robot ‘Article Spinners.’ At face value, these devices appear to take the ‘art’ out of producing a good piece of writing. However, we do not use them in that way. They are only a tool, like a spelling and grammar checker.They allow us to produce original, good content, from originally good content.

New Prediction (made here, 8-13-13): I’m working hard to learn everything I can about the next phase of the Internet; Web 3.0, a.k.a. the Semantic Web. I think that the type of ‘raw articles’ that writers need to produce before article spinners can do their magic (and it is amazing how talented of a writer one needs to be, and what attention to detail it requires, to produce these raw, pre-spun articles) will be in high demand when search engines make this next evolution in their artificial intelligence. They will be used to allow the search bots to return even better results. I’m working on an article, with an example, that explains this prediction in detail. I only wanted to make this brief statement to defend against this apparent, but not actual, contradiction in my ideas and intentions. Oh, and also, when it comes to be I can say two things: (1) I told you so. (2) Yes, of course Google, I’ll work for you!

Here is the prediction I made, online, a long time before the Panda change. It was actually one of the first posts I did on Factoidz. Mike Quoc said it was genius, and took a shine to me soon after. I think he would have made me a partner in crime, like he did with a couple of the other original contributors to his site, if like them, I was willing to conspire with him to rip off my fellow writers.

The Best Approach to SEO

The other part of the Panda change, is that it uses ‘human opinion’ to educate the robots. I also made that prediction in this second article I wrote, soon after the one above that I just shared.

The Future of SEO and How it Will Affect Content Producers

I put all my effort into Factoidz…

I saw what I needed to see at EzineArticles, and they weren’t holding a candle to Factoidz. I was one of the biggest shills for Factoidz, since the very beginning. I made fast friends with the others, the original group of us that put a lot into helping Mike Quoc get his site rolling. I was proud of what we original writers were accomplishing in terms of quality. I liked the sleek look of the site. I give Mike a lot of credit for his eye for design. Even now, Knoji is pretty slick, looks-wise. I enjoyed just writing…while they chose photos and posted everything while keeping good track of traffic and other analytical and financial data, and handling the SEO and the payouts.

At first the deal was a 50/50 split of Adsense revenue. Fair enough. I’m grown-up enough to know that authors, even in print writing, share the money their art makes with the publisher, which is obtained by the advertisers. This split was way better than Ezine’s, and even though I was tempted to try to do it all myself, on my own Web Property, a few, alright, many hours of trying to design and post and tag, and promote and etc…cured me right quick!

So, I contributed it all to Mike, 160 articles, and promoted Factoidz, becoming an unwitting shill. The whole “buzz it up” feature on Factoidz was my idea. This was based on my prediction that the robots would be looking for human opinion on content, as I outlined in the above article. The problem is, that system got gamed too. This is one of the biggest problems (of the five) facing Web 3.0…Deception: What is an honest ‘thumbs up’ vs. A bunch of paid-for positive opinions? I know one way the robots can tell…but I’m not tellin’ !

So, it turns out, Mike Quoc is a con artist. Knoji, just like it’s predecessor,  Factoidz, is a Ponzi scheme. He is concentrating on consumer reviews now. I encouraged him to focus on these, what are called ‘Advertorials’ when he started doing them at Factoidz.

I used to tell him: Wikipedia has already been invented. They are a non-profit. How do you expect to copy what they do, and make money? It won’t happen. You don’t want ‘opinion’ in a factoid, and want it formatted like a Wikipedia piece. That’s dumb. You should be doing what Wikipedia doesn’t do, and have folks here write content that does lend it’s opinion to the topic or product they are writing about…I guess he’s taking that advice to the bank.

The worse part about the way Mike did it, is that he screwed over many loyal people, like myself, who contributed ideas as well as content to the site, helping him build it up from nothing. He had awesome writers that were producing really good stuff, in a way that Wikipedia can’t. So he fired them. He took their content, as well as their advice. He killed the geese that lay the golden eggs. In his new TOS, he gives himself every right to do this.

Chris Knight kept an in-house team. Mike Quoc, with my free help, schooled Knight on user-content-generated-MFA sites, taking it to a level that Knight never could. Quoc’s users were not only generating all the content, they were also promoting it, and the site, and helping recruit new writers for Quoc to screw over, perpetuating his Ponzi scheme.

Where Quoc turned against his own volunteers, Chris Knight back-stabbed his own in-house team. His original programmer, a source for this article, was fired soon after developing all the alchemy that took other people’s free, intellectual property, and turned it into gold for Knight’s pockets.

Good thing I have plenty more ideas! Not to mention I saw a lot of this coming, so I kept a few cards up my sleeve. Here is my advice for everyone who is still onboard these sinking ships known as Content Farms, or thinking about climbing aboard:

Get your own domain from WordPress or Google Sites or GoDaddy or something. Pay the little bit it costs for a ‘top level domain’ -meaning a domain that has only one dot after the name you choose for your site, i.e.; Myawesomeblog.com vs. Myawesomeblog.wordpress.com.

As I said, I loved the layout at Factoidz when it first came out about five years ago. I liked that they did all the publishing stuff, attaching pictures…that I guess they were stealing around the Internet….But now, it’s much, much easier to have a site of your own, and do these things yourself.

More advice for aspiring or practicing Content Producers:

Multi authored sites: Pairs, or groups of content producers should team up with promoters and agents and techies and build something good together and share the spoils fairly. Google docs, and cloud computing makes this very easy now. It still takes a good ‘site government’ -that’s democratic, not totalitarian. With Kindle and Amazon, ebooks are in demand. Writers of this day and age, of novels or Web content, can completely cut out the publisher as a middleman. Imagine? No use for Quoc or Knight.

As I said, years ago, in my article ‘The Best Approach to SEO: Just write good content. Make a name for yourself. News is best, even if it’s told from a historical and personal perspective. -Remember, we are not journalists, we are bloggers, we can be part of the story and we can be biased. Inject some of your personality into the content you create. Get a following. Be a good correspondent for them. Sell only things that you can stand behind, and have bought or used yourself and liked. Keep it kinda local, that’s if you want to make your revenue over the long haul through advertising.

Think like a magazine editor. The quality of your content has to be stellar. Team up with others; photographers, video editors, transcribers, techies… Multimedia is important, and is going to become much more important.

If you like cash on the barrel head, then pursue gigs working for other Web sites. Stick to your expertise, think ‘union’ and charge .03 to.06 per word -an average package deal for content running about $2,000.00 for one site. Ideally, I think a writer should dabble in each -and of course have at least one novel going, right?

And then there are affiliate deals that content producers can make with Site owners…But that’s a card I’m keeping up my sleeve until I see how all this works out. I predict that the Internet, especially since the advance of social networking, and in light of these Panda and Penguin changes in Google algorithms, is going to offer excellent opportunities for poor hacks like us who cut our teeth, and got our practice, honed our skills even, and learned how easy it is to get screwed by sketchy schleps like Mike Quoc and Chris Knight and his gang, at content farms.

Free and independent, that’s the way to go. “But what about the empire I’ve established?” you ask. Think of it like I think of my first two marriages; good practice. If you have built an empire at Ezine like Jeff Herring has, awesome! If you became a featured writer at Factoidz, great! Look at the traffic your articles are getting. These content farms are probably making $5/1000 page views just in AdSense. With your own site, there are other ways to make revenue, more targeted revenue, like affiliate revenue. You can promote or sell products that you really like, and know something about.

What do I do with the content I posted on these content farms?

I’m going out on a limb here, but I think we’re safe to take our content down and repost it on our own sites now. Duplicate content is a problem, but it is becoming less of one, especially if that article can be attributed to you, as the author. The robots are becoming very adept at sniffing out scraped content.

If you notice, when my articles are returned in a Google search, they have my profile picture next to them right in the results. This is a little tricky to do, but I’m trying to get it done for anyone who posts their content here at Bangari.

Related Articles:

The Best Approach to SEO

SEO: Past and Future

Thinking of Writing for Knoji? It’s a scam!

This piece is still under construction…Stay tuned for the other promised links!

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2 responses to “Knoji: The Rebirth of Factoidz Ponzi Scheme

  1. Hi, Kevin.
    Thanks for writing this piece.
    Please refer to this post on Google Adsense forum.
    Thanks and more success to you.

  2. Thanks Mich! I’ll check it out now.

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