The Fine Art Of Sock-Puppetry
Finding designers on the internet is cool & all – if it weren’t for the sock puppets.
When it comes to marketing design on the internet, many online design companies have developed split personalities, pretending they’re someone else, located somewhere they’re not, and offering the exact same services for different pricing on different websites.
Online logo design services.
A link from somewhere else is probably how you found our site, and probably this very article. That’s how all this is supposed to work. The trouble is, selling online services a very competitive business. It’s also a fairly lucrative one if you can get enough eyes on your website. Or in the case of logo sock puppetry, enough eyes on all of their websites. Having several different websites promoting one company ain’t a big deal in the online world. Everybody does it. It’s when a multitude of websites pretend to be different companies, when they’re really all the same guys, do things get a little odd. When you factor in the lengths that these companies go to hide those connections, you’ve gotta be just a little concerned.
Online diplomas, student loans and term papers?
For some reason, a lot of folks from South East Asia who are selling logo design services, are also heavily connected to the fraudulent college diploma racket. Prefabricated college term papers. Student loans even. College affiliate revenues. Not sure what the connection is, save things that can be sold completely online, via the internet, without much in the way of oversight or overhead. Such connections often have some comical results, especially when they use fake physical addresses to bolster their USA location bona fides. There’s a plethora of websites, run by a huge IT company in Pakistan, that plastered a fake US address all over their websites. That address just happened to be an abandoned warehouse in Delaware (due to Delaware’s lax foreign corporation laws,) and just happened to get shown on a CNN report about a fake diploma and University degree scandal. This was such a big deal it was brought up on the floor of the UN. The design sites changed the town listed on their website pretty damn fast, but they forgot to change the street address.
“It’s not often that folks who are lying to your face to get your money, will turn around and have an honesty epiphany when they get it.”
Determining a sock puppet website.
How can you tell a sock puppet website? One such way is their phone number (if their site even bothers to list one in the first place). Websites are cheap. Toll free numbers, through US based VOIP modem phones aren’t, so a search of phone numbers will generally reveal connections with other sites. Often to phone numbers that are connected to spammers, as these VOIP numbers are recycled between these guys. Alas, some sock puppet sites are getting wise to this, and are now featuring .gif phone number images, to which search engine spiders are blind, rather than live text, to which they’re not. But that’s okay. Most companies want their phone numbers to be picked up by search engines, so if the website you’re perusing has turned their phone number into an image, ask yourself ‘why did they turn their phone number into an image?’ Because they don’t want you to search that number on Google and connect their various sock puppet sites is why.
Determining a legitimate online vendor.
Google Earth and its companion Street View are pretty cool too, and there’s quite a few logo design websites whose addresses are either empty fields or free-standing buildings that have nothing to do with graphic design. I asked one site via chat window about their address being that of a stand-alone jewelry store, and they told me “we’re in the back.” Trouble is, there is no back, and the people in the jewelry store had never heard of the company. The jeweler also told me I wasn’t the first to ask. There’s another outfit who claims they’re a US based company with a Karachi office. As their Pennsylvania office consists of a couple of desks, while all their production is done in their Karachi facility, I’d argue they’re a Pakistan based company with a US office. Their recent foray into the design contest & crowdsourcing arena is being heavily promoted by a network of graphic design blogs – aimed at designers – that deny connections to each other. It isn’t where these companies are located is the issue. It’s where they tell you they’re located, and the extreme lengths they’ll go to lie about it. Right to your face. Just business you say? Not where I’m from. I thought transparency was the key. We’d get more business if we pretended we were based in the US. It’s up to us to convince clients that a Canadian-based design shop can create decent logos for US clients.
The importance of being earnest (online.)
Why is all this important? If the people behind a sock puppet website have no issue with lying to you about who they are and where they are, and what they’ve done, how does that square with their other website claims? When they say they’ll put five designers on your project will they really? Or will it be some poor solo Mac jockey, harried, overworked and underpaid, trying to keep up with a flood of website orders tossed on his workstation? When they say that all work is 100% custom, is it, or are you paying to look at designs that have been rejected from previous projects because it sorta looks like the stuff you asked for in your web brief? A Frankensteined tinker-toy logo with your company name slapped across the bottom after thirty seconds of Adobe editing. And when they tell you about their unlimited revisions, are they really ‘unlimited’ (they never are) or do they pull the plug once your revision requests have taken your project into the non-profit area? See, buying stuff on on the internet is to a great degree, based on trust. And if a company is willing to lie to you about such fundamentals as their own identity, the credibility of their entire pitch becomes suspect. It’s not often that folks who are lying to your face to get your money, will turn around and have an honesty epiphany when they get it.
Cute little button eyes though.