What do the three fake Wikileaks-forum.com Sales adverts reveal

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This is a second post focusing on the commercial aspect of wikileaks-forum.com. The first you can find here: http://wp.me/p2MRYW-j4

Searching in the website https://forums-digitalpoint.com for more clues as to the commercial objectives of the owner of the wikileaks-forum.com I have stumbled onto a total of three advertisements for the Sale of the forum, References 1-3 below.  The table I made based on the information on the adverts clearly indicates that Mark kept putting the forum up for sale since September 2011, testing the water for responses and offers, probably exploring to monetize its value. That is to say he was dipping his toe in the market to see what the market wants and how much it was prepared to pay. As time went by, his offer was enhanced through higher number of posts, a blog, Facebook, Twitter supporter pages/accounts and VPN hosting to obtain,it seems, a better monetary value.

Summary of the three advertisements

7th September 2011 14th November 2011 26th August 2012
Page Ranking PR5 PR6 PR6
No of Posts 17,500 21,000 34,000
Threads 12,000
Members 7,227 10,000 14,600
Page views/day 200,000-350,000
Page views/month 4,000,000
Site Hits 6,000,000
Daily new members 60-70 50-60
No of moderators 30 20
New Daily posts 100-150
Facebook Page 20,000 25,000
Twitter Page 700 1,300
VPS No No Yes
Hosting Costs Owner Owner Paid through Community
Backlinks Yes 2000 Yes
Blog -PR6 Yes

At the same time as these adverts were going up on the web, he was considering other offers of Finance including WikiLeaks financing the site [4], or raising money to cover the high VPN charges (estimate $129/month) through direct donations from membership [5].

Selling Advertising space at the forum through Footer links

But these were not the only options for consideration open to Mark. On the same day as he asks assistance in determining why wikileaks-forum.com with established PR6, shows no Google ranking at all in SSL[6], he advertises Selling 2-3 Advertising Footer Links to finance the site [7].

This is an example of a Footer Advertising link at the Forum back in May 2013 [8]:

Footer Link May 2013

if you pressed on the link ‘Techical Advisor’ it would take you to http://www.sawz.com/ a link submission website. Sawz was the name of a Forum Admin throughout  the time that I was a moderator (31st Oct 2011 – 22nd Aug 2012). Mark had explained that since he was helpful to him he put his link there. He said he was not earning anything from that Footer Link. I also recall a second Footer link there at the time when I was a mod linked to ‘a throat, ear and nose specialist Consultant’, again Mark had plausibly explained that his presence there was due to the fact that he had built this doctor’s website, so this doctor was helping him cover some of the hosting costs.

At the time of writing, no footer advertising links appear at the Index page of the wikileaks-forum.com.

The Many Questions that must be asked

So the questions we have to ask are: why was Mark running the forum if he no longer had the time to do so as mentioned in the advertisements? Why did he advertise as early as September 2011 to sell it? Why he never told any of the mods/admins at the time of his attempts to sell but he was keeping it a secret? Why was it so important for a political discussion forum to have a PR6 Google ranking, why was finance an issue when there were early offers from WikiLeaks to cover the costs as long as the forum was hosted with a safe hoster away from the US?

What is the value of a WikiLeaks Forum (endorsed or not)

But would Mark make a fortune commercially by selling the forum? I am not acquainted with the commercial value of a forum. Some advertising revenue could be made in general by forums/blogs that openly solicit advertising. But, I would say that as a commercial venture I can’t see it turning someone a millionaire overnight. Still, the advertisements are clear proof he was looking for money in the open market as if it was a commercial venture. If someone can provide some insight, it would be very much welcome.

Also, the ‘For sale’ advertisements could act as a negotiating tactic with whoever he was talking to, in relation to the future of the forum. He could just want to recover what he spent. It could also be an exit strategy for Mark. He may no longer wished to have, openly, the responsibility for the role that the forum would play as the anti-WikiLeaks, anti-Julian Assange ‘Supporters’ Forum. A team of disaffected ‘Insiders’.

In fact, I would say that  the real value of a WikiLeaks related forum would not be monetary. Whether endorsed or not it could only be of real value either to members of the WikiLeaks Supporters Community (as a supportive site) or to those  who wish to undermine it by using it as a tool to misdirect, spread misinformation, create uncertainty and doubt, do harm to the cause.

What do the Sale Advertisements tell us

One thing is for sure. The three Advertisements offering the Forum for Sale are telling of Mark’s perception of the website as something that has a monetary value for him, an asset to be owned, to be sold, to be milked using the WikiLeaks brand. As he used to say to me ‘Google likes “WikiLeaks”‘.

Such approach comes into direct conflict with the picture of the idealist WikiLeaks supporter, flying the banners high and rallying the troops for this worthy cause, that he trumpeted to the world for so long, as “the owner of the WikiLeaks-Forum.com, the owner of support-julian-assange.com”. This was the picture that he presented to the world, unchallenged, for the entire 18 months I was a forum member. He dropped the mask for me in August 2012 and I left. Since then he presents himself as the disaffected WikiLeaks supporter. With this new evidence we can learn that his intentions were not sincere already from September 2011.

Our learning continues…

Resources:

[1] First Sales Advert posted 7th of September 2011 http://archive.is/OZrM9

[2] Second Sales Advert posted 14th Nov 2011 http://HpQ62

[3] Third Sales Advert posted 26th August 2012 http://archive.is/E155v

[4] Conversation with Mark 29th of December 2011 about Forum Hosting costs http://wp.me/p2MRYW-gv

[5] Conversation with Mark Fundraising for wikileaks-forum.com for VPN costs 20th September 2011 http://wp.me/p2MRYW-js

[6] Page Rank and SSL Enquiry posted 15th December 2011 http://archive.is/Q3Hq9

[7] Selling 2 to 3 Footer Links on well known PR6 Forum with 11,000indexed Pages http://archive.is/vFCn9

[8] Example of Footer Advertising Link at the WikiLeaks Discussion Forum May 2013 http://archive.is/bOyh3

One comment

  1. Emmy,

    The research and publishing you’ve done to expose the giant fraud that is the wlf is extraordinary. It is an important piece of the historic record of the issues around journalism, transparency and open government which are highlighted in the WikiLeaks journey. I have no doubt that Julian Assange takes heart from efforts of his fellow transparency advocates such as yours on this blog as well as your work with cables and other documents.

    In this latest post on what wlf sales adverts reveal, “desire” Is to my read a strong subcontext. A strong desire to eschew wage slavery, unbind from monotony of the rigid 9-5 work week and form communal networks based on location, interest and need. I am often brought in contact with folks who imagine attaining these goals while profitting.

    There are millions of schemes designed to enable the client[sucker] to attain business success and financial independence. One which attracks tech savvvy folks is creating web sites with high SEO for click through marketing, such as Mark, the owner of wlf seeks to develop and sell.

    Whatever the focus, these schemes are attractive
    because, the average person, although disgusted with his/her hyper-capitalist life, lacks education of  alternate system’s knowledge. Scheme designers understand this and address post-capitalist desires with trash capitalist schemes. Certainly their target audience doesn’t understand capitalism, else they wouldn’t continuously be vulnerable to it’s schemes. Schemes, the goals which are mostly ajectival: sexier, thinner, richer, deserving are neurolinguistic triggers designed specifically to both attack and assuage individual fears and inadequacies. [NLP: http://t.co/q9JpnkDdoZ ]

    Ironically the very neurolinguistic tactics used to induce clients[suckers] to a templated schemes [e.g., I can make you…X, just write for free brochure. Buy the book and learn…that you need the dvd of the seminar…to learn you MUST attend a seminar in order to move to Level2.  Here’s a free brochure about Level2…]. Promotional seminars apply this template and tactics to real estate, dating[the art of insulting women into bed], health, skill development[modeling, acting].

    In the over-all disposition of events by wlf I see a desire to be free, a sucker’s luck, a child-like fascination with things covert and a pathological drive for drama. In security cirlces this is the ideal make-up of “useful idiot”.

    Whether one considers her/himslef as part of the WikiLeaks movement or diametrically opposed or outside the debate entirely, we are at a watershed moment. In a matter of days the Snowden reveals proved the most tinfoil™ wearing brigadistas were short by half in their “paranoia”. Concurrently these reveals have divided the loyal opposition philosophically & economically as much as any issue, though such a shake-up has been long coming.

    It may in fact be time to take a [non-violent] stand with regard to who represents us, who is welcome to join us and what end-goal aliances we are willing to make and how far will we compromise to make them. More talmudically, separate the wheat from the chaff.

    Shaking out the chaf is part of the process, but humanity is a dictatorship of its own, mandating  understanding, though not capitulation. I recently remarked to a comrade that in understanding great evil we often come to understand the evil-doer. This is humanity, demanding protection of victim and antagonist alike, ever within the constraint to cause no  further harm or suffering. As near justice as we shall reach.

    As we occasionally painfully strip the emporers of invisisble raiments and ideated crowns, we are left also to care for the naked crying mass of humanity left behind. Humanity also demands us to understand
    that we all must co-exist under any solution. What better reminder have we that we are not only independent actors but interdependent collectives, each of us belonging to ant number.

    This is thoughtful work and should be taken far more seriously than it generally is. As I did in a tweet, I want to applaud Emmy for being rigorous and so well-paced and, most of all, kind in shedding so much light.

    ~lb*/

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