The webcomics blog about webcomics

Quick Takes And An Answer

I was kind of hoping the shirt would distract from the moustache.

Matt Boyd + Rich Stevens = YES. Boyd makes it sound like those old El Grande Historia del Rock compilation albums I used to find in the dollar bin during my regular pilgrimages to 12th & Poplar and the musical shrine therein.

Several points on contact on the WOWIO question (including comments from helpful readers) all agree — money comes from ads in the eBooks; to sum up — advertisers pay WOWIO, WOWIO splits with creators, allowing books at prices like “free”.

Downloaders of these free books have to provide certain information about themselves for purposes of authentication. To quote:

Signing up for a WOWIO account requires that you authenticate your identity. This is necessary to protect the content of our publishing partners and provide readers with free ebooks. WOWIO is currently available to U.S. residents only.

Authentication options include:

  • a non-anonymous email address
  • a credit card
  • a scan of an ID like a driver’s license

It is stated that credit card info and ID scans are not retained “after the authentication process”. No disrespect to WOWIO or the many creators using the service to distribute their stuff, but there’s no way in hell that I’d ever transmit either of those things to somebody offering me something for free. Why yes, I am a cynical sumbitch, thank you.

In addition to authenticating, you will be asked:

to enter personal information, including contact information and information regarding your personal interests and preferences. …

WOWIO collects and uses your personal information primarily for the purpose of subsidizing the price of ebooks available on the WOWIO site. Sponsors pay for the opportunity to present their products and services to you, and in return you get free books. Your personal information is shared with sponsors and other clients and partners of WOWIO in aggregate only. No personal identifying information is available to clients or partners. [emphasis original]

Addendum to the earlier Cycle o’ Money: Advertisers pay WOWIO, WOWIO splits with creators, you get free books, you get sold to advertisers. The farming of marketing info isn’t unique, and it is one of the things that makes our economy work. But I found this bit interesting: when talking about how WOWIO will never disclose info about you personally except in extraordinary circumstances (subpeona, other legal compliances, etc.), there was this tidbit:

… in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to: … (b) protect and defend the rights or property of WOWIO

Okay, Not A Lawyer, but that’s pretty damn broad. The lack of boilerplate we will not sell or give away information about you text is worth considering. I’m not saying that WOWIO is a bad service or a bad deal (really, I have no opinion on it), but you’ll want to keep in mind that these free books aren’t really free, and you’ll have to decide for yourself if reading them (and supporting their creators) is a sufficient benefit to Brand:You.

Ok… that is ten million kinds of shady, and as Mr Milholland points out, it’s a bit pointless for Web comics which are already free.

Well, the primary use seems to be as an easy method of bringing in money for the webcomic creators – they get paid for each of their comics downloaded (with the stringent registration info to make sure people don’t try and cheat the system.)

So if fans decide it is easier to give away some personal information to support a webcomic, rather than donate money directly, it serves a reasonable purpose.

I’m not going to sign up for it myself, admittedly – but I don’t think the system is inherently evil. I have been a little uneasy about the creators who have been hyping it without mentioning the hidden cost, and think that putting a bit more public information forward would solve a lot of the ill-will that seems to have arisen.

My response– not just to Gary but to the concerns about Wowio in general– is here.

You’re out of your mind.

I mean fuck you.

Gary, you’re incredibly stupid and you’re wrong about practically everything you said.

There’s no need to descend into mud flinging… surely we’re sort of past this stage in webcomics by now?

I’m personally still not convinced, after a brief discussion (not really a discussion, livejournal comments) about it, and hearing from someone who actually has signed up for the service and got their side of it… it seems less shifty if you use the less shifty option, but I’m still not entirely sure I trust it with very sensitive data for a multitude of reasons.

Giving out my e-mail address is one thing, but I can’t set spam assassin on my postman…

“There’s no need to descend into mud flinging… surely we’re sort of past this stage in webcomics by now?”

LOL, where have you been?

“it seems less shifty if you use the less shifty option”

There’s nothing in any conceivable way shifty about it. Are you the same type of people who refuse to buy things on eBay and Amazon because you’re “scared” of who-knows-what? I’ll tell you what’s a lot worse than mudslinging — posts like Gary’s that say TOTALLY FALSE things about Wowio for no purpose that I can see other than as a crazy attempt to take money out of the pockets of people who make comics. He either doesn’t know what “in aggregate” means or he’s incapable of reading entire sentences and comprehending them or he’s a total liar. All this nonsense about being “sold to advertisers” is disgusting and false and I sure hope an edit and retraction is imminent. He should definitely not be posting these things as if he somehow knows what he’s talking about when he either hasn’t properly researched it and/or can’t understand words of more than two syllables.

Yes, Bobby, you got me. My entire purpose is to take money out of the pockets of people who make comics; that’s why my monthly budget for comics and webcomics merch is several hundred dollars and my walls are decorated with originals. My sleeper assignment is now complete and I can pack up shop.

Yaknow, before I end up being accused somehow of just swallowing Gary up to the hip…

I went and hand a look at the Privacy Policy myself and did some asking around to find out how it actually works, and I’m still not entirely sure why the advertising set up would ever require me to give up a piece of sensitive ID which is going to be very valuable to someone who trades in identity.

Site E-mail, ok. I’d be willing to give that up. I do every day.

But… Passport? Drivers License? Credit Card number with no goods involved? This isn’t giving my money to someone on eBay or Amazon for a good or service, this is letting someone use it as a way of checking all my details.

Which I then have no control over. I also do not know if the employees are particularly trustworthy.

Another point that keeps coming up in my mind is Credit Agencies are going to ask very awkward questions if I said “Oh, well, I gave my number to these people on the Internet for nothing once…” if my card details were stolen somehow. I’m not even saying that WOWIO *would* let there be a breach, but purely from a stance of taking all available precautions it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

For the record, I have a bad enough time giving up my Passport to government agencies, let alone some place in America that doesn’t seem to have a equivalent to the Data Protection Act.

“All this nonsense about being “sold to advertisersâ€? is disgusting and false”

Well, actually… do you perchance have the bit of the Privacy Policy which says that that isn’t exactly what happens in order for it to work? You are, by definition, sold to sponsors. Your details are used as a basis for a monetary transaction between the sponsor and the company. No matter how innocent that may well be, that’s still “sold to sponsors”. Unless I’ve completely misunderstood how WOWIO works.

You’re being entered into a database somewhere and sorted into a demographic based on who you are, what you’re interested in, the function of your junk, your age and possibly where you live.

And, where I now skirt with considerable controversy for saying so, to be honest, the central thrust of the positive news I’ve been hearing seems to be “We’re making money, so it’s OK”… I’m not saying it is by any means totally accurate of everyone or even anyone, but if this is more about money than doing everything possible to ensure readers privacy, we really have to look into what drives us as creators in my humble opinion. Choose any other justification you like, but don’t choose “So? We’re making money” over concerns about privacy. Other people have made far better points (mentioning that it’s not a fly-by-night operation, it has media coverage and exhibits at BookExpo) in this regard that you have, I’m sorry to say.

And Gary proves further that he’s a huge asshole by making a pointless joke about this crap to avoid the issue and not responding at all to T’s article which completely refutes everything he said.

To LEM: Wow, yet another person who doesn’t know what “in aggregate” means and hasn’t read T’s article which explains it. There is NO selling to advertisers of our personal information, which it says so very clearly in the privacy policy. “No personal identifying information is available to clients or partners.” What don’t you understand about that? From T’s blog —

“The key words are ‘in aggregate only.’ ‘In aggregate only’ means that no individual information– no credit-card numbers, no e-mail addresses, no library cards– is shared. What is shared are things like demographic information and yearly income: ‘the audience for this work appears to be 75% female and 50% in their twenties.’ Aggregate info, not individual info.”

One major purpose of this is simply for the decision of what ad to place at the front of each PDF you download from WOWIO. I’ve been a member of WOWIO for a month now and I’ve received zero spam e-mails from them in that time and no money has been stolen from my credit card — a miracle!

“the central thrust of the positive news I’ve been hearing seems to be ‘We’re making money, so it’s OK’ ”

This makes zero sense and I have no clue why anyone would say that. The central thrust of the positive news is that there’s NO NEGATIVE NEWS WHATSOEVER OF ANY KIND, except the kind INVENTED by people like you and Gary because you CAN’T READ and you’re just super scared people in general apparently, and those would be the nice reasons for it.

“Other people have made far better points, in this regard that you have, I’m sorry to say.”

If you’re talking to me, what’s your damn point? Why would I need to make points when T already posted a comment right here and I’d of course be going under the assumption that anyone actually commenting here would have read that? You apparently either didn’t read it or didn’t comprehend it, just like you didn’t read or didn’t comprehend the WOWIO privacy policy in the first place.

[...] It was webcomics! Plus, watching Tony drink directly from the concentrated Twinkie™-filling [...]

[...] of that notice, unfortunately, was negative – some misreadings of the company’s policies led many to believe that they shared user’s personal data [...]

Obviously you don’t understand the term aggregate.

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