Posts tagged ‘tony shin’

2013/03/08

Salon covers the Mystery Infographics!

Just a quick jubilant note to say that Andrew Leonard at Salon has up a piece on the mysterious Tony Shin / QuinStreet infographic spams that we have covered lovingly in the past.

And apparently there was another piece the other day about the “request for link removal” things that I also talked about recently.

And I’m sure when I have a chance to read them, they will be interesting!

Here is a picture of a bird eating a fish or something:

Kingfisher_6611

Update: zomg the Salon piece actually links to us. W00t!

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2012/06/19

More on the mysterious infographics

The plot continues to thicken! To recap, we originally got some spam from one Tony Shin (apparently “ohtinytony” on The Twitter), offering an infographic about World of Warcraft, and then not too long later on a different email address we got a similar one from “Jen R” offering a graphic about marijuana legalization, and awhile later yet another similar one from one Catherine Long, offering a graphic about Elon Musk (who is some entrepreneur-type, not a cologne).

We did a little poking around about these odd things, but didn’t find anything too informative. Just recently and by accident, we stumbled upon this press release about some exciting new infographic apparently created by QuinStreet, Inc (“one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies”). The infographic itself is very much in the style of the previous Tony-Shin-school infographics, and is hosted on “schools.com” (“your future starts here”), which is another of these extremely bland and generic and professionally-designed sites that prior infographics have had URLs to at the bottom.

So let’s look at QuinStreet dot com. (Woot, hello, stock-photo persons! Aren’t we nice and diverse?)

They are “the leader in vertical marketing and media online”, which is exciting. Oddly for such a prominent institution, the obvious web search turns up mostly pages on their own web site, pages they have created themselves on social media sites, a very brief Wikipedia article, a couple of news stories (or perhaps their own press releases?) about them buying some other generic-sounding organizations, and some related searches having to do with layoffs.

It’s not obvious from any of this the relationship between Quinstreet and the Mysterious Infographics of Tony Shin. So let’s try searching on Quinstreet infographic.

At the moment the first hit is Yahoo Finance reprinting another press release about Schools dot com hosting a Quinstreet infographic (this one). Surely Quinstreet does something other than making infographics to put up on its own sites? Let’s see…

Here’s some local Fox affiliate reprinting a press release about Robot Study Buddies, hosted on online schools dot com, which has got to be another generic Quinstreet site.

So I dunno, let’s try quinstreet tony shin

Whoa, jackpot!

Well, a small one at least. Tony has apparently posted ten or so of his infographics to famous bloggers dot net, whatever that is. Each one has the trademark generic hostname at the bottom; the oldest one points to Criminal Justice Degree dot net, which contains the usual extremely generic information, no obvious reference to Quinstreet, and a statement that it is copyright by Forensic Psychology dot net, which is (wait for it!) another very similar generic site, which has the same copyright notice (i.e. copyright by itself), and seems rather a dead end.

Another hit from the quinstreet infographic search is this page on html goodies dot com, which is a Quinstreet property. The page presents a very Tony-Shin style infographic about Silverlight and HTML5 and Flash or something. Some of the comments criticize the graphic for being shallow, or wrong, or being just the text that would otherwise have appeared as text, with some eyecandy around it. (That last from non-visual types like me!)

Various links from the html goodies page take us to just tech jobs dot com, and various other sites in the developer dot com empire, which is, naturally, owned by Quinstreet.

And then one final hit on quinstreet infographic takes us to this article on electronic staff dot com (which looks like another Quinstreet generic site) about yet another infographic, this one hosted on and featuring online degrees dot com (similarly), which says it is copyright “The Learning Voice”, which I was perhaps surprisingly unable to find yet another Quinstreet property for.

(That page is notable for being, unlike the other ones that I ran across in this, full of amusing gibberish; I give you for instance:

… iPhone 4S owners typically use Siri for many easier tasks, such as creation phone calls, acid a Web and promulgation content messages …
“We combined this infographic since we wanted to know — is Siri vital adult to all a hype?”
… QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with a information they need to research, find and name a products, services and brands that accommodate their needs …

Translated to and from French or something maybe?)

But anyway it’s probably safe to conclude that Quinstreet at some point acquired the rights to a whole bunch of domain names, many of them sort of second-tier combinations of common words (Just Tech Jobs, Forensic Psychology, MBA Online, Criminal Justice Degree, and so on), and at least a few pretty killer (developer dot com, woot!). And they have put content on them that all point to themselves in a very SEOish sort of way.

But that still doesn’t tell us exactly who Tony Shin is (or Jen Rhee, or Catherine Long, or…), or why he is offering his infographics to random obscure philosophy webloggers. The mystery continues!

Oh, and lookee here, another one has just arrived:

From: Maggie Lewis

Hi David,

I am curious if you are the administrator for this site: http://www.davidchess.com/words/log.20010216.html

I came across your page while I was doing some research. I recently finished a resource on astronomy that I think may be useful to you and your readers.

Could you please let me know if you are the correct person to contact for potentially having a resource like this included on your page?

I appreciate your time in advance and hope you have a great day!

Best,
Maggie

Sent from pandasent.com, via smtp.com, forged to look like it’s coming from gmail.com; the same old MO. I think I will ask her about her resource; maybe it will look oddly familiar! :)

Update: woot lol! Searching about for information on the amusingly-named pandasent dot com got me to Mystery of the Infographics, where a clued person named Mark Turner is looking into our very same mystery in slightly different ways. Worth a read to any interested investigator! :)

Update the second: The above used to have a live link to Forensic Psychology dot net, until I removed it due to this interesting development.

2012/06/11

More of the Mystery Spam!

Another missive in the style of the previously-noted; we suspect also from Tony Shin’s Secret Ninja Army.

Subject: A resource on Elon Musk

Hi David,

My name is Katherine and I came across davidchess.com while searching for references and mentioning of space related issues. I work with a team of designers and researchers and together we built a graphic that highlights Elon Musk, the real life Iron Man.

If this is the correct email and you’re interested in using the content, I’d be happy to share it with you. :)

Best,

– Katherine Long

Like the original two, this is sent via a spamming service, in this case “ezmailhosting dot com”, forged to appear to be from a gmail address.

Random Web searching finds no obvious connection between a Katherine Long and our Tony Shin, but does turn up one 2010 article from the Seattle Times, written by a Katherine Long (Seattle Times Eastside Reporter) about electric cars, including mention of Elon Musk’s Tesla. Entirely possible that that’s just a “too much information and a common name” coincidence.

No obvious connection between a Katherine Long and a Jen R, either.

(Oddly, Google insists that this meetup page about a Katherine Long also includes the phrase “New York Data Visualization and Infographics”, but it doesn’t for me. Silly Web.)

Perhaps I should write her, too, although I have no interest whatever in a “graphic” about Elon Musk. And Jen never wrote me back…

2012/04/13

“An infographic my team built”: Mystery Spam o’ the Time-unit

So the other week I got this on one of my Dale Innis email addresses:

Hey Dale,

I found your site while I was looking for sites that have talked about World of Warcraft and wanted to reach out to see if you were interested in using a graphic my team and I designed, which highlights how online gaming stacks up against online dating, in a classic 8-bit video game aesthetic.

Let me know if you’re interested, would love to connect. Thanks!


Tony Shin
@ohtinytony

The phrasing strongly suggested that the writer was from a subculture with which I am not generally very comfortable (“reach out”, “love to connect”: ewwww, stranger-danger!), and I pretty much ignored it (but left it in my inbox with the several hundred things other swirling around in there), and later on I got an actual followup:

Hey Dale,

Wanted to follow up and reach out about the email I sent last week about the graphic on gaming and dating.

Hope things are going well.

Thanks!


Tony Shin
@ohtinytony

He’s still groping at me, but this seemed personal enough that I actually replied:

Um, hi! I actually have no idea what you were talking about. :)
What is this graphic, and how/why would I want to use it?

and he rereplied pretty quickly:

Hi Dale,

I was searching for people who have talked about gaming and those who’ve taken any interest in it, then came across your site. So I thought you and your audience might find the graphic interesting.

The infographic I was talking about lives here: http://www.onlineuniversity.net/gamers-get-girls/

If you like it, feel free to link to it or use it in a post. Would love any feedback you or your readers have.

Thanks.
Tony Shin

I didn’t reply again, ’cause while visually cute I found the image kind of silly and pointless (not sure just what point it’s trying to make, various of the facts seem awfully implausible but I don’t care enough to trace down the sources, etc). And I figured that was probably the end of that.

Then, today, at one of David Chess’ email addresses, I find:

Hi David,

I came across your site while searching for resources related to ‘NORML’ and saw that you had referenced their site. That said, I wanted to reach out to see if you’d like to view a graphic that my team and I created which illustrates the benefits of marijuana legalization. Would you be interested in taking a look?

I’d love to get your readers’ feedback as well as yours!

Thanks,
Jen R.

This seems markedly similar! Also from the email headers the first Tony mail and the Jen mail are both coming via a mass-mailing service (Tony’s via “SMTP.com” and Jen’s via “mailingcomplex.com”), forged to appear to be from gmail.com, whereas Tony’s followup seems to have come via Integra Telecom (not an obvious mass-mailer, but similarly forged), and his reply to my reply seems to have actually come from gmail.

I should just write Tony and Jen and ask what’s going on of course :) but it is fun to speculate. Is it a college visual design course whose professor encourages the students to do this kind of thing? Is it a very clever bit of meta-spam designed to be unusual enough that gullible people (like me!) will put up weblog posts like this that actually include links to at least one of the Infographics in question, and thereby boost their Google Search Rankings (Brazil Triplets Nude!), or something like that?

Apparently there is a real Tony Shin who is perhaps actually at-ohtinytony on Twitter, although that person calls itself “Tonytones”. The account does “tweet” about various of this same kind of enormous Infographic, though, so it’s plausible.

Relatedly, here is a sort of article-thing by or about or something Tony Shin and various similar Infographics (warning: all sorts of rather cheesy ads and counters and little widgets from social media sites you’ve never heard of and general annoyances), which refers to him as “a social media ninja and creative design samurai”. Maybe these emails are part of some ninja-samurai initiation ritual, in which the student must stand on one leg atop a flagpole, blindfolded, until his Infographic gets a Klout score of at least 47.3 or something.

And here is a much less annoying site which has had several posts about the Mystery of the Infographics, including “Tony Shin taken to task“, which links to an Ohio State University professor posting about one of tiny Tony’s Infographics, and opining quite accurately I think about the various dangers of this kind of shiny information packaging. All very much worth a read.

Haven’t found anything on Jen yet, though. I think I will write to her… :)