I can honestly say when I first started in the hosting industry I never thought about doing anything with hosting review sites. But not everyone who shared control of the hosting sites with me, was not thinking of how to monopolizing on hosting review sites. I had a business partner that wanted to start a fake review site, where our hosts would appear on top. An idea he got from Featureprice. There are other hosts that practice this today such as siteground. He did not have the conscience I have, one that can cause loss of sleep. Despite winning the argument of staying out of the review industry, I lost the war to stay out of the cheap hosting industry. That and several other factors would lead to me selling my controlling shares. Being against starting a fake review site had caused a rift between me and my business partner for a few years. Up to the point webhostingstuff.com decided to delete our positive feed back. The rift quickly dissolved when he found I was making this site, and then he wanted to know what he could do to help me with it.
A short re-introduction of the history of reviewing hosting review sites
My start in the hosting industry was about 15 years ago, when I was introduced to the guy that would later be my business partner in the hosting industry. At that time I had been hired because I was pretty good with data bases, and later I would transition over to graphics. At the time we both worked for a so called “I can make you rich if you buy my book” guy, or in short a guru. Even before that my business partner had ideas of running a hosting company. By the time we had gotten out of the “give me money so I can tell you how I got rich” industry we had partnered with someone else that would ultimately lock us out of our first hosting operation, this host would ultimately die 2 weeks after we were locked out. Which set us back 8 months in getting another host started up. Ultimately this host would take off and it still is active to this day. Despite some other failed business relationships one with a tech who did not believe in virus protection. Details given in one of my early posts.
By the time webhostignstuff.com came into the picture we had 2 hosts running, a third in production. This was the point where they decided to delete the positive hosting review feedback of one of my companies. My company was not the first, nor was it the last. The big difference is those other hosts did not have someone like me. I am not saying I am special, far from it. It’s the whole thinking outside the dimensions of a box and not just out of the box. Simple put I am really weird.
The reason webhostingstuff.com deleted my positive feed back was because they were using the negative hosting reviews for my site to encourage others to buy from their top 25, and the same for any host that was not paying for a spot in the top 25. After all its not profitable for people to come to their site and find out that people were happy with the service my company provided or the company they were looking into. That and the less new customers that flow in from webhostingstuff.com to those that paid for top 1 – 25 positioning will be less likely to pay for a spot, or in the case of Michael Lows hosting review site hostaz.com, people would be less likely to sign up for the hosts that are set up with affiliate links. Despite saying they don’t delete feed back, they do. They even give reasons for deleting it such as you closed your account and got a refund. Never mind the reasons for closing your account may very well justify you creating a hosting review.
Seeing (a) positive review(s) would not give the possible customer a reason to review the so called top 25 list. At the same time people who paid for the top 25 have had their negative hosting review(s) deleted. Something I witnessed with Infinite Networks. When I first reviewed them they had 6 reviews with a 2 out of 5 star rating. Then they had 4 reviews so it was 3 out of 5 stars.
This site started as a way to vent my anger in my scant free time. After launching the one page site and the video, I contacted many of the hosts that appeared in these so called hosting review sites. None of them responded back to me. By the end of December 2007 my anger had long cooled down, and I thought this site would go no where.
I of coarse debated on advertising my hosting company on the site, but it seemed like a conflict of interest. In many ways I think this would work to my advantage as many smaller hosts would point people to my site.
Right before the 4th quarter of 2009 several factors lead to me deciding it was time to get out of the hosting business among them was zero vacations/weekends and long hours. Not to mention I had wanted to finish up school for a career in biology. I was not too thrilled dealing with a cheap hosting industry as the less a customer paid the more they expected. They were more likely to put in support tickets. On top of that others in our company infrastructure wanted to do what EIG (Endurance International Group) was doing (several hosting companies while using the control panel as a advertising platform), and already had two more companies planned for release in early 2010.
By the end I sold my shares for 60 – 70% of their value, in hopes of getting out as fast as possible (a decision I would regret later as that was a lot of money). I had to sign a non-disclosure agreements and non-compete clause (ncc) agreements.
In early 2010 after finalizing the sales Google contacted me to put AdSense on the site. Also someone in Singapore was trying to buy the site off of me (Which so happens to be where Michael Low is from).
I thought it was a bit odd, here is a site that for two and half years I did nothing with, it was tied to two videos on YouTube. One with no sound which is the most popular, and has people saying I should add sound. Another with sound (thanks to a volunteer) that gets less traffic. I approved or declined of comments and responded to them. That was the most I did to maintain this site. So why the heck did Google want me to put AdSense on it?
I decided to see what a search of Google would find. The first was a blog for a host. It pointed to my video and actually did a review of some of the hosts on this hosting review site that were on the top 25, one was hostdawgs.com (Which later went out of business). They showed based on numbers that the system made no sense. Hosts with a high amount of negative reviews or no reviews at all were on the list. They also had proof that webhostingstuff.com was deleting negative feed back. I also found that other hosts were referring people to my site such as this one.
This was the point I had decided that I need to start reviewing webhostingstuff.com on a regular basis to find their inconstancies. I would also soon find out the site was losing traffic due to be on a shared environment with Godaddy and would soon move off to MediaTemple.
A summary of 1.5 years of looking at hosting review sites
One of the biggest inconstancies with this so called hosting review site, was a site called i7net. The problem with i7net was it had not been online for months at a time. Worse yet webhostingstuff.com stated that because of the frequency of downtime they were no longer keeping track of the up time So on this wonderful top 25 you could see a very clear 0% for up time next to the zero stars for zero hosting reviews. Despite that it appeared off an on in the top 25 list from June – November 2010. Until Webhostignstuff.com finale figured it out, and deleted the site’s listing from their data base.
A better summation of the problems I found on this so called unbiased hosting review site can be found at:
As my reviews intensified I had to start asking friends around the globe to get me screen shots because I was being blocked. Which in turned my friends started being blocked. They probable would not have been blocked if I had not sent emails to Michael Low telling him what countries and ISP my friends were in. Seriously if his site was legit why block people?
By May 2011 Webhostingstuff.com went through a face lift making the top 25 list obscure. As I had to tell a very angry Jixhost.com (who happen to argue with me on webhostingtalk.com) that it may not be profitable to have to pay for a position that is now 9 clicks away from the main page when it was only 1. Plus risk the chance of losing people who are blocked. At which time I have stopped reviews. Though I can say I am not done with webhostingstuff.com. Despite these changes the only PPC going on with their site is from Google.
Fun on Webhostingtalk.com
I also got exposed on webhostingtalk.com:
I learned about Endurance International Group
Its funny how a chat can tell you things you never knew.
One of the big problems with this company is it does not fully disclose the list of hosts that are with them. One of their former employees as you can see from the comments on that last post claimed that justhost.com was not added the BBB record (the only place I know that has a list of their sites) as it was a fairly new acquisition. Which is not true as netfirms was acquired after that by atleast a year or 2, appeared just weeks after someone notified me that Netfirms had a been acquired. I think had something to do with it being a Canadian host versus a U.S. host. As EIG went out of its way to notify people and actually had a page dedicated to the transfer of the customers.
A few months ago they may have given me an edge with hosting review sites on FTC guide lines. Which in short means if you profit by a review, you have to have a disclaimer up. Which another site called hostingsthatsuck.com did not have until after I did a post on them. I had planned on doing a review of every review site with an Alexa score below 1,000,000 that I came across based on these guidelines. Time permitting I will start that process up again.
If you are a host, hosting review site, or anyone else I am the last person to spam.
I decided to take on certain elements in the hosting / web site industry. The first of which was mindshark.ca. A so called SEO company. They harvested my email (they claim a third party did it, after I called their bluff on so called opting in), by going to my contact form and sending me an email. I of coarse trying to not be rude responded. Next thing I know I got spam. Never mind the only purpose of that email was contacts from the contact form, blog updates, and YouTube. They claimed that I opted in, having been a previous hosting provider I know full well what opted in means. In short I wrote two posts that stay at the top of their search engine results to prove they don’t know diddly squat about SEO, which says a lot as I don’t know a lot about SEO. Did I mention my two posts appear in the top page of mindshark.ca review for Google?
Fake hosting review comments by Unlimitedgb.com
This is an on going drama, and one that I never thought would have gotten a lot of attention. My former business partner thought it was a waste of time for me to do posts on hosts that spam unless they were like hostgator. But a post on Unlimtedgb.com was the first host to get in trouble with me for posting fake positive reviews on my posts. Seriously I am try to find the worst things about a host, and this host comes along to create fake feed back while bashing a host. Did they not think that maybe if I did not like fake reviews, I am really not going to like spam. Not to mention its poor taste to try and make a buck off another hosts expense.
The worst of it was yet to come. After I wrote a post:
Which in turn they decided to post positive comments, big surprise as this is strategy they do on other sites to drown out negative feed back (in a few cases some of these commenters came from the same IP). But the worst of it was this page appeared on the first page of their search engine results. So he tried to bribe me. I had to see how much he would pay, so before I contacted him I stated on Twitter and Face Book that some host was trying to bribe me and that I was going to soon bust them for it.
Clearly he did not read my Social Media for this site.
This is where he had the nerve to question my ethics for posting his email after not responding to the above post. Never mind he spammed my blog, created fake feed back, and then tried to bribe me.
Despite a third post they decided to start spamming fake comments again on my site. Despite calming they had stopped that.
Bottom line if your going to spam my site, be prepared for me to do a post so I can get traffic off your site.
Another hosting company that has my interest is Gogvo.com, after one of their affiliates decided to spam my personal YouTube account. Which brings me back to the point where I worked for a “give me money and I will tell you how I got rich” guy. Frankly this is worse than most review sites. It not even so much the promise of good hosting, as it is the promise of income. Never mind half the so called gurus have a disclaimer that states that results are not typical (translation stay away).
Those are some the highlights over the past few years I thought were interesting.
A few answers to questions I get in regards to hosting-reviews-exposed.com
For those that wonder what hosts I ran.
The answer is I cannot say, granted even if I was not legally bound by a non-disclosure agreement I have no desire anyway.
For those that wonder if I will start new hosting company.
Despite having a little more than 3 years left in the non-compete agreement. I ultimately have no desire to get back into hosting. Perhaps that will change in the future. But I have no desire to get back into nickel and dime hosting. No offence, but the cheap plans are fine to start out with, but they are not a viable long term solution for a serious site. If I get back in it would only be with hosting solutions for those that want serious solutions. Otherwise called overpriced hosting to those that think unlimited hosting is the key to success. Even if I did I would not involve that company with this site.
My site is against hosting review sites making money / I hate affiliate programs?
I never stated that I hate affiliate programs. I have at many points expressed concern over affiliate programs that pay out more than a customer that clicks on an affiliate link may pay for in a year. I am concerned with quality of service / support. When 100% or more of a customer’s payment goes to the affiliate, none of it goes to service.
With that said, this is not my only site. Far from my only source of income (I would be living in a card board box, with a card board iPad). All of my sites, including this one are involved in an affiliate program or a program like Google’s Adsense. I am not telling people that they should not use affiliate programs or that making money of referring people to a host is a bad thing. It’s a bad thing when a review site makes so called top lists based on how much they get paid. That means they don’t have a hosting customers interests in mind with a false hosting review site.
The problem is I have yet to see a hosting review site that does not manipulate the system to make a gain. Which is why I have turned away many hosts review sites that have asked for my endorsement. Often by giving them email of what the post would look like.
Having ads on my site is hypocritical of since I am going after hosting review sites that make money?
This is an argument I don’t understand. I am not telling you what hosts to use (though books, music, video games, or electronics just ask I will refer you). I don’t have some so called review site with hosts I have never used, telling you their the best while getting secretly paid out for referals. For that matter there is no host I am willing to put my name behind. I admit I have tried some of the same writing style of sites I find on the first page of “(host name) + sucks” on Google to formulate posts in the beginning. Many of these affiliates were not even hosted with the hosts they recommend. One example is webhostingstuff.com which as far as I have seen has never had softlayer.com on their top 25 list.
In short the argument does not focus on the real issue. Even if I had affiliate ads for hosts every where and made large commissions on referrals I would not be doing the same thing they are, and that is telling you a host is the best.
For over 2 years I have debated on any form of advertising let it be my own hosting company, or like my reviews of the Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch. Now that I think about it, its not so bad advertising non-hosting related stuff. I also enjoyed writing up a review of my two new tech toys:
Kindle Fire: http://hosting-reviews-exposed.com/?p=2799
Kindle Touch: http://hosting-reviews-exposed.com/?p=2757
Which those reviews ended up paying for my two Kindle’s. Well the Kindle Fire review paid for both. I have yet to see any one buy a Touch (come on readers its better than a color device for reading).
Ultimately I think it would have been bad to advertise my own hosting company, while going after other companies. Simply because this would have been just as bad as a creating a review site. It would be like telling you my host is best, without actually telling you why.
I can say lately I have been debating about removing Google Adsense and going purely with advertisers that I control. After all I had one ad come up a few days ago about Hot Thai’s, and I am not referring to cuisine. That and I have blocked a lot of hosts. Though I may very well restore every host back to appearing in Adsense. I have been debating the fairness of blocking hosts while allowing others. Which is why it would be easier just to stop using Google Adsense and have no hosts appear.
I am now a hosting customer like most of the people that visit here. Being a former hosting provider gives me some insight in what to expect. I can’t say I am not bias, as there was a standard for the service I gave people when I was in the business. Ultimately any host I recommend will have to be up to those standards.
Is there a host that I recommend?
Sorry to say but no, the list has grown shorter of hosts I am using which is MediaTemple and Rackspace. However there are two new hosts that I am in the progress of trying. Expect reviews this month.
So What will Hosting Reviews Exposed.com be doing next?
It’s a bit difficult to say where this site will go next. It mostly depends on my free time.
One thing is for certain this site is getting slow again, and that means it needs to be moved to a more powerful system. Which may mean I move from MediaTemple.
I defiantly plan to find if review sites are following the FTC guide lines and work with the hosts that appear on hosting review sites. I also plan to post more reviews of hosts that I am using (I added a few) or ones that customers make me set up sites on (some good, most bad). Not to mention hosts or web site related services that decided to spam me. Honestly if they cannot afford real advertising they are not worth hosting with. Perhaps next year I may recommend hosts, but I would not count on it me starting a hosting review endorsement.