Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

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Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
Posted on August 17, 2005 and updated on August 24, 2005

Special Note - We would also like you to read about Denise's campaign to help her little niece Erin. Erin was diagnosed with cancer at the age of four and is a focal part of RedRose's life. Click here to visit. (Link will open in a new window so you can read the "Rant" after you've visited Denise's special page).

We Wish You Well Denise

Today we sadly say goodbye to yet another "free" site.

Last week, Red Rose Stationery, one of the more popular free email stationery sites, closed its doors forever. Denise (the owner) said she closed Red Rose Stationery to pursue other interests. I think maybe a lack of support from the Internet community had something to do with it too. But then that's just my opinion. I know all too well that when you work hard, put your heart and soul into something and try to do the right thing, you become frustrated when you get very little support from the Internet community. You find that giving away things free actually costs you money and the more you give away - the more it costs. If you don't get any support your interest wanes and you go on to other things. We wish you well, Denise

We know from experience the frustration of watching tens of thousands come and download your free things and not supporting the site at all. And, believe it or not we understand it. We were like that once too. We thought it was all free. And we expected it to be free. No one ever told us it costs money to give away free things. Lots of money if you're a very popular site.

Take our Cloudeight Stationery site for example: We get all of our support from a very small percentage of those who visit. Actually less than small. A tiny one percent of the total visitors to our site care enough to support us. Those of us who put years of hard work into a Web site and at one time had high hopes for it are disappointed and disheartened when we realize that we just cannot make ends meet. Once we have to start taking money out of our own pockets in order to give things away free, it becomes a problem. It's hard to make people care enough to make dreams come true. And I think, perhaps, Denise lost interest in her stationery site because of a lack of support. Sometimes you just get tired of the fight, let the dream die and go on to other things.

I know many of you are asking yourself: "Who cares about a stupid email stationery site?" And, I'm sure that the closing of Red Rose Stationery won't make the headlines anywhere - especially not on the tech-head sites who wouldn't give a "stupid" email stationery site the time of day, let alone a word or two. Maybe they're right. Email stationery is certainly not necessary for anything and for anyone other than those folks who enjoy brightening their email with stationery. Most people don't even know (or care) that email stationery even exists. The point is, whether it is a stationery site or a freeware site or any other kind of truly free site - every time one of these kinds of sites closes its doors you are affected. Because the voids these sites leave are quickly filled by parasites and spyware/adware companies looking to prey on you. So, the news of Denise's decision to shut down Red Rose Stationery saddened us and made us realize that we too skate on the very same thin ice.  And it should alarm you too, whether or not you give a darn about email stationery or not.

After learning of Red Rose Stationery's decision to close its doors we contacted Denise (the owner) and inquired about the possibility of adding redrosestationery.com to the Cloudeight network of domains. Our reasons for doing this were:

1. To keep the redrosestationery.com domain out of the hands of spyware/adware/grayware developers who could purchase that domain name and exploit the good reputation and trust that Red Rose Stationery had developed with its fans and visitors.

2. To give Red Rose Stationery's visitors and fans an alternative they could trust - Cloudeight Stationery

3. To bring more visitors to our sites.

Red Rose Stationery was one of the more popular stationery sites on the Web. At one time there were more free email stationery sites than you could possibly name, and now, there are just a handful left. Cloudeight Stationery remains the most popular and we have been for many years. But we felt a great sadness when we learned that Red Rose stationery was closing. Denise worked hard and I for one, think she deserved better than she got. She, like us, never gave in to the temptation to sell out and bundle her software with spyware or adware. She spent countless hours keeping her site updated and making it a pleasant, family-safe place for people to visit. We respect Denise. We are truly saddened to see her leave.

There was, at one time,  a tremendous amount of competition among stationery sites. Hundreds of them trying to scratch their way out of obscurity. Some made it and others didn't. Red Rose made it to the top five. It wasn't easy. I can tell you that from experience. It takes hard work, long hours, dedication and commitment to quality to rise to the top in any field.  We know. We've risen to the top in a very specialized filed - Email Stationery. We've seen the top of the mountain and the floor of the valley. Right now email stationery is not the 'craze' that it was a few years ago. It's going through a down time right now. Still, though, there are a great many people who still enjoy using stationery and sharing it with their friends. We know that email stationery's popularity will rise again, the Internet is a constant ebb and flow.

Had we not expanded into other areas when we did (InfoAve, Smileycons, Zappit, Email Guardian, Picsures, InfoAve Premium, Funletters) we would have had to close our doors long ago and you wouldn't even be reading this. Even with all the expansion we've done we still fight every day to survive. It is not easy. Did you know that less than 1% of our visitors support our site?  In other words, all 5500+ free downloads that we currently offer and all our free newsletters are supported by less than 1% of all those who use them. That's sad but entirely true.  We struggle to keep Cloudeight going (as we've told you who subscribe to our newsletters many times) every single day. Some days it's hard to get up and fight again but we always do.

It's hard to be enthusiastic when you're fighting every day for your very existence. And, whether or not Denise lost interest in her stationery site because she just got tired of fighting to keep her site going or she just got tired of stationery and decided to close her site down, we wish her all the best. But the sad thing is, now another "real" free site is gone. Thousands and thousands downloaded her stationery and probably never gave a single thought to all the work that Denise put into creating it - let alone the work that went into packaging it for download and presenting it on her site. And were sure that no one ever thought of the expenses involved in hosting a popular site and paying the bills associated with running a small business. She was willing to give and lots were willing to take. It's only human nature. We were as guilty as anyone else of grabbing all the free stuff we could get without giving a thought to how it got there or that it costs someone money. Some people will take and take and take until there is nothing left to take. They never give a thought to the countless hours that someone put into what they so freely take. And the time draws ever closer when the legitimate free sites on the Web will be gone - replaced by the scams and shams of these "so-called" free sites that give you something "free" but end up costing you a lot in the end.

The new horizon of "free" is here. The "free" where lies and deceit abound and anything that helps these kinds of places to foist their software on your computer is fair. It's not fair to you though. Software is not free that sends your private information is back to a Web server for collation, storage, and sale to advertisers. It's not free when you computer is choked by dozens of additional programs running in the background you didn't ask for or want - but got anyway just to get the program you wanted. It's not free when your search results are manipulated so it's hard for you to discern which are relevant results and which are advertisements. It's not free when your computer is finally strangled by the tentacles of these kinds of "free" programs and you need to format your hard drive and reinstall Windows. If you don't do it yourself it will cost you a hundred dollars or more to have a technician do it. That is the price of the new "free" software. And it's a very high price indeed.

For those of us who struggle against the multi-billion dollar corporations with annual advertising budgets larger that our combined lifetime incomes - frustration takes a heavy toll. We do understand why its so hard for people to tell the difference between truly free software and the deceitful, fake, free software. When your fighting against big corporations with nearly unlimited reach and multi-million-dollar advertising budgets who scream "FREE STATIONERY, FREE SMILEYS, FREE CURSORS" day after day, it becomes somewhat like beating your head against a stone wall trying to warn people about these big companies and their real agenda. After all, it looks like sour grapes to many people. But I assure you it is not. Not only do real free sites like ours fight for survival in this new environment we fight against huge corporations seeking to fool those looking for free things like Red Rose Stationery and Cloudeight Stationery. The real free things are disappearing and the scams, spending millions on advertising, are filling in the void left behind. So every time a free site disappears you can bet it was partially hammered into oblivion by companies. spending millions of dollars to offer free things that can threaten your privacy and harm your computer.

The fight gets longer and harder and more bitter every day. And, it can really dampen enthusiasm. Nothing is more embarrassing than being forced into a situation where you have to practically beg people to support you. Heck, we're not blaming anyone. But stop and think - when you fail to support the clean, family-safe, and truly free sites the entire Internet community pays the price. Because  when, one-by-one these sites close then what you're left with is free stuff that isn't free at all. It's spyware, adware, grayware, or other questionable software posing as freeware. And "Free" is just a ruse to get this junk installed on your computer.

For example - Did you know that FunWebProducts (Ask Jeeves) pays FIFTY-CENTS a click to advertise on Yahoo just get people to come to its SmileyCentral site? Do you think they pay fifty-cents a click to advertise on Yahoo and elsewhere just so they can give you something free? Do you realize how many millions of dollars AskJeeves spends advertising SmileyCentral, a supposedly free program? Do you realize how much money there must be in "SmileyCentral" for them to pay that much for a single click? They're not paying that per-download, they're paying that much for a simple click. Now think about that. Ask Jeeves is not a charity. They're a huge billion dollar corporation. They're making money. They're not losing money on SmileyCentral -and how is that so if they're giving it away free? You know the answer (see http://thundercloud.net/infoave/askjeeves-rant.htm to learn how). Can you imagine Coca Cola spending millions of dollars to give Coke away free? You'd be suspicious if all of a sudden Coke was free. You'd ask yourself: "What's the catch?" But with SmileyCentral and other programs of its ilk, most people don't ask themselves "What's the catch?". Why? Because this is the Internet and things are supposed to be free. Right? It's that sort of attitude that allows spyware/adware which is purportedly free to proliferate wildly on the Web.

So, many bad things happen when popular free sites close. The void they leave is quickly filled by those who would abuse the term "Free" and make the word free synonymous with the kinds of garbage that can mess up your computer and threaten your privacy by collecting, collating, and disseminating your personal information and/or surfing habits - or worse.

We have watched while one free site after the other went out of business. And we've watched while one spyware/adware company after another jumped in to take its place. Yes, adware,, grayware and spyware cost you nothing to download. But the price you pay for it may be much more than you can afford. When you download and use spyware, adware, and/or grayware, you're encouraging others to jump in to the fray - and you're supporting the development of even more spyware, adware, and  grayware. If the trend doesn't stop you may well find that within the next five years (or sooner) the only "free" things left on the Internet will be spyware/adware/grayware shams and scams. And then we're all in trouble because these companies apparently have no ethics at all. They spell ETHICS:  "M O N E Y". They deceive with claims of No Adware/No Spyware. They'll tell you their software is FREE. And their privacy policies tell you how much they love you and respect your privacy - in the first two or three paragraphs of their privacy policies. But they're darn well betting (and hoping) you won't read any further. They pray you don't read further because that's where the truth lies - forgive the pun.

We are, once again, trying to do our part to thwart the expansion of spyware/adware/grayware - and so is Denise of Red Rose Stationery.  The domain redrosestationery.com is now in the Cloudeight family and safe from the predators who might have exploited its good name to distribute adware and spyware and harm all of us in the Internet community.

We're sorry to see Denise close her site and we wish her well. We're going to continue the good fight as long as we can possibly keep punching.  When only 1% of all our subscribers and visitors care enough to help and support the free things we offer, it is a very frustrating thing. That was the idea behind our start page. To give those who don't have the money to spend or don't want to spend any money the opportunity to support our site and our 5500 free downloads -downloads everyone can trust to be free from spyware/adware/grayware forever. We think our Start page gives those who don't want to buy anything and like all the free things we offer a chance to show their support at a great price. Free.

The start page is growing and those who've made it their home page are helping us. But still only a small percentage of those who subscribe to our newsletters or visit our site have even done us this small favor.  May we ask you all again to help us - either by making your home page our start page which costs you absolutely nothing - or by making a donation - or by buying one of our products?

The era of the truly free site, is, I'm afraid, nearing an end. You can keep it from happening. We're fighting every day for all of you to expose those who would deceive you by claiming to be "free" while scamming you with adware/spyware and search engine manipulation software.  And, there are thousands out there right now just waiting to prey on you.

We promised Denise that we would keep redrosestationery.com's reputation safe and we will.  We wish you well Denise in whatever you do. Thanks for trusting Cloudeight with your domain. We promise to keep it safe. Thanks for providing so much to the Internet community for so long.


Special Note - We would also like to invite you to visit RedRoseStationery campaign to help her little niece Erin. Erin was diagnosed with cancer at the age of four and is a focal part of RedRose's life. Click here to visit.


To those who read this - our visitors and subscribers -

Red Rose Stationery is now a Cloudeight Internet site - see http://www.redrosestationery.com  . It is a Cloudeight domain now only because Denise cared about her visitors enough to keep her site out of the hands of adware/spyware companies who would have bought the domain name and used the trust she had built with her visitors to prey on those looking for free things. We thank her for caring and we will do all we can to keep it out of the hands of those who prey on the public.

We hope that more of you will help us. It seems the same people support us again and again and we do appreciate it. But we cannot exist with just 1% of all our visitor's support. We hope you'll realize now that truly free sites are becoming a thing of the past and are opening doors to parasites that rush in to fill the void left by free sites who can no longer afford a place on the Web. So we ask you again to please help us - make our start page your home page it won't cost you a single penny - you don't need a check, cash or a credit card because it really is free. We don't even have advertisements on our start page. We get paid a penny or two by Google for every search you do using the Google search on our start page. The search results are the same as searching from Google's site. And we've added so many nice features for you - like world-wide weather, world and U.S. news, a dictionary/thesaurus lookup, computer tips and tricks, site news, motivational quotes and more. Plus we keep the content fresh and updated.

By making our start page your home page you'll be helping us continue to provide the Internet community with thousands and thousands of family-safe, clean, truly free software and continue to battle those who would deceive you. But only if you help us survive will we be around to do all of that. It's up to you. We can only ask you and hope you will decide to help.

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Opinions expressed herein are the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Cloudeight Internet LLC, its hosts, or sponsors. These Rants are editorials and are,  therefore, opinions. All content is copyright 2005 by Cloudeight Internet LLC (all rights reserved)

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