The Posting That Gave Birth To a Web Site

By Deane Barker on June 10, 2004

A long time ago, in the wee hours of the morning, I made a post to Gadgetopia entitled Fake Escrow Sites. It was a posting about how crooks use fake escrow sites to cheat people out of money. It was just one or two sentences, and it linked to a news article. I was a little disturbed at what I read, calling it “ugly stuff.”

It’s gotten great search engine placement, and, consequently, it gets an enormous amount of traffic every day and a ton of comments. The average entry on Gadgetopia has 0.83 comments — this one has 130+.

There’s apparently a real need for people to know which escrow sites are good and which aren’t. I like this posting a lot because — at the risk of sounding dramatic, it’s really helping people. Here are excerpts from some of the comments.

I have someone trying to get me to go through this site as well, instead of via amazon. I’m very glad I haven’t sent off anything yet […]

Thanks to this site I’ve been saved from sending off a £6000+ diamond ring […]

Like Nick Allan, I too have just been saved from what appears to be the same person in Moldova […]

I too have been saved a ton of money by this site. I was almost duped for a Rolex Yachtmaster watch […]

So, as you can see, this is a very good thing. Since it’s SO good, we’re happy to announce:

Nothin’ but a big discussion board that will hopefully continue the great discussion and impact that the blog posting has had. It’s an expirement really — if you throw up a simple collaboration platform to address a real need with a real audience, will it thrive? We’re about to find out.

There’s still some work to do in configuring the forum, but since this isn’t a revenue-generating operation, I wanted to get it up and out there before other pressures took me away from it. It’s a case of, “if you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never be ready.”

In doing this, I had to work very hard to stifle over-analysis that would scare me out of it — namely, the potential for lawsuits. I wrote some very clear and frank policies for the site, and I’m simply going to brave the legal waters and hope for the best. I have faith that we’ll do much more good than harm.

I have never used an escrow site. I’ve only used eBay once. But in seeing some of the stories in that news article, and some of the comments that were posted, I really think we have a chance to make an impact here.



  1. So that’s why Deane has been so quiet for the last week. Nice job, Deane!

    Better edit your “great search engine placement” link though; it’s broke.

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