Oracle Professionals upset with questionable SQL Server User Group
Updated March 25, 2011
a warning to anyone who comes across any web site that asks you to pay
a fee to read Oracle information. This week I was doing a
and I noted an
unfamiliar web site
(SSWUG) in the results. When I
clicked on the second Google link I was taken to a
that shocked me.
page, from the SQL Server Worldwide Users Group (www.sswug.org)
suggested that Oracle's technologist (Tom Kyte) was now working for SSWUG! (emphasis added)
Oracle employee working as "Our technologist" for SSWUG? The page says the article is
"Available for Members", but I clicked anyway and I was taken to a
payment page and asked
me to pay at least $9.50 if I wanted to see this article (which can be
read for free in Oracle Magazine):
Now I ask you, is this
only $9.50 and I could read a genuine article by Tom Kyte. Hmmm.
maybe I should pay the $69.50 and get the t-shirt too? . . .
turns out, there is no article on this web site. If had I paid the
$9.50 fee I would have been taken to the "real" article on Oracle Technical
Network (OTN) where I could have read it for free.
The web site owner is Stephen Wynkoop,
holder of the "prestigious " Microsoft MVP award. According to
the Microsoft MVP web site, Mr. Wynkoop seems to be a perfect fit to
be awarded a
These customers are the
authors, . . . who carry with them the voice, strength, and value of
the Microsoft customer.
It is not clear if SSWUG is a
not-for-profit organization, but we could find no bylaws or elected
officials on the web site.
Billed as "the
SQL Server Worldwide Users Group is
unlike any other database user group that I have ever seen. The
SSWUG group web site shows no committees, special interest groups,
member meetings or conferences. In fact, the only thing that appears to make the
200,000+ members a "database user group" is the fact that they have all paid money
to the web site.
Wynkoop has evidently made a killing
from his SQL Server Worldwide Users Group (www.sswug.org) web site,
and the site header boasts that it has over 200,000 members, four
times the size of the International Oracle Users Group (IOUG).
Is this illegal?
There is no questions that these
actions are immoral and unethical, but are they illegal? Lutz
this question about SSWUG's unsavory practices:
"Is it legal anyway, to
just copy my article? Can I screw them?"
I've got a call in to my attorney to
investigate the legality of "link selling" but I've got a sneaking
suspicion that this practice falls within the realm of U.S. consumer fraud
laws. There are strict state and federal statutes against unfair or fraudulent business
practices, as well as truth in advertising laws that are designed to protect
I'm no lawyer, but in some
countries, this type of deception and consumer fraud carries both
civil and criminal penalties, and you may have remedies in the
courts. If you live in such a country and have had your
copyrighted content promoted on SSWUG without your knowledge of
consent, you can reach SSWUG here:
Stephen Wynkoop, Owner
The SQL Server Worldwide User's Group (SSWUG.ORG)
Bits on the Wire, Inc.
8987 E. Tanque Verde #309-269
Tucson Arizona 85749
With 200,000 member and membership fees ranging from $9.50
to $69.50, Mr. Wynkoop has become a millionaire several
times over, partially by selling links to content that he has
appropriated from other Oracle professionals.
Also note that the SSWUG.ORG web
site accepts Google Adwords advertising, and some victims have
suggested that reporting this practice to Google (motto: "Do No
Evil") might get this questionable site removed from the Google
index. It's just like a "link farm" where someone uses Google
to collect data, and then charges Google to run ads on the pages!
This site notes a possible way to fight SSWUG:
"Visiting your scraper’s site could help
you gain a few points in the fight. Have you
ever clicked the
Ads by Google
link on AdSense ads? This opens up a page
where you can subscribe to both AdWords and
AdSense. However, if you look at the bottom
of the page you will notice a link that says
Send Google your thoughts on the
site or the ads you just saw. The
beauty of this link is that it knows where
you are coming from -your scraper- and it
fires up a questionnaire regarding the
relevance of your scraper’s ads. Now is the
time to throw a left jab:"
Personally, I was taken-aback to find
that Mr. Wynkoop was attempting to profit by selling links to articles, for several reasons:
term "User Group" on the web site is misleading, since most
legitimate database user groups are not-for-profit organizations.
Calling this a .org is also deceptive, since SSWUG is not a users
group in any real sense, no committees, no conferences, no elected
content looks like an original articles with no disclosure
the legitimate owner of the content.
never mentioned that the "article" is nothing more than a hyperlink.
There is no value-added content whatsoever, no commentary, nothing
but the fee.
Oracle security guru
Pete Finnigan was also
unhappy with the practice:
I also emailed him to express
my concerns that his site makes it look
like I wrote papers for him. I also asked him to remove my name from
site or make the links to my papers open for all to read and to also
credit the original source of the papers.
O'Reilly Oracle author Jonathan Gennick
also expressed displeasure:
I don't like it.
Selling links to free content rubs me the wrong way.
Ault, had even stronger words:
I'm a believer in helping the
Oracle community and I'm disheartened that someone would profit from
Like any story, we have an opposing
view, and the "president" of the SSWUG justifies his profit-taking for
his database User group.
SSWUG appears to collect its user
group membership from their victims, and it is not a "real" users
group in the sense that they have committees, meetings and
SSWUG: "I am not a
In his defense, Mr. Wynkoop "took
strong exception" to my suggestions of impropriety. He noted
that he is doing nothing unethical or illegal, and suggested that his
members love their site. I got the impression that Wynkoop
wanted me to thank him for giving the Oracle community this wonderful
web site. He noted:
have members that pay dues and pay us to find the best content on
the web, summarize it and make it searchable. When we do this, it
promotes your site and work - we send people to your site to read
the article(s). This should result in some good traffic for you.
also something members rave about - a single starting point to
finding the articles they need.
strong exception to your summary and sweeping accusations of our
site. We have very significant readership that appreciates
providing a vertical starting point for the DBA. We do much more
than "just" provide the search and summary services, as I outlined
in my earlier mail. I have done nothing wrong whatsoever, and our
summarizing of articles is both done by 100's of sites and proven in
equivalent to a news clipping service. We point our subscribers to
good content, we find it for them and make them aware of it.
they find it elsewhere? Sure. Do they appreciate our finding it
for them and pointing them to it? Yes.
We have prevented NO access to your content. It's not like people
couldn't find this on Google, instead they opt to find out from our
service. There's nothing wrong with that; we're simply doing the
search/summarize/organize/notify function for them."
As someone whose living depends on my
rights to my writing , I
find it disconcerting that anyone would make millions of dollars using
these types of deceptive and unsavory business practices.
Arrests Coming for “linking” Web Sites
Criminal Copyright violation
arrests are now coming for those annoying web sites that steal content
and re-publish it for a fee.
Check out the
channelsurfing.net page after
being seized by the Feds ...
The site has been seized by the
Federal Government because it is a “Hoover”, a site that steals and
reproduces the copyrighted content of other web sites:
"This domain has been seized by ICE
- Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agent in Charge, New York
"It is unlawful to reproduce
copyrighted material, such as movies, music, software or games,
without authorization... First-time offenders convicted of a criminal
felony copyright law will face up to five years in federal prison,
restitution, forfeiture and fine."
story here about how creating sites that resell hyperlinks to
copyrighted content is a crime.