UPDATE (14:02 HST): The fine print will get you every time! A commenter on the Wired write up points out the following in the OnlyWire Terms of Service: “You agree to let OnlyWire bookmark the http://www.onlywire.com site AND the OnlyWire Sponsor site on each of the bookmarking services you are participating with.” So indeed, they’re selling their access to your social bookmarking accounts. Avoid this one, folks.
I’ve been thinking about playing with social bookmark services. Trust me, dozens of companies want to be the next del.icio.us. There are so many new players, in fact, I was pleased to find an all-in-one social bookmarking manager called OnlyWire. You give OnlyWire all of your logins to a growing list of social bookmarking sites, and you can use just one bookmarklet to post a page to all of them at once.
Well, I setup my OnlyWire account a couple of weeks ago with a handful of my logins on different services, but never got around to testing it. In fact, I hadn’t used any social bookmarking service for a while.
So imagine my surprise when my link collections at several sites suddenly included a couple of links I never bookmarked.
Whether it was Ma.gnolia (an early favorite) or FeedMeLinks (which tells me I suck since I have no “peeps”), I was suddenly telling people to check out “Central Desktop Live” and “Virgin Vacations.” I did not add those sites to any social bookmarking accounts, let alone several at once… something only OnlyWire could do.
In fact, I see that several Ma.gnolia users seem to be fans of “Central Desktop Live.” Or are they?
Sadly, I started deleting these links from my accounts before realizing what they were, so I can’t remember what services were hit. Certainly more than the two I’ve mentioned. But considering I’d posted maybe one link total to the few social bookmarking services I’d tried, OnlyWire seems the only way those spammy links could have appeared on a number of them.
Either OnlyWire was hacked by link spammers, or OnlyWire realized what a goldmine it was sitting on as far as PageRank was concerned and is selling link placements. Neither is an attractive prospect.
And I’m apparently not alone in my concerns. Ironically, at a message board for SEO grunts (who want to use social bookmarking services to game Google), some have also noticed mysterious links showing up in their social bookmark accounts … and one of ‘em pegs the whole thing as a scam. Similarly, a commenter on this blog post alleged last month that OnlyWire is being sued in California for using registered accounts to post spam. Of course, similar comments showed up on other blog posts around the same time, so the commenter may just have a grudge against the service.
I admit, I sign up for all kinds of things before really thinking about them, and certainly a site that wants to collect a dozen logins and passwords is one I should have probably avoided. That said, OnlyWire got several positive notices from legitimate “Web 2.0″ blogs, and is a very useful service (as we all wait to see which social bookmark services survive). I’ve e-mailed them and hope this troubling development can be sorted out.