Through the power of collective blogging (and Twittering), yet another storm is brewing about Wellsphere in the face of their being bought out by HealthCentral for an undisclosed millions of dollars. HealthCentral currently has over $50 million in VC funding, so this isn’t chump change. Wellsphere claims thousands of medical “experts” in its network and boasts unique page views in the millions per month through its presence among its network “partners” (ie, unwitting bloggers).
Well, it’s more “penetration” than “presence” in the end, because the kicker here is that Wellsphere not only doesn’t pay their partners a damn thing, but worse, outright steals content from bloggers’ own sites and rebrands it as Wellsphere’s own unique content without any attribution whatsoever. Dr. Val exposes all of this quite plainly in a recent post, and many other stories are coming out on Twitter with the search hashtag of “#wellsphere.”
Full disclosure dictates that I reveal that I too was contacted by them last year; however in a moment of what I can only describe as serendipitous procrastination or distraction–whichever–I let the email sit there for a good while. When I took another look, I just didn’t see the point. I never got so far as to read the heinous Terms of Service agreement, because just on its face it seemed like I wasn’t going to get anything except a pretty badge on my sidebar (woowoo! not.) and a warm glow for knowing I was going to help promote health information to their general online community. And it’s the last point that makes this whole thing stick in my craw–the CEO heading this whole thing may very well have been a complete and utter scumbag, but the request letters came from the Chief Medical Officer person–a physician named Dr. Geoff Rutledge. Through him, the entire modus operandi was predatory, taking advantage of what would be an accurate soft spot of medical bloggers who would of course feel altruistic about disseminating health information and/or being a part of a health network. It’s the blogging equivalent of a schoolyard bully offering his protection services for lunch money.
If I could turn back the clock knowing what I know now, I’d have signed up gladly. I would have put the little badge on my page, and watched my page hits go–nowhere. Meanwhile, my content would be sucked and rebranded as Wellsphere’s own. So I’d make posts like “Wellsphere — You’re a Bunch of Thieving Mongrels” and change my “featured blogger” bio to include heinous, non-consensual acts done to me at the hands of Wellsphere’s handlers.
But if you have more to add on this story, all is not lost! Tonight at 9pm EST The Doctor Anonymous Show on Blogtalk Radio will be devoting a part of tonight’s broadcast to this issue, so please tune into follow more and support the cause.
Because resistance is NOT futile.