Thursday, September 06, 2007 launches, then Promotes itself on FatWallet? announced today the launch of a service which enables consumers to use a web interface to pay their mortgage with their credit cards. This concept itself is worthy of a discussion about the utilization of revolving debt as method of last resort prior to missing mortgage payments.

The site does not specify what the cost of the service is, but today's discussion on is worthy of a look.

Evidently a new forum member named "Notanormalagent" opened the thread raving about the service as a consumer. He confirmed that the service cost $20 + 2.49% of the payment. As the discussion develops, he tips his hand too much and the other forum members flag him as inauthentic.

It is a great example of online identity used as promotional shill, and the community methods used to police and root out this behavior. Notanormalagent did not do a good job of acting like a real consumer, and it became apparent to the others.

Unfortunately, I believe more often than not online identities are successfully used to promote a product without full disclosure and transparency or, as in this case, with outright deception. It emphasizes the need for a portable method for assigning trust and reputation to an online identity.


Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

Came across your post today via a Google search on our company. I'm co-founder of CardIt and also participated in the FatWallet discussion in question.

To clarify what I mentioned in the thread, neither I nor anyone employed or directed by us was the original poster "notanormalagent". We have an idea that it might be one of our beta testers who thought they were doing us a favor to support our upcoming launch, but we assure you we haven't paid them and clearly wish they hadn't posted.

However, you may be interested in my experience on other forums where I've attempted to engage users to get feedback on our service. In every post I've made, I've made clear disclosure of my involvement, but because I was a direct representative of the company, my posts have been deleted or heavily edited. Perhaps I would have been better off actually hiring some shill posters or spent a few thousand on PayPerPost.

I welcome feedback on the service and if anyone has concerns, please contact me a philip (at) cardit (dot) com.


Philip Mikal
co-Founder, CardIt

Admin said...

Philip, thanks for commenting. I am glad to hear the Fatwallet thread was not an intentional ploy.

I think the greater issue that I'm trying to address, is the need for identity validation on the web.

The fact remains that the Fatwallet forum users believed that "notanormalagent" was a shill, and whether it is true is difficult to validate. It hurts consumers, as well as companies like yours, when there continues to exist the ability to make powerful, anonymous noise about a company, individual or topic on the internet, without a better alternative.