Psycho ex-girlfriend is a hoax!
March 30, 2001 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Psycho ex-girlfriend is a hoax! Looking at the code, I could see that it would sleep for a while, then start popping ad windows. Because of the delay, people would not associate the advertising with PsychoEx - the countdown starts only when you leave the page. and registered at anystreet, Dallas TX phone number 214.555.1212
posted by igloo (14 comments total)
You have to love people who have the time and know-how to dig into a website's code to figure out what's really going on. But didn't someone on MetaFilter point out last week that the messages sounded scripted. . .?
posted by jennaratrix at 7:54 AM on March 30, 2001

Hmm. I don't think the presence of advertising quite makes the case that it's a hoax. And people have been known to put false information into their registration for privacy reasons (NSI is notorious for not enforcing the rules about accurate contact info).

Newsweek Online interviewed "Mark" (possibly a pseudonym) on Wednesday, before his Good Morning America appearance. Of course, that could all just be part of the game, but appearing on national TV is taking it a little far.

I mean, if it's a rubberburner type astroturf campaign, wouldn't it end up being tied to some major advertiser instead of some cheesy random "you don't know us but buy our crap anyway" pop-up hell?
posted by dhartung at 8:03 AM on March 30, 2001

Oh, by the way, the "ExitFuel" code is on the home page only, not on the voicemail page -- which is what gets linked to a lot. Disable javascript or put the domain in your restricted sites list if you want to check it out for yourself.

I imagine people finding it through a media mention (TV, etc.) would go to the home page, though.
posted by dhartung at 8:08 AM on March 30, 2001

What amazes me is that a person who knows enough to understand the source code for these things wouldn't know how to get around a 'disabled' View Source command.

Not to mention having confused a picture of a media player for the real deal, and having thought that IE would automatically run the executable without prompting.

Kind of a javascript idiot savant.
posted by anildash at 8:14 AM on March 30, 2001

Exitfuel is a service that provides 'exit' ads for a lot of sites. So many that they are pretty high on the Media Metrix list, even though nobody actually chooses to connect with their site. They have no choice.
And you can provide any info you want when you register a domain. (It's surprising that this is still true. A holdover from the wacky early days.)
So this story doesn't prove much.
posted by davidfg at 8:28 AM on March 30, 2001

If you're running in a Windows environment, I highly recommend checking out WebWasher, a configurable web proxy that can seamlessly filter out all advertisements, popup windows, malicious Javascript code, and referrer blocking.

If you're on a Mac, there's still the less powerful Guidescope, which filters out ads but not popups.
posted by waxpancake at 8:45 AM on March 30, 2001

errr . . . not to nitpick, but WebWasher is available for the Mac (and Linux, for that matter).
posted by D.C. at 9:17 AM on March 30, 2001

And not to nitpick, but Guidescope's Web page explicitly says it's not available for the Mac.

However, Intego's NetBarrier has some ad-blocking features in addition to its other firewall functionality. I don't believe it blocks pop-ups, though.
posted by kindall at 10:43 AM on March 30, 2001

i'm a little confused by the claims in this article. sure, there are pop-ups ads associated with the site. and why not?? the guy has some 'interesting' content, has generated a 'buzz' and now is running with it. the obvious next step is to cash in; go out and sell the 10,000+(or whatever #) hits/impressions he receives to an adwhore shop(L90, Exitfuel, etc.) and monetize his misfortune while covering his bandwidth. who cares how complex/malicious the code is that serves the ads? L90 is in the business of advertising, they are a publicly held company, they are not going to throw some ½-ass crap up when money is on the line. bottom line: it is not mark mcelwain's code, it is L90's code.

as for the claims about domain registration info being false, i have seen numerous entries of this nature which belies the notion that anyone 'polices' the registration process.

the only credible piece of info is related to the registration date prior to the last phone call. however, it is entirely plausible that the lightbulb popped over this guy's head a week after the first call, he thought it would be a barrel of monkeys to post this stuff and he registered a domain. don't need to tell anyone here how easy that is.....
posted by donkeysuck at 10:55 AM on March 30, 2001

WebWasher and Guidescope are both cool but before you try those apps, try editing your hosts file (if you are on a Win32 boxen.)

I've taken the list of adservers from and posted it into my hosts file and am surfing without ads. Whenever I do find an adserver that isn't on the list, then I add it myself. It's very cool!
posted by gen at 11:01 AM on March 30, 2001

I guess I should've done my research first. Guidescope can be set up on a Mac, if you have a Windows or Linux box (or a friend with one) to act as the proxy. Sorry about that.

But I guess it doesn't matter, since WebWasher is available for the Mac. As far as modifying the hosts file goes, that's great for filtering out certain banners, but it doesn't do anything for pop-up windows, sites that break your "Back" or right-click mouse buttons, and it doesn't allow for wildcards.
posted by waxpancake at 11:14 AM on March 30, 2001

You can edit hosts files on the Mac.
posted by aaron at 11:22 AM on March 30, 2001

The sneaky advertising doesn't prove it's a hoax, but I still think those messages seem TOO real.

Aha! This is post number 6666!
Something funny is going on, my friends.
posted by sixfoot6 at 1:44 PM on March 30, 2001

I thought it sounded strange myself. Ah, marketing..... anything to get the herd to lean their direction.

baaaah. baaaah. baaaah.
posted by SexyParapalegic at 6:00 PM on March 30, 2001

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