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Is A-Hole Astroturfing a Plea for Web-based Yankee Fans’ Sympathy?

I think I’ve found another reason to loathe that self-possessed bastard.

The other day one of the RSN knuckleheads who joust with me over at the DBGB posted a link to this site, which calls itself “Project A-13: The Anti-Boos Movement,” sarcastically asking if it’s appearance online was my doing. I took one look at the home page and said, “Pinky bet: A-Hole’s guys are behind it.” It was just too slickly designed to be legit, in my eyes. No way was it the work of your typical fanboy.

After taking a harder look at the place this morning, I’m ready to place folding money on the table. I’m willing to make a real wager that this is an astroturfed bit of work, concocted by A-Hole’s PR people, in a bid to win the douchebag some sympathy, which–if I’m right–I hope blows up in his face.

The alleged person behind the joint bills himself as a 27 year old guy, working in some hedge fund’s legal department, who has been a life-long Yankee fan. He had a freakin’ epiphany after receiving a withering glare from his wife (with their 3 month old son seated on her lap) for throwing a remote control across the room and letting loose a string of expletives following, it seems, A-Hole performing another clutch-time fuckup. Suddenly, this guy had a “Road to Damscus” moment, and the site is allegedly his attempt at penance. He even posted a spiffy little pic of himself holding said baby in front of a TV featuring A-Hole’s image (I think) on the screen. Father and son have their backs to the camera, of course. In fact, Dad’s ID is a mystery (I’ll get to that in a moment).

Now, I couldn’t buy that shit in a NY minute. It was too cute by half. And the site’s content screams “direct mail copy!” to a guy like me, who’s in that biz (among others). He has three sections, “choose”; “believe”; “rise”, that are cookie-cut from a precise template: three hypothetical questions (with the “author’s” answers provided) and a long, impeccably crafted treatise that is supposed to…shame us into cutting A-Hole a break!

That’s what sent my bullshit alarm ringing a little louder.

On each of those pages there is a request for you, dear visitor, to “Insert you answers below,” above Question One, with “Thank You” following Question Three. But there’s no place to actually insert your answers. Considering the complexity of the site’s construction, you’d think something that bloody simple would have been an easy feature for the website’s designer to implement, if he really want to do it.

In fact, there is no way to interact with the web site AT ALL; not even the site’s “blog,” which–though the site claims to have been launched on 3-13-07, is still “under construction.” It says the blog will launch “on or before Opening Day,” which is this coming Monday. It also promises to provide goodies galore that, like the missing question forms, any yutz could slap together with little effort and a copy of Dreamweaver, bbEdit (or any other website design software; hell a text editor!) in tow.

Now the BS alarm is starting to yell at me.

There isn’t even an email address attached to the place so a visitor could query the anonymous author. Well, nobody’s really “anonymous” out here on the interweb tubes….

This guy’s gone out of his way to maintain his anonymity, and in the process, for me, shredded his “just a fan” credibility. A WHOIS search showed the following:

Domain Name: PROJECTA13.COM
Registrar: DOMAINPEOPLE, INC.
Whois Server: whois.domainpeople.com
Referral URL: http://www.domainpeople.com
Name Server: A.DNS.HOSTWAY.NET
Name Server: B.DNS.HOSTWAY.NET
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Updated Date: 23-feb-2007
Creation Date: 23-feb-2007
Expiration Date: 23-feb-2008

DomainPeople is a Canadian registrar outfit, which offers a service, “whoisPROTECTER” which shields a domain owner’s identity. Our guy signed up for that service. Any queries to the domain’s owner gets routed to DomainPeople, who, I assume, filter and forward any messages concerning the domain to the owner.

Now my bullshit alarm is bellowing. Your “average fan” isn’t that technically sophisticated, period. Average Fan, I don’t believe, would spend the cash that had to be invested in establishing this website, when you can do the entire thing for free, through places like Blogspot or WordPress.com, instead of spending the bucks to have Hostway give the joint a home. If he worked for a web design firm, sure, but that kind of person wouldn’t have left any holes i listed before rolling the site out for public consumption.

He’s a guy working in a hedge fund’s legal department? Sorry, but that is just not bloody likely. Nah, the level of concept, planning, construction and implementation screams PR/ADVERTISING TEAM.

So I’m calling Shananigans. When I put this all together, for me it reeks of astroturfing. The only way I’ll believe differently is if this “fanboy” contacts me and convinces me he, and his site, are legit.

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