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What a clever scam this was, notes Charles Arthur!

I saw the "Blog Readability Test" a few weeks ago, and I played around with it. Currently, both the journals hosted on Vox and on LiveJournal got grades of "High School Level" writing. I didn't post either results to either page. But I would have been easily suckered by it had I not been too lazy to write a surround post to the test.

As with most of these tests, they give you the means to display the results on your website. Most people just cut and paste the HTML code, without regard to what it does. Most people probably don't even understand HTML, or even want to. So it wouldn't be hard to sneak in a bit of code to stealthy advertise some website. Which is exactly what the Blog Readability Test does.

Let's look at the code.

<a href="http://www.criticsrant.com/bb/reading_level.aspx"><img style="border: none;" src="http://www.criticsrant.com/bb/readinglevel/img/high_school.jpg" alt="cash advance" /></a><p><small>Get a <a href="http://www.cashadvance1500.com">Cash  Advance</a></small></p>


Note what I have bolded. Hidden in the code is a link to some Payday Loan website which uses the same color background and similar fonts as the Blog Readability test page. This Blog Readability test really did pop out of nowhere. It's hosted on a site called CriticsRant, which would seem to have nothing to do with the Blog test except that all three share the use of a similar design with similar fonts and colors. (Both sites like using Trebuchet MS as the main font with headers in orange, and a gray background. Though one of the stylesheets used, credited to Keith Donegan of Code-Sucks.com, gives anyone permission for wide reuse.) That said, CriticsRant is strange that there is very little information on the site about who writes it, or owns it or anything of the like. Something suspicious for a major site like that.

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