Tags: deceptively hidden links in quizzes

Another Questionable Test. . .

The Sci Fi Quiz Test

This particular quiz (You have to go use the link to Vox below to see the test itself.) has a hidden link to this web address -- http://usingthecanons5is.blogspot.com. The weblog is 5 posts on using a particular brand of camera. There is no word as to why that particular link exists in a quiz testing your knowledge of audio clips from Science Fiction Movies, or why that test is hosted on a site called SheGoddess. You get the suspicion that the internet is an elaborate graft machine.

Anyway, the only reason I'm posting this is because improbably, I managed to score a 56 on the test which classifies me as a "Major Sci-Fi Geek." In all honestly, I only knew the answers to the first two questions presented to me and guessed all of the rest.

Originally posted on sterlingnorth.vox.com

The Blog-Quiz Trick isn't an Isolated Occurrence

The same cash advance blog scam is being perpetuated by the Blog-Movie Rating Quiz. I wouldn't be surprised if all of the quizzes at Just Say Hi.com generate that hidden link. I just can't check since their site is running so incredibly slowly right now.

The interesting thing about that one is when I used Technorati to search out people who linked to that quiz, you discover that that particular quiz has hidden different advertisement/spam links through its history.

You all are going to have to be more careful when you do online quizzes.

Huey Freeman

You don't need a high school education to be suckered into advertising cash advances!

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.