Some time in the next few weeks we will be discontinuing the free service and replacing it with ‘IMAutomator Light’ which will carry a small monthly fee of $2.99. Let me explain why we are making this change…
Despite the fact that IMAutomator is still only on it’s second release, the growth over the last couple of years has been huge – far greater than ever anticipated. At the time of writing we have made close to 28 million submissions of behalf on a huge number of members. The vast majority of submissions (in excess of 80%) come from free members.
We pride ourself on the free service – it is the ‘pre-seller’ for our Pro service and I personally have told people many times that there will always be a free service. However, I have to go back on my word and change the business model in order to protect the business as a whole.
Severe Abuse of the Free Service
The trouble with offering something completely free is that is leaves it open to abuse. Now I am sure that the vast majority of individual members do not abuse our service in any way. However this morning I found a single user with 24 different accounts and these are just the ones I happened to stumble upon – I did not specifcally go hunting for them.
I have always known that people could create multiple accounts and use that to totally bypass our limits of 10 links per day to 15 sites. I simply relied on the fact that most people would be honest and hopefully there would only be a small number of abusers and perhaps naievely I also assumed that it would be fairly minor abuse – I envisioned people perhaps creating a couple of accounts, but 24? That hit home just how large the problem could be.
There are two ways that I could deal with this – I could spend vast amounts of time & energy trying to crack down on the abusers but ultimately this will be futile – people will always find a way to create multiple accounts. Even if I could prevent it this way, this use of time does nothing to propell me forward towards the next release. I would rather spend my time building new tools, adding new sites and making the software better for everybody.
The second way, and the approach I am going to take is to quite simply replace the free version with a paid version that carries a small fee of $2.99 per month. I have chosen this price point to be affordable enough to all those who genuinely use IMAutomator to promote their sites but high enough to deter those who chose to make multiple accounts.
The Damage Caused by Such Abuse
Perhaps I should take a moment to explain exactly why this abuse is such a problem. It does two things – increases the overall number of submissions by an unknown factor and secondly, it causes duplication. The 24 accounts that I found were all promoting the same websites – the exact same URL’s in fact.
Many people ask why we do not allow the same URL’s to be submitted multiple times – it is because this is not how bookmarking sites work. They store a database of links and each one is a single backlink to the URL in question but if more than one user attempts to submit the same link, each additional one simply counts as a vote for the first one and does NOT create an additional backlink.
However the real meat of the problem is that if we submit 24 copies of the same URL to the same site in a short space of time it rings alarm bells at the site in question and it can cause our accounts to get banned – this is in fact exactly what this abuser of IMAutomator has done. He abused it to such an extent that I noticed the unusual activity and then of course blocked all his accounts. Now there’s nothing to stop him creating another 24 accounts tomorrow and indeed, for IMAutomator we would create new accounts if necessary but the real issue is that if an account gets banned it takes all the backlinks with it!
Integrity of Our System is of Paramount Importance
This is the reason we have such a strict policy on spam – it is not because we personally have an issue with sites about casinos or drugs etc but because submitting such content can get our accounts banned and that brings down those links for ALL submissions ever made for that account – it affects every member in the system!
IMAutomator is designed as a service to build backlinks – if those backlinks do not survive over the long term they are useless. We will do everything in our power to protect the integrity of the system so that it remains a valuable backlink building tool which will bring our members thousands of backlinks over time.
Now somebody creating an extra account of two to enable him to submit a few more links each day is no big deal. It uses up a bit more of our engine resources but there’s no real harm done and as we have not charged until now, it’s really not something I have been overly concerned with. But when that abuse reaches the point where it is damaging to the other members then I will step in and take action.
I know this has been a very long post but I wanted to explain exactly why I am charging – it is not for money. If I wanted to make more money I would simply allow more people to purchase the Pro membership! Now I shall explain exactly what is going to happen over the next few weeks.
Implentation of the Light Version
We are going to roll this out in three phases:
Phase 1: Preparation
Everything on the website is geared towards the concept of a free and a paid version – every article, every email in our sequences, even every video. All this will need to be changed though the videos will be done later as they will be re-done with the next release anyway.
Phase 2: Free version replaced with Light
We will create a new product – ‘ IMAutomator Light’ and make that available as a product that you can upgrade to in the way that you would currently upgrade to the Pro version. New members will no longer be able to create a Free account though existing members with a Free service will continue to have their submissions processed for the time being. At this point I will email members so they understand what is happening and will allow a grace period – probably around one month to give the existing Free members time to upgrade.
Also during this grace period we will disable the fast submission options. Those who would like to continue to use the service would be advised to upgrade as soon as it becomes available to ensure that their links will continue to be process after the discontinuation of the free service.
Phase 3: Discontinuation of the free servive
Once we have given people a decent amount of time to make the upgrade (we will of course keep you informed via this blog, our Facebook page and email) we will make the switch. What will happen here is that submissions made using free accounts will no longer be processed. If we continue to process them we would simply be opening ourselves up to even more abuse – I imagine those that abuse the system would just create even more accounts to try and submit as much as possible while they still can. By stopping all free submissions from being made, this would make such activity pointless.
Pro Members Not Affected
Note that Pro members will not be affected by this switch in any way. The fast submit options will still be avaiable – everything will continue to work as normal for Pro members.