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I just got an email with the following:

Hi KronoS,

I recently launched Bountify.co (a site similar to StackOverflow, but with cash bounties and aimed at small coding tasks) and thought you might be interested in becoming a founding member. I saw that you're a top-notch community member on SO; I'd love for Bountify to have users like you.

Users earn money on Bountify ($1-250 per coding challenge, plus tips), but most provide solutions for fun. You can also donate your winnings to charity. We're just starting out, so it's easy to make it onto the leaderboard :)

Once registered, subscribe to tags (like "wxpython" or "button") to get emailed when new bounties are posted. You can also follow @bountify on Twitter to find out about new bounties.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for your time!

Click here to visit Bountify.

Thanks,
Bevan
@bountify
https://bountify.co

I have a few questions:

  1. Is this a legitimate site?
  2. It appears that they are using the API to generate these emails (Username, email, top tags). Is this a valid use of the API? (I don't see them listed in stackapp.com)
  3. Are they associated AT ALL with Stack Exchange?

I'm bringing this up as it appears to be more of a spam email or scam site, but I'm not for sure.

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Oh wow. Kudos for an original idea, I guess. Although I think it's a terrible concept and will end in tears. Re your question, though - "legitimate" in what sense? It's got nothing to do with SO as far as I can tell, except that they use E-mail addresses from there to spam people. They might have manually scraped the E-Mail adresses, which is still not cool at all but I doubt whether SO can do anything about that. –  Pëkka Oct 17 '12 at 14:42
    
@Pekka Yeah, I'm not sure how they got my email. Maybe from my profile, but it's kinda obfuscated. My main purpose on asking this, is as a reference in case others are concerned as well, and get the same email. –  KronoS Oct 17 '12 at 14:51
    
Also it's to alert the SE team if there is any infringement of trademarks, copyright, API rules, etc,. –  KronoS Oct 17 '12 at 14:53
    
I thought the API contained only hashes of the mail address, the mail address field in the profile is private and can only be seen by moderators. –  Mad Scientist Oct 17 '12 at 14:55
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Not legitimate or associated - Stack Overflow is written with two words :P –  Lix Oct 17 '12 at 14:55
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I hope the API can't be used to send emails to users. But it's easy to google all profiles of a SE site for email addresses. For example, gmail inurl:stackoverflow.com/users site:stackoverflow.com -site:*.stackoverflow.com finds all GMail addresses. –  Dennis Oct 17 '12 at 14:56
    
@Kronos yeah, I'm not criticizing your bringing this up here –  Pëkka Oct 17 '12 at 15:01
    
Here's the discussion about the site on Hacker news: news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4663776 –  Rob W Oct 17 '12 at 15:25
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3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I'm the founder of Bountify.co. I've emailed some of you (about a hundred) based on your profiles. I emailed each of you individually, based on reputation, tag, ratio of answered:asked, and most importantly willingness to be contacted as evidenced by a contact link in your profile. I've received only positive feedback from those I've emailed (except for one, who seemed to have misread my email at first and later engaged me in discussion about the site). To my knowledge I wasn't violating the terms of use and do not consider this an "illegitimate spam technique", but I'm sorry if the email was unwelcome. And no, I am not associated in any way with StackExchange, and have no plans to contact any more SO users, although I'm very thankful for the help and feedback I've received from everyone who responded.

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It's not a violation of terms, but it's not entirely proper either. After all, you're still bulk mailing people and that's not what they published their E-Mail address for. Anyway - the more I think about it, the more I would like to see a platform like yours flourish, not least to have a place that I can tell lazy Stack Overflow askers to go to. I'm still not optimistic to be honest - I think the outlook of money, no matter how little, tends to create problematic social dynamics. Stuff becomes serious when money is involved. But we'll see! Best of luck. –  Pëkka Oct 17 '12 at 21:02
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Please don't take my question as a ploy to destroy your product. I wish you the best of luck. I was just curious about this as it kinda came out of no where. –  KronoS Oct 17 '12 at 21:45
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+1. I wish you good luck, too. (In some countries, including mine, any unsolicited commercial bulk e-mail is considered unlawful if there was no prior contract and there is no informed consent. In some other countries, including KronoS's, it is essential whether you had harvested e-mail addresses using a manual or automated process, for a truthful bulk commercial e-mailing to be considered legal or not.) –  Jirka Hanika Oct 18 '12 at 7:06
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It appears that they are using the API to generate these emails

No, I don't think so.

The creator of that site is valid member of Stack Overflow so he probably looked all by himself in the user leagues, finding the "top notch" users and harverting emails from their profiles.

You have your email address displayed in the "about me" section of your profile, so he just took it from there. No API, no bot.

I also found this feedback so it looks like a valid new site, not scam.

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I confirm that the email addresses are taken from the profile. I've received the mail at my contact address, not the one I used to register with Stack Overflow. All emails are derived from the same template (possibly automated), but I think that the variables (name and tags) are generated manually (maybe with aid of some tool, "Rob W" -> "Rob"). –  Rob W Oct 17 '12 at 15:24
    
@Rob yep that makes sense. –  Shadow Wizard Oct 17 '12 at 15:44
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Important clarification: emails are not visible in profiles, what you mean is users who voluntarily put their email in the "about me" field of their profile. –  Jeff Atwood Oct 17 '12 at 17:15
    
Thanks @Jeff I've made it clearer now. –  Shadow Wizard Oct 17 '12 at 17:24
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Answering 1. and 3.:

This appears to be a legitimate site with a publicly acknowledged business model, that also uses a relatively modest but still illegitimate spam technique to get through the initial advertising.

Such sites are somewhat numerous and they are normally in no way associated with Stack Exchange.

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