An Olympian Spammer Discovers That Reputation Is A Scarce Good You Don't Want To Destroy

from the it's-your-reputation dept

Given what the Olympics have become lately, I have to admit to not paying attention to any of it so far. I heard the news of the luger's death, and that's been about it. So perhaps more people already knew about this, but apparently one of the mogul skiers has a bit of a reputation as a spam/spyware purveyor. It sounds like the guy is now out of that business, but what's fascinating is how his reputation has been tarnished over all of this, despite winning Olympic medals. The Canadians wouldn't let him on the team this time around years back, due to their dislike of his activities, so he switched his citizenship to Australia, and basically, it sounds like everyone hates him:
After Begg-Smith's second place finish in Vancouver this week, one Australian news organization published an article calling him--in the headline, no less--a "sourpuss." Another, the Sydney Morning Herald, labeled the Olympic athlete as "Mr. Miserable" and speculated that he was "simply flying a flag of convenience" with no real ties to Oz.

Canadians were more direct. Facebook groups such as "Dale Begg-Smith is a sourpuss" and another calling him a "traitor" have popped up. Twitter messages after the mogul race have included "traitor," "fake Canadian and all-around jerk," plus other phrases entirely unsuitable for a family publication.
Obviously, some of that hatred is due to him switching citizenship, but the article explains why his spamming/spyware activities are a large part of it as well (and may have resulted in the citizenship switch). I find this interesting not just because of the Olympic angle, but because of the reputation angle.

Reputation is a rather valuable "scarce good," and destroying your reputation through shady activities can come back to bite you for a long, long time, even if you do plenty of other amazing things. Just ask Metallica.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    mattfwood (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 4:15pm

    Facts wrong

    You have your facts wrong. Canada didn't kick him off the team 'this time around." He bolted Canada for Australia when he was a teenager, in 2001, because the Canadian coaches didn't want him running a business whilst skiing. Then he won a gold medal in 2006 for Australia. Also, he seems to be sort of a tight-lipped jerk based on the "evidence" from interview snippets shown to us on TV and in the papers, AND he is definitely made fun of for his spamming. But I'll note that one could be a really jolly spammer that everyone loves, or a sourpuss that has no spamming past at all. In short, people definitely do critique him for both aspects of his personality and past, but his sour attitude is not necessarily linked to or dependent on his past endeavors. Anyway, don't let the facts get in the way of your awesome opinion piece. It's not like you could have garnered almost all the facts you needed from wikipedia or something.

     

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  2.  
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    Dave, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 4:22pm

    I don't especially give a rat's %%% about the Olympics either, but I did happen to watch this guy's race. He almost won, I think. I was intrigued that they were considering the concept that he would break the Canadian gold medal drought, depending on how you defined his background. Interesting that he was a scum spammer.

    Off topic, but to me, the big story of the Olympics is how the Canadians made very, very sure that they would have a lot more time practicing at the various facilities. This was really disappointing, yet understandable, given that this level of corruption is mild compared to a lot of the stuff that happens in any Olympics.

     

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  3.  
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    Peter, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 4:28pm

    I am Canadian.

    Yeah, he left long ago over conflicts with the Canadian team.

    I think the guy is disliked more for his sour joyless personality than his role as a spyware/malware purveyor, or even his turncoat ways.

    Either way. Turncoat/malware/sourpuss. I don't like the guy. Australia Can have him. Though if your read Australian media, they say Canada can have him.

     

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  4.  
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    movocelot (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 4:31pm

    kiing & the Olympics

    Begg-Smith needs to be judged solely on his skiing, while in BC for the Olympics. Leave his business aside.

     

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  5.  
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    Joe, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Facts wrong

    That's a bit harsh. Yah some of the details surrounding Begg-Smith and his relationship to the Canadian ski team were wrong, But that didn't really affect the main point of the article. Mike's generally spot on in Canadian issues, which is pretty refreshing for a US blog, and he was pretty clear that he's no interest in following the details about the Olympics so I'm calling a get out of jail free card on this.

    That being said, I'm in Vancouver and having a blast!

     

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  6.  
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    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 4:43pm

    Metallisuck

    "...even if you do plenty of other amazing things. Just ask Metallica."

    I'm sorry, exactly *what* amazing things have Metallisuck done?

    I mean, other than the amazing thing they did by alienating their fans and presenting themselves to the whole world as total ass-clown fuckups during the Napster imbroglio, as I'm sure you're not referring to that achievement.

    CBMHB

     

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  7.  
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    Phillip Vector (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 4:50pm

    Metallica

    "Just ask Metallica."

    Who? ;)

     

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  8.  
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    Calway, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:05pm

    Re: kiing & the Olympics

    He was judged for that, but part of being an olympian is being a good sportsman. While this isn't related to the post, he came across as quite the prick and a poor sportsman all because he didn't win.

     

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  9.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Facts wrong

    Anyway, don't let the facts get in the way of your awesome opinion piece.

    Yikes. I based what I wrote on the original News.com article. Sorry.

     

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  10.  
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    PRMan, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:25pm

    Was it wrong...?

    Was it wrong that I was hoping he would flip upside down and break his neck while skiing?

    He IS a spammer, after all.

     

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  11.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:43pm

    Re: Re: Facts wrong

    Ok, looked around, and the only fact that was incorrect was when Canada blocked him from joining the team. So I corrected that.

    But, again for the record, we write based on what we read in the links we post, and if there's a mistake we fully expect people to tell us in the comments and then we correct the errors.

    Being obnoxious about it is pretty lame. You could just point out the error.

     

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  12.  
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    Sneeje (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Metallisuck

    I think you misunderstood Mike's point--he was saying losing a reputation can suck and Metallica is an example of that. So yes, he is referring to exactly what you said.

     

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  13.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 6:08pm

    Re: kiing & the Olympics

    When are the Olympics ever about the sports?

     

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  14.  
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    John, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 6:10pm

    I think he is just misunderstood, and that the media just portrays him to be this villain, and the public eats it all up.
    Sure, he doesn't show a lot of emotion but that doesn't make him a poor sport. He explained that he just isn't feeling much emotion at the end of a run because he tries to block it all out or something.

    And he is a great skiier, which is all that really matters.

     

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  15.  
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    TW Burger (profile), Feb 17th, 2010 @ 6:14pm

    Dale Begg-Smith is Not Liked by Some

    Dale Begg-Smith is the source of those pop-under ads, browser home page hijacks and other disreputable "gray area" software products that make the Web annoying (at best - his ad-ware has probably caused worse). The person that can do this for a living is not someone I personally would associate with, so I can see countries wishing to disassociate with such a person.

     

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  16.  
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    anon, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 7:27pm

    He doesn't have to talk to the press

    This is a rich guy that doesn't need the press to further his career. He just likes to ski and he is damn good at skiing. This has ticked off some reporters and they are lashing out. Most of these athletes need the reporters so that endorsement deals follow. This guy doesn't care about that. That is where most of the sourpuss comes from. the reporters are bitter.

     

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  17.  
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    Travis, Feb 17th, 2010 @ 8:10pm

    Spammer

    Honestly, If someone tells me they make money off spamming. I do not care how nice they are to me, I would refuse to know them as a person or friend.

    Nothing these days annoys me more then spam, NOTHING!

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:02am

    Re: Spammer

    Yeah, like child-rape... gawd, that is soooooo overrated compared to spamming!

     

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  19.  
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    Any Mouse, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:34am

    Re: He doesn't have to talk to the press

    You aren't nice to the press just to further your career. You're nice to the press to show your sportsmanship and because they're people. If you act like a jerk, you get treated like a jerk. Being rich or being good is just a cop-out.

     

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  20.  
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    Any Mouse, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 2:34am

    Re: Re: Spammer

    Not a case of annoyance. I think you're pushing into all-out, seeing-red, psychotic rage.

     

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  21.  
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    Ante, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 4:03am

    Re: Facts wrong

    "Anyway, don't let the facts get in the way of your awesome opinion piece. It's not like you could have garnered almost all the facts you needed from wikipedia or something."

    Did your feelings got hurt? What a twat!

     

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  22.  
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    yozoo, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 5:41am

    well, hes a douche?

    maybe the guys just a douche and his spamming past has nothing to do with it. I would assume most people who are or were attracted to such a business are in fact douches, so it doesnt seem a stretch to assume that this guy is also a douche.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 6:06am

    Given what the Olympics have become...

    Mike Masnick says:

    Given what the Olympics have become lately...

    So, you are effectively boycotting watching hard-working athletes compete because you dislike the company with the broadcasting rights and the organization that runs the games. Except, at the same time you totally ignore the real drama happening in the 86 actual events themselves.

    Fundamentally, you are saying "I do not fish because I dislike state fishing laws," or "I do not drive because I dislike how police hand out tickets and I disagree with red light cameras."

    Because you have not watched the Olympics, you missed (among others):

    The first American women's downhill gold medal by an outstanding athlete.

    An exciting short track gold medal race where two South Korean skaters eliminated each other in the final feet before the finish line, permitting two Americans to take the silver and bronze medal (one of the most dramatic moments of the games so far).

    Phenomenal pairs skating. Period. Noting else to say. The artistry of the pairs skaters is so advanced over what it was in the 60's and 70's. These people are incredible athletes.

    Incredible men's figure skating by the top skaters, especially the top three skaters.

    A fantastic finish to the men's half pipe as White performed and nailed his signature move.

    Thrilling performances in the women's mogul racing, where the medals were in doubt down to the last race.

    I have watched winter Olympics for a long time. These winter Olympics have been some of the most competitive and hard-fought of any I have ever watched. I suspect sports enthusiasts will be talking about these competitions for a long time.

    Too bad you missed all the excitement.

    Incidentally, NBC could stream all the events live, and it would make zero difference to me (and the vast majority of Americans). I have a day job and would be unable to watch anyway. Do I know the results before the games air at night? With the exception of the live events, generally, yes. But knowing the results actually helps me figure out which games I would rather watch on either NBC or CNBC.

     

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  24.  
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    Drew (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 7:08am

    In fairness...

    He traded one scarce resource (his reputation) for another (money). We do it all the time, trading our time for money. He seems to be just fine with that tradeoff, and avoids the press because he doesn't feel like talking about his (perhaps illegitimate) former business.

    I gotta give this article a big "meh." A damaged reputation is only a burden if you give a crap. He's rich and he has a silver medal because he's an awesome skier. I doubt he gives a damn that the Internets are angry with him.

     

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  25.  
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    Whisk33, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 7:28am

    Re: Given what the Olympics have become...

    "Fundamentally, you are saying "I do not fish because I dislike state fishing laws," or "I do not drive because I dislike how police hand out tickets and I disagree with red light cameras.""

    Is that bad logic? I think that makes good sense...

    I must be confused.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: Given what the Olympics have become...

    Fundamentally, for people to avoid doing something they enjoy doing, or have to do, just because they do not like some aspect of it (I do not drive because I dislike car maintenance; fine, just be prepared to call taxis, walk a lot, borrow cars, or whatever; tough to do when you live in a semi-rural area). But, then what you are saying is not that you do not like what the Olympics have become, you just do not like the competitions enough to watch them. Okay, fine. But do not justify you lack of interest by irrelevancies.

    I could say the same thing about professional baseball. I watched pro baseball all the time prior to the strike, which was a long time ago. After the strike I just could not get back into the game again. I could easily justify my lack of interest by blaming the strike. But, what I am really saying is that the games no longer interest me enough to watch.

    Yes, the strike was a part of that, but if I really liked professional baseball I would have gone right back to watching the game after the strike. I guess I just was not that big of a fan if something like a strike would stop me from watching.

    My cop out: I do not like what professional baseball has become. Wrong. I do not watch professional baseball because I have lost interest in professional baseball. The greed of the players and the use of performance-enhancing drugs may be part of that, or it may just be that I prefer doing other things, which is closer to the truth.

    Bottom line: It is always easy to find a scapegoat that has nothing to do with your real reasons for doing or not doing things.

     

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  27.  
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    332, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 8:41am

    Re: He doesn't have to talk to the press

    Yep, you're right. I live in Australia, and he barely gives the media the time of day; even in 2006, when he won Australia's first gold medal, for an event in the Winter Olympics.

    He doesn't need the media's support, doesn't bother with it, and they dislike him for it lol!

     

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  28.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 18th, 2010 @ 10:37am

    Re: Given what the Olympics have become...

    So, you are effectively boycotting watching hard-working athletes compete because you dislike the company with the broadcasting rights and the organization that runs the games. Except, at the same time you totally ignore the real drama happening in the 86 actual events themselves.

    Yes. I don't see problem with it. And it's not because of NBC's coverage of it, but the way the IOC has handled itself in a variety of issues. To me, it's not worth supporting an organization that abuses power the way it does.

    I'm glad you like sucking up to the Olympics and justifying their actions. I don't.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Given what the Olympics have become...

    I do not "suck up" to the "Olympics." Indeed, I think the Olympics organization does some really stupid things. However, I do enjoy watching the competitions because the athletes are worth watching and there are no other comparable competitions.

    One of the great things about our country is that you can curse the book because of the cover and refuse to read what is in the book in protest. We call this action "freedom of speech." It is not always logical, but it is our system and I have actively defended it and will continue to defend it. Besides, I sometimes get a good laugh out of it.

     

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  30.  
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    Sybil, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 4:16pm

    Money doesn't buy class

    When this lowlife turned his back on Bilodeau who had his outstretched hand out to shake hands in good sportsmanship it showed millions what a miserable SOB he is. My son spent a year in Australia and they don't like him down there any more than Canadians. I know why he 't gdido to the states to compete...creating spyware, spamware, and malware is illegal in the states. Clearly he may be very rich, but money doesn't buy class and at the end of his life, he will be standing naked on judgement day and have to explain.

     

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