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Ohhh, I love stupid people. No, really, they make my day a lot of the time. Like the person who decided to ask Danny Sullivan to put paid links on Search Engine Land and then tried to reassure him that there are no dangers involved in such actions. Seriously, you couldn’t make it up.
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from janecopland 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 9

I really like the concept here that this issue isn’t really about buying links or violating Google’s guidelines; it’s about tricking other people into breaking Google’s guidelines in a way that could harm their sites. There’s been a lot of talk about ethics lately, and I don’t think we’ll ever come to an agreement about what’s ethical within one’s own website. I tend to think that what someone does to their own site or their clients’ sites (so long as those clients are adequately educated) is their business, not mine. However, 99% of people will agree that it’s unethical to trick people like this.I wish Danny hadn’t removed the company’s name (although it sounds as though Google is well and truly onto them anyway). Great story.

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from Alysson 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 3

There’s a reason many people are so leery of the SEO industry in general.  Unfortunately these scams aren’t uncommon.  Many people have thrown money down the drain with these charlatans only to find their sites ranking lower or worse, being removed from the index entirely as a result.  It is infuriating that clients have so little recourse in instances like this and often accept it as a "live and learn" lesson on the learning curve of being a website owner. 

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from janecopland 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@SEOAly I agree. My dad’s website gets a lot of emails from people proposing dodgy SEO ideas, and he used to email me saying, "is this okay?" The answer was always no. Now he just deletes the emails, but not everyone’s daughter does this for a job and it’s undoubtable that people are sucked into this all the time.

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from StephWoods 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Wow, this is an entertaining read. I almost feel bad for the person trying to buy the link from you! I wonder if they are even aware of the potential damage they may be causing themselves and others. If this person has that much time for correspondance for one link, my bet is that they are getting paid to buy links for this company and are completely in the dark to the reality of the situation (unethical ignorance). Either that or they’re completely evil for lying through their teeth. Google should have a board of members where we could all vote people off if we wanted to.

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from evilgreenmonkey 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 5

To be fair, I offered Danny $12 a month plus a free reciprocal link from my "Other Sites" page :)

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from evilgreenmonkey 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 1

BTW, the company in question is a UK based SEO company - so they should know better.

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from NatashaRobinson 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 0

OK... I’m about to gush... Thank you Danny! If this were Yelp, I’d give this article a "Funny, Useful & Cool" - LOL

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from Jill 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 3

What exactly is the penalty for doing this again?It doesn’t look like searchengineroundtable or those that buy ad/links there are being punished. Why would it be any different to buy one on sphinn? (In fact, I wonder if one any of those buying them over at SER is this "idiot" link builder?)

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from dannysullivan 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Jane, I debated including their name but you know, I didn’t want to expose any more people to them. Tough, though, because even though Google knows of them, that doesn’t stop them pitching.<div></div><div>Steph, yeah, I almost feel sorry for them. There is the impression this person doesn’t really know what they are talking about. But then again, they should go higher up and ask. And if they don’t (or can’t, are realy just some freelancer), the company still deserves the hit.</div><div></div><div>Rob, you’d have had me at $15.</div><div></div><div>Jill, I think Search Engine Roundtable took a PageRank hit as a consequence of link selling. I’m pretty sure Barry did a post about it. It’s Yom Kippir, so he’s not back for a day still to comment. But yeah, he and a lot of other sites didn’t plunge in traffic, get banned, etc. Others did. That’s what I said in the post -- that there continues to be debate over how "dangerous" link buying or selling really is.</div><div></div><div>But you agree there is danger, right? Maybe nothing will happen, but maybe something will. And it’s that uncertainly that makes me angry to get this type of pitch. Like is said, scare me first, educate me about the risks, then let me decide. Don’t try to trick me into something.</div>

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from KenJones 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Oops, I knew the name Danny Sullivan sounded familiar when I started getting those emails back about that link request.  Oh well, "live and learn."  ;-)

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from Jill 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 3

@danny I think anyone buying/selling links that are using SEO type words are of course going to come into scrutiny. That’s just obvious and the seller there truly is an idiot because of that.That said, those buying/selling links in the zillions of other industries, I should think it would be easy enough to make them not look like they’re paid or sponsored links. People seem to think that Google will magically know if/when money changes hands! I’ve written before on using link broker services. You are of course in most cases going to have a risk with that practice, but I think that’s different from under the table deals.

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from g1smd 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 0

If they have been mass-mailing for links in recent days, then many people reading this site will have seen them and already know who they are.I had two email pitches from "SEO companies" today, and one certainly had "links" mentioned in the title, and both were trashed without reading.

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from stickybeatz 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 0

That article is hilarious. I had a good buddy who used to be a partner doing legitimate SEO work... he eventually quit and now sends out spam to everyone trying to get them to buy back links. Pretty sad because he was actually a decent SEO

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from MikeDammann 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 1

In all fairness. You see so many high ranking sites in all industries with keyword homepage links which are obviously either paid or given to friends with intent to raise a site in the serps

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from sza 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Send me a stupid request like this, and I’ll typically send it over to Google. Don’t like that? Then don’t be an idiot and send these type of things to me. What benefit comes out of this practice for you that makes it worthwhile?

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from MikeDammann 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 0

What benefit comes out of it when doing it with topics not related to SEO? Well, one of my competitor’s is page one for THE highest keyterms using the same tactics, so I do believe that it works for THAT company as well.

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from MarkeD 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Lying to get anything is underhand, this link builder seemed either ignorant or deceitful - maybe he actually believed what he was saying?  Doubtful though.

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from peteyoung 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Looks like the same handiwork as the bloke who emailed Aaron Wall. From a personal perspective, its the lack of concern for potential impact. As Google themselves say "Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such."However the fact this has not been highlighted obviously denotes intent and thus completely agree with Danny’s response.

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from webuildpages 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I’ve rewrote a comment here several times...both last night and through out the day today.....but I deleted them before I published them.... but I guess all I can say is there’s a lot of your thoughts that I disagree with....

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from dannysullivan 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Jim, you should share what you disagree with.

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from jimbeetle 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Aw, come on, don’t be shy Jim. Tell us what you think.

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from Chris1 2121 Days ago #
Votes: 0

This was a great read!  I honestly didn’t think the pitch was that terrible.  I’m sure that a lot sleazier link buying and selling proposals are going on.  The real idiocy here was the fact that this guy never realized who he was dealing with.  I mean, just take five minutes to look at the site!

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from mishag 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@danny “This conversation went on and on…” Now we know what you do for fun. Most people just hit the delete button.

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from kerimorgret 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@sza One benefit of reporting these people, that I see, is helping protect webmasters that aren’t aware of all of the Google guidelines, or even that the guidelines exist.People like the lady that bakes wedding cakes that gets cold calls and emails, and she has no idea if they’re legit. She may have heard from a friend a few years ago that you need keywords and links, and have no idea that anything has changed, or that there are better ways of doing things. This can also be viewed as protecting our reputation. You get someone like the cake lady that gets burned by one of these firms, then we all look bad.

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from mcanerin 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Send me a stupid request like this, and I’ll typically send it over to Google. Don’t like that? Then don’t be an idiot and send these type of things to me.  What benefit comes out of this practice for you that makes it worthwhile?If everyone thought like this then the world would be even messier than it is already. I don’t have the space for a full explanation here in the comments, but you might want to check into Game Theory (something big at Google, internally). No, it’s not about how to get a cool character in WoW, it’s about studying what people do in given situations.The bottom line is, in the above situation, there is a benefit directly in that the amount of work it takes to forward almost exactly the same as it is to delete it, however, if by forwarding the email you have an opportunity to prevent future emails you need to delete, you are now ahead.There is also an indirect benefit in that as long as people like this (calling themselves legitimate SEO’s, and apparently believing it) mess up the reputation as a whole for everyone in the industry, of which Danny, as a reporter, is a part of, it will make life harder for everyone. At the end of the day, Trust usually results in Money and Influence. Surely even the most cynical people realize this?The real question is, what benefit would you derive from NOT engaging in this practice. Unless you were incredibly lazy and hitting two buttons (one for "forward", and one for "send", as opposed to just "delete) is considered to be a drawback, there is no benefit to you from doing nothing.In short, there is no benefit in the long term to either being a victim (no matter how minor) or allowing others to be victimized, unless you benefit directly from it (i.e. you are a spammer or incompetent link broker yourself), but there is a measurable benefit to yourself in promoting positive behavior and hindering negative behavior, if only indirectly.Ian

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from sza 2120 Days ago #
Votes: -2

@morgret, @mcanerin, thanks for your comments.I still have my issues with this attitude.One thing, it not only affects proven scammers and liars like the one described in the article. It affects everybody approaching Mr Sullivan this way, on the basis of them being "idiots". Reporting those companies will clearly hurt them, and the rationale offered is: "don’t be an idiot".Just imagine, if, by the same reasoning, people in various life situations would all feel morally authorized to deliberately hurt others simply because they are idiots.And then, to put it in perspective, let’s abstract a little bit, because the specific context and the presence of words like "link broker", "Danny Sullivan", "Search Engine Land" obviously color many opinions.What does a link buying offer + reporting it to Google amount to, in general terms?1. Company A approaches Company B with a legal business cooperation offer that carries risks, but, if done wisely, might benefit both.2. This business cooperation would hurt Company C’s interests, so it vocally opposes any such deal, and also has the power to compromise the other companies’ business viability.3. Company B is not interested in the cooperation offer, but instead of declining it, or just letting it go, it reports Company A to Company C. (Because, make no mistake, we’re not talking about "state", "laws", "police" and "criminals" here, we’re simply talking about companies and business interests.)In what other industry would this be acceptable, and even applaudable behavior, about which a leading industry figure openly boasts?It’s only here, in the seriously distorted world of search, where a monopolist can not only instill fear in every other player, but also manufactures "ethics" for those who are lazy to have their own.

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from MikeDammann 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 0

All I can say is that this tactic works extremely well for a competitor of mine in the real estate industry.

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from ereid01 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 2

That is so fantastic - an obvious lout sparks a debate on whether or not he is exhibiting lout-ish behaviour.<div><div></div><div>Personally, I do not believe an individual deserves to get in trouble with Google simply because they weren’t knowledgable enough to know the person selling them a link was lying to them. </div></div>

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from SEOish 2120 Days ago #
Votes: -1

My personal thoughts on this are mixed. I hate any situation where someone, deceivingly, takes advantage of another. I also hate when someone calls someone of a different knowlege level "stupid" or "an idiot".In this case from my perspective you were just as decieving as you are alleging this other person to be. Perhaps more deceiving. You lied and toyed with this person more than they did with you. You did so with your own goals in mind, just as they did. The only difference between your actions and theirs is that they didn’t insult you by calling you names. How can one deal with the situation would be a better question to ask I think.

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from ciaran 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Pat - I’m not going to get into the pros or cons of Danny;s actions but feel that I have to strongly disagree with you on this.It’s like someone ringing up Jonathan Ross and offering to sell him knock-off DVDs of Hollywood films*: I’m sorry, but not knowing anything about the industry you purport to work in makes you an idiot.And he did insult Danny - by treating him like an idiot.*Apologies for the British slanted analogy - JR is guy who does the film reviews in the UK.

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from SEOish 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Just a thought / perspective experiment Ciaran :) We all love Danny.I am just saying we all were idiots before we learned something.

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from ciaran 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Yes, I do see that - but this guy was putting himself across as someone who had learnt stuff. QED idiot!<div></div><div>:)</div>

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from g1smd 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I can’t believe that someone is calling Danny out for his actions. Danny’s responses are not much different to the BBC TV programme "Rogue Traders" where the team get people round to fix a broken washing machine, small blockage in a gutter, faulty mains electrical socket etc, and then film all the traders who call round to fix it.The honest ones fix the problem, use proper parts, and charge an honest amount for the parts and their time. The dishonest ones declare hundreds or thousands of pounds of extra work needs doing, use sub-standard parts to do the job, charge for parts they didn’t actually replace, declare that they have qualifications and certificates that they don’t have (it is the LAW if you are dealing with gas), and give it a load of spiel while conning the householder. They let the trader do the work, and then get an expert to review all that was done and all that was said compared with what actually needed doing.I think my favourite was the guy who declared an electrical fuse panel to be outdated and obsolete, and not up to current UK electrical regulations, and recommended replacement and rewiring running to thousands of pounds. Thing is, the fuse panel was brand new and fitted the previous *day*, and the only fault was a loose wire on one connection. The guy ripped out the existing panel, fitted a new one, and then found that he couldn’t shut the door to the cupboard it was located in because he had failed to measure anything up. He ended up cutting a hole in the door to let the panel poke through.That’s the sort of shoddy crap that the building trade is trying to expunge from their midst, and it is about time the purge started in this industry.It’s a well-used phrase, but is very apt here "if you aren’t going to be a part of the solution, then you’re already a part of the problem".Think on it.

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from ChrisOD 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It’s even worse than that analogy.It’s as if the ’electrician’ had replaced the new fuse box with a new box that would subsequently burn down the house.The industry need’s self regulation in its infancy, and Danny’s actions are as close as we can get to it at the moment.

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from g1smd 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yes, you are right...   fake and shoddily-made replacement parts, with a fake certificate to say they are genuine parts, fitted by someone who has a fake certificate to say he is qualified to fit them...  Absolutely!If they are dealing with gas or electricity in the UK, then a jail term awaits, but if it is your website, then (at the moment) they get away with it.  Why?

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from jimhedger 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Danny did absolutely nothing wrong chasing what was obviously a story worth writing. Ferreting out stuff like this is one of the roles the media plays and being the media is a very big part of Danny’s job.  I think Danny’s method actually gave the link-broker several opportunities to rephrase himself or to learn more about Google’s guidelines. The link-broker chose not to and pressed forward, even in the face of the increasingly technical resposes from Danny. Towards the end of the exchange, Danny pretty much says exactly who he is and the dumb-assed link-broker STILL persisted. Come to think of it... perhaps Danny was a bit too fair. Most of us would have let the dumb-ass hang himself by the second email string. (I would probably have poked at the body on the gallows trying to make it fart but I am very immature)The bottom line has two folds and one crinkle.1)If you want to buy and sell links, go ahead and do it. Your code is your property. Just don’t expect Google to honour you for your efforts if they perceive the purchase or sale.2) Don’t lie to prospective clients about anything, ever. That Google publishes its guidelines openly makes the truism about truth even truer. 3) This is the Internet. EVERYONE is a potential journalist. Danny just happens to actually be one.

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from peteyoung 2120 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Continuing Ciarans brilliant analogy.If I were selling dodgy goods, who am I likely to talk to1) Other likeminded individuals who sell dodgy goodsor 2) Go to Watchdog/Rogue Traders etc. (aka Danny)Personally if you are silly enough to go for option 2 - then you really deserve to be outed in such a way. Google have said such a practise (particularly where no risk has been highlighted - and no mention made to nofollow the link) is against their guidelines, and by openly flouting this rule, they leave themselves open for critisism.

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from dannysullivan 2119 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@sza. sending an obviously idiotic link request to Google simply gives me personal satisfaction for someone who has wasted my time. I view it in the same way I’d view calling the police if I saw a drunk driver. Or calling the police if someone showed up on my door trying to get me to enter into some pyramid scheme. By rights, I really should just out the firm itself. That’s because sending to Google might cause some of their links to no longer work or some traffic to go away, but they’re still out there trying to suck others in.

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from sza 2119 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I was talking about the "distorted world of search", and I can’t help but feel vindicated when Danny Sullivan draws analogies between Google and the police, and what’s even sadder, between a stupid cooperation offer and illegal activities, and then admits getting the same personal satisfaction from reporting them.On the other hand, the link requests are stupid partly because they find you. If they would find me, no name webmaster, could I call them idiotic?Some of it probably yes, some of it probably not. After all, if I can work out a way to incorporate that link into my site in an acceptably relevant and inconspicuous manner, and I’d get paid for it according to my expectations, both parties could benefit.The only difference between you and me in this respect, that you have the basis to call those requests idiotic, and I perhaps not.But then, if someone asked me about Johnny’s Restaurant, and I just happened to stand in the door of said restaurant, I could call that guy "idiotic" for not noticing this.Would this give me a moral licence to misdirect that person to the other half of town? By your reasoning, what’s wrong with causing deliberate harm to someone when I consider that someone "idiotic". Especially if doing so gives me personal satisfaction.

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from parp 2119 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I personally think this company should be named.  Nobody reading this is going to go to them to buy their SEO services (I hope!). By outing them then you’re warning people about them, which I assume was the point of the article?I have no idea what company you’re talking about so if they were to approach me with a reasonable proposal to work together or something then I would have no idea that they’re actually really dodgy!

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from DilipShaw.com 2119 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Its sad that even today webmasters use this tactics to increase Page Rank / Link popularity. These are people working for their clients so they are just not bothered. If they succeeded in getting better ranks, they demand more money. If they fail – money is refunded in a pro-rata basis. Sadly the victim is the owner of the business.I have written an article on buying links. Hope readers find it interesting.   DilipShaw.com

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from johnandrews 2119 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Oh my this is interesting on so many levels. Slow news week? Danny feeling a little attention starved by Google? First, let me say an idiot is a protected class and should not be maligned. Ditto for "stupid". There is a certain intellectual arrogance associated with calling people "idiots" and "stupid"... not really necessary. But anyway....The poor bloke is just doing his job and finding a way to pay his bills, feed his kid, pay for vaccinations so his 3 year old doesn’t die of a painful brain infection, etc. As a man he can no longer go out to hunt for food, dig a hole to irrigate some land for crops, or chop down a tree without a permit/license/receipt for a fee. You all have locked him into "the system" and you all extract funds from his bank account for everything under the sun (water, heat, air). Did you know New Jersey has wild turkeys in the undeveloped woodlands? Did you know it costs $75 for a permit to shoot one turkey, which can be bought fozen in the store for $12?Geesh cut the guy some slack. He actually went above and beyond to get the link, without getting snitty or disrespectiful when/if he realized he was being gamed/teased himself. He moved along, as Danny should have done at the start. Report it to Google? That part is simply ridiculous. Mock the guy, highlight his plight for all the world to see, call him an "idiot" and "stupid", and then report him to Google so Kordestani (http://biz.yahoo.com/t/24/6414.html) can lock away a few more billions in his family trust. Sad... very sad.This has been a personal opinion from john andrews (johnon.com).

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from jpavery 2115 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I like how he mis-quoted "it says PAID ADVERTISING IS NOT ALWAYS ILLEGAL IF DONE PROPERLY."I didn’t know Google was making laws....

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from g1smd 2115 Days ago #
Votes: 1

***  The poor bloke is just doing his job...  *** <div></div><div></div><div>Yeah, and so are the bunch of cackers who offer to tarmac your drive "at a discount", as is the bloke in the pub car-park who has a bunch of wide-screen plasma televisions for sale at a "knock down price", as is... </div><div></div><div></div><div>Sorry, but that is no excuse.</div>

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from dolphinstreet 2115 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Incredible story, Danny! It’s sad there so many people like that out there "doing business".

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