Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Who Is Imogen Gray? - A Leap Year Day Mystery

Update: I'm not sure if I just completely missed the boat or if something has changed, but the name on the email is Imogen Reed, not Imogen Gray.  Weird.

There is, of course, an easy way to answer that question.  It involves replying to an email.  There is also a hard way.  I'm choosing the latter, due to my desire to fill some space and amuse myself.

I received an email today from someone calling themselves Imogen Gray.  First off, nice name.  With a name like that, you have to become a writer, a porn star, the editor of an underground blog about your favorite aboveground parking lot band (it's like a garage band, only you've probably never heard of it because you're old), or take on an alter-ego as a supervillain intent on destroying the world.  Note: I'm going to refer to this person as a woman in the rest of this piece because it gets all awkward otherwise.

Here's the text of the email from imogen@linegray.com, with the subject "Professional Copywriting for The Blognostifier".
Howdy there,
Hope you had a great weekend! I'm just getting in touch to ask if you're in need of any freelance writing at The Blognostifier - if so, it'd be an honor to help out and I would love to get involved if you have any need for me.

I'm 29 have been working full-time as a professional writer and researcher for five years now; in that time there isn't a lot I haven't already covered (there are a few samples below for you to check out). Anything I send over would be written with the site's readership in mind - as long as you're happy with the resulting material, you'd be welcome to publish it as you see fit and the content will be owned by you entirely (in that I won't send it to anyone else, either before or after publication).

The good news is that I'd be able to offer my services at no charge; the only thing I would ask in return is that I'm able to include a link to a site within the article - nothing shady or unethical, just one of the professional businesses I freelance on behalf of. Otherwise I'd be happy to chat about alternative arrangements.
Do let me know if you're interested, and if so I can get something written for you over the course of the next few days. Needless to say, the offer is open to any other sites you might own as well as blognostifier.blogspot.comI appreciate that this kind of offer is not for everyone however, so if I don't hear from you I won't trouble you again.

Very best,
Imogen

Some samples for your delectation:
[REMOVED]
 

She has a fairly good grasp of grammar and spelling.  Sure, it's not exactly how I would word it, but the fact that she used the correct possessive form is practically stunning.  I was beginning to feel like she knew me, that she'd actually taken the time to read my blog.  And that's when my eyes got all squinty (due to suspicion instead of Asian), my eyebrow went up like it does when I'm about to question something or when My Lovely Wife steps out of the shower, and I thought "waaaaaait, something doesn't seem quite right."

I looked up her name first.  If all 29 year old professional writers look like this, someone needs to update the career information that my high school guidance counselor had.  In the interest of science, I perused some of these pictures hoping that I might see some action shots (of her writing something).  After a solid 30 minutes of photographic research, I decided that perhaps Imogen-the-Writer was not the same person as Imogen-Who-Forgot-To-Wear-Most-Of-Her-Clothes.  Sad, but true.

So I checked out the email address.  That took me to another blog called Slidebar. Horror of horrors, I was not the only person to receive this email!

I was hurt and betrayed.  After all, it's not often that a lingerie model with literary aspirations contacts me out of the blue.  And then to find out that she has been in touch with other bloggers?  Using the same pick up line?  I felt dirty.  I considered taking a shower, but decided to go pick up My Lovely Wife from her evening with the Brownies instead (I do it for the cookies).

Upon my return, I went right back into detective mode.  I used a computer in a different room than the one My Lovely Wife was in, just in case she should look over and get the wrong idea as to why I was scrutinizing these pictures of a primarily undressed woman.  There was a chance that I may have been too hasty in judging the woman in the pictures as not looking to make her living as a writer, and I felt it was my moral obligation to keep on checking to keep my prejudices in line.

Eventually, I checked out the other links that I found, including some of the ones sent in the email.

And that's when I LOL'd.  I LOL'd so much, I was in danger of LOLling myself out of my chair and ROFLing.

In an article for blackpresence, which seems to be a website dedicated to profiling the experience of European Blacks (I decided I can say Blacks because it's not called colouredpresence).  I skimmed through an article about Josephine Baker attributed to Imogen and the style of writing could best be described as somewhere around Junior High.  For example, this is the opening line:
It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the dancer Josephine Baker in the annals of European Black History in this century. 
I think I started most of the essays I wrote in grade 8 the same way.
It would be impossible to say that the character of Shylock in William Shakespeare's play "The Merchant of Venice" has no redeeming qualities.
Okay, I didn't actually write that in grade 8.  I didn't study Merchant until Grade 10, but if I had written a paper on it back then, that's totally how I would have written it to get to my required word count.  Interesting note: Imogen's article is 1062 words long.  I'm willing to bet that when she did the word count, she was probably filled with a sense of a job well done for coming in over target.

But of course, back then I didn't have wikipedia.  Lucky for Imogen, she does.  Unluckily for Imogen, the majority of people that write entries for wikipedia aren't all journalism majors.  Or English majors.  Or English.  It didn't take very long to determine that Imogen might be lifting a little bit from other sources and changing the words enough so it's not outright plagiarism, but not enough that it isn't.

The best part?  That part about including a link in the text?  She really means it.  Imogen, using keywords and adwords is one thing... but this takes the cake.
So who was Josephine Baker, and how did it all begin? She was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Carrie McDonald. Carrie had been adopted by Richard and Elvira McDonald, both of whom had worked as slaves and were of African and Native American descent. There were no 0% overdraft options in those days, and so they lived in poverty.
Why, it's written so seamlessly you can hardly notice where the advertisement is!

Imogen, if you are reading this, you are absolutely welcome to submit work to me, and I will ENTHUSIASTICALLY post it on my site. I do, however, reserve the right to use the copy in whatever form I choose including, but not limited to, making fun of it in whatever capacity I deem fit.

Did you notice my use of caps lock and bold in that last paragraph?  I was using that for subtle emphasis.

Happy Leap Year Day everyone!

38 comments:

  1. Ah haha, I just got an email from her too..and that is how I found this site. :o)

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    1. Same! BTW Blognostifier, you are a great writer - i really enjoyed this piece. Even on a topic so simple it kept me engaged - nice job! And thanks for the info on imogen - it seemed a little fishy for me too.

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    2. Well, shucks ma'am. Weren't nuthin'.

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    3. The Purple Violet PressApril 16, 2012 at 8:00 PM

      Just got this and was suspicious because she only gave her first name. Thanks for outing her.

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    4. I asked for more information and she sent me an article she'd written, which was mostly plagiarized from a BBC article on the same topic. When I declined, she was persistent. I also found it odd that she addressed herself as Imogen Reed yet included a bio for a Lisa Penrose. Glad I Googled the mystery "freelancer."

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  2. I too have received the invitation from Imogen Gray, and I am saddened to learn that her offer was not only intended for me. She is surely to be as enigmatic and long living as her great-great grandfather, Dorian.

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    1. Oooh! I wonder if she will suffer the same fate if she gazes upon this article and is forced to confront her true self?

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  3. I just got the email today...thanks for enlightening us all...

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  4. Got one too! As soon as I read "put a link in" that's when I checked this person out and I found this site. Kudos for blowing up her spot or him who knows these days with the power of the Internet.

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  5. I got the email this morning. When I read the subject line, I started to think of how I was going to let her down easy; my blog isn't really a guest-blogger kind of site, and it's pretty personal. (And I'm a control freak.) But then, like all of you, I got suspicious. After sifting through all of the poor sods who actually accepted Imogen's offer (so endearing! So trusting! So sad), I found you (loved your snowblower ad, by the way).

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  6. I also got an email from her as well. But the links on the bottom made me question the entire email, since it was clear that she never read any of my posts. And then, I found your blog. Thanks for the info!

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  7. He he...she's just submitted an article at my site so I'll be going through it with a fine tooth comb before it goes live.

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    1. Oh, you definitely have my attention! Let me know!

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  8. Same email this morning. Funny.

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  9. same mail - and in the same vein as Josephine Baker, an article on the great Gil Scott Heron. Guess which word had a hyperlink:

    "He and the Last Poets set the stage for everybody else.” With his music on you may sit in your Palliser couch, at your table, and hear a social change being headed all by the effects of his words."

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    1. Awesome. Shameless and awesome.

      Sometimes, when I'm surfing the internet, not doing much at all, just sipping on a delicious 355 ml can of Coca-Cola Classic, I'll read her articles and laugh.

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  10. Your post made me LOL. Thank you.

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    1. You are welcome. But that better have been a real LOL and not a laugh in my head LOL. I'm only interested in real laughs.

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  11. hahaha! I just received an e-mail from Imogen as well. Great post - and thanks for the sleuthing (you spared me hours and the disapproving glances of my wife :-D).

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    1. I'm not saying you should check out the pictures when you get a chance, but it was probably the highlight of the entire investigation.

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  12. Is this person really taking the time to visit our blogs and send us all emails with different wording but same intent?

    I first believed she read my blog as she referenced the banner (which is a .jpg image so she couldn't have simply copied and pasted any text) and i felt all warm and fuzzy inside however my blog (or 'blarg' in her case) is a personal account of major highlights in my day, I couldn't see how she could possibly help. Then google led me to you.

    Cheers for the investigation you did.
    And it's a good thing no one was looking when I searched her up. :D

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    Replies
    1. I don't think that there's anyone but a bot sending out the emails. If there they are real, I'm surprised that they haven't changed the structure of the email. On the other hand, it's bringing real hits to my blog so I'm okay with that. :)

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  13. I got the exact same email the other day, so Imogen is still at it. This post was what turned up when I Googled her. As soon as I read her email, I was suspicious, since I've never had a guest post on my blog and I've never solicited any sort of guest writing. Not that I wouldn't consider it, but only if it were by another blogger looking for some exposure, and it would have to be funny, amazingly funny. What I would never allow is an ad disguised as a post on my site, and much less without getting paid for it. How gracious of Imogen to offer her services "free of charge"! Thanks, but no thanks!

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    1. Yeesh, after three months, you'd think he/she/it would have stopped! I don't have guest bloggers either, but if I did there certainly wouldn't be any links in it.

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  14. Same thing here...just today. Thanks for posting this, very helpful!

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  16. same here...but it seems she is a real person..
    Look at her answer (last comment) on another post about the same mistery:

    http://slidebar.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/the-most-enigmatic-unsolicited-email-ever/

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    1. Holy cow! It's her! Or is it... Maybe I should send her an email. If only I knew what her email address was.

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  17. I was about to reply to this but then came across your post via google. I found it kind of strange that a freelance writer would like to write for my blog. My blog is my personal blog in which I do whatever I please with it, not some journalistic output.

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  18. I am another recipient that can be added to the list! It was a refreshing change after being offered Chinese domains yesterday.

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  19. Thank you for this post. I got similar post from same email and you helped me to know this is just a spam.

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  20. Wow, I got an email from "imogen reed" which said basically the same thing. Funny that she (or whoever they are) is still using the same email in July! I decided to google her because she said she was a "professional" and I found that there were several other blogs that said she was a scam! I did think it was strange that a "professional copywriter and journalist" would want to write for my blog for "no charge"... So as a scam, what is her goal?

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  21. And she's still at it. Got this email too. I especially liked this part of my email "I’ve covered everything from industry trends to broschure copy and sustainability issues (there are a few samples below for you to check out)." Oops, might be a good idea to use correct spelling of brochure when trying to advertise your writing skills.

    Very interesting though. Not your normal spammer. It isn't often that when I google a scam email address that I actually come up with something. Thanks for starting this convo.

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  22. I got the same email. She was asking to write for a blog I had registered, but never have the time to post anything. It's a fail blog based on Walmart horror stories I started for fun, but never have time to write anymore for it.

    I told her I wasn't going to stop her from wasting her time writing something for it and she emailed me back in a couple days with a post. I'm debating whether or not to post it. It seems fishy.

    Good post, though, on this mystery writer. I love your writing. This mystery freelancer won you a new reader in the least.

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