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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

71 Comments

  1. Matt Marshall
    June 25, 2015 @ 12:38 am

    I didn't even realise people still clicked on ads in this day and age! Have you had any luck on other sites out of interest, Phil? Is there a control point for how many people would click on an ad for a blog?

    Reply

  2. osmie
    June 25, 2015 @ 12:45 am

    It sounds to me as though Mr Brook may be — and it can only be willfully, because no one can sustain this misconception for more than a month otherwise — counting banner views and reporting them as banner click-throughs. For a site of his size, 2000 views per month seems wholly reasonable, and if 1% of those views result in a click, you've got your 20 clicks per month.

    This interpretation makes the math work out, but it doesn't excuse the ethics. A view is not the same as a click-through, and ad buyers know the difference. You'd expect to pay a lot more for an ad which generates 2000 clicks (out of presumably 200,000 views) than for an ad with 2000 views (producing maybe 20 clicks).

    Reply

  3. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 25, 2015 @ 12:47 am

    Not even that explains it; he reports his pageviews separately as being in the 1-2 million range per month: http://www.drwho-online.co.uk/About/#dwostats

    Reply

  4. Matt Marshall
    June 25, 2015 @ 1:17 am

    Are they up on every page in a fixed place, or are the ads in rotation though (as I'd assume). I imagine not every ad is on every page every time.

    It's certainly possible that it's a genuine error and that the analytic software is counting every time the ad image is accessed from the server as a 'click'.

    I recently moved my own website and put in a redirect from the old site to the new one. Now I get huge spikes of traffic from various sites. I get excited and follow the link back, to discover that it's because that site embedded images directly from mine, and now every time they access that page, every single image access sends a ping to my new site due to the redirect. I'm really not sure how to deal with that, as it's annoying me, but I want all traffic to go to a particular page as the structure has changed which means that it needs to be a permanent redirect like that!

    On the flip-side, I've put in 'related post' widgets, it looks for all the world like the link is on my site, but if someone clicks on it, it bounces them via linkwithin (or whatever it's called). Clicks from a site won't always look like they come from that site if there's widgets or off-site hosting involved.

    That's sort of off-topic, but the point is that webstats can do funny things and you've always got to be 100% sure that what you think you're looking at is actually what you're looking at.

    Reply

  5. osmie
    June 25, 2015 @ 2:11 am

    he reports his pageviews separately as being in the 1-2 million range per month

    Well, so much for my theory. I have no idea where the 2000 figure might come from, save possibly "whole cloth" or "thin air."

    > webstats can do funny things

    And yet it's still up to the webmaster to know how to read their own webstats, and correct any honest errors as soon as they're pointed out. It sounds as though this site has been misrepresenting their logs, in the face of evidence, for years.

    Reply

  6. Chris
    June 25, 2015 @ 2:28 am

    Hmm, my comment got swallowed, so forgive me if this info comes up twice in slightly different forms…

    According to Alexa.com, http://www.drwho-online.co.uk is currently ranked at #623,580. To compare, http://www.philipsandifer.com is currently ranked at #348,846.

    The takeaway is that you should be selling advertising to them.

    And since I'm sure this post is going to generate page views for them today, if osmie's hypothesis (with Matt's additions) is correct, then we should expect to see a surge in click-throughs today as well.

    Reply

  7. Chris
    June 25, 2015 @ 2:36 am

    To the point that the clicks may appear that they are coming from some other site, I have two comments:

    1) it looks like they are flat links in the HTML, though there is so much garbage constantly loading on that site that it's hard to tell exactly what happens when I click, but…

    2) even if the clicks appear to come from somewhere else, advertisers should still be seeing ~2,000 additional visits from anywhere, which they are not.

    Reply

  8. nexstarman
    June 25, 2015 @ 2:47 am

    Ever since reading about his Regenerative Website on radw in 1999, he`s not worth the powder.

    Reply

  9. Froborr
    June 25, 2015 @ 4:53 am

    I can give a point of comparison! For the past couple of weeks I have had an ad roughly the size of the smallest Doctor Who Online promises in the sidebar of every page on Mark Watches, which (according to the proprietor when I interviewed him last year) receives ~100-200,000 visitors a day depending on what he is currently covering.

    I have been getting an average of 5 clickthroughs a day.

    Reply

  10. Froborr
    June 25, 2015 @ 4:56 am

    Sorry, my bad, that's visitors per week, not day.

    Reply

  11. arcbeatle
    June 25, 2015 @ 5:17 am

    "Ever since reading about his Regenerative Website on radw in 1999, he`s not worth the powder."

    I think I need… Everything about this post explained to me. I mean, I googled "radw" so not that anymore.

    Reply

  12. Neo Tuxedo
    June 25, 2015 @ 5:34 am

    I believe that your statements account to defamation of character especially the point of us behaving fraudulently. We take those accusations very seriously and will seek legal action if necessary.

    I, of course, read that paragraph and immediately thought of the letter sent by the firm of Goodman Derrick & Co to Ian Hislop on 29 April 1971.

    We act for Mr Arkell who is Retail Credit Manager of Granada TV Rental Ltd. His attention has been drawn to an article appearing in the issue of Private Eye dated 9th April 1971 on page 4. The statements made about Mr Arkell are entirely untrue and clearly highly defamatory. We are therefore instructed to require from you immediately your proposals for dealing with the matter.

    Mr Arkell's first concern is that there should be a full retraction at the earliest possible date in Private Eye and he will also want his costs paid. His attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of your reply.

    I wonder what Brook's attitude to damages will be when he sees that the nature of your reply is the same as Ian Hislop's was 44 years ago.

    Reply

  13. Scurra
    June 25, 2015 @ 5:46 am

    I think it was Richard Ingrams (or possibly even Peter Cook) rather than Ian Hislop (he's not quite that old!) who made that immortal reply. But your point still stands (and yes, that was my first reaction too.)

    Reply

  14. Mags
    June 25, 2015 @ 6:06 am

    You may want to add a link pointing small businesses towards Trading Standards, as if there is evidence of misspelling they may be able to build a case. There is also the option of the Small Claims court. https://www.gov.uk/find-local-trading-standards-office

    Reply

  15. SK
    June 25, 2015 @ 6:15 am

    if there is evidence of misspelling they may be able to build a case

    Pedantry is harsh these days.

    Reply

  16. nexstarman
    June 25, 2015 @ 6:39 am

    rec.arts.drwho was an active internet forum in the late 1990s, Philip Sandifer used to post there. the "Regenerative Website" was an early Brook project. "Not worth the powder" means he's a waste of everyone's time.

    Reply

  17. arcbeatle
    June 25, 2015 @ 6:56 am

    Thank you!

    Reply

  18. Dan
    June 25, 2015 @ 7:43 am

    But fair.

    Reply

  19. tvstudies
    June 25, 2015 @ 9:05 am

    Come on this is ridiculous Phil. He has a long standing community of advertisers who have stayed with him for many years – that is obvious. If you have a bee in your bonnet about him go to him directly, because all you are doing here is throwing slander and defamations around. (British law treats internet chatter as slander, not libel.)

    Reply

  20. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 25, 2015 @ 9:09 am

    Fully 30% of his current advertisers wrote back with horror stories. That's a shockingly high hit rate for a single cold e-mail. All of them, as I note, providing the same account. With numerous pieces of hard evidence of Sebastian's claims of performance not actually materializing.

    This isn't throwing slander and defamation. This is a well sourced article that, frankly, demands serious answers from Sebastian. Answers that are, as of yet, spectacularly lacking.

    Reply

  21. tvstudies
    June 25, 2015 @ 9:51 am

    This is on your biased say so.

    Reply

  22. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 25, 2015 @ 9:54 am

    It's very easy to throw words like "bias" around, but they don't actually do anything to refute the hard evidence.

    Reply

  23. tvstudies
    June 25, 2015 @ 10:02 am

    You haven't given any 'hard evidence' just unsubstantiated allegations. What is your beef? are you jealous of the site's long standing and success, because if Mr Brook was as you said, he wouldn't have survived this long.

    Reply

  24. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 25, 2015 @ 10:04 am

    I've given numerous screenshots showing the disparity between the ad performance Brooks claims and what his advertisers get, and ten separate testimonials offering matching accounts of the fraud. Please, explain how this is not hard evidence.

    Reply

  25. tvstudies
    June 25, 2015 @ 10:17 am

    How are we to know that you haven't just made up these "testimonials" given that you give no information as to who they are? In any case, you got refunded. If he was such a person as you allege, he wouldn't have refunded you, would he? You strike me as the sort of person who would buy something on eBay, not pay for it, but leave negative feedback because the item wasn't delivered to you, within 24 hours.

    Reply

  26. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 25, 2015 @ 10:24 am

    Yeah, I'm just going to leave this one here as a nice, shining example of the desperation required to defend these practices.

    Reply

  27. jane
    June 25, 2015 @ 10:26 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  28. jane
    June 25, 2015 @ 10:27 am

    Much better said, Phil!

    Reply

  29. Mags
    June 25, 2015 @ 11:16 am

    Harsh on typos, harsh on the causes of typos. (In this case the fact this site's comment boxes really don't like iPad users.)

    More seriously, if this post wants to be helpful it should link to the ways in which customers can legally reclaim the fees where they have evidence of misselling

    Reply

  30. Mags
    June 25, 2015 @ 11:21 am

    That would also counter the claims of bias about this post by putting the evidence to neutral parties whose day job is to decide if someone has been fraudulent to their customers. In the UK, firms can be forced to stop trading if they have broken the law.

    Admittedly, that's less 'fun' for internet bystanders to watch, but it is more long-term.

    Reply

  31. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 25, 2015 @ 11:32 am

    Yes, thank you; adding the link now.

    Reply

  32. tvstudies
    June 25, 2015 @ 12:15 pm

    Don't be silly Philip, you just want the last word, each and every time. It strikes me that the advert didn't work for you (for whatever reason, maybe, just maybe there isn't an audience for your writing?) and you blamed Seb and DWO. That's my last word, you can say what you like afterwards…..

    Reply

  33. Anna Wiggins
    June 25, 2015 @ 4:39 pm

    Gosh, 'tvstudies' is such an adorable little sockpuppet.

    Reply

  34. DrWho OnlineAdventures
    June 25, 2015 @ 7:41 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  35. Jarl
    June 25, 2015 @ 10:55 pm

    Consequences will never be the same!

    Reply

  36. Kit Power
    June 25, 2015 @ 11:57 pm

    Yeah, tvstudies, attacking Phil on his integrity… He has no conceivable reason to take this type of action with no good cause, and literally everything to lose if he's exposed as lying about any of this. I'm not sure how familiar you are with the iceberg principle as relates to cold email surveys, but let me put it like this – 30% response? That's an awfully big iceberg tip.

    I mean, what are you saying is Phil's motivation here? Spite? After he got a refund? I can think of a lot of possible reasons why Phil's data could be correct. I'm really struggling to construct a scenario for Phil be making all this up…

    Reply

  37. tvstudies
    June 26, 2015 @ 12:22 am

    Ian Hislop was 11 in 1971. Nice try, wrong cigar.

    Reply

  38. tvstudies
    June 26, 2015 @ 12:23 am

    Er, but it's OK to denigrate the character of Mr Brook?
    30% response? But with NO ONE ELSE NAMED. Therefore it could be 30% of crap.

    Reply

  39. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 26, 2015 @ 12:25 am

    Weren't you leaving?

    Reply

  40. Aylwin
    June 26, 2015 @ 12:38 am

    Only in the sense of a Nigel Farage resignation, clearly.

    Reply

  41. Aylwin
    June 26, 2015 @ 12:42 am

    I'm intrigued by this one. A hastily regretted and retracted official Dr Who Online response? A comment that was meant to be posted under the tvstudies username but inadvertently logged in on the wrong account? Or what?

    Reply

  42. Jarl
    June 26, 2015 @ 12:44 am

    Yes, it is okay to denigrate the character of Mr. Brook. I'd also like to denigrate the film Mr. Brooks, but that's not immediately relevant to the conversation.

    Reply

  43. Jarl
    June 26, 2015 @ 12:45 am

    Only Phil can know for sure. Pretty sure he can see deleted comments, anyways.

    Reply

  44. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 26, 2015 @ 12:46 am

    Not actually an account affiliated with Doctor Who Online, despite the name. Will say no more, in deference to the deletion, but I wish they'd undelete it.

    Reply

  45. Aylwin
    June 26, 2015 @ 1:29 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  46. Aylwin
    June 26, 2015 @ 1:31 am

    Yes, I suppose I shouldn't really have asked. Vague speculation rather than seriously seeking an answer, but either way.

    Reply

  47. Nick Cooper
    June 26, 2015 @ 2:04 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  48. Nick Cooper
    June 26, 2015 @ 2:06 am

    A remarkable and very through piece of work, Philip. As you suggest, a 30% disatisfaction rate is appalling, and I think it can safely be assumed that there will have been others who are unhappy but did not respond for a variety of reasons. Of course, there may well be those who get enough click-throughs for their own purposes based on their own analytics, regardless of whatever Brook reckons they're getting, but that doesn't justify the apparent misrepresentation to those who aren't.

    I think the most telling detail is Brook's claimed reliance on "GammaOnyx," which obviously does not exist outside of his own site….

    Reply

  49. Adam Speicher
    June 26, 2015 @ 3:07 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  50. xec tilus
    June 26, 2015 @ 3:46 am

    There's nothing you can do to prevent the catharsis of spurious morality.

    Reply

  51. Froborr
    June 26, 2015 @ 4:09 am

    So, besides the obviousness of "tvstudies" sockpuppetry, I'd like to point out that Oni Hartstein, who runs the U.S. conventions Intervention and ReGenerationWho, linked to this article on Facebook and she and her commenters independently confirmed portions of this story, with their names attached. So that particular line of spurious, pathetic defense for Mr. Brook is done with. I am curious as to what he'll try next and what he'll name his sockpuppet.

    Reply

  52. G Cooper
    June 26, 2015 @ 5:20 am

    A remarkable dismantling of an appalling marketing system – I'd just like to quickly comment on your remark that "His supposed discounts off of "normal" prices that are never actually charged is dodgy, but is a practice routinely engaged in by grocery stores when they list sale prices, and so even that could be considered a legitimate, if deeply unsavory business practice" – I believe this sort of thing is actually illegal, and supermarkets are certainly a lot more careful about it now that they presumably were when that Guardian article was published a couple of years ago.

    According to the Committee of Advertising Practise website, you can't advertise price reductions like this unless they're genuine – judged based on whether the service was last offered at that price, whether it was offered at that price for a substantial period of time, and whether it's been at the lower price for longer than the higher price. If these aren't true, you have to actually say exactly when the higher price was offered – nowadays you see offer labels in supermarkets saying things like 'higher price applied between xx/xx/xx and yy/yy/yy' frequently. Details and case examples can be found at https://www.cap.org.uk/News-reports/Media-Centre/2014/Making-price-comparisons-with-previous-prices.aspx#.VY1bdlJv5Vl – this is all in the code on non-broadcast advertising and direct marketing, which I believe applies here since the claims were made in emails direct to consumers.

    In short – I believe that this aspect of the scam is also illegal, not just dodgy business.

    (Disclaimer: I am no expert on this field – this is based on my own experience of clamping down on this in recent years and my reading of the rules on the CAP website; I'm happy to be corrected if I've misread the rules)

    Reply

  53. curlyjimsam750
    June 26, 2015 @ 7:13 am

    My understanding from a friend who used to work in a shop where they did this is that you can advertise a "sale" but there have to be at least two weeks of the year when you have the "normal" prices. This was several years ago though. I may be wrong.

    Reply

  54. camestrosfelapton
    June 26, 2015 @ 11:26 am

    To be fair Ian Hislop was 11 in 1991 and 2001 also…

    Reply

  55. camestrosfelapton
    June 26, 2015 @ 11:33 am

    tvstudies: why would Philip Sandifer bother to make up this story? It isn't a story that advances any of his interests [unless people are actually being defrauded]. He doesn't make money out of a new role of consumer watchdog. You have already said in an earlier comment that the post if defamatory – so Philip S is (if you are right) actually risking financial lost when he posted this. Does that make his claims inherently true? No, but he provides sufficient detail that everything he has said is highly plausible.

    Reply

  56. Anna Wiggins
    June 26, 2015 @ 2:10 pm

    For the record, blogger's admin interface does not let you read deleted comments.

    Anyone who was signed up for email notifications will have gotten a copy of the comment though. Internet never forgets, and all that.

    Reply

  57. Lou Lou
    June 26, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

    If the advertisers thought there might be a chance of getting their money back and were seeking advice do you think they would want to be named and go public? Perhaps not.

    Reply

  58. Jarl
    June 26, 2015 @ 4:32 pm

    I'll tell ya right now, tvstudies, you lying no-good punk! And we know who it's coming from, because we backtraced it! And I know who's commenting and who's doing it, and you've been reported to the cyber police!

    And if you come near this website again, GUESS WHAT.

    Reply

  59. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 26, 2015 @ 4:34 pm

    Man, I hope nobody ever realizes how pathetic my Blogger moderation tools actually are…

    Reply

  60. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 26, 2015 @ 4:35 pm

    As I said, I wish they'd undelete it. It was a good comment.

    Reply

  61. Elizabeth Sandifer
    June 26, 2015 @ 4:36 pm

    Ah, Arkell v. Pressdram. The greatest legal precedent ever.

    Reply

  62. drwhoonline DrWhoOnline
    June 27, 2015 @ 1:00 am

    We were not going to respond to Phil’s allegations due to advice from other fans and friends in the community, but as per his comment about ‘ending this today’, we wanted to do just this and clarify a few things:

    We refute any claim that our advertising packages are in any way fraudulent; we simply offer banner ads on the site for companies to promote there products, services or events.

    Rates:

    Our rates are based on a number of industry standard prices for online advertising, and we do offer discounts and promotions throughout the year to help out advertisers. Regardless of the critique from Phil that they are steep, we do have high profile advertisers who pay these prices and who have been with us for over 10 years.

    Clickthrough Stats:

    In regards to clickthrough stats, it is almost impossible to give an exact figure as every campaign is different and there are a number of factors dependent on this; relevance, position, how eye-catching the art is e.t.c. We can only go off of averages and in the rare situations that a potential advertiser asks about clickthrough stats we give averages based on previous campaigns.

    In any case where there is a discrepancy with stats we will look into it. This doesn’t happen very often but in the interests of transparency we are currently looking into a new system which links into Google Analytics so that advertisers can have logins and instant and transparent access to stats.

    Dissatisfaction:

    The vast majority of our advertisers are incredibly happy with our services and we will be putting up some testimonials on the site over the coming weeks as further evidence of this.

    Unfortunately you cannot please everyone, and whilst we try to maintain a high satisfaction level, it is inevitable that some campaigns may not work out. We are still committed to working with those advertisers to find out what went wrong and why and we encourage them to contact us at: advertising@drwho-online.co.uk

    Reply

  63. Jarl
    June 27, 2015 @ 4:58 pm

    Nah, I used to have one of these places back in the day too, I know you've basically got just a "shut up button" and that's about it.

    Reply

  64. Almost got scammed!
    February 2, 2016 @ 6:52 pm

    Currently in discussions with Mr Brook regarding ad space on dr who online. I can confirm as I type these comments I am getting the exact sales patter which your article states. The price has now dropped from £400 for 3 months to £200 for 6 months in the space of 1 day after initially stating my interest and then not replying to a message from last night. The numbers quoted to a novice in online advertising (like myself) are at first, very appealing….Apparently Mr brook has had many inquiries regarding my products…how exactly? And can dramatically increase my sales? As usual I do a bit of research before I part with any money and hey presto, I googled Sebastian J Brooke and to my utter delight found this site…thankyou!

    Reply

  65. Sebastian J Brook
    February 26, 2016 @ 11:07 am

    We have testimonials from our advertisers, here:
    http://www.drwho-online.co.uk/Advertising

    We now also guarantee all ad bookings so that if the advertiser doesn’t make their initial investment back by the end of the campaign, we will refund them in full. Nowhere else offers this kind of guarantee, and it is testament to our belief in our service.

    • Seb

    Reply

  66. carl
    March 13, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

    Hi

    I just had an email from his and I was very close to purchasing his ads, I even offered to give him commission instead of me buying adverts and he refused, which I though was ODD, so I googled his name and this site was #1 on google, so after reading this, think it’s just saved me about £200, the site has a good alexa rank of 54k but not worth the expensive fee.

    Anyway thanks for the posts

    Reply

  67. Sebastian J. Brook
    March 13, 2016 @ 4:51 pm

    Hi Carl,

    You forgot to mention that you were also offered a money back guarantee – as previously stated in our reply on here, which is now standard with all news ads taken out with us.

    Anyone else doubting our packages can read testimonials here: http://www.drwho-online.co.uk/Advertising

    You can also rest assured that we offer a money back guarantee with all new campaigns; in the event you don’t make your initial investment back by the end of the campaign timeframe, we will refund you in full!

    2016 marks our 20th year online – we stand by our packages and the guarantee is there to further demonstrate our credibility.

    Seb
    DWO

    Reply

    • carl
      March 13, 2016 @ 9:35 pm

      Yes You did offer me a money back, so I can agree to this. However perhaps to give you more credit as 27 people saying its a scam seems a bit much.

      So why not offer a free trial i.e. 1 week of free advertising per unique advertiser, or head over to digitalpoint forums, and offer free advertising for honest reviews, this will enable you to prove that this site is a load of BS,

      Reply

  68. Got Scammed
    August 21, 2018 @ 7:57 am

    Hi Guys,

    I wish I could find this website few years ago…

    Does anyone know official company name and address for Drwho-online.co.uk?

    Thanks

    Reply

  69. DavuReuret
    October 30, 2020 @ 9:48 pm

    Likely the most unbelievable young people who are holding tight for you watchmen just on the dating site hongkongcupid are reliably set up to talk with you about affiliations. They will have the decision to uncover to you a ton about warmth and all that you can get from famous youths on the dating site

    Reply

  70. M. W. Morrison
    July 28, 2021 @ 10:23 am

    It is now 2021, and as a self-published author starved for buyers, I was VERY close to paying for the DWO marketing package. The sales tactic is still identical this many years later, and it looks like not much has changed.

    Thankfully, I tried a few Google searches on the subject and found this article.

    I want to thank you heartily for posting this, as it saved this hopeful amateur from (even more) fruitless spending on marketing.

    Reply

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