Samoa Observer (Samoa’s local tabloid) is AGAIN in deep doodoo (and no it’s nothing to do with me suing them or them suing me!) it’s again their amateurish approach to IT matters, especially online. In this post I demonstrate that yet again Samoa Observer is poised to lose all their online history on Google, a worst case scenario for anyone interested in making or maintaining a web presence. I give them warning and advice.
Disclosure & Personal History
First, by way of disclosure I am embroiled in a legal wrangle with these ‘turkeys’. I sued them for $3,500.00 in 2015. They counter-claimed defamation of $2m and I counter-counterclaimed for $2m in return. It’s all before the courts and I’ve blogged about this all previously. My claim is that I entered into a commercial agreement and fulfilled my side of the deal and they didn’t honour their side. I waited 2 1/2 years after trying to talk sense with the owner one Savea Sano Malifa but he’s a little short in the humility department, listened to the gossip around town about me and then terminated our relationship unilaterally with money still owing. I blogged about it all using him as an example of how you can get yourself all tied up in knots when you get fooled by gossip. My defence in the defamation case is that indeed he was fooled, he did act like a goose and was a “dick”- the words that he’s taken a $2m offence to.
Previous Warning & Commentary
In 2012 I noted that their website was acting up and explained what they were doing wrong. I gave them free advice on how to avoid losing their entire history in Google and did it in time for them to act and save the day. They failed to heed my advice and of course as predicted, incredibly, lost all! Too bad, so sad, only in Samoa, as they say.
Losing your history in Google is terminal. It’s a burning your bridges act akin to suicide and is THE one thing that any Internet savvy IT professional and business owner will avoid at all costs – I mean why would you bother having a website and an Internet presence if you are not wanting to build your digital footprint? It’s the very reason that I set up and have spent six years of my life with SWAP – to help BUILD the web presence of Samoa (amongst other things of course). Not important though to a newspaper man who simply doesn’t seem to ‘get it’ – like all the other numerous aging Samoan leaders who are pretty much clueless about the way the world is moving!*
The Current Google Crisis
Samoa Observer’s entire Google history is AGAIN about to go down the gurgler. Search for a Samoa Observer news article or subject and Google dutifully reports www.samoaobserver.ws links (which used to be correct, fully functional and all).
Not so anymore! The DNS is down, off, kaput, no-go, non-functioning. This has now been the case for weeks so very shortly Google will “pull” every link to the broken website and Samoa Observer’s entire Google history will be AGAIN gone, forever . . . pain; gnashing of teeth; loss; serious regrets no doubt and a cover-up that they were warned but are simply amateurs in this space!
Importance of a Brand
One of the important things on the Internet is to build a brand. It doesn’t matter what that brand is but the brand is critical. Samoa Observer’s brand is “Samoa Observer”. This is not the best because it requires a rebranding exercise if they ever want to grow laterally, to cover for example the Pacific or NZ affairs, but it’s reasonable. So logically then we (Internet professionals) would then advise them to secure the domain name of the same name – first in the DOT COM space and secondly in the Domain space of country of domicile.
Thus Sano and his team would normally (if they were given good professional advice) have secured samoaobserver.com. Not so, they secured samoaobserver.ws in April 2000 and let a cybersuatter secure the domain name samoaobserver.com years later in September 2002. Ouch! Now they could secure that domain name quite easily because there is a simple procedure to wrest the name off the cybersquatter – that they haven’t speaks volumes about how much they treasure their own brand name in cyberspace! Maybe they simply don’t know about ICAN and Domain Name Dispute Resolution process – or their professional adivsors don’t – who knows? The point is that the domain name is for sale and has been for years, priced conveniently around about the same as the disputes process – heh!
But the lunacy gets worse for these Observer muppets (BTW observer.ws is still available guys! It’s a generic name too so anybody who had some smarts could snaffle it and bingo you’d miss out on a beauty!) because the current owner of samoaobserver is not The Samoa Observer Company (Apia) Ltd or any variant of Samoa Observer’s ownership, it is Computer Services Ltd – an IT company! This is illegal in most jurisdictions on the planet. An IT company of ethics should never and CAN never own a client’s (or an ex-client’s domain name!) Now in 2000, the rules were a little less clear in most jurisdictions but the law is now clear. Notice also that the domain had an update in November 2015. This could have been a DNS change but it could also have been a name ownership change as the new domain also changed in November.
The whole thing is ridiculous! Samoa Observer’s key brand name domain names are owned by a Domain Name squatter (illegally) and an IT company (perhaps illegally but certainly immorally). Knowing the people involved as I do, I’d bet that Sano and Octevi have had a good old Samoan scrap and Sano’s come out the worse. Most likely Sano or his company will owe CSL and CSL has done the naughty thing and leveraged the situation. Another court case could be on the way for Mr Litigant himself but it will be oh so late to save the day!
It could be that CSL has owned the Domain Name all the time, Sano tried to get it back in June 2015 (when he registered the new SobServer one) and CSL just switched their server off recently and all the history has now gone west in Google. Who knows, who cares. the point is that there is a big Sob Story coming your way . . .
Apparently, rather than bite the bullet and do deals with CSL, Samoa Observer has chosen to rebrand. Oh they won’t call it a rebranding exercise in the slightest but it is. You see people know and understand what Samoa Observer is thus samoaobserver.ws makes sense – not so SobServer. What the heck does Sob have to do with their brand?
This stop-gap measure is marketing and technical lunacy.
OK, sure I speak a little tongue in cheek here but there is truth to what I say. Have a look at this. Not only do this lunatic commercial operation choose to rebrand rather than deal with a dispute constructively (now where have I seen that before) they rebrand to a domain where they STILL don’t own the DOT COM! Notice that even these Domainers recognise that the URL says “SobServer” – note the two capital “S’s”?
Samoa Observer is just inviting mockery. SobServer will stick in peoples’ minds long after this story dies, too.
Lunacy! They would have been better with ONLYINSAMOA.COM!
Warning & Advice
My warning and advice to Samoa Observer is to act fast and get a 301 redirect onto your old domain name IMMEDIATELY even if just a catchall to your new home page in the interim. I am talking here literally within hours or days, or you will AGAIN lose all in Google.
Pay whatever it costs – in humbling yourself, begging, the ifoga or WHATEVER it takes to get CSL’s cooperation for as it currently stands:
- You are about to lose EVERYTHING in Google’s indexes forever, AGAIN;
- This is the second time that I have warned you in time to do something to save yourself; and
- Anyone can make a mistake once, but only a fool does it twice.
Then secure the ownership and control of samoaobserver.ws so that you can’t be blackmailed again.
Oh and you should also revert your URL format back to the previous logical format. I won’t go into the technical mumbo-jumbo and reasons for it but there’s a very good reason why 99% of all professional and all larger websites format their permalinks the way we do. Your new date first formatting may be the Word Press default but it kills RSS capability to sub-sections of your website and makes life a challenge in other ways for your users.
I charge $90.00 for my time. Sano you owe me $180.00. This advice is worth gazillions so I reckon that you’ve got a deal.
I have however more evidence usable in our $2m defamation case though – the one where I’m defending myself on the basis of truth- you know when I told the world that you were a fool, a goose and acted like a dick [or whatever it was that caused you $2m in damaged reputation]. That will be worth at least the $180.00 to me so we’re back to the same as before . . . you owe me $3,500.00 as per my Claim in the District Court of Samoa, and another $2m to a charity of my choice on completion of the defamation case.
Samoa Observer REALLY needs some decent leadership – the basics in ethics and humility are missing from the top and their Web Strategy and Implementation just sucks. These guys have more money than sense!
Hopefully some of their financial excesses will come my way through the courts in due course. I doubt that much sense from me will get through to them though, not with the current owner anyway.
Expect Google to silently kill four years worth of online work very shortly, after all Google did it before in 2012 to these nutters when they killed twelve years of work! It’s not as though Google doesn’t know something that has little value to it’s users like dead and broken links eh?
* Apparently not this one: