I’m sure you’ve seen them. The ads for the online “information products.”

I wish I could say I’m surprised to see the writing community filled with this stuff, but I’m not. I’ve been around the ‘Net long enough to know that all communities have them.

Pages and page of copy, filled with elaborate descriptions of the problems that the product addresses and specific descriptions of what the product actually provides you… somewhere on the next page maybe.

Every few paragraphs have a call to action to buy the product. A big button, usually a colorful one on a white background, invites you to Act Now™. There’s no price next to the button, of course, because if you have to ask, there must be something wrong with you. You don’t recognize real value when you see it!

There are tons and tons of bonuses. It’s almost as if the product can’t stand on its own and the seller wants to smother you with so many extras that it’s no longer possible to calculate the value of what you’re buying. But that can’t be why; they must be generous.

And of course, there is only a limited time to enroll. You may have even found out about this product or “online course” before you’ll be allowed to buy it. But they’ll send you an email or twelve to remind you when “registration is open.”

As a matter of fact, so many people signed up before that they had to stop selling it. And now they’ve improved it, and they’re going to open it up in a few days, but only for a limited time.

Why wouldn’t they leave a wildly successful and fully automated online product open 24/7? Why would you ask? You don’t recognize real value when you see it!

And the real topper, something I’ve only seen recently, is the lack of a total price. All of these products offer the cost broken down over two or more payments and then a discounted single payment price.

But what I recently saw was something like:

Pay only $295 over 6 payments or one payment with a 12% discount.

(I made these numbers up. I think the actual price was much higher.)

Nowhere on the page was the total price displayed.

This is what sleazy car dealers do. It’s how scummy mortgage bankers operate.

It’s what someone who hopes that you will buy their product without ever noticing the real cost does.

That’s not what a member of a community does. It’s the action of someone who wants to profit from a community.

A leech.