Wellsphere Controversy: A Different POV

>> Sunday, February 01, 2009

A few days ago, this article came out that really pissed a lot of people off. And I’ve gotten a bunch of e-mails from blogger friends and complete strangers in the last 48 hours, so I figured I’d post about it to let you all know how I feel.

Here’s a quick version of what happened: Wellsphere was a website that started up as a place for health/fitness/medical bloggers to come together. If a blogger signed up, his/her blog posts were automatically published on his/her Wellsphere page as well. You could meet other bloggers with your specific interests. You could set goals with incentives at the end once you’ve reached your goal.

I heard about it, and I checked it out. Their page was pretty poorly designed, parts of it were a little cheesy, but I thought I’d sign up. I took advantage of the “goal setting” to track my miles as I was training for my second half marathon. I would check out other Wellsphere bloggers now and then, but I really didn’t do too much on their site. (I’ve even come in contact with someone through Wellsphere whom I’ve had the great pleasure to meet and race with in person - I don’t know if I would have met him outside of Wellsphere.)

Then, as is stated in the article above, Wellsphere was sold to the “HealthCentral Network.” People started saying they were scammed. Does NOBODY read the fine print anymore? It was stated when you start a Wellsphere account that your blog will be published on Wellsphere’s site and then Wellsphere can do what they want with that. I just blog for fun, so that didn’t bother me. Now, everyone’s saying, “Oh, I’ve been scammed?” PLEASE TELL ME HOW YOU’VE JUST BEEN SCAMMED? Please. I don’t know where the scam occurred.

This is what happened:

1. You have a blog.
2. You sign up to have it published on Wellsphere as well, for no monetary compensation.
3. Wellsphere is sold, and you feel entitled to a cut.

Really? How?!

Wait a minute... isn’t that one of the goals when running a business?

1. Start a company.
2. Build the company up.
3. Sell company for profit.

I am NOT defending Wellsphere. I have NO alligence to Wellsphere. Sure, I just finished 9th in their “People’s Health Blogger Awards,” but all I’ll probably get is a congratulatory e-mail and another badge to “display with honor” on my side bar. (An ACTUAL prize would be sweet!!) Anyway, I CAN see why people are sour about missing the fine print, but they were not “scammed.”

When Blogger was sold a few years ago, did everyone say they were scammed? Did they want to be paid because they had written content on Bloggers site?

Some people have pointed out that the CEO of Wellsphere, Ron Gutman, is basically a money-hungry jerk with no morals. I don’t know the guy, but this may be completely true. Until recently, I’ve done no research as to who started or runs Wellsphere. I mean, I’ve been blogging through Blogger for 2.5 years, and I have no idea who is in charge of Blogger. A money-hungry, moral-less CEO may be running Blogger. I don’t know, and I don’t care.

Just a few hours ago, a blogger buddy e-mailed me to ask me about this controversy. This is what I told her:

Yeah, I've just started hearing about it. It's not too big of a deal to me. It was all there in the fine print when I signed up. Blogger states in its fine print that it can reproduce anything from our blogs that it wants. I just blog for fun, so I'm not up in arms about it.

And Wellsphere was started and then sold - again, not a big deal to me. That's what people do. Start a company, make it bigger/better, and then sell it for a profit. Blogger was sold a few years back, and people didn't freak out like they are with the Wellsphere.

I'm not taking Wellsphere's side, but I just think people are overreacting to nothing. Nothing illegal went down. Everything was spelled out from day 1. I dunno...

Happy weekend!


She wrote back right away:

Hey Steve,

You know its funny, when you put it that way it makes perfect sense!!! I was just reading some of the blogs i follow and they were very upset by it all so i thought of you immediately!!!

Thanks for clearing that all up...

I do NOT have all the answers. If you disagree or have something to add, please comment. Don’t simply tell me I’m stupid. If you have a point, please make it. (However, I will delete pointless, ranting, personal-attack-style comments.)

The moral of the story: Read the fine print, or quit-cher-bitchin.

Thanks everyone. Enjoy the big game! And the commercials...

(Oh, and great photos from last weeks FREEZING 10K are coming tomorrow!)


The Lazy Triathlete 4:36 PM, February 01, 2009  

Thank you for being logical. I have to set people straight daily about BS. Logic trumps emotion every day.

Anonymous,  4:38 PM, February 01, 2009  

It might not be so simple.

What about that frosted face photo you're so fond of? Maybe, it's not even YOURS any more!

Maybe, they've TAKEN your MASTERPIECE....

Do they have one-time non-exclusive rights, or exclusive rights?

If the latter, you can kiss your face good-bye....

Still so indifferent, boss? Hmmm?

Trishie 4:44 PM, February 01, 2009  

Don’t simply tell me I’m stupid.

You're stupid.


Sorry, I wasn't smart enough to take the patent bar - still cannot believe I passed the 'regular' Bar, so I really have no idea on the legal ramifications of this Wellsphere issue.

Adam 4:46 PM, February 01, 2009  

In today's society some people will bitch about absolutely any topic or situation presented to them. Sad in my opinion.

Anonymous,  4:56 PM, February 01, 2009  

Face it, everybody's bitching....

Bitching about society, bitching about the bitching....

Think it was any better 100 years ago? It was comets killed off the dinosaurs. It was bitching about "today's society"....

Bitch, bitch, bitch....

(Copyright (c) 2009 by Wellsphere. Their CEO can have. He can put it next his taint.)

Kelly 4:57 PM, February 01, 2009  

Yeah, I agree with you. Plus, it's not like their blog posts were taken and put into a book that said "written by Wellsphere" and sold at Barnes and Noble. When the website was sold, nothing happened. All of their blogs went just as untouched as they had been before.

Anonymous,  4:58 PM, February 01, 2009  

Correctin: It WASN'T comets killed'em off....

It's February....

teacherwoman 5:13 PM, February 01, 2009  

Totally agree with you! :)

Amytrigirl (aka Amybee) 5:41 PM, February 01, 2009  

Wow! This topic seems to be almost as hot as the "do walk/runners have any place running in "real" races like Twin Cities Marathon...".

(yes they do...)

Have a good week Steve!

Michelle 6:22 PM, February 01, 2009  


You know up until a few days ago i have never even heard of Wellsphere but then again i didn't know who was playing in the superbowl either until my MOM told me!!!! :O)

Good post Steve!!

Enjoy the World Series!!!

Mel-2nd Chances 6:36 PM, February 01, 2009  

lol. your comment on my post made me almost choke on my pizza. Agreed. I totally see your point about the whole Wellsphere thing, I chose to delete my account, and move my blog... my account was created for me when i said ok to their form flattery letter. i'm not sure that i ever saw the terms of service... i should have questioned it more... i know it's business, i never expected a 'cut'... i just prefer to be the owner or what i post... especially pictures of my child.

Steve Stenzel 6:48 PM, February 01, 2009  

Melanie, I can totally understand "photos of your child." That's a good point.

Unknown 8:36 PM, February 01, 2009  

perhaps your experience was different from mine. i've reviewed my records. they set up an account for me without me ever agreeing to any terms and conditions.

I never would have agreed to the part about it being our responsibility to review the terms and conditions that can change at any time without notice.

trihrdrgrl 10:47 PM, February 01, 2009  

The following comic made me laugh and is semi relevant to the hoopla being discussed:

CoachLiz 7:16 AM, February 02, 2009  

I did not even know that there was all this controversy. Wow, I'm totally out of it.

The Boring Runner 9:49 AM, February 02, 2009  

Bill: Yes, blogger was sold about 1.5 years ago to google.

Steve: I totally agree with you. Afterall, blogger, wellsphere, etc are hosting these sites for free. The computers, bandwidth, time to upgrade the blogger spell checker all take time and money. Who am I to complain when they do something with their own site?

Calyx Meredith 11:00 AM, February 02, 2009  

Interesting take and I need to re-read my blogger fine print! My understanding was the content on my blog is mine, not theirs. Thanks for sharing your pov.

Steve Stenzel 12:19 PM, February 02, 2009  

Yeah Calyx, our Blogger content is ours, but Blogger can use it for whatever they want. (I don't know what that means exactly... I'm no lawyer...)

Anonymous,  3:49 PM, February 02, 2009  

You can say that Wellsphere is justified in its actions because it is a for profit business, but ask yourself: have they created anything of value? Their blogger "network" is clearly not a happy group, as many posts have evidenced. And, a bit of research on Google will show that this isn't the first questionable behavior Wellsphere/Wellnet has engaged in.

-Mark Johnson, former Wellsphere product manager

Aron 4:24 PM, February 02, 2009  

very good points... they contacted me a few weeks ago and one of my questions to them was about if i could cancel my account if i ever wanted. they said yes but that they left all the content from before up on their blog... so i guess its just a personal preference thing after that. seems like if i wouldn't have asked that question, they wouldn't have really told me... they just said to say yes and i would be part of it. i decided to stay off of it with all this going on but its always good to get another POV :)

BaddApple 5:11 PM, February 02, 2009  

I had my little blog and was asked by Wellsphere to join their group of bloggers. I was flattered, but knew they just needed content. I asked a number of questions and knew from the start they were pretty unorganized and thier site layout was really tough to follow. The blogging I do really is for me to track my goals and to keep me motivated and for friends to easily see what i have been up to. I tried to get involved in the community and grow and be part of it but it was really hard to do. Only good thing was I met Steve, but I had heard about his blog and read it before I came to Wellsphere, I actually haven't been on the site in a couple weeks. I saw the mail about them being bought and did the same thinking that others did. What about me. Didn't I help them in their business. That passed pretty quickly. I actually go to www.dailymile.com more. They have more a community of runners that actually share information. I'm still going to keep blogging. I might pull my Wellsphere account not because of the sale, but more just because I don't visit it enough and contribute to the community. Reminds me of back in the late 90's when all the AOL volunteers sued AOL because they were doing work for free to build the site. They had a case there. I was at Microsoft at the time and it changed how we interacted with our volunteers. The bottom line is a a profit company can't have a unpaid volunteered work force. The case they used actually comes from the late 1800's or early 1900's railroad company legal battle. Well I rambled on enough for today. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog reading.

Anonymous,  10:06 PM, February 02, 2009  

Ok, this may be a bit off topic, but Health? Health Central Network? Wellsphere? These names would imply a health-based gist to their articles. Have they seen what you eat? Have they seen your pictures of what you eat? And yet they still want to take your content. Isn't that a conflict of some sort?

sRod 7:43 PM, February 11, 2009  

Crikey. Why don't people accept the risks they assume when they hit "publish?"

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