Let’s talk

 Posted by on 2012-04-21 at 4:40 pm
Apr 212012
 

I just did something I almost never do: deleted a post. It hadn’t been up very long, but it did make it out on the feed readers.

It was an announcement that I was going to beta test a new service called wizpert, which wanted me to make myself available online, via Skype, as an “expert” on health and illness to others. It actually sounded kinda’ cool, even though I don’t consider myself an expert, I do feel like I’ve had a lot of experience and more than a dash of expertise.

Upon further inspection, there were at least two things that bothered me about wizpert. First, once a “wizpert” gets enough positive feedback, they are expected to charge for their online consultations, up to $2 per minute, according to the site’s FAQs. Of course the site takes a 25% cut, which explains their business model. “Experts” aren’t validated in any way, other than feedback from those who talk to them. Heck, I could have a few of my best friends call me up, chat for ten minutes and rate me. Viola! I’m a wizpert! Sounds like an invitation to abuse.

There were only two other “expert” wannabes in the “HIV/AIDS” category when I got my invitation this morning, now there are six, and I’m sure the list will grow quickly. I do have some concerns that only mainstream promoters of the AIDS drugs will quickly get the upper hand, but I’m not sure I want to invest my time and energy countering them. I’m keeping my options open for now. The HIV expert who is currently online is “David”, who has been HIV-positive since 2009. Whoo hoo! Another candidate is a 23-year-old Filipino man. None of this would both me if the site was promoting peer counseling, rather than “expert” advice.

The other thing that I realized only after signing up is that callers are patched through to my Skype account via a phone number, meaning the calls are audio only. I already have unlimited long distance on my home phone, plus my cell phone, so the main reason I use Skype is for video calling, which brings a whole new level to the communication experience. Callers can actually see each other and read facial expressions and even hand gestures. It really is the next best thing to being in the same room together.

I fear wizpert will fall victim to the same kinds of manipulation and targeted abuse that has discredited the “safe browsing” addon Web of Trust (WOT). 1, 2, 3

Still, I recently been wanting to reach out more to my friends and readers and I want to test Skype’s capabilities. So I’ve dumped the links to wizpert and simply added my Skype contact info on my home page. Any reader of my blog who has questions, or is interested in discussing any of the topics I write about, is welcome to contact me anytime I’m online. Confidentiality will be respected and no identifying information will ever be divulged without express written consent.

I’m also interested in exploring the possibility of do some video podcasts. If you have a story to share about your experience with living with an HIV or AIDS diagnosis—with or without ARVs—give me a shout.

  4 Responses to “Let’s talk”

  1.  

    I was contacted by the Wizpert CEO and invited to become a ‘Wizpert,’ and while I’d welcome the money, I don’t think I’d do it either.  The guy said he’d read my blog, Disasters In Dating, and thought based on that people would value my advice.  Had he actually read the majority of my eighty plus posts, he would know that I am the LAST person who should be giving dating advice; that’s the idea behind the blog!  I also have a huge problem with the term ‘Expert;’ when it comes to dating and relationships, my track record reveals me to be anything but.  The Skype thing I’d be willing to do for free, too, because I’d love to chat to my readers. 

  2.  

    Thanks. I just got an invitation from them; I’m not an expert in anything at all, but was curious to know if it was legit or a scam.

  3.  

    I signed up, but want to leave and can’t figure out how to delete my account. No one at Wizpert will answer my emails requests. How did you delete your account? If you’re thinking about signing up, I’d think twice. They don’t seem to be doing a very effective job of relating to their clients.

    •  

      I did not delete my wizpert account, Sally, and I no longer remember exactly how I inactivated it. I notice that I changed my Skype name in the settings to “nolongeravailable”, for one thing.

      Interestingly, I very recently received an email from Michael Weinberg, asking to speak to me personally about the HIV/AIDS component, but I have not yet followed up on that. Frankly, I don’t see much future for this sort of “advice” site, but I could be proven wrong.

      Wizpert is still open only to beta testers, btw. As for emails, have you tried using support_at_wizpert.com and info_at_wizpert.com?

      As a last resort, if you’d like me to forward a message to Weinberg, you can send me an email at wizpert_at_resistanceisfruitful.com.

      (Note: replace “_at_” with @ for valid email addresses.)

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