That's NOT Gmail! A Brief Study of Online Hangers-On

Categories: Media

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How the Internet imitates life

By Joe Eskenazi

Like any child brought up on Channel 9 PBS nature documentaries, I learned at a very young age about the Monarch and Viceroy butterflies.

The former, a beautiful, bright orange creature, is poisonous if imbibed by birds and other bug-eating beasties. If a bird snaps up a Monarch butterfly he'll quickly be doing the same thing your family dog did after snacking on grass.

The Viceroy, meanwhile, is a virtual doppelganger for the Monarch -- but is not poisonous. Yet its incredible similarity to its inedible colleague serves it well.

This takes us, naturally, to the world of the Internet. Think of Gmail as the Monarch butterfly -- it's big, well-known and other sites would do well to ride its coat-tails. And they do.

Perhaps because I feel the need to set the thermostat in my apartment to 62 degrees, my fingers were a little stiff last night and I typed in www.Gamil.com by mistake. And instead of a login page, I was confronted with the art illustrating this story -- an apparent pair of hairy, bare bear feet severed at the ankles and shoved into heels collaboratively designed by Iceberg Slim and the Marquis de Sade.

A quick peek at www.alexa.com informs me, however, that gamil.com is pulling in more page views than the site you're now reading, sfweekly.com. Are this many people interested in severed bear paw fashion -- or are plenty of people mistyping "gmail"? The answer to both questions is likely "yes."

And yet gamil.com is far from the only site piggybacking off of Gmail...

There's gnail.com, the surreal Web site of the "Beijing Gnail Heattreatment Institute," which claims "Our heat treating technology offers superior ease of use and control. As a result, an increasing number of recognized and respected manufacturers world-wide are deploying our liquid salt heat treatment as their method of choice, replacing traditional techniques."

So they got that going for them ... which is nice.

Meanwhile, at gbail.com, you can meet people like "Don Herring," "Blake Unknown" and "Karla Beebop" online. Sounds like a trustworthy Web site to me!

And don't forget Gmial.com, where you can "find something interesting" -- such as live cricket scores.

Finally, Gmali.com redirects one to reduce.com, where you can calculate life insurance rates. Surely I'd trust my life to folks who probably garner most of their Web views via duplicity. What could be bad?

And do my rates get lower if I agree to wear the bear shoes from gamil.com? Just asking...


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