Confusing website - what do they want?
June 24, 2013 3:31 AM   Subscribe

Last week I saw an ad for what appeared to be a search engine in the London Evening Standard. I presumed it was viral marketing as the ad was pretty opaque - but the website doesn't seem to be advertising anything or indeed make sense. What's going on?

I had a look at the main site, which seemed to be advertising card games, but which was written in a way that didn't quite make sense. The About Me didn't explain what this was either. I wondered if they were a strange religious/culty thing, so I tried a few words in the search engine - some of them seemed to be standard dictionary definitions, and some, well, were just plain weird. (NSFW, but the weirdest one I found.)

Google doesn't bring up anything about the site bar a David Icke forums posting (which didn't come to any conclusions), and it must cost a fair bit to advertise in the Standard, which makes me curious as to what this site is and what it's trying to do. What's going on?
posted by mippy to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mippy - this might help.
posted by laukf at 3:47 AM on June 24, 2013

Response by poster: laukf- we found that site, but it didn't really explain what the 'search engine' is, or why it is written in such a peculiar style. It looks very much written by someone whose first language is not English, which is inconsistent with the Tegan Joseph page.
posted by mippy at 4:03 AM on June 24, 2013

According to the info on Tegan Joseph's home page, the "search engine" seems to be something of a vanity project that is either inspired by or feeding another vanity project (i.e., a self-published book).

1520 Products Limited is Tegan's young and vibrant company. Founded by his father, Tegan is currently working on fully launching the company. The company provides an online therasus on the perfect characteristics of any word in the dictionary. The goal is to use the online therasus as a practical life guide and as a marketing forum for businesses.
posted by thisclickableme at 4:25 AM on June 24, 2013

A quick google on "therasus" gives this site with some further text about 1520. I say text as it clearly isn't actual information.
posted by Hobo at 4:45 AM on June 24, 2013

Here's what purports to be an interview with Tegan Joseph Mosugu, ‘probably one of the most accomplished students of his time,’ which links to (and mentions) the 1520 website. When asked what he likes to do in his free time, Tegan Joseph says:
I’ve also actually started my own online company, called 1520 Products Limited. It’s a company that seeks to redefine the concept of perfection and idealism by producing card games. There’s also an online thesaurus where you can search for perfect characteristics for any word of your choice. Aside from that, I love dancing. And smising. You know, smiling with your eyes.
posted by misteraitch at 5:43 AM on June 24, 2013

The company provides an online therasus on the perfect characteristics of any word in the dictionary. The goal is to use the online therasus as a practical life guide and as a marketing forum for businesses.

So it's pseudo-mystic SEO bullshit all the way down. Deliberate obfuscation is usually a dead giveaway as marketers are not known for sophisticated insights.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:56 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My first thought was that it was a religious thing - possibly because there are a lot of very fervent fire and brimstone type organisations close to us. But the thesaurus doesn't bear this out.

Here's the 'anal sex' entry with the more NSFW parts omitted:

"1. Ends with a much more thorough clean-up of the sex organ and anus!



2. Concludes with a disinfection. That is, environment (and the sex organs!) is (are) ‘sprayed’ with the appropriate substance(s). (Connect to #1 further below the line.)


more further below the line

1. Achieves objective(s), whatever this/these is/are for the 'beasts'.


2. No wound or injury – cut(s) or a laceration, bruise(s), etc. – to the sex organs of partner(s).


The entry for 'essex girl' (which is a UK slang term most popular in the early 90s - an odd thing for a US student to use) is similarly opaque:

"* All nine elements would be in.

1. Purposeful to use 'name' for particular young woman (see perfect REPRESENTATION (1)/see perfect DISTINCTION (1)).

2. Considered necessary to use reference (see perfect JOKE (1)/see perfect RETHINKING).

3. Woman had a chance to be educated. That is, she is in, or went to, a school (see perfect DULLNESS (1)/see perfect GUILTY SECRET).

4. Young woman can afford stylish clothes (see perfect FASHION (1)/see perfect FRUMP).

5. Has no justification for speaking in a loud and ugly way (see perfect SHOUTING MATCH/see perfect UPBRINGING).

6. Willingness to have sex needs no encouragement (see perfect UNWILLINGNESS (2)/see perfect PLIANCY (1)).

7. Intercourse that she will engage in will be of the unsafe kind (to emphasize, connect to #3 & #6) (see perfect EASINESS (5)/see perfect WANTONNESS (2)).

8. Name use serves purpose(s). That is, person described fits the appellation given by joker, comedian/comedienne, etc. In other words, her conduct will be 'appropriate' (see perfect LAUGH (1)/see perfect FACETIOUSNESS.)

9. No negative fallout arises from word (= name) use. That is, joke is made at the right time, in the proper environment, etc. and is taken in good faith, especially if subject of reference is present while being called (see perfect HURT/see perfect WORD (2)). "

I'm not an expert on SEO, but this doesn't seem to be designed to lead me anywhere in particular, and it is really oddly written.
posted by mippy at 6:28 AM on June 24, 2013

Frankly it sounds somewhat cultish to me.
posted by Dansaman at 8:31 AM on June 24, 2013

looks scammy or cult-y to me.
posted by theora55 at 9:44 AM on June 24, 2013

The writing in the therasus/thesaurus struck me as being written by someone who has a hard time articulating themselves in English for some reason, so I Googled around for more info on Mosugu. There's another interview with Mosugu about a book that he wrote where he discusses the site here. The interviewer seems to have a hard time understanding him. I also found his columns for the Duke Chronicle, which are not nearly as weirdly written. Additionally, they lack the misused ellipses and ellipses-plus-commas that seem to be common on the site. This makes me think that either 1) he didn't write the content on the 1520 site (seems likely, as there is a lot of content), 2) he has very recently experienced some sort of change to his mental health (seems unlikely, as he was still writing lucid columns as recently as this year, when he would presumably have been working on the less-than-lucid content on 1520) or 3) he had a really good copy editor at Duke.
posted by quiet coyote at 5:57 PM on June 24, 2013

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