Friday, 17 October 2008


About ten days ago, I received an e-mail from a Dr. Geoffrey Rutledge, M.D., Ph.D., "Invitation to be a featured Health Blogger on Wellsphere".

This is the e-mail:

Hi Marian,
I was searching online for the best health bloggers when I discovered your blog at I want to tell you I think your writing is great. My name is Dr. Geoff Rutledge, and I've taught and practiced Internal and Emergency Medicine for over 25 years at Harvard and Stanford medical schools. I'm also the Chief Medical Information Officer at Wellsphere (, where we are building a network of the web’s leading health bloggers -- and I think you would be a great addition.
Wellsphere is a fast growing, next-generation online platform that is revolutionizing the way people find and share health and healthy living information and services. Our platform connects millions of users each month with the valuable insights and knowledge from health leaders and knowledgeable writers like you. 
We recently launched a new series of health communities, and I would like to invite you to be a featured blogger in the Mental Health Community. By joining our network of over 1400 of leading health and healthy living bloggers, you will be in great company, and will benefit from exposure to the expanded audience of the Wellsphere community (now over 2 million visitors per month, and growing fast). When you join, we also will feature you on our very popular WellBlog (, with a link back to your blog.
We will republish the postings you’ve already written for you, and feature them not only on the  community pages of the site, but also on our WellPages, where we give users a comprehensive view of expert information, news, videos, local resources, and member postings on topics you write about. Your profile page on the site will give you special status as a featured blogger on Wellsphere. If you are an active contributor, we also will feature your posts on our homepage at
By connecting to the Wellsphere platform, you will greatly expand the audience for your postings and attract additional readers to your blog. Also, your posts will link back to your blog, so you will benefit from Wellsphere's high ranking and large readership interested in your topic, which will give you more traffic, additional relevant audience, and a higher ranking for your blog.
If you would like to be a featured blogger on Wellsphere, just send me an email to You can see examples of our WellPages on our live site. For example, take a look at
Good health,
Geoffrey W. Rutledge MD, PhD
Chief Medical Information Officer
Wellsphere, Inc.

The first thing I do in cases like this, where I have no idea, neither of who Geoffrey W. Rutledge nor of what "Wellsphere" is, is that I do a Google search. And I must admit, the rather exaggeratedly flattering rhetoric had aroused my suspicion. So I primarily looked for a possible snag with it. My Google search brought me to this blog entry, and from there I eventually arrived at this one.

Now, as I write in my comment at Jeanne's blog, it's not that I don't want "my message" out there. And it's neither that I don't want to share. But:

1. my stuff is out there, and if people are interested in the subject(s) of my blog, they can find it;

2. I prefer to keep my right to decide whom I want to share with, and in which context my stuff is going to be published, reserved;

3. I have a full time job, a social life, and, apart from blogging, another time consuming hobby: my own horse. I don't feel up to entering into a continuous collaboration like this;

4. my blogs are sort of a sanctuary for me, and I want them to remain that. Independent, free from any obligations. While a collaboration with a site like Wellsphere inevitably would be an obligation;

5. my intuition says: "Don't." And one of the most important things crisis has taught me, is to trust my intuition.

So, I reacted to the e-mail, as I usually do react to this kind of e-mails: not at all. Which resulted in another e-mail, received today - note the last sentence:


Hi Marian,

We are excited to recognize you in our new YES, WE CARE! Campaign that honors everyday heroes, like you, who put themselves on the front lines in the quest for a healthier, happier world by spending their time and putting their hearts and souls into helping others in need. We’re particularly excited to have this chance to honor you, for dedicating your time and writing to help people improve their health and well-being. We've nominated YOU as one of our Everyday Heroes! 
As part of the YES, WE CARE! Campaign, we are creating a special video to highlight some of the amazing stories we’ve heard that demonstrate that caring for others is alive and well today all over the world. We would love to include YOUR story in the video! If you would like to send us a short video (cell phone or webcams are just fine!) about what moved you to start your blog, or to share a moving story of caring that you were involved in or heard about, we’d be happy to include it in the video. You can also interview someone you think is an Everyday Hero, or tell their story. Please keep the length of your video between 20 seconds and 2 minutes. The video can be very casual and definitely does NOT need to be professional or polished - just be yourself! 
Please send us the video ASAP, and no later than Sunday, October 19th. 
We can't wait to see your videos and are looking forward to recognizing you and other Everyday Heroes you know for your extraordinary contribution to the world!

To submit your video, send us your video as an attachment via email to If you would like to send a video directly from your cell phone, just email me at and I'll send you the cell phone number you can send a video-text message to.

Good health!

Geoffrey Rutledge MD, PhD
Chief Medical Information Officer
If you prefer not to receive updates from Wellsphere, please just reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe updates"

Obviously, at Wellsphere, not reacting to their e-mails equals to subscribing to updates. At least, with the best will in the world I can't recall ever to have subscribed to any updates from Wellsphere directly. Now you can call me hysterical if you like, but in my opinion this is both aggressive and intrusive. I now will have to react, and reply in order to unsubscribe.

In regard to #2 in my above list of reasons not to join Wellsphere, I today came across a blogger who is part of the Wellsphere community. A woman who identifies as suffering from "clinical depression" and "ADHD", and advocates mental health screening... I like the idea, that I would work together (???) with someone who has nothing but HURRAY!!!s for crap like "The National Depression Screening Day" - "If you are at all curious, please take an hour out of your busy schedule and get screened." - and, if not from "clinical Depression" nor "ADHD", anyway suffers from the delusion, that "ADHD" would be a neurological disorder. Just follow the link in the post and get "refreshed" about "ADHD"... One has to draw the line somewhere.

I wonder, did those guys at Wellsphere actually read my blog?? I guess not.


Anonymous said...

Men Marian - udvis dog lidt samfundssind. :-)

Anonymous said...

To me, it looks cleanly like an invitation to provide free content for them. Then, they may attract readers and search engines.

The benefit (for them) is showing ads, and search engine rankings of other sites they like to link to. Possibly sites selling health-related stuff like little pills of various colors.

The benefit for you is ... (to phrase it kindly) questionable. They've probably done a rough search for bloggers writing about health-related topics, and might be pleased to think they've been carefully selected :-)

(I haven't visited their site, I just recognize the method).

Monica Cassani said...

these people are fucking whores who prey on everyone by kissing their ass and basically are simply looking for free content on their website which they would not deny would eventually contain pharma ads when I asked.

lots and lots of bloggers have been suckered by this asshole. You see these badges from the site all over the place...

"Best Health Blogger" and crap like that...totally going for the ego...

I've checked them out...and signed up on their site...they've fooled some good people.

I find them rather predatorial.

Monica Cassani said...

tosommerfugle says it better than me.

Marian said...

Harning: Hahaha!...

tosommerfugle & Gianna: I think, you both hit the nail on the head.

They picked the wrong person, when they picked me: too much real paranoia involved here ;)

susan said...


Hello! Thank you for this, I know someone who was also contacted by them and asked me what to do.

Didn't know. Now I will tell her to look at this article.

Anonymous said...

There are some other comments on the other blog you link to about the background of the person involved. I just got the same email and this site was in the top group of hits just by searching for his name. That is not a good sign. This is not the first time I have a request like this. Some of the people on the other site were complaining about the fact that they did not get paid. Not sure this is realistic.

susan said...


I got the email letter today. I am printing out your piece. Thank you.

Mr. Bremmer, you have a great site and I have just bookmarked it. I look forward to reading more of it.

Anonymous said...

To those that have commented on the Wellsphere should really visit the site, look at what they are trying to do, and investigate the author of the email - Dr. Rutledge. I did and found something quite different....a doctor who has worked clinically, has a PhD from Stanford (in technology), was a medical faculty member at Stanford and Harvard, and built the initial consumer web portal for WebMD. These are impressive credentials.

It seems obvious that Wellsphere is trying to build content and they are soliciting bloggers. Bloggers can evaluate the offer and decide accordingly what they want to do but there are clear advantages to the blogger by joining Wellsphere and offering their content for free. Bloggers may not want to follow that path for their own good reasons but to label Wellsphere in a negative light seems inappropriate.

It is good to be cynical...but first do your homework before you assume the worst...

Monica Cassani said...

I don't like having my ass kissed by someone who clearly has not even read my feels slimy...

some people have integrity and are not subject to flattery...

had he approached me with a letter other than the unctuous stuff he'd sent me I would consider is everything... I choose not to involve myself with an organization with less than honest marketing.

Pretending you've read a blog when you don't know anything about it is icky and it makes me wonder about who might fall for it---

granted I like plenty of the people who have fallen for it. but that is neither here nor there.

and there is no homework necessary to recognize that the author of the email has not read our blogs!

Marian said...

Bill, as for me, I've been there, and I've seen "what they're trying to do"... And you bet, I've investigated Dr. Rutledge - and others at Wellsphere. I'm not impressed. Actually, I found quite a number of far less polite and "flattering" statements about Wellsphere at various blogs and in comments - some of them by former employees of Wellsphere - than the one I chose to link to in my post. In principle, I don't join anything, I have the least doubt about. And I must admit, that I have a lot more than "the least" doubt about Wellsphere.

Anonymous said...

@Glanna - I guess one has to look at the bigger picture. I suppose one might expect the author to read the blogs of every single one out there before engaging in a solicitation but how many bloggers are there? Perhaps a tad bit unrealistic although I can understand from your point of view that you do not only care that they read your blog. If you believe Wellsphere is doing something positive, then engaging in an initial screening filter is fine.

@ Marian - I am always skeptical about ex-employees who say negative things about a previous employer in a public environment. They more often than not have an axe to grind and in my experience are less than credible.

As to not being impressed by Dr. Rutledge? I did a little online research...Who does impress you? How many doctors do you know have a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford, who has been extensively published, and who has been on faculty at two of the most highly regarded academic institutions in the world (Harvard and Stanford)...and built the first version of the free consumer web based medical portal for WebMD. Hmmm, seems impressive to me...

Monica Cassani said...

You're right bill, it is unrealistic and I don't expect him to read my blog.

I do expect honesty though. Again PRETENDING they've read you by gushing about how great you are is a lie. Liars don't inspire my confidence. And certainly doesn't make me want to join hands with them...

I've joined other communities with other, honest marketing schemes...

Monica Cassani said...

ha ha ha ...the jokes on me..

I have a profile there and I'm listed as a TOP HEALTH BLOGGER and a HEALTH MAVEN

I don't remember joining ...I must have done so to check them out and decided it was a picture of me or my blog and I've never contributed to them...anyway!! the interest of full disclosure I'm on their site!!

anyway, I've not put any of the badges on my site! and won't.

Monica Cassani said...

actually they have me down being from
San Francisco so it's possible I didn't even enroll myself...someone else may have!

I'm not from SF---I lived there years ago, but never say I"m from there now.

Marian said...

Bill, people who do impress me are people like Loren Mosher, Grace E. Jackson, John Breeding, David Oaks, Will Hall, Gianna, and many, many others. Not because of possible titles and professional achievements. But because of their HONESTY, DEDICATION AND INTEGRITY.

Anonymous said...


You mean you think that Dr. Rutledge does not have honesty, dedication, and integrity? You must know him personally...or know others who know him personally...or have some direct trustworthy source of information.

If you are making that kind of judgement based on hearsay or comments from the internet alone, yikes...

Marian said...

Bill, I don't know if you have any idea, what this blog is about. If you have any deeper knowledge about its subject. If not: this isn't exclusively about health, mental health. It is just as much about politics. The politics of oppression of people, and suppression of the truth.

Now, I'm not necessarily narrow-minded, but there's a limit to how far I'm capable of stretching. The limit is support and advocacy in favor of the oppressing and suppressing institution: biological psychiatry.
Unfortunately, I see that Wellsphere hosts a number of bloggers who are supporting and advocating biological psychiatry. Frankly, joining this sphere conflicts with my own honesty, dedication and integrity. So, yes, you might say, I have an agenda here. And my agenda is rather incompatible with joining Wellsphere. Or look at it this way: Loren Mosher left the APA (because of its dishonesty, and lack of dedication and integrity towards its clientele), and I won't join Wellsphere.

Anonymous said...

@Marian - thanks for clarifying your political agenda.

Anonymous said...

thank you marian!

I had been too busy to check them out more thoroughly

I loved the ADHD article! /snark

I had no idea your average grade school teacher was so skilled at diagnosing neurological disorders, simply amazing.

so, fun fact:

there is no setting in your personal wellsphere control panel to voluntarily cancel or close your own account with them, you have to email them to get them to do it

Marian said...

Jane: If people like to join Wellsphere, that's perfectly fine with me. You might even say, bloggers like you (or me) can act as a (very needed) counterbalance to all that biological bs they have on their site/link to .(Now that I've already let myself drive to extremes in my previous comment here: just as you might say, Loren Mosher acted a very needed counterbalance to it inside the APA while he was a member of it - I love this comparison with Loren Mosher! Hahaha!). On the other hand, I don't especially like the idea, that my stuff stands right next to something like this ADHD-article, for instance, and if only half of the criticism I found on the net is true, Wellsphere definitely isn't something I want to support. There are far more credible and honest sites/communities out there.

A small anecdote: In the dim and distant past I joined's discussion forum, as it was the first and only web-community I came across for some time. Well, after I'd found Freedom Center and MindFreedom, I decided to leave, where I'd never felt quite "at home" anyway... At first I tried to click on everything you possibly could click on, trying to find a way how to delete my profile, unsuccessfully. I then contacted the admin by e-mail. It turned out: you can't delete your profile at The only thing you can do is change all your profile-information to something like "XY". This, of course, I did. Now, it says on their website, that they have "over 47,683 active members in our discussions". One of them is me, another one is "Spiritual Emergency"... LOL

Hey, good to see, you're, at least partly, back - with a new computer and 1,000 subs. Congrats! :)

Unknown said...

Dear Marian,
Asi es la vida (Such is life)!
Users who want to outwit us and USE
US. That is my opinion of that crazy
Geoffrey! You are correct;he needs professional help, more than I do. Nice horse pictures. Good luck!

Errolb, retired M.D.