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PBNs and PBN Domains - Quality, Misconceptions and Expectations

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by Nargil, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. Nargil

    Nargil Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I have been both selling PBN domains on this forum for quite some time and using BHW services for even longer. I've encountered many misconceptions that people focus on when building their own PBN or ordering from Marketplace. I am not saying, that everything I stated in this thread is necessarily true (some things are even subjective), however, if you use a bit o logical thinking, you can come to your own conclusions.

    My plan is not to trash anyone. Not marketplace, not sellers, not moderators, not Trump, not Clinton, not Putin, not anyone. So bear that in mind please, as you will be reading this thread. Also, my point is not to promote my BST. I simply state things as they are or as I, and many others here, perceive them. Some things here are my subjective point of view and if you disagree, feel free to share your opinion. In some polite manner please, let's keep it civil here.

    1. - Unreal Expectations and Prices

    There are people who have quite farfetched expectations when it comes to domains and domain quality. These people are in significant minority, but still... The price at the auctions has grown 3 fold in the past half a year. Domain that you would pay $100 for a year ago can now cost around $400. PBN links work and will continue to work unless something unimaginable happens and people are becoming more and more aware of this and the demand is higher. Thus the huge price jump in the auctions.

    With the expired domains it's not any different. People who cannot afford to pay these prices on auctions have to scrape their own domains. Everybody is scraping these days and the amount of domains online is limited. Especially the clean ones. For example. Out of 350K batch of domains, I was left with around 300 clean domains with TF9+ and RD10+ (yes, I know, it's just the metrics, but you get the idea). But let me get to the point.

    There are people who expect niche relevant domains (preferably something unreal as home improvement or parenting) with TF20+, RD40+, DA20+ and are willing to pay $30 for that. That is simply not possible. There is only SO much you can do with the expired domains and there are only THAT many good ones to be found. So please, try to understand, that finding a domain in parenting with TF20+, RD40+ and DA20+ is simply not possible. You will have hard time to finding something like that even on auctions, not alone by scraping and clean.

    Point - Please, for your own sake, have realistic expectations when building your private blog network, adequate to your budget.

    2. - Niche Relevancy

    Is niche relevancy necessary? Is it better, is it more effective? Is it better to go with niche relevant domain, rather than just going after metrics? Well... there is no right or wrong here and there is no clear answer, so I am not going to go into this that much. Whether you would rather go with niche relevant domains with lower metrics, than some general niche with better metrics is up to you to test, but there are a few things that I would like to mention in regards to niche relevancy.

    And that is, that people have really high expectations when it comes to expired domains. There are some niches, which are impossible to get. Home improvement, parenting, etc. People search for these domains actively and you will have hard time finding them even on auctions for crazy prices. Some niches are simply impossible.

    Other people want way too narrow niches. For example domains about computer keyboards. This is also pretty impossible. You have to go wider. Go with Computers/hardware or with Computers overall. This is still niche relevant and you will have options to go after domains with better metrics, while still retaining niche relevance.

    For example. Regular domain provider has 1000 domain in stock. Out of those, maybe 100 have great metrics and 5 are relevant to your niche. How often does these 2 groups meet? Rarely. But if you decide to go wider, 5 domains change to 50 and now you can get better domains.

    Just please, do not expect 20 domains with TF20+ RD50+ DA30+ in some really narrow niche. This is not possible whatsoever, not even on auctions. Have realistic expectations from your PBN domains.

    Point - Don't expect amazing metrics if you want to receive highly niche relevant domains in obscure or hard to get niches.

    3. - Obsession With Cleanliness - WARNING - Highly Subjective!

    You can find more about this in the points 5 to 7. The fact, that the domain is still indexed, has no impact on the fact, that it's not clean. It may be spammed to hell and yet still be indexed. Are these domains safe to use? Well...

    Yes and no. It depends on the level of spam they have. In my SUBJECTIVE opinion, if the domain is still indexed and has clean anchors, it's fine to use, despite its history. It doesn't matter what was on the domain in the past. Once you register and build the website, it will have new content and Google will not penalize you for something that used to be there a year ago. However, anchors should still be clean. If they are spammed and if backlink profile is terrible, it will most likely get penalized sooner or later.

    This view is SUBJECTIVE (can't mention it enough) and I do not sell the domains with any signs of bad history, despite the fact that they are still indexed. I use them, however, for personal purposes, churn and burn projects etc.

    There are people who are literally obsessed with cleanliness. They are over-thinking anchors, history of the domain in the year 2003. 1 - 2 spammy links. As I have stated before, domains are limited. Good domains even more so and amazing domains are like finding a gold hair in a pile of shit. There is no need to over-think this all the time. If you are confident that the domain has good backlink profile, clean anchors, is still indexed, but for 2 months in 2011 there was some Asian PBN, I wouldn't be way too worried.

    But as I said, that's just me. I do not sell such domains and never will. Just saying, that being too paranoid is just as bad as being too rash. Could this be perceived as cutting corners? Or is it better to be really safe? Well, that depends on your experience and techniques. Take it as a food for thought.

    Point - SUBJECTIVE - Don't be obsessed with the domain cleanliness, sometimes it's worth the risk.

    4. - 301 Redirect Makes the Domain Useless

    Well... there are some people who think, that once the domain had been redirected in the past, it is useless and does not have any link juice whatsoever. It doesn't matter, that the domain was redirected in 2008 for a month, no, they are adamant, that the domain is worthless.

    Domains aren't ammunition that you once fire and then they are good for nothing. Each domain has its own link juice, which is accordingly spread whenever you link out or redirect the domain. Once you redirect the domain, the link juice will get transferred to the redirected domain, which will receive a SERP boost, if you did everything right. Once you take the redirect down, the link juice will stop flowing and the 301 receiving domain will lose the SERP boost it got.

    Of course, there are multiple issues with 301 redirects overall, which I am not going to thoroughly cover, because I don't want to get too much carried away. Let's just say that for 301 redirect to work, you have to do everything right. Reason why people think that the redirected domain becomes useless, is because it takes some time for Google to take the redirect into effect. It's been taking longer and longer for the 301 redirect to catch up, even months now. And when you take the redirect down, the receiving site of the redirect will still retain the link juice boost until Google realizes that the redirect has been taken down. This can also take months.

    That all however does not mean, that the previously 301 redirected domain is now useless. Especially if redirect has happened years ago. Also, most of the expired domains that you ever encounter online, had been redirected in some point in their life. Parked domains are being redirected left and right and most of the people are not even aware of that. Hope it's a bit more clearer now.

    Point - 301 redirect in the past doesn't make the domain useless and without link juice.

    5. - Marketplace PBN Links Safety

    This part will probably be the most "controversial", but I have many people asking me about quality PBN links from BHW marketplace, especially for the long-term projects. Even though I believe there are a few sellers where it is possible to receive this kind of links, I cannot say for sure.

    What people have to be aware of, especially the newcomers, is that these networks are public. Sellers either provide reports, which is completely unthinkable, because everyone who orders can see your niche. Some provide screenshots with content. In that case you can just enter 2 - 3 sentences into Google and find these domains. Or they do not provide anything at all, which is of course the best call, but you can still see the backlinks in your Google Webmaster Tools, but at least, the damage is somehow limited.

    However, there is another group of sellers, who are doing something, for me at least, unthinkable. I am still wondering how is this even allowed, but I am not the one making the rules. Some sellers provide samples of the domains on which they post links. That's not a problem, however, some use the actual PBN domains they use for their clients. All you have to do is to ask for a sample and there you go. You will get an access to 1 - 3 websites. If you are a dickhead, you can browse them, steal dozens of niches and if you are a super dickhead, you can feel free and mass report them just for fun (there are people like this) or do whatever you want with them. And you don't even have to order from the seller, just ask for samples. And all you need for that is simply an account on BHW, which anyone can get in 2 minutes time. How is this even allowed? Sure, everyone should use due diligence when ordering, but newbies, who are often confused and don't have necessary knowledge will get, in a way, ripped off.

    Point - Be careful about what you are ordering from marketplace and be aware of the risks.

    6. - Marketplace PBN Links Quality

    The safety is one thing and the quality is a different matter. The fact that many PBN websites in marketplace have OBL above 50+ and really minimal effect is at least stated in the threadss. What I believe is the problem, is the quality of those websites.

    Now, I don't mean the graphics and design and stuff, that will most of the times be really basic. What the actual problem is, is the anchors and links of those domains. Let me show you a free screenshots of the samples that I received some time ago. Remember, that I am not revealing any domains here and that anyone here can ask for these samples publicly and receive them.

    [​IMG]
    And these are really just a few domains I have randomly picked. I wouldn't touch domains like this with a 6 foot stick. It's either 95% nof0llow backlinks profile or terrible anchors or both. The fact, that the domain is still indexed and isn't penalized, doesn't make it clean. If you are okay with that, then that's not a problem, but domains like these may get penalized and deindexed sooner or later.

    So yes, for churn and burn and short term projects, these may be fine, if you know what you are doing. But if you are launching an Amazon affiliate site and expect it to stick, or expect these links to stick, then I will have to disappoint you. Not to mention, that with OBL of 50+, you will need a LOT of links and eventually it won't even be safe and cost effective either. But, every link can be used to your advantage after all, so it's up to you what you like to pay for and how you want to use it. After all, it's just a tool and every tool has its use.

    Point - Be really careful what you are buying, it's a minefield out there

    7. - Marketplace PBN Links Allowed Niches

    Another thing I have hard time to understand, is that PBN link sellers have no issues with accepting hack/crack niches. These niches are maybe even more toxic than porn or pharmaceutical links. Do you really want to have your links on the same website with dozens of hacks/cracks links? Hack/crack sites are getting penalized left and right these days and I would stay away from them. Fact that sellers do not accept porn or pharma links and accept game hacks and cracks or PPI niches is like trying to explain to your girlfriend that she shouldn't be mad at you for cheating, that you are only sleeping with blondes and not brunettes or redheads. Same principle.

    Point - Ask about the niches that seller accepts before you order

    Conclusion

    Thank you for reading and please, remember. If you do not agree with me, feel free to share your thoughts, but let's keep it civil here please.​
     
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  2. Banditoseo

    Banditoseo Regular Member

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    All good thoughts, thanks for sharing. Some follow-up thoughts.

    1. Don't Overestimate The Value of Each PBN Domain.

    Let's go with Nargil's first example, which Nargil rightly says is unrealistic: "finding a domain in parenting with TF20+, RD40+ and DA20+."

    So you find this unicorn domain. Then what? If you're not using it for a money site, then you're using it primarily for link value. But let's not overstate things:
    • Ahrefs says their "URL Value" has a 0.4 correlation with Google SERPs.
    • Moz says their "Page Authority" has a 0.37 correlation with Google SERPs.
    • Stone Temple found a 0.39 correlation between raw number of linking pages and Google SERPs. (Rand said the difference was due to keyword corpus and focus, and he's probably right.)
    In all the studies, not one link-related factor ever exceeded 0.4. And when all is said and done, the highest correlations are always found through a raw count of linking C-blocks, IPs, or domains. Backlinko found "the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor."

    What am I really getting at here? Domain authority and number of domains linking to a page, which means I'm really getting at time. When we're talking about links, the primary thing we're talking about is increasing the number of indexed links from domains.

    You want a DA20+ link in parenting? Here's one, DA 21: http://www.screenfreeparenting.com/tech-wise-parenting-articles/ I found it by googling "parenting articles" and scrolling for the first hit with a DA in the 20s, on page 3.

    Getting a link from that is way easier than setting up a PBN site, much less running one. Same is true for virtually any link.

    Already have all those links? Great. Go to step 2.

    2. A Dream PBN Is Still A Pile Of Shit Compared To Real Links

    Another unrealistic example Nargil gives: "20 domains with TF20+ RD50+ DA30+ in some really narrow niche."

    It still won't make you first page for "parenting." Lowest DA there is 78, at #10. In "parenting tips" #6 has a DA of 59: https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/how-to-be-a-parent/parenting/

    Probably still out of most people's league for DA, but let's look closer. A closer look shows that page has PA 55, due to 21 root domains, 30 total links, and they're all legitimate, and most from really good sources. Half with a DA over 30. A followed link from a DA 93!

    Even if you get Nargil's super-awesome unrealistic PBN, it's still not putting you into the big searches by itself. In part because there's no way your PBN is as good as the better links out there, and in part because there's a diminishing return on the value of each additional link from the same domain.

    3. Niche Relevance Is Overrated For PBNs

    Google "parenting." #1 is Parenting.com, #2 is their Twitter account. That's Google thinking you want their brand, so it doesn't tell us much.

    #3 is https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/parenting

    Wait, what? Sure, that part of the site is niche-relevant, but most of the site isn't. And many of the best direct links there aren't coming from topically relevant site. Here's the top five links by PA:
    None of those sites are topically relevant. Only the first one is even relevant on a page level, much less domain level. Hell, look at that last one and find the link. Having trouble? It's here:

    Her puzzled parents ask her why she’s jumping up and down with excitement and gratitude instead of feeling disappointed. Her response is that with all this shit there must be a pony around somewhere. For many people, polyamory is a bit like this. They are expecting great things—more love, more sex, more family, more fun, more pleasure, more excitement. What they find is more jealousy, possessiveness, manipulation, control, self-centeredness, lies, melodrama, chaos, power struggles, and pain.”​

    Total bullshit SEO spam. The author has just loaded the page with links to PsychologyToday topic pages.

    But it's working for PsychologyToday.

    Are topically-relevant domains better? Sure. But don't kid yourself. Authority matters more.

    4. PBNs Are About Avoiding Penalties And Adding Authority To The Money Site

    If you run a money site, the time it takes to make a great PBN with great content and great links is a waste. The time it takes to find, buy, create, develop, host, and update your own topically-relevant, high-authority PBN isn't worth it. You should be using that time on your money site.

    Buying PBNs is about getting links from extra domains. The issues are, in order of decreasing importance:
    • Am I confident the site isn't so toxic it'll hurt my money site by linking?
    • Is the link indexed?
    • Is the overall content good enough to avoid getting the whole domain deemed spam?
    • Is the content on this specific page good enough to pass spam filters?
    • Does the domain have some authority?
    • Is the content good enough to give a boost to the mere link?
    • Is the anchor text consistent with whatever your money site needs?
    You need a "yes" on the first four. For the other three, better is better, but it's not the real issue. If you're obsessing over these issues, you need to go back to the money site and obsess there.

    You're getting PBN links to get more indexed domains linking to your page/domain. That's 95% of the game. The biggest issues with PBNs aren't about "great" PBNs versus "good" PBNs, they're about de-indexed or ignored PBNs versus ones that are actually counted.

    5. Your PBN Is Not Really A Secret

    Step back and look at your PBN. Just look at the posts, look at the anchor text. Do you really think Google doesn't know? And if you were Google, and somehow still couldn't figure out PBNs from their obvious signatures, how long would it take you to buy up PBN links to a dummy site, watch the links pour in, then rain fire on everyone, de-indexing them all?

    "But no one will see my site, I blocked crawlers!" Sure, because, you know, a legitimate website would totally block crawlers, so that's not suspicious at all.

    Google sees spam shit all the time and tolerates some degree of it because they have to: every effort they've made to eliminate spam has failed. The question is if your site can fly low enough to stay off the radar, and the truth is that you can fly pretty darn high and still stay off the radar.

    Trying to hide your PBNs usually means either scaring off sellers or just having a PBN that's so low-radar it's on the ground.

    Just my $0.02.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 7, 2016
  3. Nargil

    Nargil Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Now this is some really massive follow-up. Thanks for your input!
     
  4. Scritty

    Scritty BANNED BANNED Premium Member

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    Great points. Sensible with all the right restrictions.
    It's a shame no service creates decent PBN's Plenty create poor and some modest ones - but none are as good as the ones you create yourself. There's a real hole in the market for them. A proper network.
    I expect doing it right with say a years hosting per site, selected domains bought over time and custom content added on good quality but diverse hosting with ICANN obfuscation is all do able, but to get the quality of content a 20 site PBN isn't going to cost less than maybe 2,000 dollars if done properly.
    The ones I see done by others always let themselves down. cheap crappy domains.

    Bought one last year from a service to boost up a niche site for over $1000.
    Man was it rubbish. Sites full of crap/thin or copied content and a general look of "cheap and nasty" with dodgy old free WP themes and poor optimisation for each site. Just a domain with some scraped content, a 200 word crappy article with a link shoved in it and some google images whacked in to make it look "legit" Virtually no link juice benefit and no click through potential at all. And that's the best I've ever seen done by a third party. To be fair it probably made me the cash back on Black Friday after I'd spent a couple of days making them all a little better, but I let the domains lapse as overall they were complete crap. And like I say - that's the best I've ever seen done by a service

    Not saying much.

    Great posts guys. Moderate your expectations, take sensible precautions and most important. Make it yourself. :)
     
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  5. nikchaing

    nikchaing Jr. VIP Jr. VIP UnGagged Attendee

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    wait so you're tellin me you aint got 69+TF 69+ RD spanish domains in the dinosaur theme park niche?
    amateurs...
     
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  6. Nargil

    Nargil Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Haha, yeh, this is exactly what I meant.
     
  7. The Profit Bird

    The Profit Bird Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Thanks a lot for writing point #5 @Nargil

    I remember few days back when a member of this forum started a thread saying:
    Why don't PBN link sellers share full reports with clients? They share just an image instead as if the clients won't be able to find the links via webmastertools.
    Being a seller I wanted to answer him but ignored as I didn't want to get into any conversation. And I very well remember this same guy telling me on a thread that people wont share their URLs openly as it would show their niche(That was my bad I asked people to post their details in the thread but edited it a few minutes later after posting)

    Perhaps if he would read your thread he will get his answer. No offense to anyone anyhow.I just shared my opinion that if as seller does not openly shows his reports it doesn't mean they are selling shit. They are certainly more concerned about client's safety.
     
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  8. asap1

    asap1 BANNED BANNED Jr. VIP

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    About your first point.

    Yes you are right about scraping, its hard to find good domains.

    Most domains people find from scraping are useless (to me, this is all relative to what you look for in a PBN) compared to something people sell for $40-$60 that they picked up from a auction.

    Its hard to find people who sell domains they picked up from auctions but its well worth it and its definitely possible to get GREAT domains for a very cheap price (compared to their real worth).

    This is exactly why I started my PBN service, everything you are looking for is what I put into this network.
     
  9. Nargil

    Nargil Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    That is, of course, true, but with the amount of people looking for domains, it's becoming harder and harder and harder to find gems.
     
  10. vsching

    vsching Power Member

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    Quality post. Thanks @Nargil for the useful info.
    I wonder how do you scrape your PBN domains? Do you have your own scraper or use a tool such as domain ronin?
     
  11. Nargil

    Nargil Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I use Domain Hunter Gatherer and few custom bots. Currently working on a completely custom scraper. Ronin is online based and I don't like that fact. Not to mention that fast look at the Pbnhq marketplace doesn't really give Domain Ronin too much credit to be honest. That stock there is really weak. But that's just my subjective opinion.
     
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  12. Windmm

    Windmm Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Stunning post. Thank you a ton!
     
  13. seo dean

    seo dean Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Thanks for an excellent informative sharing.Bookmarked for future help.
     
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  14. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Regular Member

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    I have a question about expired domains

    I encounter this issue alot

    So there is a 6 year old domain

    ie from 2010 to 2016

    Its clean from 2010 to 2014 but in mid of 2014 archive is not showing anything, then at start of 2015 its again clean

    i think its a risk to take these domains so i dont touch them

    is this ok

    another thing is about archive not showing history of the most recent usage of a domain... it gives an error etc
    so i think that its risky thus i do not touch these

    what do you say?

    thanks
     
  15. Nargil

    Nargil Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Archive is not as reliable as people think. As you have stated, there are some "blank" spaces, where you cannot determine anything. Use who.is screenshots to try and determine whether there was or wasn't something.

    If you are still unable to determine the "blank" spaces, then hosting history may help with that.

    But yes, it is a risk to register those domains.
     
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  16. Toto

    Toto Registered Member

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    Now that´s an interesting high quality post! Point 5 literally had me laughing out loud.
     
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  17. Absan

    Absan Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Congrats @Nargil! This is a really quality thread everybody must follow-up.

    I tested a lot of services selling PBN domains and many of them are weak.

    I'm now buying domains in auctions or from private sellers... there's a big difference (in price and results). Therefore we have to think what to expect...
     
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  18. mikeg801

    mikeg801 Registered Member

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    Finally, someone how knows what they're talking about it. I have been scraping 24/7 for 3 months. I'm looking for 10 domains TF > 25, RD > 50 preferably. Must be in "Plumbers Peckham London" niche. Some tough niche. I have two more plumbers on the estate and I tell you it's super competitive.

    So far no luck. Prepared to pay top dollar (up to £35 per domain).

    So come on guys, who wants this gig? Could be a great earner.
     
  19. Leith

    Leith Jr. Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    Forgive me if you were being sarcastic.. but £35 isn't "top dollar" - especially for a strong domain.

    You're asking for a:

    - niche/location specific domain (plumbing/London)
    - TF 25+ (despite the recent update)
    - RD 50+

    A domain with the above requirements is going to cost you a lot more than just $40. A lot more.

    P.S. If you were being sarcastic, I apologise. If you weren't, well, I think you need to re-evaluate your expectations.
     
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  20. Nargil

    Nargil Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I was about to write the same thing, but wasn't sure whether he was sarcastic or not, so I decided not to write anything. :D