A Better Display of Categories

I often get ideas from seeing things on other sites. This time I had two great ideas from How to Write it Better.

First, this idea for showcasing my categories. Instead of the standard flat intdex… why not promote them to the reader this way? On this site it’s posted as an image file and not linking to the categories. But, it could be done with HTML and links. Not difficult and yet very smart. I’m adding it to my to-do list!


The other thing I like is the post for her email list. Fairly standard really but reading it sparked an idea for me. I content curate offsite, for Scoop.it mainly. But, I don’t really do much with that feed beyond adding a widget in my footer. Instead I could promote it as a source for fresh, daily information. I don’t want to get into newsletters and email lists again. Email seems to be a dead horse. However… why not push my curated feeds this way? I keep them active (if not daily, at least a few times a week). howtowritebetter2

Source: HowToWriteBetter.net | how to write better | Everything you need for great results, whatever you write

So today I found two great ideas from one blog I happened to read a post from today. Pretty nice.

Crossposting from WordPress to Blogger

I’m not a great coder (by far) but… I’d like to work on a plugin which would let me crosspost WordPress posts over to Blogger. Not full posts and not every post automatically, just summaries of selected posts to specific Blogger sites I have. I know part of the reason I want this is just because I don’t like seeing Blogger slowly fade away. That bugs me.

In the more practical sense, it would be a simple way of having links back to your posts. My idea is to have very tight niche blogs on Blogger and just direct the posts relevant to those niches over from my WordPress sites. I think it would work very well at directing traffic over and around.

I just have to find a plugin to do it. No luck so far – though I did find a new one to try today. I expect the end will be me trying to DIY. BloggerAPISource: Blogger API v3 | Blogger Developers Network

Google Marketing and Dear Webmaster Letters

Have you had an email asking you to remove a link? There are various reasons someone might ask you to remove a link, some are practical and make sense. Often it’s about a copyrights issue. The new trend I’ve noticed is the request to remove a link for Google.

You get a Dear Webmaster letter, not so unlike a Dear John letter about a century ago during the World Wars. Don’t take offense, it’s just marketers trying to please (or scare) their clients. They don’t really know what they are doing.

A Dear Webmaster letter:removelinksforGoogleThis is the second email (this year) which I have had asking me to remove my link to a site. Not for the reason you would expect. It’s not about how I mentioned the link, or that I linked in a bad way at all. Actually, the link was just an additional resource when I had written about a relevant topic.

Long ago I was asked to remove a link to Starbucks. But, this was back in the very early days. Starbuck’s concern was about their privacy online. That was so long ago everything was still new and no one knew what to make of the Internet and the very earliest websites, networks and web logs. (Yes, bloggers was not even an accepted word yet).

This time, I was asked to remove a link because the company was concerned about Google’s algorithm.  They are not interested in being part of a post, relevant to their content. Their focus is Google, not readers.

To me it is ironic that Google made their latest changes in order to get online content to change from spam created to please Google into writing created to please readers. But, some people do not quite make that connection. Instead they are just trying to turn things around to be what will please Google.

Today I read something where they decided the biggest problem for brands now is to create content people will want to share on social media.

They still don’t get it either.

Google and social media are software, basically. Software does not have a lot of buying power all on it’s own. It needs people with credit cards, online banking or some other method of making payment for goods and services.

Why don’t businesses/ companies still understand they need to attract people – not software?

Each time I think they’ve got it… it just passes them by… like a ship in the night fog.

Anyway, I did remove the link, as requested. It was actually listed once on a blog I moved to a new domain (in one post but showed up on several links with indexing). If any of the people who did this research on what Google likes actually understood how links and blogs work, they would have known that. But, that would be a waste of time when they can do so much automatically with software and then send out a form letter, with more software.

If they had actually checked any of the links, manually, they would have found them all 404. Still on Google, but not actually on the web. I wonder what kind of automatic form letter they will send Google’s bot?

I’m sure there are some marketers who will just never, ever get it.

PS- I was irritated that they want me to respond when I have accommodated them so they can take me off their list rather than nagging at me again. Just in case you wondered… removing a link for this reason (for Google marketing) is not something you are obligated to do. The link is public knowledge and my post was almost ten years old (from 2005). So, if you don’t feel very accommodating when you get a note like this… just ignore it. I just think it’s silly because the first note I got (for a different site) was from a company which had paid me for the link. See how backwards it all is?

I will likely continue to remove links when requested. Why not? It takes me a half minute to edit the post and I don’t mind not giving another site the promotion if they don’t want it when it’s free. Maybe later they can pay me for another link.

Long Ago in Another Blogging Life

I looked myself up on the Wayback Machine.  I wish I could remember the links of my old Blogger accounts and find them there too.  One I wrote during the divorce and then deleted at some point. It would be interesting to read all of that again so many years later.

Here is an old header image I had in another blogging life.


Alltop in Decay

Alltop – Top Writing News.

Addendum: Before you read this post know that Alltop fixed the broken and doubled links. I don’t know who in particular did it but I’m very glad they did!

alltop in decay

Looking at Alltop, the Writing section which my site is a part of, is sad. I was so pleased and proud to be one of the sites asked to join originally. But, now that is tarnished as Alltop seems to be yet another website which has been sold and left to fall into linkrot.

On this Writing category page there are three sites which obviously are no longer active. Two are the same site, a double listing, even. No one seems to be looking, fixing or caring what happens to Alltop.

I’m sad to see another site crumble in the dust of making a buck.

I don’t blame site owners. If you put all of that into getting a site off the ground and were successful you might play with your laurels a bit and then be happy to take a great offer. Money enough to let you sit on your laurels and not have to work so hard again, if ever.

I know, in part, why people buy a site which has gotten big and I can understand that they don’t have the stamina or passion or whatever to keep it from falling apart. But, why do some of them deliberately buy a site and then abandon it?

It happens far too often.

I like photographing abandoned houses because they are sad, lonely and maybe I wonder about the story behind them too – the mystery. It doesn’t seem the same with abandoned sites. They fall apart in the wrong way. There is no romance to it, just decay.


#NoCommentNoShareBecause I am fed up with sites which expect me to register for another site, like Disqus, before I can leave a comment I am no longer going to share links to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc for any site which I can not comment on.

I have not been blocked or banned from Disqus. I just do not want to register for an account. For years we have given our email and name to sites in order to comment. That was more than enough. Trusting sites to collect our email addresses and not sell them was much more than enough to ask when I only wanted to comment on a blog post. To ask, or expect more is too much!

Disqus allows guest comments. If the site owner chooses to enable the feature – you can leave a comment without having to login or register with Disqus. So, it is fully the fault of the site owner if people can not comment. The site owner uses Disqus to track people. They want to track everyone so they can’t let people comment unless they become a number.

Well no more for me! I deleted my account at Disqus last year when I was fed up.  Now I’m taking it a step farther and putting the blame right on site owners. So, any site which expects me to register in order to comment I will not be forwarding or sharing links on any of my accounts: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Scoop.it and etc.


Killer One Way Communication

one way communication


I still see many people on Twitter who don’t understand how to use it. They post their links and never start up a conversation or retweet the conversation someone else started. If all you do is post links you are a dead outlet – no one is there to talk to so why would anyone follow you? People who actually read Twitter don’t follow bots. So don’t look and act like one. Keep the conversation and communication open – two (at least) ways.

Don’t Make Twitter a Dead End for your Profile

I found a blog, Dime Store Chic, had a lot of fun reading several posts, reposted a few of them. Then it came time to decide to keep the link bookmarked, follow on Twitter, like on Facebook and join on Google+. If I like a blog I always follow it with whichever social media they seem most active on, or add the link to my collection of links so I can find it again.

I picked Twitter first because it’s the one I like, it’s active and I can get a quick look at what people are doing now, today even. This is what I found:

dead on TwitterWould you follow this Twitter account?  I doubt it. First of all, the first impression is dull and all just automated links back to her own posts. Second impression, I noticed there isn’t even a link to her own blog in the Twitter profile. So she is really hurting herself without knowing it. Can you tell the name of her blog from anything here? No. No link and not even a name to tell you what it is about. All I see are links with no personality.

Maybe she doesn’t like Twitter. Maybe she finds it confusing or too much to deal with. So, why have the account at all then? Would it be better to have this account or none at all? I think none at all would be better than this. We can’t all be experts at everything, or find time to maintain every least aspect of web publishing. So, pick and choose what you can and will do. If you don’t have time to do more than stick up an automated feed on Twitter, just skip it and save making that first impression blunder. Leave Twitter until you have time, or help to figure it out.

Moving on to her Pinterest account. I don’t pick Pinterest to follow people usually. But, I thought here she would make a better impression. She has a lot of images on her blog after all. But… no. There are six boards created on her Pinterest profile. Four are blank, empty. Only one is active with over 170 pins. If she took down the dead end Pinterest boards her account would not look so abandoned.

Google+ and Facebook were dead ends too. That’s four for four. I was actually disappointed because I liked her blog enough that I would have followed at least one of her social media accounts. Instead I wondered if I had found an old blog. I went back to check and her latest post is this month, this year.

I am not writing this to pick on one person because she is not the only one who sets up social media accounts, promotes them on their site and then leaves them as dead ends for readers to find.

I think they just don’t understand how to use social media, or don’t have the time or don’t really want to be that involved in it. So, stick to just a blog then. Don’t set up these dead ends at all. Ignore people who say you MUST have Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and so on. If you don’t really want to create and maintain social media leave it off your profile if you can’t, won’t or don’t maintain them.

The Art of Comment Spam

This is a comment sent to one of the sites I write for:

Excellent article. I am experiencing a few of these issues as well..

Would you accept this comment or moderate it (delete it/ mark as spam)?

Less experienced blog publishers would tend to accept and publish this comment. I did not. Why?

It’s generic. It helps if you know the post this was left for was about a cartoon collection called “Love Is…”. So, yes, there are issues, romantic issues, life issues and dating issues. But, the actual post was more about cartoons and collectibles than issues. Does that help you decide to keep or reject the comment (above)?

It is an art (in a way) to create a generic comment in hopes of getting it posted. The goal is to have your link accepted (the one you add to your comment with your name and email). If you get enough links accepted then they show up as published (accepted) comments and this helps sell those links as viable/ non-spam links to Google and so on.

Anyway, the part of that I find interesting at the moment is the art of writing a generic comment – appearing to sincerely comment while actually saying nothing. Have you heard of double speak?

Come up with a few truly great examples of generic comments a blogger could be fooled into accepting as real, sincere comments. Remember to keep it just generic enough that you can get away with posting the same comment everywhere, on any kind of post.

What’s Missing from this Blog Post?


This is the header and details from a blog post I was reading today (October 4th, 2013). I created a screen capture of the title and details of the post, below you can see a partial image which was included with the post.

So… can you find something important missing from this post?

Read and look carefully.

Did you notice the information in the headline about an asteroid hitting the Earth in 24 hours? Well, the first thing I wanted to know is when that 24 hours will be up. I read the post. Well, I skimmed it. I didn’t find a mention of a date for the asteroid to hit the Earth. My first thought is to check the date on the post itself. After all, the post would have been written when we still had 24 hours to pack or hide, or something. Right?

Well, there’s the problem… this post has no date. It is an undated entry in the blog. This site does not date it’s blog posts.

I think this is a big mistake. Not just for the obvious reason above. But, I like to know if I’m reading an active blog. I like to see how often they post or how fresh the posts are. I also like to know how dated the information is. For instance, if you post a collection of links for WordPress plugins, I want to know that the list is fresh and the links still relevant. I also want to know if this post has been updated with new information. (Have you ever added an update to a post? You could leave a note for your readers, tell them it’s an addendum. There’s a fancy word for you).

Anyway, I’ve written about the importance of using dates with blog post before so I won’t rehash the whole idea. However, next time you type in something about 24 hours, make sure you give your reader the full timeline, and the due date.