Technology Bloggers has two types of community members, those who read and those who write – some people do both.
For a long time now, those who contribute articles to the blog, and those who read those contributions, have seen the blog in the same way.
Thanks to a clever bit of coding and a plugin or two, logged in users, now see a different blog to those who are logged out.
One of the major differences is advertisements. As you know we sometimes host advertisements on the sidebar or in the footer of the blog, in order to help fund the maintenance of the blog – someone has to pay the bills!
Logged in users still see sponsored editorials and writers personal AdSense units, however they no longer see sidebar/footer promotions. Also, logged in users get ‘behind the scenes’ information an updates that normal users don’t need to see.
For an example, see the image below.
What Technology Bloggers homepage footer currently looks like for normal readers and logged in users.
For search engine optimisation reasons, I have been trying to remove links from the blog’s design (specifically sidebar and footer) as too many links can look spammy, and throw PageRank in all directions. Fewer links means those pages that are linked to (both internal and external) carry greater authority.
So, if you are a writer, check out your sidebar and footer, as it is different to when you are not logged in. Even if you don’t have an account, take a look at the sidebar and footer, as there is some really interesting stuff which you might find useful there!
On a slightly different note, our prodigy (well he did win the 2012 ‘Rising Star’ community award) Jonny Hankins is currently learning more about our commenting systems, via Technology Bloggers Progression Academy – a new initiative I am developing – with the aim to have him modifying comments, and therefore being promoted to the status of Editor (Level 1), in the very near future.
Hopefully we can get more writers moderating their own comments too soon. Technology Bloggers Progression Academy material is currently being tested on our guinea pig – also Mr Hankins!
If you use Facebook, I highly recommend you read this article.
If you have an active Facebook account, then in the last week you should have received an email from the social network that looks a bit like the one below.
The email that Facebook sent out to all users about the vote on its global site governance.
Facebook is planning on making some major changes to the way it operates, specifically concerning its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) and Data Usege Policy.
Since Monday of this week, until next Monday (10th of December) users of the social network get to vote on the proposed changes.
The ‘ballot paper’ gives you two options, to vote for:
Proposed Documents: The proposed SRR and Data Use Policy
Existing Documents: The current SRR and Data Use Policy
The vote will only be binding if one third of active users (around 300 million) vote, so your vote is very important!
So, what you probably want to know before you vote is what do the top options mean.
Option 1 – The proposed SRR and Data Use Policy
The proposed SRR and Data Use Policy, in a nutshell want to remove users voting rights. To make major changes to the site, Facebook in theory is currently obliged to ask users to vote on proposals. Facebook wants to stop this, giving itself complete control. It will instead ask users for their comments and feedback, and then (it claims) it will act on these to make changes to the platform, which the company believes are beneficial to users.
The other major change that Option 1 would bring is that it would allow more people to message you, so if you like to have a more private and personal account, it could be harder to keep yourself as private on the network. It will do this by setting new ‘filters’ on the messaging service.
Option 1 will also see a change in how Facebook refers to certain products.
Option 2 – The current SRR and Data Use Policy
Option 2 votes to keep things as they are currently. To make any major privacy changes to the site, Facebook need to get approval via a vote, which must have a percentage of active users participate.
If you don’t like the current system, but are even more worried about the proposed changes, then Option 2 is more favourable, but really you are stuck between a rock and a hard place, as there are only two options.
Facebook claim that the updates would be in line with what is currently “standard in the industry” in which it operates. It feels the changes would promote the “efficient and effective use of the services Facebook and its affiliates provide.”
Facebook also says that the current system favours the quantity of comments over their quality, which I can’t argue with. Currently a majority vote is needed from at least 30% of users to decide something, however were Facebook to better act on individual users opinions, and focus on what individuals are saying, rather than forcing people to vote for one option over another, should, in theory create a better social network.
That said, Facebook is likely to only act on the comments that will gain it users (or stop it from loosing them) and make it a profit. After all, it is a public limited company with a responsibility to make profits for its shareholders.
My counter argument is, if high-quality feedback is better than voting, why do many arguably successful and democratic countries around the world (like the UK, Australia, USA, all EU members etc.) elect their leaders? Why does the ballot paper have candidates on and not a ‘suggestions’ box? Then again in Facebook’s favour I suppose one could argue that 30% turnout from an online community is quite high, and could stop things moving forward, but then why not lower this to a more reasonable figure – say 15% or 20% of active users?
The web is massive bank of data, which is far too big to be regulated. Because the web can’t be regulated, it is very easy for false information to spread – fast.
If you are a blogger, it is really important that you publish information which is reliable and trustworthy. Don’t copy what the crowd says unless you know they are right, as this is not only misleading to your readers, but can also see you get penalties dished out from search engines. If you get a reputation for publishing unreliable content, the likelyhood is that your readership will fall.
When you publish something that you have found out elsewhere, you need to make sure that it is accurate and reliable, before you publish it.
How to Mythbust Rumours
When you find information, on the web, in order to ensure that it is reliable, it is always a good idea to check that it appears elsewhere. A general rule of thumb is to check that what you are reading is the same on 3 other sites, one of which is a highly reputable site.
So what is a reputable website?
There are a few way so to identify if a site is reputable or not. One way is to see if it is a government website. Any site which is government run is likely to be very reputable. Government websites usually end in their own unique domain name extension. If you live in the USA, government sites end in .gov or .fed.us, in the UK .gov.uk, in France .gouv.fr, .gc.ca for Canada, India’s extension is .gov.in and the list goes on.
Major News Corporations
Government sites won’t always report things that you want to verify though, so there are other ways to tell a reputable sites. Big news websites like BBC.co.uk/News and Guardian.co.uk will usually only publish information that is factual and accurate, so you can usually trust them.
The information they publish is likely to be accurate, however it may not be impartial, so that is something to watch out for. Often news firms will take a political side, and therefore report news in a certain way – and may only publish part of a story.
High PageRank Sites
Google PageRank is calculated largely by the number of backlinks a page or site has. If a website has a very high PageRank (6+) then it is likely that it has a lot of other sites linking to it, most probably because it publishes a lot of high quality content, which people find useful and therefore link back to. High PageRank sites aren’t always trustworthy, but the higher up the spectrum of PageRank you go, the less likely it is that a site is going to be providing false information.
If a website is a PageRank 8, 9 0r 10, unless they have manipulated Google’s algorithm (through black hat SEO, which will only work for a short while, before Google catches them) then the site is likely to be extremely reliable and reputable, therefore you should be able to trust the information, data and facts that they produce.
1,000,000 to 1
If 1 highly reputable site is saying one thing, but 1 million other (not reputable) sites are saying another another, then the chances are that the 1,000,000 sites are just recycling the same false information, creating a massive bank of false information. This is one reason why you should be really careful who you trust on the web, and also make sure that you verify information with at least one reputable site. Be careful who you trust.
Verifying information with at least 3 sources, one of which is reputable is something which is also advised in academic research. Therefore if you use the same standards on your blog, you can’t go wrong! Search engines and readers alike will respect you for providing good quality, highly reputable content.
Technology Bloggers Policy
Every time I write an article and quote information/statistics etc. I always try to follow the 3 and 1 rule: check the information appears on 3 other sites, at least one of which is ‘reputable’. This means that everything I write should be reputable.
Do You Verify Your Content?
Do you always try to ensure that you use the 3 and 1 rule when publishing information? That not only applies to blog posts, but also to comments. If not what measures do you use, or don’t you think it really matters?