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‘It Takes One to Know One’ Department

Do you read the comments that come after Internet news articles? Some commenters (usually anonymous) are extremely mean and abusive! Their attacks seem like the online version of a school yard bully.
The Quippery

Here  are a few comments I read at the end of just one Canadian news story this morning:

…You are a fool.
…Hope you idiots are pleased with yourselves.
…You don’t have a clue yourself.
…BS… espoused by utter MORONS
…And we still have an idiot at the helm.
…One by one the poor saps who were taken in
…greasy, sleazy, slimy selfie king
…Nuth’n finer than a far left nutter sputtering
…another leftwing(confused) doofus of questionable mental acuity
…The big, stammering idiot with the dumb expression

When we were kids, we would respond to a verbal bully by saying, “Sticks and stones will break our bones, but names will never hurt us.” (But the names still hurt…) Or we would taunt back, “It takes one to know one!

These responses have no effect on the cyberbully. They carry a shield of anonymity‘you don’t know me’; ‘you can’t see me’; and ‘I won’t be there to hear what your response is’! Freedom of speech without fear of consequence!

Have you ever had a cyberbully leave comments on your blog?

Post 570

The Unofficial WordPress Undiscovered Club

Maybe you remember “The Never Been Freshly Pressed” Club (NBFP). I started it in 2013 because there were so many of us WordPress.com  bloggers who had never been ‘pressed‘. (‘Freshly Pressed’ was a WordPress magazine, of sorts, that featured the writings of every day bloggers.)

discover-badge-circle‘Freshly Pressed’ has been allowed to die. It has been replaced by Discover – a slick, modern online magazine. The editors select content from about  53 million posts per month, so the chances of your post being chosen are still quite slim, but if you do get selected, you get to put a badge on your sidebar!

After almost seven years of blogging, I believe I have demonstrated an inability to be slick or modern – therefore I am, by extension, Undiscoverable. For that reason, I think I can safely form the Undiscovered Club, and proclaim myself  President of the Canadian chapter. Should he accept, Al at thecvillean is my choice for President of the American chapter. (He is current President of NBFP.)

If you would like to join our club, use the comment section below to state your unqualifications (first, and foremost, you must never have been featured on Discover.) You may also decide to volunteer for a position of your choice.

You might want to download the Unfeatured Undiscovered Club Badge to display on your blog. (I put mine on my ‘About’ page, along with all my other unprestigious awards.)

Be sure to tell all your Undiscovered blogging friends about our new Club!

In keeping with our general philosophy of “undeserved unknownness“, I refer you to this post that demonstrates the virtues of ‘unning’:
Unsubscribe, Unfollow, Unclutter – It’s UnFriday!

Post 551

Common Blogging Mistakes – To Fix or Not to Fix

I am the poster child for bloggers who have long since passed their best before date, if in fact I ever had one. I have a boatload of fake followers with names like ‘fbrxy3579’ but very few of them are actual readers. Most of the people I call ‘near and dear’ give me a glassy stare, and mutter something like “I haven’t checked the internet in the past 8 months” when I ask them if they read my last post.

I don’t blame them – I’ve been blogging longer than most guinea pigs live, and my content is a ‘how to of what not’ to write about. I also have made many ‘blogging mistakes‘. Sure, I’ve fixed most of those, but I perversely hold onto others.

You probably have made some of these ‘mistakes’ too, and maybe, like me, you just can’t be bothered to take the whole ‘What Not To Do‘ thing any more seriously than the ‘What Not to Wear’ thing.  If you are, however, curious – here is my list of what you might or might not want to do:

  • Small font sizes can make the typeface hard to read, as does paragraphs of white words on a dark background. (WordPress.com gives all bloggers some choice of font type and size, regardless of the theme, I believe.) Many browsers do let you zoom in and out, or change the font and colors in the options panel – should the reader need to make these kinds of adjustments.
  • Comic Sans typeface,  Script and other harder to read display fonts –  good for headings, maybe not so good for paragraphs.
  • If you throw Color theory out the window with Dizzy color combinations – green and yellow, red on black, anything neon – think about the impact on readability.
  • Really, really wide blocks of type. A very wide column of text might cause your readers to get lost when they move from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. Do you want that?
  • One long paragraph. If you are paragraph challenged, write a post of 500 words or more. No breaks, no headings, no graphics. Then try to read it.
  • Large blocks of centered text – alters legibility, making text harder to read – but might work in some situations.
Comic Sans 10 pt

An example of Comic Sans Font, small size, white on black and red on black, long paragraphs, centered!

  • One line paragraphs. If you can’t get the hang of how to make a paragraph, just make each line a new paragraph! That’s what most news outlets do, right?!
  • Dead ends make your blog harder to navigate. When readers land on a post, you could give them an easy to click ‘Home’ button that takes them to your home page. Try not to leave them stranded!
  • Distractions – dancing critters, blinking text, auto play music. Do your readers love it when your post takes control of their computer and sings out a tune or an animated something starts?
  • Ditch the search box if you don’t want your reader to find something else on your blog!
  • Turn off readability on mobile devices if you don’t think people want to read your blog on a tiny phone screen!
  • Big photos – when you upload your photos, do you  compress them? Do readers really like to watch your photo load one line at a time?
  • Categories and tags – why bother! Just throw it all in one drawer and call it a day! Of course, Categories and Tags do have a purpose that might be useful to you and your readers.
  • If you never, ever proof read – will readers know that you meant ‘book’ not ‘boob’?
  • If you use lots of badges and widgets and graphics that march down the side of your blog it could affect your blog’s load time. Are your readers more patient than you are!?
  • Do you beef up your text with lots of visual clutter if you don’t have much to say?
  • Research – there is a wealth of inaccurate, insignificant or out-of-date content that is far easier to find – why would you choose to dig a bit deeper?
  • Broken links – they take time to find and fix. If you don’t want to find them, then is it a good option to just never link to any other site?
  • Do you respond to all comments – or do you pick and choose who you respond to and who you ignore. Do you say “Thanks” to that person who only said “Great”?
  • Do you write posts, even when you have nothing to say? Do you reblog a post you wrote before so your readers can reread something you wrote when you still had nothing to say?
  • Do you use too few social media buttons? Or too many social media buttons? Who knows how many are too few or too many?
  • Do you use multiple pages for what could easily be a single post so you get more clicks?


What blogging ‘mistakes’ have you read about? Have you corrected them, or chosen to keep them?

Post 528

Transition – Beep Beep Boop is Gone?

The dawn of a new day. If there are clouds, then a sunrise can be a remarkably beautiful transition from dark to light.

orange pink clouds Alberta

Perhaps our blogging hosts, WordPress.com, were thinking of dawn when they recently unveiled the New High Speed Editor. I certainly thought they had made a few improvements since they first introduced the ‘New Editor’. It loads so fast that the ever so unpopular, wait while I’m working, ‘Beep Boop Boop’ screen is gone!

Another plus – images can be dragged and dropped from your desktop right into your post. Unfortunately, the new editor is still in transition – the search feature for creating links to my old posts is missing.

How long will it take before this transitional editor is finished? Or will it ever be? Will we still have access to the good old editor that many or us prefer, or will it eventually disappear?

It is like asking, ‘Will there be a beautiful sunrise tomorrow morning’. No one really knows.

Light precedes every transition. Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning.
– Teresa Tsalaky, The Transition Witness –

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is: Transition.

Post 520

WordPress Bloggers React to the Rainbow Banner

WordPress.com celebrated the US Supreme Court decision (that same-sex couples can marry nationwide) by posting a Rainbow Banner (the LGBT Flag) across the top of every WordPress bloggers ‘My Sites’ and ‘Reader Page’. These are the first pages WordPress bloggers see when they log onto their site. While only they can see it (not their readers), every WordPress.com blogger in the world was presumably seeing the same Rainbow flag.

503-wp-blue-bgThe response from the WordPress blogging community was immediate, with questions being posted to the WordPress forum: How can I remove this!?

An early response from a WordPress Member was “The rainbow master bar was added in support of the Supreme Court of the United States ruling on same-sex marriage today… However, as this is a polarized issue and the community support forums are not the place to hold such discussions we are closing threads related to the mastbar.”

With that, they closed the topic. As further requests came in, WordPress repeatedly closed each topic after responding with “The banner is temporary. It will eventually be removed. Threads are being closed as the public WordPress.com forum is not the place for these discussions.” In some of the requests, the user simply said the banner was offensive, just as a Swastika banner would be offensive. Others said they would prefer to have an option as to what appeared on the top of those pages. Others weren’t aware of what the banner meant, and though they liked rainbows, they didn’t want one there. Others asked, how long is ‘eventually’?

At this point, I thought the Rainbow banner was one design decision that WordPress hadn’t thought out very carefully. They chose to impose their support, and an implied solidarity, onto every WordPress.com blogger. Many of these bloggers were quick to object to that kind of forced compliance and rightfully so.

One forum moderator responded to the bloggers objections by saying, they thought everyone who posted a protest on the forum was a hater. Hater? Everyone? I object to the banner, but I’m not a hater. I simply object to not having a choice as to whether I want to fly a particular flag. There are lots of flags and graphics I would object to – not out of hate – just a desire to have  control of the design in the ‘living room’ of my blog. I think WordPress made two errors – one in their disrespect for their user base by posting the banner, and the other in the way they responded to the users when they objected.

What do you think?

Post 503

The Why and What of Vanity Sizing and Metrics

Many years and houses ago – there was an odd looking dog living near us. She was a cross between a basset hound and a shepherd. Her name was Katie. She had short shepherd legs and a broad shouldered basset body; basset ears framed a shepherd muzzle. She was social like a basset and she seemed to have inherited the less than average intelligence of that breed too.

But we soon learned that Katie only understood Chinese. Once we adapted to that, we realized that Katie was actually quite bright. Katie’s short legs, long body and broad shoulders would have caused her no end of grief if she had been a human and had to buy ready made clothing. I know that, because I am a Katie.

My body measurements would be reason enough to hate shopping for clothes, but even more despicable is the world of This Size Fits Nobody and  Vanity Sizing. Presumably on purpose, some manufacturers have changed the cut of their garments so that a women who wore a certain size of garment in high school, can still wear that size years later, even though she has put on 20 pounds and her hourglass figure is now more like a pear or an apple.

Other manufacturers, however, tell it like it is. This means the average grandma like me will visit every women’s clothing store at four malls and will eventually find two pair of pants, one pair of shorts and three shirts – that more or less fit – and they will be either a S or M or L or 10 or 12 or 14. Then she will alter eveything, because no one makes clothing for Katie bodies, and it is too late to hire someone to make these things fit by Monday.

Toonaday dog scalesThe short and the short of it (there is no long in my short world) is that most of the numbers that were once my touchstones, really aren’t all that relevant anymore.  My age, my height, even my weight, have become nonessential numbers in my life… okay, weight might be an essential number, but only if I truly want to do something to change it. If I don’t, then there is no point obsessing about it.

On the internet, social media thrives on vanity. Facebook and Twitter, just to name two, offer users the opportunity to gather friends, likes and or followers. These numbers, though they might look impressive, could be meaningless statistics, which is why they are called Vanity Metrics . This was a phrase coined by author Eric Ries and it refers to measurements that look good, but don’t actually indicate how successful something or someone is.

Here in the WordPress Blogging World, we have a Vanity Metric called ‘Followers’. This number should indicate how many people read our blog in the WordPress RSS feed reader. What it actually  means is how many people read our feed plus how many people don’t read our feed, but hope that by clicking the ‘follow’ button, we will reciprocate – thus boosting their Vanity Metric.

I have  been descended upon by a hoard of Fake Followers. These are people or bots that hope I will click the link to their blog and either buy their product or (and this is the mysterious part) click their link and find an empty blog.  Here are a couple of the more recent ones: Capture I don’t look at my followers list anymore – it is that useless. There might be some legitimate followers in there, but I really don’t have the time to try to find them. For the sake of full disclosure, I now have 956 followers –  and my best guess is that the vast majority of them are not actually readers.

If a measurement matters at all, it is because it must have some conceivable effect on decisions and behavior. If we can’t identify a decision that could be affected by a proposed measurement and how it could change those decisions, then the measurement simply has no value.
– Douglas W. Hubbard –

Now it is your turn – do you have a Vanity Number that makes you feel good, even though it might be just a tad unrealistic?

Post 473

The Rise and Fall of RivetPics

In a land not so far away, in a time not so long ago, there was a very large kingdom called The Whorled. In the very middle of the kingdom was a huge castle where King Sharpmann lived with his family, friends, crusaders  and 70 million Minions. Outside the castle was a huge town where most of The Makers lived. The Makers created all sorts of beautiful things, wrote interesting stories and took wondrous photos. They captured them all and put them into big books which they would bring to the big town square every day. They would spread their books out on long tables so that everyone could look, talk about, and buy what they were seeing.

The Castle Minions enjoyed looking at the books, but were sad that they didn’t have a way to save and share the contents of The Maker’s books.  The King, who wanted happy Minions, invented a Copy Wand which he mass produced and distributed to all. The Minions only had to shake the wand  and utter the magic words, “Copyright be damned” and instantly they had an exact duplicate of any idea or image that The Makers had created.

The King decreed that these images should be called Rivets because they could be riveted to the tables in the town square. All this riveting would henceforth be called RivetPics. This activity kept The Minions busy, and it helped them to forget that they didn’t own many of things that were in the pictures. Even some of The Makers started using the wands, and much of the Whole Wide Whorled (or WWW as it was called) embraced the activity.

Inevitably though, the costs to run RivettPics increased so much that the King required an influx of capital. So he sent some of his Caped Crusaders off to the Dark Forest to ask for the help of the Wolf-like Investors who lived there. The Investors ears perked right up, and they said they would be more than happy to help the King with his creation, but they warned the King that when the Castle Tower Clock struck 2014,  the King would have to  start generating a significant return on their investment.

As 2014 drew nearer, the King decided that the way to profit from RivetPics was to tap into the Minion’s Mildly Moderate to Miniscule Wage.  He wasn’t quite sure how to do this, so he sent his crusaders on another mission. This time he sent them to Wallet Street, where they purchased a slightly used Monetization Strategy from Prince Mark for $9.95 a month plus tax. To kick start this marketing plan, the King created  Sponsored Rivets – which were promotions for certain rivets that came from a select group of Big Box Businesses  (BBB) that were willing to pay for this privilege.

These rivets were targeted to match the content that The Minions had riveted to the tables. The King hoped The Riveters wouldn’t notice that Sponsored Rivets  were really just slick advertising. The King need not have worried, for the Minions were enthusiastic about spending their wages to buy the things they had riveted to the tables.

Life was not so good for The Makers, however. The Riveters had gradually taken over many of the tables and this left less and less room for The Maker’s books. The Makers had started to think of these Rivets as screws, for in fact The Makers were being… well, you know what was happening to them. They had created all the original content, but they were receiving less and less attention for it, and were  receiving fewer and fewer bitcoins for their effort.

In retaliation, The Makers removed all their books completely. The once never ending source of the Rivets dried up. With no new ideas, the Riveters gradually lost interest in RivetPics. Sales slumped, and the BBB’s pulled all their advertising. This would have been devastating to the King, except he had sold RivetPics to Gaaaaagle a few months earlier.

The End

Is this the future for Pinterest too?

Post 470