Article Farm Madness

As some of you know, I need a new roof. This isn’t a brand new issue, as I’ve written about my roof issues in the past. However, trying to get through one more winter with what we have is proving problematic, and it finally hit me that maybe I could find some information online about a home improvement grant instead of trying to go the loan route.


Organic Farm
by Charles Harker

I popped the term “home improvement grant” into Google, hit the search button, and up came almost 2 million pages on the subject. This looked really good, because I figured somewhere in there I was going to find something. And you know what? I was wrong!

What comes up are a great number of articles on what’s called “article farms” talking about grants in general. There’s not a single bit of assistance. How many times do I want to read “if you need help in paying for home repairs you can apply for a government home improvement grant”? And yet, there’s no specific offers anywhere, no real assistance, no links to government agencies, no phone numbers, no names, nothing.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term “article farm”, this is what all those sites that pay writers almost no money to produce content for them are known as. Sites such as eHow, About.com, Associated Content, Buzzle and the like are all article farms. Because of their structure and rules for length and the like, what they end up doing is creating mass amounts of content that gives sketchy help at best most of the time. You might get lucky, but you might end up getting a mash of information that’s contradictory or useless.

Who remembers when I was writing some articles for Demand Studios? I found that two of my biggest issues with them were their saying I was writing articles that had too much information and my not being allowed to give specific answers that I knew if I couldn’t find the information to link to. I mean, health care finance is my background and I have a lot of knowledge that’s just not written up online, but they didn’t care. So, the articles I ended up actually getting on the site, though accurate, were deficient if you ask me.

Google is the first search engine that’s stated their working on algorithms to decrease the effectiveness of article farms that produce low quality content. Although I believe it’s about time, I also wonder just how they’re going to be able to do it. I mean, what would separate an article farm with low content from a blog post that their algorithm might determine isn’t written all that well? As I approach 1,000 articles on this blog, I wonder if they’ll use number of pages as a determinant, and if so, how many pages would that be?

I will say this, however. The days of searching and finding exactly what you need immediately are probably gone. There’s just so much content on the net that if it’s hard for us as individuals to find what we need, how will search engines determine what we need? Nope, I don’t envy them one bit.

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Do You Want Accountability Or Activity?

You know, there are times when you know you’re right and you just want to be proven right, and when it’s eventually proven that you’re right you’re not really sure what to do with it. Well, I had that happen this week, and what I decided to do was write about it here.


by Michael Tracey

On my newest blog, I wrote a post titled I Hate Syracuse.com. Basically it was a minor rant against news sites that allow comments without attribution, which pretty much means people don’t have to stay on topic or add to the conversation, but can be downright piggish and mean. I hate that and I decided to write about it on that blog because this was my local newspaper and online site, although I did mention other news sites in the article as well.

This past Monday I had an opportunity to talk with a representative of the site about the comments section. He wasn’t necessarily happy that I’d written what I did and thought it was unfair. Time after time I said I hated the comments and why didn’t they just require people to use their real name. In my opinion, if people weren’t hiding behind fake names they’d behave better.

I knew all the time what the reason was, and after nearly 30 minutes he finally stated it; because they worried that not as many people would leave comments and the site would look empty. It was almost too easy, yet, as I said, I knew that was the real answer, and the reason why all the other news sites do it.

I was kind but insistent. I said that we run our blogs with the intention of making sure that discourse stayed civil, and that at a moment’s notice we would eliminate any response that didn’t fit our sense of decorum. I’ve always said that I don’t mind if people don’t agree with me, but if there’s bad language or threatening language that comment is gone, and fast. After all, I pay for this space, so in essence it’s my online home, and no one messes up my home. He didn’t quite see it the same way, although he did say that they did work hard to keep things at a reasonable level.

Whether that’s what I see or not isn’t necessarily the point. The point is that we all get to choose whether we’re going to hold ourselves and those we interact with in our space accountable for their actions or not. Many folks who write about how to drive comments on blogs say to write about a controversial subject. While that might work, often you might find yourself suddenly dealing with someone who not only disagrees with you, but goes overboard and forces you to decide whether to go with the flow and be happy for the activity or censor in some fashion because you want to keep the discussion going in a different manner.

With censorship you risk people deciding that maybe your blog or space isn’t as open as they’d like and they could possibly leave and never come back. That’s kind of possible, but I say “so what”. If you’re going to change your ethics because you’re worried about reactions, then are your ethics really worth having? Or are they ethics at all?

And really, is it censorship if you ask people to behave, and if they don’t you kill their message? I tend to think not. After all, for all the people who use a lot of bad language, I’ve found that when put into certain situations they all know how not to say certain stuff. I have friends who will curse up a storm, yet they know they can’t use that same language at work, so I ask them not to use it in front of me. If you can actually control a behavior here and there then you’ve shown you know better.

You know my point of view; how do you see this particular subject? Would you be happy with 200 comments a day if most of them were hateful or would you rather have fewer comments but know that your family could read them without worry, if they ever read your blog?

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Starting Your Blog Social Media Campaign Via Commenting

Last April I wrote a post to add to my Blogging Tips series titled How To Start Getting Visitors. It was a super basic tip on how to get some notice for one’s blog by contacting certain folks and letting them know you had a blog.

While that’s nice and all, one couldn’t quite call it a campaign towards increasing awareness. In essence, it was really like becoming an insurance salesperson and calling all your family members first, then all your friends, then your pseudo friends, and after that not knowing what to do with yourself.

I decided it was time to at least get more people going on this front. I do this because of two things. One, I had a meeting last week with a couple of ladies who wanted ideas on how they could create awareness of their new business through social media. I told them about blogging, based on what it is they do, and then told them the process they should go through to get going. Two, I made the same recommendation recently to someone who visits this blog, and though I’m not sure if he’s done the entire campaign I know that he was willing to listen and give it a try, so I have high hopes.

This is mainly for beginners, but it’s also for people who aren’t getting any real traffic to your site as well. This isn’t a talk about niche marketing; it’s a talk about working the process, meeting the blogging community, and getting known by others. And if you want some more starter information, check out my blogging tips.

Let me set the scenario for you; it’s possible you’ll have more or less time, but this is a great starter scenario. You’re someone who doesn’t have tons of time, but you want to get people to your blog. You write 3 posts a week, and often you have some time left over after you’re blogged, or some on days when you don’t blog. We’re going after the 30 minute process for you to undertake.

Your goal is to make comments on at least 5 blogs during that 30 minute time period. What you do is go to Google Blogs, which can actually be found by going to Google, clicking on “more”, then scrolling down a little bit. When the next page opens, you’ll see all sorts of blog posts on trending topics that look like news. But they’re all blogs, though some aren’t personal blogs. That’s really your goal, because you want the opportunity to stand out; that plus big time blogs like Huffington Post don’t have CommentLuv; this is a part of the strategy.

In the search box, put in a topic that you want to read on. It could be something in your niche, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Believe it or not that statement is controversial, because everyone else will tell you that you need to comment on blogs in your niche because you want targeted traffic. At this stage what you really need is traffic, and you also want the opportunity to not only show that you can talk to people and offer something good, but you still are hoping for the opportunity to stand out. So, you will be looking at blogs in your niche also, if that’s a part of your strategy, but that’s not what it’s all about. Networking; that’s what it’s all about.

For the first two weeks you need to be committed to commenting on at least 5 blogs a day. You can continue going to Google Blogs, but hopefully in your searches you have found a few blogs that you like well enough to return to. That’s important because something blog owners like are people who will come back more than once. You also want to look for a mix of blogs that have CommentLuv and those that don’t. You look for CommentLuv because it highlights previous blog posts of yours; you look for the others because you don’t want to look like one of those guys that “only” comments on CommentLuv blogs; it’s just a little smarmy.


by Petras Kudaras

In the next two weeks, you’re going to comment on blogs that you’ve found you like and now you’re going to make sure to look for blogs within your niche. The thought now is that you’ll have started establishing yourself with at least a couple of people, you’ll have left your links on their blogs, especially if they have CommentLuv, and now you’re going to go out on a campaign to see what others in your niche are saying and take the opportunity to make sure they know you’re around.

After four weeks, look at things this way. If you only had 3 days a week to do this process and only those 30 minutes, you’ve made at least 60 total connections, whether some of those folks received return visits or not. You’ve planted the seeds of knowledge that you’re out there. I would almost guarantee that you’ll have started seeing more visitors, especially if your titles have captured people’s imaginations and your content doesn’t stink.

Once you see the process starting to work, you’ll be hooked. I’ll throw this out there; how many of you who visit these days saw me as one of your initial commenters? How many of you picked up on that and decided you were going to start commenting on other blogs? How many of you found it contagious and uplifting when people finally started coming to your blog? You may not have followed it in the manner I’m recommending here, but you did this in some capacity, right?

Yes, blogging does take more work than just writing posts. But your rewards on the end could give you more than you can imagine; that sounds nice, doesn’t it?

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Black History Month – Differences In People

Wow, it’s Black History Month and I waited an entire week before mentioning it. Actually, it’s not all that surprising for this blog when I think about it. In the just over 3 years that I’ve had this blog, the only time I ever mentioned a black person by name on this blog during February was the first year of this blog when I talked about Bobo Brazil, the first black wrestler inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.


Bobo Brazil & Muhammad Ali

The funny thing is that I’m old enough to remember when black people were called “Negroes”, and that was the nice word. I’m obviously old enough to remember when we were first “black and proud.” I’m not quite old enough to remember when Muslims like my hero Muhammad Ali used to talk about the “so-called Negroes”, but in retrospect that was an inkling that things were really about to change.

Or were they? Sure, the names have changed. These days we’re called African American, a term I rarely use because, well, I grew up “black and proud”, and African American just has way too many syllables to be effective.

I remember when I was younger this month meant a heck of a lot to me. As a kid, I wasn’t the typical reader. One of the first books I bought for myself was a small book that gave a brief biography of Frederick Douglass. Of course that wasn’t enough for me, so over the next couple of years I would go to the library and request other books on him. I lived in Limestone, ME at the time, but I was on Loring Air Force Base, so they’d take requests and order the books to be sent up there.

It’s hard to put it in your mind in this day and age, but this man taught himself how to read and write, as a slave, when it was against the law. Then he ran away, came up north, went to England, wrote an autobiography, came back, had a lot of people come together to buy his freedom, settled in Rochester, wrote a couple of newspapers and more books, worked with President Lincoln, then later married a white woman and alienated everyone; that was in 1884. He lost the support of his family, she lost the support of hers, even though her family were staunch abolitionists. But in 1888 he actually got a vote to be his party’s representative for president of the United States at the… Republican National Convention. Yeah, it was different back then, the party of Lincoln and all.

Anyway, I was a major fan all through elementary school, high school, and college. I was a major advocate for a number of years. And every year through my early and late adulthood I thought it was still important enough to try to get the word out. After all, there’s a lot of stuff we wouldn’t have now if it weren’t for black people.

Then in 2005 I wrote this post on my other blog, Mitch’s Blog, which is my business blog, called Black History Month – Why Don’t People Care More. And I realized that the month really doesn’t carry any meaning anymore. There are no protests for equal rights anymore. There’s a black president, and lots of black people on TV and in sports and entertainment. People can stay in the same hotels now. There’s interracial marriage without mass protests. Goodness, in some communities people are actually trying to segregate schools now to save money (idiot move, North Carolina).

In other words, the differences are still there, but people just don’t really care anymore. I realized that, in some way, I can only state my piece and go with my opinion on things, but it’s probably an old opinion. I’m asked by younger people “Why can’t you just be yourself totally in public and forget what other people might say.” I say because I remember being the “only” enough times when I was younger and knew that I had to “represent”. I then say because even today I’m often the “only”, and I still have to represent. It’s important enough to me, if not them; that’s a shame. But it proves my point; if young black people don’t care, then I’m not going to force it upon them, nor upon anyone else. I’ll state my piece when I’m in the mood, and then I’ll move on.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to shake things up from time to time. It also doesn’t mean I don’t still want some things to occur. So, in that vein, I present the video below. Elon James White is funny and on the ball and calls it straight. And for once he put out an entire video without saying any bad words, although, well, you just can’t account for the shirt. So, Happy Black History Month; this is all I’ve got for now:

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Sunday Question – The Super Bowl; Who Are You Pulling For?

You know, one would think this one would only interest American markets, but the reality is that in 2007 it was broadcast in 232 countries, which is astounding to me because I didn’t even realize there were 232 countries, and of course that’s not all of them because I’m doubting Iran is watching, as much as they hate America.

Reebok Pittsburgh Steelers #43 Troy Polamalu Super Bowl XLV Bound Fashion Replica Jersey-White

Pittsburgh Steelers #43 Troy Polamalu Super Bowl XLV Replica Jersey






So, who do we have? This year it pits the Pittsburgh Steelers (that wasn’t supposed to be a pun but I’ll run with it) against the Green Bay Packers. The team that has an opportunity to become the winningest Super Bowl team in history against the team that won the first two Super Bowls ever. This one looks fairly balanced, and thus it could end up being a good game for those football fans like me who normally don’t care who wins unless it’s my favorite team in there.

And yet, my friend Scott and I bet on the game every year. If one of my favorite teams is in then I get them, and if one of his is in then he gets to pick. If we don’t care, coin flip. This year his team, the Green Bay Packers, is in, and thus I have Pittsburgh.

In the end I think my pick would have been Pittsburgh anyway. Pittsburgh comes into this game with a regular season record of 12-4, Green Bay at 10-6. Green Bay was an underdog in 2 of its 3 playoff games; Pittsburgh was expected to win. Both have big quarterbacks that can throw the ball well. Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay can run; Ben Roethlisburger is, well, big, strong, hard to bring down, and is already a 2-time winner of the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh also has the top defense against the rush and in points allowed and was second in total yards defense, along with the defensive player of the year in Troy Polamalu while Green Bay was 24th in rushing out of 30 teams.

Reebok Green Bay Packers Green & Gold Heavyweight Jacket

Reebok Green Bay Packers Green & Gold Heavyweight Jacket






Oh yeah, what’s our bet? Pizza or calzones at one of our favorite places, Pizza Villa in Oswego, where we both went to college. I can’t remember if we’re making a run today, as we alternate sometimes and I believe we went up last year, but whatever we get will be delicious.

And of course I’ll be taping the game at home, as we’ll watch at his house, so I can rewatch any commercials I either liked or might have missed. All that and the Black Eyed Peas; I can hardly wait. So, who’s your choice for the big winner? Either way, have fun, and be smart; don’t drink and drive.

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