All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Questioning Links In Comments

Just over a week ago I wrote a post where I asked about editing comments and whether anyone else does it. There was a lot of discussion, some pro, some con, but all handled with courtesy, and I thank everyone for that. A couple of comments centered about the thought about what makes a good or bad link that someone will use whenever they leave a comment and how people handled that, which I saw as a different issue at the time.

DMU Comment Study (with)
Chris Martino via Compfight

But it’s a good time to talk about it now. This is an appropriate discussion to have because we all know that our blogs are judged by search engines, most particularly Google, on the types of links we end up having because of those who comment on our blogs.

Those of us who have been blogging for a long time aren’t naive. We know that probably half the comments we get aren’t coming from blog owners, or anyone who has anything to do with the site links that appear next to the comment. We know that a lot of the comments we get are coming from people who could care less about our blog; they’re only looking for the backlink.

Over the last week I’ve been taking a look at some of the links from people who are either brand new or relatively new commenters on this blog. I’ve seen some interesting sites that have left me somewhat confused as to what to do about them. The comments haven’t been bad, but the links… questionable.

What am I seeing? Links going to sites that are going to sales pages, not businesses. Sites with blogs that are on topics that make you wonder “how the heck did that person come up with that as an idea?” Sites with blog posts that are over a year old. Sites to blogs that aren’t really blogs, but are presented as niche blogs that don’t even allow comments. Links to sites in another language, not blogs, where I can’t figure out what they’re about.

Part of this puts me in an interesting position. After all, this isn’t a niche blog per se, but it’s a blog that talks mainly about blogging and blogs. So, I’ve always dealt more with the arts of writing a blog and commenting on blogs than looking at links from those who comment. And yet, one can’t dispute the reality that my buddy Adrienne helped hammer through that bad links can take you down, and what Brian Hawkins said in our Google Hangout video that he’ll remove dodgy links or links he doesn’t fully trust in a heartbeat.

And of course we had that debate about editing comments, but I think we all have to view this one differently. Back in December I talked about my blog traffic and how it was falling drastically and how I hoped it would start to come back in the new year. Well, it’s recovering, but barely, and it may or may not be related to a lot of bad links. But since I can’t trust Broken Link Checker on this blog anymore I guess it’s just on me. Actually, maintaining our blogs to the best of our ability is on all of us, but I’m the one writing about it today.

So, I will be removing links here and there, even if I don’t remove the comment. If that bothers you I’m sorry. I’m going to be fair by looking at links, but I’m not going to entertain a discussion on why I removed your link; you probably already know why.

Here’s the deal, so we’re clear. If your site looks like a sales site instead of a real business site or a blog, it’s gone. I don’t care what niche the link is in if it’s a legitimate business.

If it’s a blog that looks kind of dodgy, it’s gone. If the blog doesn’t accept comments, it’s gone. Blogging is supposed to be about conversations; I’ve said that here often. So, blogs where comments are closed; gone.

If the email address given doesn’t have the same name as the person writing the comment, gone. If the email address doesn’t have a person’s name in it, gone. This part is because I’ve been getting a lot of email bounces lately and I’ve noticed that most are either from “info@” or names where it’s one sex but the email begins with another sex. I’m not going to deal with that part at all. On this one, it now means that if I’m going to have such a policy that I need to create an email address for my finance blog with my name on it to be consistent; can’t expect others to follow a policy I won’t follow for myself, although I almost never comment via that venue. But I do from time to time and don’t want to be a hypocrite.

There it is, out in the open. What’s going to happen is some aren’t going to read this, since they don’t read the comment policy anyway, and a very tiny few aren’t going to like it, or will be wondering what’s going on. That will just prove that people aren’t reading the articles; shame on you. Let’s see what happens; thanks Adrienne! 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013-2017 Mitch Mitchell

What’s Wrong With Being Nice?

Isn’t that an interesting question? Truth be told it’s nothing new, and yet I’m irked lately by what I’m seeing as people either not being nicer to each other or not liking someone who happens to be perceived as nice.

The kindness of strangers
Ed Yourdon via Compfight

What is this thing against niceness anyway? I remember growing up that there were people who hated that I tried to be nice to others, or that I liked smiling. I remember listening to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talking about being a friendly kid who smiled a lot and some kids didn’t like him, beat him up for it, and that’s why he rarely smiles even today. What the heck is that about?

As I say in the video, a lot of people are going to say that they like when people are nice but truth be told, there’s going to be people who will say that because it’s the right thing to say, but their actions don’t back it up. There are people who hate Oprah, who’s been nothing but nice to others. There are people who hate LeBron James when all he’s ever really done is be nice, give away lots of money to charity, helped raise more money for charity, and actually took a major pay cut to join a team so he could win a championship. Yet people perceive that as him being selfish; once again, what the heck is that all about?

I’ve talked on this blog about the concept of writing whatever you feel like but being ready to deal with the consequences or your words. I’ve said that on Facebook as well, yet people don’t like it when someone comes back at them for a point of view that, well, isn’t all that nice.

I like to think I’m nice most of the time but I have a mean streak. I don’t like people who are intolerant. I don’t like people who write stupid hateful messages against something where they make it more personal than it has to be. I’ll call people out in my own way on some of the things they say; sometimes I’m not so nice about it, but more often than not I am. And they don’t like it, no matter how I try to put it.

Such is life. Because someone doesn’t like the message doesn’t mean you weren’t trying to be nice. Nice doesn’t mean weak; perceive that and, as The Rock says, you might get the smack laid down… I’ll leave the rest for those who know the line. lol

Please watch the video (I’m expecting only 10 views, per norm, but I’ll ask anyway), and leave a comment on the video after you’ve watched it to prove to me that you’ve watched it. Then, if you have the energy, leave a comment here on your thoughts about being nice, niceness in general, and why you think so many people dislike “nice”. Yeah, I’m asking for an awful lot; come on, be nice!


 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell

Broken Link Checker – Gone!

Yeah, I hear you, two complaint posts in a row. Well, the first one I felt was appropriate in warning you against a company that’s so deficient that you’d be throwing your money away. This one is to help you protect your blog; rather, to access your blog.

Highway Insomnia
Brett Weinstein
via Compfight

As you know, I mentioned back in December how my traffic seemed to be going down, along with my Alexa rank, but that always happened in December. Since the new year began, my traffic has been going up but my Alexa ranking continues going down. I’m not going to argue the merits of Alexa here; just going on with the post.

Anyway, I decided to check with Google Analytics to see what could possibly be going down. Indeed, not only has my traffic been going up, but it’s already higher than it was in either November or December. As a matter of fact, it’s ended on par with last August; that’s an upswing in traffic. But there were some interesting numbers, which I want to share:

October to November traffic from Google – 40%
October to November traffic from direct source – 37%

November to December traffic from Google – 37%
November to December traffic from direct source – 45%

December to January traffic from Google – 34%
December to January traffic from direct source – 43%

You notice that I’m actually driving more traffic in some fashion to this blog that Google’s doing; no idea how I’m doing it unless it’s through commenting on other blogs, since all other sources are listed as well. You’ll also notice that the gap hags been growing; Google doesn’t like me anymore. lol

Google did have another one of their famous updates, and I started to wonder if it might be related to bad links. I kind of addressed it in the past when I was talking about broken links, and last week when I talked about editing comments. When I talked about it in the past, I mentioned a plugin I used called Broken Link Checker. I’d also written about previous problems I had with the plugin, but that was awhile ago.

The fact is that when the thing works, it works great. However, when it doesn’t… man, it’s the worst in the world. This is what I went through a few nights ago when I decided to check my links to see if I was having problems with any of them from other people. After all, when I last ran the thing in May it found 750 bad links; ouch! Well, I do get my share of comments, and the blog has been around a long time, so that’s to be expected.

When I went to check on it some time later, it showed that I had close to 400 bad links. I then started the process of trying to do maintenance, and the blog shut down. I mean, it just wouldn’t do anything. I closed it by going to another page, then tried to come back to it; now I was locked out. I thought that was strange so I opened a different browser. I was able to pull up the blog, sign in, but as soon as it was in admin it locked up again.

I tried one more browser and got the same problem, so me being me I decided to try it on the laptop. Same issue; signed in and blog froze. I then went into Firefox’s private browsing mode, unsure what to expect, got into the admin panel and once again into Broken Link Checker. However, as soon as I started trying to to maintenance, the blog locked up on me, and I couldn’t even view the home page again.

Frankly, that kind of behavior is unacceptable at this juncture, and I feel like I knew better, but with all the updates they’ve made that it would work better. I have this same problem on 4 of my blogs; the only one that doesn’t shut down is my local blog, probably because I have few links and fewer articles on it than all the others.

What to do? First, the next morning I was able to log into the blog and this time I went to the plugin page and deleted the plugin. I don’t even want to be tempted to use it again. But I needed something to help me get rid of some bad links. I decided to use a plugin called Automatic Link Checker, which goes through your blog and checks links against Google to see if they exist or not, or if they’ll come up. I changed the settings to say if a link hasn’t been live in 30 days to remove it from the blog; the default is 60 days but I’m not feeling that generous these days. I’ve been periodically checking it and it seems to be working great, without any input from me. And, because I set it at 30 days, if someone’s having a temporary server issue it won’t automatically delete your links; I think that’s pretty cool.

Broken links can mess up your ranking and visibility on Google; can’t have that type of thing going on, and it’s something we can actually do something about. If you’re having trouble with the other plugin or haven’t loaded anything to help you check for broken links, try this new one. Thus far, no complaints. And if traffic goes up even more, or Google referrals start increasing again, I’ll let you know.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell

Westinghouse Customer Service; Worst Ever!

Yeah, I know, some people say that bloggers shouldn’t write about personal stuff on their blogs. Sorry but this time not only must I, but it’s going to go beyond just being a personal complaint. Stick with me and heed my warning, if you will.

WestinghouseStinks

Just after Christmas I went out looking to find a relatively inexpensive 32″ flat screen TV for my office. I had gone to a few places and found myself at Best Buy. In the back around TVs of similar size I came across a Westinghouse 32″ flat screen TV for $189. That was amazing, as it was about $50 less than its closest competitor. I asked one of the Best Buy guys why this TV was so inexpensive, because the image I saw looked pretty good, and he said they were trying to grow in the market by keeping their prices low. Sounded good to me, the price was right, so I bought it.

Got it home, set it up, all looked good. Very clear picture, and I was finally able to take advantage of the digital hookup I have here in the office. I pulled out my Time Warner remote, set it up so it would handle turning the TV on and off, and off I went.

Or so I thought. It seemed that other than turning the TV off and on, anything else I did with the remote, at least every 2nd or 3rd thing, made the TV try to reset itself. Thus, I had to go to the remote that came with the TV and reset it. I thought this would be a one time issue, but no, it’s an issue that’s continued for the almost month I’ve owned the TV. I thought maybe it was the Time Warner remote because I’d programmed the TV to it so I tried the other 2 remotes I have in the house for Time Warner, those that weren’t set up with the TV; they also made the TV reset itself.

What the hey? So, within 4 days after buying the TV, I went online to their customer service page, wrote up my complaint, and submitted it. Almost immediately I got an email saying they would be contacting me within 2 business days. To make a long story short, after 15 phone calls and two more online customer complaints, I’ve heard nothing. Oh yeah, I’ve gotten to talk to people most of the time; that’s the 15. The times I’m not counting is when I went through the phone prompts and either got a busy signal or had the phone up and disconnect on me. I also tried to contact them 3 times through Twitter, as they have a handle there(@WestinghouseTV; try sending them a message telling them how bad you heard they are; they won’t respond).

The final straw was last night when I called at 6:20 their time (9:20 my time), said I was calling for the 15th time looking for service, was put on hold and they kept me there until 7PM their time, when their customer service office shuts down. What the hey? In other words, they never came back. Me being me, I stayed online (speaker phone) for another 10 minutes of stubbornness; nothing!

That’s when I decided it was time to call them out in a blog post. But y’all know me; I don’t just roll like that. I decided to look up complaints about their customer service issues, and man, what a load I found!

This site called Customer Services Scoreboard ranked them at #589 out of 593 for worst customer service; I don’t even want to know who could possibly be ranked worse.

On this page of Best Buy reviews, of all things, I found many people with the same complaint as mine. What’s shocking is that it ranks 3.6 out of 5 stars, and even those who ranked it high state they had the same issue as mine, but like the picture. Really, you don’t mind having to reset your TV every time you use it? Should I have fussed at @BestBuy for selling the TV in the first place?

I would add a bunch more but there’s no point. I remember when I was much, much younger Westinghouse used to be a company known for quality. Those days are obviously long gone; products, customer service, stinky! People, save your money, save your peace of mind, don’t buy anything from this company, no matter the price. If you don’t believe me, do a search on Google; mine showed 3,100,000 references to complaints against them. However, this will be in the top 10,000 blog posts about how lousy they are; now that’s a shame! 🙁
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell

Comments: Edit, Delete, Leave Alone?

At some point all of us who write blogs and get comments sometimes get one that’s not quite the norm for one reason or another. Depending on your topic, demeanor, or just the people who happen to show up on a particular day, you never know what you’re going to get from day to day. As a blog owner, you have to deal with this issue, or at least should. The question is “what exactly do you do?

I tend to scribble a lot
Nic McPhee via Compfight

This was the topic we discussed in our Sunday Hot Blog Tips Live Google Hangout, and it was the topic I brought up. The issue came because in the last week I received two very long comments on two separate blogs. On one of them I knew the person. Both of them weren’t just long comments, but didn’t have any breaks, which means they were very long comments, no break for paragraphs, and not necessarily following what some might consider a proper story format, as in starting with an idea and following it in a logical sequence.

Both of these left me in a mental quandary. On their own they weren’t very easy to read. So when I did was edit one, on this blog, by breaking it into paragraph chunks. On the other blog I left it alone because it was just too hard to figure out how to break it up.

I didn’t really have many qualms about either one, but it got me to thinking about editing comments in general. It’s not something I’ve had to do all that often… well, that’s not quite true. Since I know almost no one reads the brief commenting policy above the comment box, some people put links into their comments that aren’t adding to the discussion. They end up in spam, and if I decide to okay them I then have to go in and remove those links before approving the comment. Those links that do add to the comment I don’t mind, but they’re still going to the spam filter.

I’ve only once in 5 years, which is very good, had to edit a comment because of a bad word. Nope, not allowing it here since I don’t curse (or cuss; folks not familiar with Southern dialects hate “cuss”), and if there was more than one word I just might have to delete the entire thing. I like to think that’s people treating me well in my own space; I appreciate that.

Some comments have no spaces or punctuation between the sentences. I’m always ambivalent about that, so I’ll admit that if those comments end up in the spam filter, I go ahead and delete them. If they make it through, I almost always leave them, but I’m starting to reconsider that policy because I’ve never once returned a visit to a blog and saw that they write that way on their own blog. If you don’t do it in your own space what makes it right in my space? Could be a paid writer who could care less, right?

Then there’s some links that are, well, suspect. I don’t mean suspected of having malware, although that’s a consideration. I mean a relatively short, borderline comment with a link going back to dental implants or garlic supplements or junk like that. In the video below you’ll hear the others saying they’ll either delete the links or the entire comment; I’m going to have to think about that one a bit more, though I will admit that there are times when I do delete links, but it’s mainly when I start getting a lot of bounced email based on what the commenter put in, which of course means it’s either fake or was typed in wrong. If you can’t get your own email correct you don’t deserve the link.

There are so many possibilities in having to edit that it warranted the video, and now it’s warranted the conversation. I put it out to y’all then. I hope you watch the video, but I doubt almost anyone will because that’s just how most people are, even if it’s my own video (folks, we see the view numbers, so 25 people certainly didn’t watch my last video if I see only 10 views on the site). However, I’ve written enough here to give you an opportunity to comment on the topic; let’s see what you believe.

Now, the video:


 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell