All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Are There Other Twitter Re-Tweeting Rules To Follow?

As some of you know, I participate most of the time on a weekly Twitter chat on Wednesdays called Community Manager. It’s pretty neat sometimes, and today it was on the topic of blogging communities, something I like to talk about often.

Days ago I asked people if they comment on blogs they share via Twitter. It’s gotten a lively discussion and has even sparked conversation on other blogs. Well, something else came up today that begs the question as to whether people should ever be retweeting content that goes on through a Twitter Chat.

Actually, this came from someone who wasn’t even part of the chat. As I’d mentioned in the original post on chats, some folks don’t really like it when a group of people take up an hour or two for these chat sessions. I debated with myself how I felt and decided that I wanted to participate and that pretty much is that.

His gripe was that because each chat already has hashtags, which means everyone who’s participating is already into the chat, that there’s no reason for anyone to retweet anything while in the chat. His two points were these:

1) Followers (who aren’t chatting) see tweets out of context, becomes blather
2) It’s redundant to people who ARE following chat

Of course we debated this for a bit, and he included someone else in his diatribe who didn’t appreciate it and said she was going to do things her way and that he could just unfollow her if he wanted to. I’m going a different way; he’s a good guy, so I’m going to state my point of view here.

To his first point, he may or may not be correct. Let’s talk about blather for a minute. When a study was done a couple of years ago, it considered these categories:

News, Spam, Self-Promotion, Conversational, Pass-Along Value, Pointless Babble

The “pointless babble” part was the only piece considered as blather; it accounted for 40% overall. Babble was defined as “These are the “I am eating a sandwich now” tweets.” Not very scientific but it fits for now. If one is in a chat and one happens to RT something that found profound enough that someone else said, is that considered babble by the definition of the study? Nope. Does it matter whether someone is in the chat or not? Nope.

Is it irritating? Well, on that front it might be. I see these things all the time, chat or no chat. However, I also share a lot of things. In this particular chat I was guilty of at least one official retweet, and some messages where I selected retweet so I could respond to a group of people all at once and forgot to remove the RT in front of the message; oops. But the retweet I did I felt was so profound that I wanted other people following me, friends of mine, to see it whether they were on the chat or not. I tend to do that with RT’s in general, and this was no different in my mind.

Now let’s look at his point #2. Is it redundant to people in the chat? Could be, but also might not be. This is a very active chat. Last week in an hour there were almost 700 messages. Today’s topic was “blogging and community management”, something I know a lot about obviously. I posted a couple of thoughts, and the next thing you know I’m getting all sorts of people writing me directly. I won’t say it was overwhelming, but it was comprehensive. To a degree, I couldn’t keep up with every single message in the chat while also responding to everyone that was writing me directly. So, often I caught a retweet hashtag instead. Redundant for some readers? Absolutely. Redundant for me? On a day like today, not even close. On other days when I say almost nothing; yeah, I’d have to agree.

My overall conclusion? It’s actually the same thought I had when I first talked about chats. Some people aren’t going to like it at all. Some people aren’t going to like aspects of it. It’s like the PC/Mac argument. Based on how I use it will I stop doing it my way. Nope, ain’t happening. Based on how others use it will I stop participating or get upset about it? No, because then I’d be a hypocrite, and I’m certainly not that. When I get irritated by a behavior I either drop someone or I move them into another bucket. But I can take it for an hour, so I have no issues at all.

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Puppy Cams

Twelve days ago there was a litter of six puppies that were born. That’s nothing new. It was the third litter of Shiba Inu puppies from the mother, also nothing new. And it was immediately set up on streaming video; also not really new, but new to me.

I found out about it via NBC News, of all things, where it was mentioned 4 days after they were born, and I tracked it back to this streaming video link I’ve been obsessively watching the live link except for this past weekend, when the live feed was taken down for a short period of time and instead we had a few videos to keep us entertained. Of course, once you’re gotten used to watching them live the videos just aren’t quite the same, even though the puppies are still cute as sin.

On the site are other feeds of litters of puppies and probably some kittens somewhere on the site; I’m a puppies guy. It’s been a lot of fun and really interesting to watch. They’re so cute you just want to bite them… lightly of course. I learned that puppies don’t open their eyes from anywhere between 9 days and two weeks; as I’m writing this a day ahead they still haven’t opened their eyes. They didn’t start making any noise until six days later, and it was the cutest thing as well, though I could never figure out which one was making the noise.

They sleep a lot, but never fully restful sleep; my wife and I aren’t quite sure why they keep twitching but they don’t seem overly troubled by it. Of course it must be difficult for any family to deal with multiples and hope they all stay asleep at the same time, and it’s the same here. One will eventually move and start crawling all over the rest of them, looking for warmth I believe as they always seem to be trying to find their way into the middle. At this point it seems one mainly sleeps on its back while one has finally learned how to sit. I just can’t tell any of them apart.

And every few hours the mother pops into the picture, cleans them in some fashion (after seeing that I put away the notion about wanting to bite one lol) and then feeds them.

I have to mention that this UStream site seems to be pretty interesting for anyone who wants to go live with a feed. If you have a camera it looks like all you have to do is create an account, pick a category, and then go for it. I think it’s a family friendly site, so none of those shower people need apply. 🙂

Anyway, I hope you check out the puppies; it’s a lot of fun.

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Ding Dong Osama’s Gone

I don’t often write two posts in one day but I figured today is an exception, since my other post was planned ahead of time and this one is, well, more timely to what’s going on in the world.

Of course by now everyone in the world older than 12 years old knows that Osama bin Laden was taken out last night. He wasn’t even hiding really; he was “holed up” in a mansion in a little city in Pakistan living pretty well. Had cable, internet access, and both one of his wives and children with him. He was only minutes away from a Pakistani military base and less than 30 minutes from the capital of Pakistan. It seems all those proclamations made by the Pakistan government that there was no way he could be in their country have been made to seem kind of ridiculous.

However, this isn’t a post on beating up on Pakistan. It’s basically a post about what this means, doesn’t mean, and other such stuff. In essence, I’m going to kind of give my opinion on this event because, well, I figure I have something to say. And in case anyone is keeping score, yes I am using this same picture on two different blogs today.

First thought; happy he’s finally been caught, killed, and disposed of. Short and sweet, and not a single American lost his life. I’m happy with the whole thing, and can move on from here.

Second, moving on doesn’t mean not still worry about stupid terrorists. I think Al Qaeda and the Taliban will try to use this as a rallying cry but that will fail. But it fails only because the nutcases that are ready to give up their lives to support the idiotic beliefs of the “rich” radical fake Muslims to get those virgins after they’re gone are already lined up and in place to do whatever it is they’re going to do. From what I’ve been understanding, these morons are more interested in trying to hurt the United States (which then makes no sense for them to bomb their own country but I digress) than in doing it for bin Laden. Many of them have no real idea who he is other than a name someone threw out. If you were Muslim, would you be doing something for Allah or bin Laden? See what I mean?

Third, I have to admit that the only real emotion I had last night was shock. I didn’t see this announcement coming, and once John King of CNN announced it and then everyone seemed to know about it and started telling us how it all went down, which was before President Obama spoke, it became more of a research project for me than anything else. I had no emotion; I wasn’t happy or sad or reflective; I just wanted to know more. This part was just like it was on 9/11/01, only back then I was truly emotionally invested in everything; this time around I turned the TV off at 1:30 and went to bed.

You know what’s funny? Within minutes after the President’s speech the clamor began from some circles that they wouldn’t believe it until they saw pictures of the body. How horrid is that? We have become a world that’s overall immune to seeing sick images of things, one of those things being death. If I have my way I never want to see it again except in the movies. Even there, I’m not into the realism thing; I couldn’t watch Saving Private Ryan for more than 2 minutes, but give me Independence Day, where we really only see an alien get killed, and I’m enthralled. Besides, we all know that the picture will be seen as a fake anyway; look at how many people in this country felt that President Obama’s birth certificate was fake last week after saying they wanted to see it for all these years. More idiocy.

Overall, I don’t think I’m satisfied, which is probably why I didn’t fully rejoice upon this news, even though I’m really glad he’s been taken out of the picture. I’m waiting until I hear they’ve totally crushed the Taliban and have found Mullar Omar. I’m waiting until I hear they’ve captured Al-Zawahiri, the #2 man that now moves up to #1, and the guy we’ve actually seen on TV more often that bin Laden in the last few years. I’m waiting until the day the President says “that’s it; we’re leaving Iraq and Afghanistan because the job is done.”

I might be greedy, but so be it. I’m still happy bin Laden is gone, and I’m happy everyone else is happy. And in my mind the song from The Wizard of Oz is still playing: “Ding dong Osama’s gone…”

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SEO Reputation Scam

It’s amazing how things sometimes just build upon themselves. Case in point, I’ve written a couple of articles in a row that indirectly tied into each other, and suddenly something else comes up that, well, just flows into each other in odd ways.

SEO scams

I thought about linking to both of the past articles, but I do that often enough and this time I’m going to let it go for a moment. It’s just easier to do a rehash here without it and then get to the new stuff.

The quick recap. On my local blog I wrote a review about a restaurant that wasn’t good. As a sidebar, I noticed that some bad reviews that had been written on a site called Yelp seemed to be hidden. Then I learned that Yelp filters reviews based on participation on the site, which brought about questions, at least for me, as to whether sites like that could be trusted for their reviews because maybe it was possible that companies paid to have those reviews removed or hidden.

Then I get an email from ConsumerAffairs.com pointing to a news story from April 15th that talked about small companies that get bad reviews and how SEO companies are contacting those companies and saying they can take care of these bad reviews. That’s what the article, titled Bogus ‘Complaint Removal’ Sites Prey on Small Businesses, talks about, mentioning how many business fall for this scam and then try to report them, but there’s no real place to report them.

Here’s the thing, if I may. We all have the ability to try to control how we’re portrayed online. If we’re not online and not managing our profiles, if you will, someone else can come along and put something up that will take over the search engines and put you at a disadvantage. If you’re a business, that could end up being a very bad thing indeed. For instance, if you go to Google and type in “Village Burger Liverpool Review” my original article comes up 4th, behind 3 reviews on Yelp, and I just wrote that last week. You can’t just type in Village Burger and find it because it seems that business name is all over the place; so much for originality.

There are many reputable SEO companies in the world, and I hope I’m considered as one. Sure, there are things you can do to help recover your reputation. But bad reviews will probably always be there, even if you have enough money to buy every person off that ever says something bad about you. Anyone that tells you something different is lying; don’t believe the hype.

By the way, there’s a brief follow up to what happened at that restaurant, if you will, and I’m writing it here instead of there because I got this information from a source that would be easily identifiable if I wrote it there, and I know none of those folks will come here because they don’t know about this blog. Anyway, someone mentioned that blog post to the owner and said they saw the picture I put up on the article. The owner’s response: “I need to buy smaller buns.” So much for customer service, a pattern that just keeps coming up more and more.

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Yelp Reviews And Their Filtering Process

It’s sometimes interesting how things come full circle; well, at least half circle. I’ve been introduced to a concept that I hadn’t really thought would or could occur, but in retrospect I believe I might have thought about it and just didn’t think all that much about it until now. Confused? Let me get more specific.

In yesterday’s post that talked about being positive while pointing out negative things, I shared a review I’d written on a local restaurant. In that article, I mentioned how I found it interesting that the bad reviews for the restaurant had been hidden and only one good review was showing, but that I’d found the bad reviews anyway.

That review site is called Yelp, and truthfully, I’d never heard of them before looking for the reviews on the restaurant in question. It turns out, through another friend mentioning it to me, that they have a process of filtering out reviews and only showing what they believe are “proper reviews”. In essence, I came across this video, which is also on their site, which explains their filtering process.

At the same time another local friend of mine, a lady named Trisha Torrey, sent me an article she wrote on Yelp that explained how not everything you see on their site is accurate either. It seems that, according to her, they’ll contact business and, for a fee, remove the bad stuff in some fashion, only leaving good things. In her case she’d seen some physicians that had received bad reviews and suddenly those things were gone. She also mentioned, in another article, how not seeing all reviews alters a potential consumers perception of whether a physician is good or bad, and of course that argument extends to other types of reviews as well. By the way, the comments on the second article are pretty interesting as well; obviously some folks missed the point of the article.

Whereas I understand Yelp and what it’s trying to do, I think the implications are questionable across the board. Their position is thus:

1) We know some reviews are fake and we want to catch those
2) We know some reviews are spur of the moment and thus are skewed
3) We believe that people who use our website over and over are far more valuable than other reviews because they put up a profile so we know who they are

Not a bad position overall. But here’s the downside:

1) Just because a person only writes one review doesn’t invalidate the bad behavior, nor support the good behavior
2) Filtering leaves you open to be suspected of nefarious behavior, whether you do what people suspect or not
3) You already have a process where people have to create an account so they can leave their review; shouldn’t that be enough?

I’ve been told by a few people that I should write a review on both Yelp and Trip Advisor about what happened. Based on questions about Yelp, I don’t fully know that I can trust them to leave my review up. Trip Advisor is another issue entirely. They don’t even have the restaurant listed, so I’d have to jump through hoops to get them listed, then go back and write a review. Frankly, I’m not that mad, and I think my initial restaurant review stands on its own for now. At least I know I can’t be bought off, and if I’m asked to remove it we all know it ain’t happening.

Now that I’ve written this it begs the question as to what we can believe and trust when we read reviews on sites like this. And that’s too bad, because I’m sure many sites give us the truth, but now they’re all up for being questioned. What do you think?

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