Tag Archives: images

Don’t Get Caught Looking Like Your Business Is Unethical

Imagine you’re searching the internet looking for someone to provide services for you. Imagine that you come across a website that looks pretty neat and professional. It not only offers the services you’re looking for but many others. And look, there are lots of testimonials on the site, and even pictures of the people who gave those testimonials, just like this one:

contentproz

Looks pretty good, right? Now imagine you’re someone going about your business, and you find out about a site like this, go to take a look, and lo and behold, there’s your image clear as day, supposedly advocating for a site you’ve never heard of, with a totally different name and in a business that’s not your own.

In this case the lady’s name is Kristi Hines of Kikolani, not Pamela, and she’s one of the top internet writers in the country. She knows a lot about SEO, but that’s not her primary focus. She was stunned to find out that this company had someone obtained her image and used it in their advertising.

I’m not going to mention the website because I don’t want to give them the publicity; she might be trying to do something about removing her image as we speak. It’s possible that the company hired someone else to do the work and that company scarfed up the image from somewhere, figured no one would ever find out, and, well, it’s a super cute face with a great smile, so why not.

As you can imagine, within her circles this is getting a lot of buzz. And since these people profess to do something among their multitude of services that she does, and I’d have to say does better than them, word will be getting out all over the internet & social media circles (that’s where I learned about it), and it will put this company into a compromised situation because this is someone a lot of people like.

The point is that it shouldn’t have come to this. Most of us know that the people shown on many websites, especially in the header area, don’t really work for the company. We’re used to stock images and the like; we get it, because no one stands around posing like they do in some of these pictures.

There are so many sources for finding images that one can use for free that it’s amazing whoever decided to grab this image for its use didn’t go that route. It makes them look bad and, online, once word spreads that you’ve possibly done something unethical, even if it wasn’t specifically you, it’s hard to regain any momentum you or your business might have gained.

Remember, your website is your business, not the business of the person who created it. Don’t get caught up like this, and if you’re thinking about doing it don’t do it. I might say who this is one day… let’s see if someone comes along to identify them so I don’t have to.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

4 Ways To Reduce Spam On Your Blog

Most of the time I talk about spam it’s commentary more than anything else. In one post back in September, I told you how to identify spam on your blog.

SPAM!
Luc De Leeuw via Compfight

This time I’m going to give you some actionable steps to reducing spam, or at least have it going into the spam filter so it’s not showing up in your comments area.

Unfortunately, there’s little to be done to eliminate spam totally. You can moderate your blog, but anyone who reads this blog knows how much I hate that (and yet so many of you still do it purposely; oh well…). You also know that sometimes there’s false spam, such as when I talked about certain browsers sending comments into the spam filter for some goofy reason.

So, we’re going to take on the next big thing, which is reducing it. Based on settings, you can probably reduce it more than mine, or you might decide you don’t want to go as far as me. I give you the steps; the settings are all yours. Here we go.

1. If you’re using a WordPress blog, in your Admin area go to Settings, then down to Other Settings. The 3rd item down says “Automatically close comments on articles older than”, and there’s a box next to it. You can check the box on the left, then put a number of days in the box and at that point in history comments will turn off.

The beauty of this is the majority of spam that comes in goes after older posts that you’ve pretty much moved on from and this takes care of that issue. The negative of this is people might read some of your older posts, especially if you link to them like I did above, but they can’t comment on it. You get to decide which of these is more important to you but truthfully, you’re always going to have more activity on your newer posts unless you’ve posted something very constructive that people can use… like this post. 🙂

By the way, though I mentioned the biggie, there are plenty of other things here that you can alter that will help block some spam. I have anything that has links in a post go to the spam filter, and I also use the comment blacklist option to block certain words and sometimes certain IP addresses, which is shown to you next to all comments, blocked or not.

2. Turn off comments on select posts. Most people won’t like this for their WordPress blogs but sometimes you might have a post that’s more of an announcement or maybe a sales post or, I’ve noticed from some bloggers, a post that’s so personal you can’t bear someone intruding their own thoughts into it.

In this case, instead of limiting it for every post, when you’re writing your post there’s something at the very bottom of the page where you’re writing your post under Discussion that’s automatically checked saying Allow Comments. If you uncheck it then that post won’t get any comments at all.

This can also be used if you decide not to use what I gave you in #1 because you want some of your posts to always be live. This way, you can pick and choose; that’s pretty neat.

3. Add images to your blog a different way. I’ve also noticed that much of the spam that seems to make its way through does so through the image area, which is really weird. I mean, what program is it that’s addressing the image on a blog post instead of the post itself?

This can be defeated in two ways. One, you can decide to upload an image you want to use to your server, then when it’s time to add an image add it via a link instead of uploading it from your computer. I picked up on that trick on a fluke and it works pretty well. The downside to that might be if you don’t have unlimited storage or little storage via your hosting company. Overall that shouldn’t be an issue.

No SPAM
K. Latham via Compfight

Something else you can do is add a plugin that’s connected to a website that supplies images. I heard of one the other day called, I believe, Pix 500, but I use one called Compfight. It’s tied into Flickr’s Creative Commons images, which means it’s done the work to determine which images bloggers are allowed to use ahead of time, thus no copyright issues. It has its own settings that you can alter within the Admin panel so that if you like a certain size of images each time you can make it so. Ah, I love when my inner Captain Picard comes out. 🙂

4. Use the GASP plug-in. By now, if you haven’t heard of this plugin you’re years out of the loop. It not only helps reduce spam to the point that you can alter settings to block certain types of spam from ever getting to your blog in the first place, but you have multiple selections you can make such as determining whether someone has to stay on your post for a certain length, determine if they have to write so many words, or even verify trackback links to see if those sites are legitimate.

I’m not going to get too deep into the settings on this one because there’s a ton. Instead, I will say there are good and bad things about this one as well. The good is obviously eliminating as much spam as you want to from ever getting onto your blog, which means you don’t have to moderate anything… well, almost.

That’s part of the bad. Sometimes it’s so strong that it starts blocking people who’ve come to your blog for years, who you sometimes give a free pass to a short comment or maybe they’re responding to your response to their comment. Sometimes having these things go to your spam filter isn’t a bad thing at all. After all, blogs are supposed to be about engagement, so there should be some allowances here and there; don’t you agree?

I think this has gotten long enough so I’m going to stop there. These tips should drastically reduce your spam on their own, and if you tweak some of the other settings you can reduce it even further. Good luck with it all and let me know how it works for you.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

5 Reasons You Need To Have A Gravatar

Funny how time flies. Turns out it was 4 1/2 years ago that I actually wrote my last piece on gravatars, how to create them, how to set your blog up to show them, etc. What I missed in that piece all those years ago was why anyone should have them. I guess I thought that would be obvious, but time has proven that no, most people still don’t get it. So, let’s look at 5 reasons why you need to have a gravatar.

Dad Me Uncle Morris
Which one is me? 🙂

1. Identity – Having a gravatar gives you an identity and helps you stand out from all those people people who comment on blogs and don’t have an image of any kind. People are more trusting of you and your comments if there’s an image associated with it.

2. Brand – Although your face should probably be your strongest brand, you can also use a logo of your business for your gravatar image. Truth be told, I have multiple gravatars and each one is associated with a different email address. Each one also uses a picture of me, which allows me to change up from time to time when I’m commenting because people always recognize the face sooner than the website or blog it’s attached to.

3. Protection – I’ve seen times when comments are somewhere that don’t read like the person who’s purported to have written them, if you know that person. Sneaky weasels do that to promote spam, and it can ruin the name or reputation of the person whose information they’re using. However, if you have a gravatar associated with your email address and no image shows up, that could vindicate you. Spammers aren’t as smart as we all think they are; they don’t always know your email address when writing spam comments.

4. Looking good in your own space – You write a blog others comment and have pictures next to their names, and you’re responding with nothing except one of those default gravatar things showing up; how professional does that look?

5. Influence – If you comment often and you have an image associated with your image eventually you start getting better known, and that helps your influence spread on the internet, even if it’s only within your relatively small sphere of influence. People love seeing my face (so they say lol) on their blogs along with a comment or two.

There you are. Now, having a gravatar won’t help you with blog sites like Typepad, but for pretty much everywhere else a gravatar will help you stand out. Come on, what are you waiting for? Check out the first post I linked to if you want to know how to do it, or just go to gravatar.com and follow the very easy instructions. Go now… okay, go after you comment. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell

5 Random Thoughts About Blogging After A Local Blogging Get Together

After all the lamentations I’ve made on this blog periodically about how hard it is to get local people to notice your websites or blogs I got invited, last minute, to a local blogging get together in downtown Syracuse. It was a lot of fun, and if you’re interested in my little writeup about the event check it out here on my Syracuse Wiki blog.

IMAG1883

It was a lot of fun and I had a good time. Matter of fact, we all had a good time, so much so that we stayed 30 minutes past when we had planned on leaving, and I was ready to go another hour. I hope some of you get to do such a thing one of these days, as it was as much fun as some of the tweetups I’ve gone to.

Being me, once I got home I decided to look at all of the blogs just to see what people do and how they blog. After doing that, and looking back on the event, and thinking about a question Brian Hawkins was pondering lately about how people perceive what blogs are, I came to some random thoughts about blogging, perception, and reality. I decided to keep it at 5, otherwise we could be here for days. Here are my thoughts; I’d love to hear your impressions about these later on.

1. There’s no one way to blog. Yeah, I already knew that one, but this brought it home. We all live in the same community, some for many years, some for a few. Some of us have shared experiences, as I knew a few of the people there. And yet, each of us has something different to say in many different ways. Our language is different in how we describe things, and how we share our passions are different as well. It’s truly fascinating.

2. Images really do enhance blogs drastically. It was only a couple of years ago that I started adding images to every post of mine and I thought it was just a nice touch. As I looked at many of the blogs from the local people I realized that there’s something about images, especially personal images or images highlighting something folks have done, that makes some posts special. One of these days I’m going to have to figure out how to get myself into more of my images, although the ladies are easily more photogenic than I am.

3. The question about what makes a blogger is hard to answer. All of the people who showed up saw themselves as bloggers. Yet, about 33% of them haven’t written a new blog post in 6 months or so. Does the act of owning a blog make you a blogger, or are you a blogger if you’re actually blogging on some kind of a consistent basis? I’m one of those folks who feels if there hasn’t been a post within at least 3 months you’re not a blogger, but who gives me the right to determine such things anyway?

4. All bloggers need to find ways to communicate better with each other when it comes to comments. Only one of the blogs that I commented on actually sent me something telling me someone had responded to a comment I left. That highlights something I come across on many other blogs, where people sometimes actually have responded to a comment, but their notification system is out of whack thus commenters never know that their missives were responded to. It’s something we all need to check from time to time by leaving a comment on our own blogs, after signing out of course, then responding to it and seeing if you get notification from yourself; uhhh, use a different email address for your original test comment of course. lol If you don’t get a response, you know you have to fix it somehow, probably with a plugin of some sort.

5. When all is said and done, it’s about community. Even folks without a lot of blog posts or comments on their blogs crave a community of some sort, people they can relate to in one way or another. The night of our event it was cold, with wind gusts up to 40 MPH. The lady who put it all together said she was worried only 3 or 4 people would show up because of that, yet a lot of people braved the weather, which was actually worse the next day.

Why should we write blogs? I often say there’s only 3 purposes in writing a blog; to entertain, to inform, or to educate. It turns out there’s a silent 4th purpose; to connect with others. No matter whether you’re writing about food or interior design or poems or short stories or blogging or running or whatever, you’re hoping someone stops by, reads your words, comments or subscribes to what you put out, and at some point maybe talking to that person outside of a blog and, if you’re lucky enough, meeting some of those people in person. I mean, how social can social media get!

Those are my random thoughts; what are yours?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell

The Images Issue And Getty Images

Last week was interesting for many reasons, but one was somewhat troubling.

One of my clients called me up saying she’d received a letter from Getty Images saying she owed them $800 for using one of their images. Since there were only 4 images on her site and two of them were of her and her business, I thought it was kind of a crank.

What it turned out to be was an image that was embedded in the free WordPress theme that I’d put on her site because the colors matched up with her site nicely. Most of the time I use this theme that I can customize, but this one seemed to do the trick.

Anyway, turns out that the image in the header was a copyrighted image. Whether the creator got permission to use it or not I have no idea, but supposedly even if that person had the right to use it, no one else has the right to use it, even though all of us downloaded the themes with the impression that all was right with the world.

In any case I called the guy at Getty, who was relatively nice but clueless. I gave him a website that showed the theme I downloaded, which is one of many. He said I should go after the people I downloaded the theme from; that was six months ago so that’s not happening since I can’t remember. I told him that it’s not everyone else’s fault if they downloaded a free theme, something that probably happens at least tens of thousands of times a day, and he said copyright is copyright.

We said a few other things to each other, which I’m going to leave alone for now, but I told him my client wasn’t paying and I wasn’t paying and if everyone he was now going to try to contact, since this site listed that 570 people had downloaded the image, got lawyers and decided to fight back that the company would find out soon enough that it wasn’t worth going after so many innocent people. That plus if they thought that one image was worth over $450,000 (just from this one site) they were out of their minds.

It does point out the issue of trying to make sure that images you use can be used on your sites or blogs. I usually go to Flickr if I don’t have an image of my own, and yet last week I also was contacted by someone whose image I used on one of my blogs. I gave attribution as I was supposed to, but this guy said I was supposed to link back to their website. I said there wasn’t anything showing that on his page and he said they were limited in space by Flickr. I said I’d followed the terms as listed on Flickr, but I was going to just remove the article because I wasn’t in the mood to link back to their site. And trust me, my site was easily ranked higher than theirs, so irking me did them no good.

What’s your thoughts on all of this? Meanwhile, my Hot Blog Tips Hangout crew explored this very issue, as well as the topic of free vs. paid themes, and here’s the video if you’re interested in checking out a bit of it:


 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell