A Letter to the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust

June 1st, 2013

On May 22nd, 2013 a single video was removed from the internet. This video had the power to make a positive impact on society and brought the words of a not-previously-well-known author to millions around the world. Words of hope, words of encouragement for those struggling in stressful situations that happen in day to day life. A video called, “This is Water”.

This video that AdWeek said “people can’t stop sharing” was removed because you requested it, and as the trust in charge of his legacy you are entitled to make such a request. But what is the value to your organization to have it removed? You could see it as a bunch of plagiarizers trying to make profit from this great work, as something more likely to be found in the back of a shady van on DVD and not on the computer screens of students, managers, and CEO’s alike. You could see this as more closely in line with theft, or perhaps you’re just upset that this amazing video was made without your permission. Perhaps you think people are less likely to buy any number of the publications that the full commencement address is published in.

The full speech was first published in the 2006 book “The Best American Nonrequired Reading” which retails on Amazon for about twenty dollars. I had never heard of the book until I watched the video and saw that the full address had been published. It has now been happily added to my bookcase alongside some of my favorites like Ivanhoe and The Sound and the Fury. Because people take inspiration, and then take action. People don’t take things just to take them.

This video is an amazing example of how the words of a great man long since past can shake us to our core, can reach out to us like an invisible hand and touch us, hold us up and give us a new way to look at things. It’s that inspiration that he might have wanted to happen at some point. It’s a miracle that in a world filled with one hundred and forty character tweets, filtered photographs of food dishes, and complaints about the opposite sex that the verbose words of a man clearly gifted with something, with an almost mystical way of arranging words, could not just be read, but heard, seen and shared. So powerful the message is that it has circled the globe multiple times, gorgeously packaged in a video, the transcript in an email, the quotes nestled beautifully in place of that other crap that so often floods the internet.

All of this thanks to a video made by fans. I know it’s a difficult decision, but if the words in that video can stop one person from the terrible master the way that no one was able to save him, is that not worth it? You can choose to view this however you want. In his own words “The only capital-T Truth is that you get to decide”

Please, let his words continue to permeate our society, and let his legacy live on. A simple online search uncovered a petition with 551 signatures as of this writing, with more I’m sure to be added soon.

Aspiring Writer and Fan,
Joe Youngblood

Google, Panda and Rise of the Content Graph

May 21st, 2011

In late February of 2011 Google made a major adjustment to the way their search engine ranks pages. Originally named “Farmer” by the webmaster community the update was actually renamed by Google itself as “Panda” and has gone through 3 phases so far. Panda 1 in February, Panda 2 in early April and Panda 2.1 in early March.

The update is aimed at diminishing the reward for running a type of website known as a content farm. These websites generate hundreds of thousands of pages of content, typically via user contribution. These pages offer help on a variety of topics and generally are optimized by the website itself or the users to generate higher rankings in search engines. The websites, and sometimes the user, make revenue off of this content.

Many times the content is duplicated from other websites in a process known as ‘scraping’ or the content is ‘spun’ that is to say some words are replaced with versions from a thesaurus.  The first update hit a few well known blogs, including one called Cult of Mac. While Google’s PR team was busy heralding the update as a focus and commitment on quality many webmasters and SEO experts were also cheering on the update as it largely removed these content farms from higher rankings and allowed smaller sites to rank higher. The only website not affected that many thought should be was eHow, a website founded by ex-employees of Google. Their IPO under the company ‘Demand Media’ brought in millions just weeks earlier and valued the company at $1.5 billion.

When Panda 2 came out, the webmaster community turned bitter with many claiming loses of 20-70% of their traffic from Google, costing billions in ad revenue to be shifted from smaller websites to larger websites that are members of the Online Publishers Association, the OPA even claims that it was a deal with Google that led to this change.

Google’s Panda 2.1 update seems to have affected few if any. The rising tide of dissent has begun to drown out Google and the SEO’s close to Google’s team that have been fairly quiet or have been republishing Google’s clear PR material. To answer that rising tide Google made a blog post in April written by one of the developers of the Panda update. This blog post only fueled more anger and speculation that so far Google has been unable to put out.

Now that I’ve got you all brushed up let’s dive into the updates. Panda 1 had a clear and apparent target, content farms. It  seemed to work for the most part hurting the rankings of content farms like EzineArticles and Suite101. A few webmasters grumbled and complained claiming that their rankings dropped, some theorized that content that linked to their website from these affected domains lost link value, a theory that continues.

Here is how I assumed Google may have developed the Panda 1 update. First – check a website to see if it has a LOT of content (amount = x). This is easy to do for Google since they know how many of your pages they index.

Then catagorize the content of those pages. For example say “is this an article on a subject” or “is this text describing something on the website”. For example text on a website can be used to tell users about a value proposition offered by a company. On an ecommerce site the phrase “read reviews from buyers” would be something like to be found and not an article. I’m not so sure on how Google would do it, but as a layman myself I would count the number of characters in nearby blocks. That is to say, if there are 1,000 characters a few lines of code away from another 1,000 characters and it seems to be text I would consider that two paragraphs. I’ve also heard suggestions that they could use semantically correct code to say “this is in a P tag, it must be article based content” and “there are several P tags with content in a row, this must be an article”.

Once the algorithm  determines the type of content (article versus content) it can then perform analysis specific to that type of content. In fact in Amit’s blog post (mentioned above) you can see that there is specific language used on bullet points about “articles” themselves and other bullets about “content”, “page” “ads” and the “site”.

For example in Panda 1 Google could say easily that 800 words or an estimated 4,000 text characters could be counted as an article. So on that content we would want to check spelling and grammar, check for the author information, check to see if the article is duplicated elsewhere on the site or on the web.

Then the udpate could take action if it determined the content on the domain was ‘low-quality’. Action could be pagerank adjustment, deindexing, lowering the rank, or a placing penalty on the entire domain.

Panda 1, for what it seems was probably easy to do. It’s definitely content based and definitely targeted at english language websites, which is why the update was restricted to the U.S. search results only the first time.

Panda 2 according to Google “went deeper into the longtail” a cryptic definition at best. Google claimed that this update would only affect 2% of websites in the USA and extend the algorithm to other English speaking nations around the globe. But the update sent hundreds, if not thousands of webmasters to Google’s support forums demanding to know why they were labeled as ‘low quality’. Many times there was no answer, other times Google staff would claim duplicate content issues.

Duplicate content, until Panda, has always been handled by Google who has sent EXPLICIT instructions to webmasters over the years in their own videos, appearances at conventions and via interviews with SEO’s to ignore duplicate content and allow them to make the adjustments on their end. With Panda that clearly changed, but is it judiciously done? That answer should be clear to anyone who knows Google’s business model. As Aaron Wall over at SeoBook points out, there are several examples where Google encourages duplicate content on their own websites and earns millions in profit from it. One that Aaron missed is “Google Hosted News” which hosts news from the Associated Press. The AP is a great example of duplicate content through the ages being useful for users. In Google’s one blog post on how to avoid the Panda algo they say “Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?” and “Does the article describe both sides of a story?” First off the AP does not describe both sides of the story, and many webmasters and experts are of the thought that duplicate content across domains is also a part of the Panda updates, although not mentioned specifically by Google but mentioned by the OPA (referenced above). Today if you searched for ‘iceland’ on Google News the top result is Google’s hosted news AP article on the subject. If you take a portion of that article and run it on Google’s own search engine you will find 15,700 results, but none of them rank over Google? Did Google do original research? Are they an expert on the subject of Iceland erupting? No they are not, and here they are ranking #1 for an article basically scraped from the AP’s website.

In my own research (sorry I cant release details due to an NDA) it appears that when it comes to cross-domain duplicate content Google is ranking one of the websites on page 1 and pushing others with the same content as far back as page 6. Google itself stated that they were not deindexing content, but adjusting how it ranks. Google is also trying to do source attribution, who originally wrote the article, but they are currently TERRIBLE at it. The page ranking for the duplicated content is usually a high pagerank website. But why is this such a bad thing? There are numerous ‘innocent’ uses of duplicate content like product descriptions, real estate listings, author biographies, etc..

So for example if you sell the same stereo as Amazon.com or Crutchfield then you can’t use the manufacturers description as Google will attribute the description to their website and not realize that it’s a useful duplication that will benefit consumers.

You can repeat the test I did and see if the results are the same to prove or disprove if Panda is just picking one website with copied content and pushing the rest back.

  1. Search for a product
  2. Copy the description content into Copyscape or Google (your choice)
  3. Record the domains that use the content
  4. Search for the product again and record the ranking positions (while not logged in) for each website that uses the content. Also make sure to record the metrics of the domain (i used PageRank of page, PageRank of domain and page authority – as tracked by seomoz) (you might also track direct links to deep content).
  5. Then decide how difficult ranking on each term is, using your own definitions and organize your results in these different difficulty rankings (i did 1-10 where 1 equaled a made up word and 10 equaled ‘google’)
  6. Now see what ranks in between the pages with the duplicate product descriptions.

So if you’re a smaller website and you’ve been clawed by Panda what should you do? In my personal opinion I would delete anything non-unique or original on your pages. If you perform the above test you might see that websites with just a title, price and some reviews will rank for a product with no description above those that have a description.

If you REALLY want to rank for something sit down and write out your own personal description and get links to that product. Google: “Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?”

Build trust and show trust (seals) like Truste and others might help and could improve conversion rates as well. Google: “Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?”

And my final piece of advice is to leverage other search engines (blekko, bing), social media, and offline advertising campaigns. Do not put all of your businesses hopes in Google’s algorithm. This is just the beginning and it appears it will get much more difficult for smaller websites with lots of pages to compete on scale with larger, deeper pocket companies.

Control Your Own Domain Names

January 6th, 2011

The domain name doesn’t get a lot of respect from business owners these days, even with the internet’s explosive popularity. Even the Dallas Cowboys and their heralded owner Jerry Jones seem to give it little thought because halfway through the 2010 season their domain expired. It’s not just the millionaire owner of one of the leagues most popular franchises that gives little thought to their businesses domain name.

Recently I had a client come to me and ask for the login to their domain management account. After reviewing my records I realized that I did not have anything on file for their domain management. After talking with the client again I contacted the domain’s registrar. The domain registrar can’t tell you much about an owner of a domain, so this part took awhile.

After a few hours of comparing the whois information with what little I could glean from the registrar, I discovered that the domain was registered to the restaurants old manager, who was fired a few months earlier.

Now to regain control of their domain the business owner has to either ask an ex-employee who likely doesn’t even know they have the domain in their account, or attempt to prove ownership with the domains registrar. All of which could have been avoided by taking control and setting up their own domain account to hold all of their domains.

Announcing StashSite

April 10th, 2010

We would like to officially announce StashSite is open and available for public use.

What is StashSite?
StashSite is a website where you can quickly stash HTML, a text conversation, css, an image, a flash object, a grocery list for your wife, a todo list for your husband, absolutely ANYTHING you want!

The sky is the limit as long as the code only uses HTML or plain text. No java, javascript, AJAX, PHP, etc.. code will display. StashSite will display the actual code though on the “get code” page attached to each stash at the bottom of the page so you can share code with other programmers. here are some full code examples: http://stashsite.org/usercode/1270183747.html and http://stashsite.org/usercode/1269980864.html

Secret Stash
You can also make a secret stash. By default the stash pages are a randomly generated assortment of numbers, however, your stash can become more private by selecting the check box next to “I’m just testing. Delete after a few hours”. Secret Stashes are erased every 3 hours making this an ideal way to openly transmit a quick message that needs to be kept private.

Start stashing today with our free hosting

Check Keyword Density is Back

March 22nd, 2010

www.CheckKeywordDensity.com went offline a few months ago, but is back online now.

We apologize for the long downtime on the tool.

Help Us Stamp Out Non-Email Spam

May 3rd, 2009

The U.S. Congress passed a bill in 2003 called the ‘CAN-SPAM Act’ the bill was aimmed at the worst offenders of unsolicited electronic messages. Back then those messages were sent via an email or a user to user message on a localized website.

Today spammers have modified their approach and now openly attack forums, blogs, message boards, guest books and comment sections of websites with thousands of unsolicited electronic messages and the worse part is, other websites are allowing this to occur and even profiting from it.

Please join us in the ‘Alliance for Ethics in Online Advertising’ and help us stamp out non-email spam by signing our petition here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/make-comment-forum-and-other-electronic-non-email-spam-illegal

please tell your friends and family to sign the petition as well. Thanks!

New Virus Warning: High Threat Level

April 1st, 2009

As you may have heard the Conficker Virus is no longer dormant and is scanning ten’s of thousands of internet websites for instructions from it’s creator. While no one has reported the virus taking action yet, it may not be long before it goes active.

This virus will be able to capture login data, credit card numbers and other highly sensitive information and transmit it to the virus’s creator. If you don’t know if you have been infected or not please follow these steps:

1st – check to see if you are unable to visit the websites of major internet security firms like these: Symantec, Eset, Avira, or AVG; then it is highly likely you are infected as Conficker will block your access to them.

2nd – If you have noticed any odd changes on your windows machine you might be infected as the worm changes some settings without your permission. This includes disabling Windows Defender, Background Intelligent Transfer Service, Automatic Windows Updates and Error Reporting.

3rd – Download MalwareBytes, install it and run a ‘full’ system scan. If you cannot download the program, run the setup, finish the install or run the program you most likely are infected.

If you have been infected and are able to run MalwareBytes  this program will remove the infection and repair your machine. If you cannot run MalwareBytes then you need to try any of the other following programs and removal tools. Conficker Removal Downloads.

If you are infected and are unable to clean the system yourself you will need to take your machine to a computer repair shop for a system cleanup. Dot Media Offers reasonably priced pc cleanup and repair, contact us for details.

Read More:
Conficker Still Quiet For Now – Yahoo! News
Rid your computer of the Conficker virus – Download.com
Last-minute Conficker survival guide – Yahoo! News

ClassifiedAdsFree.com Top American Cities

February 16th, 2009

If you live in any of the following cities you should be using ClassifiedAdsFree.com to find a job, sell your stuff, advertise your business or find a partner. Out of the 1.5 million USA users the site had in the past year, these cities contributed 317,981 or 21%. These are the most popular American cities in 2008 (source Google Analytics)

1. Grand Praire, TX – 26,620 users
2. Mountain View, CA – 24,957 users
3. Arlington, TX – 24,815 users
4. Dallas, TX – 24,534 users
5. Huntington, NY – 24,210 users
6. Ft. Worth, TX – 23,765 users
7. New York, NY – 23,764 users
8. Chicago, IL – 23,129 users
9. Addison, TX – 22,981 users
10. Irving, TX – 22,315 users
11. Las Vegas, NV – 20,451 users
12. West Hollywood, CA – 19,684 users
13. Houston, TX – 19,320 users
14. Salt Lake City, UT – 17,436 users

The economy is rough, start posting your FREE Classified ads today and live better!

GRDJ.com SOLD

February 11th, 2009

Dot Media has started liquidating some assets and the first site to be purchased was GRDJ.com. GRDJ was originally a placeholder site for a project we had planned, however, the project was shelved due to high cost of development and low interest in the website and GRDJ was turned into a shuffling playlist of electronica/techno music.

With the development plans for the domain shelved and our fiscal budget growing tighter it was decided to liquidate some underperforming websites, of which GRDJ.com was one. The site was sold for an undisclosed amount to a buyer in Europe who plans to maintain grow the current ‘Groover Room DJ’ version of the website.

Email Signature Generator Launched and Keyword Density Checker Acquired

February 2nd, 2009

Our site GmailSignature.net has proven to be very successful and popular with Gmail users wanting to share their email addresses more securely. Based on this success we have launched a new site in our popular services: EmailSignatureGenerator.com

EmailSignatureGenerator.com allows users to generate a secure email signature for Yahoo! Mail, AOL/AIM Mail, Windows Live, Hotmail, MSN and Time Warner Cable’s Road Runner email (in Texas only at the moment).

Dot Media also acquired CheckKeywordDensity.com a site for webmasters and web developers to check the density of keywords on their websites and their competitors websites as well. It is well known that many of the top search engines use complex formulas to determine the density of the keywords in your meta tags and in your content. This service attempts to give users a better understanding of what search spiders are looking at and what they are considering the sites content to be relevant to.


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Things to remember when getting an admission to the training school

Training schools and colleges worth a lot as they provide all the various kinds of training ns material that professional need in order to get ahead of their profession ad contribute at their best. In Australia, people can surely find lots of schools and colleges that offer high quality training options for the students as well as for the professional who looking to enhance their skill for better capabilities.

There are courses like Diploma of Community Services, Certificate III in Information Digital Media and Technology, Diploma of Work Health and Safety, Certificate II in Business and Retail Management Courses as well as the Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management and Aged Care Training schools offering professional diplomas and courses that offer higher level training.

There are many things that you must be keeping mind in order to help yourself getting things better and get the training you need, but the most important things you should never forget are:

You should never enroll or opt to enroll in courses which are wide apart as you will be stuck nowhere and may have to manage things that you are not familiar with. In case if you are likely to get more courses you may consider to have enrolled in courses that you like the most, you should consider having the ones which are related or have similar content in them as well as same level and area of training.

As for example if you are going to attend the Business Management Courses, you should be aware that instead of aged care course you must be looking forward to get to the Diploma Of Business Management.

Further you should know that if you have to get to the top level courses you should not hesitate to enroll in the preliminary courses as they would help you learn things better.

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