I have been blogging since 2006. In that time I have noticed more than a few ‘flashes in the pan’; that is- blogs and websites who rose to great heights only to crash and disappear a few short years later. Each one is a story in itself.
Some of them had timely messages that became outdated, others developed credibility problems which ultimately drove the readers away. Some bloggers were just angry and ornery and others just quit.
This article is for those who want to stick around and be a blessing to others. The following are two good tips that can help you in the long run from blogger extraordinaire- Chris Garrett:
- Generosity – Not just giving away “stuff” but generosity with your time, your experience, your advice, patience, humour, positivity and support. Actual generosity comes from wanting the best for the people you are serving, not a trick to get what you want down the line. If you are truly generous then you don’t need to put on an act. People can tell.
- Honesty – Real honesty not the fake it till you make it faux earnestness that some social media gurus advise you to paint over your true character. Again, if you are liar then you had better have a good memory. Honest people don’t have to pretend or remember the stories they told, because they lived them.
Response: These two tips are a wonderful fit for Christian bloggers who are in it help and encourage others. They also reflect the New testament teaching of Jesus rather well. I would add just two more tips to anyone who wants a long-term presence or ministry on the Internet:
1. Have a God-given vision of why you are here and what you are doing.
2. Keep on Keeping on regardless.
Genuine ‘trackbacks’ are wonderful indications that your blogging efforts are actually being appreciated. In most blogging platforms trackbacks are automatic. If your have been blogging for a while this is nothing new.
A valuable genuine trackback happens when someone writing a post on another site places a link in the midst of it to one of your articles. A ‘trackback’ to where that link was placed shows up in the comment line of your original article. Lately however, I have been getting what I call ‘bottombacks,’ ‘nothingbacks,’ and ‘spambacks’ more often then genuine trackbacks.
I moderate all comments and trackbacks before they show up on my site unless they are coming from a previously approved commenter. So every ‘trackback’ means that a decision must be made. Genuine trackbacks, that actually refer to something said in an article, are easy since they provide valuable links to the content on your site. The others, not so much.
‘Bottombacks’ appear to be trackbacks but when you follow it back you find that your article is linked at the bottom of a post that may or may not even be related to what your original article was all about. Sometimes your link may be buried in the midst of 10 to 20 other bottombacks. If the linking article is at least on topic than I usually confirm it and let it appear. If the article is not even related to mine then it depends upon whether I like the other site or not whether I let the trackback appear on mine. Since even ‘bottombacks’ provide a link to your site I usually lean towards allowing them.
‘Nothingbacks’ show up just like trackbacks and bottombacks but when you follow them back, the link to your site no longer exists. These are the most frustrating of all since you can waste 5-10 minutes trying to find the non-existing ‘nothingbacks’ which were probably erased shortly after the post was originally published.
‘Spambacks’ are just like comment spam only they come in the form of a trackback. When you follow the link it takes you back to a commercial or porno site. Sometimes the link is in the form of a bottomback among a hundred others. Nevertheless the decision to delete is an easy one to make. Fortunately most of these are eliminated by spam blockers. *Top
(Picture by Sybren A. Stüvel via Flickr)
Anyone who has read blogs and websites for a while has run across the ‘hit and run’ totally angry troll commenter who doesn’t really respond to the post at all but wants to hurt and insult the writer or some of the previous commenters. Sometimes those comments could have been taken as actual threats if they were given in person. But the anonymity of the Internet leads to a given amount of hyperbole that most are able to discount and dismiss.
However in a recent case, the Federal Department of Justice was not nearly as forgiving. In fact the Feds are seeking the real identities of some commenters and forcing a website to turn over all of their user and commenter records. The government officials considered some heated comments made in jest to be actual threats against a federal judge. From Motherboard:
The Department of Justice has ordered libertarian website Reason.com to turn over the information of six commenters after they made threats against the federal judge who presided over the Silk Road trial.
Ken White of the blog Popehat obtained the grand jury subpoena issued by the Department of Justice last week, which demands "any and all identifying information” the website has pertaining to the threatening commenters. This includes email addresses, telephone numbers, IP addresses, and billing information associated with the accounts.
So there you have it. Threatening sounding comments can not only get the commenters in legal trouble but even the blog or website they are allowed to appear in. This is another reason that every site needs to have an official ‘Comment Policy’ and closely regulate everything that is posted. Read my following post on this issue:
Also read my following articles on commenting and responding to comments:
Some Thoughts on Blogging Etiquette (comment section)
404 No Longer Here!
You may not have any broken links on your site but that doesn’t mean you don’t have some ‘bad’ ones. I have posted before on the importance of cleaning up and eliminating any broken links since search engines like Google downgrade or penalize sites which have them. But links from past articles can give you problems in other ways by taking your readers to places you never originally intended or worse, where you would never want to go as a Christian site.
The other day the WordPress Broken Link Checker plugin working on my site told me that I had over a thousand links and none of them were broken. Nevertheless, when I checked in on a supposedly successful ‘world evangelism’ site that I had posted on 5 years ago I ended up being re-directed to a porno page. Right then I decided that it was time to check all of my past articles and links. A daunting task since I have been posting on this blog for over 8 years and have written over 300 articles in that time.
In the process I flushed 17 whole articles on stuff that no longer existed and eliminated more than 20 links along with re-directing quite a few others. That amazing plugin I posted on 5 years ago is not so much anymore, and that ‘free’ blogging host is no longer even in existence. This is what I found out and should have known all along.
The Internet is in flux and constantly changing with new sites and apps going up every day along with old blogs and programs constantly going out of existence and disappearing. Meanwhile the domains may still be active but the destinations may be nothing like the originals you linked to and many times nothing but link farms or domain seller sites like GoDaddy. In some cases, the original site or author might still be there but the articles or stuff you linked to is now at a different address and it takes a little research to find them.
Here’s an easy place to start. Check out your old ‘blog roll’ if you still even have one. You may be surprised to find that some of those blogs and sites that were so ‘great’ a few years ago are now inactive or no longer there. *Top
Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.
Google’s Mobile Friendly Test site
Here’s a link to Google’s test site to see if your website or blog is ‘mobile friendly.’ Enter your ‘URL’ and find out where you stand in a minute or less.
Why It is Important
According to Google, there are now more mobile devices using the Internet than computers worldwide. On April 21, 2015, Google’s new algorithm began taking ‘mobile-friendliness’ into consideration in ranking sites and producing search results. So traffic to your site could definitely be affected.
For those of you who are using WordPress there are several plugins that can help you become mobile friendly including one in ‘Jetpack’. The one I am using on all of my sites is the free version of the WPtouch Mobile Plugin. All of my sites passed the test so it actually works. Here’s a link to their page. If you get this plugin or if you are already using it, it is very important to update and properly configure. After the last update I discovered that the plugin was set to call up my ‘About’ page by default rather than the ‘Home’ page with all of my posts.
This is for all of you bloggers who have woken up one morning and discovered an offensive ad generated by Google AdSense on your site. If this hasn’t happened to you then you are either new or you haven’t monetized your website with AdSense or something like it that generates ads on your site that are ‘supposed’ to target and compliment the content.
What to Do With Offensive Ads
Some site publishers are content merely put an ‘ad disclaimer’ right above each spot where the AdSense ads appear or a general ‘Ad Disclaimer’ somewhere on the website (which I favor and we will explore later in this post). Some will say that the best way to get rid of them entirely is take AdSense off of your blog and set up affiliate ads that really do compliment your content. This I have done to a greater degree lately. However, I have found that AdSense is still a valuable tool in monetizing sites with only moderate to low daily traffic. So most of all, I just want to get rid of offending ads once and for all by blocking them from my sites.
AdSense has made it easy to block any advertising that you find offensive once you discover the address. That is the rub sometimes, since it violates your agreement with Google to merely click through the ad on your own site. However, on a number of occasions I was able to find the offending ad on another blog and click through for the address.
While some ads list the address on the illustration itself most do not. Sometimes you can find a clue to the address by hovering over the ad. But the most offensive of all seem intent on hiding their destination with impossibly long assorted numbers, letters, and dashes that are no help at all in determining its final resting place. Sometimes it takes a little Internet research to find and block a truly offending ad.
The most effective method that I have found to determine a ‘hard to find’ ad address is to ‘google’ it’s message. If you find it offensive others will also and there will be comments about those very same ads all over the web. Recently I had an ad showing a scantily dressed woman implying that she helps men over 40 break their wedding vows (on my Bible Study site). I ‘googled’ the message and found out that I wasn’t the only Christian site that was plagued by that offensive ad. One Christian discussion site had the actual address listed in order to protest. One more ad on my ‘do not go’ blocked out forever list.
Setting Up an ‘AD Disclaimer’
Regardless of the type of advertising showing up on a site, I believe that it is important to have some kind of ‘Ad Disclaimer’ appearing on every page with ads or at least a link to an ‘Ad Disclaimer’ page. I also believe that it is important to give the readers a contact link in order to alert or complain about any offensive ads showing on your site.
I have seen tasteful disclaimers at the bottom of a page or even in a sidebar. I really do not like those which protest their own monetizing by placing the disclaimers (e.g.: “Ads are not necessarily endorsed by this site”) right above or below the ads themselves. It seems rather disingenuous to me even if they are effective.
Recently I set up an ‘AD Disclaimer’ page on everyone of my websites. A link to the ‘Ad Disclaimer’ is displayed at the top of every page included in the template of all individual posts and articles. See the ‘Ad Disclaimer’ link at the very top of this page. If you click on the link the following message appears:
Re: Offensive ADs Appearing On This Site
Please be Aware: The publisher of Blogging Ministry does not necessarily support the advertising showing up on this blog generated by Google’s AdSense program. It does help to pay for some of our website expenses but sometimes the ads are offensive and diametrically opposed to the Christian message promoted on this site.
As much as possible we take the time to block ads that are particularly troublesome but we can’t seem to get rid of all of them since new ones show up all of the time. Please bare with us on this issue.
If you see an ad on our site that is particularly offensive please alert us as soon as possible:
This is similar to the ‘Ad Disclaimer’ page that I have placed a link to at the top of all of my sites. Meanwhile, I will continue to be vigilant in keeping offensive ads off my site and at least now my readers have an opportunity to sound the alarm and comment on any offensive ads still falling through the cracks. *Top