WordPress.com are making it easy to black out your own website in protest of SOPA/PIPA. I realise that these are US bills, but the ramifications of such harmful legislation will be felt all over the world. If you are a US citizen, please take a stand!
Wikipedia is amazing, but I’ve come to realise that getting involved in actual editing work there is a very daunting prospect. Adding a link or fixing a typo is simple enough, but when it comes to creating a new article from scratch a new Wikipedian will discover that they have a lot to learn.
In this post I’ve listed what I think are the barriers to entry for an aspiring Wikipedia editor. This post may also be useful as a ‘getting started’ guide.
More truth from The Onion:
Ford Looks Down On Website That Would Let Itself Be Plastered In Ford’s Ads
DEARBORN, MI—Ford Motor Company officials chastised news and commentary website Masthead.com Friday, conceding they were embarrassed to be associated with a publication that would allow the entirety of its award-winning content to be hidden behind splashy, distracting ads for the Ford F-150.
According to the car manufacturer, Masthead‘s decision to allow the “garish” full-screen advertisement—in which a red pickup speeds across news articles, overrunning them with tire-tread marks until readers manage to find the tiny “close” button—suggests the media outlet has zero respect not only for itself, but also for the amount of work that goes into its astute political and cultural coverage.
“They should be ashamed of themselves for letting us come in, plaster our logo everywhere, and, for a measly 50 grand, pretty much destroy the reputation they’ve worked so hard to build,” said Erin Robertson, an ad buyer for Ford who scoffed when Masthead immediately agreed to all of her terms and even suggested its creative staff could write articles mentioning the F-150. “Their coverage of the debt crisis has been pretty insightful, but then they cheapen it by allowing us to completely obscure their writing with a video of a truck bounding over sand dunes.”
From the Business Insider excerpting policy:
We excerpt others the way we hope others will excerpt us.
What does that mean? It means that if you think our stuff is worth bringing to your readers’ attention, we are honored and grateful. Please excerpt it as liberally as you want. In return, please just give us clear credit, links back, and an incentive for interested readers to visit our site. (Not all readers–some.)
This is an issue I agonise over a fair bit, and it’s interesting to learn that BI are actually somewhat more permissive in this area than I would expect them to be.
I had a typical spam comment on my logo design post from yesterday:
thank you for the wonderful posts its my glad to see such a nice resource…
Deleted now, of course.
I had a second comment (on my post about an orb weaver spider I saw, which actually gets pretty good search traffic), only this time the spammer dumped his entire spammy payload in a single comment.
I’ve deleted the original comment, but am reproducing it here for, um, posterity?
The Philosoraptor is probably my favourite advice animal image macro meme series.
The graphic was created for a t-shirt design, but quickly turned up on 4chan as a blank image macro template. Apparently the creator, Sam Smith, was happy to see his work being used, and applied a Creative Commons licence.
I’ve picked a few of my favourites…
Every small business that uses Facebook as their main presence online should take a look at Helipad.me.
This service builds you an attractive and useful web page for your business that pulls your news items, photo albums, status updates, videos and customer information directly from your existing Facebook fan page. At present they only have one template design (in four colours), but I imagine they’ll be quick to expand this and add some customisation features, like the ability to upload company logos and re-arrange the content.
This is a great idea for small businesses who won’t have to worry about managing another website, but will give them a presence on the open web for non-Facebook users like myself. If the day ever comes when they want leave Facebook behind, they’ll already have an established, ranking domain to build up from.
I was curious to break down which blogging platforms this years Wales Blog Awards finalists used.
Google’s Blogger is the clear winner, powering exactly 50% of the blogs up for awards. The rest are evenly split between the hosted WordPress.com service, and the self-hosted WordPress.org version. Only two blogs used some other platform.
Only 13 of the 28 blogs in the list use a custom domain name.* Others are content to use the free subdomain provided by their host.
Of the blogs that ended up winning, 60% used Blogger, with the remaining 40% split evenly between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
All the nominees are listed below. Category winners in bold.
I think Blogger is a great choice, but I’m a little stumped why so many are serious enough about their blogs to seek awards, but are unwilling to spend the £5 to £20 to get a proper domain name.
We’re pleased to announce a wide range of new features and enhancements – including HTML5 support – coming in Kindle Format 8 (KF8). KF8 is the next generation file format for Kindle books – replacing Mobi 7. As showcased on Kindle Fire, KF8 enables publishers to create great-looking books in categories that require rich formatting and design such as children’s picture books, comics & graphic novels, technical & engineering books and cookbooks. Kindle Format 8 replaces the Mobi format and adds over 150 new formatting capabilities, including fixed layouts, nested tables, callouts, sidebars and Scalable Vector Graphics, opening up more opportunities to create Kindle books that readers will love.
I wonder if there is a market for people who can build high quality ebooks for writers?
I’m always sending myself notes via email – in fact I have a special Gmail account just for to-do and to-read items. This cc:to me bookmarklet will make it loads easier to send myself links to websites I want to check out later. I can even include text and images just by dragging it off the page and into the bookmarklet. It’s very slick.
The only flaw I can see is that it doesn’t use the subject line. Ideally, it should at least put the page title in there for quick reference.
(via The Next Web)
Dribbble is a community site for very talented graphic designers. It’s not their role to debate these details. I would love to see a Dribbble for writing. A place where I can post the latest Intercom broadcast, email, even a sentence from the interface and get feedback. “You can strip the word currently there.“, “The important word here is buried in the middle of the sentence!“. “The message makes sense, but what I am supposed to do next?“.
A clever idea. I could see this being useful outside of UX circles. Perhaps for crafting the perfect marketing tweet or optimising a paragraph for SEO? I could even see some ways to make this profitable…
PressBooks is a book-making tool that outputs as epub, print-ready PDF, HTML, and InDesign-ready XML. Built on WordPress.
Determining the number of fake reviews on the Web is difficult. But it is enough of a problem to attract a team of Cornell researchers, who recently published a paper about creating a computer algorithm for detecting fake reviewers. They were instantly approached by a dozen companies, including Amazon, Hilton, TripAdvisor and several specialist travel sites, all of which have a strong interest in limiting the spread of bogus reviews.
Ironically, it seems that machines may be better at detecting fake reviews than people.
Site administrators use CAPTCHAs to prevent automated scripts from performing certain functions, such as creating an account, sending email to a distribution list, or participating in a discussion thread.
That’s fine, as far as it goes. But, frankly, I’d also like to see certain people on the Internet prevented from doing certain things. You know, like: logging onto the Internet.
And so, a modest proposal: Internet Access Captchas, built right into browsers, designed to greatly reduce the overabundance of youtube commenters, MySpacers, and bloggers.
In the early days, I admit, I used to get quite upset by the horrid things trolls said about me. I mean, I’m just a blogger making a case. It’s not like I’m misusing public money in the manner of, say, a UEA “climate scientist”; it’s not like I’m a politician making bad laws or some rent-seeking landowner blighting my neighbours’ views with wind farms. But it’s OK, I’m over it now. What I’ve since learned to appreciate is that the problem with trolls is not my problem: it’s theirs. These are psychologically damaged creatures, eaten up with an awful lot of rage and sense of their own inadequacies.
This Telegraph blog post is a marvellous example of a writer complaining about internet trolls, while at the same time baiting them so hard he surely must be doing it on purpose. Even his bio (which appears right at the top of the page, before the post) is a masterwork in baiting.
James Delingpole is a writer, journalist and broadcaster who is right about everything. He is the author of numerous fantastically entertaining books including 365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy, Welcome To Obamaland: I’ve Seen Your Future And It Doesn’t Work, How To Be Right, and the Coward series of WWII adventure novels. His website is www.jamesdelingpole.com.
How do people’s names differ around the world, and what are the implications of those differences on the design of forms, ontologies, etc. for the Web?
People who create web forms, databases, or ontologies are often unaware how different people’s names can be in other countries. They build their forms or databases in a way that assumes too much on the part of foreign users. This article will first introduce you to some of the different styles used for personal names, and then some of the possible implications for handling those on the Web.
This article doesn’t provide all the answers – indeed in some cases it may not be clear what the best answer is. It attempts to mostly sensitize you to some of the key issues by way of an introduction.
Worth reading for the examples they use alone.
Beautiful by itself isn’t that hard — there are lots of beautiful sites on the web, and lots of talented designers. When it comes to effective story discovery, the innovation has all been in the direction of algorithms and raw feeds. An algorithm is how Facebook surfaces items in your News Feed; a raw feed is how Twitter organizes tweets from the people you follow, in straight reverse chronological order. But neither of those is perfect for human editorial control, which is something news organizations rightly value; there are tons of visual and contextual cues on those complicated nytimes.com pages that tell me what Times editors think is more or less important for me to see.
While Nieman Journalism Lab approached from a journalist’s perspective, Paul Scrivens on Drawar takes a designers view:
Why can’t news agencies get on the ball and realize they are missing a great opportunity to leap ahead of their competition? Whenever you read about the newspaper industry all you hear about is the decline of revenue and how all papers will soon disappear. Everyone is fighting for eyeballs and the way they do it is by looking exactly like their competition?
Now I know it doesn’t have as much content as the NYT, but don’t you wish that more news sites looked like Gapers Block? Would you ever have a problem going to a beautiful site like that to catch up on what is happening today? Hell, wouldn’t you go back to check even more just because of the pleasant design? We are forced to go somewhere if we want our news and that is what is keeping these horrible news sites alive.
Is it wrong to like the Rutledge redesign? Of course not. It is a beautifully laid out page and the aesthetics are spot on, but I just think news sites need a bit more treatment than what we can get from a blog format. This may requires a whole new line of thinking that we haven’t seen before and I do believe the NYT is on the right path with Skimmer. The site itself probably publishes hundreds of news items a day. The current version of their homepage is how they believe they should handle passing all of the information to their audience. It doesn’t make it right, but it helps to show their line of thinking.
My posts here tagged news are, IMO, some of the most interesting on this blog. This post is a follow-up to News redux: Fixing news presentation online, and I expect to be posting some more ideas I have on this subject soon, in the same vein as my Permanews: Old news is good news post.
- Moby Dick Project: Rethinking news presentation on the web
- What can The Drudge Report teach web designers? (Updated today to include a reference to this 37signals article on the same subject.)
Most news outlets, including TV news shows and networks, newspapers, news websites, and blogs are targeted at news junkies: they never want to miss a story, and they want to be the first to report it to you.
If you look back on these stories even one week later, the majority of them seem unimportant or redundant in retrospect. And if you stop consuming the firehose for a few days or more, you’re lost — there are very few publications that give a general overview of what has happened, especially when venturing outside of mainstream front-page news and into a subsection, such as technology news.
I want last week’s news, but only what I need to know, and only if it has proven to have relevance beyond the day it was published.
I had an idea in this vein a few weeks ago, but neglected to blog about it. I called my idea permanews. Instead of being delayed arbitrarily, the news would stick around until it genuinely started to become irrelevant.
On the Permanews site, every story becomes one story, wiki style. As the story develops, the article grows and changes. There are revision histories and links to related stories etc, but at any point you should be able to visit the story and get a chronological breakdown of what happened.
Critically – and this is key – stories with pending outcomes are flagged for follow-up. If some MP promises some reform by ‘this time next year’, then 356 days later the algorithm promotes the old story as fresh news so it can be checked and updated.
Stories are promoted as headlines based on importance (activity/upvotes), not because they are current or ‘breaking’. (Presumably though, you could filter the stories any number of ways).
The algorithm would be key here: ‘Importance’ would need to trump ‘popularity’ somehow (if that’s even possible).
The inadequacies of the various ‘like’ buttons that appear all over the web have been noted before, but a post from Ed Walker tonight inspired me to mock up an idea I’ve had for a simple way to bring some more semantic meaning to these buttons. Ed says:
What is the recommended button there for? The equivalent of a Facebook like? A chance to show you appreciate the story, the author or the subject?
I’ve spotted a trend on WalesOnline, whenever we report the death of a young person [...] we don’t get comments (very rarely) but we do get a lot of recommendations. Constantly in the most recommended lists, knocking rugby stars and political debates down a peg or two. Facebook is for posting the RIP messages and joining groups expressing your sorrow, sharing that grief with your friends, but local media sites are the way to show the wider world (outside of the Facebook login) that the death of a friend/relative is important to the community.
It seems in the case of the death of young people it’s a way of showing you care. It says to us as editors that you think this story is important, you’re showing us it should be high up the news list and it should be featured.