making writing sites better

Oh, views where you have gone?

One of the things that are important to remember is that comments are one of the things that help authors. The deep comment thread (multiple comments) carries with it a fantastic bonus. First off, if the feedback is given to an author and they reply, it is a beautiful gift. If a conversation ensues with that, you will see many more views on your post. Simply put, every comment is gold!

But it is important to remember this. The conversation is where the value happens. If you have one comment from the author and the 30 from another author, without a give and take, that doesn’t help as much as a conversation with 30 comments from both. When there is a friendly conversation, other authors leave comments.

The other thing to consider is the health of the site. One of the things the google AdSense engine does is it parses the posts and matches that toads (the lower ads that have products). Why am I bringing that up? Well, here is the sad reality for us going forward. AdSense pays on view time. The fact of a post that is opened upvoted, and then the reader moves on, is a 15 to 20 second opening of that post. The impact of that sadly is that the site gets less money. So, if you open, upvote, and move on, you are impacting all of us indirectly. Take a moment (or 45 seconds) and either leave a comment or simply read the post. The more people understand, the longer the average time per post is, and the more the site gets paid.

A couple of issues, please let me know if they have impacted you.

  1. Unable to post (you get a permissions issue).
  2. The post goes to the moderators, you are notified it is approved, but you cannot see the post anywhere on the site (including your profile).

I sent the author names to the admin team that has both these issues but happy to add names if more authors have these two issues.


working from home

I have been enjoying Kim’s question posts. I thought I would adapt that and leave a few questions in the polls!

One of the things a friend of mine mentioned to me in an email yesterday was, “why the just for the fun stuff?” I replied with just trying to cheer people up. We talked about his situation, he is stuck right now away from home and not able to go home (his wife and daughter have tested positive, his wife now is past the infection, but his daughter tested positive later). Based on that, he is staying with his brother for 14 more days. He was talking about the differences in the feeling of not being home. I wonder how many people are in this boat, not able to be or leave home because of the virus itself. Luckily around the beginning of May, my pal will get to go home.

The other thing he was talking about was that his brother isn’t a techie. So, there isn’t a video conferencing system at his house. My buddy does a similar job to mine, often working from home. So the presence of a conferencing system is critical for him most of the time. Now, he is huddled in the dining room of his brother’s house, whispering on his cell phone. He said, “I have to charge my phone four times a day now.  He also has to change his headset twice a day. Funny how modern work virtually anywhere, but it isn’t always easy when anywhere is someplace new!  He left me with a question that I hadn’t thought about, but have considered a while ago.

What are the two or three things you have to have to do your job? I suspect my list is different than most folks but well here goes:

  • Portable projector (small)
  • Extra battery charger for tablet/cell phone
  • Headset for computer
  • Headset for cell phone

Now, here is the fun asks – what do you need? Is it a dedicated physical workspace? Or do you have other things that you need to get the things done you have to do? Share in the comments!


The internet traffic is up…

Thank you – to the anonymous downvoter – I got to buy something I’ve wanted because you downvoted my comments more than 30 times! Thank you so much. I will never forget your act of kindness!

I sent yesterday’s post to the admin team – with our asks.

Now on to our regularly scheduled technology column! Today considering the internet, I got some interesting statistics the other day that I thought people would find interesting.

  1. On average, there are more calls in every country every day now, than the busiest calling day of the year. It has been that way for three straight weeks now!
  2. There are more people on average connected to the internet than the system has ever seen before.
  3. While there have been brownouts (internet down) in some countries, overall, the outages have been regional and not global.

Amazingly, the internet hasn’t had an issue overall with the sheer amount of traffic. The amount of streamed content has increased. The number of searches on Google and Bing has increased. But, overall, the internet is doing well. I am impressed with the sheer reality of more people at home doing more things on the internet, and it is still doing ok.

Now in fairness, there are several reports of slowness around the world in accessing sites—the more users on a website, the higher the likelihood of that site struggling. The bellwether sites (the ones that tend to have the most traffic overall) are built for more traffic than they are experiencing now, although it is a good test over all of the systems.

So if your internet is a little slow – it is ok. I heard a great analogy the other day that makes a lot of sense. There is an average of 2.3 people per “home” in the world. More than 44% of homes have one person. 56% of households have more than two people for that average globally. But the analogy is this, two months ago, there were 10 or 12 people at home in a neighborhood and 1 of them was using the internet, Now there are 50 people home, and 40 of them are using the internet. Consider that when you increase a system by four times, it will often struggle. We have not had a lousy outage or “burp yet!”


Making writing sites better

Good morning!

Time to reopen for the 9th or so time, how can we make our site better. One of the things that a lot of people have noticed lately is that their comments are being downvoted. Check the polls for a couple of recommendations and pick the option that you think fits best. I am having fun with all the downvotes. Right now, my personal best is 23 downvotes on a single post. I figure if I work hard, I can get to 30 downvotes! I am buying myself a new tech toy if I get to 30 downvotes on one spot! Fingers crossed that this is the post that pushed me to that new personal record of 30 downvotes. That would make my Friday just a little bit better have 30 downvotes to admire!

Plus, I get to buy a gadget, so for me, it is a win-win!

A couple of authors have reported they are experiencing two issues. I will list the problems next but wanted to note, please email the email address. They need to know when things aren’t working correctly.

  1. Then you don’t have permission to post error. I know two authors have seen that. Always start with the “try another browser” option. It seems to go away in a couple of days, but of course, email support.
  2. The missing post-issue appears to have returned (you post, it is approved, but you cannot find it in your profile or on the site).

If you have either of these, let me know I am tracking issues. But please contact the support email, letting me know it is good, but the admin team can help you!

The excellent news polls appear to have been fixed (or at least back to the way there were!). I haven’t tried a quiz in more than two years, but I noticed authors were doing quizzes, and they were doing well! Please feel free to express your yes or no in the poll. The important thing, however, is, include comments. I send the information and the link to the post to the admin team, so comments become critical information for the admins!

I will end with this thought. Today is the first day to make changes that will last beyond tomorrow!


Down vote mania!

“rainy days and downvotes never get me down.”

I used to enjoy the show on TV that featured performers doing skits. My favorite line was “and the points don’t matter.”

“And the downvotes don’t matter!”

An author I respect and a reader that isn’t on this site both asked me yesterday, one in an email and one in a comment, why all the downvotes. I honestly have a guess, but I don’t know for sure. I do know that if my opinion is right or wrong, I still don’t care about the downvotes. Feel free to continue downvoting the only impact that has on me is the number of times I can stop and laugh. Downvoting is a form of civil discourse. I am entirely comfortable if someone doesn’t like what I said or if they don’t like a picture I’ve shared. It is perfectly acceptable to say I don’t like or agree with this and downvote. As I said, the number of downvotes makes me laugh, but the action is understood.

The view curve has flattened a bit more than it had, but we seem overall stable now. That is a perfect sign. During January, we continued downward. We are up a little from that low point. I have spent a lot of time looking at and reviewing information on the internet in the past couple of days as part of a work project. In so doing, I have found something exciting things. One of them is the reality of anger management.  I know that many people struggle with the concept of anger management. We and I include myself in that bucket; all reach a point where we lose our tempers. It is part of life to lose our tempers. All of us at one time or another have done it.

The question isn’t, and the healthy recommendations I’ve read over the past few days is can you put that anger down. Can you walk away from that anger? Mental Health professionals tell us two things: we all operate from a mixed bag. The other thing Mental Health professionals often say is that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results each time. Operating from a mixed bag means that we all have emotional baggage that we carry with us. We have things that make us uncomfortable. That is where we start. Sometimes we can’t put aside the bag of goodies we brought with us, and it forces us to remain in place. Sometimes we can. It is the reality of humans. You see, one of the definitions of human beings losing touch with reality is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But because we operate from a mixed bag, sometimes we do the same things, and the results are different.

We don’t expect to explode or get frustrated, but we do.

Let’s say something beautiful to someone today!


Good news from the Tech world

I am going to wander off on a technology quest today. One of the things I read yesterday on the Snapmaker Facebook site, was that they, Snapmaker, had released PPE templates for their printers to an opensource site. Wow Doc, what does that mean? Well, it means that you can create a transparent plastic sneeze shield at home with your 3d printer. Now, I wish I had my Snapmaker (I am delayed because of COVID and won’t get it until July). Still, though, I would call out something positive going on in the tech world. The other positive thing I got from the tech world is that my former employer, in particular the reasons I worked there Bill Gates, has given more than 250 million dollars to help those researching COVID-19 cures.

I worked for the company for 15 years. During that time, I got to meet Mr. Gates several times, including having lunch with him twice. What he and Melinda (his wife) are doing to help others is fantastic. So I thought what other tech companies are doing things right now to make the world a better place in this time of trouble. The cellular networks are all doing a forgive period right now for mobile bills, not that you shouldn’t pay your bill. If you can, you should always pay your way. But if you can’t, they won’t be shutting off your cell phone. Insurance companies are reducing the amount of money we are paying for car insurance and returning that money to us.

Cloud providers are providing additional cloud assets to companies researching COVID-19 cures. So overall there are a lot of good things happening. I suspect we often find ourselves struggling to find good news. Right now, I know in looking for good news, I had to wade through a lot of bad news. I guess in times of trouble; we have to lift a few more rocks to find the good news. The other and finally good news I will share for today is the impact of people being home. Yes, the economic impact has been tremendous. But the effect on the environment has been amazing. Two days ago I saw a red fox in the field where my dog and I walk. Just standing there, waiting and so beautiful.

Nature is doing fine.


IMHO Fake news and…

One of the things that worries me and something I have published many times is the concept of information. Information is an important thing. When I was growing up, the world was different than it today. There were peer-reviewed journals; then, there still are today, but the value of those journals got thrown away. The concept of Fake News, Disinformation, and the exploding of conspiracy theories makes it hard to find useful information. One of my favorite internet memes is this one “there are a lot of falsehoods on the internet” Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln being sadly dead and long-buried before the internet was even possible (the origins of the internet we today was a Darpa project in the 1960s.

Part of the problem, of course, lies on the shoulders of the news media today. They, in a rush for 24 hours of content a day, have allowed for the concept of “opinion pieces” to be shared. The internet has also given rise to a huge disinformation source and the resulting conspiracy theories. It is essential in all cases to trust the information you get but verify that information. Tying that back to our current situation as authors, we don’t know what we don’t know. We know that the moderators do two things, one they approve the posts of non-verified users. Two, they verify that the post as shared was not previously published in the days of academic journals that were called Plagiarism.

BY the by, in the day of those journals, a plagiarized article costs you your career. I am not fighting for a return to the past. I would like to push forward more positively. Many years ago, when I was first reading the newspaper, there were syndicated columnists that enjoyed reading. Erma Bombeck and Dave Berry (yes, I have a weird sense of humor). They, Erma and Dave, were often on the front page of the paper, but they were listed as being humorists, not columnists. I would love to see that now for some of the people on the many global news channels. Someone, however, who has spent years perfecting their knowledge of how things work, has the right to publish and options. It just needs to be listed as such.

It isn’t a fact; it is an opinion. Everyone has opinions. Some people have worked their whole lives and present exciting ideas. But no matter what it needs to have that IMHO in front of it!

(IMHO, in my humble opinion).