Google vs. Content Farms, and Your Blog

\"\"Google has made several updates on their search algorithm this year in order to combat spam-like contents from search results and they also released a Chrome extension, called Personal Blocklist, which is essentially crowdsources detection of websites that look like spam.

Two of the updates we know so far were dubbed as \”Scrapper Update\” and \”Farmer Update\” and these updates overlap with 84% of the top 50 websites blocked by users using Google\’s Personal Blocklist which means that the websites affected were also perceived to have low-quality or spammy content.

There are many blogs out there that are automated to find popular search terms and crawl the internet for articles and Q&A kind of websites to produce \”content\”. While this is a shady business, it could be used for legitimate purpose as well if you are syndicating content from other websites.

The Scrapper Update is primarily affecting the sites with low levels of original content. Most of which are pulling content from other sources legitimately or by aggregating content automatically by means of RSS which is a common blackhat SEO practice.

On the other hand, the Farmer Update targets sites with shallow or low quality content. Google wouldn\’t confirm if it is actually targeting content farms but by definition, Google is waging war against content farms.

There are several reports that studied the effects of the recent Google algorithm updates. You can read one here. Many have thought that eHow will lose ground on many keywords but according to several websites, eHow actually gained visibility. What is surprising to see is that ezinearticles.com, squidoo.com and hubpages.com, which are considered by many as white hat method of generating and promoting content, have lost the most visibility.

Because of this, some websites, including your blog, which are depending on promoting content through articles and lenses may also drop several places in Google\’s search results due to domino effect. If you are wondering if your website might be affected, I found this self-diagnostic kit to be useful in monitoring the effects of Google\’s updates. If you are running a blog, and if you you are heavily depending on the mentioned websites to gain visibility, it\’s time to reconsider other methods such as Youtube and Facebook, which gained considerable amount of visibility from the latest Google update.

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Digital Libraries, Wikipedia and Google

\"library\"I came across this blog post talking about the closure of large numbers of libraries in the UK and I also watched a video about  a man crying over a library closing in Philadelphia so perhaps you have thought of this question in one way or another: who needs libraries when we have the Internet anyway?

Before I continue, let me clarify that I am not against libraries. During high school, I spent majority of my free time in the library reading periodicals and science journals. I just want to reflect on this  because I have been asking this burning question at the back of my mind for years.

Perhaps the old libraries that we are familiar with are fast becoming obsolete. You can\’t really blame the statistics when most people rather user the Internet to search for information rather than flip books and search catalogs. Most of our local libraries are not catching up with the technology and there are increasing number of online alternatives which provide basic reference already.

Even before I started pre-school, my parents already bought me a mini library. It is a set of Encyclopedia Britannica with 30 volumes. There are 100,000+ articles spread across the volumes but I have probably read less than 100. To think that encyclopedias are so freaking expensive, we could have bought a digital library or lifetime e-library subscription for a fraction of the cost. Google have indexed more than a trillion web pages and Wikipedia have at least 3 million articles, and both are free.

It\’s common nowadays that people google things they don\’t know about and when school kids do their homework they use Wikipedia. Generally, it is only when students enter college that they appreciate libraries more because citing periodicals and scholarly materials is important to make their thesis research credible.

It seems inevitable that books will be replaced by e-books and library catalogs by e-library catalogs compatible to any mobile devices like iPhone, iPad or Android phones but I don\’t think we should have less libraries. You should read more about Library innovation for the knowledge society written by Kirsten Drotner. I have reproduced the table here for the summary.

Table 1: Library innovation and socio-cultural conditions

Industrial society Information society Knowledge society
Aim of library use Cultural discrimination (taste) ==>
Personal relevance of cultural choice
Universal and free access to information ==> Information literacy Universal and free use of information and fiction ==> Multimodal literacy
Definition of library/librarian Cultural custodian ==> Cultural guide Information disseminator Knowledge facilitator
Definition of material/content Material entity, physical artifact Non-material process ==> Effective, reliable information processing Material artifacts and non-material processes ==> Information and fiction
Definition of user Receiver of choice ==> Cultural consumer Information producer and evaluator Knowledge producer, cooperator and cultural citizen

Public libraries can build on those trends by redefining the physical libraries as informal knowledge centres and by developing their professional competences in close collaboration with other knowledge partners both in the private and public sectors

Will Google put libraries out of business? Yes and No. As Rich McCue put it on his topic about Google vs. The Library , Google and the internet have already put some libraries out of business by providing basic reference material; however, libraries in the future will be the primary sources of high quality and expensive research databases like Pub Med and difficult-to-get online journals. Two examples are Yale Medical Digitization and Michigan Digitization Project. It\’s interesting to note that Google is helping University of Michigan to digitize the entire print collection of the University Library using Google Book Search.

The future of libraries depends on innovation and we will see a lot of libraries undergoing digitization for the coming years. I also encourage everyone to support your local libraries. Read books!

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Nokia WordPress Mobile Client Released

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There are official WordPress mobile clients for Apple iOS, Google Android and RIM Blackberry. It\’s not surprising that Nokia will have its own, too.

Just like all existing WordPress clients, the app can manage posts, pages and comments but unlike others, the WordPress for Nokia supports viewing of stats (visitors, referrers and searches).

At the moment, it is only compatible with selected Nokia models such as N97 Mini and X6. If you are unsure if it works on your Nokia cellphone, just go to Ovi app store and click on \”Set my cell phone\”. Once you have selected your cell phone model, it will show if the app is compatible with your phone. Symbian^3 users will have to wait a little bit more because the Symbian^3 version is still in development according to Nokia Dev blog.

The app is now available in Ovi app store for free.

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Changing WordPress API key used for stats

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Some people prefer to maintain privately hosted WordPress installation than using WordPress.com because you have more control and freedom using a privately hosted WordPress blog. However, there are certain features that you have to unlock or activate using a WordPress.com account such as WordPress.com Stats and Akismet.

Today, I tried to change the API key that I am using for my blog because I recently restructured my blog and cleaned things up. I couldn\’t remember how or when did WordPress.com started merging Gravatar accounts. I was confused and now I have two API keys for two WordPress.com accounts but I have activated my WordPress Stats using the wrong account. Yeah, I know it is confusing, but to get to the point, I have to change the WordPress API key I used for the stats, and also with Akismet.

The instruction found in WordPress.com support is helpful to a certain extent. You can go and check how to change the API up to step #6.

After doing step #6 however, I didn\’t get the \”Please enter an API key\” warning but I went through and disabled the plugin and reactivating it again.  Clicking WordPress.com Stats from the admin menu didn\’t prompt me to change the API key. It just tells me that user \”xxxx\” is not authorized to view the stats of this blog.

At this point I didn\’t know what I have done wrong because I followed the steps correctly. If you have the same problem take note that you have to follow steps #1 to #6 on how to change the API key before you proceed here.

I thought that If the API setting is not in custom configuration, it must be in the database. It must be.

So I used phpMyAdmin to search my WordPress tables for keywords like \”%API%\” (with wildcard) and I found several entries. You should be interested in wp_options table where you can find stats_options entry under option_name field and you should only edit the option_value entry. Check the screenshot below for reference:

\"editing

You should see the old API key. Change that with the new one, then save it. That\’s all you have to do here. After that, go to the admin menu, click Site Stats and you should be able to view your website\’s statistics already.

I hope this helps. If it doesn\’t work, you can always contact WordPress.com support.

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What’s Wrong With Technorati

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This really made me sad.

Early this year I blogged about my problem with Technorati . After about 9 months, I realize that the problem is still persisting.

It is really awful because when you look at their getSatisfaction support, there are many unresolved problems and bugs that are being worked on for more than a year. One of the most glaring issue: you can\’t edit your profile. It was mentioned that the issue is widespread but there is still no fix yet.

The profile I have in my Technorati account is dated back in 2004. That is about 6 years already so I figured I have to update it. However, I can\’t do anything because even if I update my profile, nothing happens. It would have been easier if Technorati permits account deletion but there is no option for that. I think you have to email one the support helpdesk just to get your account deleted  but that is troublesome.

Technorati is supposedly one of the largest social media network for bloggers. There is no doubt it is still a good source of information on the pulse of the blogosphere but I am starting to doubt already due to all the inconveniences it is causing. I am sure I not alone with this sentiment towards their service.

On the second thought their service is still in beta since 2008. But even so… it is still disappointing.

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Starting Again

Times have changed and my blog is heading in a new direction. On the second thought, I have to say that it had gone in the wrong direction so I am correcting it now.

One of the most important lessons I learned from blogging for the last 6 years is that you must embrace change—fast. Technology will not wait for you so one must quickly adapt to the ever-changing environment. On top of that, readers won’t wait for your posts. If they find better content from another source and you do not catch up on improving your content or at least try to update them, you’re not going anywhere but to oblivion!

You may have noticed that I have not updated my blog for a while. A long while actually.  Looking back, I can’t really explain what stalled my entries and inspiration. I used to write almost daily until I wrote almost weekly and from weekly, it was lucky when I posted at least once a month. I felt that my inspiration had run dry. Fortunately, things have changed for good.

Like many people my age, ‘quarter-life’ crisis is inevitable. Somewhere between 20 to 30 years of existence, you will try to pursue things that will determine your calling because every person has to know his purpose in life. I believe I found mine. It is not like I am confused of what I want to do with my life. I know what I want in life and I know what to do but it is the circumstances surrounding me that kept me from moving forward. I dealt about my personal problems offline and I am in a much better condition now. Thank God.

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If you are an old reader and you just came back here, you will notice that I have tidied up my WordPress theme. It should be more SEO friendly. I also changed and corrected some post categories. The idea is that this blog would still be personal but it will be more technical, more updated and sociable. I didn’t know I am tracking social media since 2005 but it took me that long before I realized it.  I am still tweaking some settings like minor adjustments in CSS and graphics, and so far so good.

the hardest part of ending is starting again

In one of the rock songs I’ve been listening lately, the lyrics go like this: “the hardest part of ending is starting again.” And it is true. I have just ended a very long hiatus. This may not be easy at first but it will be increasingly fun to do because I am beginning a new chapter of this blog. One with more maturity, focus and purpose.

Follow me @metallicvapor in Twitter.

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The Challenges Ahead

It\’s nearly august and I will celebrate my 6th year of blogging. I can\’t remember for what particular purpose I was blogging but looking at how immature and simplistic my first post was, it\’s now obvious why I have not gone far from where I started.

It\’s been a long time since I actually posted good content here. I lost focus a lot of times for a number of different reasons. A lot of them has to do with my life offline. But who cares about those stuffs. What\’s important is that I am moving on and I continue learning from what life has to offer.

I am turning 25 this year and there are many challenges ahead of me. No, this is not about quarter life crisis. I have already found my purpose and it\’s only a matter of time for me to fulfill and for you to find out. :)

This blog had already gone through the test of time and it is still standing after big storms. It has gone through several face-lift but I was not heavily promoting it. It\’s clearly my fault. I used to have PR 4… then it dropped to PR 3. Now I\’m back at PR 2. This is not the time to quit blogging. I certainly have more plans and it starts NOW.

To celebrate my 6th year of blogging, I will implement changes in my blog. It\’s good that WordPress 3.0 has built-in multisite support now because WordPress MU is quite a hard nut to crack specially with plug-ins. I hope I can exploit it as much as I can to cover different areas that interest me.

For a long time I have been doing internet marketing but I have not discussed anything about it in my blog. You\’ll see more of it in my posts. Let\’s talk about making money — the risk and reward of getting into online business. Before, I\’m was very tight-lipped about it because I was a newbie. However, I have already gained experience and I would like to share what I can for beginners. No one started as a guru or an expert. I hope I can impart knowledge in areas like SEO, usability, design and other related topics.

A quick plug: I\’m building a new website here at challenge.ph. It\’s a joint effort with some of my fellow bloggers. It\’s heavily inspired by Ed Dale\’s 30 Day Challenge, now simply called \”The Challenge\”.

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