Tech Industry News
Technology, Widgetry, Gadgetry and Controversy Online and Off

Jan
11

Well, this time there was much less waiting than last. It would appear that Google has truly gone back to quarterly updates. Don’t expect everything to happen over the night and through the hay but if you are seeing changes already don’t be surprised either: Matt Cutt just announced the update on his blog which is about as official as it gets. As usual, people will be waiting to see what they get though let’s hope everyone using Text Link Ads and Pay Per Post has learned a lesson about paid links. Perhaps it will be most interesting to see whether or sites just that have pulled those since the last update are reverted to their older higher PR status.

Oct
24

I had to do a double-take when I opened the Wikipedia main page today. Indeed, the website has begun running shameless fundraising banner ads. Do I think people should contribute to Wikipedia? Yes. Do I believe they should run banner ads like any run-of-the-mill for-profit website? No.

wikipedia-ad.jpg

Running ads should be done like anything on Wikipedia: with the editable consent of Wikipedia users. Instead, the hard work of dedicated editors is suddenly directly profitable to the site. Every new search visitors resulting from the millions of pages of search engine optimized content on the site is now confronted with a prominent donation banner.

Masking the fact that it is an ad with the word ‘donation’ and humorous subtitles does not change the fact that Wikipedia is actively soliciting money from a broad user base. Wikipedia gets more pageviews per month than there are people on Earth. Can you imagine how that will translate into advertising … er, I mean donation … revenue?

I am certain some of this money will be put to good use, but it undermines the credibility of the site to an incalculable degree. Will active Wikipedia editors really stand for their hard work toward public knowledge being subverted beneath a self-serving banner ad? Certainly some will, and perhaps that is what Wikipedia is counting on: the fact that their popularity will carry them through this, even if their actions are ultimately objectionable.

Oct
05

More and more people are speculating about the upcoming PageRank update, originally slated for July an then expected in August or September for sure. It would seem that high-profile sites like John Chow are getting some special attention due to Google’s recent concern for people gaming the system with paid reviews – he has apparently dropped from PR6 to PR5, though he apparently enjoys the attention. For a while DMOZ also slipped in Google searches though it has come out on top again – though Google is reportedly penalizing a great many directories these days, in part for selling paid links. A lot of people are just dying to know their PageRank, since it is by far the most infrequently updated metric on the web. Have you seen any signs of yours updating?

Sep
07

Too many blogs, too little time. I’m going AFK on this site for a while … sorry to semi-regular readers but I have to organize my life a bit and get some real tasks accomplished. Anyway, I’ll be back, or will be consolidating multiple blogs or some such, and will certainly post something if anything humorous or scandalous goes down in the tech world that I think everyone should know about! Meanwhile, some things to keep you entertained:

The Romlet widget is doing well – new bloggers are using it every day, which is great! It is also getting new features constantly based on user feedback, so, if you use one, be sure to let Romlet know what you think. Web Urbanist is doing great – has almost broken into the top 50,000 on Alexa – and is only 3 months old! The site has had over 500,000 hits this past month alone, which is simply amazing. All Sux has really tanked recently due to serious blog neglect – can only do so many things at once!

Aug
31

As of today, it has been 123 days since the last Google Toolbar Pagerank update. The longest time between exports previously was 122 days (Oct 19/2005 to Feb 18/2006). Frustrated bloggers and webmasters have been waiting for weeks for this updated, which was originally slated for the middle of July.

Many people have speculated (or even proposed) that Google could or should stop exporting Toolbar Pagerank altogether. It has been argued that people fixate too much on this single metric of a website’s value, to the exclusion of focusing on good content and overal site development.

Frankly, this argument seems flawed. There are many ways to assess a site’s value, and Google remains the most accurate of the available methods. Technorati can be gamed by a sheer volume of links, while Alexa only reflects a fairly specific user group. Like it or not, the Google PageRank will be buzzworthy news whenever it finally happens.

Aug
27

Reddit has apparently flatlined, and Digg usage has dropped dramatically over the past year. The only one of the three showing growth (doubling usage from a year ago!) is StumbleUpon. Why? It probably has something to do with the fact that StumbleUpon appeals to a broader demographic. It also helps that StumbleUpon doesn’t destroy sites for hours or days with influxes of traffic.

For the page owner of a popular and oft-Stumbled site, StumbleUpon is user-friendly – spreading out hits over time and reducing load. Moreover, StumbleUpon allows for a much more precise selection of interests so that people don’t sift through irrelevant or broad categories to search for what they want. Certainly StumbleUpon has a ways to go before overtaking Digg in terms of users, but if these trends continue that will happen within a year or two at most unless Digg learns a lesson or two from StumbleUpon.

StumbleUpon overtaking Digg and Reddit

Aug
21

No, not all Diggers without avatars should be banned. No, not all Diggers who Dugg this story without avatars should be banned. However, the fact that these avatar-less 52 Diggers all Dugg this spam story (now already removed from Digg altogether) was one red flag that all Diggers should watch for. Another tip-off for veteran Diggers is that a story has 50-odd Diggs and none of their friends have Dugg it. That combination of factors warrants further investigation, and chances are that most of the Diggs in this case were by paid Diggers.

Built in double-checks like this make paying for Diggs a ridiculous practice. So why 52 Diggers, not 56? The four with avatars may have just made a mistake, or they might be paid Diggers and fourth others innocent victims sucked in by the catchy headline. Regardless, these things should be tracked and hopefully already are.

Diggers Who Should Be Banned

Aug
13

Imagine for a moment having all of the banner ads on every site you visited be replaced by art, with themes customized to your tastes. AddArt is an incredible system that replaces all of those obnoxious banner ads that plague the web with the works of upcoming artists – a great form of subvertising.

Add Art instead of Ad Crap

Ad-blocking software already exists to turn ads into unsightly monotone spots on the screen, but AddArt takes this a step farther and creates something visually interesting to replace the missing ads. Moreover, people will be able to choose what kinds of art they want to see – like turning on a radio station of choice during that dready drive to work.

Aug
10

Are you sick of clicking from the Digg front page to an awesome-sounding story, only to find the site has been crashed due to the Digg effect? Digg is long overdue for an obvious upgrade that both site owners linked from Digg and Digg users will greatly benefit from.

What is this crazy idea, wacky plan, clever strategy you ask? It’s simple: an obvious button adjacent to a story link to a cached version of that story. Another alternative would be automatically link (on main pages only) to a cached version of all stories not on pre-approved lists of known top sites with good hosting.

digg cached story button

This isn’t just about saving a website from crashing (this site, for example, is hosted on WordPress anyway!) – it is about getting Diggers easily to the stories they want to read. Win-win for everyone involved.

Aug
10

The strangest thing about Digg.com – which sets it apart from all other social networking sites – is how much load it sends to newly popular articles. On Reddit, things crawl slowly up the ladder and get more and more hits along the way. On StumbleUpon, referrals are space out over time, reducing overall load even if sending more hits than Digg. Couldn’t Digg introduce more intermediate steps to deal with this problem? Semi-popular stories pages that also get lots of views?

Take this site for example – taken down three days in a row by making the front page of Digg. Lots of visitors never made it to the site as a result, which benefits neither party: the site loses out on readers while the Diggers lose out on content. Duggmirror can deal with some, but not all of these issues.

This story illustrates the problem rather ironically. It concerns a site named for its pride in scalability that couldn’t stand up to being on the Digg front page in the middle of a busy day!