March 31, 2008

What Gives You The Right To Tell Me?

What gives you the right to tell me how to do something? Why should I trust what you have to say about blogging? About politics? About money? About making money with my blog? About fixing cars? About anything? What gives you the right?

As I prepare for the “Biz School of Blogging” program in May at SOBCon, the terms authority blog and authority blogger keeps popping up in the program discussions. Chris Garrett has even helped create the Authority Blogger blog.

The term, authority blogger, was coined a little over a year ago labeling a blogger and their blog as the “authority” on their blog subject, thus making the blogger an expert in their field. Blog branding is the marketing effort to turn your blog into an authority blog through visual and content connections, establishing proof over time of expertise.

Yet, every day I run across bloggers claiming expertise and spewing nonsense – and no one challenges them.

Should they? Should we?
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How to Help Immunize Your Site Against Scraping

Scraping is one of the most annoying things that bloggers have to deal with. It can hurt their search engine ranking, cause confusion among readers and cause them to unwittingly help spammers line their pockets.

Nobody likes being scraped but it seems that some sites are able to survive it relatively unscathed while others are bumped clean out of the search engines, almost instantly replaced by the spammers that take their content.

So how do you ensure that the damage caused by scrapers are kept to an absolute minimum? There is no secret formula, but there are a few tricks that seem to work very well.

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The Blogger Protection Act of 2008 Set to Be Introduced

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Were you aware of this current regulation in the United States that was put into effect two years ago?

*Bloggers cannot be considered to have made a contribution or expenditure on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate simply because they link to campaign websites or write about the positions of federal candidates. Additionally, blogs are treated as any other publication under the general media exemption from most campaign finance restrictions. Without such protections, bloggers could be subject to various limitations and reporting requirements under campaign finance law.*

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued the regulation to protect bloggers from being hampered by certain campaign finance laws.

Here’s the catch.

Since this protection is just regulatory, not a statute, it can be changed without congressional action. Also, the aforementioned FEC is currently defunct.

This week, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) will introduce the Blogger Protection Act of 2008.

It will be interesting to see if Congress wants to protect bloggers.

Read in detail about the The Blogger Protection Act of 2008 here. (PDF)

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March 30, 2008

Blogging vs. Human Content Aggregators

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I recently blogged about my disdain for so-called ‘bloggers’ who rip and run with your content. You know the drill. You stay up late researching and writing a post, only to find it re-posted (at varying lengths) on other people’s blogs. Sure, they’re kind enough to attribute the story to you. But let’s be honest; how many people are gong to click-through to your Website to read other articles.

We all like to think that our writing is strong enough to lure people in to read more and earn them as a subscriber. But the majority of Web surfers generally take a glance and move on.

This tactic of copy and pasting within in a niche, does NOT make you an authority on a subject. In fact, I’m not even sure it should qualify as blogging.

Here in New York, how would the New York Times feel if the Daily News started to publish their stories – without permission – in there entirely. Even with proper attribution, it’s illegal and would never fly.

I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who take this route and do consider yourself bloggers. I’m open minded and willing to consider both sides of the argument. So let’s get the debate started:

If you grab content from multiple blogs, and do not offer your own commentary, should you be considered a blogger?

On the flip side, I will say that I thoroughly enjoy both the content and traffic generation offered by “blog catalog” Websites like Alltop.

However, I say these folks trying to pass themselves off as bloggers are nothing more than human content aggregators. What’s your take?

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March 29, 2008

Welcome Back, Locker Room Bloggers

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I know most people don’t give a hoot about what Mark Cuban says or does. However, several weeks ago when the man who made a billion by blogging decided to evict bloggers from the Dallas Maverick’s locker room, it sent waves through the national media.

Well the NBA has stepped in and said, despite Cuban’s claims that the locker room is too small to accommodate everyone, that bloggers – assuming they are credentialed – are welcome. Cuban, likely not happy that his hand was forced, took it a step further:

‘…We will encourage all bloggers to apply, whether they be someone on blogspot who has been posting for a couple weeks, kids blogging for their middle school Web site or those that work for big companies…We won’t discriminate at all.’

Cuban has maintained that the original boot for bloggers was in an effort to level the playing field; giving all bloggers equal access to professional basketball teams.

I guess the access would have been equal, as in zero.

The more important fact here is that the NBA, and most other sporting organizations recognize the power of the blog. The last thing they want are online scribes crying foul.

Can a ‘blog box’ replace the ‘press box’ in the near future? Stay tuned!

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March 28, 2008

What Will You Not Blog About?

I have lines in my blogging sandbox I’ve drawn that I will not cross when it comes to choosing my blog’s content. I won’t blog about rumors. I won’t cover scandals. I won’t promote “scams” that use WordPress to rip off naïve people. I won’t write conspiracies or promote them. While I might swear in person, I try to keep my blog posts free of four letter (and longer) words many find offensive in the English language.

When it comes to specific content, I won’t cover subjects not related to blogging or WordPress on , though I’ve brought in off topic issues that I then made on topic by twisting it around to the subject of blogging. But when it comes to sports, hobbies, current events, movies, television, music, or anything that interests me but is not related to blogging, I won’t write about it.

What about you?

Do you have a line you will not cross in your blogging sandbox, subjects you will not cover? Or are you open to covering anything and everything? What’s your line in the blogging sandbox? What will you not blog about?

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Would You Rather Read Shakespeare or a Blog?

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File under obvious: Young teenagers, between the ages of 11 and 14 prefer reading their own blogs over reading for homework.

Duh!

The results were founded by the organizers of the National Year of Reading, a year-long celebration of reading, designed to build a greater national passion for reading in England.

While overall Internet reading is up, it’s quite surprising that Facebook ranked as the ‘ninth-most loathed read.’ Anyone have any ideas why?

Celebrity gossip rules the roost, even at such a young age. I guess it goes to show that everyone really did want to see pictures of J-Lo’s babies, even though they are just babies themselves.

Some good news for parents: Harry Potter, Anne Frank’s Diary and BBC Online cracked the top 10. Also, 80% of the teenagers surveyed write their own stories. I guess I can kiss my blogging jobs goodbye!

Read the survey results in their entirety here.

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The ROI of Your Personal Blog

Chris Garrett's Personal BlogBlogging for many people, perhaps the majority, is a fun hobby.

Most people also know that you can make money from blogging. Directly through ads, or indirectly through selling products and services. There are also PR benefits from having a business blog.

Are there real impact-the-bottom-line benefits to personal blogging?

Thinking about a certain take no prisoners mouthpiece I think there are …

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March 27, 2008

Zemanta For Bloggers? Good Idea, Bad Idea, Or Great Idea?

Previously reviewed by TechCrunch, Zemanta offers itself as a useful tool to help make blogger’s post “more vibrant.”

Currently available only in Firefox and Internet Exploer (the latter still in beta testing), Zemanta’s main goal is to provide to help bloggers find relevant links to their articles by suggesting related content through words and images on the side (after you install it).

One of the great things about Zemanta is that it actually scans the web for Creative Commons content, so bloggers will be able to post useful images without the fear of being sued by an angry photographer/artist (provided they link back that is).
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Drilling Down Your Blogging Niche?

Over the past year alone, I can’t count how many hundreds of people who have told me that they’ve just decided to make “beginning blogging” be their blog’s focus. They wanted me to tell them what I thought of their plan.

I told them they weren’t done, yet.

Yes, this news can be crushing, but let’s look at the example of creating a blog for beginner bloggers. Most summarize their blog’s plan of action with this purpose statement:

I want to create a blog to teach beginner bloggers, people who are totally new to blogging how to blog. It will cover the basics, step-by-step of blogging, including how to monetize and build a successful blog.

The target audience? Beginning bloggers. The style? Step-by-step introductory basics. Content stretch? Monetization and commercialization of blogs.

Good start. But not done yet.
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