Tuesday, May 31, 2005

No follow, no fair!

If I am discussing a point raised in another blog, I will try and be a good netizen and set up a trackback. These are by no means automatic for a Blogger.com user and require you to make the effort to perform a manual ping from the Haloscan website.

If blogs do indeed drive 'global conversation', then a blogger should use the tools available to them, such as enabling comments, trackbacks and maintaining a blogroll.

I have also noticed that depending on the calibre of the site you are linking to, trackbacks provide reasonable levels of quality visitors who generally contribute more than the average search engine visitor.

However, on a recent link popularity check of my inbound links, I was surprised to see that the trackbacks do not appear, even though the direct link to my blog appears in the source code.

A quick search of the source code on some of my blogroll revealed that the majority of trackbacks (including those on this site) contain a 'nofollow' tag which will prevent the search engines from following that link. Clearly, this is done to prevent people abusing the system to obtain 'free' links from high PageRank websites.

Trackbacks are a diluted form of link exchange and the 'nofollow' barrier doesn't exactly encourage you to link to others. The problem is that setting up a trackback whitelist would be more trouble than it's worth and the hassle of comment spam is worse than the joys of interlinking.

Perhaps it is better to give than to receive.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

It's what you do with it that counts

Interesting statistics on Steve Rubel's blog about how many of those with a blog actually blog. These are the blogs that are not just for Christmas with figures from Technorati showing 800-900k daily posts and BlogPulse between 350-450k - quite a discrepancy and indicative of the need of more coordinated metrics (as well as their differing measurement methodology).

Irony aside given the recent squirrel posts, I would argue that it's not that you blog, it's what you do with it that counts (I'm looking forward to seeing the searches I get through on that phrase).

The real metrics of interest are those of conversation - both talking and listening: trackbacks, comments, RSS subscribers and, let's face it, recognition from the offline world. Now there's a combined metric I'd like to see...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

May the Farm be with you

Someone mentioned something about a new Star Wars film being released...?

As ever with any major event, this provides the cue for individuals and brands to launch their own viral to try and piggyback the event.

Among the lettuces are a couple of gems:
  • A surprisingly well produced Store Wars movie from The Organic Trade Association, featuring the likes of 'Ham-Solo' and 'Chew-broccoli'
  • Burger King's latest viral smash the Sith Sense where a hilarious Darth Vader taunts you as he tries to read your mind
Let me know of any other (decent) ones in the comments section.

Friday, May 20, 2005

A guide for London's pedestrians

As someone who regularly scoots through London's West End, I am amazed on a daily basis by quite how little the average pedestrian values their limbs and lives.

So, in the interests of the public good, here's my green cross code for next time you cross the road:

1) When you're on your mobile phone, the world of cars and bikes goes on. I've lost time of the amount of times I've nearly ran into pedestrians staring vacantly into the distance as they waft across the busy roads.

2) Road users do not just consist of cars and buses. Bicycles are shooting up the inside lane and motorbikes and scooters shooting down the middle lane (most of the time). At least on a scooter you'd think people could hear you coming. Nope; they stride confidently through the traffic looking in the opposite direction leaving you with 3 options:
  • Emergency stop and hope you can keep upright
  • Plough into the oncoming bus at 30 mph. Ouch.
  • Pedestrian meets scooter. Ouch all round.
3) When you cross at a pedestrian crossing, red man or green man, we can at least anticipate you'll do so. Cross at random and we have no idea you're coming. This is really important if you ignore points 1) and 2)

4) Note for our American cousins: we drive on the left, guys. Keep an eye out for those little arrows they paint on our roads and that's the way we're coming. Better yet, let's just all drive on the left, OK?

Friday rant over. I decided to get the train in today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Squirrels - have I really gone nuts?

Yes, OK, the previous squirrel post was a very strange one, particularly after such a long time since my previous post. Time to come clean...

Statcounter has been revealing some weird keyword searches through to this blog. Who'd have thought that of the millions of websites out there, this blog would be site of choice for terms such as 'Google dot com', 'Janet Jackson's breasts' and most suprisingly 'Britney virginity'.

As a blog that primarily writes about online communications, with the odd celeb mention along the way, I'm sure there are better sites out there to provide the kind of details and imagery that I imagine those searching are looking for.

My view is that these kinds of visits are a result of the search engines' love of blog results. Think about it - regular content, keyword rich urls, inter-linking paradise and the kind of opinions that makes the web interesting. If you can add to this a decent PageRank, or equivalent, then this is one of the reasons that the humble blog can reach such elevated search status.

I will of course be keeping an eye out for squirrel-related visits after my previous post and if the number of visits starts to add up, I will be sure to keep my readers up-to-date with all of the latest squirrel news.
Squirrels on the line

No, not another rant about commuting into London, but instead it seems the Rail companies have been passing on some of their more dubious excuses onto a certain BT engineer. The 'squirrel problem' has resurfaced with the furry-tailed pranksters gnawing through phone lines and cutting off this blog's readers.

As a BT Broadband subscriber, with a garden full of squirrels, perhaps I shouldn't be tempting fate by covering this 'story'. However, according to Silicon.com, the culprit is an over-creative BT engineer and the rodents will be relieved to hear that they have been cleared of any wrong doing by head office and I can keep my fingers crossed that my current problem-free service will continue.