mybloglog

MBL loses user due to forced account merge

I was browsing with firefox earlier over at MBL and decided to edit my profile. It was at that point the login screen was forced on me asking me to sign up with my Y! ID or if I didn’t have one the option to create one. I didn’t want to do this so I guess that for as long as my IE7 cookie lasts, I’ll be able to browse about and respond to PM’s and all that stuff. I did use the mass message tool to tell people I was offski and that I could be reached, followed, networked or whatever else you want to call it at, Bumpzee, Sphinn, StumbleUpon, Digg, and Blogcatalog so there thats that.

I knew it was coming, but today it happened. It’s no big deal, but I’ve decided not to merge my Y! and MBL identities. 

Why? Well, no real reason other than I don’t want to and to be honest MBL had kinda lost its sheen for me. I’m sure that a lot of the people there still love it to bits and get a great deal of use and satisfaction from it and well,  good luck to them too, it’s just no longer my bag. 

I don’t like having things forced upon me, I like choice and options, I don’t get why they felt the need to make this a mandatory thing.

Call it grumpy, call it what you like.

 I’m sure they’ll cope just fine without me! 😉

Mybloglog messaging system and why I think it sucks

I just noticed the mybloglog mass message system thing. I don’t like it, it reminds me of that annoying myspace and orkut mass message thing. It is a recipe for spam spam spam and time wasting silly messages just filling up my inbox.

If every member of every community I’m in uses it just once a week, I’m in for a hell of a lot of reading and emailing/deleting.

Anyhow,  of course I had to try the thing out I so I mass messaged my 108 community members to see what they thought about it, I even told them that it was a one time message and apologised in advance too.

Here’s the kicker, I got a few responses, most agreeing with me. So I try and reply to their private messages and get this!

Message:* Now just slow down there, rock star! It appears you’ve become a bit overzealous with your messaging, or at least that’s what our new algorithm thinks. But we’re still fine tuning it, so if you think this is a mistake, just hit customerservice@mybloglog.com with an email and we’ll get you sorted.

Um…no, I don’t think so. If I get a message froma community member responding to something I sent them, I SHOULD be able to reply!

Come on guys, you’ve made some nice changes over there but this one is just asking for trouble.

Free advice time.

Drop the thing, or at least allow people to choose whether or not they can get these things. auto opt everyone out of it, and let them opt in to it.

Stick little checkboxes next to community members so we can selectively message certain people en masse.

If you go with an opt out system, then only show me members who have opted in on any mass message page.

One other thing, ever heard of letting people know about such things before you implement them?

I like MBL, I visit it daily, but things like this just give me negative chuckles .

Update:

Ive read a number of posts from people in the  mbl community who are annoyed about this. Ive had PMs on my mybloglog message page, but due to the way it works I get that silly message as outlined above, so have been unable to respond. Seems my one time mass message has put me into instant spammer terrority, or maybe it was because I once labelled myself a ‘schmoe’.

Anyhow

Avi puts it into a historical context of bloopers and avoidable slip ups

Andy makes his usual spot on observations

Meg too, tells it like it is.

John at disassociated explores a few of the issues experienced 1st hand and makes a few suggestion of his own too.

MBL have found themselves twisting in the wind and…well, just go and read it yourself.

Changes will no doubt be made in response to the criticisms out there. Why they have to wait a week to implement a few minor sensible changes, is quite frankly very puzzling. But hey, maybe they feel they have enough community capital to ride this one through too.

Blogging and continuing missed conversations

Continuing the conversation on your blog

This post isn’t really aimed at the hardcore experienced blogger, its more aimed at those just starting out, people like me in fact. I’m fairly knew to all this and tend to blog from a search centric POV. Whilst its generally true that its search engines that will give most bloggers their traffic, there are nonetheless a variety of other  ways you can drive traffic and build the conversation within your sphere.

Blogging is popular for many reasons. Be it a tool for self expression, a tool for self promotion or just a general communication medium, its a fantastic way to reach out and have a conversation with people with similar interests.

Most of us are aware of the fantastic tools and platforms out there that enable us to see who is referencing us and in what context.

Trackbacks the process of ‘pinging’ a blog automatically is one such way. Checking your technorati stats is another. Using other 3rd party plugins or embed code is another still; Feedburner, Google anlaytics, Webtrends, Clicktracks to name but a few.Not to forget of course, the old trusty web server log files. Oh and lets not forget the ever increasing number of social media blogging communities that have sprang up recently. MBL, BumpZee, SpicyPage and my current favorite of course, BlogCatalog.

The really great thing about these is that they enable you to put a human face to your readership, letting you see who recently visited you, seeing new faces, clicking through to their sites or pages at their community and seeing what they have to say about whatever it is they do. Ive found some great blogs this way, that I otherwise may simply have missed.

I started blogging as ‘robwatts’ in January 2007. Yep, thats not so long ago at all. If you want to read my figures and stats here they are.

I currently have a little over 110 subscribers –  a technorati authority score of 208 with a rank of 19,424 and an alexa rank of  102,721 My Google PR is 4.

In comparison to other sites these numbers are very small beer, yet to be frank, I didn’t start blogging to win any popularity contest or acquire willy waving look at how big I am type scores, yet it is nice to know that people are interested in some of the things I have to say, and that these are beginning to be reflected in the various metrics fore-shown.

Its funny, but when you initially start out talking about whatever it is you discuss, you realize that, by and large you have a very small audience indeed. You might well write the most fantastic of stuff, yet if you don’t have the readership or eyeballs on your content, then not many people are going to be able to see or comment upon it. can you do anything about this? Sure you can…Ive already touched on one such automated way, but for the benefit of those who may have missed it, I’ll cover it again.

Catch your Tumbleweed

If your blogposts are blowing about in the wind, wailing away crying for a little attention then maybe you just have to let people know they are there.

I guess this was one of the thoughts that swam around in the depths of my subconscious which with a prompt or 2 pushed me in the right direction.The creative process is one of those things that can just sneak up and bite you on the behind. I was thinking about some of my posts that hadn’t received comments, and half jokingly blogged on it back in April.

I challenged the blog community (or my tiny growing readership at the time)  to calculate what their ‘tumbleweed’ score was for their blog and added as an afterthought, that I might even develop a plugin to help people automagically display their scores. Some bloggers like Andy responded, and made me realise that actually, this could well be a handy little addition to the blogging productivity box. The idea was that by having a visible metric, you could see how your posts were being responded to over a given timeframe, as well as show old posts that your newly aquired readers may have missed. So was born the tumbleweed plugin for wordpress.

Its nothing incredible of course, it just uses a little SQL and some basic maths. It may not work on all WP setups either, but it should work on most.

As for people using other blogging platforms, the short response at the moment is that it just will not work on your set ups. Blogger is kinda restrictive in terms of how it enables you to interact with the back end so my hands are a little tied. If I get enough interest or requests I may well look at creating something similar for platforms like Typepad,Drupal etc.

If youv’e written stuff that you think was good and think that people might benefit from seeing/reading again and want a little prompter to help you see how you are performing in a fun light hearted way, then tumbleweed could well be the thing for you.

Meantime, whatever it is you are doing or writing about, enjoy it!

Discontinuing MyBlogLog visitor tracking

Due to improvements and upgrades to the server architecture that hosts this site, I regret to say that I’ll be discontinuing the mybloglog visitor tracking script.

Ive noticed that the scripts aren’t perfoming how I expect them to and I just don’t really have the time to recode it all so that it works.

I’ll be emailing existing users to advise them soon.

I hope you aren’t too inconvenienced by this, but in its current state it just isn’t really working too well at all. Inaccurate stats are about as useful as a dinghy in a desert.

For those that played, thanks for doing so. 🙂

Lazy ubiquitous everywhereiness

Ok this isn’t what I do, but its something to think about, especially when you have one of those widget things that have sprung up here there and everywhere on your blog.

Only the other week, I noticed that the same guy appeared to be on my blog all of the time. I wondered why, he never posted, just came by and seem to always be there. He doesn’t do it anymore, so maybe he got bored, but it got me thinking as to the hows and the whys and lead me to believe that he probably set up some kind of auto refresh thing.

Here’s how I think he might have done it.

  1. Create a profile at a number of social network sites that run a widget photo thing.
  2. Link it through to some product you are looking to promote
  3. use a compelling image to attract clickthroughs
  4. Identify a lot of blogs that have these widgets on them
  5. Create a file and call it lazy-bastard.htm
  6. Open the view source option.
  7. Paste the code with links to your target blogs.
  8. Save it.
  9. Run it in a browser window somewhere
  10. Go down to the pub and have a beer

<html>
<head>
<meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”120″>
<title>Lazy Busy Blog hopper</title>
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″>
</head><frameset rows=”*,*” cols=”*,*” frameborder=”NO” border=”0″ framespacing=”0″>
<frame name=”cornerFrame” xsrc=”blog1/”  >
<frame name=”topFrame” xsrc=”blog2/”  >
<frame xsrc=”somebusyblog3″ ><frame xsrc=”somebusyblog2″ ></frameset>
<noframes><body bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” text=”#000000″>

</body></noframes>
</html>

Personally I’d like to see a system that minimised the ability to do this as it could just spoil it for everyone else, not to forget that it could also be a huge bandwidth whore.

From a selfish bastard use and abuse perspective, its a good way of getting free advertising on high visibility, high trafficked sites, as to what can be done about it, hmmn, I guess thats up to to the backend coder guys on the respective widget sites. Maybe install some little time delay to prevent the images or urls being displayed more than say once in any 120 second time frame perhaps, longer even god knows. Things like this seem just too easy. I ve only used 4 urls in my example but it could theoretically contain 100’s if not 1000’s of domains.

Mybloglog is evil – no seriously, it must be!

Seems like mybloglog has had a bad week. I read today over at Andy’s that mybloglog banned a guy named shoemoney for reasons relative to general not very niceiness, at least that must have been their perception. Mr shoe posted a few mblID’s. These can be obtained from user avatars uploaded by mbl users. I use them myself in my mbl tracking script. A reason for banning? No of course not. I think you have to look a little more closely to perhaps begin to understand why.

The reasons behind Mr shoes ban seem to have their roots in him posting various exploits that can be applied and used to basically, fuck with how mbl works. I don’t think this is a bad thing generally, in fact its good to have people point out flaws; especially when they can be patched with relative ease. Constructive criticism is always good.Its a delicate balance though, if someone took it upon themselves to attack and criticise with regularity, posting things that made me look dumb or stupid then my gut might be inclined to say hey do me a favour blokey, just piss off out of it if you don’t like what I am doing. That would of course ( as appears to be panning out to be the case) , be a mistake as I’d open myself to all kinds of attacks from followers, detractors and cronies.

John Andrews nails it with his comment at Andy Beals.

wow… it’s amazing to see so many users adopting our service so fast. We are really excited to see the validation that the MBL platform is capable of so much more, and also how amazingly innovative the blogging community is. We’ll have to fix some of the loop holes of course, and we’ve got great people working on keeping things moving forward, but keep the feedback coming and let us know what we’re doing right and what you need from us…

People like Matt Cutts have been using similar approaches for years, we all know where it got those guys too.

MBL’s crime it appears is that they didn’t code things perfectly and that enabled people to do things like, surf as other people using a cookie exploit, or add co-authors without consent or add other sites to peoples accounts, again without their consent.

Ok, so yes, not the best things in the world to have had happen, it undermines faith and trust in whatever else could be ‘leaking out’ but come on lets face it, its not exactly the end of the world, or a reason to be filed under heinous crimesville but it’ll gain one a little attention if you come out and support a position one way or the other.

My personal take is one of so what who really really cares, who died even? I’ll still use mybloglog I think its a bit of harmless fun and a good way of getting new eyeballs on to what you do and say. Its a cracking little site that created a lot of interest and buzz in a segement that is continually evolving and growing. So it has a few holes that tech head nerds will point at and say OMG, how bad is that..yeah – so – and.

Some might wonder why MBL is such a focus, why are these evil seo types so interested? Well, SEO’s types tend to be the ones who push and poke and prod, its the nature of getting up where you need to be that drives it. SE algos are that little harder to get at these days,the requirement to gain traction and influence within their algo parameters dictates that people will look at the most cost and time efficient ways of increasing their scores. Like it or not, MBL offers a means of gaining attention. Attention = links, links = better scores, better scores = more money blah blah blah. Digg, reddit, delicious, wikipedia, dmoz all had or still have even, similar issues. Its the downsided price of success on the net.

Thankfully for MBL at least, most users are just happy to stick the thing on the their blog and leave it at that. They love the stat functionality, love the little people icons, love the little community and ‘blog love’ thing in general. I think its cool too, which is why I’ll continue to use it until something better comes along.
Overall, a storm in a teacup methinks. Could have been handled better, on all sides.

Update:Mybloglog reinstated Shoemoney

Knowing your MyBlogLog Visitors

I’ve developed a little program that will give you a few extra metrics on your MyBlogLog visitors.

If you’d like to use it then just visit this url and follow the instructions.

Its pretty basic, but does offer a couple of features that MBL does not currently.Things like user pageviews, number of visits, last day visited, that kind of thing.

Its completely opt-in, you need to add some code on your webpages in order for it to work. It will only give you stats for visitors who have a mbl account and have opted for stat recording.

I’m going to add bits and pieces as times permits, eg allow non MBL users to sign up too, but in the meantime, feel free to have a look at it and use it.

visits1.gif

If you notice any problems or experience any difficulties or would like to offer suggestions for improvement, then please feel free to share your viewpoint here.

I hope you like it and find it useful.

Update Numero 2:

If logical is equal to logical and logical is not equal to illogical then logical is not equal to illogical, else illogical is equal to true. 😀

Trust me, thats how it gets ya at times! Ive made a number of little tweaks that should make this whole thing perform a little more reliably. Can you believe that I was trying to stat people via a combination of IP address, useragents, MBL lookups and all that? Sheesh, not good. Ive adopted a cookie approach, which I should have done from the outset but for some reason couldn’t quite work it out and ended up going in little circuitous ever decreasing smack my head against the wall circles! Anyhow, I think I’ve cracked it now so we shall see.

If people don’t accept cookies then it won’t work, but I guess thats pretty academic cos mybloglog uses them too.

Ive got a little outstanding issue with regard to people having multiple websites in their mybloglog accounts. I have to adapt the parsing script to allow for that, and hope to do so soon.

That’ll do for now, EOB.

MyBlogLog – Y! Privacy and Widgetisation

I love the recent Y! acquisition, mybloglog. Its like a myspace with bells on. Ive encountered some really nice and interesting people too. In case you haven’t seen or used it before its a social media platform. You can join communities, add contacts, upload photos and if you install a piece of code you can get stats and display photos of visitors from their network on your site as they arrive.

mybloglog.gif
On the user front I think its kinda cool. IMO I think It adds an extra dimension to ones website by way of showing an extra human dimension. You can see the latest faces of people who have visited and if you so feel inclined, go and check them out to see what they are all about; at least thats what Ive found myself doing!

Their stats page is cool too. Gives you a non fussy overview of where your readers came from, what they viewed and what they clicked. It even tells you what ads they clicked on too.
stats.gif

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