Monday, May 21, 2007

Busted By The Wikipedia Police

In a recent post on Search Engine Land's Link Week I got a less-than-enthusiastic comment/rebuttal from a Wiki supporter after I suggested looking to the Wikipedia as a link resource.

Deb, please have a look at Wikipedia's conflict of interest guideline. I believe that webmasters should be able to do whatever they want with their own sites, but when they visit somebody else's Web 2.0 site, they need to follow house rules. Breaking the rules when you are a guest in somebody else's house is rude.

Link building is great, but you need to keep reputation management in mind. Wikipedia's rules strongly discourage self-serving edits. If you get caught, you and your client could suffer public embarrassment. We all know how well Wikipedia pages rank. Before taking this risk, I recommend reading this essay.

That comment was made in response to what I said here:
I also recommend you take the time to submit to the Open Directory Project, pay for a Yahoo! Directory listing (especially if the site is new) and look for submission opportunities at Wikipedia. Yes I know the Wikipedia uses nofollow on their links rendering them virtually useless from a link popularity standpoint, but—the traffic you'd get from those links is worth it. If you can find an opportunity to add your site where it will make a useful contribution, do it.
Bold is mine. At first I was surprised given the Wikipedia disclaimer in my post - “add your site where it will make a useful contribution” but, after thinking about it, looking through Wikipedia and the link the poster provided, I decided to step back and try to see things from his perspective instead of being automatically defensive. To do that I knew I had to spend a good bit of time reading through Wikipedia with more of an editors mind than a link builder.

Which shouldn’t have been hard for me since I spent many years as a DMOZ editor. But the two entities are very different so I found that didn’t help much in the end.

To get started, I clicked the conflict of interest link the poster provided and read through the page, then subsequent pages and even more pages after that. After all the reading and link skipping I came away with two conclusions: There isn’t a page in the guidelines and the site itself that doesn’t warn (in some fashion) about spamming. Every page mentions it so unless you’re a total idiot, that should be clear .

Second, after it was all read and done, I still don’t agree with the logic behind the posters comments -or- understand how my comments could be construed as a conflict of interest. Even the conflict of interest guidelinepage I was pointed to had an exception " Merely participating in or having professional expertise in a subject is not, by itself, a conflict of interest"

So I ask sincerely- where’s the correlation between “useful contribution” and conflict of interest? And where is this "don't submit your/client's information clause"? Would a public library turn down a book I authored simply because I wrote it?

I say "sincerely" because based on what I read, the guidelines provide a lot of positive encouragement and suggest editors approach the submission process with an
assumption of good faith. The idea of submitting with a neutral point of view comes up over and over as does the issue of respect and consensus. All positive and constructive guidelines, and all related to my suggestion of making a “useful contribution”.

So why is it not right to add a site you own/are passionate about or add to a discussion and cite a resource you are associated with? Not everyone is trying to game Wikipedia. I can’t speak for others or what’s happened in the past but I do feel suggesting that someone is being rude or could suffer public embarrassment by contributing usefully totally goes against what they talk about here in
common sense: “Being too wrapped up in rules can cause you to lose perspective”.

I totally get the idea they need rules and guidelines, any publically edited encyclopedia would but - to tell the public they can't contribute affiliated material because it's a conflict of interest just seems - well - undemocratic to me. The public reading the info doesn't know who submitted it, nor do they care. They just want good information. Can the Wikipedia honestly say they have all the quality information on subjects listed? Probably not. If you publically put a dampner on the idea you can't submit good information because you're the author or tied to the materials , there's a chance you'll never get quality information. Now who suffers?

One last thing.

I stand by what I recommended in my post today, getting links from credible sources such as the DMOZ, Yahoo! Directory and Wikipedia work to build your foundational link and business reputation. With the Wikipedia's all around visibility that just makes business and community sense. If you have good content that the world would benefit by knowing about, find the right category and participate by offering your information.

Don't spam and

Read the guidelines before you submit anywhere.
Hopefully I've covered all the disclaimers needed this time!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Artificial Playboy Links

Artificial world meets artificial world.

Seems like the perfect fit doesn't it?


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Being TattleTails & Paid Links

Over on SearchMarketingGurus Liana posted the results of an informal survey she took from a handful of SEO's on paid links.

Can't say I was surprised at any of the responses save one -but- was surprised at the number of questions and "what if" scenarios the group posed in return.

Typically questions are asked when situations aren't clear or full information presented so I hope Google and the other engines takes this into consideration the next time they drop an important issue like this one in their official or unofficial blogs.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I Saw The Queen! I Saw The Queen!

After pulling the kids out of school

and waiting over four hours in the rain, we saw the Queen!!!

I never thought I'd hear myself say something like
this but - I really liked her hat. It was a gorgeous
shade of hot pink.

We also saw the back of Sandra Day O'Connor's head.

I know, I know - these aren't the greatest photos but -
as the Queen drew closer people pushed up against
the barracades where we were standing and
I kept getting bumped. Note to self: Get photography
tips from Mike .

Alright - back to link building posts.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Queen Is Coming! The Queen Is Coming!

Tomarrow marks the summer long kick-off of America's 400th Annivesary Celebration of Jamestown with a visit from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Moderate chaos is everywhere as local officials prepare for their arrival. I say moderate because we tend to get a lot of dignitaries, politicans, and celebrities here, not to mention several million 'regular' visitors each year. Historic Williamsburg is a rite of passage for family vacations and student field trips, I can't tell you how many times I've heard "oh I went there with my parents as a kid" or "took a bus trip there with my 5th grade class" when I tell people where I live.

Anyway - this isn't the Queens first visit to Jamestown, she was here exactly 50 years ago to open the original Jamestown Festival Park. Over on the official Jamestown 2007 website people who had seen her in 1957 were encouraged to share memories and photographs. It's an interesting step back in time when Polaroids were high-tech and people dressed up to travel:

I really enjoyed the Queens visit. They had a scrapbook made up without the photos. They took prearranged photos of her with a Polaroid camera, put them in the album and presented it to her at the end of the tour in the fort. She was amazed. I was picked up with others to go out to the Governor’s Palace at night where the Queen was to have dinner. We were lined up at the rear of the Palace where the Queen walked between us and under our raised pikes to a cart for cocktails. The Lord Mayor of London came by us, shook our hands and gave the sergeant a five-dollar bill and said to buy them a bottle. He knew we where in the Army. I could not believe he did that. Then after telling the Queen they arranged for us to have ten minutes at the bar after they went inside. Unbelievable. Hey you can’t make this stuff up. We never did find out what the Sergeant did with the five bucks.

I'm pretty sure today's Lord Mayor of London won't be handing out $5 bills for 'refreshments'. (Might have to be more like $20 if he did).

Seems the custom of class trips started way back when...

In 1957, I was 12 years old and in the sixth grade at John Marshall Elementary School in Portsmouth, VA. Our teacher, Miss Evelyn Brooks, was very much interested in the 350th anniversary. She made us listen to and memorize a little song about the "three small ships." I can still say the names--the Godspeed, the Discovery and the Susan Constant. She also took our class on a field trip to Jamestown. While there in the Gift Shop, I bought two souvenirs. One was a funny little decorative pot which said on it, "Captin John Smith, his jug," and the other was a wooden crucifix. I still have both.

One more...
My mother and father took me to the ceremonies in 1957 at the Festival Park in which the Queen participated. I remember my Dad hoisting me on to his shoulders so that I could see Her Majesty. He told me it was important for me to see her because the Queen was a living link to our past history both here in Virginia and in England and that it was a very unique moment in time. I remember she was so elegant and petite.
A group of girlfriends and I are planning to pull our kids out of school early tomarrow and head down to Colonial Williamsburg to catch a glimpse of the Queen. With Elvis dead this is probably the best shot I'll have at seeing royalty up close so we're going.

If you have a chance to visit Williamsburg - do. Busch is debuting a new roller coaster, Jamestown has their anniversary and Casa Mastaler should have a new pool. It's going to be a great summer!