Digg Ads Open Without Clicking

I am not a huge fan of Digg and now I have one more reason to not bother going to the website today. I stopped over at Digg because I remembered seeing a link to a post that I wanted to visit again. All was going fine until I moved my mouse over the ad on the page and all of a sudden my browser opened up a new tab. I thought it was a little odd, I did not hear or notice a click, but I thought maybe I accidentally clicked the ad. So I moved my mouse over and off the ad again, and once again my browser opened the link in a new tab.

I know that ad revenues are in decline on the Internet and that publishers are having a tough time making money by placing advertising on website, but is this not a new low for both Digg and TravelZoo? Do you think I will want to spend any time on either of your websites when you do this to me?

Here is a quick screencast I took of the ad opening. I don’t know if you can see the mouse very well, but I move the mouse over and out of most of the ad and nothing happens. If I roll my mouse over the call to action on the ad and off the ad opens the ad URL all without me clicking on the ad. Perhaps I should be thankful, you saved me all that energy I would have wasted clicking on the ad if I was actually interested.

Just another reason not to visit Digg anymore. What do you think is this the future of advertising? Would you want ads like that on your website?

Twitter Noise, Noise, Noise

Japanish by fabbio on Flickr.
Japanish by fabbio on Flickr.

As you get more and more followers and follow more people on Twitter the problem that many users start to face is the level of noise from all of the tweets that they have coming at them. If you have started to reach a level on Twitter where the noise is starting to get to you here are some things I have found that have been helpful.

  • You don’t read every tweet by everyone that you follow. Check once in a while and if you see something that interests you then you can reply.
  • Use a Twitter client, like Tweetdeck. I started on Twitter using the web interface, and TwitterFox, and I still like to use those interfaces, but Tweetdeck does a couple of things that makes managing the noise easier. You can create groups and add your followers into groups so you can still keep track of the people you want to follow more closely. FOr example I have a friends and family group so I can see tweets from my friends and family at a glance.
    Update: There is also a Twitter client called PeopleBrowsr that is similar to Tweetdeck but web based. Impressed with it so far.
  • Turn it off. You don’t need to be on Twitter all day long having conversations with people. I would get very little done if I did that.

Twitter is like a giant party room and as you walk through the room you will have conversations with certain people. You don’t need to hear all of the conversations going on and you don’t need to talk with every person there all at once. Just come and enjoy the party, and you are always welcome to chat with me when you are there.

If you are already on Twitter, what do you use to manage the noise?

SocialToo Now Policing Twitter

Who’s job is it to police Twitter? Twitter? The users? Lately there has been a trend calling for the end of automatic direct messages. By using a service, such as Tweet Later, people can setup their account to automatically send a direct message to new followers. While I do not personally use the automatic direct message feature of Tweet Later, I can understand why people would use it. It could be a huge time saver for those that are on Twitter that have huge followings.

The campaign to end automatic direct messages is being lead by SocialToo, who up until February 28th was one of the main services doing automatic direct messages. I will not get into the debate whether automatic direct messages are right or wrong. They exist and are a part of Twitter. I do not mind the direct messages that I receive when I follow a new person. Some contain interesting links, some are friendly hello’s and yes some are blatant sales pitches. The problem with the campaign that is being lead by SocialToo is the way they they are going about it.

They have setup a new Twitter account, endautodms, that people can send a message to @endautodms with the name of the person they think are doing automatic direct messages. Endautodms will then follow that person and they are placed on “the list”. A tweet to endautodms would then look like the following:

This method to police automatic direct messages turns into nothing but a witch hunt. They are welcome to create a blacklist if they want but making is a visible social blacklist can damage people and companies reputations. Automatic direct messages might have problems but shaming people into stopping seems to be more suitable to high school.

So who should be policing Twitter and automatic direct messages? SocialToo seems to think they should, what do you think?

Automate Twitter

Tweet Later logo
It seems like everyone is talking about Twitter. It appears that Twitter is becoming more mainstream. You can even find CBC News on Twitter. Have you ever wondered how some of those people manage to have 10,000 plus followers and how did they follow that many people in return? Well one of the ways to follow and be followed by so many people is to automate the process by using a website called Tweet Later.

Now some people might consider the use Tweet Later as cheating. After all isn’t the point of Twitter to connect with people and have conversations with them? That might be true, but I can see how Tweet Later does provide a useful service that can help save you time if you use Twitter. Just because you sign up for Tweet Later does not mean that you have to use all of the features that it provides. You can set it to automate only the things that you really want to have happen.

For example, you might like to automatically unfollow any one that stops following you. This can take time to fiquire out who has stopped following you and then unfollow them. With Tweet Later you can set it to automatically unfollow people that unfollow you. No longer do you have to sift through your followers to see who is no longer following you.

Of course there are other features that might appeal more to those that are using Twitter to broadcast themselves to a wider audience. You can set Tweet Later to automatically follow people that follow you, to send automatic direct messages to new followers, and as the website name implies, you can have Tweet Later tweet for you while you are away.

Aside from automating some of the regular Twitter tasks that people do you can do all of your tweeting and replying right from inside of Tweet Later. You can see who has replied to you, reply back to them, send a new tweet, retweet, and manage multiple Twitter accounts, in the event that you tweet for more than one organization. All that and it is free!

For those that do use Twitter more than just for personal reasons Tweet Later also offers a professional version that costs $29.97/month that allows you to do everything above plus things like integrate with Ping.fm, schedule direct message, replies, recurring tweets, and use it to help monitor topics that you are interested in.

I enjoy Twitter as a tool to connect with people, to learn about things that are going on in the world and to help others with their web problems. What I don’t like about Twitter is the time it takes to follow and unfollow people. I like to tweet and connect and I can see how Tweet Later helps people do that. It can also be useful for those that are looking at using Twitter to broadcast their message to a wider audience. Twitter can bring a significant number of visitors to a website and Tweet Later can help people manage that aspect of their website promotion.

If you are on Twitter you might want to give Tweet Later a try. They offer a free version and it does not take long to create an account. By automating some tasks on Twitter you can focus on just tweeting!

Don’t forget you can always follow me on Twitter if you want to know what I am up too.

Google Friend Connect Canvas

I have been visiting a few Google Friend Connect websites and have noticed an interesting trend. No one seems to want to edit the canvas.html file to display the correct site name. To be fair it does not say much on the Friend Connect website about the file just “This file can be edited to match the aesthetics of your site.” People do not even seem to make easy edits to the file. Even the largest Friend Connect website I have joined so far, Mashable, has not edited the file.
Friend Connect Canvas on Mashable

If you want to make a minor edit to the canvas.html file all you need as a text editor, like Notepad. If you routinely code HTML you can use your favorite editor. Simply open the canvas.html file that you downloaded and to make your website name display when people look at the Friend Connect gadgets in full screen. To change the site name look for the following line, in my editor it is line 87.
<div class="site-header"><span class="section-title">Site Name</span></div>


Simply edit the Site Name to be what ever you want, your website name would probably be the best, but you could be creative I suppose. When you are done, upload the file to your web server per Google instructions. Here is a screenshot of my canvas when you enlarge the members gadget.
Friend Connect Canvas at LGR Internet Solutions

There is a lot more that is possible, but that is the bare minimum that you can do to at least have the canvas page display your proper website name instead of “Site Name”. You could go and skin the whole canvas page to have your website look if you are feeling more ambitious, but I don’t have the time to do that today.

Google Friend Connect Needs OpenSocial Gadgets

Google Friend Connect was opened up to the world in early December and I have finally gotten a chance to take a look at what it offers. According to the Google Friend Connect website Friend Connect has three advantages to offer website owners.

Enrich your site
Choose engaging social features from a catalog of gadgets by Google and the OpenSocial developer community.

Attract more visitors
Your users can easily invite friends from social networks and contact lists to visit and join your site.

No programming whatsoever
Just copy and paste a few snippets of code into your site, and Friend Connect does the rest.

Enrich Your Site

The first statement on the Friend Connect website is that the gadgets will enrich your website. You will be able to add social gadgets from the Friend Connect website as well as choose from many of the OpenSocial gadgets. In a perfect world this could give you hundreds of social gadgets to choose from to add to your website. Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world. Of the number of gadgets I have tried from the OpenSocial directory I was only able to get the Twitter one to work and that was after I did some editing to the XML code that was on the OpenSocial website. What that means is until the developers create gadgets that work with Friend Connect, the gadgets that work best are the gadgets available from Google.

The gadgets from Google include a members and sign in gadget, and two social gadgets, a wall and a rate and review gadget. This has created a number of comparisons of Friend Connect to services like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog, because the members gadget is similar to the widgets offered by those services. Overtime the gadgets available from Friend Connect and OpenSocial will be more advanced and offer more interaction. It is possible that at some point in the future the gadgets could allow a website owner to create their own social network similar to Facebook and MySpace, except on your own domain name. At the moment we really only have a couple of choices. Do the gadgets enhance a website already is still up for debate.

I personally have added the Google Friend Connect Members gadget here, but I held off on adding the Wall and Rate and Review gadget. I would prefer to have people comment on the posts themselves. It wold be nice to see a way to tie the Google Friend Connect login in with the comment form, similar to Facebook Connect, so people could login and comment with that. That will probably be on the list of things to do in the near future.

Attract more visitors

I have only been noticing the Friend Connect members box on a few websites and blogs so far. As more websites install it there is a possibility of gaining more visitors. There needs to be more widespread acceptance of the platform and you will need to be active in other websites before you gain a significant amount of new visitors. There is a possibility that your current visitors could find more value in your website with the social gadgets installed making them visit more often and stay longer. As more social gadgets are created this could certainly be the case.

No Programming Whatsoever

This is something Google does well. The success of Adsense is partly based on how easy it is to add to a website, copy and paste the code and you are up and running. Friend Connect is similar. Copy and paste and you can easily have the gadgets provided on the Friend Connect website installed and running on your website. Compare it to Facebook Connect, that I have also looked at, and Friend Connect wins easily. No programming is only true for the default Google gadgets though. If you are thinking of adding any OpenSocial gadgets be prepared for playing with code and things not working properly.

Should You Use It?

This is probably the question most people want to know, should you use it on your website. If you like to live on the edge and try new technologies on your website I would say go for it. The Google gadgets seem to work well, but I would stay away from any of the OpenSocial gadgets unless you like pulling out your hair in frustration. I am surprised that Google launched it with such few gadgets working. Did any of the Google Friend Connect engineers try any of the OpenSocial gadgets with it? If they did they could create a list of ones that work and ones that don’t.

Another reason to look at adding Friend Connect early would be to add some social media components to your website if you don’t have any already. For example if you don’t have a commenting system on your website you could quickly add the Wall gadget and allow people to start commenting on your site with very little work. The Rate and Review gadget could also be a great addition to an ecommerce website to allow people to rate and comment on the different products you have available.

Here is a video from Google about Google Friend Connect if you want some more information.

I will be keeping the members gadget here on LGR Internet Solutions for a little while and seeing how it goes. Feel free to join, I always enjoy getting to know more about the people that visit. If you are interested in having Google Friend Connect installed on your website and don’t want to do it yourself, I would be happy to give you a hand, just drop me a note and I can arrange to have that done for you.

Twitter Toys

I have been using Twitter for a while now and have found it to be a lot of fun to use. Not only is it a great way to connect with people, it has also been a great resource to get people’s opinions and suggestions. Using Twitter does not have to be all work though because part of the reason to use it is to show that you are not just some mindless corporate robot. You want to show your human side, and of course as human beings we need to play once in awhile. With that in mind here are some of the Twitter toys that I find amusing.


Since moving to Regina it has been fun to connect with some more local people on Twitter. Finding local people can be a little hard, since the Twitter search really does not give you many options for searching. TwitterLocal to the rescue! Enter a city, state or postal code/zip code and you can get RSS feeds of local Twitterers to follow. You can subscribe to the RSS feed in your feed reader or you can view the latest Tweets and click through to follow the people you are interested in. It has been great to find some local people to connect with. Someday maybe we could even get a Regina Tweetup going, who knows.

Twitter Grader

Twitter Grader is addictive, you have been warned. Face it you want to know how you stack up against all the other Twitter users out there right? It is fun to see how you stack up against the mob. I think I do pretty good, a 98.6 out of 100. Considering I don’t try very hard. They have badges you can add to your website/blog and they even have a Twitter Elite. Depending on what your location is. I have not quite made the Twitter Elite in Canada yet, but maybe someday.
Here is a sample of the badge you can add to your website/blog.


TwitterCounter does just that counts the number of followers you have and gives you a badge that you can place on website/blog. Similar to a RSS subscriber count it is a great way to show how popular you are on Twitter. Not only does it give you a button to place on you website it also predicts how many followers you will have in the future. You can see my TwitterCounter button over on the sidebar.


This is a new one that I just found today. Enter your Twitter username and it will give you an estimated value of what your Twitter is worth. Not sure if it is per tweet or the overall value of your account, but I suppose it does not really matter. My account came back at $445.00 today. If someone wants to give me $445.00 for a tweet let me know, I might be interested. 😉 Of course they offer badges for you to place on your website/blog as well.


Looking for some new friends to follow? twubble will help to find you some. It looks at the people you already follow and finds others that they follow that you might be interested in. You can even follow them right from the twubble page.


If you are looking to make a few extra dollars before Christmas, Twittad might be for you. I have not personally tried this service but Twittad places advertisements on your profile background. It is not as intrusive as the new service called Magpie, that actually tweets ads on your account. At least with Twittad you can set your own price for your background. If you visit the Twittad website you can find some people that have actually sold their profile backgrounds so you can see what they look like. If I had to choose between Twittad and Magpie I would go with Twittad.


I am a little biased on TwitterTag since I own a part of it along with Rhett. If you subscribe to my RSS feed, you might already be familiar with my TwitterTag. TwitterTag makes it easy for you to place your latest tweet using the badge that it creates. It is different than many of the other Twitter badge sites because it actually outputs an image and does not use Javascript. That makes it easy to use in the footers of RSS feeds, on your website/blog, on forums or other places where you can add an image. You can change the colours of the border, background, text, header etc.

Here is a sample of a TwitterTag with the default colours.

We have plans to add other sizes of images, maybe a top Twitter users list and a few other surprises. Just need to get some time to work on the site.

Those are my favourite Twitter toys, what are your favourite Twitter toys? You are also welcome to follow me on Twitter if you want to know what I am up to.

More Microblogging! Plurk It?

It is hard to keep up with all of the new social media sites that keep popping up. A little while ago Friendfeed started to get a lot of attention. In the last few days a new site called Plurk has been the centre of attention.

Aside from another goofy name, Plurk is another microblogging platform, similar to Twitter. Some of the differences you will notice right away about Plurk is the timeline look to the updates. This presents an nice interface for following your friends because you can see when they actually posted their update. Aside from the timeline presentation, Plurk offers commenting on your friends updates. On Twitter you could reply at a person but the conversations could become scattered and hard to follow. On Plurk comments on any update are easy to see and take part in.

Plurk offers some unique features for microblogging, and considering how much Twitter has been down lately there are a number of Twitterer’s that have moved over, or perhaps are using both. I dislike having a tab open with Plurk on it all day long, I have other things to do, so I don’t know how often I will be using it. Plurk does offer an instant message interface with Google Talk and I have that open often during the day so I might try using that to update my status. I like the ability to use Twitter from my browser using Twitterfox and not needing to have a tab open to the site all day long. If Plurk can become convenient like that then I might be more inclined to use it. Unfortunately Plurk is already starting to suffer from down time. Probably from the rapid growth in the last few days.

Come and check out the Plurk and feel free to follow me.

Being a Webmaster is Dead, Long Live the Webmaster

Back in the early days of the web it was easy being a webmaster. If you had some design skills, and could learn HTML and maybe some basic coding in PERL you could run a website and be successful. It did not take much. I look back at some of the sites I worked on when I was first starting out and when I was working for a web company in Saskatoon and realize that those static websites served their purpose then. The sites were there to put information out about the company, to release the odd news release, put the financial reports out about the company and generally to make the company look good. The sites worked then, the problem is those same sites, while they have gotten facelifts and maybe an RSS feed, are still doing the same thing. The information is stale and the web has moved on. Being a webmaster is dead.

The web today is no longer about dry stale information. It is about constant communication. It is about connecting with people. There is a place for static information on a website, but people want and expect more than just static information. They want to communicate with the people behind a site. People want real human contact. People want conversations and relationships with those behind a website.

Corporations that are not embracing the new web are being left behind. People are talking about corporations on the web and if those corporations are not there to listen and take part in those conversations you are going to lose.

Some corporations are starting to get it. They are watching what is being said on blogs and on Twitter. When Michael Arrington’s Comcast Internet connection went down, his post on Twitter got noticed by Comcast, and his problem was fixed.

Here in Canada we are a little slower, but companies here had better start to listen. For example, take a look at this search I did for Sasktel on Summize. Of the nine tweets, five are negative. Sasktel are you listening to what your customers are saying?

What about Rogers cable or Shaw cable? Are they listening? The web is changing fast and corporations need to change fast to keep up. Corporations need to start being a part of the conversations that people are having or they will no longer be relevant. Being a webmaster now is about being a part of the conversation. No longer can webmasters be lone guns creating their own little websites. They need to be out there, be social, and be apart of the new web. Long live the new webmaster!