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Archive for July, 2005

Reference guide of Wordpress template tags

Jul 2005

A few months ago, Kafkaesquí found that like myself the Wordpress Codex was missing a major section — a reference guide to template tags, like the ones in the addendum of most programming manuals. Luckily Kafkaesquí made the effort to rectify that mistake and published his list for everyone. Thanks, Kafkaesquí!

WordPress Template Tags (1.5) reference

Crisis Feed: London 07/07/05

Jul 2005

London’s bombed again. For news of the latest London bombing, I still have the Crisis Feed from two weeks ago ready. It has all the latest news from news sources around the world and from bloggers via Technorati and Flickr.

Crisis Feed: London 07/07/05 - powered by FeedBurner

Hidden sex scenes hit GTA rating

Jul 2005

Does anyone else find it really ironic that a game for minors that advocates the wanton theft of cars, killing of cops and unarmed civilians and the selling of drugs only gets an adult rating in the US when it has sex in it?

Hidden sex scenes hit GTA rating

Goffice.com - online desktop publishing into PDF files

Jul 2005

Online word processing holds a particular interest for me. To think that whatever I had to do with a desktop application, I can now do within my browser is a clear sign of progress into Web 2.0. The new GOffice is a good example of this. After you set up an account on it, you can word process a document on an interface similar to Microsoft Word’s (which I think must be using Fckeditor or something similar since it can output the document as HTML) and save it as a PDF file. You can also upload your own letterheads in graphic files for customised outputs. In the future, Goffice says they’ll support spreadsheets and presentations too.

Your documents are saved in your account on Goffice, but nothing on the site suggests how much space you can use. I don’t think the owners of Goffice are too fussed over that since word processed documents by and large don’t take up much space. Goffice has a decent business plan — it partners with Amazon for hard copy print-outs and sells subscriptions for commercial use. So I don’t think they’ll go out of business.


Wordpress taxonomy

Jul 2005

The ad hoc nature of tags appeals to me more than categories as a taxonomy system. I’d rather not have my posts conform to a pre-set list of pigeon-holes, but rather flow with whatever’s in fashion. However the tagging plugins written for Wordpress are not recognised by Technorati and the use of Technorati tags is a big traffic driver for me.

Fortunately, Technorati does recognise the internal categorisation system of Wordpress as an alternative to Technorati tags. So I’ve decided on a hybrid system. After much testing of alternative plugins, I’ve installed Jerome’s Keywords plugin to satisfy my taxonomy needs. And I set up broad categories in Wordpress using popular search keywords like ‘Google’ and ‘RSS’. The Wordpress categories will not be visible, but Technorati will still pick them up in my RSS feed. And since it is not my primary taxonomy system, it won’t be a priority to always keep it up to date. When a search keyword falls out of fashion, I can simply delete the whole category without much of a loss.

Italian translation of “Things to do with RSS” is ready

Jul 2005

Simone Carletti of RSS World has done a very nice thing and is maintaining an Italian translated copy of the wiki article Things you can do with RSS. He’ll be keeping it up-to-date as new additions to the wiki are added. Thanks, Simone!

Le cose che si possono fare con l’RSS

Diaweblog.com - re-post to a weblog from IRC

Jul 2005

Diaweblog.com allows people to create blogs from selected IRC channel logs. An IRC bot is activated to scan the logs and to re-post to a weblog whatever message follows a simple b, or b:. Right now, Diaweblog is in beta so it isn’t ready to open new weblogs, but you can partipate in the ten active weblogs that are open right now.


Gelf Magazine report on Google News’ selection of sources

Jul 2005

David Goldenberg of Gelf Magazine has an interesting report about how Google News chooses sources to get its news from. Satire sites like Axis of Logic and Unconfirmed Sources are finding their way into Google News. Problems of misinterpretation obviously arise when they’re presented by Google in the same manner as straight news. Even when Google News applies the satire tag to the news sources, it isn’t always accurate — Goldenberg cites the case of Wonkette which is labelled as satire, yet a similar site like Gawker doesn’t carry such a label.

Some of the reasons why Google News excludes some sites are obvious (foul language, extremist political views), but the criteria for site selection is obfuscated. However, it is clear that reader input into Google News has something to do with it. Goldenberg cites a few cases where Google News has listed or de-listed sites because of emails from readers. So that may be why satire sites and fake-news sites are included at all — because people like them. While Google News arranges their scraped content by algorithm, inclusion is still a popularity contest.

Does Google News Have a Sense of Humor?

Proposed DDOS attack on phishing websites

Jul 2005

Here’s an interesting discussion on Slashdot that proposes that DDOS attacks be initiated against identified phishing sites. One of the proposers says that an orchestrated DDOS will survive longer than the Makelovenotspam initiative last year because phishers are not always technical. Also, phishing sites are easier to identify with no chance of a mistake, unlike spam servers which are often shared with legitimate users or are compromised.

SpamSlayer - should we DDOS spammers?

Google AdSense Optimization Webinar

Jul 2005

A few weeks ago, the Optimization Team for AdSense ran an adsense webinar conference call for a few participants on the topic of optimization of adsense for maximum revenue. The tips they shared were from studies they did that allowed them to make some general observations. They’ve released the transcript and I’ll excerpt and organise the main points they spoke about. But you still ought to read the transcript because the team had lots of anecdotes of how slight changes in ad optimization brought about vastly improved ad revenue. There is also a really insightful Q and A at the end - especially the answer to the concern that someone had that the ads may be so attractive that people would click out of the site and perhaps never return.

  1. Ad position - follow the focus of your visitors and put the ads at the centre of attention

    “The middle, above-the-fold locations perform the best. The idea is to think about what your user is looking at. Since most of the content is in the middle of most pages, the ads that are in the middle, near the content and towards the top of the page is the location that gets most of the attention. However, make sure that you take a look at what users are doing on your site. You want to make sure that you’re addressing how the users are actually looking at your pages. For example, if you have an article page with a long body of text, the bottom of that article is actually pretty successful because they’re reading the text and when they want more resources, they can take a look and see, oh, look. There are some ads. I can find out some more information about this particular topic. So definitely make sure that you keep in mind how your users are looking at your site.”

  2. Ad formats - wider ones tend to perform better (as long as they fit your site)

    “Our best performing ad format is the large rectangle, 336×280. So the wider ad formats are doing better than the other ones and the reason is that they actually take up fewer lines. And so with every additional line, you have a chance of losing that interested user. So the wider formats do best so specifically, the top three formats are the 336×280; the 300×250 medium rectangle; and then the 160×600 wide skyscraper. Because there’s a lot of variety with different sites, you want to make sure that you’re using the best format for your site. Don’t try to squeeze in a format that doesn’t fit your site.”

  3. Ad colours - blend them with your site colour palette to decrease ad-blindness

    “Here you’ll see a snapshot of Topix.net with the ads by Google. You can see with the colors that they’ve chosen that it blends well with their site. It matches the background and it looks like it provides additional content and compliments the site rather than contrasts against the site. The reason the color palette is so important is because it adds to the content and not separate from the content and what happens is, something that we call ad blindness; so the more you blend in with the site, the less chance that ad blindness will occur. Another thing to decrease ad blindness is rotating your color palette. We have a feature in the AdSense account where you are able to multi-select different color palettes that blend with your site to add some variety and freshness to the ads. And that also will help decrease ad blindness.”

  4. Ad pages - every page should have ads

    “Another important tip is what pages you might want to place your ads on. And what’s important is placing your ads throughout your site. As you can see here, Spine…com placed their ads on forum pages, reference pages and articles pages. And if you look closely, they actually chose different formats for different pages. So don’t be afraid to try out placing the ads on different pages and seeing how it will do for you. As long as they fit into our program policy, you can place the ads on any page of your site, any domain that you have.”

  5. Ad tracking - use channels to determine what works best for you

    “How do you find out what exactly will work for you? The best way is to use channels. Here is your account view, and by selecting the channels link, you will be able to get to the channels page where you can manage your channels. And what channels will allow you to do is to track all the experiments that you’re doing. For example, if you want to track how one location is doing versus another position, you can use channels to track that or track different colors or different formats. Basically, this is the best way to figure out which test and which experiment is the most successful for your sites. So I highly recommend, for any optimization and any experiment that you do, to use channels so that you are informed about any decision and any change that you make with your ads on your site.”

  6. Image ads - allow image ads to increase the variety of advertisers for higher CPM revenue

    “Image ads are an alternative to the text-based ads and you want to make sure that in your account, you’re opted in to image ads. And the reason for that is that you basically have the image ads competing with the text-based ads. So if you have more advertisers competing on your site, it basically means more opportunities for you to maximize your revenue. Especially since, in the last few weeks, we’ve launched CPM-based ads for images; we want to make sure that your ads will be able to support those images. So if advertisers want to select to show ads on your site, you will be able to take advantage of that additional CPM-based revenue.”

  7. Link ads - optimum space usage for publishers

    “They’re great because it actually compliments some of our existing ads. What the link units do is it allows the user to refine what they’re interested in. So if they may not be interested in specific ads on your page, they might be interested in a particular topic, and by clicking on a link unit and a link in the link unit, they’ll be able to specify that they’re interested in that specific topic and get a lot more options and variety on the ads that might appear. Another great thing about link units that publishers love is the little space that it takes. So a lot of publishers place it in their menu bars, their navigation bars and it blends in well with the site. And the great thing is that you can place these link units in addition to the three ad units you can have on a page.”

  8. Adsense for search - works great when Google Sitemap has a complete index of your site

    “It provides a service for your users and gives you an extra, a little additional stream of revenue as well. And what it does is, imagine the regular Google search, but instead of having your users go to Google.com, they can access all the results and the technology directly from your sites. And not only search Google.com but specify it to search directly within your site. And then, you also make a little bit of money whenever they click on the ads that come up on the search results. So this is definitely something that you’d want to consider; AdSense for Search.”

  9. Don’t be afraid of your visitors being offended when you “ad-ify” your site - ads on forums perform well

    “Here are some of the pages of HybridCars.com. As you can see, Brad has placed the ads on his homepage, the articles and the forum. But it wasn’t always this way. Most publishers, or some publishers might be concerned that their users would reject the ads based on the content or that they would clutter the page. But Brad has found that it actually worked very well. He started just by placing the ads on a handful of pages, and with just a few ads, he didn’t really have very many impressions to earn a lot of revenue. However, when he put ads on over 90% of his bytes, his revenue shot up. It went from $80 and $90 days to $250 and $300 days. So imagine what that can do for your site. In fact, he’s noticed that the ads are really relevant to the content of the page they appear on and they’re actually useful to the users. As he said, ‘The targeting alleviates my concerns that the ads clutter the site.’”

  10. Improve the navigation of your site to increase stickiness and ad revenue

    “Keep users on your site. You need to make it easy to get around the site and make sure the visitors see the ads as a viable exit route without asking them to click on the ads. You need to make sure that links within the site are clearly visible and that if people want more information about the same topic, they can find it.”

  11. Competitor ads - it doesn’t matter if they appear on your site and visitors click on them because internet users will have found them one way or another, so focus on your own content to compel people to return

    “If you are in the business of selling the content, which is what we are doing here with the sites that we have in the panel; basically you are presenting the content and people are pretty much always in the search mode. They will try to find more information about that somewhere else. And if you just simply beat out your competitors in terms of having the most thorough, the most well-researched, the most compelling, the most Web-friendly content, then people will return to your site and the fact that there may be an ad on there for a competitor and they go off to your competitor, if your content is compelling, they’ll return back to your site eventually. People are going to leave your site and another site is just a click away regardless. So focus on content.”

  12. The page view counter is accurate - but there are a number of reasons why it differs from your own

    “How we define [an ad impression] is when the ad code actually gets fully executed. So what ends up happening sometimes is that if some of your users are using a browser that doesn’t support JavaScript, or if they have some sort of ad blocker, or if they stop loading the page before the ad code can fully execute, that will cause the discrepancy between your logs and our page impression logs. [Second,] you want to make sure that if you have any other logs, that you’re not counting any visits from robots and crawlers. The public service ads do count towards the page impressions. [And alternative ads also] will be counted by our impression counter.”

Google AdSense Optimization Webinar



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