Sheila Guides You to the Good Stuff

July 11, 2009

The end is near! Moving the blog to a new home

Moving Day (courtesy cwwycoff1 at Flickr CC)I wanted to let all of my readers know that I’ve decided to move this blog from the free WordPress.com domain name to what is known as a “self-hosted” WordPress blog (meaning I pay for blog hosting, in this case on Bluehost, but still using WordPress blog publishing software.)

My thoughts on understanding the social Web, especially with regards to tourism and travel, will appear very soon at a new URL and domain name, Sheila’s Guide To The Good Stuff.

The free WordPress.com setup is wonderful and met a lot of my requirements, but I need more control and customization options so I decided to move the blog before it got any further along in growth, development and Google juice.  I learned when we moved my BootsnAll Family Travel blog that rebuilding search engine authority takes time and lots of link-gathering, so I need to get going.

I’m learning a lot of good geeky stuff during the transfer process (with the help of my WordPress guru Jennifer Navarrete) and those insights will be valuable to my tourism clients in the near future when I launch a new paid membership and learning site, Tourism Currents, with Small Biz Survival’s Becky McCray.

I’m worried that I’ll lose my RSS and email subscribers amongst the cardboard boxes and packing tape, so you folks keep a lookout for the “We’ve Moved Now!” post that I’ll probably be putting up on here either Monday or Tuesday, July 13 or 14.

This blog will remain in place, but it won’t be updated any more once I move.

Thanks for your patience!

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June 18, 2009

When should you remove or shut down comments on a blog post?

Filed under: Blogs,Web Communications — Sheila Scarborough @ 4:10 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Arguing with himself (courtesy Leonid Mamchenkov at Flickr CC)We’ve all been there – you’re reading along through the comments in a blog post, and two (or more) of the commenters start getting into a written tussle, a back-and-forth that gets increasingly heated and increasingly irrelevant to the original post topic.

It’s similar to watching two drunks arguing at a party;  the usual reaction from more sober bystanders is, “Get me out the heck out of here.” Same thing on a blog – readers see all that racket and click away for more rational discussions elsewhere. Maybe a few want to hang around and watch the train wreck, but really, why feed the voyeurs?

If you’re the blog administrator, what should you do when your post is hijacked like that?

It’s easy to remove stupid, obviously spammy comments from trolls, but what about apparently rational readers who have a bone to pick with each other?

On the Perceptive Travel Blog, I wrote a post about the Art Car Parade in Houston, Texas – a really fun and quirky annual event with wildly decorated cars. Two commenters starting disagreeing about whether a woman in the parade had shouted foul language at bystanders, particularly children.

Since their own language remained relatively civil, I didn’t remove any of their comments, even when the Cranky Factor escalated.

My view is that it’s usually not a good idea to remove comments once they’re posted because yes, people DO remember that they were there, and as long as the discussion was reasonable, readers will wonder what the blog owner is trying to hide or squelch. They’ll often leave comments asking about the missing comments, too. (At times like that, you’ll be almost ready to swear off of two-way communications like blogging….)

The best information I’ve found so far also indicates that I’m not held liable for comments left on my blog (for you legal beagles out there who are wondering, because I wondered, too.)

So, after my one “let’s all calm down” comment failed to stop the additional verbiage coming in from these two women, I closed all comments on the post.

I’ve never done that before – it felt a bit odd, but I figured if I was tired of reading about who-said-what, my readers were as well, and my first responsibility on that blog is to provide good travel-related content, not a platform for those two to holler at each other.

Here’s what I wrote in the final comment:

“I’m now closing comments on this post, which is supposed to be about the Art Car Parade and not devolve into a “who said what in Houston.”

Dawn, I know you submitted another long comment in response to Nikki’s comment, but I really do not want my blog (which I think of as my house) becoming a platform for arguments about some other woman’s actions and whether they occurred or not on the day of the parade.

Y’all take your discussion elsewhere, please. Start blogs or something.

For all the other readers, just go see the danged event, but any verbal or actual brawling that occurs there is out of my control.”

That’s my take on the situation – most comment brawls only make the commenters look silly, not the blog author, but at some point, hey, it’s MY blog.  The comments are an integral part of any blog, but if they run off the rails, they also run the blog off the rails.  I stopped the train.

What would you do in a similar situation?

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April 29, 2009

How to respond to a negative blog review

crayola-state-crayon-collection-courtesy-acidcookie-at-flickr-ccThis morning I Stumbled a post on the Travels with Children blog; it’s a fairly negative review of the Crayola Factory in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Author Linda didn’t feel that the place met her expectations for a creative experience for her kids. There was no “wild blogger” ranting or digital spittle – she was simply disappointed in what visitors get there for their money and time.

Since she linked to the Crayola establishment (they should see that by monitoring inbound links/backlinks) and wrote about them as “Crayola Factory in Easton, Pennsylvania” (which any decent Google Alert should catch) I would expect a sharp PR/marketing person from the company to check out the post and leave a comment.

You know, at least something along the lines of “We’re sorry you were disappointed, we’ll take your ideas into consideration, we have a facility redesign in the works, blah blah.”

Figure the odds that anyone actually does that.

A quick glance would show anyone that Linda’s blog isn’t the home of some pajama’d nutcase. She has active and engaged readers who are interested in her family travel topic.

The business communications world often still doesn’t get it, so the review will probably sit there, unanswered.

To me, that’s a lost opportunity for Crayola to reach out to customers and possibly turn a negative impression into a positive one.

Your thoughts?

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