Posts byOSH

A Lesson Learned About Domain Name Selection

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I suspected pretty early on that the domain name I chose for this website could be problematic which I documented in an earlier post shortly after launching the site. In the three or so years OpenSourceHack has been around, I hadn’t seen any negative effects that I could directly relate to my domain name decision. Sure, I’ve experienced a number of rejections along the way, but nobody had ever come right out and said it was because of my domain name.

As this websites traffic has grown, I’ve been constantly on the look out for various ways to monetize it, so at times I’ll selectively sign up with a new affiliate marketing program. In the past few months I’ve had two affiliate companies deny my access to their programs based on the assumption that my site is about hacking.

The first incident happened a couple months back and this second denial occurred just this past week. Both issues were resolved with a simple email explanation on my part, but it’s unfortunate (and a bit of a bummer) that I’m being judged by my domain name alone. I’ve even gone so far as to scrap a post I was writing about Windows password reset tools which I use on occasion in my system admin role. And before anyone says it, I do understand I’m probably not helping myself by writing a post containing a bunch of keywords that are not typically related to the content of this site. I’m sure the surrounding contextual ads will aid in the misrepresentation as well.

I don’t expect my troubles to stop here, but I will be keeping my canned defense response handy for future situations. If I can leave you with one simple piece of advice, it’s to make absolutely certain that your domain name does not contain any word or phrase that can be misconstrued. OpenSourceHack is a prime example of what can happen when you select a word in your domain with more than one meaning, and one of them is not looked upon positively.

Don’t make it difficult for yourself. Think ahead. Can you foresee needing the help of others (ad networks, affiliate programs, inclusion in site/blog directories, etc.) If your family surname is Warez, just accept that you’ll only be ostracized by selecting a domain name with that in it and pick something a little less controversial.

More Celebrities Using WordPress

I was recently going through some of my draft posts that never made it to the coveted published status and found this one (unfinished) from back in early 2010. It was apparently a follow up to my post about Celebrities using WordPress.

WordPress is just so flexible and easy to learn that it’s no wonder so many celebrity and business sites are powered by this platform. When I initially created that list, I used the WordPress Showcase to find most of them, but a quick glance at the same page now makes me realize how many more entertainers and large corporations have launched WordPress sites.

So without further ado, I give to you a list of even more actors, athletes, musicians, colleges, radio and TV personalities, and well known businesses that use WordPress on their websites. Enjoy!

Actors, Musicians, Athletes, etc.

Businesses and Organizations

Tree Size Free

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If you’ve ever found yourself out of or low on disk space, you’ve probably wasted time hovering over folders or checking the properties of each folder, waiting for it to tally the total size. Sometimes it’s not so obvious what happened to your disk space, but there’s a free tool called Tree Size Free makes it quite simple.

This was another work find where we run the Tree Size Professional version, but for simply finding disk space hogs on your local computer, the free version is ideal. There are a number of other features the professional version includes over the free one, but the one thing we use it for is for running disk space reports remotely. I can open Tree Size on one server and type in a path (\remoteserverC$) to run a disk space report for another server which is extremely handy for a system admin.

Tree Size Free will scan whatever local directory you select and provide the results of the folder sizes in the root of the directory by default. You can change this view from one to six levels deep into folders, or you can choose to expand every folder providing a view of every folder in the directory with how much disk space its using. This seems a bit overkill to me as the default view is usually sufficient, but still a nice option. You also have the ability to manually drill down into (expand) individual folders yourself to find the space thief. Below is the result of a typical system scan.

Tree Size Free Results

As you can see, a lot of my space is taken up by the Documents and Settings folder where my user profile is located. I have a bad habit of saving things on my desktop and if you expanded further into this folder and into my profile folder, you’d see my Desktop folder bogarting most of that 20 gigabytes of space Tree Size Free is reporting.

If you need a bit more information on your files, the professional version does have the pretty pie graph option which is a nice touch for reports. You can also get information on folder and file owners, last access and last change dates, percentage of space it’s using of the parent folder, and file extensions to name a few.

There was one incident a Tree Size Professional feature did come in handy for us outside of our normal everyday use, and that was the last access and change fields under the Details tab. Our NAS was growing out of control (quotas were never implemented from the beginning) and people were complaining about needing more space. We ran Tree Size on the entire NAS and realized that nearly 80% of the files were not touched in over 2 years.

Users were archiving data to the NAS that they shouldn’t have been, so not only was the NAS growing quickly, but this data had been backed up hundreds of times over and sent offsite on tape, so much of it was unnecessary. This report came in handy with higher management to show that it was a fix that was more about user education instead of having to spend a few hundred thousand dollars on more disk for the NAS.

Tree Size Free Details

While these pro features can definitely come in handy in larger environments, you just can’t beat the price of Tree Size Free for scanning your own system to help find those pesky disk space abberations.

Keep Visitors on Your Website

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When I’m researching a topic to either write about or implement a technique on one of my own sites, I usually end up visiting a couple dozen different blogs at a minimum. During this time I get to experience each site as a reader, except that I have this heightened sense of awareness about what the author is trying to accomplish. I suspect its similar to how a screenwriter watches a movie and how he can detect certain subtleties that most regular movie-goers completely miss.

During each blog visit I get to see and read about what these webmasters are doing to obtain traffic and keep readers on their site or coming back for more. I find a lot of great information, but there’s also certain tactics that bother me as a reader, so I could never implement them on my own even if they worked.

Even though there is probably evidence that some/most/all of these tactics work, does it make sense to use these techniques if as a reader you find them repelling? Is the definition of being a successful blog owner mean doing whatever it takes to get people on your site to make more money? Believe me, I would love to make enough blog money to hang up the nine to five, but I don’t want to do it at the expense of what I consider ethical either.

Here’s a list of things I find rather bothersome when I’m visiting other sites.

  • In-text Advertising – In-text advertisements are those double underlined words you see in text that pop up an image ad when you hover over the link. If you’re like me and always have your hand on the mouse while you’re reading, you’ve probably hovered over these annoyances countless times. If I see this kind of advertisement on a site, I immediately hit the back button. You might have the most interesting and helpful information in the world, but I’m never going to read it. All I will be to you is a bounce rate statistic.
  • Interstitial Advertising – Interstitial ads are usually those big full screen pages that some websites will have you visit before you get to the actual content you requested. When pop ups became the equivalent of spam (find me a browser that does not include a pop up blocker), interstitial ads took its place to bypass the pop up blocker. Surprisingly this invasive ad type is still used by some of the bigger companies. In my search for ethical website traffic generation, I came across a Forbes article that uses this approach. Luckily in most forms, there is a “Continue to Site” or “Skip Ad” button that allows you to bypass it immediately.
  • Forced Sharing for Content – I’m starting to see this talked about and implemented more and more, but I find it a bit offensive. Here’s how it works. You click a link in your search engine results expecting to view specific content, but when you arrive at the site it says you have to like us on Facebook or tweet us on Twitter to get to the content. I’m sorry, but that’s just shady. You wouldn’t put up with that in the real world, and you shouldn’t online either. Can you imagine your local library saying you have to send out a tweet before you can take that book out?
  • No Control Video Ads – I’m finding more and more news story headlines end up linking to videos when I’m expecting (hoping for) text. Videos are fine sometimes, but I still prefer to read new articles once in awhile. The problem with video is the forced ads at the beginning. If there is not a skip option within a few seconds, I hit the back button. Some sites also have smaller videos that will start to play automatically after a certain amount of time that drive me crazy. (Are you listening Weather Channel?)
  • Pop up Newsletter Subscription Box – This is one I’m sure people will disagree with because I’ve read how subscription rates can rise when using this method. This is probably the only one on the list I could be persuaded to try at some point, but for now I’m just not too fond of it because from a readers point of view, I find it’s a minor annoyance. I don’t think I’ve ever signed up for someones newsletter from that initial site popup. It wouldn’t dissuade me from signing up if I was interested in what this person had to say, but I think it’s just second nature for me to close pop ups without paying close attention to them.

Remember, this list is only my opinion based on how I feel as a reader. There’s plenty of extremely profitable sites out there using these techniques with great success, so it’s simply a matter of being comfortable (or not) using these methods. I’d just rather keep my site as user friendly as possible, and there’s no better judge of that than using your own moral compass for guidance.

While I’m on the topic of what users find intrusive or annoying, there’s something I noticed about the Bidvertiser ads on my site that I’m really not happy about. They run a number of image ads that make it appear that you’re missing a plugin. I think these types of ads are cheesy and deceptive and if there’s a way I can block them from displaying, I think I will. Not only is it misleading to visitors, but it also gives the appearance that there might be something wrong with my website with those animated constantly spinning wheels looking like they’re trying to load.

Bidvertiser Ads

Since the point of this article was to express my feelings about invasive actions I don’t want to participate in, I guess these ads might not apply, but the “false illusion of broken” still bothers me. It reminds me of those links you click that looks like its scanning your computer and its found malicious programs, and when you close it, you are redirected to a site selling malware or antivirus protection.

So, do you think it’s more important to use the techniques that work regardless of how they might be perceived, or do you think it’s important to consider what adverse effects they could possibly have? Even spam and pop up advertising can work, but is it worth it long term? Probably not. Do you remember the X10 pop up blitz years ago? That worked incredibly well from a branding perspective, but there was also the negative backlash it caused by the intrusive nature of the ads delivery method.

Maybe successful websites are like successful politicians. You don’t get that close to the top without pissing off a lot of people or making a boat load of enemies along the way. You think?

Reviewazon Amazon Affiliate Plugin

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I’ve included relevant Amazon product links on a couple of my websites for awhile now, but I’ve never added more than a few individual image links. I often wished there was a way to create bulk product links with my affiliate code already embedded. At one time I had some type of store hosted by Amazon, but the design options were lacking and it never quite looked the same as my site design.

One of my other websites is a Sphider search engine so I thought if I could somehow integrate the search results with my affiliate product links, I could get a lot more clicks and hopefully increase my earnings too. I never followed through on that because I didn’t know how to make that happen with Sphider and Amazon, but there is a way to create hundreds and thousands of product links with a WordPress site and it’s called the Reviewazon Amazon Affiliate Plugin.

I’ve owned this plugin for about a year now and I have to say I am very impressed with it’s extensive feature set and ease of use. After you set up your affiliate options such as your Amazon Access Key ID, Amazon Secret Key, and a tracking ID, there’s a number of configurable options that you can click through and set (or not). The first time I set it up I skipped through most of the settings because I just couldn’t wait to see it in action, but if you purchase this plugin you really owe it to yourself to spend some time and check out every field and what each one can do for you.

I can’t even begin to describe all of the functions of this plugin, so if this concept sounds like something you’d be interested in pursuing, take a few minutes and head over to the Reviewazon Amazon Affiliate Plugin site and check out the Product Publishing features page as well as the Administration & Configuration features page.

My favorite part of this plugin is the product publishing aspect. You can drill down into Amazon categories or search by keyword/phrase right from the Reviewazon Administration Panel within the WordPress Dashboard. Selecting products you want to sell is as simple as clicking a check box to the left of the product. Once your done selecting products and adding them to the post queue, you then get to decide when and how they are published.

I publish my products as individual posts, but product pages are also possible. You can set a posting status (Draft, Pending Review, Published), and post all items under a specific user of your choice. You can decide which category to post under, insert tags or let the plugin automatically create them based on the product title, and you can even integrate YouTube videos for product descriptions and/or reviews.

If you have more than one Amazon tracking ID for the same site, you can choose it under the posting options section as well. This would be a great way to track your testing of different advertisements, products, placements, etc. There is also a scheduling feature that I’ve never used because I typically publish the products I select immediately. You can schedule all of your product posts for a certain day like I do, or you can select the drip feed option that will post your products over a certain time frame. For example, if you select thirty products and set them to post over an entire month, each day the plugin will automagically publish a new product to your site.

I use this plugin here on OpenSourceHack under the Books button in the top navigation menu. I haven’t gone crazy with publishing a million products or anything, but the books I did publish were done within minutes. Here’s an example of a typical product post that the Reviewazon plugin publishes. – WordPress 3 Cookbook

Click the screenshot below for a closer look at the layout and available menu options. Each time you click on a menu option on the left, a new tab opens in the main window where you can make the appropriate changes.

If you’re serious about integrating your Amazon affiliate account into a WordPress site, this plugin is the real deal.