This week’s blog column from Bel Tel…

25 05 2010

My round up of the blogging week (plus gigantic cranium) can be found on the Bel Tel website here. Have pasted it up below as well…

PS. On a personal note, the below represents the first time I’ve ever been able to use the phrase ‘bat fellatio’ in an intro. So it’s a big moment for me.

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Reaction to the election…

9 05 2010

I did a short Q&A with BBC Online earlier – it’ll be a small part of a bigger article. I thought it might be useful to post up my full answers, then I’ll post up the BBC link when it gets uploaded. (I inflicted way more words on the BBC than was necessary.)

[Here’s the link to that piece.]

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The Robinson Affair & minimising a conversial post…

11 01 2010

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=toothpaste&iid=5482928″ src=”7/8/1/6/Crest_ProHealth_Enamel_d59e.JPG?adImageId=8915092&imageId=5482928″ width=”380″ height=”195″ /]

Between 9.20am and 9.50am on Thursday January 07 2010 – some 13 hours ahead of Spotlight – this blog identified the man with whom Iris Robinson had an affair.

I picked up information from a number of sources and it all checked out. I was convinced that the name Kirk McCambley was correct, and that there was a strong public interest at stake… so I blogged it. I think this was the first mention of his name. Some people even noticed.

At 9.19am, I felt a surge of courage and I pressed the ‘publish’ button. (NOTE: The surge of courage is a warning sign – when you detect feelings of courage, stop whatever you’re doing.)

I then spoke to a few people about the post and it became clear that they all thought it was very courageous too. (NOTE: When others praise your courage this is also a warning sign – reverse / erase whatever you were doing.) Despite my former certainty, I became paranoid and overwhelmed by self-doubt. I got very worrieed about what the possible consequences of being wrong might be.

There are only a few solitary activities which I would recommend. One is swimming. Another is, er … but being the only person naming Iris Robinson’s lover is definitely not a recommended solo activity. In this I was feeling very lonely, so I did the only thing I could – I immediately sought the comfort of the crowd again. At about 9.45am I decided to rewrite the post and to publish a softer version.

So far, so stupid. This of course didn’t remove the problem. The original had been cached and the aggregator sites had picked it up. The search string ‘Kirk McCambley’ was sending hundreds of hits to this blog, and by mid-day I felt very strongly like I needed to try to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

I’m not technically minded so I called a few people who were. They gave me some great advice which I’m passing on.

So, if you publish something you want slightly overlooked / minimised, fear not there may be some time to correct things. You might try the following:

  1. Make changes to the text, but make sure to change the original publication date of the post. When the Googlebot comes crawling back again it may subsequently identify the post as entirely new content and update the cached page.
  2. In addition I added an entirely new (random) post above the one I was updating. I inserted link from that back to the changed post. Those who know about this stuff tell me that adding the fresh link will further persuade the Googlebot to treat the linked post as updated information (and over-write the page cache).
  3. If you have a google account and are logged in, you may be able to demote an offending post on the search results. At the end of each result you will see a ‘speech bubble’ symbol, an ‘arrow symbol’ and the letter ‘X’. Hit the letter ‘X’. Ask your trusted friends to do likewise. This demotes the offending search result down the page. If you’re lucky the cached result will spill back into Page 2.
  4. For those with more technical noos than I, check this out. It’s a link to google’s webmaster tools. Here you can find all sorts of mysterious wonders like ‘no archive’ meta tags and URL removal tools.

Here is some additional, non-technical advice:

  1. Never publish your post immediately as the last full-stop goes on the page. Always save it as a draft then come back to it in an hour or so. There is no post that hasn’t benefitted from an hour’s gestation.
  2. If necessary share it with others and email around before publishing. In this specific instance, I went arse about face and asked for opinions after it went up. That was wrong.
  3. (God forgive me) but always be first with analysis / opinion, but never with reporting. Let newspapers break news. So if you have a good tip, email a journalist buddy and let them have it. You can be out first with the analysis / background / context etc…
  4. If a journalist gets it wrong, their publication gets sued. If a blogger publishes and gets it wrong, well, you may be exposed. Play it safe.
  5. I repeat – if you feel a swell of courage just before you publish, stop. Just stop it.

Some of what I suggest above made my post only slightly more difficult to find – but ultimately, there is no place to hide. On the 7th of January I received 5,078 hits, which is some way above my normal audience (hi mum!). Most of you who came here on January 7th will have discovered that I am a coward. However I should point out that I tried bravery between 9.20am and 9.50am and it felt very squirty and uncomfortable.

Bottomline: I have learned to run a mile when I hear the words ‘I salute your courage’. I suggest you do the same.

PS. Many thanks to everyone who fielded my panicked emails / phone calls last week. I, in turn, salute your generosity.

PPS. I’m not a techie, so there will be many other things to suggest for those desperate to minimise a post / put the toothpaste back in the tube. Please do add anything you think useful etc…

More Bloggtalk balls from Bobballs…

8 12 2009

Alan in Belfast, Donal and meself discuss social housing in East Belfast, the problems with the status of Deputy First Minister and where to now for The Dead Tree Industry. Also, extended highlights of the Slugger Awards that were held in Belfast last week.

(The social housing project is a really interesting one. In my background reading, this looked like it was being promoted as positive move for the environment. But – as Donal rightly points out – the real power of this lies in its potential to counter fuel poverty. Just so. High fives Habitat for Humanity and I look forward to seeing more of this kind of scheme in the future.)

Bobballs on Bloggtalk talking balls!

31 10 2009

Bloggers Alan in Belfast, no gloss just Matt and, erm, meself discussed the availability of public data on the Internet, the Trafigura affair and its exposure on blogs and joint statement by the SDLP and UUP about education. Also featured is an interview with Slugger O’Toole’s Mick Fealty.

Clever editing (high fives Carl!) means I don’t look too much a prat, but if I sound a prat that’s all my own fault…

Oh, and if you are a blogger (and particularly a laydee blogger), get involved by e-mailing Carl (carl AT northernvisions DOT org).

Open Unionism opens for business…

14 09 2009

A few top bloggers (3000 versts; A Pint of Unionist Lite; Divided Loyalties), some really good writers and, erm, meself have come together to create a new blog forum – Open Unionism.

The aim of the forum is to offer a constructive environment for people to discuss ideas relating to the future of Unionism in Northern Ireland and beyond etc. (More explanation can be found on the blog.) The first post has gone up today courtesy of award-winning blogger Three Thousands Versts. Check it out here.

This is early days but please do visit the site and support it by contributing to the discussions. Sure the site is called Open Unionism, but absolutely everybody is welcome irrespective of political background (there is also an Open submissions policy, so if you have a post you’d like to publish on the forum – send it in and we’ll do what we can to post it up).

Do send in your comments / thoughts on improving it; what topics you would like to see discussed there etc etc. All feedback is appreciated and will be used to improve what’s on offer there. Contact details etc are on the site…

NI folks among Top 100 Conservative bloggers

31 08 2009
you made it... chest bumps everyone!

you made it... chest bumps everyone!

Congratulations to local bloggers who made it onto the Total Politics Top 100 Conservative blogs.

25. A Pint of Unionist Lite

42.Burke’s Corner

75. Conservative & Unionist NI

Iain Dale is the top Tory blogger, his readers are Conservative bloggers and they know what’s best in Conservative blogs throughout the UK. So it’s no mean feat to make it onto this list… congratulations!