LS Blogs, the blog directory and search engines very own blog.

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Quick update.

Sorry for the slight decrease in acceptance of submissions recently, but I have been asked to help out on another forum, and it has been taking up a fair bit of time today, with some people throwing their dollies out of the pram so to speak.

Regular service will resume soon.

January 17, 2006   3 Comments

General stuff.

Traffic has been steadily increasing since lsblogs started, at the moment, as you can see from the Alexa Graph below its spikes up and down quite a lot, but its getting close to the 20,000 mark.

For those that dont know alexa, and how it ranks sites, basically a ranking of 1 is the best, traffic ranking gets more accurate the lower the ranking gets, and at the moment we are averaging our highest levels yet.

Since adding the categories on the main pages, the page view count has also increased,
quite dramatically, so not only are we getting more visitors, they are looking at more pages when
they visit.

I still accept roughly the same number of blogs each day, but I do reject more blogs each day than I used to, as part of getting more exposure, means more spam submissions.

Once a site gets “known” it starts to attract submissions from the most unlikely of sources, you would be amazed at the amount of businesses that submit their main websites as blogs, and expect to get in the directory. Often many of them come from the same submitter, and I almost feel sorry for them when I hit the ban button, and ALL their submissions disapear for good.

But, on the plus side, we are getting lots of quality submissions, which is another reason I really want to get the search functions perfected, to make it easier for people to find what they are looking for.

The other day, I managed to make a few adjustments which have speeded up the site, there is room for a lot more improvement, so dont expect things to stay the same, they can only get better. It just takes time, thats all - but lsblogs is here for the long term.

January 11, 2006   No Comments

Censorship on the internet

Spotted this on Dirty Tricks

Dirty Tricks: Microsoft Helps China Stifle Freedom of Speech

Microsoft Helps China Stifle Freedom of Speech

USA Today

Corp. has shut down the Internet journal of a Chinese blogger that
discussed politically sensitive issues, including a recent strike at a
Beijing newspaper.

It appears that Microsoft is getting some flack for shutting down a blog which the Chinese government took a dislike to, freedom of speech is very important - but In this instance, as the Microsoft Blog service in question was actually hosted in China, I dont see how they had much choice.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

The service is in China, so they have no choice but to obey local laws in that case, it would be a different ball game if the blogger had registered the blog on the US or UK sites, and I wonder if Microsoft would have taken the same decision in that instance?

Personally I dont agree with the way things are censored over there, but I dont live there, so dont have first hand experience of the issue, Im only going on what I have read.

However to me, the mere fact that a government can close down any site that disagree’s with its views makes me wonder about the way things are ran over there. In fact, the censorship alone tells me more about a country than any blog criticising a governement ever would. It makes me think the government in question is either a bully, or very insecure, either way they can’t take it when someone speaks their mind, if the person is not in agreement with their policies. I could be wrong, they may have very good reasons for what they do, Im sure Hitler thought he had good reasons for acting the way he did, Sadam Hussein probably thought he had good reasons for keeping his opposition silent. But is it right? To not allow people to question what is going on in their own country, or even to report on it?

But what can a governement have to fear from individuals writing words? Surely everyone is entitled to their opinion, or else they become slaves, living in fear of speaking a word out of turn.

But it is their country and they can do what they please, whether their people like it or not by the looks of things. I dont know how their political system works over their, but Im guessing people cant vote them out, or they would have done so by now. I also wonder if china is censoring peoples opinions even if they dont live in china? Is this being censored? Are the ponderings of someone in the UK getting hidden from the people of china, or is it only the chinese themselves that cant write what the feel? What do the majority of people over their actually think about this issue, is it a non issue to most of them? Or is it something of great concern, but as they are not allowed a free voice, people dont know its of concern?

The funny thing is, by censoring the blog in question, they have brought about worldwide attention to how they operate, and that has probably done a lot more damage to the publics perception of China than that blog ever could have done.

Go figure.

At least in most of the world, censorship like this is not a issue, yet…. But everyone does need to keep an eye out to make sure it does not creep in slowly, the internet is a global community, and politicians are often written about online - I bet not all of them like that, and I would not be suprised if they want to change the laws to make sure people cant speak freely at some point in the future.

But thats just a possibility, it may never happen, unlike in some countries where it is already happening.

What do you think? Should people be allowed to blog, report news and speak freely? Or is it ok to for the few to control the many?

January 10, 2006   No Comments

Confused by panic over this internet bill. Seems clear to me, but……

Whilst browsing the net, I came across this interesting article on CNET news,

Create an e-annoyance, go to jail | Perspectives | CNET

Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime. It’s no joke.
Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting
annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without
disclosing your true identity.

When I first saw this, I though, hmmmm that will affect a lot of people online. From trolls in newsgroups, to commentors in blogs, not to mention forum posts, websites and chat rooms.

Its starting I thought, the US is starting to try to control the internet and tell people what to do….

Redaing on, looking for some proof of the pudding so to speak we find

Buried deep in the new law is Sec. 113, an innocuously titled bit called “Preventing Cyberstalking.” It rewrites existing telephone harassment law to prohibit anyone from using the Internet “without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy.”

Fine, at last something I can check out, as one of the problems with the internet, and with journalists is they often dont have a clue what they are talking about.

So off I went, and read the link.

Now the problem I have, is I am not a lawyer, so following legal documents is like me trying to crochet a blanket, blindfolded with one arm tied behind my back. Its difficult, not least because I cant crochet!

But I read through it, looking for information about what the article said, and sure enough what do we find.

makes a telephone call or utilizes a
telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or communication
ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy,
abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number or who
receives the communications;

Ok, so the words “without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy” are present, just like the article said, maybe the article was correct? Maybe you cant post anything online ever again using a nickname, just in case someone, somewhere is annoyed.

I found that rather odd, surely the President of the United States isnt that stupid as to pass a bill like that?

So I read further down, and guess what I found….


For purposes of this section—

The use of the term “telecommunications device�? in this section—

shall not impose new obligations on broadcasting
station licensees and cable operators covered by obscenity and
indecency provisions elsewhere in this chapter; and

does not include an interactive computer service.

Note, how the original qoute clearly says “makes a telephone call or utilizes a
telecommunications device
” and note how the term “elecommunications device” is defined above.

From what I can see, and remember I am not a lawyer, this is only my simple understanding of the matter,
it says to me a “telecommunications device” DOES NOT include a interactive computer service.

Which, especially if you read what a interactive computer service is, which to me it clearly says is the internet and so on, means this new bill has absolutely nothing to do with annoying people on the internet.

So if clearly states that that qoute does not apply to the internet, why are people going on as if it does?

Am I missing the plot here? Why are political correspondents and others getting so worked up about this?

Have I misinterpreted what is written? It seemed fairly clear to me, but then again Im not a lawyer.

Is everyone just jumping on the bandwagon and not checking out facts? Or am I way of base here?

January 10, 2006   1 Comment

Improved Search Results.

I am working on improving the search results on LS Blogs, the search functions have been a little lacking up till now, and they still need a lot of work.

Over the coming months I will be fixing the search routines to provide a much better service, at the moment I have just tweaked the code so it only returns the first 300 matches found, this stopped the memory error that some people may have experienced.

Its not perfect, but at least it doesnt crash now….

I will be adding advanced search functions at some point in the future, and making the search results a lot more relevant and easy to use, but it will all take time - but should be worth the wait.

No doubt the search will go through a few changes before I am finnished, as I learn from mistakes, and find the best way forward. There is a lot of data to search, and I dont have a army of coders working for me (its just little old me doing it all…), nor do I have an array of computers working behind the scenes.

So I need to make sure that whichever method I choose isnt to intensive for the server to cope with, as it has to serve the site out, as well as perform searches or index the data at the same time. Plus, finding a way to filter out duplicate results, which is a problem at the moment will be fun :)

Ideally I want to make the search fast, and easy to use, with the emphasis on returning useful results that are easy to understand.

Plenty of ideas on things I can do, its just finding the time, and figuring out the best ways to do certain things.

With a bit of luck though, this time next year the search will be a lot better :)

January 10, 2006   No Comments

Automated comment spam

Its amazing the lengths some people go to in order to get people to visit a site, how many of you readers have received a email like this in the past..

Hello xxxxxxxxx,

How would you like to have your a'd on 2 Million Websites ?

I'm not pulling your leg!

Discover the new way of advertising on the Internet!
This Tool is one of the hottest - if not the hottest,
marketing tools available!

Discover the power of the Blog Blaster!

Brandnew software revolutionizes the power of online advertising
-neve'r seen before!-

This email is for a little bit of scumware called “blogblaster”, it is mainly purchased by unscrupulous site owners, or idiots.

What does it do? Well it basically sends out lots, and lots of automated comments to blogs, spamming as the ad says “up to 2 million” blogs with a comment that has a link back to the spammers site.

Software like this is a pain, as it makes it too easy for idiots to go around spamming blogs, to much spam in someone’s comments can really detract from the readability, and could even result in the blog owner disabling comments, or enabling comment moderation.

Lets say you start getting these comments on your blog, what can you do about it?

Firstly you could do a search on the net to see if that same comment has been posted on lots of other blogs, if it has you can tell by the sheer number of postings if it is from a automated package, or a genuine visitor.

If you find genuinely automated comments on your blog, what should you do?

You could put the nofollow attribute on your comments, so they dont get any benefit in the search engines from the link, or you could delete the comments, perhaps you could be sneaky and even re-write the comment so instead of something like

“You have a really interesting blog about cats, please drop by my site about <link to spammy cat site> and take a look, we sell many cheap cat accessories”

It could be altered to something like

I am a spammer, I use automated blog submission software to spam blogs, a quick search on many search engines will reveal that this comment has been letf on thousands of blogs. I didnt really read your blog, I just dont not that ethical, so please bear in mind my lack of ethics, and my utter lack of respect for your site when you visit the <link to spammy cat site>, and if I was a real reader of the blog, I would come back and question why this comment now says what it does, but Im just a sad person using automated software to fill up the blogospere with my rubbish.

Of course that opens you up to risks, such as the person maybe suing (but imagine it in court, they called me a spammer, why? Because I spammed them……) or getting offended if you made a mistake and it was a genuine comment!

Whatever you do, dont just let the comments sit there, unless you want your comment section to quickly fill up with junk! If you already have a plan for dealing with comment spam, then well done, keep up the good work.

I wonder what would happen if someone set up a test blog and clearly stated that comments could not be left unless you paid a amount of cash for the privelidge, and that leaving a comment without paying up front would result in the commenter being invoiced say five thousand dollars.

A real human would see that message, and not leave a comment, but the automated software would just go ahead and leave the comment. Would it be legally enforcable? Could you actually send the invoice, and sue if the spammer did not pay up? Imagine, if that was the case, and lots of people did this, it would put the spammers out of business real fast…

January 8, 2006   No Comments

The mind boggles sometimes.

I had a chuckle today over a couple of submissions in the backlog, despite lots of guidance on site about choosing the correct category when submitting, lots of people still dont bother.

I sometimes just move sites myself to more appropriate categories, but there is a high chance they will just get deleted if the submitter has not taken the time to find an appropriate category to submit to.

You would think, that of all people, a SEO blog, especially one about ethical issues in SEO, would be able to submit to the correct category? Nope not in this instance (no I wont give the link), a so called leader in web placement (their words not mine!) and they cant even submit to a directory properly. A seo blog is not a blog directory, so it should not have been submitted to that category! Needless to say I rejected it.

That was closely followed by another submission, about link exchanges and seo, which was submitted to the video game category….. The blog did not mention video games, that I could see, so in the reject bin it went.

Obviously in the last instance the submitter actually went looking for a category, so its not like they didnt know about the categories, its probable they just wanted to find a category with only a few links in, to get more PR.

Well, it backfired, as they didnt get listed at all. Sites wont get into the wrong category, I check the category, and if its way off, I move it, or delete the submission. So cheating is useless here - dont try it.

It does not take long to do what the vast majority of submitters do - and thats to read the guidelines, and submit to the appropriate category, and follow the rest of the guidelines. Doing so makes the directory a better place for everyone that uses it.

January 7, 2006   No Comments

Useful Quick Tip for Adsense Users

Many bloggers use adsense, those little google ads on their blogs.

For those of you that use them, you may be aware that the summary page does not include a “all time” option, you can only view today, yesterday, last 7 days, last month and this month.

The only way to see your full earnings for all time, is to go to the advanced reports page and view it. This can be a pain, especially if you have used adsense for a long time, as the all time report can be HUGE!

Another problem, with not having a all time option on the summary reports is you cant see your referall stats for a period longer than 1 month - and also that information is not shown on the advanced report, so you have no idea how many referalls and conversions you have in total….

Well, if you use this little trick below, you can have a all time option, and see this information. Its quite handy, and very easy to do.

Simple change the last parameter in your url in the address bar so instead of reading

it becomes

Thats it. You now have all time stats available on the summary page, which can save you
scrolling down a long, long report on the advanced page, and will save google some bandwidth in the process!

Obviously, you use this at your own risk!
Personally I can’t see any harm in using it, as it is just showing you your stats..
Its not trying to cheat the system in any way, and I cant see any rules against it in the terms and conditions, but Im not a lawyer, so you need to decide for yourself.

January 5, 2006   1 Comment

Reminder to be cautious. Keep your anti-virus up to date.

I frequently carry out manual quality checks on LS Blogs, to try my best to keep the listings as� clear as possible, removing bad listings, and dead blogs.

Occassionally (only happened twice so far) I find something more sinister, a blog that tries to infect its readers with a virus. Obviously when this happens, the blog (and ALL blogs from the same user) are deleted, as the last thing I want is to have infected blogs in the listings.

In the past, you could only get a virus if you actually ran a program that contained a virus, or were infected by another program that had access to your computer.

These days though, thanks to the wonderful world of windows, and those new fangled ways of programming, you can now get viruses in pretty much anyway you can think of.

You may not be able to get pregnant from sitting on a toilet seat, but I wonder how long it takes before you can get a virus on a windows box from sitting on a toilet seat. Anyone who is used to the old school of thought that you cant get a virus just by viewing pictures or files had better start redefining their views, as its a different world out there now.
Even something as innocent as opening a windows media movie/audio file can now infect you, and this is what I found on someones blog today.

It is VITAL that you have upto date anti-virus protection on your computer, and you should never, ever download and run (or even PLAY) anything from a website without running a check on it first.

Remember, many web pages have embedded content, that plays automatically, and you could get a virus just from visiting that website now.

Keep upto date with virus news, install protection, and be viligent.

Also, if you have a blog yourself, its doubly important to make sure you have a clean virus free machine, you dont want to infect any files on your blog, which could in turn affect your readers.

If anyone ever finds a virus on a blog, be sure to inform the site owner, if the site is listed in LS Blogs, let me know, so I can delete it from the listings.

Thankfully, most blog owners are sensible, and it is, as I said earlier, VERY rare to find a problem like this, but you should be aware a problem does exist.

January 5, 2006   No Comments

Just upgraded to Wordpress Version 2

Seeing as a new version of wordpress is available, I decided now would be a good time to upgrade, seeing as I had not done any modifications yet.

The upgrade process really was painless, and quite quick, with the longest part being a backup of all wp files and the database.
Now I just have to see what new features are available.

January 3, 2006   No Comments