Diplomatic Moderating- and why I Inadvertently Suck at it . . .
by, 03-25-2013 at 08:19 AM (853 Views)
One thing that I've learned over the years, I would NOT make a good politician! I am just not very good at explaining things in a diplomatic manner, although I always endeavor to. Case in point, on occasion we have members share tips and ideas through the "Articles" tab. But an "Article", for all inclusive purposes, must be a minimum of 400 words and contain a photograph, etc. Otherwise, it's not really an article, but a tip, that is best placed in the forum in whatever category it happens to fit in. I've had members submit tips as articles and I don't know a way of explaining it without making them feel reprimanded. I've tried just sending a short sweet note, a "heads up, here's where you can find your tip”, but I worry (almost excessively) that I've offended them or hurt their feelings. Seriously!
I also have to worry about Copyright concerns, because you wouldn't believe the number of people that copy and paste articles and think that they're simply "sharing" them, but aren't aware they're actually violating Federal Laws and can get the site they're "Sharing" to shut down! Recently a member shared a great article & photos, which were hot linked to another site. Hotlinking, if you aren't familiar, is when you link to a photo that hosted on someone elses server. This too, is illegal. Essentially, it's stealing their bandwidth- they're paying for you to see and enjoy the photo, but they're not benefiting from it in any way.
We generally disallow any kind of hotlinking (even linking that has been done with permission of the original site). Here's the issue with linking even with permission- down the road, if that site closes, those links break and the photos are no longer available, breaking the page. Or, worse, the domain is transferred to someone else and they decide to replace those photos with something that's Not So Nice... like Porn. Don't laugh, it happens, more frequently that you would think.
There are a few other issues to consider ...
SEO - Which is Search Engine Optimization- when a site reshares the same exact article in the same words, major search engines consider it "Scraped" which is a hit against BOTH sites- the Site hosting and the site copying. The Duplicate content is penalized and the pages that are duplicated end up not be indexed or getting blacklisted, if too much duplicate content is found. All search engines have regular algorithm updates which determine how/where/when a sites pages show up in their indexing. Duplicate content is punished so severely during these updates it can virtually wipe a site out of the search engine all together for months at a time.
How does that directly affect you?
When you're searching for something in particular, that link will no longer display to you, even if it's the most relevant link to your search. SEO is a serious beast and even sites like Budget101.com that have been on the web for 12-15 years take a big hit if they don't follow proper SEO procedures. Last year when Google unleashed their "Panda" Update it impacted 1.3% of ALL Queries. To a website guest, that doesn't sound like much, but that update Literally wiped thousands of websites off the grid altogether. If a sites pages are not indexed by search engines, the site becomes virtually obscure and impossible to find.
I have yet to figure out the best way to explain how/why we moderate certain areas of the site to meet all of the guidelines without managing to overwhelm or dishearten our members/guests. We love that you share content; it's what makes the site such a great resource and I don't want to discourage anyone from sharing their own ideas/thoughts, recipes and photos.
It doesn't stop there either, there are other Algorithm changes that bloggers and publishers need to be aware of, such as Googles Penguin update that occurred last year. This one had a massive effect and decreased site rankings that had too many unnatural links. Their goal was to crack down on link exchanges and low quality link farms, link directories, etc. What did that update mean to you? Well, it changed how we list/share freebies and coupons on the site. In order to make sure we don't get penalized for each external link to the freebies we find, we make sure each and every freebie has a description BEFORE the Link. You may have noticed that if you post too short of a message in the freebie or coupon forum, you receive an error message. This is Why.
It's kind of funny sometimes because I've met people and they say, "oh you just find freebies" or "Oh, you take pictures of food, how nice", but there really is a LOT of figuring, planning and forethought that goes into every aspect of the sites to make them run, I just haven't figured out a great way to explain it so I don't frustrate anyone!
Have you ever been moderated and wondered to yourself (or aloud) "What's his/her problem anyway??!" ?