Another blogging public service announcement: “Like-spamming”

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You know those people who come along and “like” something on your blog, but when you go to check out their blog you don’t find a blog, but a website trying to sell you up for some kind of marketing scheme?  I’ve come to think of this as “like-spamming”– the people who seem to go around and click like on everything, just to create as many opportunities as possible to draw more people in to their site.

I always wanted to give those people the benefit of the doubt.  I thought maybe at one point they had a blog like me, and found out they could make more money doing X, Y, Z.  Maybe they still had a real blog somewhere and just forgot to include the link to it.

And me being such a nice person, I like to check out the blog of everyone who comes to mine, just to give back some support (sorry if I’ve missed anyone!).

Well today I just did that, and decided to see what all of these marketing promotions were about.  For the first time ever, I actually clicked on a link on one of those pages.

Immediately a notification from Norton Anti-Virus pops up, warning me it had just protected my computer from a “well-known malicious attack.”  The offending URL, sure enough, matched the link I had clicked on.

Now let me just say that it takes a lot for Norton to actually call something both well-known and malicious.  I’ve almost never seen it put anything in the “Code Red” category.  Normally it just warns me that something might be suspicious.

Which means that the scammers who built this link were pretty brazen.  They didn’t work too hard to disguise their attack, probably because they know that bloggers are, on the whole, such an open and trusting bunch.

But that’s it for me: no more feeling guilty about ignoring some of the people who click “like” on my blog.  From now on, if I click on someone’s profile and I don’t actually see a blogblog, then forget it, I’m out of there.  I advise all of my readers to do the same!

Troll photo: Marchange

Seeking your opinion on my blog layout

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Hi everyone… you might have noticed that I’ve been changing the theme/layout of my blog a lot recently.  I mostly liked the way it looked with the Twenty-Ten theme, except I thought the black bar at the top where all the page titles were listed was extremely ugly.

So I finally purchased the Custom Upgrade and have been playing around.  If you have a moment, I was hoping you could take a look at my blog and tell me whether or not you think the changes I made today are a step in the right direction.  I will probably continue to keep experimenting, but I’m just wondering… does the new theme make my “Pages” stand out in a more appealing way?  I’m trying to emphasize them more because my blog really depends on pages to explain what the heck I’m talking about.

Feel free to be honest, and let me know if you think I should just stick with what I had.  I have 30 days to cancel the Custom Upgrade and get my money back.

Thank you!!! I apologize for the fact that my blog might look different every time you look at it for the next few weeks :)

My current background photo is from Andi Licious, published under a Creative Commons license.

My thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombings

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When I first started this blog, I promised myself I wouldn’t get into any political issues on it.  I actually love discussing politics and current events, but in this space, I want to help people regardless of their political views.

However, this blog means a lot to me personally, and I have poured a lot of my heart and soul into it.  At this point I don’t feel it would be authentic for me to go forward without sharing with you all the things that have been filling my heart and mind for the past week.

I am a Massachusetts girl, and have been for all of my life.  The majority of my family is here; my friends are here; everything is here.  I don’t even like baseball, but I know what David Ortiz meant when he said, “This is our fucking city.”  If you have spent time in Boston, you know it, too.

My cousin ran the Marathon on Monday.  He was being sponsored by his employer, and was raising money for charity.  My aunt and my uncle came up from Delaware to watch, and the whole family was watching in Brighton when he passed by.

The explosions happened about a half hour later.  My cousin was unhurt, but he only crossed the finish line about a minute before the first one went off.  If you’ve watched news coverage of the explosions, you know that means that if he had been only a minute slower, he would probably have been hurt.

The thing is, it almost doesn’t matter that everyone close to me was okay.  I have never experienced another tragedy like this, but when it happens in your city it is somehow different from hearing it on the news.  When it happens far away, it’s more abstract.  You know it’s horrible, but, at least for me, it takes actually turning on the news, or seeing the newspaper, and seeing pictures of the victims and people mourning to make me cry.

Not when it’s in your own backyard.  I didn’t need to turn on the TV, or see images of anyone, for it to feel like a part of me had been attacked.

I know New Englanders have a reputation for being a bit cold, compared to people from other parts of the country.  And I will be the first to admit, we don’t seem very friendly when we’re behind the wheel of a car.

But this doesn’t mean we don’t have an unspoken bond.  I didn’t need to see the faces of the victims, or learn their names, to feel as though people I cared about had been hurt.   When I heard the news I immediately went to turn on the TV, but I was already shaking and crying.

There has been an amazing outpouring of support for Boston from all over the world.   A million gestures of kindness from people in all parts of the globe have meant more to us here than I can convey.

But there has also been something uglier that has emerged in the past few days, something that has made it a little harder to move forward with the healing process.

What I’m referring to here is the bizarre backlash that has occurred against the way Boston handled this situation, amongst people who don’t even live in Massachusetts.  Various bloggers and Internet pundits from other states and countries have published articles criticizing the people of Boston for “cowering” in their homes during Friday’s “lockdown.”  They’ve criticized our law enforcement and government officials, and some have even gone so far to see this situation as a big conspiracy theory.

Now I don’t know if this means I’m spending too much time on the Internet, or what.  People here are being nothing but kind to each other.  We all know that it could have been worse, that it could have gone on for a lot longer.  I think many of us expected to be living in fear for months.

But I know I’m not the only person who feels this way.  At this point it’s a pretty unanimous conversation among my Boston-area friends.  Why are people who’ve probably never even been to Boston freaking out about what happened here and claiming they know more about it than we do?

Of course, my frustration isn’t directed at any of my blog followers.  You are all a bunch of really smart people, and I have been grateful for your support.  I would, however, like to enlist you in my fight against misinformation.  I don’t want this narrative of Bostonians “cowering” in their homes to spread.  So here, instead, is a collection of things I want you to know.

Thoughtful posts reflecting on the experience of the past week:

The Boston spirit:

On people who feel the need to compare Boston to other tragedies:

On the criticism of the Boston lockdown:

Thank you to everyone who has written these amazing posts.  We are in this together.  And thank you to Pete Tschudy for the above picture.