Adults only beyond this point, please; some of the things we tolerate aren’t at all pleasant to think about….
Adults only beyond this point, please; some of the things we tolerate aren’t at all pleasant to think about….
1. National Service is going ahead, but I can’t sit around forever waiting for the money situation to get better, so, with Clive’s help, I’ve built a little cash machine to help things along. That’ll be with you shortly.
3. Blair’s coining it in while playing The Great Statesman, but he hasn’t killed anyone lately, so I’m happy to leave him to it. Even if he does manage to buy a burial plot with armed guards and electrified fences, I doubt even that will keep me from somehow pissing on his grave.
4. Bush is finished and has been since the 2006 mid-terms.
5. The year or so of bloggage about Iain Dale and Paul Staines (and their overlapping team of wannabe thugs) looked very closely at the techniques used in their ongoing efforts to enjoy power without accountability… and from here it looks as if we’ve finally reached the bottom of their bag of tricks.
[Psst! Iain and Paul: Don’t get your hopes up, you lovable miniature media barons. There are still some loose ends flapping and an almighty wrap-up to come, and I guarantee that you’re not going to like any of it.]
So the time has finally come for a new ongoing project at Bloggerheads.
I have two projects in mind:
UK Libel Law
UK libel laws as they stand make it very difficult for any British citizen or resident to host their website in this country without fear of being silenced with quasi-legal threats (yes, even from total tosspots who can’t afford real lawyers). Overseas hosts are also prone to intimidation, and they most likely won’t give a flying toss about who is and isn’t legally entitled to what, because you’ll just be an unwanted headache to most of them.
After the Alisher Usmanov affair, I did some poking around to see what kind of support bloggers and other web-publishers could expect from the UK hosting industry we would most likely have to abandon en masse if this kind of thing continues… and I didn’t get a nibble.
There were some fine print and television journalists batting for us here and there during the whole Usmanov thing, but challenging the status quo on something this big requires hefty editorial support. I don’t like our chances.
The short version is as follows: if bloggers want to change or challenge the UK libel laws, those of us that do choose to stand together against this kind of nonsense will on our own.
On the surface of things, it’s also a wee bit dry as a subject. But, then again, so was SOCPA to an extent. I’m sure that with some teamwork and creativity, we could paint some well-deserving individuals and organisations into some interesting corners (i.e. give those with the power to change it reason to do so… or at least something to think about).
I’d like to (finally) devote some serious time to this by creating a purpose-built multi-author weblog that documents the many ways that The Sun newspaper manipulates and betrays their readers and the public in general.
There are now some excellent writers in the blogosphere with sufficient background, experience and credibility to take this on. I’d be devoting a good portion of my time to it, and there are a few people I already have in mind that I’d like to invite to do the same.
Of course, we’d probably have to host it overseas (see above), but part of this would be the development of a working [outlet]-watch from scratch for instructional and inspirational purposes anyhow (“You can do this, too for the Murdoch outlet nearest you. And here’s how…”), so I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t start afresh at Blogger.com or the like, just to prove it can be done and done well.
[Psst! Just in case you’re not aware, a FOX News watchdog already exists.]
So, over to you lot…
One of the things that I care about most in politics is levelling the playing field; those who wish to engage honestly from any side should be able to do so without being silenced, shouted down, shoved aside or sabotaged.
Which project do you think is most likely to take us forward on that front? Or do you have some ideas of your own?
Now’s the time to speak up if you have something to say.
UPDATE – Please note that I’ll be out for most of Thursday April 17th, so if you’re relatively new here or it’s your first comment, your 2p worth probably won’t be cleared for publication until late afternoon. Cheers all.
Blairwatch – Nick Kollerstrom’s Crap Circles: We’ve occasionally been targeted by 9/11 and 7/7 conspiraloons over our coverage of terrorism and strategies to deal with it. At one level it’s just a small group of deathly boring obsessives, at another it’s something disturbing. One fact that keeps cropping up is the links between these self-professed truthers and Holocaust deniers and Nazi apologists. For many of these people there are few news sources they trust, but Stormfront is one where they unquestioningly accept the racist crap spewed over those boards. We’ve just found another conspiraloon, Nick Kollerstrom aka astro3, who’s been pestering 7/7 survivors as they offer an inconvenient witness against his ludicrous theories. Although he specialises in that ultimate conspiracy theory, crop circles, he’s not afraid to take a deep bath in Nazi apologism and Holocaust denial…
UPDATE – Even more from Unity.
UPDATE – Rachel North – The Conspiraloon Holocaust Denial Exposure: The ‘9/11 Truth’ forum, for example, recently had pages and pages of discussion threads about holocaust with contributors busily denying it happened. Only when the blog-storm about Kollerstrom broke did they take any action. They hid the threads and belatedly banned discussion of the subject, as it was felt to reflect badly on their ‘Truth movement’. Some might call that cynical… Sadly, many of the ”Truthers”, instead of waking up to the people who associate with them and their campaigns, and questioning their agenda are instead attacking the bloggers who outed Kollerstrom, throwing about personal abuse, calling them ‘Nazis’ and ‘dictators, whinging about ‘free speech’ and generally being in denial about it all. Others have gone very quiet.
Gotta be out today. Let me leave you with some excellent posts…
… and the following thought from the mind of a paranoid obsessive:
So Iain Dale is launching a new magazine for the political classes. If he’s to gain ground on the print advertising front, he needs to play down the importance/significance of The House Magazine and publisher Dods (example).
Now take a look at how the online advertising outfit MessageSpace communicates their claims of importance/dominance in the ads that run when they don’t have any paying ads to speak of:
One of life’s happy little accidents, no doubt.
After all, it’s not as if Dale and Staines collude on any of this.
Iain Dale and Paul Staines publish their stat-porn each and every month. Now they claim that they’re not blogging anything about their numbers and what might be wrong with them because it will bore their readers.
Just one of many bullshit claims that have turned up since Dale and Staines started
following stalking this story around Teh Interwebs and putting forward under comments on other blogs the case they should be making as posts on their own damn websites.
You can see Dale and Staines on the loose in the comments thread under this post, but for the biggest laughs you really want to check out Iain Dale’s behaviour in a Haloscan comment thread that followed this post at Lenin’s Tomb.
(Yes, I can confirm that it’s really Iain Dale on the loose in the latter thread.)
(Yes, I plan on moving on shortly. It looks like we’ve finally reached the bottom of their bag of tricks.)
You may recall that, during a discussion about Paul Staines’ and Iain Dale’s confusion over the difference between a ‘visit and a ‘visitor’ and how this impacted on MessageSpace’s traffic claims, that Mr Kelly Nightingale, Managing Director of MessageSpace appeared to be a little bit confused… about the difference between a ‘visit and a ‘visitor’.
We didn’t hear from Kelly Nightingale again, but Mr Jag Singh, Chief Information Officer for MessageSpace, did eventually come around (in another thread, mind) and explain that it was ‘mistake’ and that he would “make sure MessageSpace is more careful to recognise the distinction in the future”
That was over a week ago. Welcome to the future…
I had planned to reveal some sums this morning, showing where MessageSpace’s claim that they reach “more than 700,000 readers” each month might not add up, but – after a healthy start – MessageSpace suddenly stopped cooperating. The last I heard from them (after their kind provision of a list of publishers* as at May 2007, when they claimed to have taken their last sample ‘proving’ this) was when I asked for a current list of publishers on Friday afternoon.
[*Publishers = sites carrying MessageSpace advertising. Not all of these are blogs, despite what MessageSpace’s advertising might suggest.]
The sticking point appears to be the inclusion of the popular website Popbitch in the claims of regular/current reach, when in fact Popbitch does not carry MessageSpace advertising regularly or currently, but only occasionally. And one of the few occasions when Popbitch just happened to be running MessageSpace ads was… yep, you guessed it; during the two-week sample taken in May 2007. This is kind of like a kid with height issues who insists that you measure him while he’s on the trampoline; “Measure me NOW… no, wait (boing) measure me NOW… no, wait (boing) measure me NOW… no, wait (boing)…”
But I did find a few interesting nuggets while visiting the website of the company with “nothing to hide” in search of something that might tell me how many publishers they have at the moment and who those publishers might be. I may as well share them with you while we wait for MessageSpace to come around once more…
The first thing I noticed was that – since the discussion(s) linked above (i.e. within the last week) – the MessageSpace website had been updated.
This page used to claim that:
“Publishers on the MessageSpace network show 4 million adverts a month, to more than 700,000 unique readers.”
It now claims that:
“Publishers on the MessageSpace network show more than 9 million adverts a month, to more than 700,000 readers.”
The only way is up, baby.
Still, a ray of hope. Perhaps the page designed to show the current list of publishers (which has been blank for well over a year) had also been updated…
Anyway, while poking around the archived version of the site, I also noticed that they were claiming to reach more than 700,000 readers per month before their May 2007 sample.
So now, if I’m to do the sums properly, I need data relating to any sample(s) taken before May 2007, as well as the current list of publishers.
But here’s the really fun bit…
If you visit the main page of the MessageSpace website and click ‘partners’, you can see for yourself what they’re currently claiming on their recently-updated website:
A claim of 4 million readers per month. On the front page of their website. So much for their being more careful in future…
Iain Dale has refused to answer this question:
Iain? Care to make a statement? There is going to be an opt-out facility [for Total Politics], isn’t there?
Iain Dale has also shown that he can become very confused about valid readership figures, and even remain confused when it is explained very carefully to him.
So here’s a little something that I hope will help him stay out of trouble:
This opt-out list, currently managed by Clive and myself, is designed to:
1) Help Iain to avoid any claims he may later regret about the actual number of people who read his magazine.
2) Provide choice for those people who don’t want Iain Dale’s ‘politically neutral’ magazine clogging up their mail slot.
3) Save a few trees*.
Share and enjoy. Let’s help Iain Dale to be as honest as possible with his potential advertisers, and save a few trees* while we’re about it.
[*May not apply if Iain’s magazine is going to be made from recycled toilet paper.]
[Psst! Iain! If you start your own opt-out list, we’ll happily retire this one.]
I’ve been pondering on what Professor Paul said recently under comments…
So Dale & Staines are a sort of bloggers Milli Vanilli?
… and I think he might really be onto something.
Let’s begin with a quick look at the component parts of Milli Vanilli:
Leather jackets and bicycle shorts do make a powerful statement. They say; “I am as cool as The Fonz, and by the way, here is my cock.”
Running on the spot makes you look a bit silly, but doing it tandem with someone else apparently looks quite nifty to some people.
Technically acceptable, if mediocre and lacking in soul.
Ditto, but good enough for entry into the pop charts.
But when you combine all of the above, suddenly your singles are Top Ten and you’re getting a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Even individual components begin to look individually impressive. Teh Dancing, for example; doing energetic motions while you also appear to be singing in tune is enough to impress most people.
But take away one single component that turns out not to be real, and suddenly as far as the market is concerned, this is all you’re good for:
The important thing to remember is that Milli Vanilli could sing (a bit) and the people who sang for them could sing (a bit better) but neither charted higher than 76 outside of Europe after the backlash.
I guess the point I’m trying to make in a roundabout way is that Paul Staines is quite good at muckraking (he used to do it for a living, you know) and Iain Dale is quite good at village gossip (and championing a standard of blogging that he himself doesn’t subscribe to)… but that’s as far as it goes.
Any status of super-stardom is either imagined or the product of invention… and, crucially, this is the part that could render what they are capable off irrelevant to most people.
Just a thought that occurred. Make of it what you will.
Heh. A few people have piped up mentioning a recent email from Google to all Google Analytics users, and I just got a copy myself in the early hours:
Dear Google Analytics users,
We are writing to let you know about a change in our service offerings. If you have logged into your account recently, you may have noticed that you can now choose to share your Google Analytics data. By providing data sharing options, we hope to provide you with transparency, control, and new services based on your preferences.
To learn more about data sharing settings, visit our FAQs: http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?answer=87515
We’re also happy to announce industry benchmarking as the first new feature available to those who opt to share their data. Benchmarking lets you compare your metrics against industry verticals.
To enable this optional new feature, an administrator on your account will need to make the following selections on the Google Analytics data sharing settings page:
1. Log into your account. You’ll see the yellow data sharing settings box on the Analytics Settings page.
2. Click the “More data sharing options” link within the yellow box.
3. Select the second checkbox to specify that you want to share your data “Anonymously with Google products and the benchmarking service”. You can also choose to share your data “With Google products only” to take advantage of advanced Google advertising products and services as they become available.
The industry benchmarking feature is currently in beta. Once you have enabled benchmarking, it may take up to two weeks before the categorized, aggregated and anonymized benchmarking data shows up in your reports.
For more information on the benchmarking service, visit our FAQs: http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/topic.py?topic=13909
In addition to the new benchmarking service, opting to share your data will also enable you to take advantage of new advanced Google products and services as they become available. We think these services will offer greater insight and sophistication to users who have opted to share their data. However, if you would prefer not to use these services, simply specify on the settings page that you don’t want to share your data.
The Google Analytics Team
Back soon with a pressie for Iain and, later, some sums for MessageSpace.