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Friday, 28 March 2014

Crabby Old Lady, Books and Blog Spam

When this blog started up a decade ago, nobody cared about or wanted to know anything about old people.

As Crabby Old Lady has often explained, back then pretty much everything about aging in the popular press, academia, television and movies was, when it was mentioned at all, devoted to disease, debility and decline.

The amount, if not the theme, changed in what felt like an instant when the media realized in 2006 that the oldest baby boomers were turning 60 that year and they had a new (to them), vast, untapped audience for information about getting old.

Well, “information” - if you define the word as useful – is a overstatement. In Crabby's experience, about 95 percent of everything written about elders and aging - especially the Niagara of new book titles that clutter Crabby's inbox - is drek.

What has happened, as far as Crabby can tell, is that anyone who is age 40 or so and older seems to believe that he or she is an expert on aging and therefore has a right to be paid for those observations.

To make that bad news worse, the few newbie writers who might have something interesting to add to the conversation about getting old are mostly hampered by poor writing skills. Crabby would be embarrassed to recommend most of their books to you.

Then there are the professional writers who, although they can write more engagingly, have little to add about what it's like to get old that we don't already know. Too often, their books are quickies meant to cash in on the aging boomer phenomenon.

And all that is not to mention the endless stream of books about how to stay young forever. (Regular readers know how Crabby Old Lady feels about that subgenre.)

All of the above is the reason you see only half a dozen books a year mentioned on this blog. Crabby does not “review” books. She sees no point in telling you, dear readers, why you should not spend money on a book and it saves her from finishing the truly awful ones.

But that is only prelude to what Crabby is here to say today. The real reason is that it's been a bad couple of weeks at Time Goes By for comment spam of a specific type. It eats up too much of Crabby's time. It makes her not want to read email in the morning. It makes her want to walk away from the computer and ignore her blog. It is a terrible thing to ruin someone's pleasure.

Many of you will recall that too often in past months, your legitimate comments have not posted. The cause was a difficulty with spam filters at the blog host, Typepad, and it took them nearly a year to repair the problem. It has now been a month of smooth sailing with only real spam caught in the filters. Hurray.

In its place, however, TGB is being plagued with a different sort of spam – book authors who leave what could otherwise be deemed a legitimate comment but then they append the name of their book, sometimes a sentence or two of promotional language and link to the purchase page.

Now in case you have not noticed, Time Goes By is an advertising-free zone. Deliberately so.

Many years ago, she tried advertising but it was more work than the low revenue justified. Unless a website gets half a million or more page views a day, nobody pays much for ads and although TGB traffic is, gratifyingly, several thousand page views a day and growing - quite successful for a personal blog - it is miles away from enough to make the work of carrying ads worth the administrative effort.

So Crabby absorbs the cost of running Time Goes By which amounts to a few hundred dollars a year – cheap enough for the pleasure she gets from the writing and the terrific community that has developed here.

Back to the book spammers. For no reason Crabby can discern, there has been an annoying upsurge in their number this month – the professionals and the amateurs. Crabby reads every comment left on Time Goes By and as soon she sees a spam comment, she kills it.

In the case of the book spammers (not one of whom has ever commented before), Crabby has taken to emailing them a terse but polite explanation of the reason their comment, or part of it, has been deleted.

About half the spammers write back to say, “oh my, I didn't realize that you would object. I am so sorry. I just wanted people to know about my wonderful book,” etc. etc.

Crabby's calling bullshit on that. Would the same people have the nerve to paste an advertising poster on the front of Crabby's home? On the windows of the local supermarket or Walmart?

That is what they are doing by trying to sneak a free ad for their book in the comments. In any other form it is called theft and it infuriates Crabby Old Lady.

What makes it sad is that if any of these writers had emailed to tell Crabby about the book and ask if she were interested, it's possible that it would become a TGB selection. Unlikely but possible and anyway, it is the right thing to do instead of trashing up Crabby's website.

Okay, Crabby's had her say and if you stuck around to the end, she is flabbergasted since it is not a stretch to label this post itself a kind of spam. Crabby's excuse is that there has been so much awful writer spam it cast out any other thoughts from her head.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: Before Nail Guns Were Invented


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Ronni:

It's no consolation, but the success of your blog drives most of the spam. That back-handed compliment said, I don't blame you one bit for being rightfully and righteously, pissed off. A spammer is like a guy who walks through a park and stops to piss on all the pretty flowers.

Thanks for the rant, Ronni...and you're entitled to it. With all the great news and information you post here, you should win some kind of prize, I mean recognition from some organization that serves Elders...if there isn't such a thing, there should be!

Maybe you could create a special section for book ads only. Charge each advertiser $100 per day to run a clearly marked book ad. That way, even if you get just a handful of takers, you might recoup your blog expenses. Just a thought.

Dear Crabby....it's ok, we understand.

The people who read personal blogs such as yours Ronni do so BECAUSE there is no advertising. We know that what you like or dislike or support or don't support is guided by the heart and not from the wallet. In addition, I won't read any book on ageing unless i know it was written by someone who is living on Social Security and depends on Medicare for their health insurance. When it comes to knowing what it's like to be old, the saying "Walk a mile in my shoes" should be the first requirement for any author who professes to be an expert on the subject of ageing.

You go girl! The rant was well deserved and I read every single word.

Bravo! That's integrity you have made here.

A good rant is good for the soul and for longtime readers of TGB we know, and look forward to, your views on EVERYTHING! It's what keeps me coming back for more of your (and Crabby's) views on getting old and all the good/bad things that go along with it. And it's nice not to have advertising.

This reader wouldn't mind ads at all if it was worth the extra admin time.
Time and your curiosity and writing skill are your lovely gifts to us, but I'd like to see Crabby compensated.

Point well made! I agree with others who noted that one reason we've stuck around (besides your valuable and knowledgeable posts about what's really going on in "elder world") is that there's NO advertising. We're bombarded by ads of one kind or another constantly. If not for a specific product or service, we're being instructed on how to support this or that by "sending a check right now for only $$$". I am SO fed up with being solicited for money at every turn, even on the news! No matter how worthy the cause, I only have so much money. And don't get me started on terrible writing. In my view writing is a disappearing skill/art.

Anyway, no advertising works for me. Ronni, maybe TGB readers who are financially able would be willing to "subscribe" for a modest annual fee to help offset the costs you are now absorbing. I would.

I love Crabby and her rants! So glad you give her the time and space!

Poor old book authors, reduced to flogging their own books however they can. Desperation must be driving them.

Entirely reasonable Comment policy, you don't need to defend it. But of course if it gives Crabby a soapbox then I'm all for that!

How on earth do you have time to read all these comments!!

I'm so glad I discovered your blog a couple of months ago. Thanks for making it easy to subscribe via email.

LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!

Hoping you at least feel a bit better for having let Crabby Old Lady have her say on this. I respect and admire you for your position on this advertising stuff, and agree with Elizabeth R. about the . annoying bombardment of requests for money for something or other at every turn. I appreciate TGB remaining a site where I can rely on the quality of the content, and it being an ad-free zone.

Charging $100/day for an ad might make Crabby feel less crabby, but we would miss her special crabbiness and there's still the admin hassle. You're not spamming us. SPAM is when I can't visit any web page (including any FB page) without being bombarded by ADs/spam from the last dozen commercial web pages I visited. Arrrrgh. Keep it sleek. We like it this way. If you need to raise some emergency funds to stay on line, you can always do an all-call and we will respond. What do 'they' call those things? Crowd-sourcing/funding? HATE that term. Tacky.

Makes sense to me:).

BTW, Sovrn AKA Lijit ad network would make you at least $2/day:). (I have no affiliation except I use them on my blog). No work, but at least defray the hosting cost.

I appreciate your ad-free zone. Some of those spammers are sly at getting their voices in. In my book spam is anything sent me I don't want including a senator I never voted for and never will.

Bravo, Crabby!

Isn't it just amazing how many ways there are for strangers to waste your time?!

One of the reasons I never miss reading your blog (unless life gets in the way) is because we can trust you to alert us to things of interest and/or value and not promote something for profit. For someone to use your comment section to sneak in an ad for their book is so nervy they should be ashamed.

Thanks for the rant and the info, too. As a relatively new blogger, I need all the information about spam that I can get. It helps to know how things work.

I sympathize. With your large readership, you probably have your hands full. Have you considered moving your blog to a different platform that gives you better automated control over the advertisers/spammers? It'd be a pain to make the move but might be worth it in the long run.

Good for you, Ronni. Being ad-free gives your site a clean, bright look that is unique on the internet. You have achieved ease of use and an ethical vibe that inspires confidence. I have a somewhat selfish hope that the blog site doesn't grow too much. You might gain income, but the site would lose its character. And, hey, who needs money?

Ronni, your blog has a clean, professional look, so when I read it,
my eyes don't pinball all over the place bing bing bing.

Facts, not fluff is what makes your site great.

Go get 'em, Tiger! I love it when you really get riled up and give idiots what-for!!

Thank you. Your rants help me get over some of my daily irritations with commercial grabbers and pushers. You often bring a smile to my face to witness like-minded people whom I admire go off on a tantrum, too. It's very liberating to know other people who can stamp their foot and yell BASTA!!

Good for you! This is your blog; you can do whatever you want!

Thank-you Ronni for bringing yet another interesting topic to us. I so enjoy the information that you bring and the fact that there are no ads. It is so pleasant to just be able to read your content and not be bothered by ads for everything. At least I feel bothered by all of them when I am reading something I am interested in. I like to seek out what I am interested in purchasing without being distracted by unwanted ads. Your blog is like reading a new chapter of a good non-fiction book here every day. Thank-you for bringing it to us in the way that you do.

If you put a Paypal link on your page, I would absolutely contribute and I bet a lot of other readers would too. You provide us a great service with your wonderful information, advice and insight into aging (not to mention your excellent writing). Please think about it. Faithful reader

ditto to Miki - call 'em the way you see 'em, COL!

I just love your openess and honesty. You tell it like it is!

You are a better person than I am to actually tell the idiots why you aren't allowing their comments. I simply delete them if I find a link to a commercial site--of any kind. I am not their shill.

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