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Fake reviews at Yelp, Amazon Books – authenticity engine details

An interesting new report from PBS NewsHour about fake reviews on Yelp and Bazaarvoice:

They don’t mention the services that sell Facebook friends and other social media followers but that’s in the same dishonest ball park.

Reminds me of Amazon’s decision to delete thousands of book reviews that generated an uproar — the company never offered a public explanation for the sweeping purge back in 2013.

 

Giving raves to family members is no longer acceptable. Neither is writers’ reviewing other writers. But showering five stars on a book you admittedly have not read is fine.


Amazon has not said how many reviews it has killed, nor has it offered any public explanation. So its sweeping but hazy purge has generated an uproar about what it means to review in an era when everyone is an author and everyone is a reviewer.

Is a review merely a gesture of enthusiasm or should it be held to a higher standard? Should writers be allowed to pass judgment on peers the way they have always done offline or are they competitors whose reviews should be banned? Does a groundswell of raves for a new book mean anything if the author is soliciting the comments?

via Amazon Book Reviews Deleted in a Purge Aimed at Manipulation – NYTimes.com.

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Notes from WooConf 2014

wooconf-ariWooConf was full of interesting talks and it was great to meet up with Woo-enthusiasts… I liked that part of the presentations were technical and part were marketing driven – my goal is to help my small business ecommerce clients understand how to use marketing tools to optimize the performance of the websites I build for them. I’m not primarily a marketing guy so some of this is new territory for me.

SAAS Marketing Tools

  • GraphFlow: recommendation engine
  • Improvely: Conversion Tracking & Click Fraud Monitoring
  • Vero – Track behaviors and trigger all kinds of email autoresponders
  • Raven: online marketing reports – integrate all kinds of reports in one place
  • SharpSpring: marketing automation

Other tools

  • Elto marketplace for Woo and other dev tasks like site speed
  • Measure site speed with GTmetrix
  • Tip: Sliders are not good for conversion rates
  • Plugin to sort products in many ways — maybe useful if you have lots of products

Notes on talks

chris-lema-wooconf

Chris Lema

 

 

 

 

Posted in Web Design, WordPress Ecommerce | Leave a comment

Creative WordPress Archive Pages – Posts in Grids

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 12.01.49 PM

“Snazzy” Archives at thinkimagine.com

I use “Snazzy” Archives (wp.org page) and you can view mine but it is more interesting when you go back in time to view months where I have more posts. It has not been updated in a while but it still works great.

Another great option is the JetPack Infinite Scroll + Masonry and some detailed notes on making a responsive Pinterest-like Grid of posts.

Dynamic Grid: WordPress Posts Feed Slider

Dynamic Grid: WordPress Posts Feed Slider

This plugin offers an animation option to the grid of posts

  • I also found a Query Posts plugin that spits out fairly raw content for you to style with CSS
  • Reviews of a few post grid plugins
  • Grid Layout Shock offers free and paid version of it’s post grid plugin
  • Also minimal listing of months/years can be useful too if you don’t want a big preview image
Posted in Web Design, WordPress | Leave a comment

Review of WordPress Face Detection Cropping Plugin: My Eyes Are Up Here

What a great name for a plugin: “My Eyes Are Up Here

It helps get around the problem of WordPress cropped thumbnails that always take the center of an image – but sometimes you have a a face or other point of interest that is not in the center.  From an aesthetic point of view, if you’re using the rule-of-thirds when you frame your shot, the subject is always off-center — but ultimately  depends what the image is.

 

face not centered testSo here’s a test image with a face that is not centered:

 

 

 

 

 

 

and here’s before and after shots of how the media editor looks….

… I clicked  the “detect faces” button and it said “No faces were found” – so that’s too bad but… I added a “hotspot” manually and clicked the “finish adding hotspots” button

Before pressing "add hotspots"

Before pressing “add hotspots”

after pressing "add hotspots"

after pressing “add hotspots”

this view from the post editor is pretty cluttered since the theme I’m testing in has lots of extra sizes. It’s a bit confusing but once you know what to look for it is a nice time saver.

Note this all appears in both the ‘media’ part of the WP admin area as well as when adding an image directly to a post like this:

View from within the post editor

View from within the post editor

 

 

Here’s a comment from the wptavern review: “If your theme makes heavy use of featured images with human subjects, this plugin will help you to get the desired crop around faces and avoid the dreaded crotch shot”

Thanks to the folks at interconnectit for providing this free plugin.

Posted in WordPress | 1 Response

Notes on WordPress 4.0 – “evolutionary”

Evolutionary but not revolutionary. It’s a big new number but a “regular” number of new features—some really useful, however. The other good news is that fewer big changes means fewer chances of breakage while updating.

WordPress 4.0 “Benny” has been released today. Here’s the intro video

 

Features

new media library uses space more effectively: infinitely scrolling “grid view” added to the “list view”

new plugin views use space less effectively but provide more info:

 

TinyMCE  editor: New behavior of the editor is really useful – having the top bar be “pinnable” so it’s always visible is key for pages with lots of content. There are other improvements to keyboard and cursor interaction with TinyMCE views.

Looking forward to using it and to WordCamp in October.

Other features:

  1. Previews of oEmbed URLs in the visual editor and via the “Insert from URL” tab in the media modal.
  2. Select a language when installing WordPress
  3. Widgets in the Customizer are now loaded in a separate panel
  4. Improvements to formatting functions

via A Guide to WordPress 4.0 – Tuts+ Code Article.

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Alternatives to Hello Bar: WordPress Notification Bar Plugins

Hello Bar is a SaaS which charges based on the number of clicks the bar receives. If your bar receives 7,500 clicks per month, HelloBar would cost you $50/month. It’s a great service and includes it’s own analytics but many sites will benefit from a simpler option without ongoing fees.

Foobar ($14)

Foobar is my favorite alternative to Hello Bar. $14  is a one time payment at CodeCanyon and it features a powerful customization panel. Customizing colors, font size, shadows as well as social icons and much more. You can save multiple Foobars and assign to to specific pages. It’s great also for occasional ‘emergency’ notices also.

attentionGrabber (free)

Foobar was my favorite, but attentionGrabber is nicely designed visually. The transition effect is smooth. Like Foobar, you add official Twitter and Facebook button next to the post link. So with regards to the backend and in terms of design attentionGrabber is the best.

see also:

  • Mintbar – an open source notification bar.
  • Smart Bar by SomoMe – this is just for email signup but they have interesting related products.
  • AddThis Welcome Bar – this bar appears based on which social media site your visitors are coming from.
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Google “local” “places” and “+”

It’s another Google riddle: What’s local yet keeps moving?

I had a listing on Google “local” and then that became a Google “places” page and now it’s a “Google+” page. I’m sure they’ll change it again soon enough but for now it’s nice to have more integration with reviewers identities. BTW if you are a client that I have worked with in the past… please consider writing a review for me on my business Google+ page.

The URL started as
https://plus.google.com/107925958872821931753/about?gl=US&hl=en-US
and is now
google.com/+helloaridesignwebsignSanFrancisco

In 2012 Google Places pages were completely replaced by new Google+ Local pages.

Related:

BTW: Google changed settings, including the “Hide my address” settings. Google local listings can appear in 3 places: in Google Maps, in Google+ and in the organic Google web results. Used to be that you could suppress your address in some listings.

Google is changing some settings, including the -Hide my address-settings 2014-04-23

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Akismet Error Code #10003

Akismet Error Code 10003  Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 3.05.58 PM

This is a pretty new development. Akismet is not free anymore – but they do have a free version for “personal” use (well, it’s listed as “pay what you want”).

If you see this error then don’t panic. For that matter, in general, don’t panic. I think for now you can leave things as-is and my guess is that it will just keep working for a good long while. Till they decide to get more strict.

Better yet, do as I did and start paying them for this excellent service. Go to http://akismet.com/plans/ and sign up for a free plan – pay what you want – or a paid plan. You can make an account with Akismet or use a wordpress.com account.

And for all my clients that don’t host their WordPress sites with me, I suggest paying extra for the Akismet and VaultPress bundle. VaultPress provides a very powerful backup and security scanning service.

Related:

  • WPtavern account set-up with screenshots
Posted in WordPress | 1 Response

How to remove a Google account from “Choose an account” page list

google-sign-in-remove-button-missing

Here’s a quick tip on something very simple that I could not figure out for the longest time. One of those bugs that was somehow thought to be a feature at some point in the development process over at Google. Too busy not doing evil, I guess…

The graphic above is very straightforward and familiar to anyone who uses more than one Google account.  Easy to add or remove accounts, right? The tricky part is that if you are logged into any of these accounts then you will not see the “remove” button. Instead, it will look like this (with just “add an account”):

add account - no remove

Add and Login to Remove?

In other words, to remove an account you have to log out of a different account but it doesn’t tell you which account you are logged into. And to find this page in the first place you have to “Add account” from the top right menu - so you have to add an account and then log out of an account in order to remove an account.

There are many ways to end up on this page I suspect – jumping between Google services such as Adwords or Google Analytics, for example. These are some of the URLs that will bring up the “Choose an account” list:

Some of the keywords I tried to find an answer online:

  • How to remove a Google account from your list of accounts on the “Choose an account” page?
  • How to remove sessions from Google accounts?
  • Google account +remove button missing

More links:

If you have never seen this interface it might be helpful at this point to know that once you can see the “remove” button then it’s very simple: click the “remove” button and ‘x’ any accounts that you want to remove from the list. This will not delete accounts of course, just remove them from the saved list. See the “Choose an account” picture at top.


Update 10/2014: Thanks for the overwhelmingly positive feedback on this post — seems like it’s been helpful to many people.







Posted in Product Reviews, Web Design | 24 Responses

Embedded tweets in WordPress

It was a great idea when introduced just a year or two ago but at this point it seems it’s a feature that is no longer supported. Some users report that it only works sometimes. Twitter is famous for having its servers become unavailable so perhaps it’s not ideal to rely on “oEmbed” anyway. Embeds work just fine for YouTube and other sources however.

SOLUTION #1

My team wrote a simple twitter oEmbed plugin that works with a shortcode. So instead of putting in the full tweet URL:
   https://twitter.com/helloari/status/423594413600690177
Just put in a shortcode like this:
   [twit id=”423594413600690177″]

SOLUTION #2

Another solution is to grab the “full” embed code from twitter. It looks something like this:

<blockquote lang=”en”><p><a href=”https://twitter.com/freshbooks”>@freshbooks</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23status&amp;src=hash”>#status</a> paypal payments are not working. paypal says it&#39;s a known issue with freshbooks today. please give us an update.</p>&mdash; ari salomon (@helloari) <a href=”https://twitter.com/helloari/statuses/421349608422264832″>January 9, 2014</a></blockquote><script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Remember to  put that in the “text” (not “visual”) tab of your post editor.

Here’s where to get the code:

and finally, here’s what it will look like

 

UPDATE: JANUARY 23, 2014
WordPress v3.8.1 seems to fix this issue

Posted in Web Design | Leave a comment
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