Category Archives: blog thing

Bing Hates Me… and so does DuckDuckGo!

This is another one of those “inside baseball” post about being a blogger, with perhaps a passing reference to the existence of video games at best.  You have been warned.

As I may have said in the past, web stats are like numbers from the UN, the more precise they are, the more likely they are to be wrong.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy web stats all the same, and so I have various ways to look at the traffic that comes to the site, including Google’s Search Engine Console tools, Google Analytics, Microsoft’s Bing Webmaster Tools, Yandex’s site tools, that flag counter widget in the side bar, and the built-in WordPress stats.  None of them ever agree with each other.

Which is fine, I have no need for precision.  I just like to see trends and what brings people to the site.  It doesn’t change what I write, but it is interesting to me to see what is accidentally popular.

This week I was bored and poking through the various stats and came to Bing’s tools, which were updated a while back to copy as closely as possible the Google console, and I noticed that somewhere around June 8th traffic to the site pretty much died off.

Bing stats running into June 2022

If that were an EKG on a medical TV drama they would be calling a code blue and yelling for the crash cart and headed straight for a commercial break before we knew whether the person had died or not.

Now, if that had happened with Google I would have noticed right away.  Most traffic here comes from Google, and when Google feels a chill sites like mine catch pneumonia.  Back in February they made some change and my traffic from them was cut by a third and it was immediately obvious in the WordPress stats.  They might not exactly line up, but trends stand out.

Bing, however, does not send me a whole lot of traffic.  If you look at last year’s annual round up, Google sent me 155K referrals and Bing sent 2,716.  So a hot day for Bing looks like this:

Bing rocking the seven referrals, the average for 2021

So Bing wasn’t a waterfall of new viewers, but it was never zero… until now.

Now, of course, it could be that video game trends have moved away from whatever it is I write about these days.  But not showing up at all, even in impressions… that seemed strange.

I opened up Microsoft Edge because it defaults to Bing for searches, and typed in the most common search term that brings people to the site, TAGN… seriously, some of you could bookmark the site… and this is what I got.

Searching for TAGN

The top result, which is a listing of acronyms, that remembers who I am.  But literally no other result was associated directly with my blog.

I searched for the full blog name and got results for sites that mention the blog, and sites where I auto-post links to recent posts, like Tumblr, Flipboard, Twitter, and even Facebook.  There were even links to the Blogger site where I used to backup my site until IFTTT broke that link.

But nowhere was there an actual link to tagn.wordpress.com.  I had been delisted.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do.  Microsoft has a list of reasons why your site might not be listed, but once you get past the technical items that you can check, it sums up to just maybe they don’t like you, which are the last two things on the list.

So somebody at Bing must have decided around the end of May that my site doesn’t meet whatever their quality thresholds are, because it says right on the page that “Bing likes unique, quality content.”

And, in looking into this, I discovered that DuckDuckGo uses Bing to get its search results.  That explains why traffic from DuckDuckGo, which is about on par with Bing, went away as well and why my attempts to find my blog there end up with the same set of results.

Oddly enough, I had been using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine recently to see how well it did, and was tempted to write a scathing post about how inferior its results were compared to Google’s, and then I found out they use Bing… and that pretty much explained it.

I must still be in Bing’s system somewhere, because every few days on the chart it shows I was in the results for 1  search.  But otherwise Bing appears to have disowned me.

Yandex still loves me though.  I still get a page view or two a week from them!

WordAds – I Get Paid

Way back in September of last year, around the blog anniversary, I mentioned that WordPress.com was talking about injecting sponsored posts into blogs that were not on one of its paid plans.

A megaphone to spread the alarm

While I was on a paid plan, it was an old legacy plan and there was considerable ambiguity as to whether or not that plan… which was a meager $30 a year and promised to keep my site ad free… would keep me covered.  The happiness engineers gave me a very strong “maybe.”

Fearing that I might have ad posts injected on to my site… and fearing more than people might not notice the difference… I upgraded to the then current Premium plan.

Premium features

That boosted me to a $96 a year plan.  Still cheaper than an MMO subscription, but a bit of a bump for a hobby.  But I plan.  To offset this price increase the Premium plan allowed me to put ads on the site to earn revenue.

Yes, once I paid to keep ads off the site… and then started paying even more to keep even more ads off the site… only to turn around and put ads back on the site.  Welcome to new reality.  But I encourage regular readers to use an AdBlocker.  I do.

Anyway, my goal was to pay for the plan via WordAds, and it looked like I had made it back in March, just five months into the plan.

The Ad Revenue Stream

You get a sense of how ad quality affects revenue with that chart.  Also, after an initial burst of quality ads, things have been going down ever since.

Anyway, I made my first $100, which is how much revenue you need to accrue before they will pay you.  And then there is the wait to get paid.  I was at the mark by April 1st, but they say it could take up to 45 days to actually get around to giving you the money.

And, sure enough, 44 days later, I got some money deposited in my PayPal account.

Hey, money for me!

So the system works and I have offset that first year of Premium.

Of course, things have changed since I swapped to Premium.  Premium is now, like my old plan, out of date and I keep getting reminders that I am on a legacy plan.  They would very much like me to enroll in their new Pro plan, which rolls up all of the features of the Premium plan, plus the ability to use their Plugins library, all for $15 a month, or $180 a year.

I will have to think on that.  If they have something like a decent blogroll plugin, I might go there even without being forced.

But in the mean time I will keep the ads on in case I need to offset almost twice as much annually.  We shall see.  That is my insight into blogging for the week.  Keep running an ad blocker if you need to.

 

Something About Twitter

Elon Musk is buying Twitter because… reasons.  He likes free speech, or he doesn’t like content moderation, or he likes to show off for his fans, or he wants to stroke his ego in front of us all, or he wants to prove that the ultra rich can do whatever they damn well please, pick your poison.

Tweet, tweet motherfuckers

And this has caused a bit of a panic in some.  If you simply don’t like Elon that is certainly a good enough reason to dump the platform.  And if you’re worried that he’s going to turn it into a toxic stew of harassment by entitled assholes… more so… then you might at least be eyeing the exits, looking for alternatives.

The whole state of affairs hasn’t exactly put a spring in my step.

But I am not running for the exits myself.  Not yet at least.

To start with I am not sure where I would even go, except for “away.”

What am I going to do, move to Facebook?  That would be a leap from the frying pan into a toxic waste fueled fire.  Instagram… Facebook lite… is garbage except for cat and old car pictures (Fiat 124 Coupes for the win), Tumblr is garbage in general whether it is mostly porn this week or not, Google+ is long gone (and was garbage), LinkedIn is business Facebook and, unless you’re looking for a job, is a lot of self-promoting garbage.

Frankly, part of what appeals to me about Twitter is that people are limited to 280 characters.  That keeps the amount of noise in one post down to a manageable level.

Of course, there are a bunch of “We’re going to make a better Twitter” alternatives out there, some of which planned to go full free speech relative to Twitter’s rather modest content moderation scheme… who really either planned to moderate even more harshly Twitter or found out the hard way that content moderation isn’t optional and free speech is a dubious proposition on social media for all sorts of legal, moral, and financial reasons.

Also we’re all a bunch of jerks really, and seem to remain so no matter where we go.

I do not subscribe to the “anonymity + audience = raging idiocy” school of thought, if only because I’ve been to Facebook and know full well that anonymity does even enter into it.  People will say the most ignorant, offensive things you can imagine and post it with not only their name but their real life picture on it.  And if there are even the most minor of consequences… which there so rarely are… they’ll be flabbergasted and complain about being censored and bring up the first amendment and what not.  Sometimes I think we deserve all of this.

Anyway, I digress.  I am not going to leave Twitter mostly because I am comfortable there and have, over the last dozen years, honed a list of people to follow who keep me informed on the things that interest me.

I am loathe to give up on that list.  I wouldn’t even know where to find most of those people elsewhere on the internet.  How would I ever get by not knowing how Alikchi’s epic year and a half long so far game of War in the Pacific turns out?  Priorities man.

I am also not in the panic some are in.

Elon Musk can be a chaotic, immature, mercurial, self-absorbed, egotistical twat, but he isn’t a complete idiot.  He was born rich, sure, but he has made himself obscenely rich since then, so he has something going for him.  He hasn’t, like certain ex-presidents of the United States, blown his father’s fortune on bad investments and only pretends to be a billionaire.

As such I don’t think he’ll burn Twitter to the ground by removing all moderation or whatever people think will happen.  Rich people don’t stay rich that way.  They stay rich by getting their good investments, like Tesla, to buy out their bad investments, like Solar City, to stick the bad decisions on the stock holders.

Also, he is financing $25 billion of the deal… again, rich people don’t need to spend their money because banks are sure they’re worth it… so there will be lenders who will be able to pressure him to not make a mess of the whole thing.  The worry should probably be that they’ll insist that he monetize the crap out of Twitter to pay them off sooner, because the deal will leave the company heavily leveraged and one of Twitter’s larger problems has been generating revenue relative to its perceived influence.

And the deal might not even come to pass.  Things could happen.  He might not get the financing lined up.  Tesla or Twitter… or both… might fall in value enough to make the deal non-viable.  Or some new shiny object might grab his attention.

Anyway, I am following my usual course of laziness and sticking around for now.  This post was mostly to remind myself in a year that this was a thing so I can see what happened.

Discord as a News Source

One of the ongoing issues of the blog over the last decade and a half has been consistent access to a reliable news feed when it comes to the games I follow.  I’d like to write about what they’re up to if only they would take a moment to let me know.

You can find a few rants early on in the life of the blog where I am frustrated that a given company… usually SOE… has a new page on their web site dedicated to a game and then won’t update it, or breaks the RSS feed, or insists on putting any useful information deep the forums, where no sane person dare go, or, perhaps most common of all, simply fails to update anything anywhere for long stretches of time.

That was in early days of social media, when Twitter and Facebook were something of a novelty and community teams mostly hung around on the forums or made podcasts, which were the hot new thing.  There was a long stretch of me dissecting each SOE podcast for news, back when that was a thing.

Social media has made things a bit better.  At some point various studios realized that they needed to raise their profiles on the various social media outlets, so we got official accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and where ever else one might find potential customers.  Some go so far as to post game news on LinkedIn, which has basically become “business Facebook” because the advice of every half-assed consultant demands that you build your brand by posting nonsense there.

The problem is that social media platforms are bad at timelines.  Twitter seems distressed that I follow so few accounts (I keep a hard cap of 500), so gleefully injects all sorts of suggested accounts into my feed, muddying up the waters.

And they are great compared to Facebook and Instagram, where time apparently has no meaning (I seem to get all the Instragram “Going into Friday like…” memes on Tuesday for example) and once you’ve seen something it gets stored somewhere you can never find it again.

And even when they are not screwing with your timelines, you do need to be there and looking at their site when something gets posted in order to see it in a timely fashion… or at all… which, admittedly means being online and ready at some point after 4pm on a Friday looking for bad news.

That used to be a standard Daybreak move, though CCP ran with the same plan for the great price increase news this past week.

Things have gotten better in that various community and marketing teams seem to get that they have to, you know, keep the players informed in order to keep them engaged.  That is literally the base function of their positions.  If you can only do one thing, do that.  But consistency remains spotty and, as noted, the social media platforms seem to be working against any sort of useful information getting to people since that doesn’t drive engagement like inflammatory political rantings from niche players you would never have heard of except that the know how to play to the algorithms.

Getting timely updates remains harder than it should be.  And don’t even get me started on the Bizarro world that is Google Alerts, which will go out of its way to tell me about every sketchy analyst group that wants to sell me a report on battle royale games but doesn’t seem to know that Massively OP is a thing when I get results for “Daybreak.”  (And when Pokemon has a “Daybreak” update… fergetaboudit.)

Then I ran into a Discord feature that allows game companies who run their own server to setup a news channel that you can subscribe to and pipe into your own server in order to get updates as they get posted.

Unity through Discord

I took the TAGN Discord server, which I setup back when Fantasy Movie League was a thing, and created a new channel in it, and went around and subscribed that channel to the news feeds of various video games.

And it has worked pretty well.

It has its limitations, the largest of which is that a studio has to set up its own Discord server and actually maintain it.  But Discord is popular, even by my own meager measuring, and has become a go-to spot for a lot of companies since gamers are already there.

For example, Daybreak seems to have bought in fully on running a Discord server for at least a couple of their games.  I am subscribed to the news feed for the EverQuest and EverQuest II servers and, for maybe the first time in the life of the blog, I feel like I am getting timely and relevant updates for those games.

Granted, Daybreak as a studio has gotten much better at communication, but this puts updates in my field of vision faster than ever.  They seem committed to the platform for now.

Valheim also provides updates in a timely and consistent fashion.  The Forza Horizon team might be a bit too eager to share, though I will admit everything they post is relevant for players of their titles.

Amazon Games is a little iffy.  They do post updates reliably, but seem to forget that they have more than one game.  They seem to copy an update from either New World of Lost Ark and post it to Discord without actually mentioning which game the news is for.  Usually it is somewhat obvious, but if they announce server restarts and don’t mention a game, do I assume them both?

And then there is Playable Worlds, which has yet to discover the subscribe feature… but they also don’t have a lot of news yet that is worth digging into.

So, for game companies that commit, it works very well for me.  The problem is that not every studio is that into the idea, and those that are do not exactly advertise their servers very well.

I know that Daybreak, as a studio under Enad Global 7, is very much into the Discord thing, but you had to know the servers were even a possibility in order to find them.  LOTRO, in a classic, old school move, announced their server in the forums… more than five years ago.  Early adopter, but non-obvious if you’re looking for it today. (They have social media button for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch on the front page, but no Discord.)

Addendum May 10, 2022: That was actually a third party LOTRO server that was being promoted, and it has since decided it isn’t interested in LOTRO anymore, so forget about that.

CCP, which does like to get into the trenches with customers now and then, seems reluctant to go the Discord route with an official server, but then made a server for Fanfest which quickly became the official server by default because they ran it.

And some companies… well, they just aren’t that into us.  I was kind of surprised to find that Gamigo actually has a couple of servers for former Trion Worlds game, including Rift and Trove.  I am not sure how useful they are… Rift seems to mostly be about the weekly cash shop deals and server restarts, which is not news that interests me… but it is there if you’re still playing.

Anyway, a new option in the struggle to find news.  It is out there, though your mileage may vary.

The Looming Demise of EVE Online Pictures

I have two active blogs.  We’ll leave the inactive ones out of this for the time being.  This is the main one, which has been around since September of 2006.

Then there is EVE Online Pictures, which I started back in May of 2008 as a bit of an experiment.  As the name implies, it is a collection of screen shots from EVE Online which I have posted… a few a week… since I started it.  That has added up to somewhat more than 2,000 posts and more pictures than that.

The first and only banner for the blog

It has, as a blog, never been very popular.  It peaked in late 2012, then took a huge hit in traffic when Google changed how it handled image search.  The Google algorithm rules blog traffic, and further changes, along with the decline in popularity of blogs, MMOs, and EVE Online, have reduced traffic further, so it shambles along at many 15% of peak, declining a bit more every month.

I wrote a whole post about the site when it hit its 10th anniversary back in 2018, including some stats.

Page views these days largely propped up my the occasional passer by who uses the infinite scroll feature to look at a few dozen pages of pictures.

Such is life.  I have seen a parallel decline here, the main difference being that the stats for TAGN are generally 10-15x higher.  And it was always a bit of a low effort venture.  I spend too much time writing here for it to be otherwise.

But it not only that Google that has taken shots at that blog over the years.  WordPress.com has gotten its kicks in, breaking the theme, how pictures are displayed, injecting ads, and just generally making operation of the site gradually more difficult over the years.

Now, however, they seem set to end it completely.

Yesterday, in what was not an April Fools joke, WordPress.com changed up the hosting plan structure for all their sites.  Gone are all the previously plans, including my $8 a month Premium plan.  Granted, they seem to change those pretty regularly, but now my plan is flagged as a “legacy” plan, without any information about what that means.

The June 2019 personal plans

Instead, there are now two plans, free and Pro, the latter being $15 a month.

Choose an option

Aywren wrote a nice post about all of the changes, so you can give her site a visit.  But for me, the free plan and the Pro plan both have some odd impacts, the key being storage space and traffic.  From the plan comparison:

Free versus Pro for storage and traffic

For this site, I do get a boost in storage space, up to 50GB from whatever it was before.

Then there is the restriction on visits, though there is no definition as to what constitutes a “visit.”  The information icon unhelpfully clarifies that this is the maximum number of visits allowed.  This site couldn’t go free, but has never hit more than 80K page views in a month, so I am fine there.

That doesn’t seem like it is worth almost double the monthly price, but we’ll see if they force me into that.

The hitch comes with EVE Online Pictures, which is on the free plan.  Up until yesterday, that plan gave sites 3GB of storage.  Now that is limited to 500MB of storage.  Who even measures enterprise storage in increments under a GB?

Unfortunately, WP.com informs me that EVE Online Pictures already has 687MB of files uploaded.

You can upload -187 GB

Of course, people have taken to the forums to ask what the hell is going on with this sudden change.  WP.com, in their usual half assed way… the company stands out as amateurs when it comes to communication which, as Aywren noted, is ironic considering they run two communications platforms, WP.com and Tumblr… has given mixed and partial messages with lots of space between the lines into which you can read.

For example, they have said that this new free plan only applies to newly created accounts, that legacy free customers should still have 3GB for now.  And, I am able to upload new screen shots to the site even though it is telling me I am over quota.

But they aren’t clear on the “for now” part of things.  And, given past history, they could easily change their mind on that.

So I have to ask myself if I should carry on with EVE Online Pictures.  As I said above, it doesn’t attract a lot of traffic even on a good day, and it never has.  As such, I am certainly not going to commit to $15 a month to host it just so I can keep uploading screen shots that maybe two dozen people ever see.

I said in the past that I might have been better off just posting screen shots here on a regular basis.  I might change to that going forward.  It won’t be the same.  I liked having just a collection of screen shots, tagged and categorized, available for people to browse through.  But if nobody is browsing, then I might as well host them here.

Anyway, I’ll defer that decision for a bit.  If nothing else, I tend to have posts queued up weeks in advance over at EVE Online Pictures, so even if they had locked me out of uploading yesterday things would have run along on their own for a while.

The Mail Bag Returns with Another Round of Headlines

I did a mailbag post back in mid-December just to display the sort of email and press releases I get on what was once the main blog email account.  It isn’t anymore, but it was during the peak of the blog and blogging, and nobody updates anything on the internet it seems, so I still get notes there daily.  The whole tale of that is in the post I linked.

I decided to go back because since the holidays there has been a bit of a surge in a couple of topics, and they probably won’t surprise you.  These are basically all of the unsolicited email subject lines for the last month that landed in my old inbox.

  1. Touchcast Launches MCity, the World’s First Enterprise Metaverse
  2. Gibson Brands Acquires GWW Guitar Case Company: Sets the Stage for Future Integration, Innovation, and Growth
  3. ESL Pro Tour StarCraft II Schedule Revealed for 2022/23
  4. E:Alert: Original Gaming Thriller “First Person Shooter” Premieres Today on Tubi
  5. Product Review: Lowest price entry-level Xbox on the market
  6. Display Social, Acquires 2 Companies- forms multi-billion dollar metaverse company
  7. Security 101. Don’t Bash Your Head Over Unsecured Credentials
  8. Expert Interview Opp or Guest Article: Managing NFT’s From Creation to Sale
  9. PR: Bitcoin electricity consumption is 8X that of Google and Facebook combined
  10. CryptoDragons Metaverse is starting on December 25
  11. Crypto company TacoCat announces new advisors
  12. Ho-ho-ho: Adult company selling cryptocurrency designed dildos for the holidays
  13. PR: NFT sales surge past the $4 billion mark in the last 30 days
  14. PR: USDT dominance among stablecoins plummets to 49% in 4 years
  15. How OpenSea’s Auction Valuation Confirms Independent NFT’s Role in Blockchain: Intv. w/ CEO of NFT Gaming Marketplace
  16. Expert Interview Opp or Guest Article: Metaverse Explainer
  17. Review/Feature: The Book of Greatest Leadership Quotations
  18. Evanescence, Grim and Umphrey’s McGee and More Go Meta with Soundscape VR
  19. GKIDS Releases Opening Scene for Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE – In Theaters This Friday
  20. How to Become a Gaming Influencer – Tips from CEO of leading gaming influencer agency
    PR: 23 NFTs Sell for Over $1m in the Last 30 Days
  21. Story: new game let’s kids build the metaverse
  22. PR: CryptoPunks Generated Nearly Half of Top 10 NFT Sales in the Last Month
  23. NEW PRODUCT: Dreo’s Air Purifier Dusts The Competition
  24. Shure Debuts New Look and Even Better Sound For Its Award-Winning SRH840 and SRH440 Headphones
  25. RESEARCH-NFT launches attract 50x more bots than hype sneaker sales
  26. Prime Video Releases Official Trailer and Key Art for THE LEGEND OF VOX MACHINA
  27. Federal regulations cracking down on internet privacy laws
  28. PR: Energy consumed by one Ethereum transaction could power over 100,000 VISA transactions
  29. PR: 257 NFT artists have generated over $1M in sales over the last 30 days
  30. [STUDY] Gaming addiction causing tech-related health issues
  31. Cute but demanding tactical masterpiece! Gem Wizard Tactics is coming to Nintendo Switch and Xbox
  32. PR: Bitcoin Treasuries Account for 7.2% of the 21 Million BTC Supply Cap
  33. PR: MicroStrategy and Tesla Command 80% of BTC held by top 10 public companies
  34. Accessing the Blockchain Can be Too Expensive for Some Developers – Web3 Visionary Explains How to Change That
  35. Blue Tiger Wins TWICE Picks Award for World’s First Solar-Powered Bluetooth Headset
  36. Almost 10k petition EA Sports to honor John Madden on next Madden NFL cover
  37. Intv. w/ XR Cinema CEO: VR Expert Weighs in On the Rise of Metaverse & Virtual Reality
  38. Almost 70% of People Can NOT Distinguish Gmail’s Real Login Page From A Scam – Can You?
  39. Physical release of Comic Coloring Book: Complete Edition for the Nintendo Switch console available now
  40. Activision Blizzard’s games ranked #2 & #3 most popular in gaming community
  41. PR: ETH average transaction costs 33x BTC costs in 2022
  42. Nooie Launches Versatile Smart Camera Featuring a Detachable Base
  43. Calling All Sonic Sculptors, the Legendary Brand Maestro Emerges with Five Pedals for Endless Exploration
  44. XGIMI Expands Versatile Halo Series With Smarter Halo+ FHD Portable Projector
  45. Study from Marmalade Game Studio finds one in four have developed mental health issues since Covid
  46. Connect Tolkien-like fantasy world with the 1920s and see what will happen. Pendula Swing is coming to Nintendo Switch
  47. PR: The average price of NFTs hits $50K in the last 30 days
  48. Reminder: 01/20 News Advisory – Doomsday Clock Update – Major Announcement on Clock’s 75th Anniversary
  49. PR: CryptoArt Market Cap Hits $2.3 Billion With Over 2 Million Total Sold Artworks
  50. [News] ZOAN Announces €100 Million Virtual Land Sale with Photorealistic Metaverse Cornerstone.land
  51. Microsoft is acquiring Activision Blizzard to dominate the metaverse, says GlobalData
  52. Intv. W/ Crypto Creator & Expert – Microsoft To Enter The Metaverse After Purchasing Blizzard
  53. BREAKING: Doomsday Clock Set to 100 Seconds to Midnight, Scientists Call for Action to “Turn Back the Clock”
  54. Highrise City Playtest starts January 27th – New Feature Video and Screenshots released
  55. My Friend Peppa Pig Launches on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X
  56. Call of Duty collectibles incoming from Koyo & Activision
  57. Join awe.live, submit an Auggie Nomination, get your Super Early Bird registration and find out what’s new in the XR community
  58. Gibson and Jake Kiszka -Guitarist in the GRAMMY-Winning Rock Band Greta Van Fleet- Celebrate the 61st Anniversary of the Iconic SG Guitar
  59. Intv: Is Meta increasing accessibility to NFT creation a good thing? NFT Expert Explains
  60. NFT Expert Available on Meta Considering Adding NFT Component to Facebook and Instagram

As you can see, NFT, crypto, and the metaverse continue to trend, though they have somehow managed to all mean the same thing thanks to the crypto scammers pushing their “ownership” agenda.

I am genuinely sorry I didn’t get a press release about the “rave” that took place in Decentraland, which was the saddest, most 2003 online event I have seen in ages.  But the pathetic nature of the video when compared to, say, concerts in Fortnite, haven’t stopped the cryto bros from trying to spin it as amazing.

That is practically a self-own… or yet another demonstration that crypto bros don’t know what they’re talking about.  That ain’t no Ariana Grande concert.

Probably the most interesting on the list… or at least the one I decided to go look at… was #40 about popularity in the gaming community.  It at least has an infographic, even if I am not exactly sold on their methodology.

The top six out of the 23 listed

The least inspiring was the the setting of the Doomsday Clock (entries #48 and #53) by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists because they didn’t actually change the setting… it was set to 100 seconds back in 2020… so the whole thing was, ironically, a bit of a damp squib.  I also feel like the name of the organization has become misleading.  While some towering atomic scientists helped found the whole thing… Einstein, Teller, and Oppenheimer were among the group… the whole thing has been trying to find its way since the end of the Cold War and, so far as I can tell, isn’t exactly the domain of many atomic scientists any more.  It would be more aptly titled the Bulletin of the Poly Sci Majors.

Also, they apparently bought a mailing list with some really out of date and/or inappropriate addresses.  Nice move Einstein.

Anyway, that is all I have.  The inbox has been cleared again, we’ll see what trends continue to find their way into it.

The Unexpected 5K Award

I have mentioned that WordPress.com has achievements of some sort, though I don’t think they have a list of them published anywhere, so save for the consecutive days of posting, I am really not sure what they’re looking.

And then last week I received one for 5,000 page views.  It wasn’t for this blog, which is working its way towards the 6 million page view mark (I wonder if I’ll get an achievement for that) but for a blog I started on a whim back in August of 2011, Stuff MMO Bloggers Like.

You have made it to 5K

I am pretty sure I was inspired at the time by a blogging trend that was popular at the time which included titles such as Stuff White People Like, Stuff Black People Like, Stuff Southerners Like, and so on.

The entries for those blogs were always numbered, and so I followed suit, thinking this might be fertile ground.

And I made it to four posts.

I probably could have made it further.  While I am not sure there were a hundred posts of content in that series, I can think of half a dozen more that would have at least been relevant at the time, if less so now.

I suspect that I realized, as I always do with these side projects, that I have about one blog’s worth of effort in me, and if I expend that effort elsewhere then this blog will likely suffer.  Better to concentrate my efforts.

If I had been smart at the time I would have just made that a weekly series of posts here, something for Saturday maybe.  Instead I felt the experiment needed a new blog and a new pseudonym… I don’t know why the latter always seems important to me, but it does… to have its full effect.

That effect being 5,000 page view in a little over a decade.  Whatever.

The odd thing, however, is that when I went and checked the statistics for the site, it has 5,530 page view, well over the 5K number.  And its current rate of traffic indicates that it probably hit the 5K mark years back, given that it seems to get about a dozen page views a month on average over the last few years.  Its peak was a whopping 532 page views in March of 2013 and it was easily past the 5K mark by the end of 2014.

Anyway, just another odd WP.com thing.

Addendum: There is even a half finished 5th post still in the drafts folder titled, “That guy in the PUG.”  Maybe I should finish that.

Return to the Mail Bag for some Headlines

Back in the middle bronze age of the blog I started in on a recurring feature centered on items that landed in my email inbox.  I was apparently committed enough to the bit that I even made a “Mail Bag” category, which means you can see on the side bar category list drop down that I managed to farm that for a good 16 posts between mid 2011 and late 2013. (The count is 17 now with this post.)

That time frame happens to correspond to the peak of the popularity of the blog, though I suspect my dropping the mail bag bit was not a key element in its subsequent decline.

Anyway, the idea was founded in the fact that, back when I started the blog, I created an email address just for the blog and blog related items.  It was a Yahoo address, which was the style at the time, and it appeared on my About page for many years.

Yahoo, back in the day… like a decade before I started the blog, but I had the picture handy

And I used to get a lot of email.  Not from readers, though that was not unheard of.  I still get the occasional email on that front.  The main senders were PR and marketing people with press releases to push and post ideas to suggest.

Somewhere around 2015 or so I changed the blog email address on the About page to a Gmail address (same user name though, wilhelm2451) because… reasons.  I think there was some worry about Yahoo at the time and how they might no longer allow free email or some such.

It has been a tough couple of decades for Yahoo.

Anyway, the swap was made and now anybody more recent than that time probably sends me email there… which is a very small number, because by 2015 this blog, and blogging in general, were in serious decline.

But I didn’t throw away the Yahoo account, and Yahoo didn’t end up breaking email or demanding payment or anything, so I still have the account.  I still even email some people from that account if our relationship started in that era.  Hey Bhagpuss.

The thing is, I still get a lot of email on that account.  A lot of press releases, PR items, and blog post suggestions from various agencies.  More on a typical day than I get on my blog Gmail account in a week.

Lately I’ve become a bit fascinated by the pile of stuff I get there.  I certainly didn’t sign up for all of those mailing lists.  Somebody must have just collected a random set of web site email addressed and sold them to unwitting PR people.

I often just let it all collect and then delete it in great bunches, but sometimes I let it sit and gather and then wander through it to see what is there.  I don’t think I have received a single item that has prompted a blog post in years.  But still it keeps coming in.

So, in furtherance of very little other than my own amusement, I gathered the last sixty or so subject lines and pasted them below, just to give you a simulation of what it is like to open my inbox at the end of any given week.

  • Newsweek’s Atari VCS Review: Retro Tech Meets Geek Chic!
  • OUT DAY: BEDROOM POP AUTEUR ZEPH RELEASES DEBUT SCARED OF EVERYTHING EP ON NEON GOLD
  • TV Priest (Sub Pop) start first UK headlining tour | Guestlist available on request
  • Swedish BrainTech Company Mentalytics Signs Agreement with Kia
  • Survios Sells Over One Million Copies of CREED: Rise to Glory, Inspired by Hit MGM Franchise, Across All Platforms
  • STEM Toy of the Year Nominee Roto Brain – Sample?
  • Jooki Kids’ Streaming WiFi Speaker Available for Review – Screen-Free Music & Audio Book Entertainment 
  • ‘Len’s Island’ gets new gameplay trailer – moves launch date to 26th November
  • Virtual tickets are now available for AWE USA 2021!
  • Starlight Alliance debuts on Steam and Nintendo Switch [review copies available]
    Gaming and the Sustainability Problem: Console Power Consumption Increases by Up to 2,520% [Infographic]
  • One of the World’s Top-Selling Video Game 3D Artists
  • CNBC Transcript: Chipotle Chief Diversity, Inclusion & People Officer Marissa Andrada and Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung Speak with CNBC’s Kate Rogers Live During CNBC’s @Work Summit Today
  • China’s Impact On The Gaming Industry Is Going To Be Massive
  • North of Nowhere Launches a Kickstarter!
  • New Gameplay Trailer Out Now for ‘They Always Run,’ Set to Launch on October 20th, 2021
  • Pinball Expo 2021 October 27th-30th
  • DoubleDice develops decentralized gaming platform allowing multiple games in a no-house/no-casino setup – democratizing the gaming industry
  • OKLOU SHARES GALORE ANNIVERSARY EP + DEBUT AMERICAN TOUR WITH CAROLINE POLACHEK
  • New York’s Bambara announce new mini-LP “Love Is On My Mind” | Out February 25th on Wharf Cat Records | UK + EU headline dates announced for 2022
  • The Journey thru Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life
  • Minecraft most malware-infected game on the market with 228k users affected
  • Stocking Stuffer: Gaming deodorant for your forehead – actually a sweat liner for your VR headset
  • Google Play Quarterly Revenue Jumped to $21.5B, Almost Double than App Store
  • Enter the Multiverse & Discover Every Spider-Man Variant [Infographic]
  • Pinball Expo 2021 located at Schaumburg Convention Center
  • Silverbacks announce new album “Archive Material”
  • Self Esteem reveals “Moody” video ahead of release of highly anticipated album Prioritise Pleasure (out 10.22 on Avenue A / Fiction Records)
  • iRacing Petit Le Mans glory for RLR eSports Porsche GT3 duo
  • Is a Metaverse Possible?
  • DreamHack Anaheim To Take Place in Feb 2022
  • AP Style Reminders, Scary PR Pitches & More
  • New research reveals how you can take up to $339 off your new PS5 and Xbox Series X
  • WATCH: “I’m On A High” by Rick Eberle (music video premiere)
  • The Number of Twitch Streamers Plunged by 1.8 Million YTD, Average Viewership Down by 20% Since May
  • New GamePlay Trailer Out, Cradle of Sins, Brings VR & PC Players Together in an Adventurous Multiplayer Game
  • [CORRECTED]: Users globally spent over 140,000 years watching Twitch in H1 2021
  • Press Release: 2 IN 5 PEOPLE ARE CONTENT CREATORS: SHURE UNVEILS FINDINGS FROM FUTURESOURCE’S NEW STUDY
  • Review/video Consideration – Striking visuals spooky Fairy tale – Puzzle platformer – Tandem a tale of shadow
  • Email Vulnerability Pandemic. Are All Emails Worth Opening?
  • Quick Pitch: The Gen Z EV That’s GAS –Alexis
  • NEW RELEASE: ‘FAR CRY 6’ The Music of Yara – Music by Various Artists
  • Data: San Jose is the most expensive major metro for household bills
  • Xbox Players Most Toxic on Voice Chat, Swearing 6 Times per Minute
  • Greatest Music of All Time Podcast
  • Introducing Lowel EGO LED™ Light
  • Kills Birds share the anthemic and incendiary “Cough Up Cherries” | New album “Married” out 12th November
  • NEWS RELEASE – REDBOX Expands Distribution Footprint of its Streaming App to the PlayStation5 Console
  • Little Bug, a lovely adventurous platformer is coming to Switch and Xbox consoles later this year
  • Aloof release date revealed. Super cute puzzle-fighter is coming to Nintendo Switch
  • STEVE JONES PROMOTED TO PRESIDENT OF GEARBOX SOFTWARE
  • It’s not the same old internet
  • GKIDS To Release Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE In Theaters January 14, 2022
  • Nintendo Switch Outsold PS3 and Xbox 360 with 90.5 Million Units in Lifetime Shipments
  • Environmentally conscious underwater adventure SAMUDRA heading to Steam
  • Revealed: The highest earning games per player – Clash of Clans a billion dollar earner
  • Fintropolis uses Minecraft to teach students about money – Over 1M Downloads in First 25 Days
  • EXPERT INTERVIEW OPP: Overdose CRISIS: Highest Number EVER; Rehab Owner and former addict weighs in

To be fair, that one at the top of the list about the new Atari VCS, which arrived just last night, also showed up on every other email account I check regularly.  They are more serious about finding me than most.

There is quite a bit of music related press releases landing in my inbox, which is odd because any long time reader would probably be able to suggest a half a dozen more suitable blogs than my own for that.  Once again, hi Bhagpuss!

And there are a number on the list that really look like they might be on topic for the site, but which end up being either a bit skimpy… that one about swears on Twitch streams was the result of somebody watching the first 15 minutes of 100 videos on YouTube, which doesn’t exactly feel like a sufficient sample size… or are sponsored and hosted by online gambling sites.

The Is a Metaverse Possible? pitch seemed interesting, given Raph Koster’s current project.  It is pushing a book from Frank Rose, The Sea We Swim In, which seems to be more focused on manipulating your fan base with your stories than the technical feasibility, or practical implementation, of the whole metaverse idea.  Looking him up, the same author wrote a book on immersion a decade back.  Maybe I’ll look into that.  But no meat in there for a post despite he promise of the subject line.

Such is life online.

And I didn’t even think to look in the spam folder on the account, though peeking in there it seems that not much gets flagged as spam.

Anyway, there wasn’t much of a message behind this post other than to give yet another peek into what goes on here at TAGN.

WordAds Unleashed

As mentioned/promised/threatened previously, I turned on ads for the blog on October 1st.

For those just catching up, WP.com announced that they were going to start injecting “sponsored” posts into blogs that were on the free plan, and while I was technically on a grandfathered “No Ads” plan, my plan was still listed as “free,” so I opted to upgrade to the Premium plan.

Premium features

Among the features of the Premium plan is to be able to earn ad revenue.  So, in a swap of no small irony, I went from paying to have no ads on the blog to paying more to allow ads on the blog.  The hope is to offset the price of the premium plan.

The WordAds feature in WP.com… not to be confused with Google’s AdWords I guess, though I think Google changed that name a while ago… is easy enough to turn on when you have Premium.  You flick a switch, fill out a form, get processed for eligibility, and then you’re in.   Or I was in, anyway, the bar being low enough to allow that.

Having turned it on I went to my work laptop where I have browsers setup without Ad Block to see what happened.

For a while, there was nothing.  It takes some time to get going.  And then, suddenly, there were ads.  Ads in the side bar, ads anchored to the scroll bar, ads around posts, ads in posts every three paragraphs… the place was quickly swimming in ads.  Too many ads.

So I went back to the settings and dialed that back some.  The meanings of the settings are a bit… vague.  I mean, I know what “Display ads below posts…” means in my head, but what toggling that setting on and off did was not lining up with my expectations.

The ads, as most places, are served up based on what you, the reader, have been snooped on doing on the internet.  I thought it was pretty funny that one of the first ads I was served was about blocking ads.

Know your audience I guess – this is not an ad but an image of an ad

I also found it amusing that it injected an ad for hearing aids below the group picture in yesterday’s post about the group playing Diablo II where I identified us as an aging rock act.

Now it is showing me ads for Macy’s because my wife was looking at their online ad, which just shows they’re lumping us together in the same IP address.

Apparently I even earned some money my first day out, netting 8 cents towards my eventual payout, which comes at the $100 mark.  I also get a new stats tab on my admin page that tells me about revenue and number of ads served.  Something new for the annual blog review post I guess.  Another horrible metric to report on.

Anyway, if you see ads, this is why.  But if you have an ad blocker setup, which I do recommend, you won’t see any.   You also, so far as I can tell, won’t see any ads if you view my posts in a reader like Feedly.

As always, your feedback on this change is welcome.

Sponsored Posts and Some Premium Blog Changes

Just before I went on vacation WordPress.com popped up a little notification that said that they were going to soon begin injecting native sponsored posts into blogs that were gliding along on the free plan.

A megaphone to spread the alarm

That was certainly something I did not want.  But would it affect this blog?

Technically I was on a plan, so not a freeloader.  I had been grandfathered in for a few years on the old “no ads and allow me to edit CSS” plan, which ran for $30 a year.  However, so far as the WP.com UI and many features were concerned, I was on the “free” plan.  It said so  right in my main admin page.  And while they had continued to honor the no ads part of that plan… or I think they have been honoring, you don’t see ads if you’re logged into your own blog so I might not be the best judge… this seemed like something possibly outside the terms of that agreement.

I thought about chasing down somebody from WP.com to find out, but their “Happiness Engineers” and general happiest not answering direct questions and have occasionally been of the opinion that I am on the “free” plan as well, and thus not entitled to direct support.

That sounded tiring and I was getting ready to go on vacation for ten days, so I decided to just upgrade to one of their standard plans to be sure that the blog wouldn’t become an immediate cesspool while I was away.  My cynicism knows no bounds and I tend to be of the “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” persuasion on a good day.  Looking at the menu of options, I went for the Premium plan.

Premium features

I’m not actually a “freelancer,” as that would imply somebody would actually pay for my writing, but it did offer Google analytics integration, something the “personal” plan at half the price did not offer.

This, of course, bumps up the amount I play for the blog annually quite a bit, but fifteen years in this is clearly my primary hobby (as opposed to the games I play) so spending a bit more on it isn’t a big deal.  I had been thinking about that plan for a while, and almost pulled the trigger on it a couple of years back, but at the time they were really adamant that you had to sign up for a domain name to get that plan… it was part of the sign up process… and I have no interest in changing the URL of the site at this time.  I might have been okay with “tagn.blog” I suppose, but after fifteen years I felt like tinkering with the address would not end well.

Anyway, they changed the signup since then and you don’t have to get a domain name RIGHT FREAKING NOW so I went with it.  (They do keep pestering me about the domain name thing, but I can ignore that.)

So does everything feel “premium” now dear reader?

The first thing I did was setup the Google Analytics integration, so I will possibly be able to answer the question “how many regular readers do I really have?” finally.  There is a whole report section on user retention.  Expect more graphs for the 16th anniversary post, though I might skip the pie chart that shows 100% of my users access the site on the web.

Not a free thinker in the lot

I can now also accept payments.  I can put something up on the sidebar that lets you donate to the blog.  I am unlikely to do that, but I could if I wanted to.

I am also, somewhat ironically given much of the above, able to have ads on my blog… ads that will earn me money rather than it all going to WP.com.

I am half tempted to try this for a stretch, just to see how it goes.  Aywren did a Blaugust post about ads on your blog and you need to earn $100 before they’ll send you anything, but I am curious as to how well (or badly) that would play out.  With the premium plan there is simply an opt-in switch to turn them on.  I’d ask for some feedback before I did it, and promise I would never become somebody who gets angry about people visiting with an ad blocker turned on.

So that is what has changed here.  I suspect none of this is at all noticeable from reader side of the window.  And now I have the option of bugging WP.com Happiness Engineers directly via live chat.  We’ll see if that improves their historically poor responses.