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Everything posted by SpikeTheLobster

  1. Honestly? None, You're far better off finding a decent writer through direct contact and stalking them on forums. If you want to go the site route, I'd suggest the bidding sites - at least you get a load of offers. Sort through them, choose potentially good candidates in your price range, pay out a dollar or two per writer for a short original sample as a test (NEVER ask for unpaid original samples - oldest scam in the book) and pick the one(s) you work best with. Ah, the "other" approach. I do this sometimes, too, because I can write just fine, but I'm not very good at coming up with original ideas/titles. Pay out a small amount for junk content and convert it into proper articles by rewriting around the idea. Basically, paying for title ideas rather than actual content.
  2. Nonsense. The first article I sold online went for $60. Prices have come down a bit since then, but I would still expect at least $15-$20 for 500-700 words (depending on subject)... but then I don't produce boring regurgitated crap. You get what you pay for. Believe me, I've seen content produced by people at both ends of the spectrum (and most of the middle) and unless you're phenomenally lucky, you won't get anything good for low prices. iWriter is not a site I would recommend for content: the prices are not indicative of quality, especially since users can now buy their way to a better rating. I once paid ~$20 a pop for two articles from there, and had to spend an hour editing them to make them publishable (by my standards). Again, it depends on who you get, I suppose. Like any job, it's not something you can just pick up and expect to get paid well, If you're good at it, you can target well-paid gigs, but if you're average or not-so-good, you're going to be fighting for cheap-ass jobs where the competition is fierce. Despite what all those lovely ads selling work-from-home courses say, "anyone can write" is a fallacy. Sites also (generally) pay less than direct clients, because they offer simplicity: you log in, you pick a job or write something, you post it, you get paid. No hassle, no stress, no customer relations, no big money!
  3. I don't think it's necessarily one or the other. I've been looking at this a bit recently and there's such a huge range of possibilities that it's mind-boggling. A micro-niche is generally considered to be a site that gets 1,000 keyword searches a month. That's tiny. But then, they're competing against maybe 300,000 pages, each of which only has 10-30 backlinks. A bigger niche might target 350,000 searches a month but be up against 3,000,000 Google results, each with a hundred backlinks. That's *significantly* harder to make a dent in! Ideally, of course, you want a niche with a million searches a month and two competitors, both of whom are running a single non-SEO'd web page on a free provider. Personally - failing the ideal setup - I'd go for something a bit bigger than a micro-niche but not as big as a highly-competitive subject. I'd want something I know I can make a dent in without spending ridiculous amounts of cash on advertising and SEO services but which would bring in a fair return.
  4. Absolutely. It's almost impossible to set up any kind of reliable security without knowing what you're securing your system against. That's why building security consultants are frequently ex-military, ex-cons and so on (or taught by them). No you're not. You're a programmer. Unless, of course, you're using the term "hacker" to define someone in the free software subculture, which is unlikely. A hacker is someone who circumvents security systems - whether they're a white or black hat. It doesn't have to be malicious - and that's where the "controversy" lies in the definition. Traditionally, hackers were always assumed to have evil intent, which just isn't the case. But when it comes down to it, hackers break security no matter which side of the fence they're on.
  5. Definitely interested in that kind of information - very useful for less involved sites where the bounce rate's high!
  6. Smart move. Never, ever trust anyone with your AdSense account - that's like giving them the keys to your new car and not being able to check they have a license.
  7. Standard BIOS message: unless you switch off keyboard error detection it will say that - it's intended to get you to plug in a keyboard, since just about all machines need one. Just unplug your keyboard, reboot and you'll see it. But it's always made me smile, too.
  8. Simple enough: the minimum fee and the bidding process. Freelancer (.com, Nathan) is one of the bidding sites, which means it's not designed for micro-jobs like Microworkers (MTruk, Minifreelance, et al). At Freelancer, you'll have to fork out a minimum amount and no one will go through all the bidding hassle just for a 10c job. At Microworkers, they'll pick it off the list and do it as one of their daily run because they just have to do it, not go through the whole interview process.
  9. The same as with any paid service, you have to manage Postloopers. You have to go back and re-rate people regularly (or even irregularly) and keep them under control, especially if their quality drops off significantly. That happens? You throw them out, simple enough.
  10. You know I'm joking. At least, I hope you do... everyone seems to be taking that far too seriously.
  11. Of course you can: that's the advantage of being the forum owner, not the moderator. You can do whatever you like.
  12. I'm old and wrinkly. I don't really have the reactions for multiplayer, unless it's backgammon or something.
  13. Well, you see... that's the funny thing. I love science. I'm a total geek (despite being a writer, which is ostensibly an art) and my favourite subject was IT - I loved all the techie details of building tables, databases, moving pointers, calculating data locations in files and all that stuff. Absolutely loved it. Of course, 99% of people thought it was boring. Such is life.
  14. Daily tasks? Oh dear God... I grind through 150-250 non-spam emails a day from various sources, then go through a list of over twenty of my sites to check for comments, updates, post new things, etc. My backups are automated so I don't need to worry about those. After that, I check every post on my own forum and reply wherever I feel like it. I moderate all the new articles on my article directory. I do the rounds of a few "source" sites for ideas and stuff to post on my own blogs or whatever. If I'm lucky, I'll have enough time to schedule a post or two ahead of time. Once a month, I go through several of my automated blogs (in the sense of automated posting schedule) and set up another month's worth of articles to publish. Thank goodness for the WP editorial calendar plugin. I also have a list of half a dozen (or more) other sites I visit daily for fun.
  15. Unless you're creating graphics for a photography site or religious centre, lens-flare is really rather 90s. I like the colours. I think my lady has infested my brain with a love of orange. Hmmm...
  16. ^ This. I've done this and had several responses - everything from "Oh, sorry. I won't do that any more." to "You have to let people express themselves!" (the latter made me laugh, especially since he unsubscribed at the same time). Personally, I hate that more than blatant spam. I had one person do this on my forum (the one who went on about expressing himself) and PMed him, edited his posts and removed the crap. When it comes down to it, the forum is YOURS, not theirs. Losing one spammer won't ruin everything and if they're only there to twist conversations into ways to promote themselves, you don't want them around anyway. Slap 'em down. Big time.
  17. There's also the whole eco-thing with that approach: minimalist design means less resources used to create the packaging (and, more importantly for them, more profit). Reminds me of Repo Man, with the store with all the white boxes labelled "food", "cereals" and so on. Makes sense to me! I doubt it will happen but it'd be really nice if this were the start of an anti-marketing approach to marketing. You know, lose all the pretty sparkly stuff, the heavy brainwashing and everything - and just let people choose what they really want. Yeah, I know... never gonna happen...
  18. So do I. There is, unfortunately, one major failing... the total lack of comprehension of what kids enjoy. When was the last time an office-bound bean counter who's been on education boards for the last twenty years had a single clue what anyone other than grey-suited accountants do for fun?
  19. No, it goes to show that they have the money to spend. The perfect example is the thread somewhere about stuff people have bought on impulse and never used - hundreds or thousands of dollars thrown away on sites they don't care about... which proves my point that passion and interest are MUCH more important than budget and buying software does not indicate permanence.
  20. I disagree. There are far too many variables involved: is that $200 a lot of money for the person or is it just throwaway cash? How interested are they in their subject? How long have they been thinking about starting a community? And so on. I know people who would throw away $1,000 on a two-day motivational course that's total BS and gives them nothing. They think it's worth the money. Does that mean the course is worthwhile to me? No. I've never spent any money on any pre-built apps and I've never needed to. Because I don't start anything I'm not REALLY interested in - and that will take you a lot further for a lot longer than $200 on a license will. Passion and interest are a thousand times more important than budget. It's easy to walk away from a $200 investment if you see your ROI going down the toilet but it's incredibly hard to walk away from a $0 investment if it's your baby.
  21. Because you don't pay them anything. If they supplied computers or an operating system where Google search was pre-installed (for example), there'd be issues. But they don't. So it's all a conceptual thing to do with influence, reach and so on - and that's really hard to govern. I can see the case for their own results (maps, video and so on) being ranked the same as everyone else but it's not really their fault, as such, that people use them. They just happen to be the best-known. If the courts decided they were a monopoly, I wonder how they'd reduce market share. I mean, it's not like you can force people to use a different search engine if they don't want to.
  22. This is presumably some office-bound bean counter deciding that kids are only interested in games and, therefore, it would be the best way to teach them things. The Web didn't exist (as such) when I was learning IT, so we didn't have that. I think the same could be said of most GCSEs: the standards have fallen drastically since I took exams (which were the old O-levels). I remember my entire class being asked to take the physics GCSE when we'd just started the A-level (so the class was people who'd done alright in the O-level but not necessarily brilliantly) and every single person got an A* (or whatever the top mark is). The questions were ridiculously easy and a good third of them were general knowledge, not physics. Pathetic. That said, education's a difficult thing. A lot of it is fundamental skills that, although they appear not to be useful in real life, are the groundwork for a ton of other stuff... and students don't see that. Ever. It's only much, much later on that you realise how useful all the boring crap is and how all the fun, interesting stuff is about as important to real life as an asthma inhaler is to Darth Vader. Getting an A in English (language) doesn't mean you can write business reports - they're a specific style - but it should mean you have a good control of the language (amusingly enough, for a writer and editor, I only got a . Most businesses don't really care about that, to be honest, since they know they're going to have to train you in everything they do. They just want to see that you're not an imbecile. You're missing the point with the database/spreadsheet thing. Nothing you build in a course would be used by a real business. That's not the point - the point is that you learn the skills needed to build any database or spreadsheet. For example, in my three years of IT at University, the single most useful course I took was database fundamentals. There was absolutely no practical work in it: it was all the basics of how DBs work, how queries work, how optimisation works and so on. Outside in the real world, that knowledge was totally brilliant: it meant I could do almost anything with a database and thus specialise if I wanted to.
  23. Quite apart from Victor's answer (which I agree with as usual), I don't think content is an either/or proposition. No, not everyone is an awesome writer. Not everyone knows their subject. So I'd put content on a sliding scale - in much the way Google tries to - something like this (example, not definitive, carefully considered, etc.): Awesome writing, great info Great writing, great info So-so writing, great info or Great writing, so-so info Pretty bad writing, so-so info or So-so writing (or better), crap info Awful writing, crap info Google's ranking algorithms are not designed to say "Yes or No" to content: they're designed to rank content, so the best written, most informative, most useful content comes top and everything else gets put in order afterwards. The info still comes out as most important but the writing adds to the attractiveness and relevance... and, more importantly, to the ease of understanding. This is why the majority of site owners don't see the importance of good writing: they forget that SERP ranking is NOT "#1 or GTFO" - it's a ranking system where page 1 is important and hard to achieve for a reason. Once they realise that, they begin to understand why more expensive content (assuming it's higher quality) is better for their site. Thankfully, bad writing with great info can still make the top of the SERPs... it just won't do it as often as good writing with the same info will. That's just a harsh reality of modern SERP ranking with Panda and Penguin.
  24. Replied to your PM, awaiting info/response and it's done.
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