Regarding the Quest for Communication Statistics…

(UPDATE FEB. 15: Read the followup to this article.)

As you might imagine, in my work as a content and communication consultant I often get asked for research and statistics on various topics in my field.

I’ve gotta admit, I dread those questions. First of all, research and statistics are practically useless when it comes to demonstrating the value of good communication practices – since that value is generally realized in ways which, while significant, is not easily quantifiable or traceable. Secondly, most of the research and statistics I see getting tossed around in this realm are of specious quality or relevance, once examined closely.

Today I had an exchange with my colleague Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing that touched on this issue.

Here’s what she asked me…

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Maven Blogs: My Quandary of Self-Promotion

I’ve been listening to an interesting series of short audio posts called The Business Blogging Field Guide, by Christopher Carfi over at his weblog The Social Customer Manifesto. In this series he defines several common types of weblogs offered by organizations or independent professionals in order to directly or indirectly market themselves or influence their field.

I just finished listening to the fourth installment in this series, The Maven. When Carfi started discussing the maven blog (a term borrowed from Malcolm Gladwell’s classic book The Tipping Point), I recognized CONTENTIOUS. Yes, I guess that’s mostly what I’m doing here, mavening.

And although Carfi didn’t discuss it directly, I realized that I’m probably not the only independent professional who’s not getting optimum marketing mileage from an otherwise-successful maven blog…

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I\’ve Closed Comments on Older Postings

A few days ago, I decided to close the comment function on all CONTENTIOUS postings more than 30 days old.

This is because I was getting slammed with nearly 500 comment spams daily, almost all of which were aimed at older postings. Even though I can delete comment spams en masse before they appear on the site, it was getting to be too much of a hassle to deal with that volume. I still had to look at all the spams to fish out the real comments.

Here’s how you can post a comment to an older CONTENTIOUS article…

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Next Week: Comment Week

Lately, I’ve been missing out on an important part of the online world: I’ve sharply curtailed the amount of weblogs I’ve been reading. This has not been a deliberate choice – I’ve just been very busy lately with client projects, and I’ve also been felled by two colds and a stomach virus so far in 2005. Any spare time and energy I’ve had has gone into writing for CONTENTIOUS and my personal life. (Yes, I do have one.)

However, I miss reading blogs as much as I’d like. Also, being a blogger, I know how important comments are to online culture. Comments help keep bloggers motivated. Psychologically, they’re more valuable to bloggers than site statistics. They’re what makes weblogs so conversational – by enabling a real conversation to occur, publicly.

So next week I’m going to use my blogging time a bit differently. Here’s my plan…

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Earthwatch Radio Is Podcasting Now

Back on Jan. 10 I mentioned that Earthwatch Radio (an excellent online radio show produced by Wisconsin Sea Grant) should be podcasting, too. At the time they were almost podcasting because they were posting the MP3 audio files for their shows on their web site. However, they lacked a feed that would deliver their shows directly to people who subscribed in “podcatcher” programs such as Doppler.

Well, I’ve just heard from Earthwatch – Their podcast feed is now up and running. Hooray!

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Vermin and Compassion (Online Vermin Series, Audio Note)

Now that I’m finally recovered from a despicable, tenacious headcold, here’s another audio edition of CONTENTIOUS. This is quick recap of what I’ve been covering in my Handling Online Vermin Series, with some thoughts on the role of compassion in dealing with online vermin.

LISTEN NOW! Right-click that link to download the MP3 audio file. It’s about 2.8 MB and runs just under 12 minutes.

Show notes…

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Skewers: That\’s Not What I Said! (Online Vermin, Part 5)

(NOTE: This is an installment in my “Handling Online Vermin� series about addressing people with poor online communication habits. Series intro and index.)

Skewers have a special gift for warping the fabric of online communities. They routinely skew (misrepresent) the words, actions, perspectives, or opinions of others through misstatements, leaping to conclusions, or ignoring context. Everyone makes these errors sometimes – but for skewers, it’s habitual.

Skewers usually lack information or attention. However, occasionally skewering indicates someone’s profound inability or unwillingness to listen or look beyond her own perspective. Skewers may may believe that they know you better than you know yourself.

Every once in a while, a skewer may be trying to set you up as a straw man.

Rarely is skewering motivated by a conscious intent to mislead, so counterattacks are inappropriate. However, being skewed by a skewer can be exceptionally frustrating – kind of like identity theft. When confronted, skewers tend to get rigid or silent. They find it almost impossible to admit they were wrong, even slightly.

When someone twists your words, perspective, or work online, your first response (as with all online vermin) should be to PAUSE! Evaluate the situation carefully. Ask yourself these questions…

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Female Podcasters: Here\’s Why This Matters, Adam…

Today I’ve added a couple of new female hosted/co-hosted shows to my Women in Podcasting List. The total number of shows on that list is currently 37 podcasts, plus one videolog.

Also, I was pleased that Adam Curry, probably the world’s most popular podcaster, briefly mentioned my list in his Feb. 6 Daily Source Code show (MP3 direct download) , and included a direct link to my list in his show notes. He did this at the prompting of Kim Campbell, creator of the podcasts Shakespeare Souffle and Homeschool Habitat (both on my list).

I was a bit disappointed with the way Curry seemed dismissive of the issue of women in podcasting. Here’s what he said…

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