Sunday, August 2, 2009

Skywatch Friday - Public Service Announcement

Dear Skywatchers,

Today we take a slightly different route to have you sign up for Skywatch.

The main reason is, that we want to use this detour, to explain the "How to"
and the reason, why we ask for your help.

Skywatch Friday is one of the most successful memes on the web and according
to your responses over time, one of the main reason for it is, that the Skywatch
Team takes measure to ensure, that a) Spammers and Cons are kept away and
b) that we actively maintain the site and are there to help, when help is needed.

And that is quite a bit of work for the team, but everyone is doing it gladly, because
we all love our Skywatch Friday!

And you can help us to make our work a little easier, by reading the Rules
and following the guidelines on how to enter your Post in Mr. Linky.

While everyone participating sure wants his/her post to stand out, our
goal is that everyone has the same chances to be seen.

The only way to do that, is that we regulate, what can be entered in Mr. Linkies
Name field.
The first problem is a technical one. There is only limited space available to
display it on the page. If you enter a long text, it will inevitably break the table,
introduce an unwanted linebreak and will force everyone to scroll more to see
the list of participants.
So please, keep yourself short.

Ideal entries would be: Blogname, Country or Your Name, Country.
If you want to add your state as well, please use the common two Letter abbreviation.

And for the rest - please use your Post to show your creativity - not!! your Name entry.

Entries like : ~~~SWEETHEART@MySuPeR Blog :) in MyTown, Statename, USA Rainbow over the field

WILL be deleted without notice.

We will only allow comma and Letters - please leave all other special characters out.
Same goes for writing in ALL CAPS.

If you believe that this is too much of rules - we're open to suggestions. We invite
you however to check a random page at e.g. Craigslist and see how well these
entries are actually legible.

Legibility is our main reason for asking you to make it plain and simple - be a teamplayer
on that one, will ya?

Lastly on the issue of commercial sites and our request to ask for permission, before

We have no problem with anyone having ads on his/her site. We do however have
problems, when sites are using Skywatch for their own gain, to collect addresses,
push Spy - or Adware - or trying to take advantage of the Skywatchers that we send over.

In particular Sites, that deploy paid reviews or whose owners are being paid per post are
operating in a legal gray zone. It is our opinion, that paid reviews and paid posts are
nothing but pure advertising. If these site do NOT disclose that fact in each post in question
we consider that as deception. And by the way - we're not alone with that opinion.
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has legislative in the works addressing exactly
this issue. The FTC is planning to apply the same laws and regulations to online
publishing as they are law for years in the printing and advertising world. That
means that by law every paid review and post has to be clearly identified as such.

Even though we got flack from some Bloggers about this, claiming that it is not our
business, and that they could do whatever they want on their own site, we will stay
our course, because we consider these practices as deceptive and user unfriendly.
And since we are the ones sending visitors to other participants, we try as good as
we can to avoid sending you to sites that are questionable.

One last practical tip. Mr. Linky uses cookie and if you enter your Name and URL,
last weeks entries pop up first. Please check carefully before submitting - because
that often is the cause for wrong entries.
If you made a wrong entry and can't fix it yourself using the Mr. Linky Help Page,
please contact us and ask US to fix it. Don't just enter another entry. Not only does
that add to our workload, it also is cause for frustration for those following an incorrect link.