Monday, 11 June 2007


I've been reading lots of coverage of Facebook recently. It's gone a bit mad, with everyone apparently getting themselves a profile.

There's an interesting article by Jemima Kiss on her "organ grinder" blog over at the Guardian, giving a really good overview of what Facebook actually is:

More interesting are the communities forming around workplaces - KPMG, Deloitte and PwC apparently have a number of their staff grouping up on Facebook, presumably to network and collaborate with each other. I'm not sure what this says - either they don't have the necessary tools to do this at work easily, or they just prefer the Facebook experience. Time will tell whether this is just a fad, or if it'll become a future tool for large companies to facilitate collaborative working across a disparate workforce. Legal and IT teams around the world must be squirming at the thought...

Wednesday, 6 June 2007 relaunch

Just popped onto today, to see the revamped site. Very nice it is too. They've added all sorts of new content onto the result page.

They talk about the reasoning behind it in their blogs on the site and it's interesting to see their take on confronting Google and Microsoft's Live search, and it's easy to see if you compare the results from all 3:

Search for Rio Tinto on Ask
Search for Rio Tinto on Google
Ask have gone for a much more intergrated approach - there are blogs, news stories, images, weather - even entries from Wikipedia. Interestingly, they have included related searches, based on the search patterns of others who have looked for the same thing.
This is pretty clever (well, I've always been easily impressed), but for us it's also a bit of a challenge. Potentially, if we have lots of activists or detractors searching for us, we'll start finding "anti-us" websites appearing more and more options, as their search patterns skew the results. Similarly, if there's a lot of anto company blogging going on, Ask are giving an nice easy way of presenting this to a wide audience, irrespective of its accuracy.
I can't see either Microsoft or Google hanging around after this, and it's probably only a matter of time before they too start aggregating search results in this way (to some degree, Live already does so).
This makes it even more important in the future to keep a close eye on your reputation online. You can't bury it anymore, or hope it'll just go away. It's out there, and it's gonna get you.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Blocked in China?

As we do a fair amount of business in China, I was interested to find out whether our corporate website was blocked.

According to the Great Firewall of China, it is! Who'da thought, eh....

However the website did say that I was coming in from the Netherlands, and that there was disclaimer saying that it might just be technical problems preventing the site from being viewed in China, so I'm not entirely convinced of the accuracy.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Blog searching terms

Unfortunately, spam bloggers have started picking up copy either from our website or from emailed press releases and using it in the padding text on their blogs, to drive traffic.

How annoying is that!

Thankfully Technorati and Google blog search tend to drop the sploggers pretty quickly, but it's started to skew our analytics and metrics here at work.

What to do about a splog? One thing you can do is report. The site Fight Splog has a number of other alternatives, including reporting them to Google AdSense, and reporting to, a listing service.

Interestingly, the US government is taking the issue of spam seriously. They're holding a Spam Summit in July 2007, however as details seem to be sketchy I'm not exactly holding my breath on this one.

Thankfully for us, many of the Rio Tinto splogs seems to have died a death, so we're lucky in not having to handle this as a significant ongoing issue. Who knows why? Maybe the traffic directed to them on the back of relevant key words from our site wasn't good enough, maybe they got deleted and have started randomly picking up copy from other people's sites. I think it may havebeen triggered by a surge in our search engine traffic around take over rumours a while back.

I'm just glad it's as much of an issue for us at the moment, though no doubt it'll happen again.