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In What Ways Can You Contribute To A World Of "better Websites For A Better World"?


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#1 cre8pc

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 02:06 PM

Over the years, many of you in the web development realm have been moving from job to job, project to project and gaining new skills. These are in programming, content writing, SEO, on and offline marketing, usability, QA testing, article writing, etc.

We'd like to explore your impressions and thoughts on what you've learned over the years.

Do you think that your company is interested in contributing something positive to the world with its products or services?

Is there talk of being more consciously aware in development and if so, how/where/where/what/why?

Is it possible that a social internet can help drive global unity or does it divide us?

Are there sites that inspire you and make you think, "Hey, I want to do what they're doing" and if so, what makes it a good site?


One of the things we've learned and are still learning, for example, here at the forums is how to communicate via the written word. We understand there are language barriers and not everyone is fluent in English, which is the language used here.

It takes an enormous amount of patience to read long posts with spelling errors for example. Something as simple as good writing skills and written communication is a way to help make a "better world" because for starters, it shows that a writer takes their time, cares about their reader, and wants a response. Any of you with feedback forms or blog comments can vouch for how a poorly executed comment can be confusing or upsetting.

So, using this example...in your dealings in your everyday life on the Web, when you come across poor written communication, does it bother you? Do you think it looks badly for a web site to present content with bad grammar and spelling errors? Do you wish everyone could write well and get frustrated when you see sloppy sentences?

That's one example of endless possible ones. How important is it to think about the long term ramifications of what you build and say on the Internet?

#2 SEOigloo

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 07:42 PM

:flowers: What a Cool Thread, Kim!

Let's see here:

1) I've been picky from day one of working on the web that my firm takes on projects I can feel proud of being involved with. That has meant turning a lot of jobs down, because I just couldn't see devoting weeks, months or years to an effort I felt iffy about. On the flip side, we've gotten to be part of projects I've been so excited about I could hardly stand it. For example, we've got a bid in right now on a project that would be in conjunction with the state parks. I live in California, and our governor is threatening to close 1/5 of our beautiful parks, some of which my husband and I visit regularly. If we are accepted as the designers of this project, I will be doing something to help promote love for the parks...potentially helping to save them from being closed. That's exciting to me, and I think such work does, indeed, build a better web where people with open hearts or open minds can find the information they need to empower them.

2) As it happens, I can recall a couple of recent discussions with colleagues where I was delighted to hear them mention work they are doing with 'green' type businesses. Very cool for our planet.

3) I'm undecided about this. I, personally, have been put off by both the artifice and extremely bad manners I have encountered in most SM settings. The tabloid mentality inherent in many of them is not something which I feel promotes anything but gawking and pointing. On the other hand, if the environment of the SM site is dedicated to a higher purpose and is, for example, International, I do see a potential developing for greater public outrage over wars of conquest, to name one thing. If your best 'friends' live in the Middle East, for example, it will be very difficult for your government to vilify all residents of a targeted country as monsters (a well-documented propaganda tactic). However, unless it is the decision makers who are participating in SM and discovering that so-and-so in such-and-such country is really a great guy, I'm not sure this will lead to a world change. Potentially it will only lead to greater despair over governments' inabilities to get along.

4) I like this question :) I can no longer visit a website without critiquing it, to some extent. When I see something cool, I absolutely make a note of it. This might be something as simple as a color or as revolutionary as a navigational menu. I know when SEOmoz redid their website some months ago, one of the things I was really excited about was the way they'd put those quicklinks in that tiny box in the upper right of their masthead. I confess, we've stolen that concept repeatedly since they did that. It's just so handsome and tidy for small sites, and a good shortcut route to main categories for larger sites that will also require a traditional left nav.

5) I am more forgiving of spelling mistakes and other formatting errors on blog posts than I am on static pages. I understand that the blogger spends the better part of his life on the web, typing, typing, typing. In human speech, we all stammer or say the wrong word from time to time, especially if we are tired, emotional or not feeling well. So, like the spoken word, the quick and fluid medium of the blog does lend itself to little mistakes here and there. But if those mistakes are the norm of a blog, yes, I do say, "man, this guy really can't spell." Literacy and intelligence are not the same thing, but if someone sets themselves up as an author, they should work to perfect their skills and should at least be using spell check out of personal pride and courtesy for their readers.

On static pages, it is another story. Things like that should not be published without editing. Sometimes mistakes do get by even the best editors. The Lord of the Rings still has typos in it, even after decades of re-publication. Yet, nothing puts me off about a website like poor spelling and grammar. Someone sent us their eBook site recently for a review. They were billing themselves as a scholar and expert on something. The copy of the pages was so amazingly riddled with weird errors, I nearly died reading it. I responded with a polite but firm suggestion that this was absolutely harming his credibility as a scholar. I never heard from the guy again. Ebay is a stunning repository of sins against the English language. It makes you wonder if some of the sellers ever see any sales if they are greeting potential customers with, "by my item cuz its grate."

Whew...I don't know how long I spent writing all of the above, Kim. I really like this thread and can't wait to see what others have to say.
Miriam

#3 cre8pc

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 09:14 PM

Thanks Miriam! I was hoping our "thinkers" would like this thread :)

One of the things Bill and I find intriguing, that we wanted to explore with the Community here, is green marketing and social sites that are dedicated to bringing people together for certain causes or by shared interests. These groups find ways of meeting and promoting good in some way.

We think that this is a fine use of web dev skills and talent and wonder if corporate sites can learn from these pioneers.

A lot of the emphasis in marketing is "me me me", so I got to wondering how or if marketing can be turned into a "you you you" model that has some benefit or productive outcome in a "give back" way rather than "take what you can get" way.

#4 bobbb

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 10:33 PM

Something as simple as good writing skills and written communication is a way to help make a "better world" because for starters,

Agreed it does help. Makes it easier to understand. We recognise words when reading so when you come up to a word like cuz you have to stop and pronounce it.

So, using this example...in your dealings in your everyday life on the Web, when you come across poor written communication, does it bother you?

Depends on the background of the writer. I moderate in a technical forum where the majority's native language is not English so I have to try to think like that. I see lots of "sorry for my English". Not necessary. It is not your native tongue.

Do you think it looks badly for a web site to present content with bad grammar and spelling errors?

Yes. Mea Culpa. In my defence I say it was not in my native tongue. My written French is not as good as my English.

Boy, did I spell check this post!

#5 SEOigloo

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:20 AM

Kim -
I think there is a perfect woman or man for every job. Get the right issue and the right person together, and it becomes a passionate outpouring of giving because the person so wants to promote the issue. Good thinking!

On a technical note...I have been confused about why a thread like this appears both as a thread and a blog post by Mr. Peabody. Can one of the mods explain what the idea is behind that? Is it that the blog is aiming to have non-Cre8 members participate? I've wondered about that.
Miriam

#6 A.N.Onym

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 01:54 AM

Do you think that your company is interested in contributing something positive to the world with its products or services?

Is there talk of being more consciously aware in development and if so, how/where/where/what/why?

Is it possible that a social internet can help drive global unity or does it divide us?

Are there sites that inspire you and make you think, "Hey, I want to do what they're doing" and if so, what makes it a good site?

So, using this example...in your dealings in your everyday life on the Web, when you come across poor written communication, does it bother you? Do you think it looks badly for a web site to present content with bad grammar and spelling errors? Do you wish everyone could write well and get frustrated when you see sloppy sentences?

That's one example of endless possible ones. How important is it to think about the long term ramifications of what you build and say on the Internet?


1. I prefer to work for companies that help people live better lives. One of the reasons I don't work just for the money, too.

2. Not that I've heard of, except in one company, which product was designed to reduce computer hardware/software costs significantly. Sadly, I don't work there due to poor management/expectations.

3. Both, really. You wouldn't expect a Russian post here, if he didn't have internet. Likewise, if he did not, he'd be chatting with his friends in real life (let's pretend it's true in this very example, shall we ;) )

4. There are many websites that help us significantly improve our jobs and, consequently, our and others' lives. But the sites that really stroke a chord with me related to my own life-dreams and vocation. They showed me that what I was dreaming about was possible and offered help on how to do that. That's the ultimate help from the Web, in my opinion - where it makes the biggest impact on the reality.

5. If the mistakes are occasional, that's ok. If it is a site of a poor African hobbyist, that's ok. But if it is someone, who is supposed to know English, that's not very comfortable to read.

Now, if someone makes plenty of mistakes: typos, grammar, etc, uses awful formatting (or rather doesn't use any) and also doesn't speak to a point, it really becomes hard to communicate.

6. The reason to think about "long-term ramifications" of saying something is that I can change my opinion on the matter, maybe even radically, but the words I typed in here will be saved forever. And they may be used in the future, either for good (hopefully) or for bad. So it'd be pretty reasonable to only say what you truly believe in, in my opinion (and always leave leeways, such as 'in my opinion', etc :) )

Edited by A.N.Onym, 23 January 2008 - 01:58 AM.


#7 DrPete

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 11:02 AM

Great questions, Kim. Pardon what may be a long and rambling answer...

The language thing is tough. On the one hand, I don't have much tolerance for native English speakers who can't be bothered to check their spelling and grammar. Now, it's one thing in an email to a friend or IM, Twitter, and the like, but a business that can't even spell-check its home-page isn't likely to get me as a customer. At the same time, I've had to stop myself, especially on blogs, and take more time when I write. I was spending too much time on political blogs in 2006, and realized that too many of my comments were just badly-expressed rants.

On the other hand, we can be very unfair to non-native speakers, especially for a nation of people who usually only speak English. It's a hard stereotype to shake: someone speaking or writing in their second language is bound to sound less intelligent than they really are. The only thing that's probably helped me be more empathic is learning another language. My wife and I are learning Chinese (her family is from Taiwan), and as I realize how much better my Chinese friends' English is than my rudimentary Chinese, I appreciate their difficulties a lot more.

On the job-front, I have the luxury now (if that's the right word) of working for myself and making my own client choices. I find, though, that I constantly have to struggle with the potential paralysis of thinking that changing the world can only be achieved in huge steps. Often, doing good in the world means doing the best for my clients and trying to pick clients that are decent people with ethical businesses. For example, one of my long-term clients is a small business founded by two friends almost 30 years ago. When I work with them, I try to remind myself that: (1) these are people I respect and admire, (2) this business is their livelihood, (3) they provide a service of value, and (4) they employ people. Helping keep a good business running does a lot more good in the world than spending half my day ranting on liberal blogs, I've found.

#8 iamlost

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:39 PM

Do you think that your company is interested in contributing something positive to the world with its products or services?

I like to think so. :) In my niches I've always emphasised and recommended available best practices for care, maintenance, or disposal. This part of my social/ecological activism has garnered increasing visitor interest, acceptance, and converting traffic. :) Even in the urban/suburban jungles of the USA. :)

What is most interesting is that most of what I suggest has been known and available somewhere in the world for years, often decades. Often it is not so much new but re-interpreting an old behaviour or technology.

Is there talk of being more consciously aware in development and if so, how/where/where/what/why?

You forgot 'who'! Without 'who' there is no awareness, conscious or not. Please return your UX magic wand. And Dr. Neilsen would like his crown and tights back. :)

Most people in web development/promotion are still battling over tables and 'layers', metatags and what constitutes a reciprocal link. Most people have their head up their posterior.

More and more companies are aware that 'green is good', some even know that green is a metaphor and what it means, a few are being innovative on and off-line. Most just go with whatever their marketing department/agency recommends and their ignorance shows.

Eventually they will transfer green ideas, behaviour, and constructions from cost to asset. But not yet, especially in the USA. Yes, there are delightful examples for others to follow but they are small beacons in a broad darkness.

My greatest concern is the spread of bad advice, incorrect or misinterpreted information, and scaremongering. This is especially apparent in the bloggartsphere - and G and the other SEs are happily storing and ranking crap for all to see - and believe.

Is it possible that a social internet can help drive global unity or does it divide us?
There are becoming two types of social internet: (1) tabloid, which will highlight and exaggerate behaviour and drive us apart via mutual disgust and (2) discussion, which will bring us together in mutual support be it a common disease, tech difficulty, natural disaster, etc.

As mainstream media goes more tabloid it is the internet, including the social web that is picking up the slack. I will stop now as I feel a rant coming on...

in your dealings in your everyday life on the Web, when you come across poor written communication, does it bother you? Do you think it looks badly for a web site to present content with bad grammar and spelling errors? Do you wish everyone could write well and get frustrated when you see sloppy sentences?

Oh yes. Oh yes. Oh yes. Especially my own.

There are two very different situations: (1) in a conversation, i.e. on a forum, in a blog comment, poor spelling and grammar and missed nuances are fine when the person is writing in a second or sixth language. I took 5-years of French and can open windows and close doors and swear. How I manage in English is a mystery. :) To be willing (and able) to talk with me in my language is honouring (and tolerating) me. Thank you.

(2) in the site generated content, it is inexcusable. If in your native tongue it shows you as shoddy and lazy. It is especially aggravating when it is apparent that a spell checker was used (their/there) and an actual personal edit was not worth the hassle. Well, my reading your 'draft as final' is not worth the hassle either. Good bye.

If in a translated site - don't emabarass us both - either pay for quality translation or do not bother. Translation software is not adequate. Not.

How important is it to think about the long term ramifications of what you build and say on the Internet?

People are already being embarassed, not hired, even fired, by their uploads to MySpace and FaceBook. Corporations are being sued and executives are being convicted out of their own mouths. All those databases are saving it all, baby. Online blackmail and extortion are in their infancy but I expect both to grow.

And to you who have put all your life in G's servers: May G have mercy upon you.

#9 A.N.Onym

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 12:35 PM

Another aspect that often comes up on the Web is that the same words can be understood differently by different people.

What's more, the reader can imply whatever emotions he/she wants to the message (usually the ones he/she is unfluenced by at the momentof reading), all the while the sender didn't imply those very emotions.

All in all, written communication isn't a very effective form of one and I'd expect the Web to utilitize audio or/and video communication more in the future.

That being said, good communicators do know how to be understood without ambiguity.



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