Mommy Wants Vodka

…Or A Mail-Order Bride

It All Matters

February18

The first time I got a blog troll, I ate a celebratory cupcake and washed it down with a tall Diet Coke on the rocks. It was probably, in hindsight, a spammer (just like my first comments , which I think I framed somewhere, were) but I didn’t care. I’d made it! Someone, somewhere hated me!

Then, I got someone who copied bits out of my blog posts. Actual bits of my posts removed and pasted onto hers, like it was no big deal. Someone else, a watchdog, alerted me. My daughter had just been born ill and I wasn’t about to deal with it right then. Talk about bigger fish to fry. I like to think I would have fist-pumped, though, and perhaps celebrated with a tasty bowl of edamame or a wee Uncrustables.

Later yet came the loon who created several blogs composed of entirely stolen posts filched neatly from other bloggers, myself included, who I did fight. Google claims they shut her down, but I don’t care to check because I don’t want to drive her traffic up. I still have, somewhere on my desktop, screenshots of all of your comments on her blog, just because they were so full of the awesome, by the way.

You don’t fuck with the Pranksters.

Since that first Internet Mole Person (troll), I’ve gotten a handful of others.

Generally, they make me laugh.

There are weeks when they do not.

Like anyone, I’m a person, and I have bad days, and bad weeks, and sometimes I say and do the wrong things. In fact, if I had to describe my blog, I’d say something like, “THIS is where I bow to the alter of my wrongness.” I don’t have a publicist or an adviser to tell me not to do something because, uh, why?

This week, I’ve gotten a couple of nasty-grams that hurt my feelers. I know we’re “supposed” to pretend like it doesn’t matter; like we don’t care, like it doesn’t hurt our feelers when people call us names or insult us, but it does. Of course it does.

Like it or not, this is my life.

Certainly, it’s my steaming pile of guts spilled here, my wrongness on display, and my inconsistencies on the table to be judged and if I don’t like it, I can absolutely pack up shop and go somewhere else. That’s the answer, right? To delete my blog in a stompy flourish? Go back to being Becky, In Real Life? That’s how to handle hurt feelers?

Not so much. At least, not for me.

Blogging is an act of bravery. When you put yourself out there, especially waaay out there, you stand a very real chance to be very hurt or very disgusted by human nature. The farther you stick your neck out, the worse the inevitable hurt will be.

What I think is worse than anything are the people who get you entirely wrong. Because you’re left standing there stuttering, “but, but, BUT, that’s not what I meant AT ALL.”

These are the sort that make me sort of question myself in a way that I seldom do (perhaps I should): Did I say it wrong? WAS I wrong?

And most importantly: why the hell do I do this at all? I see that typed out here, on my screen and it looks like I’m being all 15-years old and dramatical feet-stamp *woe is me, OH NOES* and I’m (for once) not.

I mean that genuinely: why do I do this? Why do ANY of us bother?

It’s certainly not for the billions of dollars in my bank account that still haven’t been deposited, nor is it for the notoriety and free swag, or to be able to tell someone that “I blog, and it’s really, really cool.” Because I swear, if I told someone that, they’d be all, “um, huh? Did you just insult me?”

No. It’s not for that. It’s because it all matters. Every word I write matters. To me. These words are what define me, what make up my life, and what bring me joy. Whether or not someone else finds them and finds joy in them too is inconsequential because it brings me joy. I write because I love to. I write because that is what I do. I write because it matters.

Everything we do. It all matters.

The Auto Show: Social Versus Traditional Media

February10

If all goes well, and I don’t freeze to death like an overly-bedazzled, extra-large Popsicle, I’m planning to go downtown* for the Chicago Auto Show. You’re probably scratching your head, possibly throwing things around your living room a la Jerry Springer to express your outrage, because that simply does not sound like something Your Aunt Becky would like to do. And that is where you would be wrong.

I’ve been going to the Chicago Auto Show since I was a wee lass. It’s a Sherrick Family Tradition, begun many years before Your Aunt Becky descended upon this world, smoking cigars and barking out orders (that is how, Pranksters, my mother describes me). Somewhere, I have pictures of me as a baby – carefully held by one of the models that the car companies used to have by the cars – a muppet with curls toddling around in my fancy dresses, a preteen, a sullen teenager with my earphones on, glaring at the camera, and even pictures of me as an adult.

Between school and squalling babies, I’ve been a little busy and I haven’t managed to go in a couple of years.

When Toyota invited me to the first-ever social media preview of the Auto Show, I was gobsmacked.

You’re probably thinking, “oh, well, you’re a BLOBBER, people INVITE YOU TO THINGS,” and you’d be totally wrong. I’m the WRONG KIND of blobber, Pranksters. The only people who like me are the Car People because they don’t give a shit if I swear and that is fine by me.

That is also a conversation I’d love to have another day because I’m totally interested in what you have to say about it. ANYWAY.

So, I’m nervous.

I love cars. You know that. I’ve worked with Ford before for the What Women Want Series over the summer. Cars = rad. I’m not nervous or bored or apprehensive about going to spend the afternoon looking at them.

I’m picturing a claymation non-celebrity Death Match between:

Social Media (blobbers, The Twitterers, Facebook, Tumblr)

versus

Traditional Media (Newspapers, Magazines, Television)

There’s sort of a war going on between them. The rise of self-publishing platforms (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Twitter) has really really REALLY hurt traditional print media (also: the recording industry). They haven’t been able to figure out a way to keep up with the times and stay relevant when people can pop onto Twitter and watch news as it unfolds. How can they compete with that?

Twitter, is free. Blogging, well, it’s (mostly) free**. Advertisers aren’t paying the big bucks to advertise and that’s where traditional print media makes their money.

(advertisers should really pull their heads out of their asses and realize that ALL of our blogs are, indeed, a good place to advertise.)

Traditional media is grappling with ways to offer something that’s different and more lucrative than social media. Traditional media has been reluctant to change. Traditional media has also considered social media it’s bumbling redneck cousin.

Traditional media has a point.

The crux of social media is also it’s beauty: it’s unfiltered.

There are rarely teams of editors fact-checking blogs and Twitter accounts for accuracy. For many things, that’s great: it gives you that extra emotional connection to the writer that may otherwise be missing. But it also allows speculation, rumors and outright lies to be spread without consequence. Sure, a “troll***” might come along and say, “hey, that’s not true, yo,” but one deletable voice in a sea of thousands?

Not that it doesn’t happen in traditional media too, but at least there, the fall from grace is much more pronounced. A blogger can just close up shop and eventually, we forget they existed. Or we don’t and they serve as a warning: “don’t pull a xxx.”

So that means that if I can shake this migraine (I have a double ear infection, adding insult to my toothless injury) I’m nervous of the reception I’ll get. Should I just show up wearing my Shut Your Whore Mouth shirt and a crummy old pair of boxers with a pork rib hanging out of my mouth?

Also: in Claymation Death Match, will they capture my Super-Villain hair properly?

So, what do you think about it all?

*downtown = Chicago.

**I pay a bit for hosting services and a couple of servers because I run Mommy Wants Vodka, Mushroom Printing, We Know Awesome and Band Back Together.

***there are many who consider people who disagree with them “trolls.” Generally, I do not.

—————-

Bloggies?

Come To Think Of It, I Never Did Write About That Tapeworm Farm

February1

The Daver, 2004: “You should start a blog.”

Aunt Becky: “What the shit is a ‘blob?‘”

The Daver: “You know, an online weblog?”

Aunt Becky: “Is that for Dungeons and Dragons people? Because I do not play Dungeons and Dragons. I am offended that you would think I play Dungeons and Dragons, The Daver. Also: gravy.”

The Daver: “You’re offended by gravy?”

Aunt Becky: “Only the powdered kind.”

The Daver: “Ha, no. Blogs aren’t for Dungeons and Dragons. A blog is kinda an online journal.”

Aunt Becky: “So. Wait. You write a diary online?”

The Daver: “Kinda.”

Aunt Becky: “And then…other people read it?”

The Daver: “Yes. Some. Probably.”

Aunt Becky: “OMG. Bwahahahahahahahahaha! THAT’S SO RIDICULOUS.”

The Daver: “Gee. Thanks.”

Aunt Becky: “Who gives a flying shit what I think about ‘eating grilled cheese‘ or ‘driving through snow?‘ Why would anyone care?”

The Daver: *shrugs* “I’d read what you wrote.”

Aunt Becky: “Aw.”

(a couple days later)

Aunt Becky: “So I’ve decided to start a “blob” called “Mushroom Printing.” I shall write my first post about my idea for a tapeworm farm or my vagina. Can me and Pashmina write it together?”

The Daver: “Sure.”

(years go by)

The Daver, 2011: “How’s that Humble Pie taste, Tex? How’s that blog treating you?”

Aunt Becky: “Shutthefuckup.”

—————

How did you get started blogging, Pranksters?

—————

And, PRANKSTERS, holy FUCK, I got nominated for a Bloggie for Best Writing of a Weblog and Most Humorous Weblog.

Band Back Together got nominated for Best Kept Secret Weblog. This is HUGE.

Um. UMMMM. I got woken up to frantic fucking PHONE calls because it’s so awesome to have been nominated.

So, Pranksters *rubs toe into ground bashfully* would, um, you mind, um, voting for me? Please? PLEASE?

Anonymity On The Internet

January31

When the topic of internet anonymity came up yesterday, I knew that there was no one better to ask than The Daver. If I live in the computer, he’s the one who built it for me.

Now, I’ve never been anonymous. In fact, the first blog I wrote was read (at first) only by people who knew me by first, middle, and last name, which has helped dispel any feelings of anonymity.

I’m happy that I’m not anonymous. Truly. It’s kept me from putting stuff out in public that shouldn’t have been there anyway.

So, here’s what A Nerd has to say about being anonymous online:

If you have a bone to pick, or an itch to scratch, or have bottled it all up too long and you feel that writing it all out on your own (a third-party blog like Band Back Together or Mushroom Printing is the best way to go for this type of thing) weblog is the best way to just let it all out, I have a little piece of advice for you: don’t.

Aside from the myriad personal histories of folks who have been fired for writing on blogs (see: Dooce, Queen of Sky, or Troutgirl), the more important issue in my mind is that whomever you didn’t think would read your tirade…will.

And as Aunt Becky’s resident nerd, I’m beholden to share some of the most significant reasons why.

Let’s start with some geeky ones. So, you registered that fancy-schmancy domain name, right? Mommywantsvodka.com! Type that puppy in over at whois.net and guess what? You can see that it’s MY FAULT that Aunt Becky is online. Even if she didn’t blog under her own name, it wouldn’t be too much of a jump to take the “Registered By” name listed there, pop open Facebook, and find out that we were married.

Sure, some registrars will let you pay them to register under their name – registering a domain by proxy – but upon inquiry they are just as likely to share that name to someone who would take the time to ask.

Okay, so let’s say you don’t have a fancy-schmancy domain name, just a blog that you think no one reads. Except…if it’s on any of the major blogging sites (Blogger/Blogspot/Google, WordPress.com, Facebook, so on), then it’s very search-engine optimized (SEO) already.

So if your rant happens to mention anything obscure about the situation (things that have fairly few high-ranked pages on Google)(see also: the John C. Mayer Prank for more information on Google SEO), such as the horrible burned Marston Family Chicken, then when your mother-in-law -who the rant focused on – searches for ways to make it better, whoops! What’s this? It’s irrelevant that you don’t have your name on the site: how many people were over at M-I-L’s house yesterday? How many have the same interests and family size and location as you? Same first name?

Oh, and don’t think that if you post it just for a day and then take it down that it’s gone for good. See, Google keeps a copy of all the pages that it indexes — so if the page just disappears, Google hangs on to it for a good while, in case it went away accidentally. This is incredibly handy if you’re searching for something that happens to be on a site that crashed. Not so handy if you want the Internet’s elephant ears to forget.

There are others, too, involving looking at the Page Source to see breadcrumbs like the IP Address of the poster, or tracking who posted a comment via their IP address…but I’ll save those for a more geeky post. The important thing to remember, folks, is that it is a safe assumption that sooner or later, anything you write on the Internet will be read by whomever you’re writing about, or their friends, or their family, or someone that knows them at work, or their priest or their favorite hooker or the guy who makes them their sandwich at Subway.

Someone will read it.

And even though the feelings behind those rants fade over time, the magic of the digital world ensures that those words won’t. Are you ready for those words to be brought back to live when you least expect it? Ready to face the truth that yes, you did say those things, and in public, no less?

If so, and if you still thing it’s a good idea, then more power to you: this is free speech, after all.

But remember that just because the speech is free, doesn’t mean it is without consequence.

A Bloody Valentine To Blogging

December14

My longest running television husband has been Anthony Bourdain. Marriage is way easy when you’re sitting on the other side of a television screen, staring lovingly at the man you love as he surreptitiously drops the word “pube” on television as you dreamily imagine a fake relationship wherein you two take the world by foul-mouthed storm.

It’s pretty much a win.

And it’s evident that a good writer will be able to captivate his (or her) audience no matter what he (or she) writes about because I sat in the airport this weekend reading Medium Raw, his newest book.

Normally, I’d rather gnaw on my own toenails than read about cooking. I’m so not a cook. Lengthy discussions of complicated and pretentious ingredients makes me want to skewer my own eyeballs out and saute them in a nice truffle sauce. I’d rather do just about anything than watch a show about cooking. Food porn makes me nauseous.

Yet he’s a food writer. And I willingly both bought his book and read it. Proof that if you can write, you can write about anything.

The book, of course, is fantastic. If you like his sort of style, that is. I breezed through the food porn parts because frankly, reading about eating chicken ass doesn’t interest me, but overall, Medium Raw is precisely the sort of book you’d expect from Anthony Bourdain.

What I didn’t expect was this: bloggers are mentioned frequently. Food bloggers, but still. BLOGGERS.

I’ve been a blogger for so long that dust comes out of my fingers when I type and still, when I’m asked, “What do you do?” if I am not giving the flip answer (“I am a life coach”), I don’t really know how to answer that. Certainly my blog is a labor of love. Blogging IS a labor of love. Why else would we pour our lives out onto a blank WordPress Screen in the vain hopes that someone else somewhere else might read it and say, “Hey, I like this girl,” or “Hey, I hate this girl, let’s send her a fart in a jar?” It’s certainly not the glamor of it all.

Half the time I say, “I’m a blogger,” people look at me like I’ve sprouted a second head. “A BLOBBER?” They cry, as though I’ve just taken a poo on their car. Then I revert back to my second answer, “I’m a nurse.” Invariably, they know a nurse and want to know my specialty. When I reply, “I’m retired, it wasn’t for me,” they’re even more deeply offended by my answer. (aside: what the fuck?)

It goes to show that you simply cannot win.

It’s not as though I’m ashamed of what I do – far from it – it’s just that there are so many people out there who simply don’t get it. Not yet. They will.

Seeing one of my favorite bad-boy idols talking about the power of bloggers – even over that of print media – really struck a chord with me. I’ve never joined in those circle-jerk “we are BLOGGERS; we are so influential!!” conferences because, frankly, they remind me too much of the same sorts of pitches I’d get from any of the companies I’ve worked for: Our company is great, here’s a t-shirt for you wear to promote your company!!! TEAM PRIDE!!!!

I suppose I’d never really thought about the influence of blogs. Blogging is so self-important* and I never really wanted to be all *blank-eyes* “We’re CHANGING the WOOOOOORLD!” That’s a little too Drink The Kool-Aid for me.

But really, we are.

I don’t mean that the press-release-passed-off-as blogs are going to do much of anything. No one reads those anyway. I don’t care what rosy picture my hotel’s “blog” paints. I want the nitty-gritty. I want the dirt. I want to know who was murdered in my room. I want to know where the fucking ghosts are.

And bloggers, at least, the ones you want to read, they’ll tell you that. Why? We have nothing to lose. I’m way more likely to listen to a trusted blogger than anyone, well, else.

So thanks, Mr. Bourdain, for reminding me to be proud of what I am.

I’m a blobber, dammit.

*says the person who has been blogging regularly for 6-7 years.

How To Increase Traffic To Your Website (or, the post I am ashamed to write)

September24

Whenever I sit down to write about blogging, I have to be physically restrained from getting up and banging my head against the wall. It’s just not my thing. But, I get asked about increasing website traffic frequently enough that it appears that enough of you want to rifle through my mostly vacant brain cavity for blogging tips. Now you can see just how little I know about the blogging phenomenon.

(I do know that almost all of the articles about how to increase website traffic aren’t written by bloggers, which seems like bullshit)

1) Good content is probably the most important thing to running a successful blog. The blogging world used to have like 5 blogs in it, but now every time Dooce goes on Oprah, 6 million people decide that they’re going to make a million dollars by being a blogger like Dooce. To stand out from the rest of the people who start to blog (and then abandon it when they realize it actually IS work), you must have good quality content to keep your readers coming back.

It’s the simple law of supply and demand. Be an interesting blogger and stop being afraid of being yourself. The world is full of boring beige blogs or worse, blogs that are trying to be just like someone else. Be authentic. Be yourself.

2) SEO (as we learned in the pulling a John C. Mayer experiment), for personal blogs, may not be as effective as it is for business blogs. If I stuffed a post full of “vodka,” for example, and got to #1 on Google Search, everyone who finds my blog is going to be mighty annoyed that I am not selling vodka.

Plus, stuffing your blog full of keywords makes your stories read stilted and awkward. Right John C. Mayer?

I don’t use SEO on my blog. I know other bloggers do. I don’t.

3) Make friends. Comment. Connect with other people. Friends will be your loyal readers.

4) Offer your readers as many ways as possible as to subscribe to and read your blog.

  • Get a Twitter account to hook up with your blog and use it to tweet as well as occasionally announcing when you’ve written a new post. If you only post links, many people won’t follow you because they will think you are a spam account.
  • If you’re not afraid of hooking your blog up with your Facebook profile, syndicate your feed through Facebook.
  • Post a clearly visible RSS button at the top of your blog so that people can easily subscribe to your blog.

5) Be wary of constant self-promotion as a means of driving readers to your blog. It’s one thing to post your links on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s another thing to constantly barrage your readers with requests to promote you. Once in awhile, asking for some promotion is a good thing, because often people don’t think of advertising this awesome blog that they read. But I caution you that you will quickly lose readers if you are constantly emailing your readers asking for links, re-tweets (a Twitter thing), and promotion.

I had someone I didn’t even know on Twitter say something to the effect of, “Wow, didn’t realize you were a big deal on Twitter. Can you promote my blog?”

I’m sure that kind of thing works sometimes, but I find it tacky. I’ll help out my Pranksters, sure, but come the fuck on.

6) Keep an up-to-date blogroll*. Everyone likes to be on a blogroll, and I know it’s probably SO 2006, but I still use blogrolls to find new blogs.

7) Submit posts to StumbleUpon, Digg, Technorati, and any of the other bookmarking sites that I don’t know about because I am lazy and often forget to do this. I need to do this more.

8) The Internet loooooves The Dramaz. You’ll get some more traffic when you have drama. But, like the SEO stuff, when the drama dies down, the traffic does, too.

*which reminds me that I need to update mine. If you have a blog that is NOT on my blogroll because I am a lazy sack of poo, send an email to aunt.becky.sucks@gmail.com with BLOGROLL in the subject line. Please, email me about it, don’t leave the information in a comment, or I may become even more confused than normal and my head might explode.

—————–

So, Pranksters, what do you know about blogging that I’ve left off of my pathetically small list?

For Being Pranksters, We Don’t Do NEARLY Enough Pranking. Right John C. Mayer?

September15

After John C. Mayer came to my house and broke my van yesterday, because I’d forced John C. Mayer off The Twitter in a fit of Twitter Celebrity Blocking Rage, my day got infinitely weirder. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s say it involved trying to start a dead car by staring at the battery, scratching my ass, hoping that by sheer force of will, the battery would charge.

It didn’t. The John C. Mayer curse continued.

But then, because I suddenly had a brilliant flash of insight, I decided that I should see what happens when you stuff a post with the name John C. Mayer over and over again, like I did yesterday, when I wrote about how John C. Mayer had cursed me.

So I slipped “John C. Mayer” into the old Google Box and…

John C. Mayer's Publicist Hates Me.

Oh yes, out of 7,060,000 results, I am number 3 when you Google “John C Mayer.” I am right below his personal website and above his Wikipedia entry.

This, Pranksters, means that somewhere, John C. Mayer’s publicist is probably blowing an aneurysm. You have no idea the kind of money people pay to be this high on the search when you google something like John C. Mayer.

My life is officially complete, Pranksters. I only wish I could be Number One when you search Google for John C. Mayer.

But this, THIS Pranksters, brings me to what I think we need to do to The Internet this week. Pranking. John C. Mayer has taught me many things, up to and including, “not to fuck with John C. Mayer because John C. Mayer Karma is a MOTHERFUCKER.”

John C. Mayer has also taught me that messing with Google Search is full of the win.

Here is our mission for the week, Pranksters, should you choose to accept it, and it’s also a brief lesson on SEO tips (I was going to give you a lesson on Watermarking your Pictures in Picnik, but Picnik bit the bucket today because it’s buggy as hell) brought to you on behalf of Aunt Becky and her imaginary friend John C. Mayer:

Choose a Target you don’t normally talk about on your blog, and get yourself onto the front page of Google Search. You cannot choose John C. Mayer. He’s mine, Pranksters and I will cut you for John C. Mayer.

I’ll include a Mr. Linky at the bottom and next Wednesday, you, me, The Pranksters and John C. Mayer will meet back and compare notes. This is going to be EPIC!

Let’s begin, shall we?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is a way of making your website more visible to Google or other search engines. It’s an internet marketing strategy and that people use to get their site to be on the first page when you search for things like “John C. Mayer.” Because people searching aren’t going to be digging through 8,000 pages to see what you wrote if you’re at the back of articles about John C. Mayer, they’re going to check the top couple pages that mention John C. Mayer.

People pay a fuckton of money to be on the first page of searches about their subject, like John C. Mayer, and to get on the first page by Pranking, well, I think this will be a delicious joke, Pranksters. John C. Mayer, I hope you approve.

The first thing you want to do is think about the things people might search for when they’re looking for your Target (like mine, John C. Mayer). If you choose a person, like John C. Mayer, maybe just a couple of John C. Mayer’s songs, like “Gravity,” or albums like “Battle Studies” or news items, “John C Mayer quits Twitter.”

These are the things you’re going to have to put into your post. If it’s a person, like John C. Mayer, or Justin Beaver, you can probably just stick with their name, but you want phrases, like John C. Mayer rather than single words, like douche, or dillhole.

If you choose a famous person, USE A MIDDLE INITIAL.

Use the phrases in the posts that you write about your target as often as you can. Like I did, when I wrote about the curse of John C. Mayer. I hadn’t INTENDED for the John C. Mayer Curse to turn into a Prank, but I think even John C. Mayer would approve of it. Plus, since you’re doing a Prank and not trying to actually draw readers about the Target for good, you can explain what you are doing to your readers. I’m pretty sure the Lovers of John C. Mayer are going to be pretty fucking pissed when they see what I’ve said about their beloved John C. Mayer.

Add some links to sites that include your Target, like their Wikipedia Page, nearish to the top of the article and name it as such. See, this is John C. Mayer’s Wikipedia page.

Submit your article to Digg, Stumble Upon, Twitter, Facebook, and all of those annoying social bookmarking sites. Do the same for the rest of the Pranksters that you see doing the same prank, so we can all work to support each other on this.

Add a picture to your posts, really, it doesn’t have to be a picture of your Target; it could be a picture of my fake cat Mr. Sprinkles, but name it Your Target’s Name. Like I named this picture John C. Mayer:

image John C Mayer

Mr Sprinkles + John C Mayer

Add tags to your post, too, with your Target’s name and all of the search terms you’re using in the post. I’ve added John C. Mayer tags to my post, even though I never tag my posts, just because I want to make sure that I give as many heart attacks to as many publicists as possible.

Cross link your posts, if you’re doing a series of posts about your Target. I linked back to my previous post about John C. Mayer and I’m doing it again here, just for effect. Apparently, Search Engines like it when you cross link between posts on the same website. And since I’m trying to increase my John C. Mayer Karma, why not?

I’m sure there are a kajillion other SEO tips, but since I normally don’t bother with the SEO stuff, I’ll let you fill in what YOU know the comments, Pranksters.

So, let’s get our PRANK on. Add your blog to the bottom Mr. Linky if you’re going to play along at home AND leave a comment letting us know who your target is, so we can laugh. Also, throw a John C. Mayer into the comments for me and let’s work together to Prank the Internet. This is going to be EPIC!

Thanks, John C. Mayer. I owe you one.

Everything I Needed To Know About Blogging I Learned From The Internet

September10

Since plagiarism the shit-storm yesterday, I’ve been trying to knock the three brain cells in my head around the idea of stealing someone else’s stuff and passing it off as my own.

This had actually happened to me before, right after I delivered Amelia and came home from the hospital with my sick baby, and it was only a couple of paragraphs that had been snatched. Frankly, I had bigger fish to fry and didn’t give a shit about my stuff being stolen then.

So I knew it was only a matter of time before it happened again. Not because I am some awesome fucking blogger–I’m not–but because that’s what happens on The Internet. The comments prove that it’s only a matter of time before someone steals your stuff.

That’s a shame, because I think the best part of blogging, besides being able to say things like, “ball bag” and “meat curtains” is the ability to riff off each other. You know, like be inspired by one another? You read this from X blogger and go and write about it on your blog, and then inspire Y blogger to write about it, and pretty soon you have a hundred takes on the same topic. That pretty much rules.

And that’s not going to stop because some plagiarizer stole some stuff from me. This won’t be the last time someone steals something from me, and frankly, I don’t care anymore. I got my hackles up, I’m a little annoyed by it, but in the end, we all know who wrote that piece. It wasn’t some talentless hack who steals other people’s stuff; it was me. YOUR talentless hack, Aunt motherfucking Becky.

And I was reminded of how My Pranksters are seriously, bar-none, the best people on the planet. You all better know that I’ve got your back, too. You don’t fuck with Aunt Becky, but you ALSO don’t fuck with Aunt Becky’s Band of Merry Pranksters unless you want the wrath of a thousand steaming loads of dog shit on your doorstep.

You’ve been warned.

ANYWAY.

So, this is what I’ve learned, and what you’ve taught me about protecting your stuff online:

1) Put a copyright notice in your footer. See, I have one that says,

“Stealing gives you herpes. – © 2010 Mommy Wants Vodka.”

Hehe. See, hopefully now, she’s got a scorching case of FACIAL herpes that you just can’t hide. Not those cute little cold sores, NO, the LESIONS of DOOM.

ANYWAY.

2) Ask that the offending party remove the post or picture. Sometimes, people post things without realizing that it’s not in good taste to republish your work without asking. I don’t actually care if you use my stuff, so long as you ask me and credit it back. It’s my work, yo, not yours.

3) Contact the hosting company. Domains have to be registered to a person, so the host of the website will have the person’s name and information. A directory like WHOIS will look up any domain and tell you who it’s registered to and you can file a claim with the hosting company.

In the event that your thief is hosting a Blogger/Blogspot blog, they are being hosted by Google. Google has a very strict anti-theft policy.

You should flag it with the link in the NavBar (if they have not removed the NavBar.) http://www.google.com/support/blogger/bin/topic.py?hl=en&topic=12468
A DMCA claim should be filed by those whose content has been copied.

http://www.google.com/support/blogger/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=157218

4) Watermark your pictures. I use Picnik, which is a free photo-editing software site (also run by Google, damn you Google and your reach into EVERYTHING!) that should allow you to watermark your pictures. I don’t tend to do it, because I am lazy and do not care, but if you are a photographer, I get why you would.

5) Now, this is one that is recommended, but I don’t do, because I don’t agree with, but you can take or leave: Publish a partial RSS Feed.

The RSS feed is that fancy thing you put into your feed reader that makes it pop up and allow you to read this in Bloglines, or your Google (SEE!!!) Reader, or however you’re reading this that is not actually on http://mommywantsvodka.com.

So, if you publish a partial feed, it prevents people from stealing your full feed, or, your full post, which sounds like a good idea, until you realize that it also means that none of the people who read your blog in their reader can read you there.

Those people have to click through to your site to read your blog which may or may not be possible for them.

People like reading blogs in blog readers. That’s the end of it. When you publish a partial RSS feed, for whatever reason (plagiarizers, feed scrapers, increased ad revenue, because you like to dance the funky chicken), you will lose readers. I’m not judging you, I’m just reporting the facts.

I’m not going to publish a partial feed because my stuff got stolen. One person isn’t going to change things for everyone else.

6) Watch out for everyone else. The only way I found out about this crazy person stealing my posts was because I woke up to a bunch of tweets and an inbox stuffed full of emails telling me my stuff had been ripped off. If I’d seen her first, I’d have totally done the same for you.

That’s the ONLY reason I gave that site any traffic yesterday (trust me, it killed me to do that), was so you could make sure you didn’t have anything up there.

7) Set Up A Google Alert. I don’t have a Google (GOOD LORD, GOOGLE!) Alert set up for myself or this blog, I’m going to admit. Why? After that whole “lady-who-got-wasted-and-crashed-her-car-killing-those-kids” I got pulled into the Mom’s Who Drink Club, and got a lot of shit. Which got pretty old.

I don’t need to hear what The Internet says about me–if it’s mean–and so I prefer to keep my head in the sand. BUT, that’s me.

—————

So that’s what I’ve learned so far, Pranksters, what else is there?

Integrity

September9

As bloggers, we have an open line to our readers which is part of the reason that the old media is having such a hard time keeping up with us. Bloggers have had to learn on our feet about what works and what doesn’t work. What brings readers in and what makes them stay. Likewise, we’ve had great ideas that have bombed and left us scratching our heads wondering what. the. fuck?

It’s the lack of editors, the lack of middlemen, the direct link to our friends that have made blogging and bloggers succeed where newspapers and magazines are failing. You’re not reading about the blood and guts behind the blank-eyed newspaper columnist’s life–not because she doesn’t have one, or because she doesn’t want to write about it–but because that’s not what they do over there.

But that is what we do.

Without filters in place, you get our blood, sweat and tears. It’s what binds us together as people and it’s why we connect with each other. Most of the time, I happen to think, it’s a good thing, and sometimes, it’s a very bad thing. No one wants to be attacked at the core of what we are. Personal attacks always hurt, no matter how much we say, “aw, it ain’t no thing.”

I don’t think there’s any shame in saying that it hurts when an Internet Mole Person (a.k.a. A Troll) calls you a bitch, or a fucking bitch or says this:

I don’t know how I stumbled on your blog, but it seemed interesting in the early days. This post is crap, grow up, get a life like the rest of us did.

That’s a comment I got. I don’t get a lot of nasty comments, and for the record, the post was badly written, but, as I pointed out to this person, “Someone who spent 29 hours on my blog should hardly tell be telling me to get a life.”

IP addresses, I love you.

There are other dark sides of the Internet, which I was reminded of this morning, when I woke up to an inbox stuffed full of messages telling me that my Mother’s Day post from this year had been stolen by a notorious blog plagiarizer. She changed the date so it “aired” the day before, but I have a screenshot showing that it did not actually do so.

I am only linking to her so that you may see if your material has been jacked too. I hate to give her any more traffic than she deserves. She had another blog, which also stole that same post, a post that was particularly meaningful to me, but she locked it down. Both sites creepily have different children as her own.

The mind that goes on behind running a fake blog composed of other people’s work is very fucked up, indeed, and while I am furious because while I reported her to Google for violation of Terms of Service and went on a Twitter Rampage of Doom, there’s not much I can do.

The bright side of this is how awesome my Band of Merry Fucking Pranksters are. Just look!

I about passed out laughing. You guys are fucking amazing. Seriously. I love you all SO MUCH.

All of the comments on that blog are from people bitching her out for stealing their posts, so clearly, it’s not just me.

This, to me, is the best part about the blog world. There may not be much we can do about stuff like this; I mean, MAYBE Google will shut her down, but I doubt it, but we all rally around each other when things are bullshit. And this, Pranksters, is BULLSHIT.

What’s interesting is that the new group blog that I’m working so hard to create this week is a site based around the concept of rallying around each other. It’s clearly what we do best and it’s one of those things we all like to do. Hell, I prefer feeling useful to feeling like I’m just sitting around taking up space.

It’s SO close to being done and I’m itching to show it off like you cannot believe, because I think all of you will want to be a part of it. I’ve been gathering material from some places so it has some stuff in it already, but when it opens, you can use anything you’ve written or anything you will write in there.

So rather than focus on the plagiarizer and the negativity she’s spreading around today, I’m going to focus on the good things:

The new blog I’m working on. The hilariousness of Mushroom Printing. How fucking awesome my Pranksters are and how blessed I am to have you all. And how odd it is that I am Number 9 on this list.

And, of course, bacon.

—————–

Since I am working on a site, I have a quick question for you. That Google Friend Connect box on the sidebar:

That is a picture, not the box itself, yo.

Do you guys like these on a site? Should I put it on my new site? I added a poll!

Google Friend Connect Box, Yay or HELL No.

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Why Blogging Is Important

August24

Bloggers, especially mom bloggers, have taken a lot of heat. We’ve been accused of neglecting our children so that we can go online and post how-to-make-tutu guides on our frivolous, silly blogs. We should get our asses back into the kitchen and tend to our kids! We should turn off our pink lap-tops and stop trying to pretend we’re important. If we want a job, well, we should go out and get one.

To be honest, I don’t quite understand why anyone would get their hackles up over blogs about tutus, blogs written by women, or blogs written by Russian spammers, for that matter, but the New York Times is famous for dragging bloggers through the mud. My best guess is that they’re lashing out at the New Media (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc) and using it for page views and free publicity. You know, all of us who write our rebukes on our own blogs that link to that article we’re so furious about?

Anyway, it’s all bullshit. You know it, I know it, and the New York Times knows it, or they wouldn’t be writing about it every other week.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat in the keynotes at BlogHer, listening to all of my friends up on the stage, reading their words aloud, and realized how important what we do is. Their words were more moving to me than anything I’d ever read in the New Yorker or the Atlantic, because they were real and they were honest and they were true.

I hugged some of them later, amazed that my own friends could write such beautiful words. Words that moved me, words that inspired me, words that made me laugh. I was so proud to call them my friends.

Later, I sat with some of my infertile and baby loss friends, who had raised money, supported and loved each other through many of the procedures necessary to produce the very children I cuddled on my lap. They’d all met through the Internet. It was an honor to call them my friends as well.

When Amelia was born sick, my life was upended, all my neat plans were tossed aside as I flipped into survival mode. Part of what happens when a family member becomes very ill isn’t just the immediate threat of losing someone you love. It’s the change in dynamics of all of your relationships, and I do mean all of them.

People who you could normally count on to lend an ear or shoulder suddenly become harsh or distant or “can’t deal with you right now, Becky.” They say things that maybe they cannot recall, but you won’t forget. Everything is irrevocably changed.

In the midst of the chaos, I was so fortunate, though, to have the one thing I could count on: my band of Pranksters. You.

Maybe that sounds silly, saying that when my daughter was so sick, The Internet held my hand and made it all better, I don’t know, don’t care, but it’s true. It was amazing to know that people thousands of miles away were praying for me, holding my hair as I puked, and sending me love. It was what I needed. I’m honored to call you my friends. All of you.

So when I hear people mock blogging, I just laugh, because it’s clear to me that they have no idea what they’re talking about. They’ve never sat up at night, frantically trying to Google “blogs and prepartum depression,” desperate to make a connection with someone who might, just might, understand what they’re going through.

We don’t have coffee clubs* anymore. In my neighborhood, I’m the only one who stays home with my kids. I can’t find a mom’s club to save my life. My best friends all work big girl jobs in the city and have no children. During the day, it’s Your Aunt Becky and the tumbleweeds on my block.

That’s just the way it is now. Connections aren’t as easy as popping over next door for coffee and a chat. We have to seek out friends and confidants.

But I hope that none of us ever forgets that we are more than simple words on a computer screen. For every comment you get, there are ten people not saying a word, reading, learning, connecting with you, and though they may never speak up, they are there. Your words mean something, dammit, every single one of them.

And to anyone who says that blogging isn’t important, I say, with all due respect, “Fuck you.”

*what the fuck is a coffee club?

————–

Incongruently, my Toy With Me post is up! It’s pretty hilarious. Sex toys and conservative in-laws, anyone?

————–

So, Pranksters, what do YOU think about why blogging is important?

I’m putting up a Mr. Linky in case anyone wants to respond in a blog post.

« Older EntriesNewer Entries »
My site was nominated for Best Humor Blog!
My site was nominated for Hottest Mommy Blogger!
Back By Popular Demand...