The Internet Gives and Takes (And Takes)

The internet seems to have always been a give then take and take situation, and this state of affairs continues to do this day. For example, I just got a notice about upgrading my free email account to a paid version for the incredibly low price of $5.00. Free is cheaper, of course, but they have been adding so many more ads to the site that I’m sure people will be willing to pay the money to get rid of the annoyance factor. That email is the one I used to sign up for all my internet sites, and since it’s used primarily to get notifications from those sites, the ads aren’t a problem for me.

The email I use most has no ads — it comes with my website at no extra charge. I also get an email that might be ad-free from my internet provider, though I haven’t used that email yet, so I don’t really know. Previously, I never paid attention to such email services because I was moving around a lot and wasn’t interested in always having to change my address. Now that I’m in my “forever” home — well, not really forever because forever would last eons beyond my death, but you know what I mean — I could use the email since it would be as permanent as my residency in this house.

Still, I’m not sure I trust the company. They used to offer a singe charge for internet services no matter what the bandwidth. It was a variable number, sometime incredibly fast, sometimes incredibly slow, but they recently started offering a more expansive bandwidth service for a rather large increase in price. Which would be fine if they had actually increased the speed, but it looks as if what they did was divide out the variable bandwidth and are making people pay for the faster service. So now my internet is a bit slower, and if I want to get back to where it was, I have to pay more. It’s a good thing there is only me and that I don’t watch movies or listen to music on my computer or phone, so the bandwidth I have is fine for now. Until they decide to offer a midrange speed and slow my computer down again.

But, as I said, this has always been the case with any internet service. When I first signed up with Facebook, everyone who “liked” or “followed” my author page got all of my updates in their feed. Whether those people saw the updates or not was a different matter, but the updates were there. Then FB decided they weren’t making enough money, so they started charging for that service. Now, the only people who get occasional updates are those who regularly interact with the page. The other 1,549 people who follow my page will only see what I post if I pay FB to show my posts to them, and since FB refuses to let me post the link to this blog, I refuse to pay them. Even worse, because FB doesn’t like second hand links (I have to “reblog” my blog to another blog so I can post my blog by proxy) I’ve gone from the original 1000 views on FB to the pre-ban 100 views to the current 10. But the way I see it, anyone who wants to follow my blog can follow it directly. I just post a link on FB for those who asked me to.

WordPress is another of those sites that used to be ad-free for people who signed up, either to post a blog or to read blogs, but gradually the ads encroached there, too. I now pay a yearly fee to offer you an ad-free environment (except for my books, of course), but for that I also get a dedicated domain name. And unlike FB, they don’t charge me to send my blog to my followers.

My author website used to come with a free web builder, but they started charging for that, too. Somehow, because of their retiring my old website, I ended up with a less comprehensive builder at no charge (at least for now.) Come to think of it, with all the shenanigans going on, I better renew my website domain before the price of that goes up and becomes prohibitively expensive.

Despite all this, the internet is still a special place. Where else can I meet and communicate with people all over the world without leaving my chair?

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

The Current State of This Blog

Apparently, Facebook isn’t the only entity that thinks my blog is spam. A couple of days ago, a friend called make sure I’m okay because she hasn’t been getting my blog via email, and she worried that something had happened to me. I told her I was fine and that I was still blogging every day (even though I don’t always have something to say) and suggested she check her spam folder.

Sure enough, the last four blogs had been classified by her email provider as spam.

I think I know what the problem is — the brief bio at the bottom of every post. Even though it is just a small fraction of the post itself, apparently the spam-eating bots have been picking up on the duplication. (One message from FB mentioned that repetition was considered spam, which corroborates this surmise.)

I never used to put anything at the bottom of my posts because it seemed redundant — after all, all the information about me and my books are on sidebars and pages — but some sites illegally repost blogs without attribution, and I used to find various of my articles on those sites. (I’m sure such sites are still around, though I’ve stopped looking.) Since there’s often nothing that can be done about the theft, one suggestion I came across to counteract the attack was to make sure every blog had a bio and links so that if anyone came across the blog on other sites, it would refer back to me.

I’m glad I got in the habit — phone apps for the various blog platforms generally don’t allow for sidebars, so no one who reads my blog via their phone would see who I am and what other things I write without the bio. It’s not a problem for regular readers since they know who I am, but many new people find me via search engines (most often for questions about grief) and I want them to know about my grief book.

I could, of course, do a new bio every day if the bio really is the problem, but then I probably wouldn’t post something every day, either, because it would be too much extra work. I could also do several different bios and rotate so that the repetition comes once a week rather than every day, but my stubborn nature won’t let me be accommodating (though I did remove the link to my website, in case the links were the culprit).

And anyway, the bio itself might not be the problem. If it is, I’m grateful — it was the impetus to get me off Facebook, at least for now, and I must admit, I’m much happier living in my own little world without the contention and opinionation and strife that comes with the FB territory.

So, since I’m maintaining the current state of this blog, if you generally get my posts via email and you happen to notice that I have disappeared, please check your spam folder. I’m probably there.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Flummoxed

I’m truly flummoxed. Facebook has completely blocked my blog from their site, saying it goes against community standards because it’s spam. Huh? Spam? It’s absolutely acceptable for me to post Amazon links to my books on my Facebook page, but I can no longer post links to this blog, even though I almost never promote my books here. Well, there that short bio at then end of every blog, but that’s more for self-protection than anything else. Certain sites pirate blogs without attrition, so having that bio there at least lets people know who wrote it.

Another thing that’s confusing about this situation is that a few months ago I was boosting posts to see if I could garner interest in Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One, and they very greedily took my money. Now those posts, too have disappeared along with all the rest of my articles. If they weren’t spam then, why are they spam now? If they met community standards then, why not now?

There’s really no recourse. I’ve appealed, but they admit they don’t give any real explanation, seldom reverse their decisions, and won’t respond individually to any request for reinstatement. Which means, except for a brief message saying that my blog goes against community standards for being spam, there’s no way of knowing why. Did someone report me? If so, why? If someone I angered with one of my “Bob” posts complained, why do they say this blog is spam? And even more confusing, if one person who complains can get another one blocked without any explanation or recourse, why would I — or anyone — want to participate?

One friend who got blocked fought them for four months before finally giving up and starting a new blog, which I’m not going to do. Just because FB is now blocking all links to this blog doesn’t mean that anything has changed here. I weathered Google blocking me (that turned out to be a matter of a misplaced piece of code in one post) and I’ll weather this, too. After all, I’m not writing for FB, I write for me and those who want to read what I have to say.

Admittedly, not being able to posts links on FB will make it harder for my FB friends to find me. If you are one of those friends and are able to see this, I would suggest you follow my blog directly rather than waiting for a link on FB that might never appear. To follow, scroll down a bit and on the left-hand side you will find a section labeled, “Follow Bertram’s blog via email.” Click on the link that says “follow.”

I’ve been on Facebook for twelve years. I joined as a place to promote myself as an author and blogger, and stayed because of all the friends I have made. It seems foolish now, but I’ve always been a supporter. Even when people complained about FB, I stayed. Even when FB changed their policies and algorithms, making my posts invisible to most people, I stayed. Even when they changed the groups all out of recognition, turning them into promo sites rather than discussion boards, I stayed.

Well, no more. If they don’t reverse their ban on this blog, I’m done.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.