Examples of Online Publishing Gone Wild
Every once in a while, an editor will e-mail me with another publisher’s goof. Usually, it’s accompanied by something like, “See? It happens to them too.” In the rush to get an e-newsletter out, or to route a breaking story through a content management system (CMS), mistakes are going to happen. So I preface this post with the admission that my colleagues and I screw up, and when we do I invite you to point out our mistake so that it can be noted and hopefully corrected.
For the longest time big sites like Adobe.com didn’t work without the three Ws in front of the actual Web address. A simple tweak by an IT person or Internet provider and thankfully this issue doesn’t exist any more. With the more recent introduction of canonical domains to reduce duplicate content, Web sites that don’t use 301 re-directs to point all traffic to yoursite.com with or without dub-dub-dub in front of it are missing a basic SEO tactic.
Using permanent URLs for your content is another SEO-related problem that still crops up, but much less now since good CMS are everywhere. Up until about a year ago, our own CMS didn’t produce static URLs, and now we are playing catch-up to get as many of our pages indexed again with GYM (Google, Yahoo and Microsoft).
In the case of e-newsletters, there’s the notorious subject line mishaps. I’ve seen my share of e-newsletters with “Test” in the subject line and other honest mistakes, like the one from the adotas interactive marketing e-newsletter that came to me with the subject line: adotas.com/newsletter2.
Regardless of who makes these errors in judgment, keystroke or timing, are folks more tolerant of errors online than in print? After all, when I read Noelle Skodzinksi’s Pub Talk post about a subscriber who canceled a print subscription because of a spelling error, I felt the urge to call the disgruntled subscriber to ask if she was serious. But just this week I received a lengthy e-mail from one of our e-newsletter subscribers who asked me to forward a re-written paragraph of a news story with better grammar to the author. Huh?
In response to arguments that print is dead, my motto has become “Put something good on papyrus, and I will read it.” I’m not going to change it to “Put something good on papyrus, use proper grammar and spelling, and I will read it.” With everyone enthralled with social media and “citizen journalists,” it’s probably only going to get worse.