January 21st, 2009

watch, hawk

Read the Fine Print

"Terms of Use" are all over the web. It's an aggravating waste of time to have to keep reading the darn things. But if you don't, you can fall into some dire traps. I found this one on the otherwise useful Ecogeek site today:

"By submitting your comments we reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change, modify, add, or delete your comments and portions of these Terms of Use at any time without further notice."

In other words, the content of the comments might or might not be what the commentors actually said. It may have been modified to say something slightly -- or even totally -- different. I'm not okay with that. So I erased the draft of the comment I was working on. This makes me think much less favorably of the blog. If I'm reading comments, I'd like to know that they are the actual words of the commentor; and if I'm leaving comments, I expect them to reflect my opinion as I expressed it. It's one thing to reserve the right to delete comments; that's one method of quashing trolls, and sometimes necessary in blogs that have a shortage of space. But modifying someone else's words in a way they might not approve -- that's right out. It's a distortion of information.

So instead of linking to the cool post that originally caught my attention, I'm writing this instead. If a site's "terms of use" annoy or offend people, that costs readership, and sometimes more.

Feedback on Hypatia's Hoard of Reviews Appearance

I rearranged the sidebars for "Hypatia's Hoard of Reviews" late last night. Doug had some ideas for overcoming earlier problems I had with Adsense, and I wasn't happy with AdBrite's failure to serve ads regularly. So I changed the skyscraper in the left column from AdBrite to Adsense. That meant I had to restack the whole sidebar, and in the process of doing that, I discovered that iBlog had added some new widgets. So I fiddled around some more, deleted some old ones I didn't like as much, and added a few new ones. I also figured out how to make one of them display the actual feed contents of my Grazr stream, instead of just the chiclet, so that is now visible. Then I figured that I might as well take the time to reconfigure the right sidebar too.

What I'd like you folks to do is go take a look at the new configuration, and give me some feedback. Is it visually appealing and easy on the eyes? Are parts of it distracting or an eyesore? Can you follow the organizational logic well enough to find what you're seeking?