I didn't use to believe in trolls who live under bridges, but I do now, because I've met one. And what they say is true. He's ugly!
Perhaps it would be more correct to say that there's a troll living under my blog! For weeks now, I have been getting odd comments on old blog posts. They are usually vague remarks with little or no connection to the topic of the blog to which they are attached.
Their e-mail addresses are also suspicious. The writer seldom uses a recognizable e-mail server like yahoo.com or gmail. I haven't clicked on those addresses because I had nothing to say in response to the vague comments. And I suspect that was a good thing. No telling where those links would have taken me.
In the last few days, however, my little troll has been getting more annoying. He used to try to sell me fake watches on my old blog posts -- not just one a day, but 10 or 12 of them. Now he wants to offer me canned articles so that I don't have to write my own stuff. Short of blowing him up, I would really like to get rid of him.
So, for the foreseeable future, I have disallowed all comments on my blog. If I get any more comments I will automatically know that they come from a TROLL and I can throw the notification into my spam filter.
I will also be going back through all my old blog posts and deleting all comments, even the nice ones, just in case.
For my faithful followers, I'm sorry. I'll miss you. If you want to leave me a message, please use my regular e-mail address. You can reach me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
Trolls, however, are NOT welcome to invade my e-mail account. If you send me something stupid or spammy, you can expect to be blocked.
I wish I could start this blog by promising to bring you new
solutions to current problems, but unfortunately all I can manage is an
identification of those problems. The
topsy-turvy world of publishing is facing a whole series of crises at the
moment, and e-book authors are not immune.
In fact, we are at the very center of some of these problems. Here are
some of the trends I’m noticing. What
are we to do about them? I have no easy
answers, but I suspect the first step comes with recognizing that there are
The big crisis of the week was the revelation
that Todd Rutherford and others like him have been selling 5-star book reviews
to anyone willing to pay for them.
You’ve likely heard the outcry! Once it becomes known that not all
reviews are legitimate, all reviews become suspect. Those of us who work hard
to earn the praise of strangers who read our books are tarred by the same brush
as those who have laid out thousands of dollars to fill up their Amazon
ratings. Because, after all, how can a prospective customer know if that great
review came from a happy reader, or your doting Aunt Sally, or one of
Rutherford’s lackeys who churn out reviews based on a picture of the
If there’s any comfort in this,
it comes from viewing our less-than-stellar reviews with a certain amount of
gratitude. In one location I have a
2-star write-up that goes on for some time about how boring my book it. Now I
can say “Thanks” for demonstrating that at least I haven't purchased my reviews!
The second crisis that disturbed me this week was
triggered by a status that appeared on my Facebook page from someone I have
never heard of. How did this gentleman
get there? I have no idea, which is in itself troubling. However, what really worried me was his
message. This was a writer who, based on the popularity of “50 Shades,” had
determined that no one wants to read anything but sex today. So he had just
issued a 12,000 word, 40+ page “book” that contained nothing but one prolonged
sexual encounter – no plot, no setting, no names beyond “he” and ‘she” – just
steamy scenes. He offered the “book” for free, with a link to a Smashwords
page, where a prospective reader could download the first few pages to whet the
appetite – or something! I have no idea
how many downloads he chalked up, but his approach to writing a “book” must
cast a shadow over all our legitimate efforts.
And in the midst of unscrupulous people out for
a buck without caring about the overall effect of their actions, we’re getting
word that the rules of social media are changing – faster and more quietly than
we can keep up with. I pointed out a
couple of changes on Amazon last week, having to do with the way they count
free downloads as “sales.” Now I’m wondering what they will do about some of
their lists, like the ones that rely totally on customer reviews to provide the
“top-ranked” books in each of their categories. If reviews are now suspect . .
. . . . . .?
Another place where the rules are changing is
Google. They, too, are changing their algorithms that show the relative
popularity of websites. I can’t begin to
explain what’s going on, except for pointing out that one Google mogul has been
quoted as saying, “We’re changing it, and
you’re not going to like it!” I’m
seeing the effects of it (whatever it is) already. The report that tells me how many hits my
website gets has been running even, or
growing slowly, every day for the past 18 months. How, then, did it plummet from an average of
450 hits per day to 47? I don’t think I said anything offensive enough to cause
a total black-listing, but there it it. Rumor has it that they are no longer
counting back links or connections that come from other sites such as Twitter
or Facebook. If so, internet marketers will have some major adjustments to
Have you noticed any other changes coming? Do you have any
suggestions as to how we meet the new challenges? Let’s start a conversation.
My birthday post of statements that I don't trust has been so popular
that I'm leaving it up for another day. I see lots more possibilities,
here. So what about you? Are there statements that you know you can't
believe? Pronouncements that make your hackles rise? Patently false
promises that you know will never be filled? Slogans that warn you to
beware? Let's see if our combined cynicism can come up with another
list. Just add your idea in the comments below.