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Troy

Prolific AALBC Contributor Kam Williams Passes

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AALBC Mourns the Passing of Kam Williams, May 30, 2019

Kam Williams photo

 

I have not shared this on social media but I'll mention it here. Despite publishing almost 900 of Kam's articles since the early years of AALBC's website and considering the Brother a friend. I had to stop publishing Kam's articles several years ago. Why, you might ask: Google.

 

You see a Google does not like syndicated content, which was Kam's business model.  The articles he wrote were published on, at his peak, over 100 websites and print publications — including many Black-owned newspapers.  He got a number of awards.  I attended one ceremony in which the Network Journal gave him an award and he attended a few of my events including a Black Pack Party almost exactly 10 years ago.

 

Back to Google.  One of the disastrous consequences of Google infamous Panda update is the sites publishing syndicated content were hurt. This was not a simple matter of Google picking a winner for whatever article was published and not ranking the others — no, Google punished the other websites. My traffic dropped overnight and took 5 years to recover — permanently and adversely altering the trajectory of the sites that survived and killing many more. Have you ever checked the traffic of the average Black-owned newspaper?

 

I know one publisher of Kam's content who went to the trouble of deleting over 1,500 of Kam's articles. The site never recovered. The problems seems to have been made worse by a site that programmatically generated scores of websites using Kam's content.  Google rather than penalizing that website they simply penalized ALL the websites who published this content.  Google is not nearly as sophisticated and refined as they'd like you to believe.  Google uses a sledgehammer and the WWW is less rich as a result.

 

The email announcing Kam's passing, linked above, was shared to the same network of publishers and Google may screw us over again for sharing it — F them!

 

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@Mel Hopkins my comments above will give you some insights into that "article" you read. The family sent it out using Kam's same self-syndication model. 

 

Some entities publish Kam's content without saying who wrote it or where it came from, leading the reader to assume they wrote it. I think this is wrong, but the web us rife with this.

 

Often when one cites a source on socisl media we have no clue where is came from because it is often published without attribution. Who is Insight News anyway?

 

 

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52 minutes ago, Troy said:

Who is Insight News anyway?

 

Insights News is owned by  Al McFarlane - https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/al-mcfarlane



Media executive Al McFarlane was born on September 15, 1947 in Kansas City, Kansas. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia from 1965 to 1966, and the University of Minnesota School of Journalism from 1969 to 1971and graduated from there with his B.A. degree in mass communications. 

McFarlane worked as a reporter for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press before moving to General Mills where he worked as the community relations coordinator from 1971 to 1972. He then was hired by the Midwest Public Relations division of Graphic Services as vice president, a position he held from 1973 to 1976. In 1974, McFarlane became editor-in-chief at Insight News, a community newspaper serving African and African American residents of Minnesota. He also established McFarlane Media Interests, Inc., a multimedia marketing and information services firm with newspaper, internet and broadcast properties. McFarlane purchased the rights to Insight News in 1975. 

In 1992, McFarlane served as chairman at Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium, a marketing and advertising sales advisory for Minnesota African & African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American newspapers. He also was named president of the Black Publishers Coalition, which managed regional and national advertising contracts for Black newspapers and the member group of print media investor-owners in Chicago, Toledo, Detroit, Milwaukee and Minnesota. In 1996, he organized ethnic newspaper owners in the formation of the Minnesota Minority Media Coalition. 

In 1997, Insight News initiated a series of public policy forums, “Conversations with Al McFarlane.” McFarlane served as host of the series that aired in partnership with the community radio stations KFAI and KMOJ, in Minneapolis. In 2002, McFarlane worked as president and CEO at Midwest Black Publishers Coalition, Inc. In 2010, McFarlane won a Federal American Recovery and Restoration Act grant that provided the University of Minnesota a $3.7 million grant to create public computing centers in targeted ethnic and urban communities to increase broadband access and awareness. McFarlane also launched Garth McFarlane & Mudd, LLC, a national media buying and promotion firm in 2011. McFarlane was also elected chair of the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation Board of Directors from 2015 to 2017.

Al and his wife Bobbie P. Ford McFarlane have five adult children.

Al McFarlane was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 20, 2018.

52 minutes ago, Troy said:

The family sent it out using Kam's same self-syndication model. 


Do you mean through prnewswire or business newswire?  I haven't checked through the my news releases in the past few days (kind of busy) but sure - every news outlet has access to news releases - but it's up to the journalist to follow up on it or include their own information.  Are you implying there were some inaccuracies in the Insights News

https://issuu.com/insightnews/docs/june_3__2019_-_june_9__2019_insight

article?  I'm sure if you contacted them - they would correct it.  Mr. McFarlane seems to have been a journalist before you or i could write our name LOL (just kidding)

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18 hours ago, Troy said:

Back to Google.  One of the disastrous consequences of Google infamous Panda update is the sites publishing syndicated content were hurt.

 

Yes, this is frustrating and time consuming because I have to write so many version of my articles. I'm writing an article right now that I want to post on linkedin because it's professional insight but I also want to post it on my  OWN website too.  I have to decide what to do once I finish it.  I don't think google should be in everyone's kool-aid like that but it does hurt the writer because we can't scale our work. We have to produce original works for everywhere our work appears on the internet.  I have more than 300 posts on my websites but I have to re-write a lot of it because I don't always remember where it's visible.  I end up  making  lot of my work private. I have even on occasion removed some posts from AALBC.

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So if yiu dont show up on a g_oogle search 90% (guestimate) of people can't find you. But if you do you can't prevent your work from being stolen? I have seen sites where you can't copy the content. Most notably Gacenook posts. Perhaps you can watermark your content or embedd it in a photo that you ©. And sue foogle this way you cut off and stop yhe theft at the source. I have noticed something else about gavebook. It has breadcrumbs. If you copy a post the url shows where or rather who you copied it from on hacebook. Which i discovered when copy post from takebook. I have even seen astrologers plagiarise " friends" ' work without credit. 

 

As an aside just yesterday i made ixquick may default browser. Sinve foogle downloaded json file three times onto my hard drive without my permission. On addition i think I may save my passwords on paper rather than on foogle 

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2 hours ago, Mel Hopkins said:

Do you mean through prnewswire or business newswire?

 

Kam was his own wire service. Initially I paid for the entire "feed," ultimately paying on per article basis. The last book review I paid for was published late last year and the author tore me a new a-hole 🙂 (she overreacted IMHO) the review is still on the site: https://aalbc.com/books/bookreview.php?isbn13=9781250171085

 

2 hours ago, Mel Hopkins said:

Are you implying there were some inaccuracies in the Insights News

 

No the article was essentially the same we both added our own platforms as publishers of Kam's content. They essentially copied and pasted the article. I added additional personal info at the intro.  However if you read what the article as published can you tell who wrote it? Shouldn't they make that clear? Again, the family wrote it techically it is a press release. Insight News presented it as if they wrote it.

 

Yeah i used to "customize" Kam's articles too. Generally "news" sources win the search battle, so ultimately it was not worth the effort -- even if the articles were free!

 

Again I don't mind losing the battle for search on Kam's content but don't penalize the sites. 

 

For the and other reasons Google has killed web based indie booksellers.

 

@Delano yeah ditching "Foogle" will be hard. Social is done. Amazon is next. Ill get to Google last but they have so many monoploies they are tough to crack. 

 

Man i use Google to save password even allowing them to create pws for me.... i know, i know give me time there are other providers of this service i just have to pay for it. Paper is not a viable option for me.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Troy said:

Kam was his own wire service.

Wow!  Leave it to a technite to syndicate himself! Fabulous! 

 

7 minutes ago, Troy said:

No the article was essentially the same we both added our own platforms as publishers of Kam's content.

 

Gotcha!

 

Yes, that is unethical.  In fact, it’s plagiarism!   I’ve seen this happen on The Root and once on Black Enterprise.  But they aren’t the only publications who “copy” - I’ve been on twitter when folks have outted white publications for “copying”original content. 

 

I’m an old school journalist - if I’m tempted, I simply just add one line intro and link to the source. Then I’ll go back later and write a synopsis. 

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I'm sorry to hear this.

I don't recall any exchanges with the brother, but I did hear Troy mention him from time to time.


I hope he's at peace right now.

 

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Kam did not use social media or do discussion forums, so it was not likely that you would have exchanged with him online. For a few years I was posting 2, 3, or more of Kam's articles or reviews a week.

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@Mel Hopkins you might find this interesting. This is from another publisher of Kam's content who Google buried without consequence.  I had not seriously considered than Kam's business was killed as well.  He never ever complained even as I too had to stop publishing his content. 

 

I suggested that he should modify his model by either monetizing his own website or selling articles exclusively, at a premium.  Neither worked for Kam as he was not a webmaster and the nature of his articles limited how much he could sell them for. 

 

“Kam syndicated his stories to more than 100 publications around the world, which used to be a good thing until google changed all of the rules in 2011. That one google change destroyed Kam’s syndication business and ours, and eventually caused the shutdown of many of our competitors, who were Kam’s customers.

 

Kam and NewsBlaze were too stubborn to give in to the search engine bully. He would send his Top Ten lists, and I would enhance them to make them unique. I added text from his reviews and embedded the video trailer clips. We continued to work together, trying to figure out a way to stop google destroying both our businesses, until mid-2016 when it became impossible to continue our collaboration.”

 

It was excerpted from an article written by another one of Kam’s publishers, NewsBlaze.  The article's author, Alan Gray is skilled in SEO. He and I compared notes several years ago.  Again, Google's greed driven, ham-fisted, domination of the WWW, and their adverse impact on Kam's publishers is clear. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Troy said:

Again, Google's greed driven, ham-fisted, domination of the WWW, and their adverse impact on Kam's publishers is clear.

@Troy  ,

As I'm currently kneedeep in working out my own digital asset management issues- all I can say is I wholeheartedly agree with you...  Google's management has decided to own the internet and police it too.  - I'm kind of sorry that I took your and @CDBurns ' advice  about "registering" my websites with google.  Now  they monitor everything I do - from whether my images are large enough and other things they send me notices about now.  In fact, they send me warnings and then almost demand that I fix them and let them know when I fixed them. 

The funny thing is I don't even use their AdWords or any advertising through them.  

One thing that helped me back in the day is I relied on traditional marketing communication- not hoping that folks would stop by because I used the right words.

So, recently I went back to the type of marketing -and  EFF google.  In the last month, I picked up 3 subscribers to my professional site and actually sold a magazine!!! The latter came from the community I'm building.

I'm not interested in google sending me traffic... I'm back to building communities like I did in the past that got me featured in Black Enterprise. Also - because I'm paying attention now, do you know I realized  I get more traffic to my site because of the domain name than what google sends my way?  Don't get me wrong though, google is the top search engine to send me traffic - BUT my domain name is outpacing google traffic.  Now the traffic that comes to my melhopkinsdotcom is abysmal but since I've changed the tagline to communication strategist and made my professional page static, traffic is on the uptick.   ALL this to say - websites that aren't necessarily gossip or lifestyle sites - are going to have to do old-fashioned marketing and networking to get numbers up so that we won't be censored by google facebook and amazon.   Speaking of AMAZON; folks are finally catching on about "fake books"...(they are really talking about the "buy box" that amazon made publishers pay for back in ??? I don't remember.)

Anyway - there was an article on linkedin  -(NYtimes /Washington Post)  allegedly the FTC is looking into the trade practices -I think it's  because "45" is so petty and Jeff Bezos pissed him off lol... (I'm no fan of 45 but he does seem to go after his enemies - and you know what they say about  enemies …"enemy of my enemy is my friend" -   OK I got to jet I've been extremely busy minding my business LOL....

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Just now, Mel Hopkins said:

In fact, they send me warnings and then almost demand that I fix them and let them know when I fixed them. 

 

This is true. If you don't jump through Google's hoops, they punish you in your site's search engine ranking.  You don't need to have an adsense account (sell Google's advertising) to be effected. Google "claims" they are merely trying to give the websurfer the best possible experience, but like any dictator Goolge makes this decision for us -- and they do this to maximize their revenue.

 

1 minute ago, Mel Hopkins said:

So, recently I went back to the type of marketing -and  EFF google. 

 

There is no other long term alternatives. However you can't make it on your own. AALBC has survived only because of our community (which includes you and the others who post and read these forums). I know you know how to build community @Mel Hopkins that last statement was for others reading this.

 

#EFFGOOGLE

 

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9 minutes ago, Troy said:

Google "claims" they are merely trying to give the websurfer the best possible experience, but like any dictator Goolge makes this decision for us -- and they do this to maximize their revenue.

 

YEAH DABASTIDS!!!

9 minutes ago, Troy said:

AALBC has survived only because of our community (which includes you and the others who post and read these forums). I know you know how to build community @Mel Hopkins that last statement was for others reading this.


YEAH!!! I'm glad you included it because I'm about to be the website marketing evangelista for small websites

The other day, I was actually thinking about that workshop we talked about. Someone contacted me to teach them about setting up a blog...and I thought of you - I got the monetization and  marketing part for new startups  but I was thinking there should be someone who speaks in plain English about dealing with google too... You know, teach them what googles does so they can do a creative endrun. But first folks have to know what they're up against.   Once folks know how google can jack you up that's when folks get creative!!!  #EFFGOOGLE!!!

10 minutes ago, Troy said:

#EFFGOOGLE

😂

Edited by Mel Hopkins
to add #EFFGOOGLE
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Yes. combating Google (and Amazon) will require not just creativity but some short term sacrifice. The later is the challenge in the book world.

 

That NY Times article about Amazon is quite telling. A couple of authors I spoke with in Austin on Saturday were shocked that I could buy their books on Amazon for less money than they can afford to sell their books themselves.

 

They thought they were the only ones who had the books so they believed it was not possible for anyone else to sell their book at a profit.  One could not wrap her head around it.  Now I don't know if their books were being pirated (which is not a new problem on Amazon) or if the 3rd party sellers were selling stolen or used copies. 

 

Incidentally, Google favors Amazon in their search results as well.

 

Speaking of Amazon. I mentioned during my talk how using Amazon publishing services and giving Amazon the exclusive right to sell own's book (something that would normally be considered crazy) cuts one off from all other booksellers.  I showed one authors how her book in not available in distribution (so I can't sell it).  Plus some booksellers flat out refuse to sell book published by Amazon -- even when it is not sold exclusively by Amazon.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Troy said:

but some short term sacrifice.

 

@Troy SHORT TERM SACRIFICE! Yes  I was thinking this too...but I didn't want to write it... Do share the sacrifices just in case someone is reading this. 

One sacrifice I can think of is deep dive your area of expertise.. 

For example, if I search for films like The Fourth Kind - GOOGLE snatches top space with "films others also searched for"  - but when I search  for African American authors with book series- I get nothing from google. The results suggest some new books at the top spot but it doesn't return a match to my question.  

So if a small website creates a blog post with "African American authors with book series"  - it would be hard for the search engines to ignore. 

By the way, I also did a search for Walter Mosley book series and google snatched that right up.  

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@Mel Hopkins Google does a lot of hard things really well, but they fail at some relatively easy things. Failure at something simple only comes with consequences if a great of money is lost.  The impact on people, the culture, society, or the web are not considered.  Google's public behavior illustrates this quite well -- they focus doggedly on where the money is.

 

The benefit of indie sites like AALBC is that you can query the site without having to include the conditions of "African American," "Good," or maybe even "Book" in your query, because the site's focus eliminates the need for this.

 

For example, here on this website, you can run a search on the term "series," and get almost 3,900 results.  Now some of these results may not meet your requirements, but I'd be be willing to bet that most of the first 100 results would, as it yields results like Kimberla Lawson Roby, Vanessa Miller, Walter Mosley, and L.A. Banks on the first page.

 

A better way of handling this, on AALBC, would be to add a field to my book table and include series information (name of series, sequence in series, etc).  The data is available it is just a matter of updating my database and building a page to highlight these types of books.  This is not likely something I'll immediately do because I see no indication that the search volume on "African American Authors with Book Series" is just not high enough to warrant the effort in light of other priorities.

 

All of these pages have been indexed by Google and could show up in Google's search results, but they don't because Google simply is not that good at parsing search results for many categories of web pages and queries. They often return that Mental Floss page listing the "25 Amazing Books by African-American Writers You Need to Read." as a go to page for anything relating to Black books, much like they use Wikipedia for everything else. 

 

I have more and better lists of books lists than Mental Floss, but Google has chosen to default to that one Mental Floss page. No amount of SEO will change this as Google puts very little effort into returning quality search results on this subject.

 

The query on "African American authors with book series" is better as they only return one result per domain, so even if the page does not have what you are looking for, you are more likely to find a website that has what you are looking for -- something Google stopped doing a decade ago.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Troy said:

Failure at something simple only comes with consequences if a great of money is lost.  The impact on people, the culture, society, or the web are not considered.  Google's public behavior i

That sounds like an opportunity!

 

 In fact, that series query - sounds like a perfect addition to one of your newsletter Did You Know: If you search on AALBC site for “series” you’ll find many of our authors who have a series collection - you won’t find that google!  😄  

 

This is the type of Marketing promotion small websites will have to do to build their community and get ahead of google’s shenanigans.   

 

@Troy   thank you for that info!  I recently read that there is a preference for authors who write series.  

 

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