The user-moderated internet

I wanted to sell my old Xbox 360 on Craigslist after I bought a Slim console. I tried to sign up for Craigslist, but I couldn’t unless I provided a phone number. I’m VERY selective about where I put my cell phone number online, as I don’t have a land line, and don’t want this thing ringing every five minutes. I tried to use a Google Voice number, but it wouldn’t take. I skipped it.

That was a year ago. Recently, I had occasion to try again, with Craigslist. I caved in and provided my number so I could authenticate my account and list my goods. Only about 12 hours, my post was flagged and taken down, with no clear reason given. A list a mile long of potential reasons was given, but no single “flagged for xyz.”

I was recently told by a friend that he couldn’t see anything I was posting on Reddit. I have no notification, no reason to suspect I was problematic – I link to my blog posts occasionally, a little self promotion when I think it’s something Reddit folks might be interested in, but I don’t do it daily. Being logged in to the Reddit site, I saw now sign that I didn’t exist any more, no warning that my posts may be blocked as Spam, but it’s nearly the only thing I can think they would’ve hidden my posts for.

So what happens on the user-moderated internet? When someone doesn’t like you, or your content, or is mad that you’re getting more views than them, they flag you, and the system listens. I’m told some places require multiple flags before any action is taken, but the problem isn’t how many or even that it’s happening – it’s your recourse after the fact. I sent a support request to Reddit and haven’t heard anything back. I emailed Craigslist support to ask the specific reason I was flagged, and got the same email in response that I was initially sent: a laundry list of possible reasons. You can’t do anything to get yourself quickly reinstated, or actually find out what you did wrong in the first place!

I have theories on why people may have flagged my content on a site or two, but I’m not trying to a spammer, I’m a nice person, and the links I post are genuinely helpful to many people. Why do I suffer the same fate as the guy posting links to “CH3@P V1AGR4!” in the comments!?

Sprint tries to enter… the meme market?

Rolling out slowly over the last two weeks has been “Tor, the Data Coach.” Sprint created personas for the data coach, giving him at least his own tumblr and Twitter handle, @DataCoachSays. The tumblr page posts random pictures of the datacoach with attempts at meme-worthy jokes, completely with broken English. I guess that plays in to the character’s foreign (Russian?) persona.

Nobody will be fooled in to thinking it isn’t a ploy by Sprint. The tumblr site is filled with Sprint advertisements, the color schemes are obvious, the official Sprint twitter not only follows, but responds to @DataCoachSays. In the linked tweet, the official Sprint account fights against the data limits imposed by the Data Coach. What would make this great would be if these tweets were replies to various “@VerizonWireless” tweets in regards to how great shared data plans are. But @DataCoachSays’ 122 followers tell me this isn’t going to catch on very fast.

The least they could do is buy a few more followers!

Windows Phone 7.8 – still months away according to Microsoft

I was going to join the fray, today, and post an article about Windows Phone 7.8. I was going to ask where it was, why it hadn’t been mentioned lately, and talk about how some people disagree with Paul Thurrott’s recent public shaming of Windows Phone team (for the record, I’m on Paul’s side on this one!). Microsoft is focused, as they should be, on their new products. But for a company who has made monthly updates to Windows since 1998, and made their monthly updates work across a metrically infinite number of possible hardware combinations, Microsoft sure has had a hard time getting Windows Phones updated. I’m starting to wonder if it’s a one man “team.”

I was going to write about all of that, but in the last 24 hours, Microsoft finally spoke up. Probably due to rumors starting on Mashable that Windows Phone 7.8 could arrive as early as yesterday, and a bit in response to Thurrott’s post, Microsoft’s Official Windows Phone Blog had something to say. Word is that new phones could ship as early as the end of the year, preloaded with Windows Phone 7.8. These phones will be designed to hit a budget minded audience, but Microsoft’s Terry Myerson didn’t want people to worry, because Microsoft is pushing to have popular apps, like this Spring’s crazy popular “Draw Something,” and last Winter’s “Words with Friends.” Okay, they also mentioned Angry Birds space and the newest Angry Birds Star Wars, but no dates.

As far as pre-existing phones getting the update? Well, Myerson was a bit more guarded when it came to that, saying: “we want you to know that we’re working closely with our hardware and carrier partners to get it tested, approved, and rolled out to as many devices as possible in early 2013. As we work to quickly get this in the hands of our loyal users, we’re also striving to deliver a high-quality release and ensure a smooth transition for our widely expanded services.

The reaction wasn’t very positive. Scanning the comments below the post, feedback compared Windows Phone 7.8 to the WebOS, and more than a few remarking that they were disappointed or annoyed. I even joined in the comments! The post has a 1/5 star rating, too. People are unhappy. Not millions of people, more like dozens… but we still feel the pain, and I hope at least someone at Microsoft is learning a lesson. I know I did: being an early adopter has its risks. I already knew that, but I seem to be reminded of that lesson in spades this year. More on that tomorrow.

How an IT guy is like a Park Ranger

Sometimes my nerdy friends and I come up with funny analogies. Recently I decided that your IT person should be thought of as a park ranger. Don’t get mad at them when things aren’t going well, be glad they came around when they did! The more I laughed at the analogy, the more I started to like it. Continue reading “How an IT guy is like a Park Ranger”