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Squidoo's Current Unsure Situation and A Good Analogy

The situation right now on Squidoo looks more and more scary. With the Squidtanic that looks like it's sinking, the different and contradictory measures taken, the deletion of a huge number of lenses, the locking of an even bigger number of lenses, the downgrading of lenses back to work in progress status, the decrease in the number of sales... we really feel like 3 years old kids whose parents are punishing them for motives only parents know (though in this instance I'm pretty sure parents are clueless themselves). Or worse...

While reading a forum this morning, I head to a post that made sense to me in that it compared the situation on Squidoo with an abusive relationship. The analogy was perfectly explained and this is really the way we can see things these days.

By the dozens, lensmasters complain in all forums where Squidoo is debated. However, very few of them actually left Squidoo, bringing their lenses along with them in order to move their content else where.

And that is where this looks so much like an abusive relationship.

Let's take the example of a woman living with an abusive partner (bullied or beaten each time the partner gets nuts).

However, this woman doesn't leave her spouse... It's really hard to leave an abusive partner... But why ?

Well, the woman loves her abusive partner with a passion ; and so lensmasters love the abusive Squidoo with a passion.

Although bullied or beaten, the woman has faith in her abusive partner when he promises never doing it again ; and so lensmasters believe Squidoo when they pretend all those changes that drive us nuts and are so tiring and seem to have no head no tail are good for lensmasters or that they're close to the end of all these troubles.

Bullied or beaten women often think they're at the risk of losing everything, from their social situation to their financial assets if they break the link of this abusive relationship ; and so lensmasters also think they're going to lose all their assets if they make the decision of leaving Squidoo.

While living with an abusive partner, the woman doesn't live alone, doesn't do things on her own ; and so, lensmasters think there's nothing good for them outside of Squidoo, there's no life, no hope, outside's risky for them.

Living with an abusive partner might make you think that the woman is adept of masochism, and so staying with Squidoo, endlessly re-doing their lenses to comply to HQ's rules and, for some, simply PLEASE HQ... makes lensmasters practice masochism.

When will it stop? Where is the abusive partner going to go too far for this to come to an end ?

Only the woman knows that. She'll stop loving her abusive partner because she'll understand or "think" that her abusive partner doesn't love her at all. And so, lensmasters will understand that Squidoo doesn't love them for themselves but only for what they bring to it.

Actually, being in love with an abusive partner is more often than not a one-sided relationship. And so lensmasters are involved in a one-sided relashionship with Squidoo: they love it, but Squidoo isn't in love with them. When love isn't shared fifty-fifty, it can't last for long.

When will the lensmasters leave their abusive partner ? When all their lenses will be locked without warning and no explanation, when all greenlight requests will remain dead letters, when they'll see by themselves how much Squidoo doesn't care about them.

And then they'll dare to open the door, see how outside looks like, notice that there's nothing dangerous living outside of Squidoo.

They'll also realize that they worked really hard this year 2013 for next to nothing - the most part of them having worked for really nothing. They'll know they shouldn't have been stuck on it that much, they should have been sleeping at night instead of modifying their lenses to learn the very next day that they had to re-modify them once again. They'll realize that all of this didn't make sense, had no actual and definite direction and that the end result wasn't the one expected.

Yes, this looks like an abusive relationship. Or a sect... led by a guru and his priests.


The Squidoo's New Lens ScoreCard

Although I don't work on my lenses these days (weeks, months) - I daily check both the official and non-official (the free one) forums. The big debate these days is the brand new lens scorecard HQ came up with. This tool is supposed to help us see the weaknesses of our lenses: too many Amazon links, too many outbdond links, too few content - we even have a "high quality content" mark.

The beauty of this lens scorecard is that it works so fine that, from what I've been able to read in both forums, it flags actual content lenses as low quality ones and considers shopping cart like lenses as high quality content ones.  

The new lens scorecard even provided an EMPTY lens with a high quality content mark ! 

How could I trust HQ, their (highly buggy) tools and their notion of what's high quality when I witness such things (including their censorship, their closed eyes)? 

So your lens can fall for low quality - for example for too many Amazon links in it - and be turned into WIP. Ok, that's better than being locked, eh. But this doesn't mean that your lenses can't end up locked.

I checked a few lenses of mine so that I could see what the lens scorecard would look like on them. 

A first lens was 100% ok - oh wow ! I was surprised but the lens is actually filled with content, a bunch of content as it's my best 7 tarot spreads lens. 

However I decided to make an experiment with at least one lens. I took my Ice Cream Ball Maker | The Recipe lens and saw that its scorecard was at 91% only. Though it has a lot of content I reworked it a little bit.

What did I do :
  • Removing 1 ice cream ball maker product and adding its content to the one left
  • Removing one entire Amazon module including ice cream bowls
  • Removing one Amazon sidebar module that would include ice cream sprinkles
  • Removing some clickable photo credits
  • The lens scorecard went then to 100%. Published the lens. 
I'll check later if the lens scorecard is still at 100%. Not sure about is since such mess happened to other lensmasters: their scorecard was at 100% and the very next day it decreased so much that these people got totally depressed !

If HQ wants lensmasters to be depressed, sick or worse, they'd rather let them know so that they can take measures an take a more or less long break from Squidoo and the mess.

Because whatever they come up with, they do it by steps: one day at a time, lensmasters rework their lenses (not me, I don't want to get depressed) and the very next day, bam ! HQ comes with something else that obliges these people rework their lenses once again ! 

Some of them are almost burned out ! HQ doesn't seem to realize that they are PAID for working, we are NOT paid for that ! 

As for me, I don't plan to let me take down, I'll never will. I won't invest all my time on Squidoo any more : it has become a thing of the past, working hard on lenses is also a thing of the past.

I'll just leave my lenses earn me money on autopilot and will move those locked whenever some end up locked - and they will. I think that the way things are going, Squidoo is losing its best assets, its best lensmasters, its best money makers and is going to stay with a bunch of useless pages that will please desperate housewives that will never click on the "buy" button.

It's going to look like a bunch of personal blogs that we can find in the billions on the Internet. Most of them having their fair share of traffic already.

The way things are handled, Squidoo looks like a sinking ship. This is the sad image I see these days.

If only they would hire some specialists to handle those problems... people who know what they talk about, what Google wants, people able to analyze the way the Web is turning.

Or better: leave people do the old fashioned way because there are millions of people who don't like change, who prefer things like they always were, people who will always keep coming to our pages because they loved what they saw, they know how we work, they trusted us.

Instead, when they head to our advises, our suggestions, they insult our intelligence, and call us "trolls" as per Seth Godin's own words.


How Do my Edited Squidoo Lenses Perform?

As said in another post, I edited 8 prom dress lenses in order to comply to Squidoo's new TOS. I rearranged the titles so that they didn't include "best" and "this year" any more. For example, Best A-line prom dresses 2013 has become "A-line prom dresses are girl's best friends" - why girls' best friends ? Because A-line dresses flatter any kind of silhouette, hiding less charming parts of our body.

In addition to those changes, I removed most of the dresses featured on the page and added content in each Amazon module highlighting a prom gown. 

How did these changes work on the lenses ? 

To say the truth, traffic dropped like a stone and doesn't seem to recover. You may say that prom season is behind us and it's true, however, prom dresses have always got their share of traffic. Not by the thousands but indeed, they got their share.

Now that they have been changed, they get nothing at all.

The lens that was hit the most is the one related to formal prom gowns. This lens is the kind of page that used to get a lot of visit (along with the under $100 dresses) because it featured a lot of marvelous princess style prom dresses. Things have changed, the lens isn't a favorite any more. 

I'm not sure that flat headlines would help any kind of lens to raise to the top. Instead, when it comes to yearly/seasonal stuff, changing our titles from "best" and the current year into next to nothing will result in no traffic. But Squidoo is Seth Godin's site, lead by women who consider desperate housewives type lenses amazing so what can I say or do ? I want to protect my work, that's it.
I will allow until after homecoming for the lenses to recover traffic, if they don't, I'll move them to HollyDay as well; they can't do worse than on Squidoo, that is a fact.

See you soon for more news.


Another Batch of my Squidoo Lenses Deleted...

Although none of my lenses got locked yet, I keep on cleaning up my Squidoo account. To do so, I had to delete another batch of lenses. Now I'm left with 169 featured lenses, one lens back in WIP and another never started.

I think that when I'll be finished with deleting my lenses, I'll own more or less 100/120 lenses in grand total. Indeed, I don't want to lose my Giant status - at least as long as I remain a Squidoo lensmaster. I can't delete too many lenses either because if HQ's filters lock too many of my lenses, I might be under the number of 100 lenses - and those 100 first lenses I built were "darned good", hahaha. 

On a more serious note, I deleted a bunch of lenses built in the past, during the two Giant challenges I attended in the former Ning groups. Those were content lenses, personal content lenses. You know, the kind of content that's Squidoo's nowadays standard : desperate housewives oriented content, desperately personal stories, absolutely boring stuff.

So I deleted them and, by reworking my writings I'm pretty sure I'll succeed at making them interesting and attractive for the readers. Especially the travel lenses I built. OK. I know that Squidoo readers aren't really interested in European stuff but I know that attracts visitors from all over the world and, therefore will get its share of traffic.

The travel pages on there are popular. And so will these be.

I might even consider moving my Best European Vacation Destinations lens over to since it's not getting the same amount of traffic than previous years. OK. Google and Squidoo want updated content, well since I listed the best places to go on holiday in Europe, there's nothing I can do. Unless I add yearly events; which is something I don't want to do since the too many events would require too much involvement in Squidoo and I don't have time for this.

So unless those holiday resorts moved and unless France sold the Riviera to Russia or China, the French Riviera is still in France and people will still find St-Tropez where it is supposed to be.  The same applies to all countries : Europe wasn't split these days, Italy, Spain, Greece are always at the same place and Etna didn't destroy Sicily yet.

One thing I noticed regarding this lens is that is was flagged back in March, I reworked it a lot and since then... visits dropped like stones ! Two months after the lens makeover, after the lens made more personal, carrying more "amazing" content, it doesn't get the 4 digit visits it used to in the past. It dropped to 2 digits. What a waste of time, what a bad idea to have changed this lens. 

After all, it might look good on as well. I will think about all of this later... 

Other than that, I also deleted toy lenses, gift lenses and even two of my Friends sitcom pages! These will make stunning gift pages on my own blog. People all over the world just love Friends.

Oh and I'm going to rework that page on cupcake calendars as we're already in June and I want to be ready to sell 2014 and 2015 calendars. This page will also go to

Well that's it for today.


What if HQ allows lensmasters to sell their accounts?

The thing I expect to happen is that now HQ allows lensmasters to sell their Squidoo accounts as they made it very clear that many members aren’t the kind of writers they want for the site any more.
After all pioneer lensmasters MADE Squidoo what it is – those who joined in the early days are those that helped Squidoo get their current authority rank. They also brought lots of money, in millions of dollars. But their days are over and they have to move.

With HQ allowing them to sell their accounts, they could move with a substantial reward for those 6-7-8 years of dedication and hard work and go elsewhere without a regret or money sitting in their accounts lost for good – with the feeling that they have worked so hard and promoted Squidoo everywhere for nothing.

Squidoo looks more like a magazine for desperate housewives looking for someone else’s stories to accept their miserable lives than like the stunning one-of-a-kind and probably best resource on the Web gathering all sorts of pages for ALL Web surfers it used to be until early this year. 

I’m not a desperate housewife, I’m a single mother, history oriented, and write on the Web to make money not just for the pleasure. I’m pretty sure many others think like I do.

From the two last HQ’s posts, I think I’m not the writer they’re looking for any more. So I feel rejected and, although I don’t really mind HQ loving me or not, I want to protect my assets. 

I don’t want my account to be locked and deleted for good and lose my hard earned money. I worked six and a half full years on Squidoo. So most of my lenses are still on there waiting for the day they’ll be moved to my own existing related sites or to be sold to someone who would be able to turn them into “amazing personal and emotional” stuff; which is something I CANNOT do.

This being said, I don’t have a single lens locked yet (may happen in the near future) and the 30+ I already deleted from my account were deleted because they could be locked one day and that I wanted to protect my work moving them elsewhere.

There is something else I think about. With lensmasters leaving Squidoo taking their articles else where, they're going to rebuild the links they already built to their Squidoo lenses. OK. Let's see what would happen if most old timers would leave: many of them used to build links through publishing in article directories like eZineArticles, and the like or social media posting, etc. 

What would happen if they all remove their links from their promotional publishing? Would Squidoo suffer? I'm  not sure it wouldn't get another smack because the number of links pointing to a specific site are also - or at least were in the past - part of search engine optimisation and... authority.


Editing 8 lenses, publishing and what now....

So now lenses with Best and the year in titles are more or less Squidon'ts. So, I had to take measures and modify my lenses accordinly.

The lenses I edited and modified are those included in my Prom Night portfolio. Since they feature prom dresses, I considered indispensable to add at least the year in their titles. Now they're just titled like any other type of general Webpage and don't let the potential buyer who's searching on Google for "Prom Dresses 2013" what they're going to find on my lenses -- this surely implies less sales.

Why did I modify the lenses ? Because by next month I won't be able to touch my lenses at all and that I don't want them to get locked because of their titles. Even if they lock them, I won't have time to modify them next month either and even so, who knows: they will probably be deleted.

So I did an effort and changed their content.

What's left now ? Well, posting remaining deleted lenses on my sites and promote them in order for them to be ready for the season.

Apart from that, I don't make any new lens since the new TOS. Making a product lens that is not personal is now a no-no so why would I bother wasting my time building a Squidon't lens that's going to be locked by tomorronw ?

Not that I couldn't make lenses that would be personal, unique (probably not amazing), original... Actually I have materials to make at least two new pages on the Web. 

Last month, I bought a henna flower ring and a palm tree opal ring. I ran a search on and wasn't able to find any of those rings. So what's the point for me to write about these rings? I really love them, I adore them. But won't write about them since these products are only available in North Africa and not in the US.

Another ring that I'd like to own and will probably buy this month is a Djerba Island symbol ring made out of silver and featuring the opal and turquoise symbol of the Djerba Island. Once again, no store I could be affiliated with does sell such products.
So why would I bother ?

Even making a lens that sticks to the new rules doesn't prevent the lens from it being locked in 24 hours, it happened to a bunch of lensmasters. This is the reason why Squidoo's so quiet these weeks: very few lensmasters publish something. They're scared, they're too shy to produce new pages.

Actually many of us are monitoring our screen and Squidoo dashboard, waiting for that lock to shine on it letting us know that a lens got locked. Or checking our inbox daily frightened that we could get this email claiming that our accounts have been locked. 

How can one be creative in such an atmosphere?


My input on HQ's blog post re: personal content

After having re-read HQ's post regarding "amazing personal emotional content" lenses, I wonder if my contribution will be accepted on Squidoo any longer. I know for a fact that my lenses that really make me money are those that provide my readers with a bunch of curated content from online stores, along with their description and not the lenses that are "personal" or "emotional" such as my Family Holidays in Broadstairs or Tossa de Mar or my Teddy Bear lenses, for example.
As a Giant contestant, I experienced that type of lenses: personal stories (not too personal though) and can state that they get almost no traffic nor do they make any sales. 

In reality, that kind of lenses is pretty useless in terms of money and if all we want is create non making money pages on the Internet, we'd rather go to Blogger which allows us to create content blogs without the troubles we face creating lenses on Squidoo. In addition, Blogger blogs get more traffic than other individual useless pages on the Web and more particularly to those "emotional, personal, amazing" lenses.

To be honest, I am not the type of person who would share their personal details, life or whatever. Nor do I share my pictures unless they're indispensable to illustrate my topic. I don't want the world to know me better than what I agree to share (next to nothing) and do not want pictures or my house or car or children publicly displayed.

When making a lens about products I like, I generally get straight to the poind as it is what my potential buyers are looking for. I never unveil my private life, unless it is an absolute need. The same applies when I look for something I want to buy : I don't want to hear anything regarding your private life. All I want is a description of the product, its size, features, benefits, disadvantages, tech stuff if needed, how will it fits in the house, the closet or any place it should be put, how it looks like in reality, are colors exactly the same as those listed by the manufacturer ? Etc.

In case I land on a page or lens that's close to those HQ wants us to create nowadays, then I don't read anything: I now that the page isn't what I look for from the very first paragraph and more likely hit the "close window" button. I'll then go to another site that will provide me with the needed information.

Let's take the 3 lenses I mentioned above as examples. All these lenses are filled with personal content regarding personal travels and personal choices and stories. I won't say that I entirely unveil my private life but all in all these are travels I did and things I bought for my son. While people interested in reading other people's life, these pages won't attract buyers since they are accounts of things I did and collect. Out of these lenses I think that, in 4 years I made three sales. Three sales ! Can you believe that ! Moreover, these lenses are ranked so low that I seriously wonder if search engines know that they do exist.

Not long ago, I considered the option to move these lenses to my own sites and turn them into something far more commercial than they are now. The two travel lenses could become suggestions for holiday resorts in Europe and the third one could become a fantastic Christmas gift idea.

These are the only ways those lenses could make me some money : removing the personal stories will attract buyers and not surfers.

I'm not sure that Squidoo can keep making money the way it did in the past if they oblige us to follow that new way of lensmaking.

People who buy from our lenses are looking for pages that talk about them, their needs, what they can expect, what they have to face when buying the featured product, not what I think, what I live, my problems or elses : they don't mind my life, they're only interested in the product and the way it will help them. When I write a lens, I write for my reader, not for HQ, not for myself... Moreover, I am NOT a self-licking lollipop!

Also, I highly dislike that someone else speaks in my name : I know what I want to read, I know what I want to find, I know what I have an interest in. I'm also convinced that a lot of web browsers think alike.

My conclusion: Squidoo has been managed by a great marketing team in the past. However, time has come for the site to be taken over by a team that looks like desperate housewives. At least it is the way the home page looks, the last posts by HQ look and the smell of Squidoo's future. 

Luckily for them there are many great lensmasters out there - especially in the art section - for them to provide readers with actual "personal, useful" content.

But the most part of the site is going to go to "my next door public garden" and craft stuff.


HQ's input on what's "personal content lens"

Yesterday we've been invited reading HQ's input on what is a "personal" content lens. Well, I suppose the writer forgot to add "AMAZING PERSONAL CONTENT" lens. Since "amazing" is Squidoo's nowadays most used keyword - though I still don't know what "amazing content" means actually as what I consider "amazing" might not be what you consider "amazing".

I read the post, it is indispensable nowadays to read anything HQ writes. However I found it quite boring and think that if all lensmasters apply those new rules, Squidoo is going to have all their readers, and more particularly those that view us as a wonderful curated shopping resource, fall alseep.

HQ's post was written after we commented - in a negative way, of course otherwise this post wouldn't have any meaning - on the lens makeover I was talking about in my previous post.

So what did I learn from this post?

First, HQ's denial of the risks put the site at since their new TOS. It seems that they don't want to see that, while they keep the bulk of all earnings generated by the huge number of Squidoo lenses, individual lensmasters won't earn more than a few dollars each month, because of the smack Squidoo is currently facing. Traffic decreasing means less sales, less ad revenues, therefore less money. Ok, seen from HQ's position it might look like a big amount of money is still reaching their bank account. Seen froma lensmaster's position it is entirely different. Without this incentive, most of their top earners could leave and offer their services to other platforms.

Then it seems that the new direction Squidoo is following is the one of "emotion". Oh my... But the only emotion I want to know about is that reader looking for an espresso machine finding the right one on my lens an clicking that "buy me, buy me!!!" button ! (I'm so sorry, readers and buyers, but it is the plain truth; though I still love you very much).

So now we're asked to play the EQ and not the IQ any more. Good... EQ isn't my cup of tea : I keep my emotions in my privacy and want you to keep yours in your privacy, thank you.

Well using emotional writings, we can make new friends; however, if you're looking for that specific espresso machine and if I'm looking to sell it, becoming friends and speaking about our own private lives won't make us reach our goal. In addition, I just can't sell to my friends... that is something I refuse doing and never could do.

Luckily we're not obliged to talk about our aunt Bertha or Glenda or whatever her name - though some "amazing content lenses" do talk about their family members of which personally I don't mind.

We're now asked to make lenses about things we actually own. So, if I understand what you mean, and want to make a lens about espresso machines (nope, I already built one, it's just an example you know), I have to buy all the espresso machines I'm going to talk through on the lens??? Oh my, but I will end up the month broke and will have to sell thousands of espresso machines to pay for those I bought!

OK I misunderstood... I can make lenses about products I already have at home. Yay! I'm going to build a lens on that washing machine that I bought 15 years ago. Sure it's still sold on Amazon or Compact Appliances! Or that ironer that I lost somewhere in my house and of wich I even don't remember the brand. Or that coffee machine that didn't worked more than two months. Or those two rings that I bought in Africa and that nobody could find anywhere on the Web.

Seems however that somebody was able to create a lens about the black phone on their desk in just one hour... Well, that must be a very interesting read! Not to mention the high quality of a lens crafted in just ONE hour ! Especially when you learn that this person added a touch of humor. OMG! But it's Candy Land now ! Or worse: the Twilight Zone !

To add the cherry on the pie, you learn that this example of lens is the one that's required and that buyers will more likely buy from than the other one featured as an example of what not to do... Well, I'd rather buy from the Squidon't lens than from the phone one ! This being said, I don't need a phone right now and am in love with the modern one that I own.

What if you don't have anything to talk about in your house ? Well, no problem, talk about that trip to the zoo (that you never did) and try to sell a book about any animals you never saw. Or talk about the public garden in your neighborhood... if you live in the country side and there's no garden in the neighborhood, why don't you relate the last conversation you had with the farmer's cows next door ?

Comments posted after this article clearly show that there's something that's not working any more in Candy Land and that it is necessary to leave us work as we want to, as long as we stick to the overall rules and don't product forbidden stuff - I mean stuff that's forbidden on Google. The very first comment got a very disagreeable answer from our community organizer. Luckily there are still some lensmasters whose posts make sense. But I seriously doubt that HQ will hear any of us.

I don't like getting older but this time, I'd like to celebrate my next birthday so that I can see where Squidoo has gone... if it's still up and running, though.


Lens makeover - Self satisfaction

Two days ago, we were invited reading a post by Squidoo HQ re a lens makeover following the new guidelines. This lens is supposed to be the perfect product recommendation.

Actually the post was made by a lensmaster I knew long ago and respected. However, the way the blog post was turned kept me off visiting the new version of that lens and the comments I make about this are only inspired by the comments on this post.

Well first when someone tells me "look at my page, it's darned good", I don't look. I dislike self-satisfaction, I'm not a self-licking lillipop and consider I can't judge my own work: I know that I love my work, of course, it's mine! But the only way I see if my work is valuable - "darned good"- or not is when people read it and buy from my pages. They are the only people allowed to judge my work.

To someone posting their personal opinion about the content on this new version of that lens, the community organizer replied "... why wouldn't you want to read about X's personal story ? I think that the internet is changing... 

Well I could reply : are we allowed to like what we want to like or are we obliged to clap our hands to anything you come up with even if it doesn't make sense or isn't related to reality? I'm not sure that someone looking for a teapot is interested in the lensmaster's great uncle or aunt or wants to know that their ancestors were part of the Mayflower crew.

Personally when looking for a product to buy, I definitely don't mind knowing that you got married three times, that you got your very first coffee pot at 18, that you went to prom wearing lingerie only or that you're getting divorced for the third time in 15 days.

When I look for something to buy I just want to hear about the product. Now if you add a recipe of your own that this superb blender allowed you to make, yes, I take.  If you can teach me how to ride a cycle without wheels, I take.

But don't provide me information on that last trip where you found the teapot you've always dreamed of : I don't mind. I want to know if I can find it the store next door or if it's available online, let me know which site I must pay a visit to.

If the product that your lens features is available in different colors, models, types or themes, I want to see all of them : this way I can choose between those displayed on the page.

If I don't find all of this on a lens or Webpage, then I can go to Pinterest where the collection of products is huge, where I can find almost all models, types, themes of almost everything that's in the world and the owner of the Pinterest account I'll buy from will get the commission. It's as easy as that. Squidoo doesn't seem to realize that sites like Pinterest are their competitors and that buyers that don't find what they're looking for on Squidoo are going to find it on Pinterest. With less content of course but they eventually can pay the manufacturer a visit before hitting that "buy me, buy me" button.

By disagreeing with HQ, all we want is them to listen to us: we want to protect our assets... and when we protect our assets, we protect theirs at the same time.

Google didn't say that curated shopping cart lenses were now a no-no. They said that as long as you add value to your page, it's ok. You don't have to go emotional, personal, amazing, or whatever. They just want to get rid of junk - though they'd rather review their algorithm so that I could find what I actually search (and am not obliged to search on Bing or other competitor to get the right anwser).


If I'm not an expert, am I allowed to write on the Web?

Few days ago, a blog post was brought to my attention and, two hours later (21 Reasons you must become an expert), Squidoo HQ came up with a blog post probably inspired by the post I read earlier.

It relates to expertise. It's the kind of article that makes an interesting read however, I'm not obliged to agree with it. All in all the article explains that we should to claim ourselves "experts" in the field our blogs or sites or general writings relate to.

First, I don't want to pretend that I'm an expert: I'm too humble for that. I hate self-licking lollipops and self-satisfaction. It is not my style. 

Although I'm versed in French history I will never claim being an expert in this field. First because there are many more people with a wider knowledge than me, then because such experts (historians) never agree with each others which makes me wonder how they can claim themselves being experts. Ok, they're actually experts and each have their own way to see the history. And all other experts do that way too, period.

I've dealt with home insurance experts: when one saw my fault (my own personal home insurance expert!!!) another didn't. The same goes for science: while some can create medications that will kill you, others will create the exact same type of medication that's going to cure your disease. It all depends on what these experts added to the formula.

I see the World Wide Web with the same eye than I see the real world except that I'll never allow the Web to rule my life. Virtual world should remain as it is: something that's useful, that helps me and that entertains me. A place where I can find the things I search for, the things I want to buy and I don't need a long story nor do I want to enter the privacy of anyone before clicking that "buy me" button. 

The extra of my Internet endeavours being those small earnings that we, Web writers can make out of work. After all, we, online writers, are here to make money through different means: platforms such as Squidoo, Wizzley, Zujava and the like, Google Adsense, affiliate commissions on our own writing sites ; e-commerce sites selling physical products, and so on.

I myself write to entertain and make money at the same time, I don't consider myself as an expert in anything. If you don't like me, go elsewhere. If you like what I write and consider that my opinion is valuable, then maybe I'll make a commission out of something I saw as worthwile talking about it.

I write for a specific audience, an audience that's like me: when I look for shower curtains, I don't want the advice of any expert. I just want someone to show me the most beautiful shower curtains out there. And if this person's tastes don't meet mine, I just close the door and go elsewhere. I really don't need an expert - an expert will make shopping for shower curtains boring. A useless personal story on shower curtains will make me fall asleep.

After reading the above mentioned article, I'm questioning the way things are run these days. It is a worldwide problem to say the truth.

Who are search engines to determine what I must provide my readers? 

Are they Gods? No.

Are they my bosses? No.

Are they my parents? No.

Have they taken the Web over? Is the Web their property? Not sure... Until now, the WWWeb is free to use for all of us. If they keep on ruling the Web the way they do, we won't have to wait for long before they decide which company is allowed to provide all of us a connection !

Luckily, it took me almost a week before making this post. As a matter of fact, this morning an interview with Matt Cutts was brought to my attention. Before reading this, I thought it was search engines that would force Squidoo to drastically change their TOS. However, it is not the case, it is Squidoo's HQ misunderstanding and fear that pushed them taking such decisions. Decisions that hurt, harm, their site and all the lensmasters. Decisions that will prevent lensmasters from earning a correct reward from their hard work, while HQ will keep on getting the bulk of our earnings. Cut into thousands of lensmasters, it won't make a lot of money to make out of the work we put into lensmaking.


5 Squidoo Lenses Deleted Today

While I haven't been touched by the latest Squidoo filters yet nor did I have a lens locked, I noticed that a bunch of angry and disappointed lensmasters got their "best of" and "year" lenses locked these past days.

Even some of the most prolific Squidoo lensmasters had their entire account locked with no warning nor explanation. After a while those accounts end up simply deleted. HQ doesn't reply to greenlight or review requests any more - ok they're overwhelmed but what about the lensmaster whose account has been locked without warning and who is expecting an answer to their question.

After all, that is HQ that makes decision... not the lensmaster. So if you decide to do something, whether your over busy or not, you should reply, that is what is called "courtesy and respect".

So, in order to delay the time my own lenses are going to be locked by the bad filter, I don't update any of them and delete some from time to time.

The task I had to do yesterday was deleting my "top Christmas toys for year ..." lenses. I'll move their content to my Best Gift Ideas 4U website, they'll fit in there very well. I'll just split each lens into a one toy post and they'll be ready for Christmas although some of these toys are a bit outdated. Luckily they're popular toys.

Today I took a look at my Top electronic pages and made a decision on deleting them too. So I deleted 5 additional pages, leaving me with 181 featured lenses, 3 lenses in the rank abysses and one in WIP which I'll never finish since I plan to move it soon to my gift blog as well.

Although HQ pretends that best, top, and year titles are sales pushers and are almost no-no's on Squidoo, I state that these keywords are highly popular and drive a bunch of traffic to Squidoo or any page title that would include "best of" or "top" or "year" in their catalog. But it seems that when it comes to please Google, HQ works a strange game: they delete all the good and leave all the bad. They don't seem to have the necessary knowledge to make changes according to Google's demands and blindly shoot here and there, killing even their best money makers in the process.

Now I know that a lot of junk is still dancing in the Squidoo top tier rank and that HQ AND the filters don't seem to worry about them, shamelessly featuring them on the home page.

You may wonder why I'm so angry since I haven't have a single lens locked (yet... I repeat : not yet !!! But this will happen, I feel that...) Let's say that I feel for my fellow lensmasters, especially those I know for so long, those I know worked so hard for making Squidoo what it had become, those that are rewarded with locked accounts and forfeit earnings.

To be honest, I'm not sure all earnings are forfeit but in the end, are locked account in which money lies getting paid on June 15th? Not sure... How the system is going to recognize those that must be paid if their account is locked, deleted or whatever ?

I won't be crying for locked lenses, though I might get angry, really angry and speak my mind through this blog. I could even finger point some lensmasters who lick the boots of everyone and pretend to cry when another lensmaster has their account locked, who cheat the system inviting their family to comment on their lenses each and every day so that it remains in the top tier. Those lensmasters who seem to pass the filters with flying colors while violating the TOS in many ways.  Yes that is something I might do in the event my lenses end up locked. 

But right now, I just sit and study my lens titles... and delete those that don't perform well. In the future, they'll be featured on one of my own sites, earning me Adsense money and affiliate commissions.


I Just Love those New Guidelines for Making Product Lenses

So we've been given new guidelines for creating product lenses. That is something I found really funny while reading it because if I come to a page that's made after those guidelines, chances are that I'm going to close it without reading more than the introduction and would buy the product I choose elsewhere.

What's allowed : everything personal.

What's not allowed : pushy, buzz writings.

Allowed : your personal story. Yes, you've received a Rubix Cube when you were 10 and you still enjoy playing with it. Here's Rubix Cube new model: the Rubix TouchCube, it is electronic and works well. Wow ! What a pleasure to see that this "toy" has evolved over times.  That's ok for me. But one line doesn't make a whole lens. So before you can add your Amazon Spotlight module, you have to find lots of content... 

And adding content means interesting content. However, on Squidoo what's now required is "amazing" content (don't know what amazing content means but well, never mind, HQ's plans are strange sometimes).

The type of content HQ now wants to see is personal. And when it comes to personal you just keep me off your page. Well, when I say personal I mean : private. I don't want to know that you wake up every morning at 6 and have headaches and that you definitely need to drink 8 cups coffee before being able to open an eye, that you go to the bathroom and do your hair and then, only take your Rubix TouchCube and play with it.

I don't mind that the day you discovered about this new toy the rain was pouring and that you weren't able to get out doing your daily footing. I don't mind that you received dozens of useless gifts that you stored in your cellar before playing only with this unique game.

What I want to read is:
  • What your Rubix TouchCube is able to do. 
  • Does it work fine? 
  • Does it come with a warranty? 
  • How long does the battery last? 
  • Product dimension please. 
  • Price of course. 
  • Add the story of the Rubix Cube and then I'll be happy.
Not allowed/not recommended. Now lens titles aren't supposed to include "best of", "top X" or even the year. Wow ! Great reference... since I can't know which year the lens relates to, how will I know if it's up to date ? How will I know before having to read the entire lens (and probably waste my time) know that the products has been updated and where I can find its latest version?

HQ provided us with some examples of titles. Another joke. "My Favorite blahblahblah". Yeah. People are surely looking for keyword phrases starting with "my favorite". And guess what ? Since the publishing of the new guidelines lens, a bunch of lensmasters added "my favorite" to their lens title. Now you'll find thousands of lenses beginning with "my favorite". This is beyond silly.

We're recommended writing about things we love. I don't want to share the things I love, I want to make money selling products ! And if I want to share the things I love, I won't be making a product lens.

Their new wish is seeing us writing about the things we can't live without. Oh my... do you really think that I can't live without that all automatic coffee maker? Do you really think I can't live without that last iPad ? Actually, I can live without all of them, but I want some money to buy something I really love to own and only one lens won't provide me with the amount of money I need for it. So I build more lenses to make more sales to get more money to buy that ONE thing I want !
So if nowadays they find out that our lenses have been built just for selling a product, they'll lock it. If they find out that we didn't add a personal story, they can lock it. If they find out that we're using the same template, they could lock it (hey guys, I love my templates, and that's the way I want my lenses look like !) If they find out that we use "best of" or "top" or "year" too many times in our lens collection, they can even lock our entire account !

My personal life is private and I don't want to share it with the world. So although I can sometimes go personal - especially when explaining how kids enjoy playing with Legos for examole - I won't be adding more "personal" content. That is my private life and I don't want you to enter my private life nor do I want to enter yours. Your private life doesn't interest me. That is a fact!

Now that we've been provided a bunch of new guidelines, chances are that we're going to see only such lenses in the top tier... Oh no... Still empty lenses and Squidon'ts dance in the top tier, still HQ even recommends visitings almost empty lenses.

As usual double standards... Do as I say, not as I do.


My Opinion on that New Discovery Bar

So Squidoo has launched a new beta test : the discovery bar. That's an old one... They've always launched new discovery bars and never kept any of them. Ah well, I suppose I have to live with it, once again... To say the truth, I think all these beta tests we've seen over and over again and that are just redos of former ones are tiring.

Here's my take on that new "discovery bar".

At first, I tried to see it, especially when some reported that this discovery bar was a giant one that would prevent people from even reading the lens they landed to. I've seen nothing. Firefox: nothing. Chrome: nothing. But I'm in Europe and we have new cookie policies, and though it might be the reason I'd not see this huge bar.

Little later on, I went to check that bar once again and found it. 

I just DO NOT want of this bar on my lenses. First when I checked its content I noticed that it didn't feature any of my lenses. Second, in the three featured lenses there was one that was just a copycat lens of mine ! So why on Earth would I send my visitors to someone's lens that's been copied from mine ? 

This being said, now I understand why this lens doesn't get traffic any more :(

We can't choose the lenses that appear in the discovery bar and this makes me angry because I don't want to send traffic to someone that created junk, TOS violation or garbage stuff.

Once again HQ is doing things without asking for lensmasters' opinion. In the end, we drive traffic to Squidoo, therefore, we should be able to choose whether we want or don't want to drive traffic to bad lenses or lenses that compete agains ours.
And as said above: I don't wanna drive traffic to lenses that don't meet Squidoo's guidelines and that can make people think I'm not honest nor do I want to drive traffic to lenses that are using my topic, my writings, my pictures... or something too similar.


SubDomain Beta Test on Squidoo

Ah, now Squidoo is beta testing subdomains. Well, HubPages did it a few years ago and ended up in a total mess. Now Squidoo that didn't fall into all those Google update traps just took another step to directly and quickly fall from the mountain. They're testing subdomains. OMG !

While using subdomains could be a good thing, I think that a site with Squidoo's authority should have done this years ago in order for their new subdomain thing to not make lensmasters lose either their traffic and earnings.

Some lensmasters already saw the effects of this beta test on their lenses - traffic dropped and became next to nothing more particularly for those whose lenses got search engine traffic. The 301 redirect didn't seem to work properly and search engines couldn't redirect the traffic. 

However, after some time, I've read in the forums that some seem to recover their lost external visitors. Let's see what happens in the future. Luckily, I don't have any lens in beta test but I feel concerned as I'm pretty sure that sadly HQ, whatever the result of their tests, will implement these subdomains in the future.

New comers (it's not their fault) and boot lickers (it actually is their fault), as always, applause to those news - just head to HQ's blog and you'll see the number of compliments they get be it the silliest thing they come up with - I'm sure if tomorrow they announce you'll forfeit all your earnings until Squidoo recovers from Google's updates, they'll be there, writing HQ how much they love them and how good the idea is.

I'm not for this subdomain idea. First, if this is handled the way HubPages did, it's going to drive all our lenses in search engine's abysses. Then they won't let us choose our subdomain name: they're going to use our username as default and I DO NOT WANT my username used as subdomain as I joined Squidoo in the time I didn't work the same niche as I do now. So any lens I made these past year is going to not be related to my username, therefore to the subdomain my pages are going to be redirected to.

My posts might sound negative but I'm a lensmaster for more than 6 years and in these 6 years, I've seen so many things happening. As said in an earlier post: time will tell. So wait and see what happens in the future with those famous subdomains. I predict they'll end up in nowhere land, just like the former subdomains on Squidoo did in the past as, yes, we've got subdomains in the past... Remember the "" subdomain? No? Yes? Depends on how long you've been a lensmaster, of course ;)

I'd just say that it took some time for lensmasters to understand what was meant to be and that only a handful of lensmasters were successful with them (maybe 2 or 3 only). In addition, this subdomain brought myriads of "best of" lenses; and we've learned not long ago that "best" is a word that's not that welcome on Squidoo.

Will HQ listen to us ? As usual, I'd say no. Because they never listened to us. From day one we complained agains empty, junk, TOS violation lenses and they never listened, instead they required from us to only write positive posts and, in the end, closed the old SquidU forum ! Yes they did ! And they even got rid of this wealth of knowledge...


Squidoo Introduces a New Home Page

I know I'm a bit out of date when it comes to Squidoo news but forgive me, I've been abroad for almost one month and it's hard to cope with all the news that are announced in our backoffice and on HQ's center.

So, Squidoo introduced a new home page. Well, to be honest, I liked the previous one very much and was accustomed to it. To say the truth, while we're supposed to accept the change, we should also enjoy some traditions: after all, when working at creating your personality and your signature, you work for long, building trust between you and your readers, your customers or whatever. You build your reputation using pictures or graphics and writings. If you change your picture or your name, people won't know who you are any more. 

This happened to a well known brand in Europe few years ago: Iglo, which is a brand that produces frozen products. They have a large category of food for kids in their "Cap'tain Iglo" line of products. This line featured an old fisherman wearing a captain cap. This old fisherman was replaced with a picture of a young boat captain because, you know, change is good for people.

Change is sooooooooooooo good that sales dramatically dropped. Actually the old fisherman was viewed as a grandfather, he was viewed as a reassuring icon. When they realized the mess, Iglo took a 180° turn and reinstated the old fisherman on their products which led in an increase in sales.

So we have a new home page. I don't like it and find it ugly.

First that big banner on its top with millions people doesn't mean anything to me. Maybe do HQ see this as an illustration of the gathering of thousands of lensmasters writing for their audience, I just see it as an ugly banner filled with million heads that I don't want to see : OK, Squidoo is a community of writers  but in the end, I'm alone in front of my computer and if I want to see million people, I just go out. Seeing this banner doesn't add to the credibility of the site either. It's just ugly.

The category line isn't as broad as it should be. Now the former category column wasn't broad either but I don't know, while seeing that column filled with blue links, I had the impression that there would lead me to a larger collection of Squidoo categories. This one is grey, not visible, not appealing. I just find it frustrating.

Then the featured lenses. Well, if I want to see a bunch of images without content, I type in my navigation bar and can see thousands of images like these. The way the home page is designed doesn't appeal me. It's just a bunch of pictures that don't add credibility.

Lastly, featured lensmasters. This one is a good idea, I like it. Though I think that the featured lensmasters should change and not always be the same.

Instead, people might just come to our new home page and think they are on another site and just close that page to find a site that will provide them the information they're looking for. On the other hand, I might just be wrong and this home page works probably well...

OK another negative post from me. I know... But these days I don't have faith in Squidoo's future...

Time will tell.


Squidoo Retires the Angel Programme

I've been a SquidAngel for many years and never thought that, one day, I'd have to fold my wings for ever... Sad? Not at all... Surprisingly, I'm happy to see the Angel programme retired for good as it's been a while that I wanted to resign.

When I first started Squidoo-ing, 6+ years ago, I used it mainly to promote my personal websites, whether marketing or holiday related.

I didn't know that it would become an addictive game and that, one day, I'd join the Giant Challenge and would become a Giant 50, proudly showcasing my classy badge nor did I know I'd become a Giant 100 or end up with an account filled with 192 lenses especially designed to drive traffic to... themselves and not to my personal websites.

One thing I wasn't aware of is that I'd become a SquidAngel and would keep my wings for so many years.

Angeling was something I really enjoyed on Squidoo. These wings I was provided with allowed me to give outstanding lenses an accollade while I could also DING a bad lens.

See, I haven't said "amazing content lenses" (I don't know how to create amazing content, though) as I consider the overall look as important as the content of the lens itself: making a beautiful lens implies that you work really hard on them and should be rewarded as much as your UNIQUE content.

Angeling was also delightful because I could browse lenses I was interested in, read them entirely without culpabilisation - reading a lens is time consuming and while I read a lens I don't work on my own lenses or sites. Angeling was part of my job... so it allowed me to procrastinate as much as I wanted to - and believe me, I'm the procrastination queen ;)

Dinging BAD lenses was a real pleasure. TOS violations shouldn't be rewarded, therefore clicking on that red thumb down button was something I regularly did. However, dinged lenses didn't stay long in the low ranks, of course. Actually I thought many dings would send HQ an alert on the low quality or policies violation but I've never seen dinged lenses locked nor deleted from the huge Squidoo library.

Never mind. I loved angeling but am very happy that this programme was retired and my wings folded. I've seen so many things during my angel time.

One thing that made me angry was the time they implemented the neighbourhood angel programme. Each angel was assigned a "neighbourhood" --> I was given a holiday category (summer fun) along with the history category.

Then all the angels from the category gathered on Ning as it was suggested by community organizers. At first this gathering was nothing more than providing each others with suggestions on how to cope with our duties, which exact category would this angel cover today and  things like that.

However, my group included a majority of RocketMoms (no, not RocketSquids, RocketMoms --> they called themselves the smartest women on the Web). And the group quickly recommended lenses to bless; mostly lenses built by their fellow RMs. 

I thus quickly left that Ning group and did my angeling duties on my own. I think they were reported by someone as community organizers sent out an email stating that such behaviours were prohibited and put angels at the risk of getting banned for good.

But these were behaviours that have inclined me to keep away from such groups and learned to be wary of these people.

Apart from this, I and many other honest SquidAngels were aware of angel squads blessing each others' lenses, people asking for blessings, blessings given in the hope of a like or blessing, so many people relied only on internal traffic to push their lenses in the top tier and benefit from this huge tier payout... I'm honest and integrity is my motto : getting paid from my colleague's efforts and not mine isn't fair.

We've also seen cheaters selling blessings on some websites, they were found but never punished. Angel groups coming from some card selling website pushing their fellows in the top tier was also something we were aware of. But HQ never took serious and strict measures to put an end to the blessing market.

I think that brand new lensmasters just can't believe this would happen, they just don't understand the importance of cheating for some lensmasters. They just don't know that some absolutely need to get internal traffic because they want to make a living on Squidoo and don't understand that in reality Squidoo isn't meant to make a living. It is meant to add that small additional money to your own monthly or weekly wages while sharing things you love.

When such a game is allowed, when such a gift is exploited for someone's sole profit, it MUST be cancelled. Then was the angel programme. So from now on, I won't be writing here as a former SquidAngel. Just see my as an average old time lensmaster who's trying to find a solution in that Squidoo mess that we, all Squids, are trying to fight.