Friday, 29 July 2011

"Can you make a Freedom of Information request via Twitter?"

I spotted an interesting question on another blog today, "Can you make a Freedom of Information request via Twitter?" and my immediate thought was, "No, don't be daft!" but then I read through the said article, you can find it here by local government website pioneer, Andy Mabbett, and realised I was wrong!

So should an FoI request be submitted via Twitter or Facebook or any other form of social media? You might think, as I did, that such channels aren't serious enough to be used for a formal request, but according to Andy's post linked above you'd be wrong too!

If an organisation has an official channel such as a Twitter account or a Facebook page then, by dint of its being there, it should be properly monitored and replied to by the organisation which owns it. Furthermore, anything on that channel should reflect the organisation's policy and attitude, so it's important to ensure that whoever is responding on behalf of an organisation is both authorised and qualified to do so, or the organisation might find itself in hot water if they get it wrong. So don't leave it to the office junior!!!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

A timely warning!

I was shocked to read this long message from a Google user who has had his account terminated for an alleged but unexplained breach of terms and conditions.

It is claimed that Google hasn't explained or responded in a professional manner to the user concerned, and this should be a heads up to anyone about the danger of relying solely on online services to store their information, whether it be emails, images, documents, videos, or whatever. One word is needed here: BACKUP!

If you have everything stored in Gmail, Yahoo!, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube or anywhere other service you risk losing it if you do not have a copy of it yourself, offline, in a safe and secure location such as a standalone backup drive like the example here Such devices are not expensive*, they are simple to set up (plug into your USB port and use), and you can even get free software which will back everything up for you on a schedule of your choice - an example we have used is here: [Note: * Compared to the cost of losing all your data, the hassle of delays, lost work, lost emails, and all the other inconvenience.]

Although these huge online services have apparently good Terms & Conditions, it seems that their implementation is not always carried out in the way which smaller businesses do. These huge businesses have long been abused by spammers and those with less than respectable intentions, and objections to those persons' activities, via an email to the relevant abuse@ address for the service, has normally resulted in reasonably swift termination of problem users' accounts. But times have changed, and rather than simply being a spammers' tool these services have marketed themselves to those users who want to undertake legitimate online activities. By doing so these big services need to change their approach to reports of abuse and not simply press the terminate button, but they need to set up a system of notifications to the account holder advising them of a complaint and allowing the user a reasonable time to investigate and respond to and disprove the allegation. In law, an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, online it seems that an accused is guilty, full stop. The only way to improve things is for users to raise this issue with the big services and request an alteration in the way they do business. Otherwise nothing will change.

We have a huge sympathy for the person who has lost everything, and we understand how frustrating it must be to not be able to get answers to the questions raised about the account. By sharing this here we hope to help prevent others from suffering the same fate.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Spelling matters!

I have said so for years, and now I find that both Charles Duncombe, director of the Just Say Please group, and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) agrees with me: spelling does matter!

The sloppiness of bad spelling & poor grammar is not for me. Having been a lover of words all my life, I cringe at incorrect spelling and misplaced punctuation. My toes curl at jumbled prose or the use of the wrong version of a word. Everywhere I look I see examples - from sign-writers who cannot spell, to writers of websites whose text frequently not only includes errors, but also makes little sense!

It would seem that now there is evidence to show that such poor writing, spelling and punctuation does have an adverse effect on online sales, and therefore on a business's image and credibility.

I recall that, a couple of years ago, I emailed a large national clothing & housewares retailer about the number of errors in their website and how damaging I felt it was to their brand. The response from that company was mildly sarcastic, "We are sorry that spelling errors spoiled your enjoyment of our site..." It did more than spoil my enjoyment, their attitude also resulted in my not buying from them. If a business has so little respect for its customers that it cannot understand that their website had an issue which needed addressing, why should I spend my hard-earned cash with them and support such sloppy practices?

As a former web developer I know how important websites are as part of a company's image, and this is why I now offer copywriting services to other website builders. I will also proof-read and correct web texts before (or after) they are uploaded, and can create texts for email, marketing or other written word requirements. There is no excuse for poor written standards when services such as mine are available.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Stolen motor bike: Yamaha YBR reg: NK58 DFO

PLEA FOR HELP FROM A TWITTER CONTACT OF MINE: Please look out for motorbike Yamaha YBR Reg: NK58 DFO stolen Thursday 14 July from @Dannyboy_37 in Dipton near Consett - please circulate the details to help raise awareness. Contact Police if spotted, thanks!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Thank you to all who voted for Kosy Komfy Kidz!

Thanks to all the fabulous support from all over the country, but especially locally, the Memorial Hall was successful in the vote and won £60,000 in the telephone vote. So, a huge thank you to everyone who telephoned in and voted for Kosy Komfy Kidz, we are thrilled that the project won such terrific public support!