The Virtual Egg Basket: Don’t put your ‘eggs’ in one basket.

There’s common wisdom that you should put all your eggs in one basket, then watch over it like a hawk. But if like me, you manage a number of domains, customer sites, and blogs, this is somewhat disastrous if your primary host does go down. Fact is even if a hosting company promises you that you will have 99.9% uptime in any 12 month period, that still means you will have over 8.76 hours downtime in any year.

So, if you are going to manage any more than a couple of sites, split your eggs between baskets to ensure that WHEN one of your sites/accounts goes down, you can still be productive on the OTHER sites until service returns. This is what I’m doing at the moment to keep sites up and running.

Keep your domains and hosting SEPARATE

Domains are registered at NameCheap. If one host turns out to be really hopeless, as long as I can retrieve the most recent data, I can be up and running on another host within 24-48 hours as long as it takes the DNS to resolve properly. Recently, it’s been within 12 hours for some changes.

Separate Crucial Sites

Customer sites are generally hosted on their own accounts, separate from my blogs, and separate from each other. With domains registered elsewhere, it makes switching sites a breeze. Also, it largely protects sites from mistakes made by their owners having an effect on other unrelated sites.

Keep redundant back ups

My own blogs are generally hosted on one personal server, but the biggest have their own space on another server as well. Smaller blogs, though, share my VPS solution. Unfortunately, this means if my server goes down, most of my blogs are inaccessible. Since most repairs are quick, and data is generally unavailable during outages, moving the domains at that time is impossible.

However, if you have a daily backup of your blog, including the database and the files, you should be able to get up and running quickly on another hosting company. I don’t have a copy of the latter stuff. More fool me.

Redundancy: An Expensive Option

For my most important blogs, I’m looking at creating some form of redundancy so that I can switch and keep things up. But for most small blogs, this is quite expensive to achieve. It’s called Failover Web Hosting where your site is accessible from a number of IPs should the original site fail. This would work well with HTML based sites, but dynamic sites which lots of commenting and posting would have issues with keeping the data synchronized properly.

I’ve been using BlueHost, BlueFur, Hostmonster and Dreamhost for hosting these past few years. Though each has had intermittent problems through that time, I found Dreamhost has been the most reliable in the past six months, while BlueFur turned into a bit of a disaster as we kept getting locked out of our account/Cpanel/Website. It got so ridiculous that we stopped using their service. I can’t particularly recommend BlueFur but you may get different mileage. Still, let me know how you plan to keep your sites running in an emergency.

Is Payperpost experiencing slow business? Why the $1.00 offers?

Is Payperpost experiencing slow business?

I recently received an email from Ted at Payperpost who writes:

As you know we recently made some changes to the PayPerPost platform. While the feedback regarding our interface refinement has been great, we have also received some concerns relating to our pricing adjustments.

I am sensitive to your pricing feedback and would like to try a new model for a limited time. My hope is that we will find a balance that works financially for advertisers, bloggers and IZEA. With that in mind, we have made the following changes: – Minimum total cost per post reduced to $1.00 – Minimum word count reduced to 25 words with a link only option This is a limited time promotion that starts today and ends at the end of the month.

I’m not surprised at this announcement. I also wonder how long PPP will run these announcements for because of their recent drastic price increases. It’s likely true that PayPerPost’s cost structure was untenable originally.

However, their timing in increasing pricing was just awful. Increase prices as advertisers and everybody else start trimming budgets and spending. It’s also clear that there are competitors out there that offer more for less in advertising and blogging terms. Perhaps Payperpost is now trying to attract advertisers away from competitors.

But there are just too many problems for me working with Payperpost now, and not much upside at all.

You need to be in North America or even Europe to have a chance of good posts; you need some PR; you need to maintain posting even if you don’t get opps; you have to follow the rules for Opps; you have to follow the requirements; you have to include links, codes, word requirements (200 words are increasingly required), style of opp, you have to have Alexa rankings, PR ranking, RR ranking, your own domain name, your own hosting, a decent tack rating, and you have to reside in certain countries, … all to get a share of $5.00 opps that require 200 words or more for a blog with a PR of three! Wow! And that’s if your blog is still considered ‘acceptable after the audit.

Whither now?

It’s a telling sign of where blogging is headed: prices are going down, Payperpost’s share is going up, traffic from India is up (Alexa cites India as the primary source of traffic for PayPerPost) as bloggers there find they have a competitive advantage. But worse seems to be in store: Compete is showing that time on the site is down considerably since last year, as are monthly visits. This means more competition for fewer opportunities.

Competitors abound?

There are indeed many wannabes in the marketplace, and in fact, I’ve been blogging for several of them over the years, and I much prefer PayU2Blog which pays a standard rate per link only, there’s no censorship of content or links provided you have a minimum number of words; and there’s no hassle getting assignments. You either have them or you don’t. If you don’t have them, check back next week.

Compared to the hassle of PayPerPost, it’s seeming a viable even pleasant alternative to Payperpost without most of the downsides. So I’m still sitting on the sidelines with PayPerPost. SocialSpark has no interest at all for me now, more’s the pity.

Any thoughts about these two blogging companies? Owen’s already posted his thoughts, but I wonder what’s going on… Owen…

Spam, Ham: What do you do with over 1000 of them in your comments queue?

After New Year, I came back to a huge glut of spam in my database! I hadn’t configured a standard plugin because I thought the blog would go relatively unnoticed! Boy! Was I wrong or what? The queue contained over 1000 spams, that didn’t include spam in my comment plugin either.

spam I am

So how do you deal with a huge queue of spam like that? I spent ages clicking page after page when I realized that I was doing it the stupid way.

Stage 1: Filter the spam properly

  • Step 1: Install Akismet in your plugins. You can either download it from the website or search within your plugins “Add New” option and add it or upload it.
  • Step 3: Activate Akismet, then go to the Akismet Configuration Page under Plugins submenu. In the space, enter your API Key and check automatically discard.

Stage 2: Check for spam in the Pending Queue

check for spam

Step 4: Once Akismet is activated, head to the comments page, where you will see a button clearly marked “Check for Spam”. Hit it. If the Spam queue is long, it may take a while to get through the queue or your server may time out. Just refresh the comments page. If necessary repeat.

Step 5: Get the plugin called Clear Spam in which “…adds an option to clear spam messages from the WordPress database” under the Comments section right next to the “Check for Spam” button. On my server it caused a couple of Server 500 errors but it did work after a refresh.

delete spam

But after cleaning the spam out, all gone!

all gone

Stage 3: Prevention is better than cure

Stage 6: Akismet works very well on filtering comments out so that your queue is empty, but it does very little to prevent spam. And it does remove spam after 30 days or so automatically, so you really shouldn’t see any. But…

Stage 7: Install Lester Chan’s wonderful plugin called IP Ban which in his words helps you to “Ban users by IP, IP Range, host name, user agent and referer url from visiting your WordPress’s blog. It will display a custom ban message when the banned IP, IP range, host name, user agent or referer url tries to visit you blog. You can also exclude certain IPs from being banned.” One word of warning: do not enter your own IP Address in the Banned IP address box. You will have a lot of trouble to restore your own access!

ip ban options

Stage 8: Enter the IP addresses that you are being spammed from. This is the option that I mostly use because I find that these addresses generate the most vicious and most frequent comment spams. You can use my list, but you will also be able to buttress it with your own list of IP addresses, too.


Drop me a note with some other common IPs so I can ban them, too!

Note the use of wildcards (in this case, an asterisk) to deter users from any of these IP addresses. Be careful: you may ban too many users if you use too many asterisks! If you don’t know what you are doing, just stick with Akismet until you understand more about the Internet!

The proof is in the pudding.

In the time that it has taken me to write this posting for EeeBlogger, you will see that IP Ban has already prevented at least four comment spams. Yes, it tracks stats, too! Take a look.

banned stats

A final note: You may feel tempted, esp. to read through the comments to make sure there aren’t real comments being misidentified. Do not be tempted to click on any of the links in the spam to find out what it takes you to. I had a harrowing experience a few months ago when I did that out of curiosity. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. Seriously. Don’t even think about. If you do, you will be taken through numerous redirects, stuff will be loaded on your PC, your anti-virus will be disabled, and your PC will be compromised. So don’t.

What’s your experience with Spam? What plugins do you use? Drop me a line…