Monday, 16 November 2009

I have no idea how I haven't seen this before.

So, I was doing some light research this morning when I came across and interesting blog post that I somehow missed first time round. Back in March of this year Anti-Snark did a pretty good article on Bengo.

Actually, it's a damn good article. I'm not usually one for that sort of blog personally, but that article is spot on. Well done.

In the article Piratezim covers Bengo's inability to understand what How To Make Webcomics is actually going on about, his refusal to actually post evidence or even the statistics he claims to be looking at, his distrust of Dumbrella, his taste for libel, his failure to understand fan behaviour in any way and other flaws in the good old Floating Lightbulb.

"After this less than damning evidence against Gran and Kurtz is presented, Gordon begins the most troubling part of his "report." He begins listing names of people he believes are fake Twitter accounts, with nothing more than the names of the people he thinks created them. Failure to grasp the behavior of Twitter in the hands of webcomics fans will be Gordon's undoing; these people are merely fans who wanted to follow their favorite creators. They signed up for Twitter just to follow these people, because otherwise they'd have no reason to have a Twitter account. People really are capable of realizing that their lives aren't interesting enough for other people to read about, and therefore feel no need to use this service for themselves. This behavior, continued in later blog posts by Gordon, is reminiscent of Senator Joe McCarthy naming suspected Communists, with no evidence whatsoever."

That's a pretty good point that Piratezim has there. Well, two actually.

Firstly the fact that not everybody does actually want to talk about themselves, or talk to other people even. Creator's Twitter accounts often contain a lot more than their RSS feeds do, showing off half finished sketch versions of pages, content in bonus galleries that the RSS feed doesn't pick up and posting links to comics and articles that they find interesting and well, if you enjoying one person's writing or art enough to want to know whenever they update there's a certain logic to the idea that you stand a good chance of enjoying the same comics and such that they do. It's good logic, which is probably why Bengo has failed to register the fact.

The second point is the comparison to Senator Joe "Foaming At The Mouth" McCarthy. It's a pretty good one, which I find hilarious considering Bengo's choice of subjects to write about. Mr McCarthy needed to show no evidence, only to state that such evidence existed in order to make his claims and in the same way Bengo feels that he is above giving evidence too. His word is good enough.

Bengo responded to these claims of journalistic bias with such nuggets as "Your assumption that I have enemies is hysterical writing. I'm sure I have some people who hate me because I've shone light on their behavior, but that's their issue, not mine" followed by "I don't have a manufactured grudge against Scott Kurtz. I have a real grudge. I did him a favor and he responded by being an absolute prick to my wife and I. That's the grudge, and the readership knows it".

Wait, what? So someone you have a grudge against because he acted like a prick to you and now you attack him at every opportunity isn't an enemy? Right...

Oh, and he claimed that Piratezim appeared to have a mental illness too. Does he do this with everyone? I wonder which one I'll have if he ever bothers to respond to this blog.

It's a good article. Go read it.

In other Bengo news, the top search result when I look for sites discussing Floating Lightbulb is now the Encyclopedia Dramatica article on him. I'm surprised it took that long considering how much more deserving his behaviour has been than many others who have had articles created about them.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Bengo is still a conspiracy nut and he doesn't think much of Twitter

This Halloween I decided to dress up in my Kris Straub costume and go trick or treat in Bengo's neighbourhood, but could I find his house? Not at all. Next year I'm hiring a better class of private detective.

Having failed in my task, I returned my attention to his blog and does he have a treat for us this time? Well, that depends on how much you like reading the ramblings of someone who when faced with an idea he can't fully understand waits for its downfall, not quietly, but publicly predicting it.

You see, Bengo thinks Twitter's gonna die soon and it's all because it's too successful for it's own good. That's right. A large user base causes sites to fail, just look at the likes of MySpace and Facebook and how they crashed and burnt when their user base got too large.

Oh wait... scratch that and let's start again.

Here's Bengo's latest post, with a few additions of my own of course.

"Last year, News Corp. offered to buy Twitter for $500 million dollars, but was rebuffed. I think News Corp. dodged a bullet.

I cannot figure out a way for Twitter to overcome its inherent flaws. It suffers from mathematically provable problems that make it a candidate to be the next -Mathematically provable, huh? So do you have any of those formulas to share with us then?

A school of anthropological research concerns itself with efficient sizes of human groups. The most coherent groups, in which all members know the inter-relationships of all other members, are theoretically limited by the Dunbar Number, which equals about 150. History shows again and again that social units like agrarian villages and military units optimize near this level but not beyond it, at which point bureaucratic control impairs coherence. - Ah, because physical interaction between individuals linked by shared surroundings or employment can be compared to the interactions of individuals on the internet without any adaption for the differing methods of communication and interaction.

Twitter has two math problems. The first is that the incentive to gain followers pushes most players to try an gain audience share. - Really? Most people I follow just talk to their existing friends there, follow a few celebrities and tell their readers that they have one if they're interested. No big deal if they're not. I can't say I've seen MOST people try and inflate their numbers. - As audience size increases, the intimacy level decreases. We have a problem of dilution. Because Twitter users do not interconnect as a unit, a user can go well beyond the Dunbar number, but ultimately the same limiting principles kick in.

The second is that as each Twitter member receives more and more tweets, more go unread and unacknowledged. Twitter lost its usefulness to get a question answered about a year ago, - Your personal experience is not everybody's. Different people follow different numbers of people. There is no uniform amount. - and frivolity has replaced functionality. This is a problem of magnification. If everyone expands their tweet reach by a factor of ten, we are all overwhelmed by the number received. As institutions are advised by PR gurus to join Twitter and broadcast tweets, the number of mouths will exceed the number of ears. It's shouting into the darkness. - I follow the people who I care about. I do not care about 'institutions' and so do not follow them. 

Some Twitter members have been invited to use a new feature, called Lists, to parse people into subgroups for purposes of prioritizing. This is a red flag. It suggests that Twitter's brain trust perceives the math undermining the model. It also smells of desperation: they don't know how to blunt the math problem, so they have subdivided it into numerous math problems, or more precisely, a sociopolitical math tangle. - Alternatively, this is called improving your product and finding new useful features that your customers can take advantage of. If a supermarket opens a clothing section, does it prove that they are failing to sell groceries and are on the verge of going under? Probably not.

Next comes the return of the anthropologists, who will observe that lists are more likely to be sorted by status than any other category. The result: hard feelings, cliques, and finding yourself on lists with titles like "kooks" or "people who talk about food too much." - Or "Webcomic People", "Family", "The (-insert sport of choice here-) Team" or "College Friends". You know, things like that. Lists do not have to be about importance and I don't know anyone on Twitter who does sort people that way. They can be used to simply make checking your updates manageable.

Efficiencies in social networking are illusory unless you can monopolize them. The din of everyone chatting away to hollow empires of followers is likely to yield to networks that offer precision and value over network size. - The purpose of my Twitter is to keep up to date with the people I care about and to keep up to date anyone who cares on my own status in life, or my failure to update a comics strip on time. The problem with Twitter is only a real problem if you want it to be something it isn't. It is not a primary tool in the promotion of comics. It's a way to talk to people, in groups and on a personal level. You can use it any way you like."

I would leave it there, but oh no, there's more!
You see, Bengo turned commenting back on for this post and then he turned it back off again.

Here are the now missing comments. I'm making them all different colours, so they look like some unholy, eye burning IRC chat, because I can.

Fire Cock - You are on my "kook" list

Fire Cock - But in all seriousness how do you think that a more focused network would work, exactly? Do you think it not have to categorize its constituents into some sort of hierarchy? Alternately, could Twitees not prune their own subscriptions down?

ScratchinPost -Dude, why's yer site all, like, ugly?

Kez - Testing...testing...

Bengo - Thanks, Kez. It works. 

The first three comments are from internet curiosity J. Shagam, aka "fluffy," who uses pretend and hijacked identities to add a dimension of emotional disturbance to our proceedings.
Moderation has been turned back on until she finds something better to do. You can find her on Twitter as fluffy, if you find the extra hassle she creates is worth bringing to her attention. I'd have to warn you it puts you at risk of stalking.
We've kept a perfect streak here on this blog: every single person who arrives with an agenda of making a nuisance of themselves is actually a webcomic artist, generally not well known. That's 4/4, and none of them were topics of criticism or even topics at all. Interesting.
As for the commenting problem, I guess something got tangled in the network and got fixed. :)

fluffy - I did not post any of those comments. This is the first comment I've even tried posting since you previously slandered me. I only even know about them because someone linked me to this page to let me know you were continuing to pull this crap.

Knock it off, Bengo.
I still have no idea why you think I'm behind this but IT. IS. NOT. ME.
I don't give a crap what you think about me at this point but I'd rather you not try to blame me for every single negative comment directed at you.

fluffy - Oh, and just to be perfectly clear: For the record, before your previous slander against me, the last comment I tried posting was this one back in June. After that point it became clear to me that you truly had no interest in anything I had to say, and so I stopped trying to post anything, like any sane, rational person would do.

I will repeat here what I said on my own comic site when I first learned about your accusations against me:
I'd just like to point out that between my full-time job, my comics, and my music and audio production projects, I barely have time to do all the things that I enjoy doing, so why would I spend every waking hour posting "dozens of missives, ranging from polite to deranged, from various genders, stolen identities, nationalities, etc.?" He doesn't even have the decency to provide a single shred of evidence, so I ask that you just apply some critical thinking. In short: I have not done any of what he is claiming, and I don't even know if anyone is doing what he's claiming.

This is the ONLY profile I have EVER used to comment on your blog. If you have proof otherwise, I urge you to share it, but in the meantime you are just spouting off a bunch of hot air.

Sometime between that last post and now the commenting system that Bengo had 'accidentally broken' before then fixed got broken again. I'm shocked. Really, I am. It's so unfortunate that we never got to see Bengo's response and the evidence that he must obviously have.

He couldn't have turned it off again could he?
Nah. What a silly thought.

So, does anyone want to guess what Bengo's next subject will be? I'm surprised he hasn't done awards yet, seeing as he has a history of showing distain towards them and the Webcomic Readers Choice Awards is currently live and there seems to be one at too.

Wait... The Webcomic List?

That would be these people right? Jeez, those people are mean, but you know, that oppernaR fellow must be telling the truth right, because all of the critics that Bengo faces are really the same person, aren't they?

You know, something fishy's going on here. Let's see... Ah, yes, I see. Fluffy starts a thread and all these 'people' start taking her side and some of them appear to be involved in this award thing of theirs. Suspicous huh?

Let's dig deeper. Let's see who the awards people really are. Hmm... don't know them.. don't know them... Brad Guigar? The Half-pixel guy? Half-pixel are in on this!? And what's this? Jessica Ottowell? Fluffy's fake account? She's in on it too!?

Oh my god, Bengo, you're right! It's all a conspiracy! They're out to get you Bengo! And they're all just one really big person! Run! Run! Run while you can!

I think I need to lay down for a while...


Oh yes, I forgot to say. All credit to fluffy for saving those comments before they disappeared forever.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Bengo wishes he got better criticism and gets a taste of his own medicine

Bengo has been complaining that he doesn't get good criticism.
He makes a nice list of negative traits that he sees in the people who comment on his site. Let's take a look, with annotations of course.

  • Dismissive know-it-alls. Don't bother them with logic or facts, they just spout. -Sounds like Bengo. Whatever information is brought to light his initial theory is sound. All conflicting information is anomalous or made up and not worth further investigation.-
  • Ignoramuses. They are in over their head, and blame you when they embarrass themselves. -Again, sounds like someone else I know.-
  • Cherry pickers. They can't manage seeping overviews, so they nitpick about inconsequential items. -Alternatively, they could be finding holes in your reporting that they think you might want to know about.-
  • Evaders. These are the ones who dodge serious questions, to distract others, and to avoid answering. -So, Bengo, why do you never give people evidence when they ask for it?-
  • Self-righteous peaceniks. They shield themselves by denouncing debate as "drama" or "arguing," and so try to raise their own self-regard. This is generally a cover for what is simply intellectual cowardice. Debate and rhetoric are art forms dating to Ancient Greece. Read up before you start squelching people. -Or perhaps, they just find you too blinkered and stubborn to try and debate with and give up.-
  • Snipers. Afraid to confront me here, they blow steam about how I've ruined their lives in blog posts, most of them obscure. I find them because, ironically, they send a disproportionate amount of traffic, jumping out of analytics reports. Love it or hate it, they plunge into the blog for long periods. (There really is no reason to fear criticism, and people who over-react are probably revealing insecurities of long-standing. I do it myself from time to time.) -Hey, Bengo, enjoying the blog? Do you know why I post here? Because there's no way in hell you would allow my comments to go live on your blog. Even if I was at my most polite, you would still reject them as random petty hate, because you don't want criticism, unless it's a side note in a post full of praise. Admit it.-
  • New faces that start out rude. I can handle posts from Scott Kurtz because I know he is prone to bluntness and so does everybody else. Strangers who walk in with a chip on their shoulder are not good contributors, and whining won't guarantee them a seat at the table. By contrast, Scott's made some good points here, though he's going to have to persuade me on others. -So, well known people who you consider rude are allowed, but us nobodies aren't? Sounds like double standards, or maybe just the fact you can't quieten people with much higher readerships than yourself?-
  • Delicate flowers. These are people who carry burning hatred because I am candid in saying that webcomics are not nearly of the same quality of comics historically, and that many people are engaging in life-of-luxury pipe dreams. Reality spoils their fantasies. How dare I? -Bengo, never carries burning hatred to people who say things he doesn't like. He never, never ever, throws petty tantrums if people derail forum threads of his or tell him that they think his projects are missing the point. Never. I've never seen that happen.-
  • The thin-skinned. These are people who do dodgy things and try to stay hidden. They don't respond publicly, if at all, and they bad mouth their friends in order to ingratiate themselves with you. Feeling a need to kick ass wherever it needs kicking, I pry them out. After about a year, they emerge, red-faced and furious. It's as if you could here the scream of a raw oyster. -I'm not even sure I understand this comment. What are you going on about, Bengo?-
  • The anonymous. It turns out this has mostly been one person, with a morbid preoccupation. The problem: they are not accountable, and the mischief wrought here by a sad case makes it impossible to honor. -Hey, Bengo, here's an idea. Maybe several people really do feel that your reports on Google Trends are in fact badly written and badly informed. Maybe multiple people really did feel the need to comment on the failings of those articles. Have you ever considered that?-
  • Scape-goaters. Generally people with weak comics who decide they will feel better if they take me down. Like lost souls on an Outward Bound expedition, they hurl themselves forward again and again, until at last their rage begins to dissipate. -If people try to badmouth Bengo or his work it obviously has to be for this reason. They couldn't just think that he is a bad researcher, a bad journalist and wilfully misleading his readers at times.-
Bengo would like to hear "from someone immersed in the webcomic scene who can nonetheless speak with real authority about many of the issues discussed here, with eloquence and reliability." If this sounds like you, go ahead and comment, except, oh... You can't. He disabled commenting on that post. Oh, well.

With his next update, Bengo posted a link to a site about Harvey Pekar's birthday. I like this. More of this sort of posting please.

Bengo follows this pleasant interlude with a complaint about another blogger deleting his comment on a recent article of theirs. How dare someone delete one of his comments for being angry and not being civil enough? What kind of self righteous, pigheaded, individual would... oh.. wait... Bengo. Never mind

Laughingly, while complaining about having his own comment deleted (keeping in mind that his first comment wasn't deleted, only his second comment) Bengo has still left comments turned off on this latest post. Can you say hypocrite everybody?

I would like to finish with this quote from Bengo:

"I would like to see someone accept my long-standing offer to explain to the world how wrong I am, how offensive, and how irrational, by taking my offer for a page of their own here, to speak to readers without interference. I would like to see an essay by someone who has read my best contributions, understands them, and finds fault nonetheless. I could probably prepare a primer to save them wading through the archives."

I will be emailing Bengo later today to take him up on his offer. I urge anyone reading to do likewise and if he doesn't post your articles, don't worry I will. Shall we see if he's really willing to stick by his word here?

Thursday, 8 October 2009

...and just when it seemed he was getting it right.

Following Bengo's post claiming Fluffy as the originator of the malicious comments, here is another comment by Bengo, seemingly arguing with the atmosphere again.

"@fluffy: There's the tantrum (not printed), right on schedule. You're really grasping if you think I don't know you hijacked the identities of innocent people, so you might as well stop writing, or I'll let them know what you've done. I don't expect to say anything more on the matter to you -- ever. Seek help."

What triggered this? According to an email from regular contributor to Tilting at Lightbulbs and would be regular contributor to The Floating Lightbulb, Jessica, inspired by my previous post she asked for an apology having been mistakenly identified as being the person spamming his site.

Apparently Bengo still can't believe that multiple people could take issue to the content of his blog. I guess that means I'm Fluffy too.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Bengo criticises Google Sidewiki and for once I agree with him.

I've been busy working, so this post is going to have to cover three posts on the Floating Lightbulb.

The first one is just a short piece called
"Raising Provenance on Archive Pages" which is just a short blog entry on potential ways to increase views of comic archives and although it's a bit on the short side it all seems reasonable. I have nothing bad to say about it. If the Floating Lightbulb concentrated more on articles like this, just a little longer maybe, it could be the valid resource that Bengo wants it to be.

In the
second post Bengo claims to have identified who is responsible for spamming him with rude and unhelpful comments. Is he right? I don't know, because he doesn't say how he can prove it's her, which would be something useful, but if he is telling the truth and he is correct in this matter then it is essentially a personal issue and possibly understandable in this one situation that he hasn't given evidence. I say possibly for one reason. He has publically called her out on it and if you are going to make accusations of that sort in public then you need to be able to back them up. Perhaps this would have been a matter dealt with privately. A statement that he had identified who it was and that it was someone he and Pug had previously dealt with on a social level would have sufficed.

Of course, I'm not entirely convinced that such an event really happened. I've learnt not to trust everything that Bengo says against people as his own personal feelings towards them often seem to cloud the reality of the situation. Maybe in the end it would be best for him to just leave all personal squabbles away from the site and only deal with them in the comments to actual blog posts if they're unavoidable

Of course you will note that person he has accused here is not the same person who has written to me at this here blog and been publically accused by Bengo of posting as multiple people before.

"@ Jessica Ottowell: Why keep sending letters? You have little to contribute and show no sign of having read the blog or the previous comments, one of which was to you. Your email account is associated with six different people of various genders and nationalities -- not a sign of a serious person so much as a troll. You alternate from reasonable to nasty, American to English. Under what circumstances does this give you entitlement to be published?

It's probably more accurate to deduce that the fellows accusing me of an obsession with them are trying to pump bilge water into the discussion without being observed

Nothing harms the status of webcomics more than the fact that the would-be spokesmen of the field often seem less mature than their fans

The relentless need to burnish self-esteem and buffer unhappiness by scapegoating others will presumably lead to an unwelcome ending. Professionals welcome comments because they have faith in their work and their credentials; stonewalling and casting blame is the trade of the pretender


As, as far as I can tell, Jessica appears to be a real individual and not in fact a figment of someone else's imagination, unless somehow it's mine and I really don't have any readers, I wonder if Bengo has any plans to retract that previous accusation now that he claims to have found the real culprit. I hope so.

The third post is Bengo's take on Google's Sidewiki service, which I've seen some talk about recently. Bengo questions whether such a thing should exist and although his feelings on the subject don't seem to be as strong as mine, we mostly seem to agree about it. It's refreshing to visit his site and see that two out of the three new posts he's made don't give me a single thing to criticise. It's put me in quite a good mood actually. Let's hope he can keep it up.

On the subject of Sidewiki, well what can I say?

Reading through the pages about it on Google (I can't install it myself just now) there is no reference that I can see about website owners other than the ability for site owners to post a special comment if they're registered. This service could be an interesting and useful one if it was entirely optional and that doesn't mean the ability to opt out. It means that people should have to opt in for it to appear on their site.

Paul Myers, who wrote the article about it on has managed to sum up one of the biggest issues I have with it in one line.

Or they link to porn sites from your family-friendly children’s toy shop or religious fellowship forum. But hey, look at blogs. They never try that sort of thing in those places."

For many people, myself included, it's important to make sure the content posted to our sites is suitable for our readership and although Sidewiki does not actually post to the site itself it still links content that we may not want on our own personal corners of the internet.

I won't ever censor commenting to this blog unless people post porn or links to malware, but not every site I run is run this way. They serve different purposes. I criticise Bengo's censorship of his blog because he claims it to be a place for discussion and because I believe that any site that posts articles and opinions in such a manner should offer a public forum to discuss matters in, but not every site is a news site or editorial blog.

On top of this is another much larger issue. Even though Google are willing to remove comments and even if they can do it quickly enough, not everybody knows it exists. Not everyone with a website bothers to check to see what Google have been up to recently. Not everybody cares.

Paul give from talkbiz gives a perfect example of what this sort of thing can lead to and indeed has lead to.

A gentleman I know is a really hard working guy, who’s busted his butt for more hours in a day than I ever want to work, for years, to provide a good living for his wife and daughter. I mean, 14 hours a day in the long term, building a business that’s based on providing value to his customers.

This guy has a medical condition that results in one eye pointing off at an angle that’s not even with the other. The picture he uses on some sites makes this obvious.

Some ignorant, malicious, psychopathic, deranged, bored, sadistic bastard of a man-child (sorry, but that’s the most polite description I can use and still convey the merest surface of my contempt) used that as the basis for a “wiki-note” implying that this guy was a pedophile.

On Sidewiki, right next to the guy’s own business web site.

If there’s any lie a person can tell online that warrants having a 6-inch hole put in them that the sun will shine through, that’s the one.

This… mindless, soulless, stupid creature told that lie for nothing more than his own amusement. Because his victim has one eye that didn’t track right in a photograph.

Google got rid of that one pretty quickly, but how much will their response time slow down as the service grows?

And how many people have to see that before it becomes likely that some gossip-monger latches onto it and it starts to spread, gaining a life of its own?

For a busy site… not too long, eh?

It should be mentioned that the creep in question makes a hobby of doing exactly this sort of abusive stuff, and has for quite a while. He’ll keep doing it until he gets sued into oblivion, or develops the aforementioned light-conveying orifice in his torso.

What kind of damage can that sort of thing do to a person’s business, when it’s shown to their best prospects? Or to visitors they paid to get from their AdWords budget?"

What if the gentleman in question had never seen it and what if nobody who was inclined to report it had ever seen it?

Google are being ridiculous if they honestly think that this thing is a sensible, workable project.

Google don't own the internet and though they may have some control over this site, the other sites I'm involved with running are off limits. They belong to me or the people I work with and if anyone should have a say in what content gets attached to it it's us.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Bengo gets mail from Google.

In the latest Floating Lightbulb Bengo reposts an email from Google which contains at least one part copied and pasted from Google's website.

Bengo makes a nice long list of points following the email. It really is quite fascinating, but not necessarily in the way he'd want it to be.

Here's my point by point take on it. The purple text is Bengo, the grey text is me and the red text is Scott Kurtz.

  • Google does not appear ready to say, for the record, what GoogleTrends will do, and how well it will do it. This is characteristic of items that are still in Google Labs: in fact, GoogleTrends for Websites may never emerge to join other Google products. I'm pleased someone took time to respond, even if the disclosures are limited; - In other words they did as I'd expect them to do and simply posted information that a semi-competent researcher could have found on Google's website.
  • So far, research by myself and others shows GoogleTrends doing quite well, except among many large webcomics (not all). Since I started monitoring webcomics with it a while ago, I'll continue to check from time to time to see if anything changes. It remains odd that trends should seem much more out of whack with reports for webcomics, however, so more research is needed; - Bengo, I know you know about this blog and as I said before comics are viewed in a very different way to the likes of blogs, review sites, tech support sites, social networking sites and the like. Also the comparison with Alexa brought up more questions than answers regarding Google's methods of gathering data.
  • Note the mention, in the letter, of opting in to include data sharing from Google Analytics with Google Trends. Should this come to pass, it might be a way for a website to demonstrate a commitment to honest traffic reporting; - This is also mentioned on the website as a possibility. Bengo should have already known this before he posted the first blog about Trends.
  • We must keep in mind that from the top down, addressing click fraud is by default central to Google's planning and actions, and that GoogleTrends might provide infrastructure by which they can address it; - Where do Google say that? I'm having trouble finding very much about Google's views on click fraud at all. I find plenty of articles like this one that state that Google only believe it to be a minor problem. I can find literally nothing about them making it a priority. If it's true that they are I would very much like someone to link me to evidence of this.
  • Or not, the last sentence suggests subdued plans, for now at least. Responding to inquires about projects under development is a tricky business, balancing privacy and honesty with great care; - or more likely they don't really care that much or have little time to respond, hence the copy and paste element to the email.
  • The last sentence also reminds us that you can do side-by-side comparisons of about five sites at once, which is something I've only tried a few times -- worth noting;
  • If GoogleTrends for Websites does become yet another source of public analytic data for traffic, Google has choices to make: they can create a product that screens out false traffic click fraud, and/or attempt to become the source of record for how a site performs. Either has significant implications for anyone engaged in click fraud already. If Google does not address click fraud as part of its strategy, but creates a source of record, it is in effect addressing the click fraud issue; - I'm not understanding something here. If Google does not address click fraud in their software they would still be addressing click fraud. Is it that some kind of higher logic or a lack of logic completely?
  • Any public analytics system striving for credibility must build in resistance to traffic click fraud, or it will be in the interest of the dishonest to increase click fraud. The threat of a system appearing that already has a track record of historical performance for a site, and which, at some future data, will screen out fake traffic, is a brilliant way to blunt fraud now, and expose fakery without going case-by-case and tossing people out of the Google system; - Not me bolding the text today. Bengo is adding emphasis, but I'm not sure why. Maybe he's randomly shouting at us.
  • If that is Google's goal, then people who run sites on steroids are going to be revealed publicly, as we see huge disparities between what they claim and what GoogleTrends claims. There's no need to become defensive and write denunciations with steam blowing out your ears, because you rise or fall based on your data legacy; - Based on Google's interpretations of data is what we really mean here. Unless Google take to just dumping raw data then it's all interpretive. If they do dump raw data then they cannot filter out possible fraud, because that would be interpretation.
  • If Google has a system for teasing out real clicks from false that builds upon what it already does, we are left to wonder whether it has been turned on. Recall ADSDAQ's sudden retreat from webcomics last year. Cartoonists may be fine people, but the historic webcomic business model that hosts ads from major brokers is right up there with spam sites in terms of potential for abuse. All vendor-consumer interactions have a subjective aspect, but webcomics particularly so: they are free, and yet they are not; you as reader are holding up your share and yet you are not; you are from a demographic that trends left and doesn't mind clicking some insurance company's ads or you are not; you are dealing with a website where the creator will talk to you on Twitter or you are dealing with a faceless company... these all contribute to abuse potential, in various ways; - As Scott Kurtz posted in a message on both this site and Bengo's ADSDAQ stated their reasons for removing webcomics. Here's a snippet of what Scott said: "Adsdaq told us that they dropped these webcomic sites because they were too image-heavy and didn't have enough text content on them. Mostly it was webcomics without frequently updated blog content. Adsdaq can't place context based ads on image heavy sites. Images don't offer context their system can use. Text does. So the sites were dropped." That seems pretty simple and it's information freely available on the net.
  • One would think that an aspiring webcomic professional who has co-written a book on the topic would be grateful when a blogger comes along and tries to reconcile conflicting public data about his performance, as part of a group. Anyone who dares discuss such data must be prepared for fits of rage, scapegoating and troll bombardments; - One would think that if the blogger wanted to discuss such data with the webcomic professional they would do so before making it public, make some attempt to get an answer to the questions before writing the article.
  • When I talk to webcomics people as part of doing research, I notice that they are mostly friendly, sometimes cagey and the rest "other." The cagey types do not like to discuss their methods or data, and sometimes seem to feign ignorance of their own analytics. Some get hot, and write things questioning my motives. "It's amazing how much you scare them," said one veteran observer, amused. -( I'm curious who this could be. Does anyone know? )- The fact that I would put people's advice to the test and report on my progress causes upset. Historic tendencies towards relaxed ethics now conflict with the message of professionalism, and the damage is self-induced. You can't argue for a viable, professional webcomic profession while you are behaving unethically, and the protests mostly serve to flag those who know, deep down, that they lack both the guts and the decency to apologize for transgressions, past and present. - A classic Bengoism of the best sort. If you disagree with his research it's because you have something to hide. You can't possibly just think that he's wrong and that maybe spreading lies, half-truths, badly researched data and petty vindictiveness as facts can be damaging to anyone who would accept it as truth.
  • I'm convinced that under the right circumstances, webcomics can be monetized and can even make a viable career choice. But newly emerging careers often start with lax practices and end up self-regulating as people see that bad actors hold down progress. There is incredible peer pressure among some veteran cartoonists to hold the line against progressive thought, even as some candidly reveal the extent of deceptions in non-public conversations. Don't assume I take every such report seriously -- I am skeptical until convinced, regardless. An old Russian saying: доверие, но проверяй (Copy, then translate it) - There's pressure to hold the line against progressive thought says Mr.Bengo and that is a hell of a claim. Does he have evidence of this pressure. My guess is no.
Surprisingly, Bengo authorised Scott's comment on The Floating Lightbulb. Well, maybe not that surprisingly as Scott had already posted his comment on this blog as well, because he had doubts as to whether or not Bengo would allow it. I can't help wondering if Bengo allowed Scott's comment to be posted purely because it was already online and to prove that he is not the type to censor people excessively.

Speaking of censoring readers. You may remember a post by Jessica Ottowell, that Bengo refused to allow.

I have some more of them here.

First up another comment posted as a reply to this post.

Jessica didn't take too well to being accused of posting as multiple people.

"Dear Bengo,
You amuse me most fantastically!

Let me state at once, I have not you sent any email and if I did, it would be from only my own email from my own company servers, that I own and are registered to. ( or

I am hardly the woman to hide my id, I am a business woman from the north east of england, I have been to Shotton Hall School in Peterlee, as well as received, certificates and commendation from the following higher educational institutions:-

urham New Collage,
Sunderland University as well as Durham and Manchester.

I have ran a computer company called Revolution and now, seeing that I left, I am seeking funding for two new projects that revolve around the arts.

I am also the programmer of a new webcomic system known as nekoKitsune (as used by our comic and soon to be publicly beta tested).

I am also the partner of the artist and writer of said site as well as being a former comic writer myself (that I may remark may change soon as I am to publish new works) as well as a programmer, artist, pro photographer, song writer and hardware developer.

In regard to nationality, I am most certainly British as you most likely know.

May I ask, who are you really bengo?"

The following two were posted in response to the post comparing Alexa results with those of Google Trends.

"What I don't think you get Bengo is that all of your sources are flawed,
one way or another. You seem to put too much stock in to wiki and google
sources, you forget that wikipedia is full of opinionated views and
suspect research and as for google, it has what can be called
corporation wide ADD, this means that most of the projects they start
hardly ever come out of beta. Even they don't think you should take
Trends on face value, this statement is easily found and using this
information shows you up for being the hack of a journalist people think
you are,
that belongs at a paper like the UK's Sun, that trades almost
exclusively on sensationalist stories and gossip, that are so sloppily
researched that only the bottom 1% of the population fall for it and I
may add, very really turn out to be true.

Please desist from spreading unfounded rubbish, speculation and poorly
researched article of little factual content."


"Dear Bengo.
et again you have choose to hide my comments and I here by wish to inform you that, along with Scott, I am to send my comments to tilting as you have given me no other option.

I feel that I have given you more than just point to help you improve, if you wish not to improve, then so be it.

Yours fatefully,

Jessica Ottowell,
iveCARDSdown group "

Tilting at Lightbulbs, letting you have your say whether Bengo likes it or not.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Bengo's still talking about Trends and still can't read a graph.

The Floating Lightbulb updated again and Bengo is still talking about Google Trends, but at least now he's doing some research, or in part having research done for him. Maybe it would have been a good idea to do some research first?

Bengo has had a go at comparing data from Alexa and Google Trends, with the intention of looking for similarities. What do the results show? Well, they don't match up very well. This really brings the validity of the original Google results into question. One of them is definitely wrong. Maybe both of them are.

Bengo managed to misread one of the graphs in his own blog, resulting in a false positive when it came to matching results from the two services. His response when it was pointed out:

"No, you're right. I overlooked the fact that the spike occurs in different years on each graph. I figured the data prior to the spike didn't meet the GT threshold, and that seemed a reason why it might not appear.

t appears to weaken the correlation with Alexa significantly, by replacing a strong match with a weak one. (Personaly, I would consider it a complete miss - GB)

I think, in the end, we will probably find that Alexa isn't much help here, though it was interesting to explore. Use of Alexa raises questions about data gathering methods that fuzz up whatever data you do collect. A solid answer should not have to depend on Alexa."

Wait, what? Is he suggesting that Alexa is at fault here? Does he have anything to support this suggestion? Anything? Because he sure as hell hasn't offered anything up here. This is classic Bengo. He has decided already what the correct answer is and when a source contradicts his 'findings' he seems to decide that that source is the less reliable.

If one is going to be further out than the other then I would think the one still in beta is the most likely. I don't know that it is, but it seems the most likely.

Now, amrothery has supplied an interesting chart that would seem to support a link between Alexa and Trends when it comes to webcomics, so maybe the discrepancy in Google Trends is in fact with sites other than webcomics. It's a possibility.

I would like to read what amrothery's take on the findings is. In fact I would be very much interested in reading a blog by amrothery, because in the space of a couple of posts amrothery has appeared to be a much better researcher than Bengo has throughout the life of The Floating Lightbulb to date.

Edit: Here's a link to the permanent address for the blog post on Evil Inc. that Bengo mentioned.