Over 60% of internet traffic doesn’t come from humans

This is fascinating – I’m no newbie when it comes to traffic and fraudulent traffic, but even I had no idea just exactly how easy it is to pretend your site is more popular than it is.


It happened last year for the first time: bot traffic eclipsed human traffic, according to the bot-trackers at Incapsula.

This year, Incapsula says 61.5% of traffic on the web is non-human.

BotHuman Traffic Distribution

Now, you might think this portends the arrival of “The Internet of Things”—that ever-promised network that will connect your fridge and car to your smartphone. But it does not.

This non-human traffic is search bots, scrapers, hacking tools, and other human impersonators, little pieces of code skittering across the web. You might describe this phenomenon as The Internet of Thingies.

Because bots are not difficult to build. In fact, it’s so simple that a journalist (who has not learned to code) can do it.

I do it with a ($300) program called UBot Studio, which is an infrastructural piece of the botting world. It lets people like me program and execute simple scripts in browsers without…

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I’ve been sneak-peeked!!

stealth-mountainThe other night I discovered a genius Twitter account.

I was checking my feed and saw someone had tweeted me, “I  think you mean ‘sneak peek.'”

I went back to the conversation, and sure enough, in a haze of exhaustion posting way too late at night I had written ‘sneak peak’ in the text of one of my tweets. Pretty embarrassing, but it happens to the best of us – that’s why you hire someone like me to read back through your text to make sure that sort of error doesn’t make it to the final version! Clearly I did not proof my own tweet, and some cheeky Twitter profile called Stealth Mountain (oh the irony – ‘mountain,’ ‘peak,’ it made me laugh a little) had called me out on it.

I wrote a funny response and moved on, but later that day I was still a little bothered by it. Who was this crazy fiend going around correcting innocent tweeters’ spelling? Didn’t they have a life??

So I visited Stealth Mountain’s profile, and here’s what it says:

Stealth Mountain

That’s right – the sole purpose of this account is to correct Twitter users who misspell the phrase ‘sneak peek.’ I could not make this up. Take a look at the latest tweets:

Stealth Mountain Tweets

A) I had no idea this sort of bot account even existed, and B) I had no idea that so many people wrote out (incorrectly, no less) the phrase ‘sneak peek’ every day. Astoundingly, Stealth Mountain has 26,645 followers (and climbing, pun intended), despite the fact that it follows no one back. Even better, it has a blog! And the only thing on the blog is a long stream of comments from other Twitter users who have been sneak-peeked, too.

I did a little digging and found that other users have been talking about Stealth Mountain, as well. This guy even wrote an article with the best angry responses from people who have been corrected on their spelling.

I know this is sort of a weird thing to get excited about, but situations like these are what I love most about social media. The online world is full of little coincidences and connections. Reading the comments on Stealth Mountain’s blog from other Tweeters made me feel like I was connecting just for a second with people a little like me all over the world. It was fun! And it was all made possible by my grammatically incorrect tweet and a little smart-alack bot.

So I’d like to thank Stealth Mountain for bringing me a moment of social media clarity, and for reminding me that no matter how late it is, I should always read my post twice before sharing it.


AP style cheat sheet for newbies


AP styleSince I started as a part-time editor at the Akron Beacon Journal in early October, I’ve had to do a lot of AP style cramming to make sure I’m writing, correcting, and publishing everything correctly. It’s not too bad once you get the hang of it, but it can be daunting at the beginning.

But one thing I really appreciate about AP style is once you’ve got it, you’ve got it. You will always know what to say and how to say it, and everyone’s on the same page. And that’s a happy thought.

So to help other AP style beginners get a head start, here are some of the most common situations you’ll run into when writing or editing for a journal publication.


Never write out courtesy titles, such as ‘Dr.’ or ‘Mrs.’ Use the full name the first time you introduce the person in your article, and after that refer to them by their last name. If two people have the same last name, always write out their full name.

Formal titles

Formal titles are only capitalized when they precede the person’s name. If the title falls after the name, it is lowercase.

For example:
Mayor John Smith passed a new bill today allowing puppies to chew on shoes.
John Smith, mayor of Cuteville, passed a new bill allowing puppies to chew on shoes.

State abbreviations

AP style follows its own code when it comes to state abbreviations, rather than following standard ZIP code abbreviations (why would they make it that easy?). For example, Massachusetts is not ‘MA,’ but rather ‘Mass.’ There are eight states exempt from abbreviation: Utah, Texas, Ohio, Maine, Iowa, Idaho, Hawaii, and Alaska are written out.
When writing about well-known cities, omit state abbreviations. For example, Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago.


All months with more than five letters are abbreviated when referring to a specific date. If there is no specific date, or if it is referring to a year, write out the month.

For example:
Cranberry Township will host its annual trick-or-treat night from 7 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 30
Cranberry Township will host its annual trick-or-treat night in October.
Cranberry Township will host its annual trick-or-treat night in October 2013.


If the date of an event is within one week, only use the day. If it is more than a week away, use the full date

For example:
The farmer’s market is open all day this Sunday.
The farmer’s market will be open all day on Sunday, Nov. 10

Street addresses

If you are writing about a location with a full street address, abbreviate Boulevard, Street, and Avenue (Blvd, St., Ave.). If only the street is available, write it out. Never abbreviate the words road, terrace, drive, court, lane, or alley.

For example:
Nina lives at 123 Mulberry St.
Nina’s uncle lives at 800 Paige Ave.
Nina’s sister lives on 1 Bryden Court.
Nina’s mother lives on Cedar Street.

Numbers and percentages

Write out the numbers one through nine, and use figures for numbers 10 and above. For percentages, use numerals and write out the word percent. Do not use a % sign.

For example:
Joe has three apples.
Danica has 12 oranges.
The book store increased its sales this year by 5 percent.

Publications, books, etc.

Capitalize but do not italicize the titles of newspapers and magazines. Put quotation marks around compositions such as books, plays, speeches, video games, etc.

For example:
Jim read The New Yorker before playing “Need for Speed.”
The video game reminded him of the movie “Tokyo Drift.”


Always written time, date, place. Use ‘a.m.’ and ‘p.m.’ and leave a space between the number and a.m./p.m.

For example:
The council meeting will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 4. at City Council Chambers.


Only capitalize the first word of the headline, and any other words that are capitalized on their own (names or organizations, for ex.)

For example:
Penguins at the Cleveland Zoo are lobbying for a bigger swimming pool.
Man finds $20 in pocket of winter coat, sees it as a sign to quit his job.Volunteers are signing up for the annual Walk to End Hunger event happening in December.

Social Media Builds Relationships. And Ruins Them.

social media addict

Thank you Marie O’Neill for this humorous commentary! http://marieoneilldesign.com.au/

This may sound weird coming from someone who is firmly rooted in the digital age, but I still believe in doing some things the old fashioned way. I still like to read a physical copy of the New York Times on Sunday; I send my friends letters so they’ll have something fun in their mailboxes; and I love the fact that my ’98 Honda has a tape deck. Old things, vintage things, traditions – they make me feel comfortable.

It’s not that I don’t love technology – I really do. How great is it that I can order my Chipotle with an app on my iPhone and skip the horrendously long line when I pick up my food?  I can connect with my friend in Lithuania through Facebook, start a Google Hangout with my sister in D.C., and get a ton of good advice from communities of freelancers on LinkedIn doing exactly the kind of work I do.

But sometimes I’m afraid that all this convenience and connectivity is going to ruin us. I don’t mean that in a post-apocalyptic sense; I just think that the longer we are plugged in, the less likely we are to step back and consider what’s really important.

plugged inI hate going out with a friend for coffee and having them check their phone in the middle of something important I’m trying to tell them. Scrolling through Facebook and checking your text messages could wait for the half hour we’ve managed to squeeze into our busy schedules to be together, couldn’t it?

Maybe it couldn’t.

Maybe we’ve come too far to go back, and we’ll all remain so busy sharing what we’re doing that we won’t have time to actually enjoy it. We’ll be so obsessed with what we might be missing at any second that we’ll be completely unable to focus on what’s in front of us. Sometimes I feel like the only view people have of the awesome scenery and culture around them is through the lens of their phone.

We’re becoming increasingly distracted, our attention spans are shrinking, and we’re so accustomed to instant gratification that we can’t wait for anything anymore.

Every now and then, despite the fact that I love social media, I find myself wishing for a long vacation where I could disconnect from Facebook, stop monitoring my Twitter feed, stop worrying about posting to and participating on all the important social networks I follow – and just BE.

Somewhere in Cumbria, England would do nicely.

Imagine if we all did that, just for a week or two. Maybe we’d discover more about ourselves and realize what we’ve been missing.

Am I talking a foreign and impossible language here, or do you think about these things, too?

Make Your Nonprofit Blog a Powerhouse

By Meghan Ingram

photoI’ve been working a lot with nonprofits since the spring, which is relatively new territory for me. I conducted a survey among local nonprofits in Pittsburgh, PA this summer and found that the number one struggle they had in common was visibility. Each nonprofit had a core group of donors but were trying to reach a wider audience. Some organizations had blogs, and those who did said they were frustrated by how small their readership was, despite their best efforts.

A fantastic nonprofit blog can increase awareness, encourage higher donor participation, and make a lasting impact on the community. A mediocre nonprofit blog can be a time suck at its best, and completely ineffective at its worst. So how can nonprofits make sure their blog is working for them, not against them?

Consider your appearance

How your blog looks aesthetically is the first thing readers will consider. A streamlined design and color scheme and overall pleasing layout goes a long way.

  • Make tabs for the important things (such as ‘about’ and ‘contact’) and keep side bars open for apps and links. If you can, have a prominent header image that tells the story of your nonprofit.

Provide key information

If you want people to donate, make sure it’s easy for them to do so.

  • Have a dedicated ”evergreen” (never-changing) section of the blog that answers commonly asked questions, provides links to other relevant resources, and clearly explains how to go about donating to your cause.

Show vs tell

And speaking of story-telling: readers love to see what you’re up to, simple as that! So don’t just write a few paragraphs about it, really show them.

  • Post a photo album, share a video, include graphs or art work or other media that are a part of the work you do. Letting the public see what you’re all about will make them a lot more comfortable donating to you.

Encourage participation

The most important part of any blog is participation.

  • Ask someone to write a guest blog
  • Encourage readers to post their own thoughts and opinions

Spread the message

Many nonprofits now are becoming more confident using platforms like YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, to help increase readership and visibility. ACCESS, Inc. in Akron is a great example of this. If your nonprofit utilizes others networks, make sure to share your latest news on all of them, and provide links.

  • If you have a Facebook, share your latest blog post there. Provide links to Facebook, Twitter, and other sites on the side bar of your blog. If you publish a newsletter, make it downloadable from your blog, and post it on Twitter, too. You will reach a broader audience, because some people are more comfortable on one network than another.

Be visible in every day correspondence

One of the easiest ways you can help yourself out is by including your social links in your persona email signature.

  • If you have an event coming up, put that info there in one sentence, with a link for more info. Have your Facebook, website, and blog links under your name and contact information. Keep reminding people that you have a strong online presence.

Expand your network

What are other nonprofits in the city doing? Would they be interested in partnering with you on an upcoming fundraiser or event? For example, Pittsburgh’s Day of Giving event is coming up in October, and local nonprofits are helping spread the word about each other for the benefit of nonprofits in the area as a whole.

  • Support is essential, and many nonprofits are happy to help each other out. Put some feelers out there!

What other ways can nonprofits enhance their online presence and specifically their blog’s effectiveness? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Search Craigslist Job Boards In a Flash

By Meghan Ingram

FeedlyIf you’re anything like me, from time to time you end up trolling Craigslist for part time or short-term jobs to do on the side. For awhile I was logging onto Craigslist.org and sifting through the Writing & Editing section of each city I thought might be helpful. Turns out I was going about it the long way. If you haven’t been using Craigslist’s RSS feature, welcome to a lot less time browsing and a lot more time doing things you care about (like applying for jobs).

As far as RSS feeds go, I personally love Feedly, and use it for everything from world news to inspiration for future articles. I’m going to use Feedly as an example, but most RSS feeds are pretty similar and straightforward.

1. Go to Craigslist.org, select the city and category of job you are looking for, and head to the page of results.

2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you’ll see an RSS icon.








3. Click on the icon and add the job site to your RSS reader.

Add to Feedly

4. I already have a Craigslist folder, but if you don’t, create one now and add the feed.

Feedly added














5. Add any other cities or job categories that interest you to your RSS feed, and never have to visit Craigslist and spend hours trolling again – just check your RSS feed for the latest posts. Happy hunting!

Baron Says: Manage Multiple Twitter Accounts On Your iPhone

By Meghan IngramBaron Says_EditedThis week Baron would like you to know that you can easily access and post from multiple Twitter accounts on your iPhone. It’s easy and convenient, so why not try it?

I have two Twitter accounts: a personal one and a business one, and I like to use both on the go. When I have something to post for my writing friends, I use @socialsorbet, and if I decide later on that I want to share something with personal friends, I just switch right over to @meghaningram, easy as pie. Baron enjoys using both accounts and likes the flexibility of being able to choose. Here’s how to set up and manage multiple accounts.

1- If you don’t have the Twitter app set up on your phone, the first thing you should do is download it.

2- Go to your iPhone settings, scroll down to ‘Twitter’ and tap to see your options.


3- Click “add account,” and add as many Twitter accounts as you’d like.


4- To switch between accounts, open your Twitter application (you’ll land on your home feed) and select ‘me’ on your bottom list of options (highlighted in red below). Then click the button with two profile heads, next to your settings button (highlighted in yellow below).


5-  Select which account you want to use.


6- If you’re using one Twitter account and want to write a post from a different account, just click the ‘write tweet’ button on the top right of your screen, and when your composition window comes up, tap your username once to select a different account to post from.



And that’s it! Tweet away~