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Posted by on Jul 26, 2009 in Blogging | 25 comments

BWF Award: Letterdash = #fail

Bad-Week-For-Award-Letterdash

UPDATE 27 July: We have received a response from Alistair Fairweather: Social Media Manager for 20fourlabs, the media24 business unit responsible for 24.com blogs/Letterdash. Please read his response in the comments section below the article.


In the next of our occasional BlaBla Blogs’ Bad Week For Awards, we present this weeks’ award to Letterdash, the new incarnation of the blogs24.com public blogging platform launched on Monday.

To say that the public rollout of the new look, new features and new blog posting and commenting system was a success would be like saying that my man-breasts would successfully be confused with a Wonderbra models’ more well-rounded assets.

We’ve seen the new system referred to as Litterdish, Shitterdash, Slapdash, Lettershit and Lettercrap, amongst others. A number of bloggers started a competition to see who could come up with the best button response to the new messagewhich now appears above every comment box: “No bad language or hate speech please”. Comments and post archives have disappeared from some accounts, and the interface sounds as if it is a nightmare to use in order to format text and images.

The introduction of banner ads into each users’ sidebar has also not been all that popular. All-in-all, the fallout and comment from bloggers using the site has been almost universally critical, harsh and, in some cases, downright ugly to watch. Bloggers, it seems are leaving in droves.

Voted! Now Lets Unite's entry into the Anti Censorship Banner CompetitionAs a non-blogs24.com/Letterdash user, I have been an outsider to the irritations many users have been experiencing. The worst impact on my life has been a struggle to post comments on some of the blogs that I (used to) frequent.

Some may wonder why I therefore feel qualified to nominate and award Letterdash with our BWF Award? Truth is, I am probably not all that qualified to do so. But some of the sites’ users surely are:

Hutton Is Only The Lonely: We are not BETA TESTERS. I am now seriously getting PISSED OFF. Blogging is supposed to be fun ….not a punishment. Having spent at least 2 hours today just to get logged in and double that in trying to visit blogs, then having to create a blog in order to post I feel enough is enough.

My appeal is simply this: Instead of telling good bloggers to piss off if they do not like it or try to fix the unfixable ….. REVERT to the old blogs untill you have ironed out the bugs. We are not BETA TESTERS

Madmom: …in the hope that there aren’t these huge gaps in the presentation on the blogs. I’m not sure why I bothered – I’m just not ‘feeling’ it here at the moment. Snipes, jibes, the persistent gremlins etc just make things unpleasant. Even Belinda has pushed off and has a new friend in her place. Fluck, this really sucks and if it doesn’t get sorted and if I do remain here, the snippets will not be presented again.

Blowg: Ok, look, I need to get this off my chest – if I don’t, I may just explode!!! I AM SO SICK of seeing that ad on LetterDash with the old lady…you know, the one that appears on the right when you log in! Sheesh!

Snippets: This is so sad: Blogger Friends and Boggers that I never got to meet yet, are leaving in droves. My Fan and Blog Roll Lists keep on getting smaller. Ragger left  me just because he felt like it but the others, and the Luscious One tomorrow, are voting with their proverbial feet….

Within days the traffic on 24.com, agge Lettertrash, no…I mean LETTERDASH appears to be down by a third. …That is huge…Losses like that could bankrupt a company…and why would advertisers want to be involved with an advertising space that is losing viewers or traffic? It seems that somewhere in this debate and the supportive arguements the little factor best known internationally and in all the best circles as ‘BEST PRACTICE’ became lost; was overlooked…

I have not even tried to post in this new environment yet – I find it all a little too different for me. Think it will end my blogging career for a while at least.

With all that in mind, (and besides that fact that it’s my Award, so I can damn well give it to whoever I want!) it is clear to me that Letterdash are the deserved recipients of this weeks’ BlaBla Blogs’ Bad Week For Award!

25 Comments

  1. ROFLMA @ "would be like saying that my man-breasts would successfully be confused with a Wonderbra models’ more well-rounded assets."

  2. I had not noticed this whole debacle………*snigger*

  3. Ah, a blogging community? Hmm,… yeah, well I don't know Letterdash, had to look it up.

    I can understand why a first time blogger would be drawn to the 'safety nets' of a blogging community, where you can set up your blog and have instant traffic. You don't have to go out and 'get' your own traffic, you have to work for it.

    But that is the only, very minor, plus of such a set up. The competition, the nastiness, the 'blogging politics' can be hell.

    And of course, if you want to make 'money' with your blog, you have to compete with the 'owners' and some times the owners would lay down rules that are way to restrictive.

    And sometimes the 'owners' of these sites do not want to get involved in these nasty struggles because they simply do not want to lose the 'traffic'.

    Done that, lived through that, never go back there.

    I was quite the popular blogger at such a community, had the traffic, received loads of comments but the nasty inner fights and the blatant hostile attitudes to 'newbies' just got to me. I no longer enjoyed writing.

    I left my comfy site and set up house on blogger. I went from 200-250 visitors a day to less than 10 visitors a day. The first 3 months, I received about 5 comments.

    I was desperate, and I started reading about SME, SMO and SEO,.. name a damn acronymn, and I have read about it. The more I read about, the less I wanted to follow the rules all these articles preached.

    I decided to forget everything I read, and I started doing what I love best. I just wrote what I like, and how I liked it.

    And for me that is what blogging is about. Honest, passionate writing. That is what I like to read also.

    These days most bloggers are focusing way too much on traffic, competing for traffic, ..and what their readers would like to read. And it is reflecting in their content.

    • The blogging comunity is a good thing, it helps to build confidence. The problems start when the corporate identity takes over the blogging identity. Yes we need to sell adverising but it's the quality of the content that will ultimately determine that.

    • Agree totally SWG. And have said as much to a couple fo people. I think the public/community type platforms do serve as a good launch pad for many, but feel that if you want to move beyond the "blogging as a hobby" phase you need to establish your own platform to so.

      Personally I never took to the public environment, preferring to do my own thing in my own time. And yes, visitor numbers and comment counts are nowhere near what they could be on a Letterdash style site.

      But, I get to do, write and work to my own beat. And it is working. It's slow, it takes time and effort, but it will be successful in the long run.

      As for the bitching and in-fighting at Letterdash, and the vaguely heavy-handedness of the site operators, the less said the better. I guess.

      Would love to hear responses to Bla's award from Letterdash users. Ex- and sticking-it-out-users alike.

  4. Earlier today I was saying to Lyndatjie that I'm staying as these issues will be ironed out sooner or later. But I am starting to wonder if it ever will be. There are some features that should have been sorted yonks ago.

    • Hi Dizzy (& welcome to BlaBla!)

      Again, I'm not entirely qualified to pass judgement on things, but I would agree that it does sound like a number of basic blogging features and tools are missing from the new Letterdash environment.

      Changing the system is one thing – to throw in the added curve-ball of issues with formatting your posts, and struggling to manipulate images really just add to the problems.

  5. Oh, and VOTED! – The issue of content quality is a heavily debated topic amongst bloggers. Some suggest that the number of posts and the number of comments are what make a blog successful. Others feel that it is the quality of the posts that ultimately will determine whether a blog will gain long-term and loyal readers.

    I am on the side of that second group personally.

    As a related side note: Have a look at Robert Braverys' post today: http://www.integralwebsolutions.co.za/Blog/EntryI

    "Remember that post frequency is no substitute for quality posts." and Reason #10 are the points that stand out in my mind.

  6. "Letterdash is uninspiring, difficult to navigate and about as user-friendly as the condom machines in the Vatican City toilets."

    ROFLMAOPIMP!!!

    Found that on The Rugby Guru's Letterdash page. 140,000 page views and archives back to mid-2007. Guess his would be a pretty representative voice…

  7. Hi BlaBla

    Yes, our relaunch was very rough, as you point out, and some bloggers are justifiably angry, but some of your assumptions are quite innaccurate. Bloggers are not in fact leaving in droves, and we have had equal numbers of compliments and letters of thanks from other bloggers. The traffic has not diminished – our stats tool simply has a glitch that undercounts. That along with a number of other flaws are being fixed as I type.

    Did we jump the gun and launch with too many glitches? Definitely – that's my fault and I accept responsibility. Is Letterdash a failure? I think it's premature to call that particular horse. We live and learn – I should have delayed our launch and preserved our experience. Next time I will.

    And as for the name – well that';s largely a matter of opinion. People do not like change. If WordPress didn't exist and I had chosen that, certain of our bloggers would have hated it with equal venom, and called it TurdPress and WordPoes. That's just what bloggers do – that's why they are bloggers and why we love them.

    I understand that you take great pleasure in this slice of shadenfreude and I don't blame you. But we aren't going anywhere. Letterdash is here to stay. Please feel free to send us any comments – we will receive them all gratefully.

    Thanks for your time.

    Alistair

    • Hi Alistair

      Thanks for taking the time to visit our little place, and for the honesty and openness in your response. As I am not certain that many Letterdashers will see it here, I’m hoping that you'll be posting a similar note as your 2nd paragraph to your & your editors’ pages on Letterdash? (If you haven't already – I unfortunately can only see your original post from the 21st on http://letterdash.com/kick).

      To our "inaccurate assumptions"… I will grant that we had nothing more than anecdotal evidence of these. Both statements (the numbers leaving and the diminishing traffic) were made based on posts made by Letterdash bloggers, and through observation of comments on a number of the pages.

      The fact that a number of well established ex-blogs24.com users have left (many, as we hear, to take up blogger residence at vox.com) is undeniable. For us to have used the term "droves" to describe this exodus did admittedly involve a measure of hyperbole. In our defence, we pulled the term directly from one of the Letterdash pages, as we quoted in the original post.

      We do stand by our original sentiments, and point to the fact that your acknowledgement of the issues being experienced by your users is unfortunate in the extreme.

      As I mention in response to Madmom below, we consciously found posts made on Letterdash pages on either Saturday or Sunday to ensure that the opinions expressed were not pure knee-jerk reactions to the change. We wanted things to have been running for at least a few days, for the major kinks to have been ironed out, and for the Letterdash fraternity to have settled down.

      Sadly when we visited the pages of two of the more senior and established bloggers we found their comments as we noted. For those unaware, I should point out that Hutton "We are not Beta Testers" has over 400,000 page views, 53,000+ comments and an archive stretching back to October 2006 on her blog. Mad-"Fluck, this really sucks"-Mom has 350,000+ page views, over 65,000 comments and a blog archive stretching as far back as September 2006. She also received the 24.com Blogs Blogger of the Year Award for 2008!

      With those sort of credentials and statistics we imagined that their opinions would hold some weight. Admittedly the other comments were taken from lesser-known bloggers, but are certainly still as valid.

      To the name issue. I assure you that none of the Letterdash variations mentioned in our article are of our doing – all were seen being used on various Letterdash pages. As for Turdpress or Wordpoes – you're right bloggers will be bloggers, and will give names to the things they dislike. To paraphrase Sam in Burn Notice: "You know bloggers. Bunch of bitchy little girls!" The difference here is that when WordPress.com upgrade their public hosted blogs, their users don't land up having a need to create insulting names, and don't spend a week flaming the support boards with them.

      And finally, as to the sense of schadenfreude you think we took in making this award – please be assured that this was the furtherest thing from our thinking. We have made Bad Week For Awards to a number of people/organisations in the past all with the aim of highlighting a general concern felt by many.

      We are encouraged by the growth in blogging in South Africa, and wholeheartedly support any and all efforts at continuing this growth. But, when we can make a difference, even in our own small, little way, we will.

      I trust that the spirit in which you have taken our article and our Award will help lead to an improved blogging experience for your users, and that Letterdash will not be nominated for another BWF Award. We also issue a less frequent, (but equally prestigious!) Good Week For Award – wouldn't it be great if we could give that one to you too sometime?

      Regards

      Greg & the BlaBla Team

    • As I tried to read this on your letterdash blog Kevin, something has gone wrong and the comment box covers the whole screen.

      hmmmm…..

  8. I wonder if my blog will mysteriously disappear now. 🙂

    • Hope not MM. Sorry if we land up upsetting folks over in yonder LetterLand. Not our intention at all.

      We truly just selected a couple of recent posts as we were setting our story up – we didn't want to be accused of using quotes from the the beginning of the week.

      Please do let us know if things continue to go ugly.

    • Like my archive?

  9. Hehe, I don't mind. I still enjoy the community there and am prepared to give them the opportunity to iron out the glitches. My main gripe is with the text format, newly updated roll and having to drag pics to where you want them. I believe the techies are working on this. Besides, it's traditional that codgers like me have to have the odd whinge or two.

    I kinda like my new name 'Mad-”Fluck, this really sucks”-Mom' as I've become bored with the old one. 🙂

  10. I have to agree with your award ;-(

    Unfortunately things have still not improved and as a result I may be joining the "droves"

    Now to try and find a home that is hosted on a SA server;-( Another uphill battle

  11. Sadly, I have to agree with your award as well.

    It really has become Litterbox, and the only thing keeping me there at the moment are the other bloggers. Here's to finding a decent SA site soon if ours doesn't improve.

    • Hi Half-pint

      Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts. It continues to pain me to see the continuing problems that you and others are experiencing. As Greg mentions in his reply to Alistair, our intention with this Award was to highlight a concern that we picked up on, and to bring it to readers outside of the Letterdash environment. I think we've managed to do that. 🙂

      Oh, and a warm welcome to BlaBla!

  12. I also have to agree with your reward….it seems very fitting and so very sad! There was such a wonderful strong happy community of bloggers over there before the letter came crashing in……now it seems as though it is almost a ghost town….some lying low, many have too many problems in trying to get into their blogs, some cannot FIND their blogs, cant do visiting of other blogs cos cant find them, some are leaving, others closing down blogs…the cut has been too deep and the lifeblood is seeping out into the streets…they need to find the healing balm and find it quickly! I am one of those "droves" who has opened up a new blog as well but I am remaining there purely for the bloggers whom I have a strong bond with and them with me. I wouldnt want to lose contact. SO I am sticking it out…for now….to see what happens….also searching for a new SA hosted blog home…xxx

    • Hi browniegirl & a warm welcome to The BlaBla Blog

      Thanks for your comments on the state of play over at Letterdash. I'm pleased to see that even with all of the problems you are still prepared to give it a while to see what happens.

      We've had a number of notable Letterdash bloggers leaving us their comments here, and I'm grateful to all of you who have. Sort of vindicates my original post, and reaffirms that my "inaccurate assumptions" (as Alistair refers to them) were pretty close to the mark.

      We're investigating a possible SA hosted solution as a suggested starting point for those like you. Stay tuned and we'll let you know shortly what we come up with.

  13. Hi Dinx! Thanks for taking the time to visit, and for leaving your thoughts.

    It is heartening to hear that there are Letterdash users that remain supportive of the platform and of the community there. Our intent with making the Award was simply to highlight an issue of concern to an audience outside of the blogs24.com environment, not to encourage people to slag it off and “defect” elsewhere. All we were suggesting is that the implementation of the changes could have been handled better, and that reduced traffic, complaints and defections should be expected because of it.

    The Award to Letterdash was made on the same basis that we’ve previously given a BWF Award to Bafana Bafana for example. (see http://gatorurl.com/3yd6dw)

    They made demands for huge bonus payments before the start of the Confed Cup, produced a pathetic performance in their opening match, and got awarded with our Bad Week For tag. Two weeks later, they were performing brilliantly, and we acknowledged that fact. (see http://gatorurl.com/zont4r)

    We are hoping to be able to afford Alistair and the Letterdash team the same courtesy in the not too distant future. Your comments add much towards that aim, and are appreciated.

    Regards
    BlaBla

    • Thank you kindly for the explanation of your award – I do understand it better now. And for taking the time to respond. That said, I still do believe the award was made prematurely and that is merely my humble opinion. However, this is your site and your opinion and you are entitled to use it in whatever manner you wish.

      Have a superb weekend and warm regards,

      Dinx

    • Thanks Dinx

      Appreciate your views, and that we can agree to disagree with such good grace and courtesy. 🙂

      Hope yours is an equally excellent weekend!

      Cheers

      Bla

  14. While I do understand the sentiments expressed by you, and some of the bloggers, I don't agree with the award. Yes, those huge ads and the narrow width for text is shocking and I hope that changes, I really do. I understand they need the revenue, but it is imperative they reduce that advertising column width – small ads are used all over the net and are just as effective.

    But for the rest, although LetterDash did roll out too quickly and too soon, they have admitted it and are trying to address all the issues and technical glitches and bugs. These sort of things happen with technology and I really believe we should give it a few weeks before we draw, quarter and slaughter the development team and Alistair and his managers.

    There are lots of positive reasons to stay in the community. Last year we ran a huge charity initiative which, (the now defunct), 24.com supported and encouraged and assisted us with. They have allowed various charity pleas and fundraising to take place and be advertised for our collective beneficiaries. They were incredibly supportive and I have no doubt that were we to launch that drive again this year, the newly-named management would once again 'come to the party.' In an aside: to date I'm still collecting knitting squares for blankets for the abandoned babies and street children. (In fact I'm looking for some new volunteers to stitch them together… anyone out there? – I'd love to get some assistance) 🙂

    Be that as it may, for me, personally, the issue comes down to my loyalty, patience and tolerance – this community and the management of our Blogs Home (Letterdash/24.com) have been very good to me (and many others) during difficult and better times over the past 2 years and I will stand by them and wait for all the glitches and bugs to be ironed out. I really do hope they can be corrected shortly. I do know, they are working at it non-stop, trying to address all our complaints.

    Let's stand together on this by encouraging the development team to get it right.

    Warm regards,

    Dinx ` the raving Lunatic 🙂

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