Category Archives: Professional associations

Practicing questions with Aardvark

Aardvark is – as of February 2010 they are owned by the Google.  It's part of a genre of question asking sites where the answer comes back partly from "your network" and partly from the random parts of the net that you don't know very much about. If you think you have an interesting question, you can ask it on Aardvark and see what you get.  My practice efforts have been pretty dismal, but I might be asking for things outside of what it's capable of doing.

It might simply be that I've been at it too long and my non-random sources for answers to random questions are just better.  If you've collected enough mailing lists full of local people or topical experts or reference librarians, the appeal of asking an unspecified audience is limited.  Ditto the comparison with asking the same question to Twitter where it might ping-pong into someone's news stream, or asking a network full of PR people on HARO in the hopes of luring in someone's publicist who is happy to answer.


a2b3 non-summary for Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010

Attendance: 19. I had the udon noodles, which are new on the menu at Eastern Accents and quite good.

My list of things to note from the day includes, but is not limited to:

  • Google’s proposed fiber to the home project, and how to get it to Ann Arbor
  • Susan Crawford is back in Ann Arbor from a stint in DC and teaching cyber law
  • I’m not sure that I wouldn’t rather have a Droid phone than a Blackberry
  • There is a super-nifty Droid app which is an exercise tracker w/maps
  • Searching for low RPM motors that run on 2 AA batteries
  • Next Dow Aud. at UMHS a meeting on FDA regs for social media and medicine
  • Census is hiring and training workers, $14-18/hr
  • a2geeks
  • Ignite 3 is coming up
  • Earth Day is Garlic Mustard Day; I need your recipes
  • next Tuesday is Paczki Day, I need your jelly donuts
  • Ann Arbor Government Documents Repository continues to collect local govdocs
  • Gelman Sciences has released some new docs on their pollution plume & cleanup
  • Google Buzz is out
  • the DDA is doing a survey on parking
  • the hot pepper flakes are called “Ichimi Togarashi”

This list deserves hyperlinks; when I get them I’ll go back and edit them in.

Thanks to everyone who came, see you next time.

Google AdSense in professional association wikis

Google’s AdSense program is designed to provide relevant targeted advertising content to web pages.  It works, sometimes intermittently, on weblogs – but there’s often enough other non-relevant things on the design of those pages to work only indifferently.  What you do find however is that the appropriately targeted wiki design – especially one where the subject matter expertise of a professional association is involved, and where the words in use a specific to a field of specialty – yields extremely targeted results.

Caution is worthwhile, however, because for every well-targeted advertising stripe you get the occasional horrible, unprofessional blunder.   Some cases in point.

Quimica from the American Chemical Society is running this ad on page one, hosted on Wikispaces:


Now ask yourself, what is to blame here?  There are three ways that you can fix a problem like this of having inappropriate advertising running in your wiki.

1.  Don’t run advertising at all.  Host your wiki yourself, or host it somewhere with an option to turn off advertising.  Remove the risk of the accidental inappropriate Adwords ad by not using Adwords as an ad network.

2.  Sell advertising in-house as sponsorships, or run house ads in the stripe of the page normally designed for external advertising.  This might very reasonably be ads for things like upcoming association events, membership benefits, or other details that look like advertising targeted straight at your members.

3.  Use the Google AdSense ad quality as a measure of the relevance of the pages you have, and edit the wiki until the junk ads don’t show up.  Block advertisers that are inappropriate, remove page text that triggers inappropriate ads, and otherwise optimize for relevance, professionalism, and revenue.  This works best when you are hosting a wiki on a platform and get the revenues for the advertising – some "free" wiki hosting really is paid for by click-throughs on ads that you are running, and if your association members are using Google Adwords to promote themselves they may well be running ads that would be very relevant on your site.

4.  Use Google AdSense quality as a quality check on the professionalism of the AdWords advertising that your association members are running.  From time to time, advertising copy writers at agencies will write ads that are completely inappropriate because of regulation or professional standards that they are blissfully unaware of, and by having a spot which attracts these ads you can build in feedback for professional ethics.