Thursday, 20 September 2007

Care in the farming community

We talk - quite blithely sometimes - about developing online communities in our business. But sometimes something happens that gives you a minor epiphany as to what that really means.We are in the process of upgrading our rather pedestrian forums into something nearer to social media in several of our markets.

We decided (for a variety of reasons which I won't go into) to go with Community Server which - in addition to forums - offers image sharing and community blogs

The first of our titles to implement this was FWi the online companion to Farmers Weekly magazine.

This already had a very well-used forum but thanks to the new functionality and the skills of the Community Editor Isabel Davies (a new role, incidentally) the whole thing has flourished and - to get back to my original point - given us a whole series of surprises.

Did we expect farmers to be into uploading photos? No. (the image gallery is now the biggest traffic generator)

Did we expect farmers to want to blog? No. That we have five people blogging is amazing.

But it's the human community stuff that has really amazed us. One regular US contributor came over to the UK for a holiday with his wife and spent the whole time staying with friends he had made through the site.

Another member who is in China adopting a baby is blogging about his experiences.

We are principally hard-nosed business publishers, so naturally these kinds of things don't appear in our list of metrics and success factors. But when they happen, you just know that our aim of giving farmers a space of their own has had some success.

If we weren't hard-nosed business publishers, it might bring a tear to our eyes.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Daily Mail-generated content

Two interesting posts on how the Daily Mail possibly allegedly maybe manipulates its user generated content.

Charles Arthur asserts that the Daily Mail not only hides adverse reader comments but adds fake comments too.

And the moral of the story is: no matter how clever you are, there's always someone around with enough time on their hands to catch you out and tell the world about it...

...especially if you are someone that people are always looking for an opportunity to trip up (such as the Daily Mail).

Monday, 17 September 2007

Read content from's rivals on

The Press Gazette reports that "As part of the Handbag relaunch, the company will introduce MyHandbag, allowing the audience to build their own corner of the web around the parent brand. “It’s basically like MyYahoo,” says [editorial director Debbie] Djordjevic, “in that people will be allowed to enter their own RSS feeds. They will be able to include content from our competitors – we welcome that – and they will be able to bookmark things and create their own blogs.”

Brilliant stuff.

This underlines one of the biggest mindshifts for editors and journalists migrating from print to an online or integrated environment.

In the world of magazines, there were thee key tools in the fight against your competitors:

  1. To diss them every now and then (a risky strategy)
  2. To ignore them - never mention them in the hope that readers would get the message that they were beneath contempt and eventually forget them.
  3. To play down (or ignore) the news that your competitor played up, or had scooped you with.

Online the situation is very different - while brand loyalty and familiarity undoubtedly have their place, it is much easier for users to stumble across the competition and woe betide you if they find something there that you haven't told them about, especially in the B2B world.

Anyway, I love Handbag's idea, although I would love to see our own titles to take it a step further: Why make the user do the work by adding their own RSS feeds? Why not (also?) publish the RSS headlines of our rivals?

Then the everyday user (the ones who don't have personalised pages or Google Reader) would know they could come to our sites and be able to browse absolutely everything from there.

It would keep the journalists on their toes, too (not that I'm suggesting our journalists aren't already on their toes, of course; indeed, I'm sure most of them are practically en pointe).

New York Times storytelling memo

Another leaked memo: this time from Jonathan Landman, managing editor of The New York Times. I must start leaking my own memos instead of blogging - leaked memos always attract far more attention.

Anyway, as picked up by Gawker and Editors Weblog, this one talks about online storytelling skills:

Times have changed. Our online storytelling skills have evolved to the point where you really can get the whole story without reading a newspaper article. It's a remarkably rich experience that goes well beyond using video or maps or pictures to tell a story—something we (and others) have done well many times. The innovation lies in putting them together in a way that tells the story with all the nuance, comprehensiveness, authority and depth that define The New York Times. (It's hard to imagine online storytelling at this level coming from a non-integrated newsroom. Neither 'newspaper people' nor 'web people' could have done it alone.)
It's worth looking at the story that he links too not only because it is a good example of interactivity that could only happen on the web, but because it patently does not tell a story.

It allows users to explore the story - unguided - in as many directions as they feel inclined, but it doesn't tell a story. This isn't a value judgement, I don't think, just pedantry on my part.

One of the things that I do still value about traditional written journalism is the inverted pyramid which lets you read through the story from the most important facts to the least important facts until they stop becoming of interest to you. Indeed, I can get through pages of a newspaper reading only the headlines.

The intro to the NYT "story" begins:

To study the ground-level effects of the American troop buildup, reporters and video journalists for The New York Times visited Baghdad's neighborhoods, interviewing residents, Americans on patrol and Iraqi officials. To explore the videos and written reports, select a neighborhood below.
So, is the "story" the fact that the NYT has visited Baghdad's neighbourhoods? Maps, images, charts, and interactive stuff are brilliantly engaging, but don't confuse them with story-telling.

Footnote: Have I really written a blog post disagreeing with managing editor of The New York Times?Oh dear.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Embeddable Google Maps

Oh, yes, I know, this news is SO last week, but I haven't had time to play.Yes, Google Maps can now be embedded into articles, blogs, websites and whatever in the same way that YouTube videos can. To illustrate it I've put together this very complicated map outlining my journey from the office to the station

View Larger Map

My only gripe with this fabulous development is (from a UE point of view) the labelling. To find the embed code, you have to click on "Link to this page" which - while technically true (possibly) - doesn't quite advertise the fact.

Old quotes never die

One of the most beguiling aspects of the Internet is that while it feels for those of us who create content (as journalists or users) as though the content is transient - one minute a story is on a home page, the next it's languishing deep in the long tail - that's illusory. I was interested to read this article in Online Journalism Review by Elizabeth Zwerling, an associate professor of journalism at the University of La Verne in Los Angeles County:

By the time I got the e-mail from the spokeswomen for a major credit card company asking me to delete her quotes from an article we'd run almost a year before, I was skeptical. She had already contacted the reporter with various versions of her concern: she'd been speaking off the record, the reporter must have confused her with another source, the quotes were wrong. A man "representing" her had called the managing editor urging him to omit the quotes from the archive. "I think he was a lawyer," the managing editor told me at the time. (He wasn't.)

I'm faculty adviser for the Campus Times, a 2,000-circulation weekly newspaper of the University of La Verne in Los Angeles County. My staff of undergraduates occasionally gets things wrong and corrects them. But this was a solid story by a conscientious reporter, puzzled by the content, urgency and timing of the source request.

Most likely the credit card spokeswoman – a woman a Google search revealed is widely quoted by Reuters and CNN, among others – had searched herself online and found our story about college students and credit card debt, in which she spoke openly, if off-message, about the age group's unchecked spending habits.

That's quite an easy one to settle one's conscience. But how about this one:

Editors at the Pasadena (Calif.) Weekly felt they found a fair solution when in 2006, they decided to remove the name of an ex-con from an archived story, six months after it came out in print.

Joe Piasecki, the paper's deputy editor who also reported the story, had covered a protest at San Quentin Prison a week before the execution of Crips co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams, where he interviewed a man who said he'd been in prison with Williams. Piasecki researched the man's background through the Oakland Tribune's (offline) coverage of the man's 1998 trial and found the man had been charged with raping and sodomizing his former girlfriend, and convicted of assault. Piasecki included that information in the story along with the man's claim that he was innocent. "I'd called the Tribune library (to make sure) he was who he said he was," Piasecki said.

The story ran Dec. 8, 2005, in the Weekly, its sister paper the Ventura County Reporter, and on the Reporter's Web site. At the time the story went up, the Pasadena Weekly didn't have a functioning Web archive, so the source's call went to the Ventura, Calif., newsroom first. Then Piasecki and Pasadena Weekly Editor Kevin Uhrich were consulted.

"Our first reaction was 'no don't change it'," Piasecki said. "I tend to say that unless (the reporter) screwed up, don't change it. What's true is true."

Piasecki said his publication made an exception here because the man wasn't familiar with the Internet, and because his quotes toward the end of a story about someone else, were not critical to its "material essence." The man had served two years at San Quentin and remembered seeing Williams there; his quotes added color to the story, Piasecki said. The quotes are still in the Ventura newspaper's online archive, only the man's name was removed.

"The guy said every time he applied for a job they Googled his name and this was the only hit," Piasecki said. "We took his name out so he could move on with his life." (my emphasis)

I've had this issue myself only once and it wasn't nearly as dramatic. A news website I ran carried a run-of-the-mill Employment Tribunal story which involved a (from memory) small nursing home in the Midlands.

Perhaps a year later they called me and begged me to take the story down. They were trying to recruit new staff but when potential applicants did a search for the home on Google, our bottom-of-page-27 article on a minor point of employment law came up first in Google's search results.

Sometimes the Internet, like life, just isn't fair. I shan't tell you what I decided; I hope it's obvious.

Who are these people?

Old story, but it's interesting for those of us beavering away to create audiences to reflect on how numbers can tell half a story or less. The Guardian published an article called Print remains king - for now last month.

First, it is clear most newspaper websites are dominated by overseas users. Only 37% of web users are in the UK. The figure for is lower at 33%. Overseas users are not without value, but not all advertisers want them and they tend to have a different usage pattern from UK users.
It can make advertising a very tricky proposition to put clients (especially for those without geo-targeted ad-serving capabilities)

And thanks to my colleague Kieran Daly for drawing this to my attention. Kieran notes:
The papers are focusing on monthly uniques in their reports. All well and good when you're trying to persuade advertisers, but lethally deceitful internally. Telegraph, it turns out, has 1.9 monthly visits per user!

Worth a read.

Why I love and fear user reviews

OK. Story in brief. Scene 1: A bad-boy-turned-good-waiter rushes out of the Florida restaurant where we works to help a woman who is being car-jacked. He foils and subdues the alleged "perp" and is declared a hero. After an hour spent with the police and the media he returns to work and is sacked because the owner didn't like the attention caused by the "scuffle"

Fade out. Cut to: a Fort Lauderdale resident looking for a Thai Restaurant in the area. A Google Search comes up with an entry for 84 Thai Food on urbanspoon. Hmmm. Local, rated 3.5 - 4 stars by the Sun Sentinel. Sounds good. Let's take a look at the user comments...

Comments on 84 Thai Food on urbanspoon.

* "The Owner is Suspicious" by Rooting4theHero (1 comment posted)
September 12, 2007 - Who wouldn't want this good publicity? It is very suspicious and he should be checked out. In the meantime, I hope our hero gets offered a better job from a good hearted community member. He deserves more than 84 can give him!
* "The most careless & stupid decision to make in a business" by Horizon Public Relations (1 comment posted)
September 12, 2007 - To the Manager who fired the employee:
1. "Stop adding to the fire by making lies that you fired him because he wasn t a good employee. Ironic that it just happened when he left his shift to help someone in need"
2. You should apologize to your employee. Install him back with PAY as soon as possible.
3. You should issue an apology to the community as well (The community deserves the apology since we are your customers and you disgraced us with your decision).
4. Stop your idiotic excuses and start working on DAMAGE CONTROL before they BOYCOTT your ass. I am in the PR business and I know better.
To the owner:(if the manager of the restaurant isn t the owner):
1. You should seriously think about finding that manager of yours another position in the dish washing dept. He is no good for customer/business relations. Your business got damaged for a long time. Again, I m in the PR business and I tried calling your restaurant but no answer. I m trying to do you a favor.
2. You should apologize to your employee first, install him ASAP with PAY for the loss days/hours you caused/. Issue an apology statement to the community, the customers as well since they were disgraced as well.
This is how a business operates in America. Kap Koon Cup.
P.S> I lived in Thailand for 1.5 years. It is really disgraceful hearing that.
* "Manager should be fired" by spelbound (1 comment posted)
September 12, 2007 - If I was the owner of this restaurant, I would have fired the manager immediately. Can you imagine how much more business would have come your way, if the restaurant acted in a positive manner. Instead, the STUPID manager, decided it was better to sabotage the biz. Man, this was such a good opportunity. Idiot!
* "Unbelievable" by Willow (1 comment posted)
September 12, 2007 - I would never patronize an establishment that treated their employees in such a callous fashion. This action, in and of itself, puts this restaurant in an insurmountably unfavorable light, completely aside from whatever other excellence they may have achieved in the kitchen. Shameful.
* "BOYCOTT THE OWNER!!" by lyris2303 (1 comment posted)
September 12, 2007 - Can't believe the lack of sensitivity of this man. One member of his staff decides to help a lady in trouble and as a "reward" this idiot fires him! To make matters worse, he tries to overcorrect this idiotic act by offering the waiter his job back! Too late, buster!
Hope this hurts his pocket and voice spreads all over South Florida for people to pass on this 84 Thai Food place.
* "AGREE! DON'T EAT HERE!!!" by Debbie (1 comment posted)
September 12, 2007 - I am at a loss for words after reading the article about the true hero who went out of his way to help someone he didn't know and then to be fired!!! FIRE THE MANAGER for being such an idiot! I would hate to be the owner of this restaurant. The owners should step up and do the right thing! 1st fire the manager, 2nd beg and hire back the hero!!!
* "84 Thai food obviously doesn't care for the public!" by outraged (1 comment posted)
September 12, 2007 - I read the same article and am outraged as well. I hope the manager realizes that all the good publicity he could have gotten from this incident has turned around and bitten him in the a**. This waiter is a hero and is truly concerned about the public he serves, unlike the restaurant owner/manager! I hope there is a citywide boycott of this restaurant!
* "DONT EAT HERE!!!! THE OWNER IS A FOOL" by bob (1 comment posted)
September 12, 2007 - DONT EAT HERE!!!! THE OWNER IS A FOOL... Read on.. FORT LAUDERDALE - As the lunch rush started Monday, waiter Juan Canales stopped a carjacker from taking a woman's Honda CRV out of the parking lot where he worked. Hours later he lost his job.Canales, who worked at 84 Thai Food for three weeks, returned to work after spending an hour talking to police and the media. Once the lunch shift ended, his boss fired him. "The owner got belligerent" about all the attention his scuffle with the carjacker generated, Canales said. The owner, listed in corporate records as Sathaporn Yosagraiof Fort Lauderdale, could not be reached for comment despite two calls to the restaurant and one to his home.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

The public gets what the public wants

Vis a vis Internet news, there is yet another report out saying that people pay more attention to the news agenda of other users than editors. Well, of course they do. And then again they don't.

The research by the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) is reported on Editor and Publisher and picked up by The Editors Weblog.

Among the findings:

• "Many of the stories users selected did not appear anywhere among the top stories in the mainstream media coverage studied. And there was often little in the way of follow-up. Most stories on the user-news sites appeared only once, never to be repeated again in the week we studied."

• "Seven in ten stories on the user sites come either from blogs or Web sites such as YouTube and WebMd that do not focus mostly on news.

• "The three user news sites differed from one another in subtle ways. Reddit was the most likely to focus on political events from Washington, such as coverage of Vice President Cheney; Digg was particularly focused on the release of Apple’s new iPhone; had the most fragmented mix of stories and the least overlap with the News Index."

• "On Yahoo News, even when picking from a limited list of stories Yahoo editors had already pared down, users’ top stories only rarely matched those of the news professionals."

There are lots of issues here - not least what "news" is - but it's pretty irrelevant really. People use different sites for different things and different parts of the same sites for different things. BBC News, for example, is great for telling me what the most "important" thing happening is (Foot and Mouth as I write this), but I know I can usually rely on the Most Emailed section containing something "interesting".

For the record, according to the behaviour of the visitors to Editor & Publisher today it is:

  • the fourth Most Printed article
  • the fifth Most emailed
  • but it fails to make it into the Top 10 Most Saved articles
So that settles that.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Should journalism students be taught HMTL?

Many thanks to my colleague Kieran Daly for spotting this version of the chestnut "Should journalists be taught HTML?". This time, the question is posed by the appealingly alliterative Mindy McAdams.

For us, the question is mostly an "old dog new tricks" issues, but Mindy is speaking from a pedagogue's perspective (Damn. Can't stop myself alliterating now Mindy, you Minx)

Anyhoo, I think the answer is almost certainly "yes and no" but my bigger, stroppier questions are "What the hell are they teaching kids in school these days?" and "What kind of skills and attributes should a prospective journalist student have?"

Stroppy Question 1. What the hell are they teaching kids in school these days?

I have no idea, but based purely on casual observation, it sure as hell isn't touch-typing (or, "keyboard skills" as it's probably called these days) which I find amazing. So many people work on a computer (and those that don't probably use one at home) that it's amazing that touch typing isn't a mandatory subject in school in the interests of productivity and health and safety (RSI and all that).

As for learning HTML, well, given that they use computers in schools, you wouldn't think it would take much curiosity to pick up something about HTML along the way.

Stroppy Question 2. What kind of skills and attributes should a prospective journalist student have?

Well in addition to the traditional list...

  1. Touch typing (see SQ1 above)
  2. Blogging (if they don't already have a blog, how serious are they about journalism? And what does it say about their ability to just get on and do stuff)
  3. If they are doing 2, how much have they picked up about HTML and CSS along the way? If they're using Wordpress or Blogger they probably haven't needed to learn much to make it do what they want, but they will if they have any...
  4. ...Curiosity

Friday, 7 September 2007

DT does video

The Daily Telegraph has launched a video service on its website. They seem to be using Brightcove's service and the content is provided by ITN.

The site is quite imaginative and stylish IMHO. Because it's not generated by their journalists they sometimes feel the need to have the talking head of a hack appear at the end of the video to give you their considered slant, but this often feels redundant.

I suppose they feel they have to "add DT value" otherwise people might just go to the ITN site instead but I have to say that so far I haven't been struck by any fantastic new insights as a result of listening to the DT's conclusions. Indeed, these may come to seem rather counter-productive and I wouldn't be surprised if they dropped it quietly.

The videos are supposed to be embeddable. Indeed they are. Here's one below although I can't predict with any certainty what the story will be as my colleague Adam Tinworth explains.

Anyway, I like what the DT is doing in pushing things ahead with its web offerings. Brave stuff.

User experience

My colleague Karl Schneider is valiantly blogging from the dConstruct conference today and reading what he's writing I think I'm glad I didn't go. Not because it sounds dull or boring or anything, but because I think I'd be sitting there with my head in my hands thinking, "I wish".

I particularly like this post which reveals the answer to the question "What takes longer, heating water in a microwave for 1minute 10 seconds or heating water in a microwave for 1 minute 11 seconds?"

The answer is heating water for 1 minute 10 seconds. Why?

Because getting a microwave to run for 1 min 11 seconds involves hitting the same button (1) 3 times, whereas making it run for 1 min 10 seconds involves hitting 2 different buttons (1 and 0) - finding the extra button typically takes a user more than 1 second.
Now once I stopped wondering why anyone would heat water in a microwave in this way (it can be dangerous you know) and looked at the answer I was quickly back onto my hobby horse of User Experience. Many businesses and organisations still don't get it (try joining the National Film Theatre and booking tickets through their website if you don't believe me.

Quite often at work when I'm dictating my latest list of seemingly trivial enhancements to one of our websites, people will question whether they are worth doing. I'll bang on about how it will make the user's life easier and then they will respond with "But does it work?"

Hackles up. Wrong question. To me, functionality is just the hygiene of building stuff on the web. It's the project equivalent of washing your hands between urinating and tearing bread with your friends.

Today's internet users don't expect for things to just be functional; they expect them to be efficient, intuitive, fast and even fun.

In some far-flung corners of our corporation, there are even Heads of User Experience. I hope we follow their lead soon...

Second Life - an entrepreneur's environment

Virtual worlds such as Second Life are interesting, but the success stories of companies creating something very valuable in it are few and far between.

It's commendably frank of Philip Rosedale, founder and CEO of Second Life parent Linden Lab, to say that SL "is just barely getting off the ground. It just barely works". Presumably he didn't quite mean it like that.
This article quotes Rosen as saying that:

Thanks to processor advances by Intel (INTC) and Nvidia (NVDA), and more powerful computers running operating systems like Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Vista, more people will soon have access to Second Life.
which is most remarkable for giving a positive slant to Vista. How often do you hear that?
While speaking to an audience at the AlwaysOn technology conference at Stanford University, he walked his Second Life avatar around a Second Life store that he said makes between $2,000 and $5,000 to per month.

Rosedale compared it to the early days of eBay, where stay-at-home moms could set up shop and make money. "That’s the same thing that happened on the Internet in 1996," he said. "This is exactly the same phenomenon, but it’s being done in 3D."

I have to confess that I don't really "get" Second Life and one reason for this is that every time I try and register it tells me that it is unable to register me at this time (but only after I've invested time trying to do so.

Anyway, I suppose we just have to wait and see on this one.

London 2012 and Web 2.0

The organising committee for the London Olympic Games in 2012 seems to be ahead of the rest of us regarding the future of the Internet.

Apparently Locog has plans to harness the power of web 2.0 to encourage engagement and interaction from the public. Business Week reports that the committee is looking a digital photo sharing as just one of its new media channels which "will be the number-one way for people to share, access and participate in the Games".

The number one way to participate in the Games? Fantastic. Count me in. Locog says:

Social networking is a way that can make the Games more relevant to a younger audience. We are thinking you have to actually embrace that and build a framework for people to do that. You could, for example, take a narrative of an athlete coming 54th in the marathon.
The Londonist amusingly wonders how this might work exactly.

But two observations:

  1. With the speed of evolution of the Internet, there is pretty much only a "now" for most of us. What's 2012 going to look like? It's five years away. I'm struggling to remember what the Internet looked like in 2002 but I'm sure nobody could see 2007 from there. My advice (not that anyone in their right mind would ask, of course) would be: don't go overboard with the planning at this stage.
  2. Something will happen anyway. You won't even need to facilitate it. As long as people want to do it they will find a way. Don't try to own it.
However, I admire their pluck. And if they do know something I don't about 2012 would they please get in touch

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Marketing on Facebook

Many thanks to my colleague Sophy Ashworth for forwarding me an email from Hitwise which contains an analysis of the impact of a River Island marketing initiative on Facebook.

Facebook's strength, in my humble opinion, lies in the fact that only people can have profiles and that - by and large - they are real people.

That leaves marketers only a handful of options for reaching the users: advertising, creating an application or creating a group.

The Group approach can be quite hard unless there is some benefit to joining. There are quite a few London theatres (The Menier Chocolate Factory among them) which offer ticket deals to group members.

In fact, most people join groups but never or rarely visit them. Most of the time they have little more value to the user than as badges or emblems - "this is part of who I am" but if a brand can create genuinely crazy brand loyalty groups are probably a good way to go.

Anyway, back to the Hitwise report which looks at one particular Facebook group:

A good example is 'Addicted to River Island', a Facebook group with over 600 members dedicated to the apparel retailer. This represents a group of loyal customers sharing their thoughts on new products and sale bargains, but what is the impact on the brand?

One good way to understand this is to measure the amount of traffic that Facebook sends to the River Island website. As a benchmark, Facebook ranks 20th in terms of delivering traffic to retail websites for the week ending 18 August. 4% of people leaving Facebook go to a retailer, and this number has doubled during 2007. In contrast, Facebook is the 10th most popular website visited before the River Island website for the week ending 18 August , and the amount of traffic it sends has increased 5-fold during 2007.
Five-fold is either a lot or a little depending on the base - did 10 visits a month turn into 50 or did 1 million turn into 5 million? Because Hitwise's statistics are based on a cross-section of Internet traffic we shall never know unless someone from River Island tells us. Still interesting, though.

Hyperlinks in video

I'm constantly amazed at how rarely the mother of invention on the web seems to be necessity. So often it seems to be more about "what if?" and "why not" and general envelope-pushing. Then begins the head-scratching (for mere mortals such as me, anyway) to come up with a way of making it really useful.

Anyway, being of little brain or imagination, I'm not sure yet what I'd do with the facility to attach notes and hyperlinks to people and things in videos, but I love the idea! This is what Asterpix (gettit?) does.

Here's an example:

Sunday, 2 September 2007

The changing shape of photography

A sizeable proportion of a traditional publisher's magazine content budget goes on photography - a combination of stock images and photographs commissioned from professional photographers. But it doesn't have to be this way.

The former are generally outrageously over-priced and the second are a lot of trouble as photographers are - in my experience - ridiculously precious over the rights they will assign. If you think publishers have been slow to get their heads round the new publishing landscape, spend half an hour on the phone to a photographer re-negotiating usage rights.

One of my hobby horses is that as a business we are missing major opportunities to lessen our images bill. Sites such as flickr are full of decent enough - sometimes excellent - images that are available for free if you go about it the right way. Many amateur photographers are flattered to have their photography recognised and will willingly consent to having their images used for no more of a consideration than a credit and a link. And I should know, because I'm one of them.

Even though I know it's cheap content for the publisher, I'm still proud that this picture I took at Helsinki's Linnanmäki fairground (I'm the one on the left, by the way) has been used used in the Schmapp!! online guide to the city.

along with this one.

The downside for a publisher is the amount of time it takes to find a suitable photograph and get permission from the photographer (if at all) but if time and resources permit, it's got to be cheaper than the alternatives.

Presumably what they do is identify a whole bunch of possibles to increase the chances of getting a "yes" because it's pitched as a shortlist.

Here is the first Flickr Mail I received...

:: Schmap: Helsinki Photo Shortlist

Hi Andrew,

I am writing to let you know that two of your photos have
been short-listed for inclusion in the third edition of our
Schmap Helsinki Guide, to be published early September 2007.

Clicking this link will take you to a page where you can:
i) See which of your photos have been short-listed.
ii) Submit or withdraw your photos from our final selection
iii) Learn how we credit photos in our Schmap Guides.
iv) Browse online or download the second edition of our
Schmap Helsinki Guide.

While we offer no payment for publication, many
photographers are pleased to submit their photos, as Schmap
Guides give their work recognition and wide exposure, and
are free of charge to readers. Photos are published at a
maximum width of 150 pixels, are clearly attributed, and
link to high-resolution originals at Flickr.

Our submission deadline is Sunday, August 26. If you happen
to be reading this message after this date, please still
click on the link above (our Schmap Guides are updated
frequently - photos submitted after this deadline will be
considered for later releases).

Best regards,

Luke Ritchie,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides
And here's the second. (I wonder what happened to Luke, by the way)?

:: Schmap Helsinki Third Edition: Photo Inclusion

Hi Andrew,

I am delighted to let you know that your two submitted
photos have been selected for inclusion in the newly
released third edition of our Schmap Helsinki Guide:



If you like the guide and have a website, blog or personal
page, then please also check out our schmapplets -
customizable widgetized versions of our Schmap Helsinki
Guide, complete with your published photos:

Thanks so much for letting us include your photos - please
enjoy the guide!

Best regards,

Emma Williams,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides