Where else would one have to fend off payola, college term paper scammers, and whores?
Running an internationally known wine blog may not bring much in the way of fortune, but it does demonstrate the perils of fame – even the limited sort of fame that comes with writing about cheap wine.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been barraged (well, sort of) with requests to “partner with” a variety of not inexpensive products. This happens because the blog’s demographics, despite its subject matter, are mostly as upscale as the wine blogs and websites that don’t write about cheap wine. Plus, my visitors seem to be a little younger than the other sites, and we all know how desperate the wine business is to get younger.
• A company that makes wine refrigerators wanted to give me one of their products. The catch? I had to write nice things about the $700 unit and include various links to make sure Google got the hint. I thought this might work as a giveaway for Birthday Week next month – the company would get its blog post, one of the blog’s readers would get the fridge, and I wouldn’t have to worry about ethics. Not surprisingly, the company wasn’t interested.
• A bunch of spammers wanted the blog’s readers to buy college term papers, essays, and assignments written by someone other than the students – what the New York Times has called “Cheating, Inc.” I assume, given the recent college pay to play scandals, that the spammers figured the blog’s demographics translated into parents and grandparents willing to shell out the hundreds of dollars these papers cost. Ah, plagiarism as a growth industry. …
• My favorite pitch? For whores. Who knew I spent all those years honing my craft so a “content development specialist” at a “California-based premium escort agency that caters to all your needs” could ask to write a guest post? I even had topics to choose from, including “10 Reasons Business Men Hire Escorts.” Why do I think I know the reasons, that there aren’t 10, and that we don’t need to run a guest post to figure that out?
Photo courtesy of Greentech Media, using a Creative Commons license
Two rankings put the Wine Curmudgeon blog among the top 100 wine sites on the Internet
Good news for those of us who love cheap wine. Two website rankings put the Wine Curmudgeon blog among the top 100 wine sites on the Internet for 2018.
This is a big deal, and not just because I like to boast about the Wine Curmudgeon blog. First, that I made these lists speaks to the need for credible, well-written information about the wine most of us drink. Which, of course, many in the wine business prefers we don’t know, since they want to sell us crummy, overpriced wine.
Second, I made the same lists as sites with more money, employees, and ad revenue, including the Wine Spectator, VinePair and Wine Folly. Here, of course, I do everything myself. That says a lot about how much you appreciate what I do — and is one of the reasons I keep writing the blog.
A few notes after the past year of blog posts about cheap wine, wine education, and the wine business:
? Operating system wars: Microsoft controls about 90 percent of the world’s computer operating system market with its various Windows products, but not on the blog. Just 52 percent of visitors over the past year used a Windows operating system to get here, and almost one-third of those had Windows XP installed — which died in April. Still, Windows was the most popular operating system, with Apple’s mobile iOS and desktop Macintosh tied for second at 16 percent. My beloved Linux was at 1.3 percent, good for seventh (and I think I know the other person who uses Linux to get here).
? Picking a browser: Another surprise, given that the world’s most used browser is one of Microsoft’s Internet Explorers (warts and all) at about 55 percent of the world market. On the blog, though, Apple’s Safari (warts and all), is the top browser with 29 percent, with Explorer at 24 percent. Chrome and Firefox, the geek browsers of choice, were tied at around 19 percent.
? Expensive wine: The best-read expensive wine post over the last year was for a Virginia wine, the Barboursville Octagon, which ran in August 2013. It was No. 115. In one respect, this isn’t surprising, since the blog isn’t about expensive wine. But that it did better than host of cheap wine posts, including the recent discussion about Spanish wine value, speaks to how popular Barboursville is in the world of regional wine.
Update: Thanks for all the emails — some very good advice and comments about what we’re doing here and how we do it. I was quite flattered to have so many people tell me they didn’t want anyone else to write for the blog.
Still working on the transition from the old platform to the new, and especially with updating the broken links — and we’re only in the seventh month after the switch. The Internet is a wonderful thing, and Google’s search algorithms are even more special.
Having said that, it’s time to continue the blog’s progress into the 21st century, and that means I need your thoughts about the following. If you like the ideas — or don’t like them — leave a comment at the end of this post or send me an email.
? A regular (monthly? every six weeks?) live chat about cheap wine, the wine business, and so forth, where you can come to the blog and ask me questions in real time. You type them in, and I answer. I’ve done this elsewhere, and it’s usually a lot of fun. The catch? What happens if you hold a chat and no one is there to chat?
? Someone besides me writing blog posts. I’m thinking about this not so much because I’m tired of writing the posts but because I’m wondering if another voice — though still focused on what we do here, still objective about wine, and still a quality writer — would add something to the blog. Also, if you’d like to so some writing for the blog, send me an email.
? Wine Curmudgeon TV. I’ve toyed with this before, but the logistics have always been daunting. They aren’t quite as daunting these days, so the question is: Is it worthwhile to do a shortish, 10-minute chat with a guest or guests about wine? And what kind of guests? Because winemaker interviews and features haven’t been all that popular here.
11 a.m. update: The missing posts and comments have returned, and all is mostly back to normal. Thanks for your patience.
The good news is that we figured out what happened yesterday, when at least six posts — including the post scheduled for Monday — vanished from the server that hosts the blog. Also missing were a variety of other items, including all the comments from last week, and those should return, too, once all is corrected. So no, I’m not censoring comments, for those of you who wondered.
The bad news is that the problem hasn’t been fixed yet, though I have been assured it will fixed “soon.” And, because it wouldn’t be any fun unless there were more complications, I can’t post anything new to the blog because the new post (including this one, which I will have to repost) will disappear as soon as the problem is fixed. So it’s just as easy to wait until then.
That’s because (for those of you with a technical bent), this is a server issue. Somehow, part of the blog exists on one server, and the rest exists on another. And because the Wine Curmudgeon appreciates irony, yesterday’s blog traffic was no worse than usual. Maybe people just want to read me complain, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s about wine.
Most wine blogs can’t participate in Google’s AdSense network, perhaps the leading on-line ad service. That’s because, as I found out when I applied, we violate its terms of service: “We did not approve your application for the reasons listed below. Issues: Drugs, drug paraphernalia, alcohol, beer or tobacco. … Please remove all drug-related content from your site, then resubmit your application.”
That we’re doing nothing illegal and that we don’t have any drug-related content to remove seems like just another of those wonderful, Google-esque ways the search giant does business: Buying companies to close them, discontinuing popular services, or agreeing with the Chinese government that Internet censorship isn’t such a bad thing.
But Google’s decision to ban wine blogs from AdSense goes deeper than that, speaking to the contradictions inherent in wine and alcohol 80 years after Prohibition, thanks to the NeoDrys, fear of underage drinking, and the three-tier system. Google doesn’t object to wine, as near as I can tell. It just doesn’t want to be responsible for someone buying it who might break the law, because that could lead to nasty publicity, lawsuits, and the besmirching of its good name. More, after the jump: