Archives for March 2009

How many links per page?

I’m about to publish a blog post with a ton of links in it — almost two hundred of them. So before I did that, it seemed like a good time to talk about Google’s recommendation to “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).” Why do we provide that recommendation, and what if you decide to ignore that guidance?

The original reason we provided that recommendation is that Google used to index only about 100 kilobytes of a page. When we thought about how many links a page might reasonably have and still be under 100K, it seemed about right to recommend 100 links or so. If a page started to have more than that many links, there was a chance that the page would be so long that Google would truncate the page and wouldn’t index the entire page.

These days, Google will index more than 100K of a page, but there’s still a good reason to recommend keeping to under a hundred links or so: the user experience. If you’re showing well over 100 links per page, you could be overwhelming your users and giving them a bad experience. A page might look good to you until you put on your “user hat” and see what it looks like to a new visitor.

But in some cases, it might make sense to have more than a hundred links. Does Google automatically consider a page spam if your page has over 100 links? No, not at all. The “100 links” recommendation is in the “Design and content” guidelines section, and it’s the Quality guidelines that contain the things that we consider webspam (stuff like hidden text, doorway pages, installing malware, etc.). Can pages with over 100 links be spammy? Sure, especially if those links are hidden or keyword-stuffed. But pages with lots of links are not automatically considered spammy by Google.

So how might Google treat pages with well over a hundred links? If you end up with hundreds of links on a page, Google might choose not to follow or to index all those links. At any rate, you’re dividing the PageRank of that page between hundreds of links, so each link is only going to pass along a minuscule amount of PageRank anyway. Users often dislike link-heavy pages too, so before you go overboard putting a ton of links on a page, ask yourself what the purpose of the page is and whether it works well for the user experience.

People I would pay to life stream

I’ve been listening to the Penny Arcade podcast and it started me thinking about lifestreaming. There’s at least a few people I would pay if I could watch them stream their day over the net, either because they’re funny or interesting somehow. I thought about it a little bit, and here’s the list that I came up with:

Jonah Hill
Neil Gaiman
– Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik (from Penny Arcade)
Kevin Smith
Eddie Izzard
Chris Sacca
Jill Sobule
John Mayer
Felicia Day
Bruce Campbell
Sandra Day O’Connor

How about you? If you could pick a person and tune into their life as if it were a TV channel, who would you pick and why?

DroboCare from Drobo: bleah

I bought a Drobo about a year ago. Recently I got this pop-up window:

DroboCare warranty service by Drobo

Wait a second — I bought this storage device, and now want me to extend my license “to continue to receive the latest updates”? If you go to the url mentioned in the pop-up, you see that for $49 for a year’s coverage, you get

Continued access to software updates to Drobo Dashboard, Drobo Firmware and DroboShare Firmware including performance enhancements and new features.

Both the program pop-up and the web page imply that I need to pay $49 to continue to get firmware updates. That’s extremely uncool. The ironic part is that apparently Drobo changed their mind in February and they won’t make you pay for firmware updates now. It’s been a month; why does the DroboCare web page still imply that you have to pay $49/year for firmware updates? They need to fix that ASAP, because people appear to be confused by the language.

Let me tell you a little story: back in the 90s, before eBay existed, I was a poor college student who wanted to connect a CD recorder to his computer. I bought a used Adaptec SCSI card over Usenet. When the SCSI card arrived, the four floppy disks of driver software were scrambled. When I tried to get drivers from Adaptec, I learned that Adaptec charged for the drivers for that SCSI card. I never bought another Adaptec product again. The End.

So I don’t plan to buy any more Drobos in the future. Why would I buy from a company that tried to charge me for firmware updates for my consumer hardware? Sure, Drobo changed their mind after people complained, but the fact that Drobo even considered it will make me avoid them in the future.

Update: read this blog comment by Jillian Mansolf from Drobo. Evidently Drobo’s Sarbanes-Oxley auditors classified Drobo as a software company. The auditors “wanted us to recognize revenue for Drobo over the ‘life’ of the warranty (forever) if we included performance enhancements through free software updates.” DroboCare only pertains to hardware as of January, so a future version of the DroboDashboard software will remove this pop-up. Read the comment for more about this from Drobo.

Show and Translate YouTube Captions

Video captions are interesting. For example, if you subtitle a video in the same language as the video, you can help people with low literacy improve their reading skills. Or if you’re in a meeting, you could watch a video silently and read the captions.

The TED conference is also thinking about subtitles. I think they’ve translated several TED talks into 25 different languages. They also provide interactive transcripts — click on a sentence and the video will jump to the right spot. Cool stuff.

YouTube is not standing still either. They recently added an option to turn captions on for embedded videos. For example, take this recent video:

By adding “&cc_load_policy=1” in a couple places in the embed code, I turned captions on by default. If you click in the bottom right, you can toggle closed captioning on and off.

There’s also one more neat feature that you might not have seen. Did you see that Google Translate can now translate between 41 different languages? Well, you can auto-translate subtitles on videos as well. Click in the bottom right, then click the arrow by the “CC”. It looks like this:

Click to show CC options

Choose “Translate…” and then just select a language to translate the captions into. The Google Translate team just added seven new languages including Turkish, so let’s translate into Turkish:

Select Turkish

and in just a few seconds, you can watch my video and read the subtitles in Turkish!

Turkish subtitles

I’m sure the translation isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than the Turkish that I would write. 🙂

Learn more about YouTube’s captions and subtitles in their help center. There is also a project to host caption files with a Creative Commons license.

Link to a specific part of a YouTube video

If you want to link to a specific part of a video on YouTube, you can. For example,

Notice the “#t=31m08s” on the end of the url? That link will take you 31 minutes and 8 seconds into that video. Linking to a particular minute and second can be really helpful — for example, that link takes you straight to where someone asks Eric Schmidt a question about Twitter. From there, you can listen to his answer, where he says (among other things):

“We’re in favor of all of these new communications mechanisms. …. I think the innovation is great …. Twitter’s success is wonderful, and I think it shows you that there are many, many new ways to communicate, especially if you’re willing to do so publicly.”

Deep-linking to a specific part of a YouTube video is really easy, so I wanted give a short example to tell how to link to a certain minute and second of a video.

Added: Guess what! You don’t even have to remember the “#” fragment! Instead, you can treat the t= as just another URL parameter and it still works, like this:

So just add “&t=2m5s” to start a video at 2 minutes and 5 seconds in, for example.

Also see my post about how to play embedded YouTube videos starting at certain minutes and seconds.