Monday, October 31, 2011

Politics - A Scary Subject

This All-Souls Eve I am working on the most frightening of all subjects ... politics.

The goal of Community Color was to promote locally centric web development. All of the directories had a politics section because that is a part of life.

In the last two years, I've been consumed with the health care debate (to no avail). Anyway, I want to focus on the community sites again.

In the first effort, I started with the local community and worked outward. In this new effort, I want to start with the state and work inward.

I am currently concentrating on three states: Arizona, Colorado and Utah and have three web sites with the URLS ArizonaColor.US, and

I am working on the politics pages which have the path /dir/politics. They are Arizona Politics, Colorado Politics and Utah Politics.

The state level political directories will have links to state level political parties and statewide political races. The local directories will have links to local political web sites and local political campaigns.

To help tie the local and state directories together, I created a master index. Here is the master index for Utah politics. This page simply has a link to the politics directories in each of the sites.

Prior to this change I was doing silly things for state wide races. If a race had a candidate from Tooele and one from Heber, I would list the Tooele candidate in Tooele and Heber candidate in Heber. This provided no value to people who wanted to compare candidates and it looked like a tacit endorsement.

I confess, a major reason for this change is that I never found a way to monetize local web directories. People are interested in targetting local customers, but they aren't interested in supporting local web sites. The only revenue source I have is affiliate marketing. Most towns don't have enough ecommerce web sites to pay the bill.

When I bump up to the state level, I find that there are enough advertisers. For example, I've found about 100 Colorado shops doing affiliate marketing. The Colorado Shopping directory will have enough affiliate stores to be interesting.

Anyway, I working on political web sites ... it is much scarier than any of the Halloween attractions in town.

Saturday, October 29, 2011



It's been awhile since I've uploaded any images.

I've been fretting about the mess that our government and big insurance has made of health care that I just didn't feel like taking pictures.

Anyway, I've been thinking about throwing down my own money and hosting an event on free market health care and started looking for a venue for the event.

While looking for event space, it dawned on me how most of the prime venues for public events are directly owned by the government, or operated by private firms in direct connection with the government.

All of the events I've attended of late have been at government owned facilities including The Salt Palce, South Towne, The U, SLCC, the library, Gallivan Center, the Capitol Grounds, public parks, public schools, or the Fairground.

LPAC was the only public event I've attended in the last several years that took place at a privately owned facility.

That was in Reno.

Noah's is a privately owned event facility. They have locations in Lindon, Utah; South Jordan, Utah; Chandler, Az; and Westminster, Colorado.

So, I decided to drive out to the South Jordan facility and take some pictures.

The facilities appear to be geared toward receptions and corporate parties. The manager indicated that most of the events are private celebrations.

They would not be suited for the educational events I wanted to host.

However, I decided to include them in the venue section of the Community Color calendars: Salt Lake, Lindon, Chandler, Az and Westminster, Co.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Utah Color

I am officially opening the site

I have a collection of community web sites in Utah. While adding links, I kept coming across the problem that some web sites are state wide. For example, everyone who drives must visit the Utah DMV at some point.

People are also interested in statewide elections. If one candidate for the Senate was in Saint George and the other from Logan, I would add a link to one candidate in SaintGeorgeUtah.US and the other in LoganUt.US when they really should be side by side.

So, I bought the domain Utah Color to hold state wide resources.

To monetize, I added a Shopping category that lists all of the affiliate programs I've found which are headquartered in Utah. An affiliate program is a program that shares a portion of a sale with a refering web site.

As my focus is still the local community, the front page of Utah Color has links to all of the community sites.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Web Sites and Social Networking

Social networks are growing bigger by the day.

Unfortunately, the social network is outside of your control.

I believe that social networking is the heart of the web. I love the fact that people are actively linking to eachother on twitter and facebook.

However, I think that one's web site or blog should be the center of their social networking effort.

Practicing what I preach: My twitter account has some 9,300 followers (mostly robots). I've put hit counters on tweets. In most cases I only get about 40 hits (from mostly robots).

My personal networking site is Community Color. This site has over 20,000 active links and has listed over 20,000 community events in the calendar. (NOTE, I've removed 7,700 dead links from the directory). I've placed hit counters on entries in the directories and generally get several hundred hits per listing.

More importantly, direct links from home pages build Google Page Rank. Google uses PR to sort search requests.

Twitter blocks Google from crawling its pages. The links are marked rel="nofollow". Tweets do not help web sites build pr. A tweet or follow might send a few tweets in the direction of a site you support ... but it doesn't really help others build sustainable traffic.

If there is a cause you support, you do better to write a blog post about the cause; then tweet about the blog post.

BTW community color makes directories for towns in the mountain west (Utah, Colorado, etc). For example, is for Grand Junction. I just started making a directory for Arizona. The Stats page shows the number of links broken down by directory. Provo has some 1600 links, Salt Lake City has some 5700 links.

In conclusion, your personal web site or blog should be the center of your social networking effort. Linking to local organizations can help sustain a vibrant local community in the internet age. I am proud of the fact that my local link list is still magnitudes larger than my twitter follow list.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Provo Crosses the Million Hit Mark

There is a reason I spent a day working on the stats.

The Community Color directory ProvoUtah.US just officially crossed the million hit mark. I can now link to a statistics page.

The site has been up since 2002. So, it only gets 100,000 views a year. These are failure statistics, not success statistics. It simply proves that all things get large with age.

For my stats, I simply update a hit counter for each page view. I end up losing
stats when I delete or move a page. There are other pages on the site.

The first table on the stats page shows hits by category. There is a lot of interest in provo apartments.

The second table shows statistics from other pages on the site. For example, the site includes some 474 web site reviews. These review pages have had some 348,704 page views. Again the hit counts disappear when I delete old reviews. So it is probably over a half million.

Speaking about deleting things. The site has 1668 active links. I've deleted 781 old broken links. So 31.89% of the links in the directory have gone black so far.

My guess is that a good tenth of the current links are broken. BTW, I only remove the link after the web site goes blank. A large number of businesses have gone under, but still have a web site.

I don't delete the calendar data. The calendar has had 74411 hits. It currently lists 84 events. I've archived 1511 old events.

I buffer the stats twice a month so that I can get a feel of daily traffic. The Traffic page shows that the directory gets about 400 hits a day.

Moneywise. I pull in a little under a dollar for every 1000 hits. So, the directory brings in about 40 cents a day. The other pages bring in another dime a day.

My best Provo-based advertiser is Costume Craze which just happens to sell Halloween costume.

The global traffic pages shows the total hit count for all of the directories. The total traffic is about 4,000 hits a day. My hope was to make enough to hire a minimum wage clerk to maintain the site. I would need about 120,000 page views a day to pay one salary.

I keep the sites up because I believe it benefits the community and it was a good way to judge the economical viability of web development.

BTW, since I revived the stats page, Googlebot has been actively reading the site which might increase traffic. My total bandwidth seems to have increased 20% and CPU usage doubled.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Calendar Cat Stats

I am in a programming mood.

I put a little table at the bottom of the Calendar/Category page that shows the average number of hits per event along with historical data. For example the Salt Lake Shopping category page shows 26 archived events which received 4175 page views ... an average of 160 page views per event.

Most of the page views are the GoogleBot or other web crawlers. My advertising revenue is a little under $1 for thousand page views. This section of the site has probably generated about $4 in revenue over the last three years.

It is not a lucrative business.

Reworked Stats Pages

Back when I was on a shared hosting account, the Community Color sites would suffer slow downs when traffic started building up. So, I disabled the links report on the statistics page.

I am now on a cloud account where I pay for a block of CPU usage. So, I decided to try turning the stats page back on.

Each directory in Community Color has a stats page. Here's the page for (which displays odds and ends). The first table shows hits by category. Clicking on the category shows the history of the page.

The summary section at the bottom provides information on the internal pages. It includes information on deleted links. There are 2551 active links in the directory. I've deleted some 1270 broken links.

The traffic report shows hits per day. seems to get about 300 hits a day. The Global Traffic reports shows the whole directory tree gets about 3,800 hits a day. It fell about 400 hits a day during the server outages last month.

To be economically viable, I would need to get the site up to about 50,000 page views a day. I don't see that happening soon.

The Global Stats page shows total stats by community. is the third most visited directory in the collection.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Events by Category

I wanted to post a tweet saying that Salt Lake Sites had the most complete Halloween page for the Salt Lake Valley.

Unfortunately, the design listed Halloween web sites in the directory and Halloween events in the calendar. I did not have a page with complete information.

So, I jerry-rigged the directory to show events. The problem is that many events repeat. Odyssey Dance will perform Thriller a dozen times in October. To avoid repetition, I only show the first occurence of an event and created the page Category Events that shows all events for a category (even the completed events).

The directory page Denver Color - Football shows only the next Broncos home game. The catEvents page shows the full home season schedule. The events will disappear in a few months.

After this change, the first line in Salt Lake Sites - Halloween looks like:
Upcoming Events: Thriller (2011-10-12), Undead Race (2011-10-15), Spooka Palooza (2011-10-21), Spooky Symphonies (2011-10-25), Witch's Tea (2011-10-29) ... more

Here is the Halloween page for Denver. (Ahem, you can buy customes online at A Fountain of Bargains - Halloween).

I hope this change will make both the directory and calendar more compelling. Above all I now have more info on my Halloween Page than Scary Salt Lake.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Third Quarter Follies

I finished tallying up the third quarter 2011.

The six weeks of web site down time really took its toll. The quarterly income fell to $632. Ouch.

The big question is if the down time cost me back links and customers.

My traffic report page shows the total hits in the directory structure per day in two week intrevals. My goal has been to get that figure up to 10K per day.

I wish I had a way to match this chart to technical difficulties.

Historically, the site has always suffered a techinical breakdown or slow downs when it crossed 4K users a day mark. Discount web hosts often have a throttle on the site that kicks in when traffic picks up.

I had hoped that the extra $40 a month would help me increase traffic to the point the project was economically viable. Moving from a shared hosting account to a cloud account raised my hosting costs from $30 per quarter to $150 per quarter. My ISP costs are $120 per quarter. The whole thing really is a bust.

If the site was economically viable, I could add features!