Saturday, November 25, 2017

Small Business Saturday Report

Small Business Saturday is a marketing gimmick created by American Express (big finance) in an effort to sell card processing services to small companies that, to be frank, prefer cash.

The marketers of this effort are so out of touch with small business that they failed to realize that most small businesses are closed on the weekend.

Small Business Saturday resonates with big media. This reporting has a populist appeal that increases ratings.

In other words, Small Business Saturday is a tool created by big finance and used by big media to centralize things.

It is a funny paradox.

It is a funny paradox, but I have been worried about the state of small business in our communities for awhile.

I find it such a concern that I have invested thousands of hours into creating directoies for communities in the Mountain West to help raise awaress of the plight of local communities in the internet age.

I have been woking on this project for seventeen years.

I build directories. I add sites as I find them. I check each link periodically to see if it is still live. If not, I pull the links.

This project gives me a feel for how our communities are evolving.

My current stats show that, through the years, I've added 47642 links. I've pulled 17432 links. The vast majority of the pulled links are failed businesses. Many of the dark links were for events and political campaigns.

Of the links that belong to institutions, the majority are small businesses that have failed.

I wanted to write a good quality post on my findings. My data really isn't good enough and I lack the resources to get the quality data that I need.

I happen to live in Utah. As I am not LDS, I started the project by moving North. I helped some groups develop directories in Idaho, Montana and Oregon. I gave away all but

I moved back to Salt Lake for the 2002 Olympics. I believe that everybody who lives in an area is part of the community. I have been told multiple times by members of the LDS church to leave.

I was born in Denver and Longmont. So, I started creating directoris in Colorado for places like Grand Junction, Boulder and Colorado Springs. Arizona has a small number of counties; So I started a top down directory called Arizona Color.

Anyway, I believe that the best way for people to promote their local community is to get involved with their local community.

Like most Americans these days, I feel frustrated with our politics. I am working on a project where I am trying to find ways to support businesses from the bottom up. I have receive nothing but open contempt for the effort.

The revival of our small business community is not going to come from the top down. Small Business Saturday is a joke. The event is used by big business to gain populist feel. Anyone who actively engages with small business knows that small business owners like having the weekend off.

If you want to help small business, you need to visit web sites of the small businesses in your community and to talk to small business owners. Hint, I have a small business. I build directories that feature small businesses. I have been working on this problem from the bottom up for years.

Any I have a large amount of data showing that the small business community in America is in trouble. About 70% of the small business web sites I listed a decade ago have gone dark. I don't want to quote the exact figures because I need to clean up the data to make sure I have not built a bias into my data.

I know that there are troubling statistics. For example, state agriculture departments have been reporting steep drops in the number of locally owned farms. Most of the Chamber of Commerce web sites I visit are listing fewer businesses in their directories. Locally owned banks have been consolidating at a record clip.

I believe that a directory project is a good way to start an investigation into the fate of small business in our communities, but I need a better source of data before making any broad claims about what is happening.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Day Wasted on FTC Compliance

Oops, I just discovered a problem. I told blogger to use ssl for this. I can't afford an SSL certificate for my site; So I can't post resources from my primary site on this site.

I just wrote a post on FTC compliance that I put on my other blog.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Never Shop At a Store that Uses Domain Privacy

I was reading through the "Terms and Conditions" page of a web site that I was considering promoting.

Line 15 of the terms read:

15. 1. It is mutually understood and agreed that this Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the place where the Company holds its principal place of business,

The web site itself does not say where the company is located.

Their contact page just has a web form. They use a 1-800 number and they bought the domain privacy feature from Godaddy which masks the information used to register the business.

The fact that this company does not report its location makes the whole idea of doing business with this company absurd.

If you are considering doing business with a company you should always check the company's contact page and find out where they are. Any contracts you make with a company will be governed by the state (or country) where the company resides.

If the company does not report their location on the contact page; you can often discover it with a whois tool like or or even

If a company does not report its location on a contact page and is using domain privacy; you should not do business with that company.

I decided not to do business with the company in question. Quite frankly, I suspect that others have decided not to do business with the company for the same reason.

Businesses Should Never Use Domain Privacy

I believe that we need to protect the privacy of individuals. If you are blogging about a political opinion; buying domain privacy is smart.

If your goal is to engage in business, you should never use domain privacy.

Domain Registration and SEO

Millions of people look up whois information. There are robots that troll the whois database as well. These people compile lists and make reports. Many of these reports end up online.

These people end up creating free links and traffic to your business. When you buy domain privacy, you lose out on a bunch of free traffic.

The robots that troll the whois database send a lot of spam. The answer to this spam is simply to create a throwaway mailbox for your domain registration. See, if you have a domain name, you have an infinite number of mail box addresses. I used the mailbox spam for my registrations: eg I only use this address for domains.

You do not need to buy domain privacy to protect you from spam because you get an infinite number of email addresses with your domain name!

If you have money (I don't have money); you should get a box at a local mail center. The starting price is usually $8 per month. (Postnet, UPS Store, post office. The address should have the correct city and state of your business. Some local office buildings will offer mail boxes.

ADVERTISEMENT: If you had a lot of money (starting $50/month); you might consider getting a virtual office with DaVinci Office. This option gives you meeting space at prime locations around the globe. You can add a virtual reception and other cool features.

Conclusion: Business contracts tend to be regulated at the location of the business. You should never do business with a company that uses Domain Privacy services. Conversely, if you are a company and you want to do business; you should avoid using domain privacy.

The best way to protect your privacy is to get a mail box or virtual office. You can protect your email address simply by using a dedicated email address for domain registrations.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Outdenting the Listings

I am a big fan of using defaults.

The original concept behind the web was that people would customize their browsers to the font and font size that they found the most readable. Web designers should then use the default fonts.

What happened is that manufacturers increased the resolution of their screens. The browsers kept the default font size in pixels and web sites relying on defaults became less readable.

Anyway, I decided to clean up broken links. I've removed 700 so far. While doing so, I decided that the site was just too illegible at the current defaults.

So, I switched the lists to a sans-serif font. I also decided to outdent the list.

I am happy with this change.

I think I will be able to pull another thousand broken links from the site.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Reviving the Community Color Project

In this last year, I've been investing my efforts in a fool-hearty attempt to revive the Community Color project.

This project examines the way that different communities are reflected on the Internet. The projects includes directories for towns in Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Wyoming.

I actually started this project for towns in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. I gave away the first directories, but kept the domain.

My effort to revive the project began by rewriting the code for the site from scratch. I then began feverishly adding new pages and "site reviews." I have also been investing time in removing broken links. The number of web sites that failed in the last few years is disheartening.

I now need to work to build some inbound links. I figure that the best way build such links is to blog about the site and the efforts I am taking to revive the site.