Posts Tagged ‘exclamation points’

Bow your head as the “double exclamation point headline” dies a brutal death at the hands of Facebook. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Somewhere, an English teacher smiles, as the double exclamation point headlines die.

Six years, four months, and two weeks after the birth of Coupeville Sports, in the moment right before I hit 6,600 articles, Facebook has done me dirty.

Three times in the past four days, Zuckerberg’s computer algorithms have momentarily paused in their work of stealing all of our info and dispersing it willy-nilly for profit, to inform me I don’t meet “community standards.”

When this happens, Facebook, which never, ever responds to my queries, blocks the story link I’m trying to publish and makes it so I, and I alone, can see it on their website.

Which is a major pain in the tushie. And not the first time this has happened.

I’ve logged 7,579 tweets, many of them featuring links to my stories, and never once been blocked by Twitter.

But, the reality is Facebook overwhelmingly dwarfs Twitter in an ability to drive an audience to my blog.

Which is the whole point of this. Not to collect retweets or likes or shares, but to have people read what I wrote.

Facebook is where the most parents are camped out, the most grandmas and uncles, the most next door neighbors from your old hood, and where I can tag 150 people on a story if I choose.

As much as I scream and rage at my computer when Facebook refuses to work and show a photo with the story link, or any of a thousand other irritants, I need it to drive people to my work.

And I can’t do that when the links to my stories keep on getting blocked.

So I went through and looked at Facebook’s “community standards,” and laughed and laughed and laughed some more at the company’s rules, a load of sanctimonious drivel it definitely, positively does not uphold in any kind of consistent manner.

Trying to find where I was bothering their monitoring system took some work, especially, since as I mentioned, Facebook has no intention of every actually interacting with me.

And this is what I came up with.

The only one of their “community standards” I come remotely close to bumping up against is their “crackdown” on fake news.

And it’s because a computer system is flagging my links, and not an actual human.

Instead of looking at my articles, instead of reading six years worth of reporting, the system is tripping on the most basic of things – the double exclamation points in my headlines.

Facebook’s faceless cops see those eye-catchers, and immediately equate my words with the misleading headlines you see tacked on so many “stories” which are designed to, well, fool and inflame people.

Now I know why I use the exclamation daggers, and most of my readers know why as well.

And it’s not to fool or inflame people.

From day one, it was a way to interject an added layer of excitement, to set myself apart from the newspapers for which I previously wrote.

I’ve positioned myself as an alternative, with a more impassioned, more pro-Coupeville writing style than I used in my previous editorial life.

But I hold fast to many of the rules I learned from my newspaper mentors.

I don’t make stuff up, I get confirmation, I publish news.

A human being who reads my articles knows that. They might not like every story I write, but they can see I’m not some rabid nut screaming at the world from his mom’s basement, or a faceless bot trying to collect “likes.”

Sure enough, when I tested this out, simply removing the exclamation points and leaving my headlines exactly, word-for-word, the same as before, presto, no problem posting links whatsoever.

So, I face a quandary.

I can continue to be the same obstinate curmudgeon I am with most things relating to my writing, or I can, on this one small thing, be smart and accept you have to sometimes go with the flow.

Ultimately, the double exclamation point headlines are part of what makes Coupeville Sports what it is, but they don’t define it.

I can live without them, if I have to, but I can’t live without what is, regretfully, the biggest tool in driving readers to my work.

There’s a good chance you’re reading this article right now because you clicked on a Facebook link.

So fine, Zuckerberg, if it’ll get your soul-sucking bots off my case (and give them time to get back to stealing all my personal info), I can adapt.

The double exclamation points go on hiatus, at least for now.

Give a little, to get a lot.

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A fraction of the athletes who have powered Coupeville Sports over the past six years.

Best part of a blog anniversary? Getting a giant cookie from your supporters.

It’s still the middle of the summer.

That was the first sentence to be published here on Coupeville Sports, way back in the Mesozoic Era, or Aug. 15, 2012, if we’re being precise.

And now, here we are, six years and 6,258 articles later.

I’ve survived being temporarily banned from the CHS press box, attacked by a South Whidbey blog which belly-flopped and floated away after publishing two whole articles, and twice flirting with bringing this whole endeavor to a premature end.

Fueled by countless tasty goodies offered up from faithful fans, transported by “the car that wouldn’t die” (until it did last week…), I endure.

And fight on, from world headquarters on the shores of Penn Cove,¬†publishing random articles at 2 AM, while using a computer powered by three imaginary hamsters on a treadmill (Thaddeus, Leopold and Lil’ Skippy).

If you look back at the history of Coupeville Sports, it began in anger, but has (hopefully) morphed into something bigger and better over time.

I was cheesed off in Aug. 2012.

The Coupeville Examiner, where my words appeared for 15 years, through thousands of movie columns and sports stories, had just sold itself to a Canadian behemoth which already owned the Whidbey News-Times and South Whidbey Record.

Shortly after that lil’ bit of journalistic seppuku, all of my Examiner articles forever disappeared off the internet.

Having been paid very little for my freelance work (which was fine and my choice, because at the time I bought fully into the idea we were fighting the “Evil Empire”), my by-lined stories were all I had.

And then poof. They were gone, short of tracking down and buying a print copy of every back issue of The Examiner.

Whether it was a truly accidental data entry error, or an intentional, thought-out middle finger from a giant corporation, doesn’t really matter.

It was enough to goad me into launching my own news outlet, and, at least in the early days, keep me hammering away at my keyboard.

I was much chippier in the earlier days of Coupeville Sports, starting tiffs with athletes, coaches and supporters from South Whidbey, ATM and King’s, to name but a few.

Some of it was entertaining, much of it was good for fueling readership growth, but ultimately, it wasn’t the path I needed to be on.

There’s a reason other local blogs like Island Politics have vanished from the scene. If all you pump out is bile, eventually you’ll choke to death on it.

And, while Coupeville Sports was, at worst, .02% of an equal to the slimy cesspool the IP morons created in their basement/dungeon, I’ve tried to go in more of a positive, constructive direction as I (slowly) mature.

Most days, anyway…

Now we’re heading into year #7, and league #3. From the Cascade Conference to the Olympic League and now on to the North Sound Conference, at least for a bit.

Coupeville is among the smallest 1A schools in the state and there is a solid chance the Wolves will be on the move again shortly, most likely down to 2B.

For at least one year, though, it’s reunion time, as CHS links back up with former rivals South Whidbey, King’s, Granite Falls, Sultan and new foe Cedar Park Christian.

Football practice kicks off today, with all the other fall sports set to open this coming Monday. Middle school sports start soon after.

A new school year brings with it the possibility of new stars, new story-lines, new surprises.

Having gotten past a slight bump in the road recently, I am recommitted and re-energized, and, as always, deeply appreciative of my readers.

Your support, both financially and emotionally, is what drives me to keep going, documenting the ever-unfolding story of athletics on the prairie.

Coupeville Sports, from day one to wherever that finish line may be, will remain free to read. No pay wall, ever.

And while I may be the one writing the blog, it remains very much a community effort.

The more info you pass on to me, the more complete my coverage can be. If there is ever a question, “Should I tell him about…” the answer is always “Yes, you should.”

When it comes to what appears on Coupeville Sports, if you like something, say something. Maybe just as importantly, if you don’t like something, say something.

Praise or criticism, free food or angry glares, it all provides me with a compass to use as I chart our journey.

Where the path we’re blazing is going to end up, none of us know. But it should be interesting getting there.

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