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Commentary for: 24 November 1997

To Link or Not to Link?
Regular Aardvark Weekly readers will remember that I've been involved in more than my fair share of "scraps" over hypertext linking and the ethics, legalities and practicalities thereof.

Well just a bit of an update is probably in order after some recent events in this area.

The Shetland News versus Shetland Times case, the one which really got the ball rolling from a media perspective, has been settled.

In a fit of good-sense, both parties agreed to settle out of court. I suspect that the Shetland Times (linked to) wised-up to the fact that they were probably going to get as much benefit from the links as the Shetland News (the linkers).

Another item on the wires though was the LA Times announcement that they were going to clamp down on those sites that link to their content in an unreasonable manner - basically through the use of frames.

Fair enough too. I believe that sites have a reasonable right to link - but only if they do so in a fair and reasonable manner.

To elaborate - when you're linking to other sites you have to be absolutely certain that you don't infringe their intellectual property rights OR their trademarks. In some cases (decided by the linked-to site, this goes as far as to make sure that the Location line on the browser should display the URL of the linked site - not that of your own site.

Just as importantly - if you link to a site in such a way as to imply that the site concerned is somehow endorsing your own service or content then you better make sure you get their permission and respect their wishes if they refuse such permission.

Why do I raise this last point? Well read on...

What an idiot!
Well, he's at it again folks, everyone's favourite Net cowboy has, after a brief period of apparent reform, returned to his netiquette-breaching, copyright infringing ways.

Of course, we all know of who I speak, but I'm not about to do him the favour of providing even more free publicity.

Suffice to say that the cowboy concerned has been posting his off-topic messages to usenet again and has created his own directory of Web designers. Now I know that at least one company included in that list has requested to be removed. Suffice to say that the cowboy's response was "in keeping with his reputation".

Be very careful my little goucho friend - you're treading on some very dangerous legal ground here. I strongly suspect that by refusing to remove that link you are opening yourself to legal action under trademark law. Of course I won't mention the way you're breaching my own copyright by using an image without permission - and in full knowledge that such use is against my wishes.

I hope all the sandle-wearing, bleeding-heart liberals who criticised me so strongly for highlighting this guys activities feel suitably chaste and realise that I only publish the facts. If the facts are unappealing then don't shoot the messenger!

Maybe I'm flogging a dead horse.. but!

Web sites - a cost or an investment?
Here's proof - Web ads work!
We've all seen the multitude of banner ads that are on just about every half-popular site on the Web these days. You've got to ask though - do they work?

My favourite question is "What was the second to last banner ad you saw on the Web" - can YOU remember?

Well I know, based on looking at my logs, banner ads do work. A good number of people click on the ads and are taken off to the advertiser's site. What happens after that is beyond my control but I know that both 7am and Aardvark seem to do a pretty good job of delivering eyes to Web-sites through the banner ads you see there.

It seems that some advertisers are pretty impressed with what the Web can do for their sales. Check out this article in Business Week where Toyota USA found that they achieved a 5% conversion rate from Web inquiries to vehicle sales. That's right, one in every 20 people who found their way to requested details through the Web ended up buying a Toyota car. The Web accounted for over 7,000 Toyota vehicle sales last year alone. That's impressive!

If Toyota New Zealand's Web site is as good as the US one (quite frankly I think both sites could be a lot better) and we pro-rata the figures then they should sell over 100 vehicles as a result of Web-site inquiries this year - which is pretty amazing. I suspect that if Toyota USA had spent a little more time making their web site more ergonomic and easy to navigate they may have sold even more.

If Toyota NZ don't sell their 100 vehicles then maybe a Web-site review will be called for.

Some useful sites
I've come across a number of quite interesting sites over the past few weeks so I thought I'd share some with you.

How about The Website Garage? It's a neato little site that goes a few steps beyond simple HTML validation to include such things as a check of how many sites link to yours, how quickly your site loads and a few other odds and ends. Unfortunately, much of its judgments are very subjective (who says that 40K is a maximum for a Web page?) and the spell checking uses a US dictionary - but it's worth throwing some of your favourite sites through it to see how they pan out.

For some real fun - try submitting some of the sites created by our top Web Designers and see how they rank ;-)

And speaking of ranking ... if you want to compare your site to others in the same field, and get some pretty nice statistical reporting as well then don't bother with a simple 3rd-party hit counter, drop in to Web Side Story.

They offer a very nice service - and while your their you can find a lot of other interesting sites that are ranked in order of popularity. Just to see how effective their service was, I added the quietest part of the 7am site - the 7am Clock page, under the category of Marketing - drop in and see how it's ranking today.

Some handy sites I've seen

And the winner is...
The Aardvark Awards
Yes, it's coming up to that time of the year again - the time when you and I decide who's going to win an Aardvark Award for 1997.

The Awards will be handed out in December and for those who can't remember the categories or who won last year, check out those results for 1996.

I hope to have sponsors for some of the awards this year - if YOU want to sponsor an award, drop me an email and we'll talk. It's a good way to get some long-term advertising!

And while we're on the subject of looking back at last year (almost), check out my 6 predictions for 1997 - how do you think I did? You'll get a chance to mark my report card in December.

This Week's Featured Aardvark Enabled Site

C R a Z Y . n E t

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I Can't Believe It's True!

Most sensible Web designers consider their own sites to be the ultimate showcase of their skills and abilities. They labour long and hard to produce a site that highlights just how good they are.

Of course, there are exceptions

Come on guys - "Nelson/Marlborough's largest and most experienced Web presence provider" can do better than that!

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