The Public Record Office has finally got its 1901 census test site (www.census.pro.gov.uk) live on the web. It launched earlier this year, but after a few hours was unable to cope with demand. It is the first major UK online family and history search service, but the only downside is the way it is charged. Users pay per person or per address search. It costs 75p to view a census page and 50p to view details of everyone at an address. A flat-rate daily or monthly fee allowing unlimited searches would be useful.
It’s official, or at least for me it’s official, The Guardian newspaper is the best place to get a mention for a website. Within hours of appearing in Matthew Norman’s Diary, my website started to get e-mails from readers. Norman had referenced the website I started with my wife, mentioning in particular our wedding section, which had been there for more than four years. Over several days, we had a few mentions in the column which resulted in someone paying homage to my wife via a website at www.geocities.com/bunderfan.
Do people actually bother to text messages to media outlets? TV and radio stations encourage people to text their comments, but only a handful of messages are ever mentioned – despite it costing people upwards of 10p a message. Have you tried to encourage your readers, viewers or listeners to text you? What experiences did you have? Last year, mobile networks admitted millions of text messages weren’t reaching their destinations or were taking a long time to arrive. It’s possible to text messages via the web for free, apart from the cost of going online. Sign up at www.02.co.uk and you’ll get several hundred text messages a month for nothing. Meanwhile, a text messaging company has been fined £50,000 by telephone watchdog ICTIS for sending misleading messages. Moby Monkey sent a message saying people had won a prize and asking them to call a premium rate number to claim it. It arrived several times on some people’s phones, causing a real nuisance.
If you’re thinking about putting ads on your site but are put off by the high cost of ad tracking software, have a look at AdCycle (www.adcycle.com). Sign up for a free 30-day trial and if you’re happy with the way it works for your banners, buttons and other ad links, you pay around £100. It’s a worthwhile investment before deciding if there is a need for a bigger package, as it offers much of what the bigger advertising tools do at a fraction of the cost.