This article is inspired by a topic on the best cycling-related forum in the world (at least in my opinion): BikeForums.net. The topic is about BikeGremlin (after almost a decade of hard work and hundreds of high-quality articles, I got a topic 🙂 ), and its name is:
“Bad info high in Google results.”
That post questions the reliability/correctness of BikeGremlin website information (and info on forums and the Internet in general), and I think that’s a topic worth discussing.
I originally posted this on my cycling-related site, but I think that the same principles apply to this IT-related website.
Table Of Contents (T.O.C.):
- Information on the Internet, in general
- The SEO scourge
- BikeGremlin website(s)
- My credentials (knowledge and experience)
- Errors and corrections
- How to find reliable information on the Internet?
1. Information on the Internet, in general
I’ve already touched upon this topic in the “About me” page:
…Then came the internet. The treasure of human knowledge and experience at one’s fingertips – click of a button away! However, with that also came the problem of, how should I put it… integrity! Anyone can write anything, be published online and present themselves as an expert. From my own field of expertise (computers and bicycle mechanics notably), I find more and more misinformation – even on some reputable, popular websites. Apart from outright wrong information, which is relatively easy to spot and correct, there’s lots of incomplete information and, even more “dangerous”, information that is structured in such a way that it can easily lead a novice to a wrong conclusion.Relja Novović
This problem was present since the beginning of Internet. How can a novice know which source of information is good? That’s a logical, reasonable question. Before I attempt to answer it, I’ll explain how things got even worse:
2. The SEO scourge
This is primarily a cycling-related website and I’ll try to be brief and to the point. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” Basically: it’s about “marking” your articles so that search engines (Google, Bing and the likes) can easily “understand” what they are about. For example:
This picture has, what is invisible to you, a description called an “alt-tag” that says: “Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza II torque wrench.”
You can read more about this in the article “SEO – Website optimization ”.
To make a good article (that ranks well on Google), you must know the topic you are writing about, and be good at writing (and explaining/teaching). Then you get a lot of visits to your website, because it is near the top of search results.
Unfortunately, human greed resulted in countless companies doing all they can to get their page (usually with a shopping link) to show at the top when you “Google” something. They resort to all sorts of shady tricks (one, rather basic dirty SEO trick example).
Companies won’t pay for an expert to write articles for their sites (and a writer, if the expert is not a good writer). Instead, companies (under)pay content writers.
An “SEO content writer” is a person who Googles about a topic they are paid to write about, and basically regurgitates the information they came across (often written by similar content writers). You see where this is going? That’s why Google search results are often full of crap.
That’s why I asked the admin(s) of the LowEndSpirit forum to change my tag to “Restless Writer”. 🙂
Almost daily I get money offered to publish content-writer-written mediocre articles on my website (“guest posts”) – it’s a hyperproduction, and they often use “artificial intelligence” (link to my thoughts on that) to cheaply produce a ton of such garbage.
3. BikeGremlin website(s)
The basic idea for starting my site was to share my knowledge and experience. I still stick to that.
What I wasn’t expecting is that knowledge sharing works two-ways, even via a website, and reader feedback & corrections have allowed me to learn a lot of new stuff myself.
In that sense, I see my work as a contribution to the community (and humanity, if you like).
Of course, opinions are divided: 🙂
BikeGremlin was founded and stands on a healthy, humane basis. Google ranking, and even website revenue, came as an inevitable consequence of doing what I love and think is good and right. They weren’t a primary goal (and that hasn’t changed). I’m very lucky for being able to do in life what I would be doing even if I didn’t need any money.
With a note that the site revenue, when I calculate the time it took (and takes) to write all the articles (and deduct all the WordPress website running costs), is under $1 per hour. Serbian bicycle shop mechanic pays start from $3 per hour, while web-design work pays from $10 per hour (for the absolute beginners). Similar goes for YouTube (can you make money on YouTube?).
4. My credentials (knowledge and experience)
Briefly, I have over two decades of experience working with computers (professionally) and riding & fixing bicycles – with a relatively brief experience of working in a bicycle shop and running my own bicycle shop. For more details, see the following pages:
Vast majority of articles (and videos) I made are about stuff I have both theoretical knowledge about and practical experience with.
Based on my experience with local bicycle shops (and on the Internet), it is fair to say that my knowledge and experience are among the top few percent. That is sad. I wish there were more experts and that we, as a species, were getting smarter – but it seems like a global trend is towards dumbing down.
By nature, I am inclined to systematize knowledge (and make notes and instructions). It’s how my brain works.
On top of that, I have a lot of experience with teaching, and I’m a pretty good writer (and speaker).
That’s a surprisingly rare set of skills, and it would be a shame to not put them to good use.
Mourinho the special one – LOL 🙂
All in all, this is the best I can do. 🙂 With the best of intentions. To make matters worse, as my friend Gox joked in 2015: “Unfortunately, in a few years’ time, your website will be the best cycling website in the world.” 🙂
5. Errors and corrections
Only those who do nothing can afford to never make mistakes. That doesn’t mean one should not pay attention and be careful, just that one should accept the fact that mistakes are bound to happen every now and then.
English is not my native, and I often joke about my “bed spilling.” 🙂
With that in mind, to me it is very important to correct any mistakes. At the time of writing, this site has about 2,000 comments, some of which are pointing out the mistakes noticed by visitors.
In late 2023, I built the BikeGremlin forum, because I think that is a better way to share and search for comments, questions, feedback and corrections (why I built my forum).
A Serbian proverb says: “Two heads are wiser than one.”
6. How to find reliable information on the Internet?
There is a useful links page on my website. However, even those sources are not perfect and 100% mistake free. That is why, for better or for worse, it is important to think logically, critically, check information and study.
My video about how to assess the “experts’ expertise” and check information:
“Critical thinking – Objective and correct information on the Internet“
There are no shortcuts, no “autopilot.” I do my best to make BikeGremlin remain a reliable source of information, but, coming from me, don’t take everything I say or write as gospel. Use your head and common sense. And please let me know if you find any errors. 🙂
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