New Facebook newsfeed

Plenty of press at the moment on Facebook’s new take on what a news feed should be—first reported by Filip Struhárik under the title “Biggest drop in Facebook organic reach we have ever seen”.

In Filip’s piece he notes that FB is testing this new feed in “Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia” and this seemed to be supported by Adam Mosseri, the head of News Feed at FB, with the following tweet.

OK, fair nuf.

Here is what I am seeing in Bali, Indonesia.

Facebook homepage:

Now, on the above page, I can scroll forever and never see an unpaid/promoted item from a page I’ve liked. Nada. The only way I see them is in this “Pages stories you may like” insert. Paid/promoted posts appear as normal.

This is the same behaviour Filip wrote about.

In Filip’s case, the unpaid items have been buried I mean, moved, to the “Explore Feed” tab, but in my case this is what I see:

Some dude with a big fish from a page I have not liked but Facebook thinks I might want to. Now I can scroll forever here and all I see are items from pages Facebook thinks I might like—not from pages I have actually liked.


So where are the unpaid items from pages I’ve liked?

I tried the “Pages” tab and Iget this:

This is the “Top suggestions” from Facebook—essentially the same as the Explore tab, but this time better targeted (liked by my friends etc). But, where are the unpaid items from pages I’ve liked?

Lets try the “Invites” tab.

This is a summary of all the pages I have been invited to like. If I click on one, I just get the FB page for that organisation. That is not a news feed—and I don’t like these pages anyway.

Lets try the “Liked pages” tab.

This is a summary of all the pages I have liked, so am getting close, but there is no feed here. If I click on one, I just get the FB page for that organisation. That is not a news feed.

The last tab is “Your pages” which just links to a couple of pages I manage.

So as far as I can see, as a user in Indonesia, one of Facebook’s largest markets, unpaid items from pages I have liked have not been relegated to the Explore tab but instead have been entirely removed from Facebook’s feeds.

This doesn’t make the tweet from the FB staffer up top inaccurate of course, but it does suggest they’re running another, even more damaging test, here in Indonesia.

Thirteen points on thirteen years

After first announcing Travelfish had turned 14, I did some basic math and realised the business is actually only 13 years old. So, aside from improve your math, here are some other thoughts, thirteen to be exact, on thirteen years of running a travel website.

Work practises
* Your laptop will take all the time you give it.
* Own your mistakes.
* Listen to your readers and users but don’t follow their every whim.

Social media
* Facebook is better for traffic than Twitter.
* Twitter is better for making connections than Facebook.

Travel guide stuff
* Stick to your principles. There is no single “right way” to create a travel guide.
* Covering obscure places that nobody goes to, is the best part of the gig.
* Destinations that nobody goes to will earn you next to no money. They are very easy to rank for though.
* Don’t assume that submitted corrections are always accurate.

Money stuff
* Look after, listen to, and pay your staff as best you can.
* Don’t assume readers won’t pay for what you are doing.
* Don’t write for free.

Most importantly
* Remember to take a holiday. This one took me twelve years.

Managing travel photos – is this possible?

A common problem we have at Travelfish is managing photos. Managing author submissions is no major issue – we use Dropbox for that – they share a folder on their laptop/desktop with us via Dropbox and we see the pics, then we pull them off and into local folders so we can use as needed.

We struggle more though with our home setup. Basically there are two Macbooks – Sam and mine – they’re not networked. Each has their own distinct photo library local to that laptop. These two libraries are organised differently — mine by location, Sam’s by a different method. This is ok when we are in range of each other’s laptops, but when one of is is away and needs a pic from the other’s machine, it is a hassle.

An ideal solution would be to mirror the image organisation system onto the two machines, and introduce a third machine, which would automatically sync with my and Sam’s machines, making a central copy of everything, plus copying images from Sam’s to mines and mine to Sam’s to fill any blanks, update with new images and so on. Essentially they’d then be three collections of the same image library, so if one of us were away, they’d still have a copy of everything the other had — at least up to the moment we went away.

We don’t want to use Dropbox or some other Cloud solution as we’re often where internet is poor and the combined gallery is about 50,000 pics.

Is the ideal situation I describe above possible? Or is there a better way?

Any suggestions much appreciated!

Request for link removal

A Saturday morning exchange with a Phuket villa operation that has been slammed by Google for dodgy link building aka spamming. Start from the bottom.


So what you’re trying to say is something along the lines of:

“We’re sorry for spamming Travelfish in a boneheaded attempt to try and game Google. To be honest, we’re not actually sorry at all, but, as Google caught us at it and busted our chops we’re feigning sorrow. You can tell we’re not actually sorry at all as we imply in the email that Travelfish added the link themselves rather than fessing up that it was our moronic link building actions that saw it there in the first place.”

When what you really should be saying is:

“We spammed Travelfish in order to try and game Google. Google caught us. Please remove our filthy spam and we’re truly sorry for any inconvenience this caused and it most certainly will not happen again.”

Let me know


On 3/22/14 5:43 AM, XXX wrote:
> Dear Webmaster,
> I am contacting you on behalf of XXX. We noticed that you
> have links to our website XXX on the following
> pages:
> While we appreciate the links, we are currently attempting to recover
> from penalization by Google Penguin. I am respectfully requesting that
> you remove these links to our website, as they are no longer in line
> with our Internet marketing goals.
> Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions about
> removing these links.
> Thank You,
> XXX on behalf of XXX

Stuart McDonald

Travelfish — the website other travel writers use


We want travellers to love Southeast Asia as much as we do.

Cheap hotel in Istanbul

Very quick rant here as have to dash for P&T night, but spurned by a piece on ianditravelmedia regarding Google softening Panda stuff, I went and googled “Cheap Istanbul hotel” (note the singular).

Here’s the result:

I'm an artist at heart.

I’m an artist at heart.

The top few are, as we have come to expect, blended in ads., as is the stuff at the bottom, you know, just before the organic listings.

But in between, look at the other listings. These used to go to Google Places, which I assume Google has along with everything else rolled into +. Over half of them go to travel agents.

I Googled “hotel” not “hotels”. With a plural, yes an OTA may be a reasonable result as I’m looking for a selection, but with the singular, absolutely not.

And really, when people have come to expect “places” to be in “places” listing travel agents in a location map for a query on hotels seems well off the bat.

Think some Istanbul travel agencies are taking the piss here. Try your home town – do you get a result for a single property?