Part 4: Big Bully Bank Case: Deposition Inquisition

If you’re in a lawsuit and going to be deposed, keep this in mind: the attorneys questioning you are not interested in the truth.  They are there to size you up, learn all they can about your weaknesses and your thinking process so they can devise ways to get around your truth come trial time.

They will ask you questions about things they have no business asking, that have no bearing on the case whatsoever, and will demand that you answer them.  Why?  Because they can.

If you’re there representing yourself, they will establish early on that they are the big bullies in the room and that you must, by law, dance to their tune.  Sometimes they bring their clients to stare you down while you testify.  Sometimes those clients, as in my case, will behave like an ass, snickering as she (the realtor) huddles with her attorney and making strange noises like an elephant.  Don’t let it bother you.  There’s worse to come.

The deposition is the playground of attorneys, maybe more so than the trial itself.  At least at trial you have a monitor, the judge, demanding that you all play nice.  Though, to tell you the truth, I don’t expect much fairness at trial either.  When the cards are stacked against you every step of the way, thanks to a preposterous legal system, all you can do is tread water until you drown.

Four Against One
I received notice of my deposition from one attorney, the one handling the case on behalf of both bully banks.  When I arrived at the deposition, lo and behold, three other opposing counsels were there to interrogate me.  None of them had provided me with the required prior written notice per California civil code.

One of the attorneys for the defendants who came to my home and threatened me and tried to break in said they (the attorneys) are allowed to break this law.  Why am I not surprised?

A Simple Courtesy … How Nice
The law offices were fairly comfortable, considering; coffee, water and soft drinks were set up on a sideboard.  I realized this was more for the benefit of the attorneys than for the persons being interrogated.  How do I know this?  The attorneys always get validated parking while deponents get grilled then bounced out the door.   The attorney running the deposition was kind enough to agree to give us validated parking after my partner said we wouldn’t show up without it, only fair considering how far we had to drive.

During the interrogation I did have a cup of coffee to refresh my weary brain.  I half-way expected them to dust for fingerprints after I left the building, so I made sure to wipe the cup clean after use.

Grilled, Medium Rare
First to take a crack at me was the host attorney for the banks.

I drank lots of water and coffee and then took lots of breaks to eliminate said water and coffee.  It seemed a prudent course of action to remain cool, calm and collected given that all that was missing from this inquisition was a rack and the screams from other inmates in adjoining conference rooms.

Ms. Slime, the realtor defendant who was present, made her elephant noises and chuckles as I testified.  She exhibited the same disrespectful behavior toward me as what caused this whole lawsuit to develop in the first place. And, not a single attorney admonished her for her behavior.  Now that I think about it, maybe she was the RACK and I was supposed to scream in agony as she stared me down.   I guess even she couldn’t stand it after awhile; she left right at the lunch break.

The banks’ interrogation was extensive, at least on one level.  An extraordinary amount of time was spent NOT questioning me about what actually happened, but rather on who was writing funny and nasty things about his clients on the Internet.  I’ve seen the stuff to which he was referring and countless other material from frustrated people all over the country.  This Big Bully Bank is definitely an entity that deserves whatever people are dishing out against it.  As far as I’m concerned, however, I started my legal blog long after my deposition.  It seemed the right thing to do, given how abusive the bully banks have been toward me over quite a long period of time.

Acting School
 Deposed
The second attorney questioning me was the one for the property management company I refer to as “PMS”, the banks’ agent, that issued orders for the local trash company to descend on my home.  He seemed particularly fascinated with my acting career and spent nearly the whole time allotted to him questioning me about my theories and process of acting and discussing roles I had done and how I prepared for them.  The excuse he gave was that he had an interest in the profession.  I think he was really interviewing me to see if I was good enough to perform at one of his kid’s birthday parties.

After about twenty minutes of this nonsense, my co-plaintiff slipped me a note:

Attorney #1:  Mr. “B” just handed you a note.  What does it say?
Me: I’ll let him tell you.
Attorney #2: No. He’s not on the record.
Me: (reading) “He is fucking with you.  Stay relaxed.”

he-is-fucking-wu

Afterwards, I told him I wished I had an agent as interested in my career as he seems to be.  Even though we’re on opposite sides in this stupid lawsuit, I think I’ll invite him to my next show, whenever that may be.  Who knows, maybe he can introduce me to a competent, go-getter of an entertainment attorney who will also be interested in my career.  Is that too much to ask?

One Honk Too Many
Next up was the obnoxious attorney for the elephant noise making realtor.  That would be the blockhead.  He had  the nerve to have called us Plaintiffs “arrogant” (and rude) in case management papers filed with the court.  I’ll tell you what’s arrogant, defending a lying obnoxious fiend of a client, lying in court papers, lying and refusing to properly answer discovery demands, ignoring letters seeking to resolve issues of discovery.   That’s ARROGANT.  He asked me a question and after I answered it, he belligerently asked it again … and again until I finally got fed up with him and dared raised my voice … to wake him the hell up.  If I had an apple available I could have hit him in the noggin with it, although I doubt he would have had any “Eureka”  moments even if he had been struck with a cannon ball.

No Truth, Just Foul

The attorney for the trash out company was next to toss questions at me.  Actually, most attorneys really weren’t that interested in learning the truth of events that played out; they’re only interested in how much money you can prove that you lost.  So if it’s emotional damage you’re claiming and you didn’t admit yourself to the local psych ward and get bundled up in a straight jacket for months or years on end while being pumped with anti-psychotics, they don’t believe you have a claim against their clients.

They all ended their respective question sessions with “So tell me, what is it you think my clients did to you?”  My mind went totally blank for a long time because I kept thinking “Were you not paying attention for the last two years?”

I eventually came to and answered that question to the best of my ability.

The defendants trespassed, attacked, threatened, lied, cheated, concealed, then they lied, cheated, concealed even more.  It’s just that now it’s their attorneys doing the attacking, threatening and concealing.  I so look forward to trial.  It’s gonna be a hell of a show.

When we left the law office, I noticed the lead attorney on his knees drawing a chalk outline where I last STOOD.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Part 3: Big Bully Bank Case: Before Trial Comes Discovery … Sort Of

I’ve laid out the preliminaries of my case in Part 1 and Part 2, now I want to discuss how a case does or doesn’t move forward to trial.

Bullshit
I am now in what’s called the Discovery Phase.  It’s a euphemism for BULLSHIT.  You ask them questions; they ask you questions; they hide behind dozens of objections to each of your questions; sometimes you get an answer, often you don’t.

In the early stages of my case, the bully banks hired their first set of attorneys.  These jerk-offs sent back responses to my discovery requests with objections that they could not respond at all because they and, presumably, the bully banks themselves had no comprehension of such terms as these: people, residents, relationship, communications, eviction, foreclosure, foreclosed upon, successful, visit, check on, checked, foreclosures and/or evictions, evict, California Code, representative, court.  Seriously!

I later discovered that a number of people on the internet from all across America were complaining of the same English language deficit by big bully banks and their various brain-dead attorneys as I had experienced.  It was frightening to learn that attorneys, after all that schooling, still cannot understand English, nor do they know how to use a dictionary.  I wanted to send them one, but, out of principle, I refused.  After all, they earn far more money that I do and surely, I thought, they could afford to buy one if they really wanted to.  Obviously they do not.   I suppose they’ll try to blame the paralegal.

I also noticed that after they sent all their non-responses, they didn’t even to bother sending the required verification by a bank official under sworn testimony that says everything they just sent is all true.   How telling!  Later, I learned from a different attorney in the case that when all they send back is a bunch of bullshit objections, they don’t need to have it verified.  As I said … how telling.

Then, the big bully banks stepped up their attacks by way of hiring new higher-priced litigators to mash me into the ground.  “How dare you, little lady, think you can get away with suing us?  You’ll never work in this town again! — I’m sure that’s what they WOULD have said if they bothered to think about me at all.”

More Bullshit
: From the Trusted REO Realtor
Anyway, the attorney for the slimy real estate agent did the same thing after sending non-responses in his client’s name with no verification from her.  First he claimed they couldn’t understand the meaning of the phrase “legally foreclosed” and “legal title” that had already been clearly defined at the start of my requests.  Then another objection was that his response would contain “secrets” and special “notes” that were protected by the court – this evasion tactic is called “attorney-work product”.  In this case, it was very clearly more  BULLSHIT.  When I reported to him that none of his objections were valid, he simply ignored me as he’s done repeatedly in the past.

I’ll refer to this attorney as “Mr. Blockhead”.  If the shoe fits …  call a spade a spade, you know what I mean?  He’s representing the slimy licensed realtor defendant.  If a licensed realtor doesn’t know the meaning of the terms “legally foreclosed” and “legal title” then ‘we’ve got trouble, that’s right, trouble, right here in River City’ – that’s from “The Music Man”, in case you missed it.

So how slimy is this realtor?  Why, she’s so slimy, she swore under oath that she wasn’t an independent contractor hired by the banks at the time of the incident, but rather was an employee of a real estate firm that conveniently went bankrupt soon thereafter.  She claimed her employers were the ones hired by the bully banks.  She also claimed that she had not a single document in her possession to support her alleged employment.  We had a discussion with the owner of the bankrupt firm and she was nice enough to confirm that Ms. Slime solicited the banks business all on her own.   I then asked one of the bully banks about that and they, also under oath, denied they had hired the real estate company Ms. Slime mentioned.  Then the realtor turned around, in yet another sworn-under-oath-declaration, stated that she was an independent contractor hired by the banks, after all.   Was I the only one actually reading this discovery bullshit?

Speaking of Slime
For about a year and a half, this realtor defendant and her blockhead attorney had been declaring in multiple court-filed documents that she had no insurance.  Then during a short period, for whatever reason, in which she was representing herself, she got on a court call with an unknown attorney and swore to the judge that this guy was her new insurance lawyer.  The two of them finagled a two-month stay in proceedings.  Not only had there been no required substitution of attorney in order for that representation to be valid, but neither that attorney nor his law firm were actually representing Ms. Slime.    She obviously performed this little stunt with the help of “officers of the court” in order to buy time so she could get her blockhead back in the game.

A few months later this lunatic refused to accept certified mail court documents from us.  Remember, she was representing herself and was obligated to receive such documents.  And it gets better … she then filed a TRO (temporary restraining order) against my co-plaintiff because he sent her mail.

And this is the kind of realtor the bully banks called their “trusted REO” partner.  Geez!

I Object!
I could give you the long list of other objections they send back but that would be a waste of time.  Suffice it you say, if you’re representing yourself, they will insist that by law you are required to answer every one of their questions, relevant or not, and that they don’t have to answer any, or at least, not many.  The same goes for document requests.  Most often the excuse they give is that after a “diligent search” the documents requested can’t be found.  What, they’re all buried in the sands outside Las Vegas with the bodies?  Maybe I’ll hire a private detective and have him look for their answers and documents in “River City”.  I have as much chance finding them there as anywhere else.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Part 2: Big Bully Bank Case: Operation Opposition


Now that I’ve gotten off my chest in Part 1, the basic injustices of the legal system in this country and the nonsense of the ACLU, back to the case.

After writing and filing the lawsuit against the group of wrongdoers — two big bully banks (one of which is an idiot mortgage servicing company), a property management services company that I like to refer to as “PMS” for the pain, gas, bloating and aggravation they’ve caused me, the local trash out company and the slimy realtor  — came the assault from their attorneys.  I forgot to mention, I made an error in my first draft so I amended it, not knowing that it would count against me when it comes time for the attorneys to attack it.  Apparently you’re allowed only so many attempts to get it right before the judge gets pissed and tosses it.

Demurrer This, Serve That
I survived three major assaults to have my complaint thrown out of court, one from the banks’ attorney and two from the realtor’s henchman.  Lots of writing, researching and rewriting went into it.  I also didn’t realize that you have to essentially try your entire case on paper to some extent, making sure you have all the elements of a cause of action, before you can actually get to trial.  These assaults in the early stages are called “demurrers” and they’re used to whittle down the number of defendants and your causes of action.  Many states have gotten rid of this silliness but not good old California.  The courts here must think everyone who lives in California is rolling in dough to waste or just too stupid to notice the stupidity.

At the same time I was fighting tooth and nail to get my case to stand, I was still trying to get some of the defendants properly served.  “PMS” was difficult because they’re out of state.  They also charge a lot more in that state for some reason to get the sheriff to drop off your documents.  It’s not as if I were asking them to visit “The Matrix” and shimmy up some fire escapes to serve the defendants.

The second hardest was the local trash out company.  Either the sheriffs in their neck of the woods were incompetent, vindictive or just in the trash-out company’s pocket, I don’t know, but when they sent back my paperwork with no explanation after screwing around with it for over a month, I hit the roof.  I gave those fuckers a piece of my mind too.

Finally, after receiving my complaint, “PMS” refused to answer it.  The attorney for that company told us he wanted to save his company the $395 filing fee.  I was astonished considering he works for a company with billions in assets.  I guess every nickel and dime counts for something with them.   It’s probably why their own contractors have taken to the internet to complain about them.  Penny pinchers!

Defaults and Defenses
I finally filed a default against “PMS”.  That got the attorney off his butt.  That’s when he came up with one of his excuses that God caused the trash out company to come to my house to threaten me and try to break in.  I would have welcomed God himself at my house that day or anytime thereafter.  Alas, HE was nowhere to be seen and HE was definitely out of earshot.  Why just the other day I exclaimed “Dear God, please rain down a plague on the houses of my enemies.”  I don’t know if HE heard me but with MY  luck I expect to hear from the attorneys soon enough; they’ve  been threatening me with summary judgment filings.  I’ll let you know how that turns out when the time comes.

Of course all of them came up with a whole lot more nonsensical “defenses” that they plop down on paper just for the hell of it, even though it has nothing to do with the case.  That’s how lazy they all are.  They don’t actually “answer” your complaint.

You just read their crap and laugh, at least until it’s time to file more bullshit paperwork and then you cry.  Stay tuned for more in this series.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Part 1: Big Bully Bank Case: The Beginning

—– “I loathe bankers. They rig the roulette wheel of commerce, very nearly destroyed the world economy, and they still think if they wear suits, they’ll be treated like respectable folk instead of the crooks that they are.” — Sherlock Holmes on the TV show “Elementary” —– That appeared on an October 2012 episode.  I’ve added it here, now, as I edit this post to add the following advisory:  I’ve been directed, and so, agreed, to change or remove the parties’ names to protect the guilty.

In 2009, I was at the receiving end of a big bank foreclosure against my landlord and an unannounced trash-out of my home that had a company of men and trucks roll up to my front door and then attempt to crash in through the back door.  I was home alone in a wooded environment where many surrounding homes were vacant at the time.  As a tenant, I had not been privy to the mortgage issues surrounding the house and, for whatever reason, I had not received any notice that events were playing out that would soon capture me in a web of lies and concealment by the banks and their various agents.

It took me about a year and a half to discover the real names of the trespassers who threatened me, invaded my privacy and attempted to break in.  The men also took unauthorized photographs of me and my home.  It ended up being one of the most harrowing incidents in my life.  I and my partner reported the incident to the sheriff’s department.

The realtor, hired as the property manager for the bully bank, and the property management service company, – I’ll call them “PMS” for short — it seems only apt, refused to tell us or the sheriff the names and location of the people who came to the house.  The same parties refused to divulge their contacts with the banks so we could discuss our situation which eventually led to terminations to our utilities during the year we fought to remain in our home subject to our lease.   Overall, at least half a dozen California civil, penal and business codes had been violated by the banks and the companies that supported them.  The realtor and a Vice President at the property management company thought it was funny that I had been traumatized by the incident.  The two of them, with their lies and concealment, prevented me, at the time, from having anyone criminally prosecuted.

We eventually filed a lawsuit against all the parties, a total of seven defendants, including two big bully banks, one deemed to be one of the largest foreclosers in the nation and its idiot mortgage servicing company.  We’re on our own against four law firms and headed for a February trial.  It seems even other attorneys don’t want to go up against the banks.  They know that big bucks will win every time.

Banks in the News
Robo-signing and mortgage fraud runs rampant.  Banks engage in securities fraud and then restructure to shield themselves from new regulations under the Dodd-Frank Reform Act. 

 We are one Nation Underfoot to the Banks.  Nothing but fraud, foreclosures and turmoil follows in the path of deregulation.

Government Agencies Useless
With respect to my case, not a single government agency in a position to investigate and punish unethical or fraudulent behavior, will do anything, not the Attorney General, not the Department of Real Estate and not the Contractors Board.  Their attitude is let the victims fend for themselves.  I’ve spent countless hours and lots of money trying to prosecute my case, none of which will be recoverable according to our absurd legal system.   Law enforcement agencies bow out when a civil suit is in progress.  They’re all lazy bums.

Defendants and their Attorneys
The defendants remain ensconced in their protected bubbles; the law apparently on their side and their high priced attorneys doing battle for them.  I wonder how’d they fare if they actually had to fend for themselves as I’m doing.  How many other people have been forced to fight expensive battles that our governments should be fighting for them?

As I attempt to prosecute my case I’ve discovered that while all the defendants hold themselves out to be experts on some level in mortgage servicing, foreclosures, property preservation and management and REO matters, not a single one of the non-banks bothered to find out if the banks’ actions were legal, if the one bank actually owned the property or if tenants were living in the house.  According to them nothing happened at all.   Alternately, they “entertain” the idea that a mistake “might” have been made; they’ve blamed us for being where we were legally permitted to be.  One defendant’s attorney blamed God in his response to our complaint, saying it was all an act of God.   Ultimately, no one will take any responsibility.  Intentional lying, concealing information and wholesale negligence is simply the way these people and companies do business in today’s environment.

The lawyer at the big firm handling the case on behalf of both banks told me personally that the banks would rather pay the attorneys to fight Plaintiffs than settle.

Foreclosure “mistakes” keep happening as companies rush to kick people out of their homes and sell off the properties.  In a nationally reported incident one company broke into the same home on three separate occasions and the home wasn’t even owned by a bank and wasn’t in foreclosure.  In another, it was the wrong house entirely.  The local trash out crew involved in my case has been sued by their own employees. In his complaint, one of the employees charged that the main man at this company, the guy who came to my home, had tried to run him over with his truck in a contentious personal attack.  Mister big shot bank attorney then stepped in again with this little nugget telling me that all this evidence will be kicked out come trial time and he’ll make sure of it.  It’s not even evidence against his clients.   How foolish we nonprofessionals are to think that the court would be interested in hearing evidence that supports the truth.

Fairness, Government, the ACLU and the Law
I keep coming back to the idea that there exists in this country the American Civil Liberties Union that will fight tooth and nail to protect some kid’s right to wear a tee-shirt to school emblazoned with some profanity on free speech grounds, but when it comes to actual civil liberties being threatened by fraud, illegal or unethical actions by our agencies, or having an enormously unfair legal system designed by attorneys for attorneys, as just a few examples, they are nowhere to be seen or heard.

As our own government agencies repeatedly turn a blind eye to the wrongs perpetrated against the public, I find it increasingly difficult to listen to the political claptrap spewed upon us come election time.   Bankers Trust went out of business in 1998 (embroiled in fraud) and that’s most apt given today’s vile and rampant bank fraud climate.  Unfortunately, there really is no one to trust anymore.  The bank reforms that are being touted in Washington are a spit in the bucket of fraud and complicity.  With respect to the $25 billion settlement between the government and the nation’s largest banks, the California Reinvestment Coalition said in September that “banks have made little progress on providing principal reduction to California homeowners, and instead have prioritized short sales — a tool that represented business as usual for banks before the settlement was ever announced.”  There you have it.  We’re on our own.

American civil liberties have been disappearing fast in this country.  Maybe we should all get together and form our own super PAC.  We could call it the Real American Civil Liberties Union.

I’ll be posting again on this topic to keep you abreast of this lawsuit insanity.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Social Networking Websites and Cross Promotion

by Ginger Marin

Okay, so you have a web site already and it looks nice and you’re satisfied it’s going to bring in visitors for you. Well, it probably will, but there’s more you could be doing and you could be doing it for just the cost of your time. Here’s a smart marketing tip: it’s called cross-promotion and here’s an easy and free way to do it.

Take advantage of social networking websites where you can build free websites and profiles to enhance your visibility and link back to your original site. Of course, if you don’t already have a website, you could build one effectively, in most cases for free, or maybe just for the cost of domain name registration, by using social networking websites.

Obviously you’ll want to find one that offers the best features so that you can network, cross-promote and thus showcase yourself or your business. Some social media websites allow you to sell products or services in addition to offering video sharing, photo galleries, blogs and forums. They’re all designed for easy communication among friends, new or old. Another advantage of joining good social networking websites is that they can also help members find a job or establish business contacts through free classified advertising.

No matter what you’re trying to promote: yourself, your business or an organization, when building your social networking website, remember to include important keywords and phrases when describing your site. If you’re a business make sure you select the most appropriate business category for your site.

The best social networking websites will also have the best search results so their members and visitors can locate you easily and quickly. Free promotion is worth its weight in gold whether you’re an individual promoting your talents or interests or a business selling products or an organization promoting an important message. Social networking websites are great sources to maximize your cross promotion potential.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Social Networking Websites – Tips For Building Your Online Profile

by Ginger Marin

Social networking websites are great fun for those wishing to establish and expand online relationships and network. To do that, though, you first need to build your online personal profile page. That’s where you design a page to reflect who you are or what you do. For example, individuals with talent can best promote themselves and their arts by using social networking websites that are geared toward entertainment in addition to personal profiles. Businesses may wish to find a site that offers business profiles where they may be able to also sell products or services. Certain types of organizations like charities and non-profits might seek out social networking websites that offer charity profile sites which allow them to accept donations.

• The first rule for building your online profile, though, would be that you must decide what you want to say. If it’s strictly a personal profile, then are you simply presenting yourself and all of your interests, or do you want to focus on a single aspect of your personality such as building a profile about your love of animals, for example?

• Also, when building your social networking website, remember to be as descriptive and detailed as possible, particularly in your use of important words and phrases in the title, keywords, and description fields in your administration area. That will make it easier for like-minded people to find you when they do a search.

• If you’re a business or organization, make sure you select the most appropriate business category for your profile. After all, if you’re on a social networking website then the whole purpose of your being there is business networking and promotion and people will need to locate you in the correct category.

• Make sure your profile is easy to read and navigate. It’s best not to overload your profile with large graphics that have large file sizes because the site will take too long to download. People are impatient and they’ll more likely just move on if your profile is too slow or convoluted.

When it comes time to adding friends to your network, the best advice is for you to choose the ones who reflect your personality and interests most. Businesses should especially take care with this feature. This will enhance your experience on a social networking website and leave your profile page looking a bit more professional than those who simply accept anyone and everyone.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Social Networking Websites – Your Connection to Online Communications & Relationships

by Ginger Marin

Social networking websites are a phenomenon on the Internet today. They allow members to express themselves, share interests, connect with old friends and make new ones.

And, these sites are no longer just for teenagers or college students; people of all ages and backgrounds have discovered that they can enhance their lives and promote their businesses in any number of ways through the connections they make at social networking websites.

Business owners are provided with new opportunities to network, sell products and services, while organizations can get their important messages across or request donations. Some social networking sites offer and actively promote business profiles.

Besides establishing important social and business relationships, social networking members can join groups and forums to communicate easily on any number of topics important to them. But, the whole experience really starts with the personal or business profile page. That’s where members can truly and uniquely express themselves by designing a page that reflects their personality or the message they’re trying to deliver.

Some such websites really go out of their way to provide the best tools so that members can build imaginative and customizable profiles to enhance their networking experience and, of course, to keep members coming back.

When building your personal or business profile page, you can post background and contact information as well as up-to-date messages. Blogs and Forums provide additional ways for members to express themselves; they can access other member’s journals and post their own comments. Linkbacks on business profiles help promote a company’s main website.

The experience of building and adding to a personal profile on social media websites can be so satisfying that some people spend more time at their computers than they do in any other activity.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Social Networking Websites – Smart & Simple Etiquette

by Ginger Marin

Social networking websites introduce people to new friends thus expanding their circles of online pals and even business acquaintances. But they are also introducing people to a number of important etiquette issues. Some people haven’t figured out yet how to be polite in this situation, though truthfully, some people still don’t have a clue about telephone, email or cell phone etiquette either.

In any case, if you want to elevate your Internet social graces on social networking websites, here are a few tips.

1. No Insults: If you’re ever in the mood to badmouth someone, zip it, instead! Humiliating someone on open forums such as social networking websites is not very cool; it’s actually pretty immature and will only serve to make you look silly. If someone tries to bully you into engaging in an online spitting match, your best bet is to just ignore them.

2. Moderate Communications: Don’t over do it when it comes to communicating with your network. People who constantly send announcements (including surveys, quizzes and junk mail) are simply abusing their friendships. Send bulletins only when and if you have big news to share. It can be downright annoying to be on the receiver end of nonstop emails.

3. No Chain Letters: Never use your social networking website to send out chain letters in the form of email blasts. You’ve seen the ones that say “Send this along to 10 friends or you will have bad luck for the rest of your life.” If you do get one yourself, just delete it. No one has time for this nonsense.

4. Keep Your Profile Simple: Make sure your profile is easy to read and navigate. Don’t overload your profile with large pictures that take forever to download. Some social networking websites will offer photo galleries that will reduce your pictures to thumbnails that can then be easily enlarged by an interested visitor. This is certainly preferable.

5. Keep Your Profile Clean: You never know who’s checking out your profile, so ideally, it’s better to avoid making people feel uncomfortable with an R-Rated site unless, of course, that’s what you really want and you know that your friends are okay with it.

6. Take Care With Friend Invitations: Don’t put people in an awkward position who don’t really want to add you. Be choosy about the people you add on. You may not want coworkers, for example, reading your personal info. Also, don’t confront someone who doesn’t want to be your friend. That is bad form.

7. Promotion Awareness: Lots of people use social networking websites to promote artists, products, services and even other websites. If you’re using your profile to promote something, be subtle in how you do it, because there’s a fine line between innocent promotion and spam.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Social Networking Websites – Parents, Kids & Online Safety

by Ginger Marin

With the popularity of social networking websites here’s are some words of caution. Not everybody trying to be your friend is really trying “to be your friend”. They may have other motives and it certainly behooves parents to know what they’re kids are into.

Keeping an eye on their activities will help protect identity (theirs and yours) and keep sexual predators at bay. Content such as foal language, bullying and threats, sexually explicit terminology and especially sexually explicit photos and videos can “magically” turn up in other members’ profile pages, photo galleries, in blogs, forums and groups.

Some social networking websites closely monitor certain word tags assigned to videos, photos and groups. They might also provide a direct link on their pages so members can easily report offensive content. Although offensive content can appear anywhere on a social networking website, the most explicit content seem to appear mostly in group forums. So it pays to be vigilant if you’re a parent trying to protect a child or you simply find these things offensive.

If you’re a parent, the very first thing you should do is teach your children about the possible dangers that exist on the Internet, particularly about situations that might crop up on a social networking website, for instance:

  • Remind them that on the Internet it’s easy for people to pretend to be someone else. They can easily change their name, age and gender in an effort to get close to children.
  • Tell them to never give out personal information about themselves, the family, neighbors or friends to strangers they may meet online.
  • Tell them not to post pictures of your house with identifiable numbers and street names or pictures showing a phone number.
  • Let them know that if they encounter something or someone dangerous they should tell you about it.
  • Tell them that if they ever receive an emailed picture with sexual content, or see something on the social networking website that they find disturbing, they should tell you about it immediately.

Social networking websites are fun and kids do want to participate in them. They’ll want to build personal profiles and explore the profiles of others. A good bit of safety advice is resist the urge to “tell all”. Your social networking experience can still be fun and rewarding. You’ll make new friends and yes, some of them may even turn out to be real “finds”. But on the Internet, a little common sense goes a long way. Enjoy and be safe.

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Website Traffic Rankings & Alexa: A Magical Mystery

by Ginger Marin

Web site “watchers”, those people who profess to be in the know about all things Internet have a tendency to rely on a traffic ranking site called Alexa. These watchers will refer to Alexa to get such information about a web site such as type of site, links to the site, number of people going to the site, page views, etc. While there is some valuable information being offered at Alexa, it is seriously limited as you will soon see.

I have discussed Alexa and traffic rankings with a number of people and there is one very important bit of information that many people simply do not understand. For example, Yahoo! is ranked number 1 by Alexa; Youtube is number 2 and Google is Ranked #3. That means any other web site ranked by them is going to have a higher number. To be popular in Alexa’s network, you would need to have the lowest number possible, not the highest. It seems simple, but trust me, some people just don’t grasp this.

Following are some paragraphs taken from the Alexa website. Read them carefully and you will see what I mean about its limitations. I have highlighted the pertinent sections and made my remarks in italics under them. Additionally at the very bottom, you’ll see a list of Alexa disclaimers. Read them carefully too. It makes one wonder if there is any value at all to Alexa. Oddly, it’s a brilliant scam of sorts. People by the masses, including allegedly smart industry people, have bought into Alexa’s nonsense.

“About the Alexa Traffic Rankings A listing of all sites on the Web, sorted by traffic…
Alexa computes traffic rankings by analyzing the Web usage of millions of Alexa Toolbar users. The information is sorted, sifted, anonymized, counted, and computed, until, finally, we get the traffic rankings shown in the Alexa service. The process is relatively complex, but if you have a need to know, please read on.”

My comments: People surf the web all the time and may visit many different sites in a given day or the same site everyday. Alexa can only measure a web site’s viewership and popularity based upon a person having previously downloaded the Alexa toolbar. This means that a web site’s traffic ranking is based only within the Alexa “community”, not within the entire activity of Internet usage.

“What is Traffic Rank? The traffic rank is based on three months of aggregated historical traffic data from millions of Alexa Toolbar users and is a combined measure of page views and users (reach). The three-month change is determined by comparing the site’s current rank with its rank from three months ago. For example, on July 1, the three-month change would show the difference between the rank based on traffic during the first quarter of the year and the rank based on traffic during the second quarter.”

My comments: This is patently untrue. I have the Alexa toolbar and I have personally seen the same web site’s ranking drop from a high of 140,000 to a low of 76,000 in a single day. The next day it was 76,000 in the late morning and it moved up to 188,000 before dusk that same day. Then the very next day, the ranking went from 188,000 in the morning to 197,000 just a few hours later. A few days after that it went from 197,000 to 195,000. About four days later the numbers jumped again to 199,000.

“Some Important Disclaimers” (my comments: how many people actually READ these before they bow to Alexa, the phony god of the internet? These disclaimers are quite important. Here’s another good example. I was speaking on the phone with a potential client who was precisely one of those people who really knew nothing about Alexa’s limitations simply because she hadn’t even bothered to read the page I am referring you to. On that occasion, each of us was looking at her web site’s ranking at Alexa and each of us saw an entirely different number with a variance of over 100,000!)

“The traffic data are based on the set of toolbars that use Alexa data, which may not be a representative sample of the global Internet population. Known biases include (but are likely not limited to) the following:

* Our users are disproportionately likely to visit sites that are featured on alexa.com such as amazon.com and archive.org, and traffic to these sites may be overcounted.
* The extent to which our sample may overcount or undercount users of the various browsers is unknown. Alexa’s sample includes users of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Mozilla browsers. The AOL/Netscape and Opera browser is not supported, which means that sites operated by these companies may be undercounted.
* The extent to which our sample may overcount or undercount users of various operating systems is unknown. Alexa sample includes toolbars built for Windows, Macintosh and Linux.
* The rate of adoption of Alexa software in different parts of the world may vary widely due to advertising locality, language, and other geographic and cultural factors. For example, to some extent the prominence of Chinese sites among our top-ranked sites reflects known high rates of general Internet usage in China, but there may also be a disproportionate number of Chinese Alexa users.
* In some cases traffic data may also be adversely affected by our “site” definitions. With tens of millions of hosts on the Internet, our automated procedures for determining which hosts are serving the “same” content may be incorrect and/or out-of-date. Similarly, the determinations of domains and home pages may not always be accurate. When these determinations change (as they do periodically), there may be sudden artificial changes in the Alexa traffic rankings for some sites as a consequence.
* The Alexa Toolbar turns itself off on secure pages (https:). Sites with secure page views will be under-represented in the Alexa traffic data.

In addition to the biases above, the Alexa user base is only a sample of the Internet population, and sites with relatively low traffic will not be accurately ranked by Alexa due to the statistical limitations of the sample. Alexa’s data come from a large sample of several million Alexa Toolbar users; however, this is not large enough to accurately determine the rankings of sites with fewer than roughly 1,000 total monthly visitors. Generally, Traffic Rankings of 100,000+ should be regarded as not reliable because the amount of data we receive is not statistically significant. Conversely, the more traffic a site receives (the closer it gets to the number 1 position), the more reliable its Traffic Ranking becomes.” blah, blah, blah!

My comments: Alexa will give you a snapshot of what a web site looks like and some other pertinent information, but if you are using its traffic rankings as some sort of true measure of a web site’s worth, you are being fooled or you’re trying to fool someone else. My suggestion is that you get a really good stats program installed on your site and trust your sales and revenue and even the number of people on your email list. That will determine how popular you are and it will be for real!

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

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