Housekeeping Note: I Will Be Raising My Advertising Rates for This Blog on April 1st, 2020

I wanted to let everybody know that I am getting a lot more traffic to my blog these days (between 800 and 6,000 views per day), so I will be increasing my advertising rates, effective April 1st, 2020.

This is your opportunity to lock in the current advertising rates before I increase them!

My current advertising rates are: Ad Campaign Rates until March 31, 2020 (all in U.S. Dollars)

For 250×250 pixel square sidebar ads:
(a) 30 days/1 month: US$10.00
(b) 90 days/3 months: US$25.00
(c) 180 days/6 months: US$40.00
(d) 365 days/1 year: US$70.00

On April 1st, 2020, my advertising rates will be: Ad Campaign Rates as of April 1, 2020 (all in U.S. Dollars)

For 250×250 pixel square sidebar ads:
(a) 30 days/1 month: US$20.00
(b) 90 days/3 months: US$50.00
(c) 180 days/6 months: US$80.00
(d) 365 days/1 year: US$120.00

For complete details on advertising on my blog (how to submit payment, etc.), please click here. I do reserve the right to accept or reject any advertising proposals.


Editorial: Time to Refocus

A deserted Times Square in New York City (source)

You might have noticed that I haven’t really been blogging very much about the coronavirus pandemic lately.

I mean, the news is everywhere now; there’s really no reason to keep writing about it.

I have been struggling with despair, anxiety, depression, and anger over the past few weeks. Every morning I get up at the same time, have a shower, get dressed, brew a vat of black coffee, and face the day as best I can. Some days are better than others. Some days are worse.

I find myself taking longer and longer breaks away from the relentless negative news media, breathlessly reporting on the latest celebrity to become infected with COVID-19 (this morning, it’s Prince Charles).

I have received permission from my employer to work from home since March 16th, 2020, and I have been keeping busy working shifts at my university library’s virtual reference service (via text chat, email, Webex, and Zoom), as well as couple of other projects I have been assigned. At present, all of my coworkers are also working from home, and all the libraries are closed, as are most buildings on my campus. (Good thing most of our collection is digital!)

As you know, I reserve my blogging for my off-hours, mostly weekends and evenings (and the occasional lunch break). I feel like I did my little bit, starting in late January, to use this blog to warn people about the potential risk of a global pandemic, and to get them to take it seriously, and to tell them how best to prepare. For a while this blog became my little soapbox, which I used to yell myself hoarse in hopes that people would listen. Some did; some didn’t.

But now I find I need to refocus my attentions, and step back into the original purpose of this blog, as outlined by the tagline: News and Views on Social VR, Virtual Worlds, and the Metaverse. There’s still a lot going on, in dozens of virtual worlds and social VR platforms, and I still plan to cover it as best I can.

From time to time, I might still write the occasional blogpost about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting me personally.

And (of course) I reserve the right, at any time, to gallop off on another one of my patented Ryan Schultz tangents. As you know (and as this current public health crisis has proven), literally anything can happen.

Stay healthy, and stay safe.

It’s time to refocus…
(photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash)

Google AdSense Follies (Part IV)

Well, it would appear that Google AdSense’s automated checker has flagged yet another couple of blogposts that (gasp!) show partially naked avatars.

The offenders are these two blogposts, which, as you can clearly see, show no “Adult: Sexual Content” at all, which is what they were flagged for:

I find it bemusing that the algorithm flagged these posts now, a full year and a half after they were first published. (What, just catching up now?) Apparently, “some advertisers are choosing not to advertise on your page because of issues relating to some of your content”.

So it would appear that I have to, once again, self-censor pictures that should have passed muster in the first place. I could request a review, but I already know from past experience (here, here, and here) that they’ll just get flagged again by this stupid, overly-sensitive algorithm.

Even worse, I am completely unable to even access the policy violations using my Google AdSense dashboard via any web browser on my desktop computer. I actually have to load them up on my iPad to actually find out which blogposts tripped the censor-bot. (Pain. In. The. Ass.)

*shrugs* WHAT-ever. So I lose a few pennies of ad revenue. I’m sick and tired of playing this ridiculous game of Whac-A-Mole.

Editorial: Sansar’s Overly Attached (Ex-)Girlfriend, Responsible Journalism, and My Obligations to My Readers

Hi, this is Ryan. Remember me? I’m Sansar’s overly attached (ex-)girlfriend:

Overly Attached Girlfriend Meme (Wikipedia)

Yes, I can laugh about it, today. But only because I’ve also had a really good cry about it this week. By all reports, the Sansar project is struggling, and I’m still feeling devastated and upset at the news.

I’ve written before about my soft spot/blind spot when it came to Sansar, after I responded so strongly to the first big layoff of staff in October 2019, flip-flopping back and forth like a fish out of water about whether or not to continue writing about the social VR platform, which of course was my whole reason to start this blog in the first place. (And yes, I’m still flip-flopping, obviously. But I will not be writing about anything currently going on at Linden Lab with respect to Sansar, beyond what I have already reported. Expect nothing but radio silence on that matter.)

The backlash to my blogpost about the second round of layoffs (including a fair share of hate messages), triggered a downward spiral where I landed up spending a good chunk of this week lying in bed, in a black pit of depression out of which I am only now starting to crawl.*

Chic Aeon (whose level-headed, no-nonsense perspective I value highly) wrote about what happened this week on her popular blog:

Ryan took a lot of heat for that blog post — some from Sansar Discord account holders. He followed with an apology and last night he stated that he was closing his blog.

I can’t say that I applaud his blogging methodology; it certainly wasn’t responsible journalism. Ryan has stated (via Discord) that he is not a journalist, only a blogger. But that isn’t cutting it with me. We are ALL responsible for what we say and what we do — as well as the manner in which we do it.  That being said, the “facts” put forth in his article have not been officially refuted as of this writing and I have publicly defended him on that count.  That same public — and especially the people in Sansar — do have a right to know what is going on. I hope that Ryan rethinks his position on closing.

Yes, I have indeed rethought my position on shutting down this blog. I have been heartened by the small outpouring of support and encouragement I have received this week from numerous people, including one very well-timed pep talk from Lorelle VanFossen, blogging evangelist and organizer of the Educators in VR group, when I was ready to pull out of speaking at their upcoming conference. (Thanks, Lorelle.) The overwhelming message I got back was that people did not want to see me stop blogging. So I won’t.

And, of course, Chic is absolutely correct. Whether or not I call myself a journalist is beside the point; what matters is how I do my job as a blogger, and I made several grievous errors in judgement this week. I rushed to publish a story without taking into consideration its potential impact to Sansar users, Sansar content creators, and Linden Lab employees. I should have reached out to Linden Lab for a comment before publishing the story, particularly to double-check that Sansar was indeed shutting down (as I had originally, and erroneously, reported).

I fucked up royally, and I’m sorry.

I realize now that I have an obligation to you, my blog readers, to get the facts of the story correct, and to provide as many different perspectives as possible in covering that story. I know that many of you come to this blog to get your news about social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse—I now get between 600 and 6,000 views per day—and I have a duty to use that growing power and influence responsibly. This is not just a hobby blog, not any longer. I am a journalist, whether I like it or not.

And my talk next Saturday at the Educators in VR conference will be slightly different from what I originally planned. The moderators have given me permission to talk about whatever I like, so in addition to speaking about social VR and libraries, I will also share some lessons learned the hard way in my two-and-a-half years of writing this blog. Think of it as two talks for the price of one!

And I will slowly be easing back into blogging over the next two weeks. I still think that I need to take a break, but of course the world does not stop. February 20th, 2020 will see both the official public launch of Decentraland and the relaunch of version 2.0 of Somnium Space, for example. I will try to report on various news and events as they happen.

And thank you to all the people who did reach out to me, to express their concern, constructive criticism, encouragement, wisdom, unbiased third-party perspective, and support. Sometimes it takes a crisis to find out who your friends and supporters are, and it would appear I have many that I did not realize I had gained over the past 2-1/2 years. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I’ll be all right. The blog will continue.

*It didn’t help matters that, over the past three weeks, I had taken on the extra burden of blogging daily updates about the Wuhan coronavirus (also known as 2019-nCov and then COVID-19), in an effort to get people to begin to prepare for a potential global pandemic. I worked and worried myself into an anxious, doom-porn-addicted, stressed-out mess, and as a result I took this blog into a very weird tangent that confused a lot of my regular readers. Lesson learned. I’m sorry.

I will leave the pandemic advice and counsel to the many experts out there. I don’t need to become the world’s self-appointed saviour from this coronavirus. (As some of my sassy gay friends would tell me: “Get off the cross, honey. People need the wood.” 😉 )