About the "You might also like" posts you'll see on Offbeat Empire sites

outbrain

What's up with the "you might also like" links at the end of each post? I saw one about gout and was like WTF?!

Yes, sometimes the connection of those posts feels a little tenuous, doesn't it? Those links at the end of posts are served up by a service called Outbrain. The thumbnails include four Offbeat Empire posts and one related-ish post from another blog. The bulleted list of text links beneath are all to other blogs that use the Outbrain service. Each link includes a parenthetical notation of its source blog, so it's easy to see which are native Offbeat Empire links and which are to other sites.

Every time you click on link to read one of the posts on another site, we make a small profit. It's not much, but it adds up to a few hundred dollars a month across all four of the Offbeat Empire sites.

We added the module in May of 2011, and I spent the first few weeks doing a TON of tweaks to the blacklist of URLs and post titles that weren't allowed. The Offbeat Empire has a pretty clear voice, and of course I can't expect all other websites to adhere to that, so I had to see if I could find trigger words to screen out shady shit. I've got things pretty well set, but every now and then something weird will slip in — like that gout post. I also see a lot of posts that I really like down there — uncommon wedding cakes, couture wedding gown inspiration, interesting newsy bits. For the most part, I'm super happy with Outbrain.

That said, if you ever see anything in the "You Might Also Like" or Elsewhere links that strike you as offensive, email us right away with:

  • the title of the linked post (ie "Battle of the bulge: you look fat in your tacky wedding dress (StyleBlah)")
  • the website URL that's linked (ie styleblah.com/battle-of-bulge.html)

We'll get the offended link off the site immediately, and update our blacklist accordingly. Please do not leave a comment on the post where you saw the link.

Not every link is going to be a perfect fit, which is ok with me. The one's I'm looking to block are the links stand in stark contrast to the Offbeat Empire's values. We're talking stuff like really negative body image posts, disturbing gender stereotypes, snarky/bitchy anti-feminist posts, etc. I'm ok with not every link feeling like it could have been written by an Offbeat Empire editor — what I'm not ok with is perpetrating hateful, body-hating, anti-woman garbage.

Speaking of which, wanna see the current blacklist? It's kind of hilarious. If one of these words appears in the post link, the post will not appear on any Offbeat Empire site: aging, arthritis, bikini, body, boobs, calories, carat, cheat, cheating, credit, deaths, debt, diet, divorce, fat, fail, genocide, gout, homicide, Kardashian, killing, males, middleton, royal, Schwarzenegger, sex, skinnier, tacky, teeth, thin, thinner, too old, tummy, weight, will kate, workout, gut, belly, flatten, tummy, stomach, toned.

  1. Ha, well there's two links on this very post that seem a bit odd – one about Natalie Portman and other about Vivienne Jolie-Pitt…

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    • Without knowing the text of the links you're mentioning (the related section is catered to your browser, so I don't see the same links you do — that's why in the post I mention reporting both full link text and source site), I will say that celeb links aren't bothersome to me. As someone who spent several years writing celebrity gossip, I don't see gossip as contradicting offbeat values — I blocked the words Kardashian and the royal wedding because they were being repeatedly being tied to icky stuff like ring size discussions and weigh loss posts.

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      • "icky stuff like ring size"

        Oh jeez! Why did my brain just make the leap to a COMPLETELY different type of "ring" then? Gah! Please pass the mind bleach!

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    • I got one that said "How to tell if a professional contact is interested in you sexually!" That's fun!

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  2. Oooooooh exciting.

    The ban-list is quite amusing – though sad to see how many weight refrences have had to be blacklisted, but then again – it is weddings we're talking about here!

    Can't wait to see what you come up with for the gigglesite :)

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  3. YES! Business blog please!!!! There are tons out there but not a lot of them that cater to who I am as a person and the weirdness of being not your average business.

    If I could I would high five the shit out of you right now!

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  4. On the biz blog site, do you think you'll cover stuff about um … blogging? You know, how to actually be semi-awesome.

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  5. Love the idea of Offbeat Business; my clientele tends to be from the more unique and original end of the pool, so it'll be great to have a place to send them that doesn't feel too "uptight" for their business sensibilities.

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    • I should to clarify: it'll be more Offbeat Empire behind the scenes newsy type stuff, not as much "here's how to run YOUR offbeat business." This will basically just be a blog about my business, not a service blog about general business topics.

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    • Double seriously. Offbeat Travel would be AWESOMENESS TO THE MAX!!!

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  6. "aging, arthritis, bikini, body, boobs, calories, carat, cheat, cheating, credit, deaths, debt, diet, divorce, fat, fail, genocide, gout, homicide, Kardashian, killing, males, middleton, royal, Schwarzenegger, sex, skinnier, tacky, teeth, thin, thinner, too old, tummy, weight, will kate, workout"

    Can I please have this list in the form of those teeny little refrigerator magnets you use to form messages and poems? That would be awesome. Thanks!

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    • Its like one of those poems where you cut out words from a newspaper and re assemble!

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    • Yeah, I blocked Kardashian a few weeks ago the media was buzzing about the size of her engagement ring. I'm all for gossip, but I'm not into the diamond dick size thing.

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  7. Genocide? I must have misread that it can't possibly…no, it does, it really does.

    In what world is genocide connected to anything ever discussed on OBB? All I can imagine is someone mentioned a place name and it threw out an article on "Recent killings in Place 'border on genocide' says Some Guy".

    Also is it wrong that this makes me more likely to pay attention to the links? I love seeing the crazy things computers think are related. (I'm waiting for someone to top Amazon's genius with 'you bought Green Day, you might like…Star Wars'.)

    Also that funny stuff site sounds awesome. The only downside is sites like that eat up too much of my time already, the last thing I need is another one.

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    • Yep, there were some heavy news links that started popping up, talking about accusations of genocide against a foreign general, etc etc. I was like "Dude, that's interesting and not offensive, but sooooo not a good match with our content." Part of how Outbrain does related links is based on "people who've read content like X, have also read content about Y." This means it's not always based on content matches, but on behavior matches. That said, just because I read both Offbeat Bride and CNN doesn't mean I want genocide mixed up in my wedding porn.

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  8. "aging, arthritis, bikini, body, boobs, calories, carat, cheat, cheating, credit, deaths, debt, diet, divorce, fat, fail, genocide, gout, homicide, Kardashian, killing, males, middleton, royal, Schwarzenegger, sex, skinnier, tacky, teeth, thin, thinner, too old, tummy, weight, will kate, workout"

    Some of these are confusing, notably gout and arthritis. How did these even come up? On the other hand: getting rid of terms like workout? I'm sure I'm not the only tribe member who is a fitness buff, and I'm sure aging could have relevance on the Offbeat Mama site. The exclusion of 'males' confuses me as well. Same for 'fail' which is a common word, and 'divorce'. It kinda strikes me as being like a little kid putting fingers in their ears and making noise at the things they don't want to hear, and it makes it hard to have an open dialogue on these topics.

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    • "…it makes it hard to have an open dialogue on these topics."

      How is my filtering related links from other websites akin to blocking "open dialogue"? Since when does anyone talk on Offbeat Bride about the content of posts in the Related Posts section? Even if they did (which simply isn't the case), I contend Offbeat Bride wouldn't be the best space for discussions about gout and arthritis — both of which popped up in related links because, well, content algorithms aren't perfect. Hence the filtering.

      As for your questions about specific words:
      * "males" and "fail": both words were being consistently used in the titles of posts that were super negative — "How to tell when males don't want to date you" and "20 wedding fails."
      * "workout": how dearly I wish the links associate with the word "workout" were body-positive and awesome. Unfortunately, they were all "Wedding workouts to battle the bridal bulge" and "3 workouts to make up for that ice cream you ate yesterday." We've got a longstanding policy against negative body image stuff on Offbeat Bride, and unfortunately every single workout-related link was framed negatively.

      I fully recognize that Outbrain's filtering system ain't perfect — weird links are going to slip through, and legitimately interesting links may not appear. But remember: we're talking about a "Related Posts" module on a wedding blog. I'm not Google, acting sinister by filtering out search results. I'm not blocking your ability access information about gout, arthritis, or workouts and have all the open dialog you want. I'm not saying we delete comments that reference gout. I'm just saying I won't be linking them the "Related Posts" section of Offbeat Bride.

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  9. Ah I'm so glad to see this! I was worried when I wrote in to report a potentially offensive link that I was wasting your time, but I feel much better knowing it was something you guys were working on ^_^
    I suspect the '20 wedding fails' may actually be the one I mentioned…

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  10. haha this also made me pay more attention to the links!
    This one seems a little off-topicy to me though?
    •Bringing Up Baby: Dear Emmett—You Are NOT Allowed To Have A Baby In High School. Got It? (WomansDay.com)
    Or maybe its just the title of it thats off-putting?

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  11. Looks like you might want to consider adding articles about other Offbeat businesses, from the comments you're receiving. I know I'd be interested, and not just because I'm already well-past the wedding and childbearing portions of my life and running headlong into opening a brick and mortar store. ^_^

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  12. So when I get to check OBB I tab all the new stories, and the tab I closed just before reading this post had a news story about ring etiquette. I don't remember the title (so I know there's nothing to be done about it) but it struck me as hilarious that a huge blog post was dedicated to how to appropriately wear a class/promise/friendship/engagement ring. It actually had the line "Never wear a promise ring on your left ring finger or you could be sending the wrong signal to prospective suitors," or something along those lines. I went all 0.0 and wondered if the blog post was made in the early 1900s.

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  13. I'm also quite interested in "offbeat business", as this summer I launched a freelance writing and editing business that I won't advertise here :) It would have been really helpful to have offbeat folks to run ideas by in the launching, and I'm double certain I'll have questions in the future that I'd *love* to have offbeat input on.

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