It’s Safe Again to Show YouTube Videos at Church

Have you ever tried to show a YouTube video at a church event, but worried about what kind of naughty or racy clips would show up in the so-called related videos section? At last, Google is offering the ability to filter out inappropriate videos on an opt-in basis.

The filter is called Safety Mode and you’ll find a link to it at the very bottom of all YouTube pages. You can select it on the fly or log in and make this your default. This video explains more.

Please note that I’m against censorship and I’m not suggesting this is for everyone. But it’s helpful to church ministry staff and volunteers–along with parents–to have this choice. If only there were a similar filter available when we’re watching NFL games live and inappropriate commercials come on! For now, I’ll keep my trigger finger on the remote.

I enjoy watching funny clips with my boys, but dread wondering what filth might show up nearby that I’ll have to quickly scroll by. Now I feel like I have another tool on my side.

Have you run into this issue when showing videos at your church? How do you handle it?

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Prevent Gmail From Marking Google Alerts As Spam

Since I’m considering changing this blog’s name to ChurchMojo.com, I created a Google alert for “church mojo” to monitor the activity on that phrase (and registered the domain). As a Gmail user, it surprised me to see that Google had flagged one of its own Google Alerts as spam.

Adding “googlealerts-noreply@google.com” to your Gmail Contacts will correct the problem, but shouldn’t Google whitelist itself in the first place? And what do you think about ChurchMojo.com as a domain name?

Gmail Marks Google Alert As Spam

3 Ways to Turn Off Google Personalization Without Logging Out

Hallelujah, all my church’s keywords have moved to the top of Google! Oh wait, those were Google personalized results. Now I have to log out of Google, try that query again and see if the results change. Heavy sigh.Here are three ways to quickly turn off Google personalization so that you can see the default search engine results pages.

  1. Add &pws=0 (short for personal websearch equals nothing) to the end of the Google URL that reflects your search query, such as in this search for faithfulweb. You’ll need to do this each time you submit a search; this doesn’t persist across searches or sessions. (And while you’re adding parameters, you might try &num=100 to see 100 results on a page instead of the default 10.)
  2. Get the plug in from Joost de Valk, an SEO consultant and webdesigner living in The Netherlands.
  3. Use a two-browser approach where you remain logged in with your preferred browser and then keep a separate window open to perform searches in your less-preferred browser. For example, I usually browse in Firefox, but will suffer through Internet Explorer if I need to see de-personalized results from time to time.

Of course, there are also the run-away options: log out; avoid logging into Google in the first place; or turn off history (choices in upper right corner of Google).

The first one, &pws=0, got a lot of publicity after Google’s Matt Cutts discussed it at SMX Seattle, but Ionut Alex Chitu identified it back in April on Google Operating System.

On a related and not surprising note, Google’s news has a better clickthru rate when personalization is turned on.

I’d like to hear how you handle Google personalization.

Pick the Right Address for Your Church Google Account

If you don’t have a Google account yet, read Anna Belle’s reasons why church webmasters need to sign up. When you’re ready to get one for your web team, just don’t make the mistake of registering the account using your personal email address. Instead, use churchdomain@gmail.com (my preferred format, although it doesn’t have to be a Gmail account), webteam@yourchurchdomain.com or something along those lines that reflects your web ministry. Why? If this account is going to be your church site’s analytics gateway, back-up storage and who knows what else down the line, then eventually you’ll want to share access with other team members. Or, you might even step down some day as head web guy/diva. When that day comes, you’ll be happy that your own account remains separate.

Bonus: Having that all-purpose web team/parish email address also comes in handy if you register your parish for Web 2.0 social networking services. You’ll keep all your confirmations and notifications in one spot separate from any accounts you might register for yourself.

Google CRAPTCHA

Danny Sullivan of SearchEnglineLand pointed out an anatomically amusing Google CAPTCHA –those strangely formatted words that you have to type in to prove you’re a human and not an automated program. Here’s a scatalogical one to add to that list of adolescent humor:

Google CRAPTCHA

Yes, while trying to use Google Groups, I was asked to type “poopper” to show my non-botness. Let’s just call this a CRAPTCHA.

Please don’t confuse the term with craplets, those junk programs added onto new PCs that Walt Mossberg has wisely railed against.

Google RSS Snippets Misfiring

I fired up my Google/ig personal home page and RSS reader today only to find it covered in a sea of crosses. Was it a variation on their holiday logos for a Christian holy day I had missed? No, those were plus signs to indicate, in some cases, a preview or an entire entry from each RSS link. The date and/or time of the update is displayed, too. Very convenient.

One problem I encountered was that the snippets are loaded slightly faster than their associated headline. The result is that you can click to expand a headline only to find that the preview blurb doesn’t match. The example below shows what happened when I wanted to see more about the BBC’s children’s feature.

Google/ig RSS Snippet Preview

Sure, my kids my be interested in gross surgery articles, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Turns out the blurb was associated with a story that was about to be posted. Moments later after a refresh, everything was synchronized properly as shown below.

Google Snippet Preview Corrected

This latency issue could produce embarrassing juxtapositions for feeds that cover a variety of topics. Anyone else run into this?

Google Blogoscoped, Google Operating System, SEO Roundtable, and SearchEnglineLand are covering the snippets in more detail.

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