Long-time readers know that I like to bring up ToolGuyd’s website on occasion, to discuss changes, potential changes, and to ask for feedback. As my last update was about a year ago, it’s time to check in with you.
Most of the things I have been wanting to revamp will need to be rebuilt from the ground up, and so progress has been a little slow.
If there’s something you want fixed, improved, or changed, with respect to the look, layout, or your user experience preferences, please let me know!
Aside from considering a 3rd party service for improved on-site searching, I don’t have any other experiments planned for the near-future.
(I’m sorry, but there’s still no easy way to allow for comments to be edited without utilizing a 3rd party system, and I have yet to find one that’s worth the compromises they require.)
Minor Content Format Changes
I switched to a different content editor towards the end of last year, shortly after the holiday season kicked off, and have been experimenting with it a bit since then.
You probably haven’t noticed any differences, but you might see certain types of posts structured a little differently in the future.
Let’s Talk About Advertising
I have been frequently contacted over the past year, with ad management companies trying to convince me to sign ToolGuyd up for their services.
We currently use Google’s program for some of our display ads. This has been the case for most if not all of the 13+ years I have been running and creating content for ToolGuyd.
All of these new advertising management agencies want to serve as intermediate parties, with all of them claiming it will increase ad revenue.
This sounds good in theory, right?
But it’s not as simple as that. As I like to have full control over the look and layout of ToolGuyd content, I also like to have full control over how and where ads display.
These ad management reps throw all types of terms at me – programmatic advertising, machine-learning, AI-optimization, real-time bidding, and so forth.
For pitches I don’t immediately dismiss, I might ask for live examples of where these different advertising networks and management programs are in use.
I have been shown implementations where there are ads every other paragraph, sliding ads, ads that move, ads that open and close.
If I managed the advertising for a large newspaper or magazine where my responsibility was to increase ad revenue no matter what, maybe I’d be more open to this.
But, everything I’ve seen so far is plain terrible. Intrusive. Excessive. Distracting. No, thank you.
From all of the different inquiries and solicitations, there was one great pitch. I considered working with that person, but she left the company.
But oh, there were so many bad ones. One guy keeps calling my personal phone number, asking for “Stuey.” And then his colleague called me too. Why? I was “in his database.”
Higher revenue? I’d love more money. But at what expense?
“But you’re leaving money on the table.” That’s okay with me. There has to be some ads, as we have bills to pay, but I strive to create a minimally-intrusive user experience.
While I am happy to pat myself on the back for this stance, I mainly brought this up because of how it relates to the next part.
A New Google Ad Experiment
About a year ago, we were unexpectedly auto-enrolled into a Google ad experiment. I have auto-optimization setting activated, but most other settings are toggled off.
As part of our first-ever Google-created ad experiment, some users on 1000px+ desktop browsers would see a “vignette” interstitial after clicking a link. For instance, let’s say there was a tool post with a link to an earlier ToolGuyd post. Clicking the link might have shown you a small ad surrounded by a blurred-out page. Closing the ad would take you to your link destination page.
I ultimately judged the “1000px vignette” ad to be too intrusive and deactivated it.
I do appreciate having let the experiment run, as it gave me an idea of what it costs me to spare myself and all of you from that ad’s annoyance. I also use this figure for comparison purposes whenever ad management companies give case study examples about how much more revenue they’ve helped other sites earn.
That said, I just noticed that Google activated a new ad experiment for my auto-optimization-enabled account. Here’s what it looks like:
This particular ad was for Tech Tool Supply, presumably because I was recently shopping with them. Some of my pages show me tool-related ads, others are showing entertainment-based ads.
(The way automatic bidding works, the advertiser willing to pay the most for the visitor’s attention and potential click wins the spot. Things are more complicated than that, but that’s the gist of it.)
On a desktop or laptop screen, the new ad unit is a closeable horizontal banner ad at the very bottom of the page. On mobile devices, a horizontal ad slides down from the top of the page.
I was 4 paragraphs into writing a comment reply before I noticed the new ad.
On one hand, I have tried really hard to build walls around our ad placements. For instance, the ad at the top of content, right under a post headline, is allows a maximum of 468x60px on desktop devices, and 320x50px on mobile. It cannot expand to 100px heights, and certainly not to 250px. 50px is the most I will allow that ad unit to have.
There were times when changes to ad display mechanics broke down my walls, and so I coded new ones.
Within content, there is a single 300×250 ad placement on mobile devices.
On desktop, there are 300×250 ads in the right sidebar.
There are other ad placements, such as horizontal header ads (728×90), but I’ve kept them closed for a few years now.
I checked, and the Google experiment is programmed to run for 90 days and be displayed to 50% of readers.
At this time, I’m considering letting the ad experiment run for at least two
weeks days so that I can collect data.
Its performance projections are small, especially when compared to the vignette ad projections and results. But, it’s also not as disruptive or annoying – so far.
I am sensitive to how ads impact the reader experience, which is why I keep ignoring or rejecting the companies that want to take over our ad management, but I’m also worried about my inability to be impartial.
With the vignette ad, I wanted it to work, but it ultimately interrupted me way too much.
So, please keep an eye out for the new ad placement that’s being tested, and please let me know your thoughts!
Coincidentally, a company reached out to me yesterday, inviting me to try a tool meant to appeal to adblocker users. If you use an adblocker, this service launches a pop-over prompt that will ask you to allow ads.
The pop-over demo shows a small branded message, a large “continue” button, and a small “continue without support” text link at the bottom of the pop-up window.
I’m sorry, but I highly doubt that pop-overs are a good way to ask adblocker users to whitelist a website.
If you use adblockers and have ToolGuyd whitelisted, that’s great. If you use adblockers and don’t, that’s okay. Affiliate links are no different – you can click a link to make a purchase, or you can copy model numbers to paste into a search bar.
Maybe I would feel differently if I managed ads for a website belonging to a $25 billion global media company, but this is not something I’m interested in.
Elsewhere on the Web
Just like Google can apparently create new ad units as part of their auto-optimization setting, bad actors can do the same.
In browsing a couple of websites this week, I was taken from national news and magazine websites to “because you’re a Google user…” and “because you’re an iPhone user…” pages with scam giveaway offers and similar.
Never click on any of that stuff. Hit the back button or close the tab.
Every now and then bad code gets through ad network filters and do things like that. I’ve seen it happen on desktop and mobile devices, and it can happen to any website that runs any ad network ads.
These types of incidents are very infrequent, but it’s still worth mentioning while we’re talking about ads.
If you ever see it on ToolGuyd, and I hope you don’t, please let me know.
Potential Changes to ToolGuyd’s Media Guidelines
Most types of content can be classified into 3 categories: Earned Media, Owned Media, or Paid Media.
A post here on ToolGuyd about Brand X’s new tool would be an example of earned media, a post to Brand X’s social media channel would be owned media, and Influencer X’s sponsored post (with monetary ties disclosed or not) would be paid media.
An increasing number of tool brands and companies have been prioritizing owned media and paid media, and no longer seem interested in earned media.
Around 9 years ago, I developed editorial guidelines that can best be summarized as being rules of professional media conduct.
Given how the tool industry and earned media practices have changed, it’s time I revised some of these guidelines.
There’s a lot more to this if regulars are interested in an expanded discussion.
Review Request List
Are there any tools, brands, or equipment that you might want to see reviewed this year?
I have a heavy workload right now, and so I cannot immediately accommodate requests, but I want to ensure your needs, wants, and interests are being met.
Also, are there any tools you would prefer for ToolGuyd to buy for testing and review purposes?
Thanks Stuart! I was wondering what was up with that bar across the bottom of my computer screen! I don’t like it. That said, I normally browse the site from an iPad, rather than a computer, so maybe that will look different.
I appreciate these digressions into how you manage the site and your ad policies. It helps keep Toolguyd on my reading list.
Matt the Hoople
I like to visit this site BECAUSE IT IS STRAIGHT FORWARD. The worst is sites where the ads keep refreshing and changing such that the article text keeps jumping up and downward on my phone screen. I have no patience for that and normally leave those sites almost immediately even if the content is something I’m interested in. With such sites I certainly do not click on their adds or links because I do not want to provide them with additional revenue for running such an annoyance.
So thanks for minimizing the negative impacts of ads. I do use your links often when shopping because this site is easy to navigate and post. Editing posts would be nice but not required. I’ve learned to give a cursory proof read check before hitting submit.
Just one request, and it’s been covered before… you really need to get the comment reply button out from underneath my left thumb when I’m scrolling.
Thanks and I appreciate all the effort that goes into this site.
I also greatly dislike “infinite scroll.”
One thing I might consider is “click for more” or similar, where it does the same but with direct user control. I considered this for the comment section as well, but decided against it for now.
The downside to “click for more,” such as on the front page, is that some readers like to jump around numerically.
If you click to load more, but then later you want to resume your place, what “page” were you on?
Infinite scroll can be about ad revenue, but it’s more about keeping you on the page. The more you scroll, the more you might eventually find something you like. This works quite well on Instagram and other social media feeds, but I don’t like it for deliberately-accessed content.
As for the comment button – that one’s really hard. There’s no easy way for me to modify the tapping behavior. I decreased the size of the target as small as I could, and I added a non-tappable graphic to increase the indentation from the left margin. That graphic isn’t necessary, it’s there to fill the awkward empty space.
Moving the “reply” link/button too far starts to mess with alignment. I tried centering it, but that tends to violate best practices because of threaded comments being indented themselves.
Some parts of the site can be heavily modified, added, removed, and replaced from scratch. This one, as small as it seems, is part of the core functionality and is not something that’s meant to be modified.
I concur with the reply button comment. I love everything about this site except for the frequency with which I hit that @#$%& button! 🙂
Yeah the issue with the reply button isn’t it’s placement IMO, but rather that it trigger the moment you touch the screen, rather than on tap like every other button or link.
I really don’t mind the banner ad as long as it’s close-able (if I am wanting to look at the top or bottom of the screen). Other than that it’s minimally intrusive compared to any type of pop up. Honestly any type of pop up ad really turns me off from a site (looking at you most news pages). I am all for you getting more advertising dollars to allow for honest non sponsored reviews to continue. Thanks for your hard work.
I tested that as soon as I saw the first one.
There are prominent arrows for closing or re-expanding the ad blocks. The only thing it seems to occlude is my admin bar at the top of the mobile browser.
Still, I wanted to run it by everyone.
I don’t think it’s annoying me so far (I’ll likely know for sure within a few days), but I also cannot possibly be impartial.
Regarding sponsorships, that’s something I have changed my stance on over the years, but I’m lucky to be able to work with partners who align with my approach. Undisclosed sponsorships are now a big problem in the industry, but that’s something to grumble about another time.
If anyone’s interested, we can have a separate discussion on my approach to sponsorships.
The ads you allow seem relatively unobtrusive to me. I remember that vignette period and I appreciate that it ended. I have noticed the bottom-of-the-page banner, but it’s not a big deal to me.
I wouldn’t mind more socket and ratchet coverage. 😄 Maybe like a market overview for sockets, just new and interesting for ratchets?
Hand tools generally are my preference – not that I turn up my nose at cordless tool coverage. I just find them more fascinating for whatever reason.
I really like the posts about tools I might not have known existed – e.g. the most recent was that cable tie removal tool.
I have a lot of hand tool coverage in the works, but not much on sockets.
I upgraded some of my kit to Gearwrench due to the recent sponsorship, and have been quite pleased with them (as always with GW). I also upgraded other parts of my kit to Milwaukee last year (2020) thanks to holiday sales.
I also expanded with small Wera sets and Proto hex bit sockets.
SK’s still moving facilities. Armstrong is gone. Tekton is usually a safe bet. Craftsman is eventually opening their Texas factory. Craftsman V-series is good, but a bit high-priced for the brand.
The market is still shifting around a bit.
I like hand tools too and have a huge backlog. Unique tools can be tricky, as not everyone appreciates uni-taskers.
I had to block a first-time visitor’s comment about the cable cutters; they were ranting because somehow this person got the impression I was advocating that the only way to cut cable ties was to purchase a specialty tool.
I love ToolGuyd! I can’t stand “influencer marketing” because I never know who I can trust. ToolGuyd is the best source for tool info and reviews because I know I’m getting straightforward, honest opinions. I don’t mind ads too much- my brain pretty much filters them out automatically anyways. If it helps the site to have a few extra ads here and there that’s okay by me. I would love to see a refresh of some of the Buying Guide and Best [insert tool category] articles- those are always interesting. Thanks for all you do and keep up the great work Stuart!
I’ll second what David said. I keep coming back to be informed and entertained. I’m not terribly savvy about website design and your efforts to make the look and functionality of the site better – but i appreciate your sharing your thoughts with your readers. I suspect that many others – like I – get as much from reader comments as we do from your content. I also appreciate your straightforwardness, honesty and integrity in how you have responded to those who would pressure you to change. I hope that this will continue to make you and ToolGuyd successful.
So, stick to your guns and keep up the good work.
I don’t mind buying guides either. I’m thinking maybe that could expand into other categories and tools. e.g. is there a “Diagonal Cutting Pliers” guide? What about a vise guide? Hatchets?
Regarding influencer marketing, I have become rather cynical and don’t trust as easily as I used to.
For a long time I have been hearing about undisclosed payments, people selling test samples for cash, secret agendas, brands paying to promote sycophants, and other activities along these lines. It’s impossible to know what’s true and who’s honest.
One company has been trying to get me to review their tools. I asked them what’s so special about their tools, nobody responded, and then they emailed me again a few months later to try again. I asked them again what’s special about their tools, they seemed offended, and never responded.
Buying Guides and Best [Tool Category] posts. I have long-term plans, but it’s complicated.
If you were to Google “Best Cordless Drill” right now, what would you see? A whole lot of… questionable… stuff.
Newspapers and magazines have employed “content writers” and “shopping experts” to build “reviews” and “buying guide” content.
Even woodworking magazines are doing this.
On top of that, there are countless Amazon affiliate “niche” sites that do the same.
And they publish constantly.
Google’s algorithm is simply incapable of separating the signal from the noise here. People who don’t know any better might think household-recognized media companies and organizations might have actually done some product testing.
This is a quote from Business Insider’s “best cordless drill” buying guide:
Outside of dedicated tool media, this has pretty much become the standard.
If I put many hours into a buying guide, Google might pick it up at first, but then quickly push it down the rankings because of “fresher” guides that are constantly updated and republished with affiliate-click bait.
Many magazines, newspapers, and “niche content affiliate” are able to republish constantly. Some might swap one no-name imported Amazon-listed product for another, or follow Amazon bestseller trends, and then the “review” is seen as updated and “fresher” when republished.
So, I/ToolGuyd is competing against household names, “niche affiliate marketing” sites, and others.
Regular readers often seem to appreciate all (or at least most) ToolGuyd content, but I also seek to serve the needs of visitors looking for information.
It’s hard to justify the time that goes into preparing, updating, and maintaining buying guides if they are mainly visible to regular readers.
Reading habits have changed over the years. When is the last time you looked up something from the top menu? (The menu is also one of the main things I’m working to revamp and update.)
That’s not to say that I’m ignoring the type of content, but I’m adjusting and adapting to the times.
Instead, I’m taking an approach similar to what I did for our Black Friday content, where something larger is assembled piecemeal.
I am also focusing more specifically on what I think regular readers will be more interested in, rather than what visitors might be looking for. That requires a slightly different approach.
Generally, regular readers aren’t buying tools all the time. This is in contrast to visitors who are looking for specific information to help with a more immediate purchasing decision. So, a “best [tool]” might help visitors more than regular readers, but it’s more likely to be read by regulars due to how Google’s search engine is all over the place in how it ranks these days.
If you have specific requests, I can see what I do. If not, this is something I’m working on, albeit slowly.
Koko The Talking Ape
I use an ad-blocker, and you’re right, a pop-over wouldn’t persuade me to white-list. In fact I’d block the pop-over. 🙂
I see the ad at the top on mobile as well, and as long as I can minimize it, it’s not a big deal for me. Thanks for putting so much effort into creating a good user experience! Review-wise, there’s hardly any good toolbelt reviews out there from general review sites. I’d love to see one here, and it may be beneficial to outsource some of the testing. I’d be happy to review my own belt, or try another one. It’d be an excellent resource if you put in pro brands that make a strong, long-lasting belt. There’s only really Amazon affiliate sites, a few scattered pro reviews, plus video and forum reviews. I’d love to see a comparison and review of Diamondback, Occidental, Badger, McRose, Boulder Bag, Akribis, Martinez, and Atlas 46, to name a few. Thanks for your hard work on the site!
The problem with tool belts is that I can go over features and initial quality, but it might take a very long time to thoroughly test one, let alone several.
And with a brand like Occidental, there’s always going to be a lot of push-back because of the price.
I’m okay with push-back, but tool belts aren’t something I use extensively.
Contributor reviews can get very complicated, but I might be open to it later this year.
That makes sense-it is something that’s a little bit of a departure from the usual content. I just thought that I’d throw the idea out there and see what you thought. If you’d be open to doing something later in the year, I’d be happy to help review something, or my own belt. For now, I’ll enjoy the planned content!
I like what some readers are doing here. They have been directing their comments as @Fred, @ Koko @stuart. That really clarifies who they are addressing. I wouldn’t mind ads if they were all in one place. Like the current headings, “cordless”, “news”, “new tools”, “updates”. You could have one listed “Ads” Then people could click on it to read the ads.
The @name is because “threaded comments” are enabled, where replies to a comment are indented and immediately below that comment. But, there’s a maximum number of 5 threads, at which point you can only reply to the common parent. Once that happens, all of the comments are in chronological order, and so tagging a name (@name) helps to avoid confusion.
I can set the number of reply and discussion threads as high as I want, but 5 seems to be optimal number before paragraph width gets too narrow on mobile devices. Any less than 4 and comment threads will max out too often.
For better or worse my Toolguyd experience has been over 99% on iPhones from the first to this iPhone 13Pro and I simply don’t see any user interface problems.
Sure I’d like to be able to correct my butterfingered spelling errors but even that’s hardly important. Especially as you’ve said it’s a slippery slope for the site to add user self correction ability. So don’t until you find a better option.
@Plaingrainy. Hmmm. Maybe? I dunno.
Though I do occasionally simply start a response with say “fred”. Maybe “@fred” would be clearer?
I think the balance of ads on Toolguyd is as good as can be expected for a site run off of ad revenue. Ads don’t get in the way like other sites.
As I have gotten older I am no longer adverse to paying for ad free versions of sites or streaming. YouTube Premium sub has been my best investment (or paying protection from ads you may call it). I’ve grown to dislike anything that wastes my time or mental energy and peace. Maybe many see sites with paid tiers as money grabs, but Toolguyd viewers may be more business minded and see the site has to make money and you either pay with money or time and distraction of ads.
I don’t watch YouTube content enough to justify the subscription yet, but that’s something I might also do one day.
With respect to content, I loathe paywalls. One site that has a paywall also has (had?) a print magazine. With the print magazine, I stopped subscribing when I started counting and comparing the amount of content to the amount of ads. That magazine’s web content is similar, half ads, lots of affiliate content. All of the more interesting-seeming stories are now behind a paywall. If paying for a digital subscription removed all the ads and shallow content, maybe I’d feel different.
That said, I would offer subscriptions here, but at this time there’s no way for me to offer anything extra for it.
In the same way, there’s no “editorial fee” or similar for new tool coverage.
I am happy to pay for good content. I purchased a couple of online lessons (photography related) and project guides (e.g. Wood Whisperer).
I agree about not wanting my time or mental energy wasted, and I try very hard to respect readers’ time and attention as well.
Next to paywalls, I can’t stand it when I search for information only to have to dig for it several paragraphs into a post.
For instance, does a certain move have an after-credits scene? Instead of starting off with a yes or no answer and additional context if needed, there are 2-3 paragraphs of fluff and then you still have to hunt down the answer.
I can understand why they do it, although I still don’t agree with it. Visitors looking for information, whether it’s about an after-credits scene or about a particular tool, often visit just that page and leave. This wasn’t always the case, but it’s how things have become with mobile browsing. The longer you’re kept on a page, the better for the publisher with respect to ads and Google rankings.
Thank you so much for keeping the ads to a sane minimum. These sales dudes know nothing about making a good web page. They only want a cut of your ad revenue.
I’ve bought some great tools from your affiliate links, I can assure you I never even looked the ads for trucks or whatever load up. If they help you keep the site up great. Anything intrusive and it’s going to run readers off.
Let’s see a comparison of the craftsman V series wrenches and the facom and Mac that are supposed to be essentially the same. I’ve seen claims that the craftsman are shorter.
I’ll see what I can do.
I can tell you that what you’ve heard is correct. I have a Craftsman V-series 1/2″ ratcheting wrench in front of me, along with my purchased USA-made Proto wrench of similar I-frame design. The Craftsman is indeed shorter.
The Craftsman V-series 1/2″ ratcheting wrench is identical in length, from open end to center of the box end, to my 1/2″ Facom non-ratcheting wrench.
I wonder how many people on here realize how special Stuart and this site is. No matter what the post is about, it is something I look forward to. And I look forward to reading the comments by people whose names and some of their personality, have gotten familiar over the years.
An android tablet is what I read this on, and I’m completely happy with what I see.
Stuart, if you have to make changes, I’m sure it will be with the best intentions. Those of us who have been reading you for years, know your character. Other people here will give you more specific feedback. For me, I wish there was a way you could get something on YouTube, so you can make a good living like some of the You Tubers and not have to deal with what you’re dealing with. I want you to keep this up, make a good living and also have plenty of quality time to spend with your family.
I don’t know him, but your father is alive in my mind, walking the dog and swinging that (new or repaired) red mag lite to and fro. Keep doing what you do, and thanks to everyone here who has shared and become like friendly neighbors.
Thank you, I appreciate it!
To be fair, all of you are very special as well! While not all regular readers comment, and not all commentors are regular readers, you all have built a community where I continue to really value and appreciate your input.
The fact is that a visitor looking for information won’t care if there’s one ad or five.
While it has been my long-time goal to create and support a look, feel, and user experience that’s well-aligned with what I like to see and experience when I visit a website, it’s because of you guys that I have been able to preserve and perpetuate this mindset.
YouTube is hard. Unlike web posts, video has a sort of permanence, and I am not very good at it. It has been one of my goals for x-number of years now to produce more video content.
Another problem is that it doesn’t easily fit into my workflow. Every platform, whether web, social media, or YouTube, requires consistency. Until I can figure out a way to create more video content without taking away from my efforts for web, it’s going to have to wait a bit more.
Diversification is always good. But as with social media, YouTube is completely separate from web, and the effort require can be substantial.
Does your favorite mega-YouTuber have a website? It’s hard to be consistent on one platform, even harder to do the same on two.
I remember reading that highly produced, quality video content takes on average of one hour per every minute of actual finished product.
(That’s including prep work, lighting, filming, B-roll, voice-over, script writing, editing, uploading, etc.)
It does get easier & quicker once you get into a workflow, have established shots & setups you can easily reuse/replicate…but starting out, it would take even longer as you’re essentially teaching yourself how to produce a technical product at a professional level from scratch.
It’s an entire science and art to create a quality video product — and the societal norms around it are in a state of continuous flux. [if you don’t believe me, watch a promotional video from the late 80s compared to today….things absolutely DO change.]
My suggestion — if you don’t have time or the patience to self-learn, hire someone with experience who can assist, even if it’s just a short term contract job to jump-start the enterprise.
I recently started watching a diy solar channel that has me hooked and he does have a website. He seems totally transparent and has a video explaining the different revenue streams he gets from YouTube ads, affiliate’s, book sales etc. and why he doesn’t need or want to be sponsored. His name is Will Prowse.
I’m not a video person but if you want to add video to your site, you might want to check out what Ray of DCrainmaker.com does. His site is about sports electronics and he has a clear and informative website and produces quite a bit of video content as well. I don’t know when Ray sleeps as he seems to be a one-man show who publishes a lot of written and video content.
I’ve used obnoxiously strong & customized adblockers for…well, as long as I can remember. As long as they were available, since the late 90s at least. Nowadays, if something sneaks through — I go out of my way to find out why & how to aggressively fix the lapse of protection.
I do this because online ads have long been toxic. Flashing, annoying, playing sound & video, click-baity, hover-overs, lingers, move to the status bar, stops you from copying text, breaks the back button or right click, etc. Some have had actual spyware payloads.
I let none of them through anymore. I whitelist no one. And I recognize so much of the internet runs on ads. Maybe I’m a bad person — as if everyone did what I did, the entire system would collapse. But the alternative would be capitulating — permitting a totally unacceptable behavior, encouraging others to behave that way too. That’s the greater of the two evils, even if I’m still deliberately choosing evil.
But I can’t stand the sensory intrusion — we have it all the time. Pop music playing in every restaurant & retail store. Ads at the gas pumps. Billboards blocking vistas of nature along the highways. Ads above urinals.
Television? That’s 20min out of every 40min wasted every hour. In other words, we are told to accept a 1/3rd waste of our most valuable resource: time. No where else we’d even think about being ok with 33% mandatory waste.
I’m just not OK with all of that. The reason I DIY and build things is to get away from mass, mindless, intrusive consumerism. I can’t avoid ads during the day, I’m sure as heck am not going to allow them during my off hours relaxing.
Referral links? Not an issue, as long as they’re not used to actively exclude content, products, or services that don’t have a referral program.
It’s challenging to say I deeply appreciate honest content, yet won’t support adverts — without sounding like an ungrateful freeloader. But the above is pure honesty.
Side note: many content creators on Twitch, YouTube, etc admit that ads placements don’t pay the bills. They help, but they’re a small fraction of their total income. Direct sponsorships, merchandise, paid subscriptions, etc are what keeps the lights on, food on the table, and roof over their heads. They even admit that playing ads is like a golden goose — press that “run ad” button too many times, you will lose your viewers — and for what? The mere pennies aren’t worth it.
Agreed 100%. I don’t have a problem with ads here and there, that’s fine, but obtrusive stuff with pop-overs/unders, messing with how the mouse works, animated videos, etc, are right out. You mentioned outright malware, and Stuart mentioned “bad code getting through the filters”. This is absolutely true as well. Over the years I’ve found many ads to cause memory leaks or hammer my already limited bandwidth. No thank you. I don’t think the advertising on Toolguyd is out of line, but it is on so many other sites that I default to blocking most sites. It’s very nice to see that Stuart is careful to not make the ads a negative experience. I understand that a lot of the internet runs on ad revenue, and that’s fine, but it needs to be kept at a level where it doesn’t drive readers away, and I think thus far TG is going a good job.
As a side note, I find internet advertising confusing. I’ve been online since the early days of services like AOL and Prodigy in the 1990s. I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally clicked on an online ad. I constantly see ads pop up for things I’ve already bought, which seems rather pointless. And then there’s the bizzare stuff. Last week I was browsing Toolguyd on my phone–I almost never use it for web browsing, but here I was stuck waiting in a doctor’s office–and for some reason it was showing me ads for some model of Toyota car in Vietnamese–I’ve never searched for Toyotas and I don’t speak Vietnamese. A few months ago I was seeing ads for baby-related products in Spanish. Again, I don’t speak Spanish, I don’t have an infant, and I haven’t done any searching for baby products. Every once in a while I see an ad that shows something I might be interested in….but why click the ad when I can just type in the URL of the company and skip all the BS?
This might be a WordPress limitation and out of your control, but when I occasionally do comment I would love the option to be notified only when someone replies to my comment directly (or other comments in the same thread). It would be nice to know if there is a direct response without getting an email for every comment posted on an article.
That’s a WP limitation, or rather a limitation of the broad-feature plugin that’s developed by the same company.
There are 3 options: let visitors subscribe, “subscribe to site” (which I have disabled), and “subscribe to comments.”
Sorry to hear that’s a limitation you can’t work around. That’s a feature I’d love as well. At first I had the site set to email me whenever there are replies posted, but I only wanted that for replies to my posts or that same thread, not for every reply in the topic. The latter fills up the inbox REALLY quick.
I know you’ve resisted this in the past, but rather than subscriptions, consider donations. They could be through something like PayPal or that “buy me a cup of coffee” thing I see some YouTubers use.
I’d happily throw an annual or monthly amount, just as I do for two Patreon folks.
Ads…they pay the bills if you can keep up the viewership. Unfortunately as you said Stuart to many or “pop-up” style ads are aggravating and tend to make me go elsewhere out of pure frustration. I like that when I come here I’m not inundated with ads, and pop-ups. A banner that extends from the bottom that I can minimize is tolerable if your looking that way. I understand the struggle between revenue and retaining viewership. Take it slow if you will and thanks for keeping us in your thoughts! The comments section is fine IMHO.
You run a tight ship. You have loyal following, you must be doing something right. A ot of us that care about this website were raised with our grandparents mentality about tools and advertising. I know you need to make $, but I’m so glad you keep the adds off to the side: And keep the body of the text of the articles distraction free. Just my personal opinion.
I’d like to see how good those fancy new
Knipex tweezers are. Thoes prices seem crazy for even precision hobby electronics level at $50 to $60 for tweezers. Even model train offu nato would scoff at those prices and I’ve seen them buy $400 incandescent lamps. It might make a good article for discussion.
Ever have to work with tweezers under a microscope? Ones good enough for that are indeed expensive. I have not used Knipex but I have bought two Excelta Cobaltima tweezers in the past, they were something like $70 a pop, and this was more than 10 years ago. Absolutely fantastic though!
I sent my Knipex contact a note, asking for context. I’ll look into it further.
It looks to me that Knipex is expanding a little into the industrial sector – they say electronics and pharmaceutical industries.
Depending on the task and material needs, tweezers can be very expensive.
In my opinion, stick with budget-grade tweezers until or unless you know exactly what your needs are. It’s better to have several types of lower-priced tweezers than just one high quality tweezer that doesn’t fit the task at hand.
Many of the very expensive ones like the Cobaltimas have special materials. If I remember right the Cobaltima is something like 40% cobalt, they maintain the strength of their tips at very high temperatures, solder doesn’t stick to them, the corrosion resistance is incredible, and the points are so amazingly fine, like that of a human hair. They do a very good job sharpening them at the factory, a job that clearly takes a lot of care given the tips are so thin and yet they are also symmetrical.
Stuart, something you might consider is creating affiliate links in an organized tool catalog. When folks are shopping for tools, then they stop here first and use your link. You earn a commission. Similar to how smile.amazon.com earns a small commission for a non-profit of our choice.
When I have purchased tools you have reviewed I always use your links with the hope that you get something for sharing this free content with your readers.
On that note, searching the site is sometimes challenging. Something like a site map, but really like an index, would be great. As you add reviews or mention products or discuss companies (in a meaningful or useful way, not just in passing), add them to the index under their tool type and/or company name. Include a referral link on each. It could be a database. Dates would be good, too.
This is very off the cuff, but lets say for tools, keeping it simple:
1 – General type: hand tool, power tool, measuring/marking, cleaning/solvent, lights/EDC, storage/organization
2 – More specific type: table saw, drill, screw driver, wrench, knife, flashlights, tool chests, tool backpack
3 – Maker
4 – Referral link(s)
5 – First date covered
6 – Links: text field with URLs to your articles (hellish if you redo your site!)
7+ – Flags- any fields you think useful, like Stuart’s favorites, Recommended, (? Stay away!), discontinued (and maybe replaced by or good alternative)
I’m local if you ever want help.
There’s a link in the bottom menu, “stores.”
I might review that post once a year in case there are any worthwhile updates. This year I might add a where *not* to buy tools section that covers the increasing number of scam sites.
Honestly, I try to pay as little attention to affiliate links as possible. If you buy something through them, great! If not, okay!
Doing anything solely for affiliate clicks is a slippery slope, and so I try to avoid it.
No requests, just thanks!!! I’m confident that whatever editorial, review, and advertising changes happen will be in the service of the continued health of the site and its content, something that benefits all of us readers in turn. Keep up the great work!!!
Thank you, Stuart. I am much more inclined to click on an affiliated link and buy an item on website like yours than on one that bombards me with ads and ad blocker blockers. I know on yours, the link are yours and benefits you and not one of the bazillion shady operations out there.
I once opened a webpage while helping my son with homework. It was one those popular homework help pages targeted for elementary schools. I probably was on it for a minute and set my phone aside. I touched my phone 30 minutes later found it was hot. There was a warning message on my phone for high data usage.
It turns out that the website was running video ads underneath both the static and video ads. It’s a way to multiply add revenue without users noticing. Luckily I had set automatic limits, but not before 1-GB of data was used.
Is it possible to add a time-out to the banner ad so that it goes away on its own after a few seconds? Viewing the site on a phone makes the delete button a bit small and difficult to access…
No, but it seems to disappear when scrolling up.
There’s also a “go away!” arrow at the bottom left with a large tap target.
I prefer to just pay you monthly than deal with the advertisements. I use an app block software but I have allowed your site, however, unless those ads are something that I really want to review, for example a new tool or a tool deal, they are effectively pointless for me.
All I can hope for is for a really comfortable full-body Massage Chair, and the most state-of-the-art ergonomic keyboard and mouse setup for Stuart’s work area… so he can massage the trouble and tension away, while finishing whatever write-up, code change, or other experiment he may be working on for the site.
I would, of course, hope for comfort for his Family as well, because that’s only fair, and he’s a good Dad and Husband, so they all deserve a little pampering. Dunno what his Dad might need in this area of comfort… but I still hope he gets it!
Does this count as improvements to the site, Stuart? I consider it an improvement in working conditions, which will improve output quality control… or am I off base with this?
Thanks for thinking of readers! This year i plan to expand to a magnetic drill with anular bits. Would love to see Hougen vs Amazon brands. I’m also looking for bench grinder and drill press. Hard to see anything MIUSA. I have standardized on Proto hand tools with the SK debacle and love them.
Mag drills are a bit out of my realm, but I’d stick to Hougen or other familiar brand names regarding annular cutters.
If buying off-brand tooling, I usually only go with Interstate at MSC. There could be cutter promos in MSC’s sales flyers, but I took a very brief look and didn’t see any.
Have you ever considered becoming a Brave Verified Content Creator? I use Brave Browser. It’s a privacy centric, web3 enabled browser that does block some (but not necessarily all) ads. However, you can become a verified Content Creator which allows users like me to tip you automatically with BAT (Brave Attention Token, an ERC20 token on the Ethereum Blockchain) when we spend time on your site. The more time I spend on toolguyd.com, the more my browser would tip at the end of the month. It completely removes the middle man of advertising to monetization. As of writing this comment, a BAT token is worth around $0.67.
Honestly, I never even noticed the add placement along the bottom of the screen until I was reading that paragraph. So take that how you want, but I found it to be minimally intrusive!
This has to be the most honest and yet, frustrating discussion from a website host. You need income from this, unless its a hobby. And for income, you either ad-base the revenue, pay for premium sub access, or sponsored by.
I’ve watched some youtubers and Belt’s and Boxes has a slick trick where they disclosed their sponsors (OHT and Spyder products). They also hook folks by taking their funds and reward it to “paying subs called Production Assistants” via some random drawing of those subbed atleast prior a month. Not bad.
As for ads…er, there are tasteful and then the rest are shit. Hidden close x. Animated. Annoying video. Or sponsors one doesn’t care about.
I think that the idea is to have a premium membership: a tier for the whales, and tier for the minnows. Discounts for those that pay. Even access to you. I think corporate sponsors like numbers so until you can show your ‘influence’, I doubt big Red, Big Orange, Big Yellow… you know them…, will kick $5K/month your way.
I’m inclined to also disclose that I’m a cheap bastard. I like Deals. I like refurbs. And I dislike going to Home Depot for the self checkout…with lines! You want me to shop here, and then force me to check my own stuff out, and no incentive? I’m not saving time! I am being rushed and the barcode is missing and I’m still waiting on a clerk. So in that, I use adblockers and then some. Pop ups? Nope. I like subtle, non-intrusive ads. You know, this review is sponsored by… or these tools are donated to me from xyz to review. When I’m done, I’m going to donate to Habitat Humanity OR will offer a raffle to those that are subs. Complicated? Yep.
Tools for Tools! 😉
I think your “Recent Comments” and “Recent Posts” sections in the right-hand column are very useful. Could there be a way to scroll or click a link view more items than just those currently listed? I appreciate your site and request for feedback very much; thank you.
For recent posts, that’s basically just a limited snapshot of what’s on the home page – https://toolguyd.com/ . I potentially could expand that, but the front page is specifically designed to be scrollable and for older headlines to be easily accessible via pages. I’ve considered a “show more posts” structure instead of pages, but there are things about that I don’t like.
As for comments, I’ve considered it, but it would have to be a separate page. There’s a comment RSS feed (https://toolguyd.com/comments/feed/), but there’s been hardly any interest over the years.
The complication with comments is in organizing them. Only excerpts of the first x-number of words are shown. A list of say 20-50 comments can be done, but it’s not something I would read.
I see full comments organized by post and in chronological order via email, and in full-text linear fashion in the back-end. But even then, I often have to go to a post in order to see responses and comment threads in proper context.
What *I* can see in the backend might be a good way to show a list of new comments on a public-facing page, but there’s no easy way to recreate that publicly. If there’s enough demand I can look deeper during my next development session, but I’m not optimistic.
The recent comments list is a handy way to get up to date on discussions. I usually view your site away from a computer and the comments RSS feed does not display in mobile safari. I see a blank window, but no formatted display (or XML).
I think I got it on your recent posts short list. It is a nice feature as-is.
I like that the recent comments list contains the abbreviated excerpts arranged chronologically, and that it includes links to topic post comment thread locations. For me, it provides a great way to quickly gain awareness of new response/comment content that I may have otherwise missed, and to navigate to it to read in proper context. If a longer list could be viewed, I think it could be even more useful.
I recently noticed that selecting links in your “recent comments” list no longer brings up the page and location of the related comment. Instead it just brings up the page. Do you know if there is a way to return this to it’s previous behavior? Since I frequently view on mobile devices, the large amount of scrolling to search for and recognize recent additions is difficult.
Is this happening to a particular post, or everything?
I double checked things on my end, as I had not changes anything to this section, and it worked as intended, taking you to the referenced comment.
In posts where social posts are embedded, such as the recent Pipeline coverage post, the embeds really mess with the relative positioning of on-page messaging, and that does make it difficult to find linked-to comments.
I have been mostly following your pipeline post but think it may have happened with a few others as well. I will try to pay better attention and let you know if there are others. FY – I did just install a newsreader and add your comments RSS feed. When I click on “visit website” from the newsreader app it does bring me to the correct page and exact location every time so far (i tried about 10 different comments so far). The links in your site get me to the right page, but location vary from “close” to “can’t find it”. Interesting…
I’ve checked again. On desktop, embeds do not shift the content at all, but they do on mobile.
I’ve been working off my phone and tablet for 3 days, and responding to Pipeline post comments has indeed been a nightmare.
I have not seen it happen under other circumstances yet. If you see it again repeatably, please let me know and I can investigate further.
The content shifting on mobile must have been exasperating at times. Thank you for your perseverance, effort and strong pipeline event coverage.
Am I correct in assuming this means you are only experiencing lost-comment-link-positioning in that post, or others where there are embeds?
I refrain from using embeds in posts, and when appropriate, most posts only have one such social media embed.
And so this comment-shifting behavior shouldn’t be a day-to-day occurrence.
Sorry for my very delayed response. I believe lost-comment-link-positioning occurred for me primarily in the pipeline post. I have not noticed frequent comment-shifting behavior recently.
Thank you for your continued efforts.