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Questions? We've got answers

We’re aware that, from time to time, users experience problems on the site or have questions that they can’t immediately find answers to. So we thought we’d give you a brief summary of some of the most common issues you tell us about, plus help on getting them sorted.

Writing

“I’m a first-time writer, where can I find help?”

One of the first places you should look is the newly-revised dos and don’ts of writing for Simonseeks. This offers help and advice originating from some of the best bits - and most common mistakes – made by guide writers.

“Why has my guide not been approved?”

Have you checked the history tab on your guide? This is where you’ll find direct, private feedback from an editor about why the current draft of your guide has not been approved for publication on the site. Sometimes an editor will simply refer to the writing dos and don’ts. This is because two or more of the topics covered in these tips have not been attended to.

By the way, the majority of guides that are initially rejected are subsequently published after the writer has addressed this feedback.

“What can I do to improve my guide?”

The dos and don’ts (see above) are a great place to find suggestions to enhance your guide-writing skills.

“I added a new hotel recommendation recently – the form has changed. Why?”

Indeed it has changed. If your choice of hotel is not already in the drop-down list, you’ll find a new form when you add it manually, which will allow you to add photographs among other new features. Find out more here.

“Why can’t I find the hotel I’m looking for in the hotel recommendation tool?”

It could be that it doesn’t exist in our database yet, in which case you should check out the advice on adding a hotel using the new hotel recommendation form above.

You should also try a couple of variations of the name of your hotel. For example, users looking for London’s Connaught hotel might have been tempted to search for “The Connaught” or “Hotel Connaught”, but the hotel will only be found by typing Connaught. This is an area where Simonseeks is looking to improve functionality. We’ll keep you posted.

“I was writing my guide but then when I clicked save it said access denied. What happened?”

For security reasons, Simonseeks will log out users who appear to have been inactive for more than 45 minutes. When you’re writing a draft guide, save your changes periodically. You should always have a back-up copy in a programme such as Word. Some writers prefer to do the majority of work in a word document and then paste it into the ‘Create a guide’ page. This approach is perfectly acceptable but beware – all formatting, such as bold type and different font sizes, from external programmes will be stripped out when you paste it into Simonseeks.

“I saved my draft guide, and I’m logged in, but my guide has disappeared”

Have you looked in ‘My Workspace’ in ‘My Simonseeks’? Only published guides will appear under the ‘Guides’ tab.

Photographs

“I got an error message when I tried to upload a photograph. Help!”

Does the error message look like this: “An HTTP error 0 occurred. /node_images/js”?

There are limitations on the size and type of photographs that can be uploaded. It is likely your photograph is too big. It must be less than 500kb (0.5mb) in file size and no larger than 1024x768 pixels. Photographs can be resized using editing software such as Microsoft Office Picture Manager and Photoshop, or free downloads such as Google’s Picasa.

“Can I upload photographs that I haven’t taken?”

Yes you can. But you must have permission to use the image, and credit the photographer when requested. This credit can be given as part of the caption.

Editorial policy

“Why do comments between editors and writers appear on the site?”

This is about making the editorial process transparent and encouraging comment from the community. Nick Trend explains further here.

“I’ve updated my guide, as the editor suggested. How do I know the editor has seen this and will my guide ranking change?”

First of all, thank you for making the changes. Rest assured the editors are notified via the watching system that an update has been made. In the majority of cases a ranking is not then revised by an editor – we simply do not have the resources to do this with more than 700 writers constantly updating more than 2,000 guides. On occasion, an editor will update a rating on request if significant changes have been made. The team of dedicated and loyal users of the site will rate your guide accordingly.

“How can I keep an eye on guides or blog posts?”

Rick explains all here.

“I know I can’t use content previously published on the web, but surely I can use my own blog?”

Sorry, no. Any content previously published on the Internet will be picked up by the duplication check. Your guide will then be returned to you as ‘Not approved: existing web publication’. You may re-write your own work, but it must be significantly different from the previously published content.

General

“I’ve forgotten my password”

Oops! Never mind, you can reset your password by going to sign in, at the top right of the site, entering your email address and clicking ‘forgotten password?’ A new password will be sent to you via email.

“Please explain my position in the Simonseeks rankings”

A popular question. You can find out more here.

“I think there’s a bug on the site. What is the best way to let you know?”

If you think something’s gone wrong, let us know via ‘Report a bug’, under the ‘Help & Advice’ section at the bottom of every page on Simonseeks. This page also includes a bug status report, which, as the technical team cannot reply to everyone who reports a bug, informs everyone about fixes and outstanding issues.

Cathy’s blog post in October asked ‘Is something bugging you?’ It got some interesting responses.

Profile

“Can I use a nickname?”

We prefer all writers to put their first and last name in the name field under the ‘Profile’ tab of ‘My Simonseeks’.

“How do I upload a profile picture?”

Under ‘My Simonseeks’, click ‘Edit’ and add your photograph here.

Payments

“How can I see how much I’ve earned? And can you explain how payments are calculated?”

To check your earnings, you must be logged in. Visit ‘My Simonseeks’ and click on the ‘My earnings’ tab. Read Simon Nixon’s blog post about all things earnings-related here.

Have you got another question?

We hope this helps to clear up some of the common issues users face on Simonseeks. There's more help and advice in the full FAQs on Simonseeks.

Let us know below if we haven’t answered your questions and we’ll do our best to help.

Community comments (47)

Hi - I've looked through the faqs on images and other areas of the site but can't find the answer to this question
Once I've uploaded my photos, is there any way I can change the order of them? I'd like it so they work chronologically with the piece I've written. Thanks.

Hi Catherine. Apologies for the slow reply, I've been in Italy for two weeks.
If you look at your list of pictures in the images tab of your guide, you'll see a little four-way arrow on the left. Use this to drag your pics into the order you'd like.

Hi,

I've just updated my profile, and it looks a bit of a mess now as it's just one big block of text. Is there any way I can add paragraphs to it?

Cheers,
Richard

Hi Richard. Under the profile tab in My Simonseeks you can edit your text and add paragraphs. By the way, when did you write for the Coventry papers? I'm a former Times/Telegraph kid myself!

Hi Jeanette,

I can't see any facility to add paragraphs in the profile bit of Mysimonseeks - am I being stupid?

I sent a few things speculatively to Darren Parkin and John West between 2005-2007 and they printed them. Can't believe they didn't pay me though!

Cheers,
Richard

It's not you Richard, it's me! This is a new facility on the site that has only just filtered through to writers. It is now switched on and you can add paragraphs.

Re: John and Darren. I can believe they didn't pay! Not much money in regional newspapers, same old story. I worked for the Cov Tel 2004/05 and Cov/Warks Times 2008/09. And I know full well how tight Darren is - I live with him! Let’s hope he doesn’t read this! Small world and all that...

Hallo Jeanette, I had all sorts of problems submitting my fourth article, mostly getting cut off just when I was nearly finished, and also the save button not working, except for submitting. I have told the faults people. All I really want to say is I have submitted my article, Brittany; more great places to go, twice - the first time, unfinished because of the problems. The second one is the one for submission. I know that in the excitement I have not put the tags on the pictures, but I will fix that at the first possible moment.
Can you save me from failure, (as my unfinished one will be looked at first?)
By reading blogs, I now learn I can cut and paste, which saves all the nervous breakdowns. Thanks, as usual. Myra.

Hi Jeanette
My review on Bangkok has appeared, which is great thanks, but in the one hotel box, there isnt a picture of the hotel, how do I get a picture in the box, as it is just blank and doesnt look very good at the moment.
Thanks Pat

Hi Pat. Writers cannot upload a photograph to a hotel unless they are adding the hotel entry to our database for the very first time (that means the hotel does not already exist in the database - see the Q&A above for more about this).

Our technical team work very hard to match hotels in our database to hotel providers and, in time, they will usually be given a photograph.

Sorry that's not an immediate fix - but I hope it makes sense.

Hi Jeanette
Thanks for your reply. I understand now, I thought it was maybe something I could add myself. That's fine. Pat

I have only just discovered that you are logged out of the guide template if you spend more than 45 minutes on it without saving. I lost a whole finished guide this way and could not understand why until Cathy explained this in response to my anguished email. I am still puzzled, because she also said that if not all fields are complete it will not even let you save it as a draft. As far as I can make out this means that you have to have at least 200 words in the main text and all the other fields complete before it will let you do Save as Draft, and this must be done in less than 45 mins or it will lose the lot. This seems to me a completely ridiculous system. To do a whole guide well takes at least a couple of hours. This means you have to type with one eye on the clock remembering to save every 45 mins. In fact it pretty much means that you have to type it as a Word doc first and then paste it in. So why not just set up the site this way in the first place, that is, design the template for pasted-in text, instead of setting it up to look as if the text should be typed direct into the template and then making this impossible? I have already raised this point with reference to the lack of a word counter on the template, but nothing's changed on that score.

There have been discussions about this at Simonseeks HQ Elaine and we appreciate that, although this is a security measure, is it incredibly annoying for writers who get logged out without warning. Though we can't remove the essential security measures, we're looking at ways to warn writers when their timed session is nearly up. That way, you can save your work.

I think it's sensible to save your work periodically anyway. I tend to write in a Word-type file and then paste into the template - my home internet connection used to be lost frequently enough to make this necessary!

I wonder if other writers would share what they do.

I realise that it is a good idea to save regularly, my gripe is that it won't even let me do that. I did Save as Draft on the guide I lost, so thought it was safe, and only discovered after I'd been logged out that nothing had been saved. I have just had the same problem while editing the guide after it had been returned for further work. I did Save before 45 mins but when I went back to it later, after being logged out, none of those changes had been saved and I had to start all over again.

Also, the Add Hotel feature still does not work for me. It has never worked for me. Every guide I've done, I get told to add my hotel reccmmendations to the database, I try, it never works.

I know you've been talking to Cathy about this too and she has replied to say:

"The “Add it now” function only adds your hotel to our database, not your make it happen box. So, when you have added your hotel (and saved the entry), start typing the hotel’s name into the hotel recommendation box as normal. It should then appear."

I've added this here for the benefit of anyone else experiencing this problem.

We're also passing the problem about the inability to save to the technical team. We'll keep you posted here.

Hi Jeanetter,
What I do and how I work on my guide...I begin writing it but I am SOoo anxious that every 10 minutes I save it. This is ridiculous I know but I am so frightened not to lose it as I did once or twice. By the time the guide is finished and I want to send it for aproval the whole thing gets more ridiculous. I find out that I have about 80 entries, which means that I have saved 80 times!!
Most of the times I work on a guide 3 or 4 days since English is not my mother language.
By the way I am still waiting for the guide on Agrotourism I am so anxious before leaving for my Easter holidays.
Happy Easter Everyone!!!
Popi

Thanks Popi. I'd suggest, given you save and edit your work so often, you would benefit from writing in an external programme such as Word and then simply pasting it in. Keep in mind my point in the blog above though, that all external styling (such as bold type and italics) will be lost when you paste.

Hi Jeanette I recently submitted a write-up to you and it was not accepted as it needed work and quoted to check Do's and Dont's. I have amended a few items, e.g I have added phone numbers, prices etc. to hotels, trips I have listed, but not sure if this is what is required. I have since noticed that there were spelling mistakes in the heading after I submitted it to you again. Could this be the reason it was rejected, as I cannot see any other reason at the moment. I would like to have some feedback as to where I am going wrong, as I may keep amending the wrong sections. Thanks for your help.

Thanks Pat.

I notice your guide has now been sent back to us for approval. From memory only, it appears you have amended a few of the key issues - thanks for doing that. There was also advice in the dos and don'ts about using subheadings, writing picture captions and checking your spelling, which you haven't done, but we can take a look at those things during the editing process - though these are points to bear in mind when you write your next guide.

In general, when an editor returns a guide and asks the writer to read the dos and don'ts, it's because a number of the points within need to be addressed.

I hope this helps.

Hi Jeanette
Thanks for reply, I will amend spelling which I didnt notice, also will use more subheadings. I think I have captions for the pictures, but will check on that also. Is it o.k. to add a web address in the text as well as the hotel address as I took these out because I wasnt sure if that could be a problem? It will all become clear in the end. Thanks again for your reply. Pat

Thanks Pat. You don't need a web address for your hotel recommendations.
As you sent your guide for approval again, you won't be able to edit it - but I'll send it back to you to make the changes you wish.
One other minor thing, you'll notice the titles of guides on the site are in lower case, with capitals where necessary - not all capped up like yours.
Good luck with your editing

Hi Jeanette. Thanks for your comments, I have amended the guide extensively so I think it looks and reads better now. Thanks for your tips, however, I omitted to amend the title, sorry. Pat

Hi Jeanette,
I am struggling to just post the name of the hotel, in the guide and not the whole threat (www.etc etc) I don't know how to do this, and I would be grateful if I could have some help on how to do it.
I also don't understand when it says (Allow HTML tags, or link node_id, title= "val2" etc. Does this have to do with this I am asking?
It might not be hard at all, but I do need some help please.
Thanks so much

I'm a little confused by your question Popi. I assume you're talking about the easyHotel in Larnaca. You only need to call it this, don't add the ".com". Does that answer your question?

No, no Jeanette,
I mean in my guide I usually write down the name of the hotel, the phone number and next to it I add the (www....etc). In the guide I received for correction today, I see that (Easyhotel) is posted fine because sb did it for me. The other hotel which I have to write I don't want to repeat what I am till now doing which is wrong. I should have just the name and anyone who steps on it can see the whole ad behind it. Hope I am understood now, and I am so sorry for all this Jeanette.
Thanks so much.

I think I understand. Are you asking about the way a hotel name is hyperlinked? You'll see I did the first one for you on that guide because I was halfway through editing it before I had to return it to you. This linking is something only the editors can do and I'll do the second hotel when you return your guide for approval again.

You don't need to include a telephone number or web address for hotels you're recommending - just the street address. This is because your readers can use the make it happen box on the top left of your guide to see more about the hotel.

I was unsure of your question, but I hope I've guessed the answer correctly!

Yes Jeanette this is exactly what I was trying to do. I was struggling thinking that all the others could do it but for me!!! I have finished and sent the guide.I added new things and gave more information. Thanks for the support.
Have a nice day.

Hi Jeanette, can you clarify the position with using other people's photos to accompany our writing?

I wrote an article on a place where I had forgotten my camera, and remembering the advice here: http://www.simonseeks.com/travel-writing-tips#4 chose some photos on flickr covered for commercial use by creative commons, and gave credit to the photographer in the caption.

I appreciate your request for me to include specfic links to the photos (and apologies for not doing so), but in your comment asking for it to be revised, you say on using other people's photos: "this practice in general is not one we would wish to use".

So, is it worth changing the writing tip to make the message consistent? By the way, I don't forget my camera too often :o)

Many thanks

Paul

Hi Paul
Perhaps the tip needs to say exactly that, that we would prefer writers to use their own photographs in all circumstances (I'd taken that as a given, apologies), but where they cannot, appropriate credits must be given as requested by the copyright holder/hosting website.
In your case, flickr asks for a link back to the page where the photograph was copied from, rather than simply a mention of flickr's "photographer". You won't be able to create an active link in your caption, but one that users could copy and paste should be adequate.
Thanks

Many thanks for your reply Jeanette - yes, I think that would clarify things for the tips section.

Thanks too for your advice as always :o)

Paul

Yes, Thanks for all the answered Jeanette. I just sent you something through -contact us -
And I am anxiously waiting to see the luck of my guide on Agrotourism which I had it changed completely.
Popi

Is there a way that one can send a private messsage to you Jeanette that is considered very urgent?

Please send a message through "contact us". You'll find this at the bottom of this page under "about Simonseeks"

Hi Jeanette,
I have 3 questions for you and hope you don't get angry! 1. If something is added in a guide which is already published, will this make it appear again as the first day it was published together with the new guides,- thus having more chance to be seen, or does it remain where it was.
2. Does this mean that the guide has to be approved again?
3. If comments are added does it get a better chance to move forward?
I am still trying to learn everything and sorry for the many questions. (Hope it helps others too).

Hi Popi, some answers:
1. Your edited guide will not appear on the home page again. We're currently looking at the best ways to highlight updated guides.
2. It doesn't need to be approved again. The editors are notified when you update a guide.
3. I don't know what you mean by "move forward"...I assume you mean coming back to the home page? Comments will never allow a guide to do this, though if your guide is well commented on and liked, it will move up in the top-rated guides list.
Hope this helps
Jeanette

Hi Janette,
I see that my first guide about Larnaca is approved but not edited. Please let me know what this means. How this influences my progress and earnings. If already one has a PayPal account do the money go automatically there? I was so sorry to hear that a member got just 2 pennys for a very good guide he wrote and this made me have second thoughts whether I have any chance of earning anything myself. I am new here and I did some searching.There are more complains than satisfaction out here and I am a bit disappointed.
And another thing. There are some guides that are huge and are accepted, and others which are rather small and I see no comment below from the editor.
Oh yes and something else. I love photography and I like downloading many photos. I believe that somebody who is ready to book a destination wants to see many photos or am I wrong. Do you mind me downloading more than 20 each time?
Thanks for your time, and I am looking forward for some answers.
Popi

Hi Popi
There is nothing you need to worry about because your guide was approved but not edited. This is simply a way to approve a guide that lets the writer know a little more work needs to be done. It in no way affects your earning potential, rankings or any other kind of progress on Simonseeks. In fact, only you and the editors can even see this.
You’ll find answers to questions about earnings in the blog post above. See the section on payments. Don’t be too disheartened by reading others’ comments on blog posts. The 0.02p you’re referring to was discussed in November, when only the second round of payments was credited. You must keep in mind that the site is still in its infancy after launching in June last year. Some writers have been earning upwards of £40 a month since then. Keeping guides up to date, writing about popular destinations, recommending fresh and relevant places to eat, drink and stay (and remembering to add your hotel recommendations) are all ways to improve your earning potential.
Regarding photographs, there is no upper limit on the amount of photographs you can upload, but remember most internet users have only a short attention span – too many photographs and you risk losing their interest. Personally, I think 12 is an ideal upper limit: enough to give me a good flavour of the place but not lose my attention.
I hope this helps
Jeanette

Yes Jeanette,
Thanks for the fast reply.One final thing though.
To receive even a single penny one has to book a hotel through your guide,plus you can get some more from the traffic? I believe many of the writers still haven't quite understood how this works. No matter how many times I read it I can't understand 100%. I am here because I love what I am doing, I don't expect that much, but at least I want to know how it works in SIMPLE words.I have read somewhere that you check to see which of us check to see our earnings. Is this so bad? After how much time one gets these one or two pennies...out of curiosity I am asking!!!

First of all Popi, no one here at Simonseeks can - or wishes to - check to see which writers check their earnings.

Secondly, you've summed up perfectly, and simply, how you make money: bookings through your guides and the number of page impressions (we can tell if the number of page impressions are coming from just one source/person).
This is the explanation in Simon Nixon's blog post: "Earnings are calculated according to a number of key factors. Page impressions are important, but the most significant payments come from commission earned on bookings - such as when a user follows your recommendations to book a hotel. So the writers whose guides have received the highest number of views, are not necessarily the highest earners. A well-written guide, which attracts a lot of bookings, will earn far more than a guide which is simply read and not used."
We can't go into any further detail about the exact formula - mostly because it's so complicated!

This is the simplest way to explain it. Does it help?

Thanks Jeanettee. I got the picture. Sorry for the many questions but I believe that they will help other members who share the same worries and querries like me. I can't wait to see my third guide approved without so many changes and sometimes (hard comments). I see that other peoples have the same problem. Some of these comments like word mistakes and others can be sent privately. I am so anxious each time as to what I will hear next!This does not happen on other sites believe me.

Hi Jeanette,

I can't add a pic to my profile. If I go to edit in mysimonseeks, there's an option to browse for a pic, but no option to upload it once I've selcted it. Could you advise?

Cheers,
Richard

Hi Richard.
Once you've selected your pic, just scroll down to the bottom of the edit page and save your changes. Your new profile picture will then be uploaded.
Let me know if you have any further problems.
Jeanette

Hi Jeanette,

I tried what you said with a pic saved on my desktop that is under the max size, but I get the following error message:

You are almost finished. Please correct the following ...

■The selected file /var/tmp/Portrait_pic.jpg.JPG could not be copied.
■Failed to upload the picture image; the images/avatars directory doesn't exist or is not writable.

Can you advise, please?

Many thanks,
Richard

Hi Richard,

Sorry about - it seems we had a little technical blip. It should all be fixed now. Please try again and let us know if you're still having any problems.

Thanks,
Paul

Thanks Paul and Jeanette - everything's fine now...

Thanks Jeanette for the swift reply!! To be precise, just 13 minutes to resolve the issue, it cannt be any better than this!! My sincere appreciation to the staff at Simonseeks !!!

Hi Jeanette,

I have a question !! I had submitted my guide "Cruising the Romantic Rhine, Germany" on February 22, 2010 and it was finally approved for publication on March 09, 2010 after i incorporated the changes suggested by the editors.
I am surprised to note that my guide never appeared on the home page of Simonseeks, under "Latest Guides" and it appears on the 6th page. Seems quite strange, because in this way there is little chance of the guide being viewed if its entry happens on the 6th page instead of the 1st page.
It seems that the system has picked up the first upload date(Feb22) and sorted the guide according to that, pushing it down to the current level.
Hope the team looks into this and fix up accordingly

Thanks
Arif

Your guide was published within a day or two of you returning it for approval to the editors. We're not sure why your guide didn't appear on the home page, but we have sorted the issue and it appears there now.
Hope this answers your query