Simonseeks Blog

Keep up to date with the most current News, Travel Tips & Developments from Simonseeks with the new Blog.

Is something bugging you?

Please let us know if it is! Like most new sites, Simonseeks has been affected by a few bugs - technical glitches that prevent aspects of the site from working properly such as stopping a small number of writers from uploading guides or pictures. We investigate all reported bugs and have already managed to eliminate several. However, if you discover a bug on the site please tell us through our report a bug page.

This page helps our technical team to understand why the bug is causing a problem on the site as we find out more about your operating system (your computer) and browser (for example Internet Explorer 8). Although we do not reply to every log here, we do look at every bug reported. The page also contains a “bug status” which updates site users on known bugs under investigation as well as those we have already fixed. We are considering creating a forum on bugs so the Simonseeks community can talk to each other about these bugs as well as to members of the Simonseeks team. Please let us know below if you think that this would help.

Community comments (47)

Cathi hi,
I am new here and I have some querries.
Firtly, I don't think the comments between the editor and the writer should be seen by others (especially) if the article is not yet edited.
Secondly I noticed that each time we edit a guide it shows on a page. I was surprised how many times I had edited my guide. Does this have to show? You see, for instance if you are working on your guide, and somebody disturbs you, or there might be a phone ringing, or something else, you save, and then get back to it. Does this help anyone by finding out exactly how many times the guide was edited?
Thirdly and more important is that I usually write the guide in a (Word) and when it is finished I transfer it to the blog. I spent so much time stressing some words in black to give emphasise and when I transfer it to the blog all the words are the same! Time consuming indeed. And while doing this, if you see something that you want to change a bit, then the spaces between the lines don't match.
Lastly....two many querries, well, why in some guides the hotel suggested by the writer is shown on the left side with a photo, and in some others this does not happen?
Thanks so much
Popi

Hi Popi,

Thank you for your comment and questions.

In September 09 we decided to show comments between an editor and the writer to make our editing process more transparent. Please see Nick Trend's blog post to find out more: http://www.simonseeks.com/blog/new-approach-editors

Don't worry about the number of times you save your guide, readers will only be able to see this if they go into your profile. They will only be able to see the date and time you last updated your text above your guide.

Unfortunately, when you paste your copy into our guide frame it strips out all of the formatting. The best thing to do is to wait until you have pasted your text into the body text box before you style your copy. We ask that, when a guide is published, you only edit it on the site (rather than pasting in new copy) as editors hyperlink the names of hotels for you - which will disappear if you paste in a whole new guide.

We also ask all writers to include their recommended hotels in their Make it Happen box (to the left of a guide) so all guides including hotel recommendations should have this box.

I hope that this helps.

Hi

I am not able to edit the last guide I sent you about CAp FErret because the option "edit" doesn't appear in my workspace. I have also reported this bug, through the provided link, but nothing has been done.

could you please have have a look at that?

Cheers

Hi,
My bug is about the map feature. It's a good idea but doesn't seem to work properly. I have reported it by e mail but it is not resolved.
A map doesn't appear on some of my guides and in others the flag is in the wrong place. I have tried to correct it myself but can't work out how to. Any update?
PS I like the bug forum idea
all the best Kathy

Thank you for your comment Kathy. Have you reported the problem using our report a bug page: http://www.simonseeks.com/report-bug ?

If you let me know which of your guides are affected, I will look into the problem for you.

Thanks.

Hi,
I thought I had sent messages a while ago on 'report a bug' and 'contact us' but maybe old age is getting the better of me, so I have sent another 'report a bug' this morning.
The map feature doesn't appear on Amazing Algarve.. and Churches, Pubs, farms...
Flags are missing and/or in wrong location on Where to eat in Western Algarve..., Winter sun in Taba Heights..., & Going to Gozo
The guides for Sharm el Sheikh & Kidwelly are fine.
Thanks

I have two requests please:

- could a "watch this blog" link be added in the same way there's a watch this post?; and

- on the "my workspace" in "my simonseeks", could you add a remove button, so we can delete stories we'd started to write but have decided to scrap?

Cheers!

Thanks for your suggestions, Richard. I will pass them on to the team. They are not really bugs though...

Cathy

Hi, just a quickie!

The destination I have written about does not appear in the drop-down menu - a similar name does appear and it's in the same region but it's not the exact destination, so I am not sure what to do here as this is key when people are searching for guides. Any advice appreciated, thanks!

Hi Rebecca,

Thank you for your comment. Which destination are you looking for?

If a destination doesn't immediately appear in our drop-down menu it might be worth checking a few alternative spellings - for example St Anton needs a full stop after the St. If this still doesn't work, please leave a note for the editor at the end of you guide and we will add the destination for you.

Sorry wrong blog

Not really a bug, but I don't understand why travel stories with a main photo in portrait rather than landscape can't be added to the "Latest stories" list, but can be added to the site. I wrote a story about Prague's Zizkov TV Tower with a portrait photo (there's no way I could fit it into a landscape photo) - the story has been published to the site, but never appeared in the latest stories, denying me of plentry of potential views. Is there a chance portrait photos could go on the latest stories page in the future?

Hi Richard,

Thank you for your comment and for adding more photographs to your guide on Prague. Due to the design of our site, landscape photographs work better than portrait ones as a guide's first image (both on the homepage and the individual guide page) as portrait images are cropped in the initial display. This is why we tend to only publish guides with suitable pictures to the "Latest guides" page. As guides are only on the homepage for a day (or perhaps a few over a weekend) your views shouldn't be affected too much and readers will still find your guide when they search for Prague.

Not sure where exactly this issue should be raised, or if in fact it has been addressed before, but I've been blog reading all this rainy afternoon and not yet found anything,so...
On completion of a recent article I thought to check if anyone else had used one of the hotels I was featuring, thinking that if so I would probably substitute another as
a/ it's probably self-defeating to compete with other guides in this respect,and
b/ it would seem mean to "pinch" someone else's recommended hotel. Is there an editorial policy on this, or in fact a way to flag up if you are using a hotel previously recommended?

Hi Johanna, don't worry, you're not competing and you wouldn't be pinching anything off of anyone. We measure performance of guides not individual hotels. So, if a hotel is recommended in more than one guide, it really doesn't matter.

Hope you didn't have to read 1,000's of guides to check for your recommendation!!!

I am posting this as a new comment rather than continuing my exchange with Cathy, as I see a writer called Tracy has been having an exchange with Jeanette over the same issue. I quite agree that the Contact Us feature is fairly useless. Posting on a blog is a much quicker and more reliable way of getting a reply. Like Tracy I emailed Contact Us to say that the Add Hotels feature did not work, as soon as I realised it didn't, several weeks ago, and I have never received a reply. I read that it has been fixed, but not on my system. I use Internet Explorer. Almost sure it is v. 8, because I only bought this computer a few weeks ago with Explorer pre-installed, and it hasn't tried to upgrade itself to 8 like my other computer has. The Hotels form will let me enter all the details and click Save but nothing is in fact saved. I think my guides are being disadvantaged because I cannot add the hotel details I want to, except in the body of the text which is against your guidelines, and this seems really unfair to me when it is not my fault and I have already told you about it. Also, like Tracy I have found that Sign In is temperamental and sometimes asks me to set a new password when I have just entered the old one correctly. Usually if I exit Explorer and then go back in and try again it works next time. Also, the whole site is very slow to load, but that's probably just because it has so many photos etc. And, just to reiterate, it does seem to me fairly extraordinary that you set a rule that guides have to be between 800 and 1,000 words but never thought of displaying the word count. I would still like to know how reviewers have access to an exact word count when I haven't.

Hi Elaine,

Thank you for your comment. Can I ask whether you used our report a bug page to tell us about your problem with adding hotels and the sign in function? The report a bug page http://www.simonseeks.com/report-bug is the best place to report any technical problems on the site as it allows us to find out more about your computer and operating system. Please read my blog (above) where I explain the process. If you have any other questions about the site (that are not bug related) please use the Contact Us form.

I am sorry that you are having a problem adding hotels. As we know that a few of our writers are experiencing this problem, editors make sure that all hotels recommended in the text are included in the Make it Happen box before a guide goes live. Please leave the hotel details in the body of your guide and we will input these for you in the Recommended Hotels box. Thanks.

Thanks for this. I can see now that I ought to have used Report a Bug not Contact Us for the hotels problem but I was new to the site then. I have now discovered that my browser is actually I.E.7 not 8 as I previously thought, and it seems that this is a known problem with 7 so I will wait and see what happens, though I can't test it until my most recent submission has been released for editing again. The sign-in problem seems to have been fixed as part of the revamp of home page, well done for that. Also thanks for advice from both you and Jon about pasting text from Word. I didn't know you could paste Word docs to a blog, which I guess is just because I'm so old that I can remember typewriters.

Hi Elaine,

If you first write your guide as a standard word doc you will not only have a word count but will be able to edit it more easily. And save as draft if it doesn't get finished in one go. When you're happy with it, just cut and paste to the Simonseeks bit.

Worked for me!

Jon

My gripe is that there does not appear to be any word count feature on the guide template. My guide to Auckland has been rejected twice now as too long, and it is evidently possible for reviewers to see the word count because they quote it at me, but I cannot see any way that I can. I have had to just guess the length of all my guides. If you are going to take such a hard line on length I think you really ought to display the word count prominently on the template.

Hi Elaine,

Thank you for your comment. Adding a word count feature to our template is a good idea and one that I will look into. Do you have any other word processing programs on your computer such as Microsoft Word? If so, perhaps check the word count in this before you submit your guide?

Obviously it has occurred to me to see if there is a way of using Word to do a word count, but I cannot see any way of accessing Word from within the guide template. The alternative would be to type the guide in Word and then paste it into your form, but I can't see how this would work either. As it is the template is extremely temperamental and liable to suddenly disappear and lose all your work, and I think that trying to combine it with Word would probably send it over the edge altogether. Also, the Add Hotels feature still does not work for me - nothing I enter on the hotel details form is saved. The combination of these two problems is now irritating me to the point where I really don't think I am going to bother trying to write any more guides until they are fixed. I'm only persevering with Auckland because there is stuff in there I really want to share with people.

Hi Elaine,

I am sorry that you are having problems with the site. Have you reported them via our report a bug page: http://www.simonseeks.com/report-bug ?

Can I ask which browser you are using so that I can look into the problems that you are having? Our technical team have managed to fix a bug that was affecting Safari and Chrome so the Hotel Recommendation tool should now work in these browsers.

Re using another word processing program, it is possible to paste into our body text box. It imports the text without any formatting (such as bold or italic) but I haven't heard of any problems with this function. To paste into this box, right click and then press paste on a PC or press Apple and P if you are on a Mac.

Thank you.

Could we have an system of e-mailing editors direct?

I have just submitted a new guide, Walking in the footsteps of Kenya's Queen of Shaba, and realised after submitting it that I have failed to put put some words in bold.

The problem then is I can't get the guide back nor leave a message anywhere to inform editors.

I tried using the history section but it won't let me leave a message there either.

Kevin.

Hi Kevin,

The best way to contact an editor at the moment is through the contact us section of the site http://www.simonseeks.com/contact-us as we check this regularly.

We are looking into setting up a forum to communicate with writers as well.

Thank you,
Cathy

I found these postings very useful. I have also found it impossible to add hotels not in your database - sent an email about this but never had a reply - so pleased to hear the problem seems to have been fixed. With regard to the waiting time for submitted guides to be reviewed, what is puzzling me is that my guides have not been reviewed in the order they were submitted. Newcastle was accepted after about the stated ten days, Rotorua was accepted the day after submission, and the first guide I ever submitted, on Napier, is still languishing un-reviewed after about a month. I freely admit that because it was my first it is not very good, but I would expect you to have told me it's no good rather than just ignoring it. I suspect that you have a list of destinations you especially want guides on which you fast track, but if so, it would be good if you were upfront about that, to help us know what to concentrate on.

Hi Elaine,

Thank you for your comment.

There are a number of factors we take into consideration when reviewing guides although we do tend to review them in the order they are submitted. The quality of your guides is not one of these factors. We will review your Napier guide as soon as possible.

Nick has previously written a blog on the types of guides we are encouraging writers to submit guides on: http://www.simonseeks.com/blog/ideas-new-guides

Thank you,
Cathy

Hi Simonseeks

Added a French bed & breakfast to your system before the new google maps of hotels on articles commenced. Now it won't show on the map on my article. Don't want to re-add the hotel to your system, therefore duplicating the hotel on your system. Can one of your IT guys manually amend and add to the map. The hotel is:

Cat Hotel
22, boulevard Admiral Courbet
30000 Nîmes, France
+33 4 66 67 22 85

Help appreciated.

Cheers
Rich

Hi Rich,

Thank you for your comment. I haven't seen this problem before. When you added the b&b to our system did you include the full address as above?

I will talk to our technical team on Monday and ask someone to amend the details for you.

Cathy

Thanks Cathy

Cat Hotel now on the map on my article.

A thought for the site for your IT chaps - how about introducing a counter to your front page for the total number of articles now submitted, that updates daily. Chart of progress so to speak as the site grows. Interesting to watch it build.

Also would be good to click on the counter and see subcounters to the number of new guides submitted in total on each location. If a particular location has not had any guides written about it on your site, this would allow writers to target these more effectively to build the site content more.

In this light I know Nick mentions these areas needing more writing in his newsletter, but the counters would make it more visable on the site.

Cheers
Rich

That's a great idea, we'll add it to our to-do list!

We're looking at introducing a support area soon so it would be a good addition to that too.

Cheers Rich!

I have to add that the discussion between writer and editor in the comments page looks quite amateur. This section should be for travellers. Why isnt there a method for writers to communicate privately with their editor?

I also cannot find a method to load hotel listings onto the guides that have been held up in the process for 6 weeks. I get taken to the initial add guide page. Do I just load the hotels and nothing else?

Also - Why does this site not recognize my log-in? I have to keep getting a new password

Hi Tracy,

Thank you for your message.

The comments at the end of guides are only on published reviews and the history tab on unpublished reviews is a private way for the editor to talk to the writer. Comments at the end of guides are designed to both help the writer and reader and both are welcome to agree/disagree via another comment. If you still wish to communicate privately with an editor, please use the contact us page on the site http://www.simonseeks.com/contact-us as we check this regularly.

You can't add hotels to a guide that has been sent for approval (you can't edit the guide at all) but you can add hotels to a guide in any other state.

I am not sure why your log-in doesn't work. Do you get an error message? If this continues to be a problem, please report it via our report a bug page: http://www.simonseeks.com/report-bug

I too find it very frustrating over the delay in travel reviews being initially looked at currently. I submitted my first review in July and had an initial reply just within the 10 day period specified on your front page. This time, it took over six weeks to get any feedback. As previously stated, surely it isn't beyond somenone's capabilities to give an honest timescale on the prelims page, is it?

My next 'moan' is over trying to deliver a revised travel review taking into account the changes you have suggested. Let me first of all explain why I over-ran the 800-1,000 word parameter given. My review was covering best part of a month's travel. Surely one should be given extra space depending on the length of the holiday being reviewed?

Right, my main frustration is over endeavouring to edit my latest travel review. Trying to cut down my review to under 1,000 words from the the original text meant virtually halving it. It therefore required major surgery and to undertake this it was necessary to delete the original copy and substitute a new modified version. Only to get a message up on the screen stating something like '... as the corrections had been undertaken by someone else, the revision was not acceptable. What on earth was all that about? Also, you asked for the hotels I stayed at to be put in the appropriate slot. I therefore made a list and tried to copy them into the place. But no, it would only accept the first hotel named. Next I listed the main cities mentioned in the travel review but each time I tried to send the revised submission through, the hotel and place names disappeared.

I believe you now have my revised review and I look forward to your advice as to whether it is now acceptable.

Regards

David Devereux
PS: Why is the whole site written in Arial, a san serif typeface that, like all san serifs, is difficult to read for any length of time? The company I worked for 15 years, Monotype, spent a great deal of money and time designing typefaces for every possible occasion. But there were some strict guidelines given over usage. Generally speaking, san serif typefaces are best left to be used for brochures, road signs and every other sort of sign. Serif typefaces were intended for bookwork, magazines and newspapers and all other reading matter, simply because of the ease with which serif typefaces can be read and the information absorbed.

Hi David,

Thank you for your feedback.

I am sorry about the delay in publishing your second guide. We have been inundated with guides in the last few months and are working furiously through the backlog. We are aiming to get back on track with the 10 day timescale.

Our ideal word count for a guide is between 800 and 1000 words. Perhaps the destinations that you visited during your month of travelling could be split into a few more focussed guides?

I have not come across the bug that you discuss above. Is it possible to log this through our report a bug page: http://www.simonseeks.com/report-bug as I ask in my blog? Our technical team will then take a look at this.

My blog is also specifically about the process of reporting bugs on the site. If your enquiry relates to an editorial issue please either contact us via the "contact us" page or via one of our editorial blogs.

Thank you,
Cathy

Hi David,

Thanks for your feedback. I'd like to make a 'designer' response to your comments regarding the fonts used on the site;

The default font Simonseeks.com currently uses site-wide is actually Verdana, not Arial. If your computer doesn't have Verdana installed, the site will display one of a number of other fonts - Verdana, Helvetica, Arial, or a general sans-serif font.

Your reference to serif fonts - "Serif typefaces were intended for bookwork, magazines and newspapers and all other reading matter, simply because of the ease with which serif typefaces can be read and the information absorbed." - is not necessarily applicable to our website. I notice that your referring to fonts in a print context. The web is a completely different media, and 'print' fonts don't always work as well on screen, especially at smaller sizes, so your comment isn't strictly correct.

In general, people read content on screen at around 25% of the speed at which they read printed material, and smaller serif fonts can actually increase the strain on your eyes. The problem with serif fonts on screen is all down to media resolution - a magazine, for example, may be printed at around 300dpi, but a computer monitor can usually only display at 72dpi. Due to this, on-screen serif fonts can often lack clarity.

Verdana, and indeed Arial and Helvetica, are widely used on the web due to the ease with which they can be read on-screen. It's true that we could use a serif font such as Times New Roman or Georgia (which also displays well on-screen), however the popular choice at the time lead us to go with a sans-serif. I think many people have a preference one way or the other; it's one of those things where we have to make a decision based on what we believe to be right at the time.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Verdana:

"[Verdana] Bearing similarities to humanist sans-serif typefaces such as Frutiger, Verdana was designed to be readable at small sizes on a computer screen.

The lack of serifs, large x-height (heights of lower-case letters, as scaled to the letter x being exactly equal to one), wide proportions, loose letter-spacing, large counters (spaces inside partially enclosed portions of letters or symbols such as c, s, or curved quotation marks), and emphasized distinctions between similarly-shaped characters are chosen to increase legibility."

Apologies for this comment dragging on a little - hopefully that clears things up a little?

Interestingly, we're currently looking at changing the font set site-wide, but that's another story for another time...!

Thanks again for your feedback; it's all useful.

Regards,

John (Designer - Simonseeks)

John; If sans serif fonts are so much easier to read on screen, why do virtually all PC's get supplied with Times New Roman as standard and all eBooks(as far as I know, anyway) use serif fonts?

Incidentally, if you are considering switching to a serf typeface for Simon Seeks pages I would suggest that Times would be a bad choice as far as legibility is concerned. As you probably know, it was cut specifically for The Times newspaper by Monotype in 1931, having been designed by Stanley Morrison. Its particular characteristic is that although generous in x-height, it is narrow in set width. This makes it ideal for newspapers trying to cram as many words into thin type columns as possible, particularly small ads.

However, I think Georgia could be a winner, and happens to be a favourite of mine. But you should consider other typefaces, such as Lucinda, which is a particularly easy typeface to read on screen.

I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards

David

Thanks David.

I should probably follow up by saying that Times New Roman has never really been in the running - I was simply using it as an example of a well-know serif font. I'm afraid I can't tell you why Times is bundled with all new PCs, but then so are a number of other fonts which are unsuitable for web use (but may be highly suitable for printed Word documents etc.). A company I used to work for insisted on using Comic Sans as their corporate font - this is also bundled with Windows. I couldn't think of anything more inappropriate!

If you're interested, a list of 'web-safe' fonts (i.e. those that we can safely assume our site's visitors have available on their machine) can be viewed at http://www.ampsoft.net/webdesign-l/WindowsMacFonts.html - you may well be aware of these already. Personally, I like Trebuchet MS and the Mac alternative, Helvetica. I'm afraid that neither of these are serif fonts though...!

We're investigating a number of options for the Simonseeks site at the moment; whatever we eventually choose will be based on usability testing and feedback from site members such as yourself, so keep the comments coming.

Hello! Apologise in advance if this has been discussed before but can I just confirm that there is a 6 week wait before articles are uploaded as per previous blogs? I did have an email from one of your editors a few weeks ago saying that my first piece would be uploaded soon but it still hasn't gone up... Also, I am still having problems saving my work as I did start on a second guide but when I pressed save, it wiped the form clean. Any ideas why? I did previously have problems such as typing into other (destinations, hotels) fields but this has now been fixed.

Hi Rebecca,

Thank you for your comment.

We are currently working through the backlog of guides so the wait between an article being submitted and then edited is starting to get shorter.

Please report the problem about saving a guide via our report a bug page: http://www.simonseeks.com/report-bug so our technical team can look into it further.

Thank you.

I was wondering whether you add all my efforts together and end up with a decent article. I sent Putting the Brit into Brittany without pics, and then sent pics, and then sent improved dialoque. Do I go to the back of the list every time? I'm off to France tomorrow, hope I see my guide when I return 18th November. Only the time bugging me, but I do understand. Myra Martin.

Hi Myra,

Thank you for your comment and for the improvements that you have made to your guide. Your guide does not go to the back of the list every time you make a change so I am sure that it will have been reviewed / edited by the 18th November.

Yes please, forum please.

I did send an email a day or two back asking if this could happen, and only found this here blog by chance. So fairly low marks for communication.

We could perhaps have a contributors bit and a readers bit?

In my case, the first review I sent processed quickly - thanks to all concerned. There are a couple of issues with it and it would be nice to have a more obvious place to raise these. Do I use `contact us` or `report a bug?` I'd rather use `contributor's issues.` Then I could, for instance, raise my complaint that although having a comment from an Editor like this:-

" In some cases you've mentioned hotels or restaurants without actually saying anything about them - it would help if you could add in some description and details. This is particularly important on the hotels, as people are unlikely to book accommodation through your guide if all they have to go on is a name."

...is useful, it is just a little schoolmarmish and a tad patronising and shouldn't really appear visibly on the guide in question. It should be sent to the author only.

Thank you for listening.

Jon

Thank you for your feedback Jon. We are looking into the possibility of including forums, or an area of the site where members of the community can talk to each other, so watch this space.

If you have a general enquiry please use the "contact us" form. Editors see these messages, as well as other members of the Simonseeks team, and we try to answer them within a few days. The "report a bug" page is only really to report an area of the site that isn't working properly. Our technical team read these messages.

All of our new guides now have a comment from an editor. Nick announced this new approach in his blog: http://www.simonseeks.com/blog/new-approach-editors . The comments are designed to help our writers and explain why we have given guides a certain rating.

Hi Cathy.

As I said, the comments are indeed helpful. All the editors I've known over many years have had helpful comments to make about my work, some of them quite coherent, but generally they don't appear where the readers see them. Do you honestly think that putting these on the page add to it?

WOW Brave question Cathy. Well of course there's the six week wait rather than 10 days that has already been discussed on the blog - Why cant you inform us of the right timeline?
I think changing of titles is a mistake sometimes. For example one of mine has been changed to something so generic it will never list high - I think this is because the editor has no idea about the location and doesnt realise that Big Ice is a very specific trip that would receive many google hits.
ALSO - it was marked down for not having hotel listings when the listings problems is a fault at your end which I informed you about TWICE months ago and was later told that my mails were not received - There is obviously a prob with your contact/report function as well.
I could go on but I might start to rant - the tripadvisor versus Simon Seeks question has already been discussed but how many millions of articles does SS intend to post?

Thank you for your feedback Tracy and I am sorry that you have had problems adding hotels. We are working on resolving this issue in all browsers (and have fixed the problem in IE7 now). I use Firefox and I haven't noticed any problems in this.

We are furiously clearing the backlog of guides at the moment so this should speed up again very soon!

I think that Suzanne has slightly changed your headline and answered your questions about this, but we do rewrite headlines for a reason. Charlie explains this in an earlier blog post: http://www.simonseeks.com/blog/optimising-your-own-travel-guides