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Three Survey Options Detailed

There are many good reasons to use online surveys for registration and evaluation. Although there a lot of survey options out there, this blog post focuses on Google Forms, Survey Monkey and Ag CMS.

Using Surveys to Plan, Organize and Evaluate Programs and Events

If you'd like to learn more about surveys or how to set one up, please contact Bob Bertsch or myself.

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Learning Opportunity: Twitter Cohort

Twitter logoThe Twitter Cohort is a free learning experience presented by the eXtension network Literacy Community of Practice, beginning October 21, 2013.

It is designed to help you adapt to the culture of Twitter by building a sense of social comfort,creating a community of learners to learn with and providing “guides” to help you find your way.

In the Twitter Cohort, you will learn by doing. Over the course of 4 weeks:

  • You’ll build your Twitter personal learning network centered around your interests.
  • You’ll engage in conversations with a Twitter community that starts with your fellow cohort members and reaches across the world.
  • You’ll start online relationships that will last into the future.
  • You’ll begin to see how Twitter can be used for teaching, learning, and connecting.

To find out more and register. go to

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381
Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Write the Right Word: Me and I

Despite what you may have learned in school, “I” is not always the right personal pronoun.

The confusion creeps in when referring to you and another person.

Grammar rules are filled with terms such as subjective pronouns and objective pronouns to help explain when to use “I” or “me.” Rules are fine if you can remember them, but the easiest way to know which word to use when referring to you and another person is to use the same personal pronoun you would use if just referring to you.

For example: “He and I will start harvesting sugar beets this weekend.” (If you were harvesting alone, you would say: “I will start harvesting sugar beets this weekend.”)

Or this: “The cat followed Cathy and me through the door.” (If the cat only followed you, you wouldn’t say “The cat followed I through the door.” You would say: “The cat followed me to the door.”)

Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Contact Ag Communication to Make Sure Mailings Meet Regulations

Before preparing an alumni publication, producer newsletter, 4-H mailing or any other copied and mailed piece, contact the Ag Communication Distribution Center and Print and Copy Services to make sure your plans meet regulations. The staff probably can save you money, too.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) now requires that if a printed job consisting of one 11 x 17-inch sheet of paper is folded twice into quarters and tabbed be mailed, it must be printed on 70# Offset paper. Many newsletters have used 60# Offset paper in the past. The cost of 70# is nearly the same, so orders are now being completed on 70# paper. If you’re developing your own documents in this format, be sure to use or request 70# Offset paper.

Documents that are two or more 11 X 17 pages still may be printed on 60# Offset, but they must be folded, stapled and tabbed to meet USPS regulations.

In addition, the Distribution Center staff can run your mailing lists through software that certifies those addresses and reduces postage costs, primarily for bulk (minimum 200 pieces) and presorted first class (minimum 500 pieces) mailings.

Contact any of us before you start a project to be mailed to make sure it will meet USPS regulations and to save money on the mailing.

Chris Anderson, Print and Copy Services Production Manager, (701) 231-7410; Diane Ness, Print and Copy Services Customer Service Manager, (701) 231-2000; Sharon Lane, Distribution Center Manager, (701) 231-7883

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Make Sure Emails and Websites are Legitimate, Appropriate

Spammers are getting more sophisticated. No longer is a Nigerian woman whose husband was killed asking for money. An NDSU employee recently received an email that said an NDSU department won an award and even included a photo that had NDSU engraved on it. Links were included to the news release and to order the plaque. Something was off so they contacted the ITS help Desk. It's a good thing this person didn't click on the links, it could've led to a virus being downloaded, an offensive website, or a ticket to a scam.

If Something Looks Suspicious, It Probably Is

Sometimes junk mail/spam sneaks through the spam filter, like it did in the screen capture below and ended up in the inbox. But there were a few red flags that hinted to the email being spam.

1. Do you know person/company who sent the email?
In the screen grab below, the sender name is Textbooker65 and the email address is Be wary of businesses that have don't have their company name in their email address, or who use "freemail" like, or as an email address. Any one can make up any name with freemail.

More more thing to note -  at the bottom of the email it's signed "Lisa Dennis". Question the authenticity of email when an email is "signed" but isn't in the sender name.

2. Watch out for a generic greeting.
In the example below, it's addressed to "Dear Professor" rather than being personalized with the recipient name. Good marketers use personalization in emails. It's somewhat easy to "scrape" or find email addresses online but more difficult to get the information behind an email address like name, address and so forth.So if you don't recognize the name or the company the email came from, don't bother opening it.

3. Never reply to spam.
The last line of this email reads:

If you do not want to be informed of future visits, please type REMOVE in the subject area of your response, and I will respond immediately. Please check the e-mail address if you had another address during the last 18 months note that one also so all of your addresses can be removed from our lists.

It sounds like the sender is being nice when offering the ability to unsubscribe from its emails. If you respond to the email, you are confirming your email as a legitimate email address. Then they can start spamming you all the more, or sell your email address to other spammers. They even ask for other email addresses you might have. Never respond to spam. Put in the junk mail folder and be done with it. 

4. Bad spelling and grammar.
Spammers are all over the world, and some don't write English well. A classic red flag for spam is content with bad spelling and grammar. However, you will note in the screen shot below there's pretty good grammar and spelling. Spammers are getting smarter. They have much to gain by writing and scamming in someone's native tongue.

spam email

If you have any questions about the legitimacy of an email, call the ITS Help Desk before clicking on any links or attachments. See Five Ways to Tell If an Email is Spam to learn more.

Likewise, be wary of questionable websites when searching online. One way to narrow your search is to use eXtension has created this Google Custom Search to search more than 1,000 Extension websites across the country. Searching Google Scholar at is another way to narrow your search to appropriate websites.

ITS Help Desk, (701) 231-8685

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Write the Right Word: Initialisms

Initialisms are a type of abbreviation. They consist of the first letter of a string of words, such as the name of a business or organization, or a phrase, and can’t be pronounced as a word. NDSU and FBI are good examples. So is LOL (texting shorthand for “laugh out loud”).

Almost everyone likely knows what the FBI is, but I suspect only those who work with terms such as ADG, NDF or HRSW have a clue what they mean. So if you don’t want your readers to have to stop and look them up, skip over them or simply quit reading your message, then spell out initialisms on the first reference. Then follow the term or name with the initialism in parentheses if you plan to refer to it later in the same piece.

Note: Do not put the initialism in parentheses if you do not mention it again in the same article, publication, etc.

Even spelling out common initialisms such as NDSU on first reference is a good idea because in today’s global connectivity, you have no idea where your writing might end up. Why make understanding your message difficult?

For example:

* Studies showed a similar average daily gain (ADG) when hull-less oats replaced barley in diets for growing calf.

* Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) is the most common measure of fiber used for animal feed analysis.

* The hard red spring wheat (HRSW) breeding program was featured in the spring issue of Tech Transfer Times.

Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Facebook Changes Contest Rules

photo by the past, Facebook required businesses and organizations to use a third-party app to operate contests or promotions on their Facebook pages. If you wanted, for example, to post a trivia question to your Facebook page and ask your followers to try answer that question in the comments to the post, you were only operating within Facebook's terms of service if you did not offer any prize. If you wanted to offer any prize, no matter how small, you had to use a third-party Facebook app run your contest.

Now Facebook has changed their terms of service, so you can run a contest or promotion on your Facebook page without using a third-party app.You can now:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

You can only do these things on a Facebook Page. Running contests on a personal Facebook profile is still prohibited. Facebook also still has some restrictions for how you run contests on your page (see their announcement for more), but it is definitely much easier to run a contest now.

If you do choose to run a contest on your Facebook page, make sure you have a good plan for how you are going to receive entries, what qualifies as an entry, how you are going to contact the winner and how you are going distribute the prize. You can really hurt your social reputation by running a contest that is disorganized or that people perceive as being unfair.

(Photo by xxrobot via Flickr)

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Add YouTube Player Gadget to Your Ag CMS Website

NDSU Ag Comm YouTube Player GadgeYouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and is a great way to harness video to share on your Ag CMS website.

There are many ways to use YouTube videos on your site. You can link to them or embed them right on your website. You can also link to or embed a YouTube channel or playlist.

One way to display a YouTube channel on your site  is through the YouTube Player Gadget, which allows users to rewind or fast forward through videos (the last 8 uploaded), link to a channel to view more videos or subscribe to a channel (need a email address to do this).

It's easy to add the YouTube Player Gadget to your Ag CMS website.

Not sure what YouTube channel to display? the NDSU Extension Service channel has more than 220 videos, with topics from food safety, to flood clean up to ag economics. While you're there, be sure to subscribe to the channel and you'll be notified each time a new video is added (requires a email address).

To learn more about how to use YouTube videos on your Ag CMS website, please contact me or Bob Bertsch.

- Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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A New Media Platform for Extension

Jeff Hino, Oregon State University Extension ServiceThe increasing demand for mobile delivery, social learning and online multimedia is disrupting the traditional model of Extension communication.

On the latest "Working Differently in Extension" podcast, I talked with Jeff Hino (pictured right), Learning Technology Leader at Oregon State University Extension Service, about a "New Media Platform for Extension." Jeff and his colleagues are working with content experts early in the process of conceiving educational materials to make mobile delivery, social media and multimedia integrated parts of the overall educational effort, not just add-ons to traditional print publications.

Check out my conversation with Jeff and all the other conversations I've had with leaders throughout cooperative extension on the Working Differently in Extension podcast.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Write the Right Word: Over vs. More Than

Despite common usage, “over” is not a substitute for “more than.”

“Over” generally refers to spatial relationships. For example: “The plane flew over the field three times.” Or this: “Place a blanket over your flowers to protect them from frost.”

Use “more than” when referring to numbers. For example: “This year’s wheat crop produced more than 40 bushels per acre.” Or this: “The building is more than 10 stories tall.”

If you don’t want to use “more than, “try “exceed” or “in excess.” For example: “The total value of the land exceeds $5 million.” Or this: “North Dakota producers planted in excess of 2.5 million acres of corn in 2010.”

The same rule applies for “under” and “less than:” Use “under” for spatial relationships and “less than” or “fewer than” for numbers.

Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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