Steer Clear of Top 10 Performance Infringers

Photo: Howard Rauch By Howard Rauch
Editorial Consultant
Editorial Solutions Inc.

My previous blog describing a productivity measurement system drew plenty of viewers, so apparently the topic is of interest. So let’s continue.

To recap briefly, you need to determine how long it takes to complete each of six job functions:

(1) original writing;
(2) editing the work of others;
(3) travel;
(4) production;
(5) detail/administration;
(6) supervision.

In each case, keep separate tabulations for time spent on print vs. web.

Once you start this documentation process, you may find many time management hurdles are posed by administrative stuff. Don’t be surprised if any of the following 10 performance infringers are bogging you down.

(1) Avoiding confrontation. You realize a staff member will never get up to speed, but you duck a performance showdown. Typical rationalization? If you let somebody go who at least can do part of the job well, you must train somebody else all over again — something you don’t have time to do.

(2) Destructive criticism. Staff members don’t take direction well, or so you think.

What actually happens many times, especially in the case of article critiques, is you engage in too much “management by adjectives.” You will besiege an author who wants to do better with “advice” such as “this lead is unacceptable; go back and try again” … “tighten up your writing” … “you spent too much time on this article; you have to work faster.”

In my early years in B2B, I remember one guy who always complained that my writing wasn’t “crisp.” I was at a loss for a defense. The same supervisor had the habit of leaving a copy of my first draft on my desk with one word of constructive criticism — WRONG!!! — scrawled across passages he didn’t like.

(3) Mail-opening ritual. You probably don’t get as much mail as I did before e-mail existed, but the post office undoubtedly still delivers a bundle of stuff on Monday morning. In many companies I’ve had as clients, the “responsibility” for opening mail gets dumped on a junior editor. That person may take hours to finish a job that a more senior person could handle in minutes. Check it out!

(4) Unrealistic quality standard. How dare I argue against quality? Because with the load that confronts most editors today, everything can’t be a work of art. You have to find an easy way out.

Here’s a typical situation. When I was an editorial VP, our company acquired a magazine with an editor who insisted that every feature be a round-up based on pithy quotes from at least ten sources. In many cases, single-source interviews with authoritative execs would have done the job just as well. But not for this editor! Result? The magazine always was late. Nobody met deadlines. Every staff member complained about too much night and weekend work.

Well, we’ll probably always have some of that. But don’t contribute to the problem by insisting on making every assignment a labor-intensive nightmare.

(5) Hiring from the hip. Has your screening/interviewing of applicants become a rush job? Do you knowingly hire candidates hoping they’ll work out because they had all the right answers and great samples? Instead, do you regularly use a comprehensive editing test to confirm a candidate’s capabilities? Do you use an interviewing checklist you can complete as the interview progresses?

(6) Anti-‘floater’/intern sentiment. Many beginners just out of J-school may already be star performers. So don’t routinely stick them with all the clerical junk. They may give you a terrific productivity lift in a pinch.

(7) Outside interference. I mentioned this hurdle in my previous blog. Outside calls from information seekers clearly are time-killers. In some cases, you have to take such calls. But you can control the process.

One top B2B magazine in the marketing field had a policy that editors would be happy to provide information . . . but only between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When I was editorial director of a retailing magazine, we always were inundated with phone calls about market trends. Finally, we did a study and found that dozens of callers were seeking the same information. Once we realized this, we created an FAQ booklet covering most of the bases. Armed with this tool, it only took a few minutes to advise inquirers that our booklet covered everything they needed to know. Thus, we saved hours of phone work without being abrupt to outsiders.

(8) Production quagmire. Does every editorial staff member on your publication spend four or more days a month engaged in proofreading, layout, working with the art department, or whatever? If so, you need some shortcuts, especially if your editors do a lot of design. Inevitably, you will need to invoke maximum time limits for completing production tasks.

(9) Web work. This includes time spent writing blogs, e-features and e-news. When the Internet was still in its infancy, I found that most editors at one client spent at least an hour a day surfing websites for news leads for their publications. An hour a day?! Do the math. That’s five hours a week … at least 20 hours a month … or close to three days in surf mode. I’ll bet it’s much more than that now. Of course, there’s also the time spent pruning received e-mail. That’s a prime time productivity inhibitor that may never go away!

(10) Searching. I am still as guilty as the next person when it comes to shuffling papers in search of a document “I know is on my desk somewhere.” I’ve gotten better since regularly scheduling clean-up days once a week. But when you have a minute, do a quick mental calculation of time per day your staff collectively spends searching.

So that’s my list of performance inhibitors. If you have any pet peeves I haven’t mentioned, please chime in!!!

Howard Rauch is president of Editorial Solutions Inc., a consultancy focusing on B2B magazines. Rauch is the 2002 recipient of ASBPE’s Lifetime Achievement Award. You can contact him directly at

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Memorial Day

Have a great holiday. The ASBPE blog posts will resume on Thursday May 28 as usual.

Social Media Can Make You More Efficient

by Martha Spizziri
ASBPE Web Editor

Even some B2B editors who were initially skeptical about social media sites are finding, to their own surprise, that they can be useful even for niche publications like the ones we serve. The problem is, keeping up with all of them can eat up a lot of time.

Well, here’s a surprise: Social media can actually help you to be a more efficient editor. That’s the view of ASBPE Chicago board member Erin Erickson. Along along with social media expert Lorna Li, she’ll present a webinar for ASBPE May 29 on managing social networks.

Register now for May 29 social media webinar
  • Where should you concentrate your social marketing efforts?

  • How can you complement, not cannibalize, the content on your own site?

  • What tools can you use to save time?
Find out at our May 29 webinar.

Cost: $10.00 for ASBPE members; $35.00 for nonmembers.
As a senior web editor at Putman Media and founder of, Erickson is intimately familiar with social sites. During the webinar, she’ll explain how those media have changed the editor’s daily to-do list. She says she uses social media tools in at least eight different ways — to:
  • assess articles.
  • contact freelancers.
  • research articles.
  • write articles.
  • find images or video.
  • find sources.
  • stay relevant on industry topics.
  • generate article ideas.
Anyone who’s dabbled in social media has discovered that it can be hard to know which sites and what kind of content are giving you the most benefit. With blogs, you can easily get traffic stats. But with social networks, you don't always have hard data on how many viewers you’re drawing. (Sure, you may have 200 followers on Twitter, but how many of them are really reading your tweets regularly?)
Webinar speakers Erin Erickson and Lorna Li say how you use social media depends on your goals.

At the webinar, Lorna Li will have advice on deciding where to concentrate your efforts and how to use social media as efficiently as possible. She says there’s no cookie-cutter approach to social media marketing; your strategy will depend on your goals, your audience, and your resources. In this webinar, Lorna will discuss:
On her Green Marketing 2.0 blog, Li says: “The best way to look at social media is to view it as one of many Internet marketing channels, one that has the amazing power to go viral.” Li also points out that any site that allows for discussion is a social networking site, even if it’s an old-school discussion forum.

Lorna Li is an online marketer with expertise in social media, search engine marketing, and online reputation management. She is the social SEO manager at and founder of the LinkedIn Network Search Marketing Salon.

Please join us next Friday at the webinar.

(Update May 26, 2009: Edited to add more details about Lorna Li’s presentation.)

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Twitter Tips for B2B Editors

Photo: Katy TomasuloBy Katy Tomasulo
President, Washington, DC Chapter

When I first heard Paul Conley sing the praises of Twitter during his keynote address at last year’s ASBPE National Editorial Conference, I admit I was skeptical. I’m all for new media, but I just couldn’t see my readers — professional contractors — participating. But I stand corrected. In the six months since I begrudgingly made my first Twitter post, the social media application has not only connected me with readers, it’s produced story ideas, introduced me to new contacts, and helped me follow the topics I care about a little more closely.
Learn more about Twitter and other social media
  • Where should you concentrate your social marketing efforts?

  • What tools can you use to save time?

  • How can you complement, not cannibalize, the content on your own site?
Find out the answers to these and other questions. Register for our May 29 webinar, Managing Social Media.

Cost is $10.00 for ASBPE members; $35.00 for nonmembers.

Not familiar with Twitter? In short, Twitter is a microblogging tool in which you post 140-character “Tweets.” You “follow” people whose Tweets you wish to see in a real-time news stream and people follow you to see what you’re posting.

For social users, Twitter is a journal of sorts, answering the question “What are you doing?” But in the business realm, it’s evolved to be much more than that. Twitterers post links to their online articles and blog posts, post links to related articles from other sources, market their services, and interact by replying to other Twitterers’ posts. At the same time, by following people in your industry, you receive a constant news feed of links and information related to the industry you cover.

For more basics on what Twitter is and how to use it, check out these two posts from ASBPE member Erin Erickson: How Twitter Can Make You Employable and How to Craft the Perfect Tweet.

There are plenty of other Twitter tips out there. But here are a few more ideas specific to B2B editors:
  • Craft your user name with care. If you’re planning to use your Twitter account for work (in addition to your magazine’s Twitter account) use your real name instead of a cryptic nickname. This will make you more identifiable (My Twitter name is @ktom17. If I had a do-over, I’d make it @KatyTomasulo or something along those lines.)

  • Don’t leave your profile blank. Clearly list who you are and the magazines you work on. People won’t follow you if they don’t know who you are and what you are generally tweeting about.

  • Use clear headlines. Just as with headlines for your Web articles, don’t be vague or cute. People don’t have time to be curious what your link is about; they want to know if it’s worth clicking on. And avoid things like “Here’s a cool resource” or “Check this out” and the like. Along those lines, if you break a story with a Tweet and then post the full article a little while later, don’t be vague when referring to the earlier post, such as “Here’s the article about the news I mentioned earlier.” Restate what the news is. People following hundreds of others will not necessarily remember (or even have seen) your initial post and therefore will not know what your article link is about.

  • Post personal items with care. It’s OK to post a personal update from time to time (in fact, I think it’s nice when personalities pop up), but occasional is best. And remember: What you say reflects on your company. If it’s not safe to say in a business meeting, don’t say it on Twitter. (For example, “I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend” is interesting. Whereas, “I think [that politician] is a total loser” could offend a reader.)

  • Remember that everyone and anyone can see what you post. Before clicking “Update” think one last time about what you are telling the world. Can it be misconstrued as offensive? Does it contain sensitive or embargoed information about your company or another company? Are you being a good representative of your publication and company?

  • Interact by replying to interesting Tweets and asking questions... This is a great way to network and to demonstrate your expertise.

  • ...But refrain from having drawn-out personal conversations. No one wants to read two friends discussing what they did last night. It creates clutter. If your replies to a friend drag on and are largely personal, take it offline to a Twitter direct message, email, or IM.

  • You don’t have to follow everyone who follows you. Some folks will say you should. But I am of the mind-set that you should follow those whose Tweets will benefit you and your business. Once your Follow list grows to be in the hundreds, it becomes more and more difficult to break through the clutter.

  • Be sure to publicize your Twitter user name. If your magazine has a Twitter account and/or the editors have Twitter accounts, put links to those on your Web site and in your e-newsletter. If your readers are unfamiliar with Twitter, write an article explaining what it is and how they can use it to interact with their customers.

  • Use the Twitter news feed to keep up to date on your industry and to find potential stories. News items posted by others are yet another way to get additional background information and find out about trends and resources on your industry. And when readers post about the projects they’re working on or the concerns they have, you have an opportunity to reach out and follow up.

There are plenty more recommendations out there. One helpful resource is Twitter Tips on Twitter.

Please add your own tips in the comments.

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Engage or Die: Why Your Publication Must Embrace Social Media

By Angela Connor
Managing Editor, User-generated Content,

Have you been watching companies thrive in the social media space by engaging and interacting with their customers? Perhaps you're watching closely as companies like Southwest Airlines, Dell, Comcast, Ford, Starbucks and countless others build a monster presence on Twitter while the decision makers at your company can't seem to comprehend its value. If corporate blogging is frowned upon, Facebook is deemed a lost cause and online communities aren't even a blip on the radar, you've got a problem. If YouTube isn't seen as the highly promotional tool it is, and most of your superiors have never even heard of LinkedIn, you've got a big problem. But what you also have is an opportunity. You have an opportunity to open the lines of communication, and build relationships in a way that was never possible before now.
Register now! Managing Social Media webinar May 29
  • Where should you concentrate your social marketing efforts?

  • How can you complement, not cannibalize, the content on your own site?

  • What tools can you use to save time?
Find out the answers to these and other questions. Register for our May 29 webinar, Managing Social Media.

Cost is $10.00 for ASBPE members; $35.00 for nonmembers.

But before you can focus on building these relationships and engaging customers and potential customers online, you must first get buy-in from the top. If you have a clear understanding of the benefits of social media, a little bit of in-house evangelism can go a long way in helping you get it. But depending on your company's culture, its hierarchical chain and where you fit in on that chain, you may find yourself hitting a brick wall. If you've reached that brick wall, don't give up. Keep preaching about the benefits of social media and urging your superiors to jump in head first.

My suggestion is to simply alter your strategy. Sometimes it takes cold, hard proof to change attitudes and behaviors, so what you need to do is illustrate how getting involved in the conversation will benefit the company.

If your words continue to fall on deaf ears, you may have to alter your strategy and go with a different approach.

Here are six ideas that may help you with your mission. Use one, or use them all. And don't stop until you have made it painstakingly clear that interaction is no longer an option, but a necessity to survive.

1. Accentuate the negative. Do a Google search and find something negative that’s been written about your organization or company. Find several. Send them in an e-mail marked “urgent.” Use bold type and write something eye-catching in the subject line such as “Oh my God, read this NOW” or “Look at these lies I found on the internet.”

2. Tout the efforts of the competition. Provide a detailed report about a competitor’s social media efforts. Illustrate how they are engaging the community and participating in a two-sided conversation. Be sure to send this information about an hour after the previous “Oh my God, read this NOW” email.

3. Recommend more than one platform. If your boss doesn’t “get” Twitter, stop pushing it. Introduce another platform and encourage participation there. This illustrates your social media savvy, flexibility and commitment to moving the organization into the current century.

4. Explain what it means to be “brandjacked.” One of the first things I say before giving a presentation is this: “If you don’t manage your online reputation, Google will manage it for you.” But that’s not the worst that could happen. Think identity theft times ten. This will surely get their attention.

5. Have a proposal ready. If you work for a company where every decision has to be made by committee, and only after a series of at least three meetings, you should try speaking their language. Once you are able to garner interest it’s important to be ready to present the benefits in a way the higher-ups will understand. So put a proposal together. Include a chart or two. Just make sure your message is clear.

6. Ask for forgiveness, not permission. (This one is only for risk takers, who feel relatively good about their job security and have a decent relationship with the powers that be.) Sometimes you simply have to act and let the chips fall where they may. Consider starting a personal blog with a disclaimer indicating that it’s your work, not your company’s. Start Twittering about nonproprietary information. Build a following and then show the results. If you can start something worthwhile, perhaps they’ll let you keep it up and hopefully build even more.

You can also start monitoring the company brand in the social media space, providing the good and the bad. Use Twitter search at and Google Blog Search to see what's being said in the blogosphere. Once you've gotten the green light and you plan to move forward, consider buying my new book 18 Rules of Community Engagement: A guide to building relationships and connecting with customers online. You can download a free chapter from the book on the website

Angela Connor is the managing editor of user-generated content at, where she manages an online community of more than 12,000 members and heads a companywide social media task force. She is a multimedia journalist with management experience in print, broadcast and online news in Cleveland, Tampa, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, author of the book 18 Rules of Community Engagement and writes the widely read blog Online Community Strategist. You can contact Angela at

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Top 10 Strategies to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

By Michelle V. Rafter

Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared on Michelle Rafter's WordCount blog and is copyright 2009 Michelle Vranizan Rafter. It is reprinted here by permission. The original post can be found here.

Traffic to this blog [WordCount] has grown steadily since I launched it in January 2008 but it’s really started picking up lately. It doubled last month and is on track to double again this month. I attribute it to several things:

1. Timeliness - Writing about timely subjects, such as the story of Roxana Saberi, the freelance broadcast journalist who’s just be convicted of espionage in Iran. I blogged about her situation last month and each time there’s been a development in her case I’ve seen daily traffic spike to four and five times the usual amount.

2. History - My blog’s now 16 months old and people who write about the same subjects - freelancing and digital media - have discovered it, link to it, leave comments on it, etc. I do likewise on their blogs. All of that has added to traffic, though not as much as #1.

3. Consistency - When I first started blogging I was a very inconsistent poster. Then I did a month-long blogathon and posted every day, which gave me a nice bump. After that I blogged M-F for the better part of 8 or 9 months, until earlier this year when I had so much writing work going on I dropped back to MWF. That’s been enough to keep people coming back and traffic increasing.

4. Standing features - Awhile back I started running a recap every Friday of highlights of the week’s news and developments in freelancing and digital media. Now my readers look forward to it - I know because they tell me. I also run Q&As with freelancers on a regular basis. I know other writing bloggers have had equally good results with the standing features they run.

5. Guest posts - Writing guests posts for other bloggers introduces you to potential new readers of your own blog. Likewise, when you ask someone to write a guest post on your blog, hopefully their regular readers will follow them over for the day, discover your stuff and become regulars.

6. SEO - Using tags and keywords helps move your posts up in searches on Google, Yahoo, etc., and that brings more people to your Website. Putting pictures in your posts - and labeling them - is another way to show up on top of search results. Some of my most well-trafficked blog posts got those click throughs because of the pictures I used to illustrate them. Is that cheating? Not really. People may click through for the image, but if you’re lucky they’ll stick around to read the blog post too.

7. Web rings - I’m a very part-time member of a Web ring of freelance writers who help promote each others’ work on social bookmarking services like Digg and StumpleUpon. The few times I’ve asked people to promote blog posts it’s pushed traffic up significantly. If you’re interested in this type of thing, though, you have to be prepared to give as much as you receive, which means spending some small portion of your day Digging and Stumbling other people’s blog posts.

8. Twitter - One of the things I use Twitter for is to promote my blog posts, and it’s not a surprise that traffic to my blog started to really take off right around the same time I joined. When I write a new blog post I tweet about it and include a link. When people follow me, I DM them to say hi and introduce myself, and include a link to my blog. When I see a question about something I’ve blogged about, I’ll answer, and include a link to my blog. That sounds like a lot of promotion it really isn’t, because I also tweet about a bunch of other things. I did an analysis once and figured out that I included links to my blog in only 1 of 10 tweets, and I’d estimate it’s an even smaller ratio now.

9. Links - If you link out to source material that’s related to what you’re writing about and your readers click on those links, pretty soon the owner of that blog is going to come investigate where the traffic is coming from. When that happens, you could take the opportunity to leave a comment on their blog or send them an email - in other words, get acquainted. After that happens, you might offer to exchange links, you put their blog in your blog roll and they do likewise. That drives traffic up for both of you.

10. Good content and good writing - Have something interesting to say, and say it in a compelling way. You can use all the tricks in the SEO book, link like mad and use every social bookmarking trick there is, but if your ideas and writing don’t sing, people will stop in once and never come back.

There are other things too - keeping posts short, lists, sexy headlines, etc., but these are the top 10.

What’s driven traffic to your blog?

Michelle V. Rafter is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore. She has spent more than 20 years covering business and technology for magazines, newspapers, wire services and Websites.

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All-Star Lineup for ASBPE National Editorial Conference, July 15-17

Download a conference brochure now (768K PDF).
Concerned about the current state of the economy? Wondering what skills and experience you need to propel your career in the rapidly shifting B2B publishing industry? This is an exciting time in which rapid advances in technology have created new opportunities by allowing B2B publications to engage with their readers in more ways than ever before. Learn the skills
you need to thrive in today’s dynamic print, digital and multimedia publishing scene at the 2009 ASBPE National Editorial Conference in Washington, D.C., July 15-17.

This year's conference features a lineup stacked with respected industry veterans and brimming with helpful advice and insights. Here's a run-through of this year's sessions.

Keynote: The Future of Publishing
What does the future hold for B2B? Veteran publishing industry consultant, blogger, and commentator Bob Sacks will examine the industry’s next steps and the implications of technology advances for B2B editors. Learn what you can do to prepare for the ever-changing digital era while balancing new roles with maintaining editorial quality.

Panel: Innovative Responses to Today’s Troubling Times
Peter Goldstone, President, Hanley Wood Business Media
David Silverberg, Founding Editor, HSToday
Noelle Skodzinski, Editor in Chief, Book Business and Publishing

This session will explore: What types of ideas work best in a down market? How can magazine staffs work together to develop new ideas? How can you leverage technology to create and deploy new programs?

Panel: Keeping Print Relevant in Today’s Digital Age
Abbie Lundberg, President, Lundberg Media; former Editor in Chief, CIO
Bill Mitchell, Leader of News Transformation and International Programs, The Poynter Institute
Richard Creighton, Principal, The Magazine Group
Is print dying or is it merely transitioning? The concept of “what works” is changing as a new generation of readers looks for shorter pieces and more web interaction. In this session, you will learn how to keep your print product relevant in an era where the Internet is getting all the attention.

Case Studies: The 21st Century Workflow
Wyatt Kash, Editor in Chief, Government Computer News and Defense Systems
Raju Narisetti, managing editor, The Washington Post
Michael Protos, Production Editor, 1105 Media.
This session will explore how to plan and schedule for web-first publishing and implement web 2.0 strategies amidst existing publishing demands. Editors successfully publishing in print and online will offer lessons learned in making the transition to a full-scale dual-publishing format.


The Print/Design Relationship

Using Social Media to Advance Your Brand

How to Sell Your Ideas to Company Executives

20 Ideas That Make a Big Impact

Case Studies: 2009 Magazines of the Year

For the complete schedule and registration information, click here to download the official conference PDF.



Seven Reasons Why You Should Start Your Own Blog

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

Since I started reading blogs a few years ago, I’ve often thought about how much fun it would be to start my own. But I couldn’t think of a good topic to blog about. I also fretted over whether blogging would somehow detract from my job performance.

Picking a good topic was especially difficult for me because, as a nonpracticing attorney, I’m fascinated by many of the legal topics that my company covers. But blogging about one of these issues could land me in hot water because I would be competing against my employer.

Plus, I had all the other usual excuses like lack of time, identity theft, and the possibility of falling victim to hackers, spammers, and other nasty people on the Internet.

Steer Clear of Trouble. Despite all these concerns I started a blog anyway. To steer clear of trouble, I chose a topic that has nothing to do with my job. I also vowed to maintain a strict firewall between my job and my blog (a vow I honor by keeping my work at work and my blog at home).

Since launching my blog in late December I’ve discovered that my worries about job performance were unfounded. Blogging has made me a more valuable employee. In just a few short months it has strengthened my writing skills and turned me into my company’s resident social media expert.

My experience has been so great that I think you should start a blog too. Blogging will help you to:

1. be more creative. Thinking of three or four different topics to blog about during the week will strengthen the same mental muscles you’re using to come up with good topics to write about for work.

2. learn to be a faster writer. Between work, home, and ASBPE-related activities I have limited time for blogging. To compensate for this I’ve become better at thinking of what I need to say ahead of time and then writing it quickly.

3. become more technically savvy. To start my blog I registered my own domain name, picked and customized a WordPress theme, and learned basic search engine optimization techniques. A few times, I’ve been surprised at the technical jams I’ve managed to get myself out of.

4. figure out how to use social media. I’ve become obsessed with Web traffic. A casual interest in Twitter has turned into a fixation. I’ve also figured out social booking marking tools such as StumbleUpon, which were a mystery to me in my preblogging days.

5. find out that the blogosphere is full of great people. Out of about 10,000 visitors to my blog, I’ve had only one somewhat negative comment. The bigger problem is the people reading my posts are too nice and I’m getting no constructive criticism (unlike work and other areas of my life, where constructive criticism is a major part of the landscape).

6. think like a blogger. Having your own blog will give you insight on how to work with bloggers who cover the area you write about for your regular job. Bloggers can be a great source for quotes or help you to attract attention to your publication.

7. make yourself more marketable. Blogging is all about creating a community of readers and then interacting with them. Do this and you’ll be a valued employee wherever the job market takes you.

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