WordCamp UK London Meet upThis has happened before, but this ‘goops‘ is rather timely. What’s a ‘goops’? It’s my favourite term for semantic/contextual errors: Searching without sufficient attention to context.

Let’s say I’m looking for information on Birmingham. I might head over to Google and do a search on ‘Birmingham’. If I’m after a picture, I could click on image search and find myself one. So far so good. Hold that thought for a minute.

I met up with the London-based WordCamp UK crew last night (upcoming meet details). We talked about next year’s WordCamp event, forming a legal entity and how to best build the WordPress community in the UK. Tony ScottJeff Van Campen, Hugh Fraser and others were there – as you can just about see from my slightly over ambitious, dark venue, self-timer-taken photo.

Events are a key component of building communities (as in the OU’s community model), but it is a good social software platform that creates the bridge between those physical events and the on-line world. That bridging is key in order to keep the community going. That was a big part of last night’s discussion and a topic for a later post.

Back to looking for pictures of Birmingham. Attendees of the WordCamp event might remember that there are two Birmingham’s. The Birmingham where we had WordCamp UK, unsurprisingly in the UK. Then there is Birmingham Alabama, where folks had “WordCamp Birmingham” in the US. A little confusing in the run up to both events! That is a little detail that seems to have slipped by someone in Birmingham city council.

In choosing a picture for a recent promotional leaflet, over half a million copies printed, they managed to use a picture of the Birmingham Alabahama, US skyline, rather than their own Birmingham. A classic “goops” – a search based error. Just to add to this little PR stumble, they initially denied the error and claimed they had used an image of a ‘generic skyline’ (which just happened to be of the US Birmingham, of course).

That’s also a proof point for a good PR tip: “go ugly early” – if you’ve made a mistake, best to come clean about it quickly. In today’s high speed, search engine driven world, it’s all too easy to make a goops. A good job we have communities to keep us on the straight and narrow.