New, Old Podcasts Arriving

After taking some time off to think about this, my first new project is to restore all of my old podcasts.

First, they’re arriving at my ghost hunting YouTube channel.

Here’s the first one:

And here’s another one:

The big challenge is finding as many recordings as I can, going back to 2010 and perhaps earlier. And then, listening to them to be sure the information is still valid.

And then, turning them into podcast videos, uploading them to YouTube (and later, to Libsyn as well), and so on.

This is easier said than done, so don’t expect a bazillion new videos on my YouTube channel, overnight. lol

However, I am pleased with this project. Wish I’d started it sooner, but… well, I always seem to have too many projects in progress (and on my to-do list).

If you haven’t subscribed to that YouTube channel (or have, but haven’t turned on notifications), that will be the best way to find out when I’ve added content there.

 

The Day After…

When I posted yesterday, I was upset, to put it mildly.

But, overnight, I was able to gain some perspective, and a fresh, important way of looking at this.

Here’s what happened:

So, as you can see, I’m pretty much starting all over again.

What would I do with a fresh start…?

Well, when I started HollowHill.com, back in 1999, I was a “category of one.”

Nobody else was sharing how-to information about ghost hunting. Not on such a large scale, anyway.

But, over the years, I decided to modify that website’s content.

I wanted to make ghost hunting accessible to everyone, not just beginners, but also those with different backgrounds, and different reasons for investigating haunted sites.

Gradually, that diluted my own opinions, and – in a way – my authenticity. (However, some of you – especially those who know me in real life – are aware of my actual views about ghosts and haunted places.)

Media’s impact on ghost hunting

In recent years, we’ve all seen ghost hunting become sensationalized. Now, it’s entertainment, sometimes going viral with jump scares, and too often regarded as a joke.

Some investigators are deliberately stirring up non-ghostly entities.  A few even invoke what are generally categorized as “demons.”

The main reason: It keeps viewers engaged. That boosts views and ratings.a

Watching ghost hunting TV shows and in videos, I generally see “investigators” doing things that are 180-degrees different from what’s consistently worked for my teams.

And, frankly, the examples those shows are setting… They’re kind of appalling.

Maybe I should have spoken up, sooner.

But, either way, since – as of June 2024 – my ghost hunting website is seen by a scant 2k – 3k unique visitors/month, I feel comfortable changing its tone and much of its content.

Seeing my vulnerabilities, thanks to Facebook’s ban, was what I needed to see the importance of change.

 Once again, I’ll be a “category of one.”

It’s time for me to be more authentic, and – at the same time – make ghost hunting more accessible for genuine researchers.

In retrospect, I wish I’d made this shift sooner. You deserve better information, and the opportunity to enjoy richer, more successful investigations.

So, I’ll need a week or two, to put together my plans.

And then, well, this won’t be an overnight fait accompli.

Realistically, you’ll start seeing changes by late July, on both HollowHill.com and my YouTube channel.

I’ll also update my books, and release some that I’ve held back because they are… well, a bit radical. Nobody else is talking about these topics.

Of course, you’ll still learn how (and where) to investigate ghosts.

However, I’m going to be clearer about what works consistently (and doesn’t), in actual practice.

Ghost hunting can be a richer, more wonderful, and engaging experience than anything you’ve seen on TV or on YouTube, TikTok, etc.

I’m eager to share my insights and experiences with you, so you can get more from ghost hunting, too.

Facebook Banned Me – Here’s Why

This is awkward to talk about.

I’ve been banned from Facebook. As I was in the midst of posting about their June 26th privacy opt-out deadline, they stopped me from posting (mid-sentence), and instantly deleted my account.

Here’s what happened

Like a few other activists, I was alarmed by what Facebook was (covertly, in my opinion) planning to do, starting June 27th.

So, I decided to post about it, on Facebook, to warn friends about intent to use all of your posts and photos (and photos you’re in) to “train AI.”

That vague phrase – and the way this was being handled by Facebook – raised many alarms related to privacy.

Facebook saw what I was saying, and banned me, as I was still writing my post.

They did not contact me ahead of time, and there was no warning.

So, I can no longer access the Facebook site at all. After this experience, I’m not sure that I want to, though I will sadly miss contact with so many friends there.

These are the articles I’d linked to

This is from the opening of the latter article:

If you post or interact with chatbots on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, or WhatsApp, Meta can use your data to train its generative AI models beginning June 26, according to its recently updated privacy policy. Even if you don’t use any of Meta’s platforms, it can still scrape data such as photos of you if someone else posts them.

For those who wanted to fact-check our privacy concerns, I also linked to Facebook’s own privacy statement. Read carefully the part about using all of your posts and photos, with a vague allusion to other things connected to your account.  For me, that’s the alarming part… along with how difficult they made it for people to find out about their plans, and opt-out.

Lessons learned

From this, I’ve learned not to devote so much time to platforms where my voice can be muted or silenced altogether.

And, I’ve realized that it’s time for me to focus on being a “category of one,” as I was when I started HollowHill.com, 25 years ago.

For too long, I’ve been trying to make that site (and my YouTube channel)  “all things, for all people,” instead of leaning into what I’m most passionate about.

That will change in the coming weeks.

What’s next?

I can appeal Facebook’s ban, but only if I give them my phone number. I’m weighing the pros & cons of that, and may buy a cheap phone for that purpose.

But, for now, it’s a firm “no.” I don’t like how Facebook handled this. Not at all.

Meanwhile, friends tell me that my Fiona Broome News page is still at Facebook. (I can’t access Facebook at all, so I can’t do anything about that.)

I may launch a Substack account, but I’m more likely to use my time to shift the focus of HollowHill.com, as well as my YouTube channel about ghost hunting.

Be prepared; that shift may seem radical to those who don’t know me well. (Those who’ve been “reading between the lines” in recent months… they will not be surprised.)

Meanwhile, please let friends know what’s happened, and that I’m fine. Irked, but fine.

Hollow Hill is Back, But…

It’s been about a week since I found out that Google had de-indexed 477 of over 500 articles at my ghost hunting website, HollowHill.com.

Since then, I’ve reviewed all of the posts and pages, and reduced the site to about 80 essential articles. Most of them are either current info or useful for paranormal researchers, or both. But many of them now have broken internal links. (It was a compromise I felt compelled to make, to keep at least a skeleton – no ghostly pun intended – of the site online.)

The rest of the articles…? Well, I’m going to update some. Most will be turned into podcasts or used as scripts for YouTube videos. Others will be compiled into books.

This will be a huge project, covering months. I mean, really, over 500 articles…? Yikes.

Ghosts101.com is another issue. With Google’s new aggregate AI providing summaries and answers to the questions entered into Google’s search form… Well, I’m not convinced that a Q&A site like Ghosts101.com has much future.

(Then again, if Bill Gates is correct, maybe Google’s days are numbered, anyway.)

So, Hollow Hill is back, but much smaller than before. And Ghosts101.com may remain offline until I repurpose it.

My free, seven-part ghost hunting course is offline, since it referenced (and/or linked to) many of the articles I’ve removed. That course will probably become a book, as well as a podcast series. Or maybe something else altogether.

In other words, a lot is in transition, and most of it won’t be in final form for quite awhile.

This is not how I’d planned to spend my summer, but I’ll keep you updated here (and at my Facebook Page) as more of my research and insights are re-released… usually in new formats.

 

It’s Time to Plan for the Future

Yes,  last month we were “updating” everything, as had seemed necessary.

This week, Google changed the game in even bigger ways that we’d expected.

Now, I’m looking at taking back control over how people find me – and far more importantly – how they access my insights and research results.

The reality is, I can no longer rely on Google (which – as of January 2024- is used for over 80% of online searches, worldwide).

Yes, I still want to expand the content on my ghost-related YouTube channel, but it may not be a priority over the next several weeks.

The short explanation is: I’m pausing to decide the best – and hopefully most permanent – ways to share my insights with others.

For those who want more details…

As you probably know (or have noticed), when – at Google’s search engine – someone enters a question, Google has started placing an AI-generated reply near or at the top of the search results .

That means information-based websites (like mine, and especially Ghosts101.com) are becoming… I don’t know… “irrelevant” might be one way of saying it. 😳

(However, I’m fairly certain that Google’s AI’s answers are extracted from sites like mine. Ah, the irony! lol )

In recent metrics checks, we saw that traffic to my sites had abruptly plummeted.

Despite that, we’ve been manually adding my own YouTube videos to relevant pages at my websites.

It seemed logical that – since Google owns YouTube, and they’d probably want those videos seen – Google might place my site higher in their search results. (Yes, I know: That was probably wasted time and energy.  * chuckle and sigh * )

All of that changed this morning.

Today, Google informed me that 477 of my HollowHill.com articles have been de-indexed. And for a very wide, very tangled number of reasons.

After hours of research with Google’s own URL Inspector, some issues can be fixed.

But here’s the biggest problem:

Google’s bots think that too many of my pages have the same information. And yes, they do, for those who stumble onto one of my articles in the middle of a series.

For example, I repeat a few key points in each of my very early series of pages about Gilson Road Cemetery in New Hampshire.

That’s so no one has to go back and read everything, just to find out about one area in that cemetery.

And I’ve been doing the same in my articles about haunted “outsider” areas, and probably several other general topics I cover from different perspectives.

I guess the bots see that information as repetitive.

All of this adds up to one thing.

The internet is changing, and in major ways. (Yes, again… lol !)

As I see it, it’s time to be very forward-thinking with how I share my insights about ghost hunting, haunted places, and so on. Otherwise, I’ll be in reactive mode every time ye olde internet changes.

(Remember GeoCities…? And webrings? I do. And yes, some archives still exist, but this pattern of vanishing resources needs to be addressed.)

Breaking that cycle will require time, research, and serious consideration.

I want relatively evergreen – and perhaps redundant – solutions. So, books, audiobooks, videos, and podcasts are likely to be in the mix.

But, while I’m actively considering my options, I’m likely to be quiet, online, at least for a few weeks.

And I’m taking both of my ghost hunting websites offline for now.

Yes, Google’s AI may have already harvested all the insights it needs for its replies to questions about ghosts and haunted places.

Nevertheless, it gives me a small sense of control, and – yes – I will make sure my insights and research are available again (and more widely), quickly. They may simply be in a different format or context.


UPDATE: Or they may be very different.

 

It’s May… Already…?

Where did the months go?

Okay, that’s a rhetorical question. We’ve been on the road, in more states than I have time to count at the moment. At least a dozen. Lots of places visited. Lots of research. And so many hotels and Airbnbs… some far better than others.

In fact, I’m writing this in an Airbnb in Maine. (Just a couple of weeks ago, we were in Florida. And then we were in Virginia. The past year has been like that, filled with travel and research… and then more travel.)

Here’s what we’re working on…

Field Research

First, I’m still knee-deep (sometimes literally) in field research, especially looking for potentially-haunted places that might be worth investigating.

At the moment, if you know any eerie sites along coastal Maine that I should visit and film while we’re here, let me know: haunted sites, hotels, cemeteries, historic sites… anything that we should explore.

Our recent drive along western Maine’s Route 117 was astonishing. I’m still processing the footage from some wonderful old cemeteries we explored. Though we need to go back to investigate some of them, I’m certain that a few (or more) are haunted.

Videos

Right now, we’re focusing on YouTube, as it seems to be a good way to reach new ghost hunters. Frankly, I’ve winced at the few Sam & Colby videos I’ve seen, but I’m also certain their “good scare” approach will attract more people to serious ghost research.

I want to make sure we meet their needs.

So, my ghost-related YouTube channel became “How to Find Ghosts,” and – for now – it’s Ghosts and Haunted Places.  I may change it again in the near future, as I have more clarity on what interests you (and me, of course) the most. (The URL is still youtube.com/@FionaBroome  )

Note: The Mandela Effect videos moved to MandelaEffectDotCom, at YouTube, (youtube.com/@mandelaeffectdotcom).  For now, I’m not adding much there. That topic took on a life of its own, long ago, and I don’t know that I have anything to add. Mostly, I blink and try to understand how it turned into… well, whatever it is as you’re reading this.

Site Updates

We’re also – finally – updating the Ghosts 101 website. It’s not as bad as we’d expected, but it does need work.

(June update: Since the Google de-indexing, Ghosts101.com is “on hiatus.” I need to decide what to do with it, because, with Google bringing in its own aggregator AI to answer questions, a Q&A site is fairly pointless.)

My original ghost-related website, HollowHill.com, is also going through some major changes.

That’s a far bigger project.

That’s not just because some of my Hollow Hill articles are dozens of years old (I’m not kidding), but also, many need updates and videos.

And many articles need complete rewrites that include more details. Lots more details.

My long-term friends and followers may recall that “Hollow Hill” referenced Irish legends about the Tuatha Dé Danann and faerie lore of that country. At the time, I added a few ghost-related articles, thinking they might interest the same readers. Instead, I found myself writing more & more about ghosts, since that’s what people asked for.

So, that’s why we’re rebranding that ghost hunting site – but just with a redirect – as HowToFindGhosts.com. And GhostsAndHauntedPlaces.com.

New Books and Updates

In addition, we’re resuming work on my books. Those that simply need updates are the highest priority.

Later, as time permits, other manuscripts – started but never finished – will be revisited.

So, these next few months will be busy. I’ll be online as much as possible, but – since we’re still in hotels, etc. – my top priority is field research and filming.

That means you’ll see more videos at YouTube. Lots more, to reach a new audience that wants to try ghost hunting. (It’s difficult to believe that it’s been 20 years since the “Ghost Hunters” TV series launched and sparked its own wave of new investigators.)

I’ll update this site as we complete big projects. And, in general, I’ll try to be online every few days, at least to answer questions and comments.

Thanks for your interest, as well as your patience, as we restructure much of what we’ve been doing, especially related to ghost research.

Where I’ve Been, and What’s Ahead

(Copied from my Facebook post)

My long-time friend Raja Narain asked where I’ve been since November. That question deserves a full answer. So, this will be long.

Basically, after Halloween (when things can be a bit wild in this field), I needed a good, long break. I was irked because – on TV – far too many “ghost hunting” shows have become like parodies of what this field is… Or what it is for people like me.

I see people doing dangerous and/or silly things, just to hold the TV audiences’ attention. Maybe like a “Mr. Beast” version of paranormal research…?

That’s almost the polar opposite of why I’m in this field.

I enjoy visiting historical and “haunted” sites for the ambience, the mood (perhaps residual energy), and the sense of connection with people and events of the past.

The main reason I use ghost hunting equipment (like EMF meters) is mostly to rule out natural explanations for that “spooky” feeling.

For example, someone sensitive to elevated EMF levels may feel uneasy (or worse) if the site has bad wiring, or unshielded electrical devices.

(A classic example: If a really old refrigerator is used in a home, if you’re in the room on the other side – facing the back of the refrigerator – you may feel uncomfortable, or even as if the house is haunted. I’ve lost count of the number of “haunted” college dorms and old cottages where the eerie feeling is simply high EMF levels from old refrigerators, etc.)

Update: Here’s the related YouTube Short video, added in May 2024.

But, when I can’t find a reasonable explanation for high EMF levels, then – yes – the site might be haunted.

However – for me – ghost hunting equipment is an adjunct to the experience. It’s not what I focus on… ever.

Seeing someone on TV, waving a radio-like device, grabbing words he hears, and thinking it’s a ghost talking to him…? Yikes.

As I saw it at Halloween 2023, much of ghost hunting – at least on TV and at events where people are mimicking those shows – has been leaning heavily in that direction.

I needed a break. I needed to step back and evaluate just what I’m doing in this field, and how I want to talk/post about it.

I’m still in the midst of that process, but I’m (gradually) doing a reset with my websites, YouTube channels, etc.

I’m pretty sure most of my friends will understand this, and I’d like to hear your thoughts about the future of real ghost hunting.

YouTube – Answers and Shocking Stats

As you know, I was thoroughly irked this week, seeing unattractive comments about me and my research.

Then, once I stopped saying rude things to my computer monitor and calmed down, I decided to take action.

First, I posted a couple of YouTube videos, trying to correct apparent misunderstandings.

After that, I hired a team to see whether it’s worth my time to make YouTube a priority… but I’ll talk about that in a moment.

Anyway, about the videos…

For years, there’s been a curious, online fascination with my surname. (This has never made sense to me. Per Forebears, Broome is the 23,815th most common surname in the world, and 62% of Broomes are in the U.S.A.)

In case you’re as interested in quirks and oddities as I am, I stumbled onto this list of 100+ least-common surnames.  My favorite might be “Bytheseashore.” (Seriously. It’s a surname. I would love to see the comments it attracts.)

So anyway, in case it might bring clarity, I created a YouTube video, sharing some details about the my surname. (Admittedly, this might be an absolute snooze for most people.)

I’m pleased that I managed to keep this video under one minute. As a genealogy enthusiast, it’s far too easy for me to go on and on (and on) about the Broomes and related families.

In addition to the obsession with my name, even more people seem to think I’m a newcomer to the Mandela Effect. Some suggest that I’m a usurper.

Really, as soon as I’d posted my four-part audiobook recordings at YouTube, one person actually said, “she came along and took ownership.”  And then others followed with similar accusations.

Umm… wow.

So, in case it will do any good — admittedly unlikely — I created a YouTube Short video addressing that, too.

Meanwhile, musing about the general YouTube dilemma, I’d decided to ask some professionals whether I could create more videos on my two main topics – ghost hunting and the Mandela Effect – and get adequate traction with either channel.

I’m still in blink-blink mode, looking at their report.

Apparently, every month, an average of 930 people search on YouTube for “Fiona Broome.”  Just my name. Nothing else with it. (Is there another Fiona Broome they’re looking for…?)

But – and this is what really astonishes me – the competition for that keyword is pretty steep.

So, at this point, unless the YouTube algorithm is being indulgent, neither of my YouTube channels is likely to be on the first page of results.

Even one that’s “FionaBroome.” (That’s the actual URL/name of my ghost hunting YouTube channel.)

And then there’s “Mandela Effect.” YouTube receives over 73,000 searches for that phrase, every month.

I have zero chance of ranking well for that phrase, too.

However, the team did find a couple of YouTube niches where I might be able to shine.

I’ll consider them as we’re packing for our next cross-country trip.

They might be on my to-do list for 2024.

Why I (Should?) Rarely Talk About the Mandela Effect

Ick.

This afternoon, checking to see how my latest videos look on YouTube, I stumbled onto…

Well, here’s what I said at my Facebook Page:

On one hand, I’m flattered that my recent audiobook recordings so quickly attracted attention. (Thank you, MoneyBags73!)

Really, I thought it was kind of meta/hilarious that someone posted a video… about me posting videos.

However, I probably shouldn’t have read the comments at that gentleman’s YouTube video page. They were harsh reminders of why, several years ago, I stepped back from the Mandela Effect topic.

I’m sitting here, shaking my head and muttering, “Trolls, and those who repeat their nonsense, as if it’s true…” * sigh *

In case there’s any doubt:

1) Yes, I did start the original Mandela Effect website. (In my book/recording, I reference the topic’s quirky, collaborative start, and mentioned Shadowe in the book’s dedication.)

2) Yes, I do understand the scope of the Mandela Effect; I just don’t see the point in trying to prove it. Or even that the Mandela Effect is real.

3) No, my surname was never Broon, Broone, Broom, or Bloom. And the “witch” label actually evolved when trolls first described me as a “b—-,” and several conservative (lower-case C) critics preferred to use a euphemism instead. (I never thought they were serious about me being an actual witch… but maybe they were?)

However, I’m okay with people criticizing my voice* or my recordings. Mostly, I just wanted to put the contents of my latest book in a free – not paid – version of an audiobook. So there it is.

Okay, feeling really annoyed, that’s what I’d initially posted on Facebook.

Here’s what else I’d like to say: I don’t regret publishing the book. Or even putting the audiobook online, and making everything as free as possible. (The Kindle book is free in Kindle Unlimited, too.)

After all, I think it’s important for people to know the facts about the Mandela Effect, including

  • how the topic started,
  • some of its quirkier aspects and intriguing theories (like Mr. Stain’s cryptic comments, referenced in the audiobook/podcast)
  • and why the original website isn’t online now.

But now, seeing what’s said about me and my work, in the first 24 hours since I became far more vocal (literally) about the Mandela Effect… yikes.

Oh, the Mandela Effect site was tremendous fun for the first year or two or three.

But once the trolls showed up… the fun:exhaustion ratio wasn’t good, and it seems as if that hasn’t improved.

I’m rethinking how to deal with this, while ensuring the visibility of the astonishingly deep insights shared in our early conversations.

Many of those observations and theories haven’t been fully explored. In the future, they may lead to important answers.

To me, it feels almost immoral to let trolls – and those who see the Mandela Effect as something to exploit – control the focus, and how the topic is perceived.

I may regret this, but I think I’m going to speak up a bit more, in case it helps. Clarify points where people are being misled. Highlight the most original theories and  curious, quirky “rabbit holes” of our original conversations.

Well… maybe. I’ll need to see if that’s worth my time. If it’d be just another blog post or YouTube video (or two or three) that get lost in the algorithms, I may give this a pass.

Meanwhile, most reliable media resources give me appropriate credit for my work, establishing the Mandela Effect.

Long-time friends and fans know my role in that, as well.

I’m not sure if that’s good enough for current and future researchers to find the earliest Mandela Effect materials. But maybe it has to be?


* Should I have chosen an AI voice instead?

No, I’m not serious. LOL. Sites like ElevenLabs are producing some pretty good AI voices, but – to me – it seems important for people to hear the tone in my voice, in case that better conveys my sentiments. How flippant I am, and also what a science geek I am. The whimsical ideas that intrigue me, the cultural notes I reference, and how I say “heck” and “darn” instead of anything stronger. And so on. How all of that defines who I am. After all, text can be so vapid.

New and Old Podcasts Ahead!

Though we’re in the midst of travelling right now – in Texas for another week or two, after a year in Maine – I’m restoring almost all of my old ghost-related podcasts… to YouTube.

Yes, all ~100 of them. It’s a big project and the trial-and-error phase – testing software – has been daunting… but successful! (Well, more or less. I mean, some of those old podcasts had so-so sound quality, at best.)

First, I wanted to test a few microphones. (I own far too many.) That’s why I reviewed the new Living for the Dead series.

After that, my first major test of the actual podcast workflow was to record the opening chapters in my book, The Mandela Effect: A History….

Yes, that book is free to read in Kindle, but – since so many people comment (favorably) about my audios – I also wanted to record the initial chapters. So, those start here:

Next, I’ll be adding past podcasts to my ghost hunting YouTube channel ( https://www.youtube.com/c/FionaBroome ).

Preparing for that, I tested an old Halloween-related podcast, about one of America’s most famous ghosts, Ocean-Born Mary.

And this one:

Remember, these are among my early efforts.

Basically, I’m taking my old Libsyn-hosted audios (2012 – 2019), and turning them into YouTube podcasts… which mean they have to be in video format. (I know; that’s a bit weird.)

And then there are transcripts to compile and edit, and so on.

In other words: Don’t expect dozens & dozens of podcasts, overnight. Especially since we’re about to leave Texas for Florida, and then it’s the holiday season.

And then… well, in 2024, Ireland may be on our itinerary. (We’re like that. We love to visit cool places with interesting landscapes and histories. And maybe a few ghost stories.)

So that’s the news, why I’ll be posting podcasts intermittently, and why I may not even be online very much – off and on – through the end of 2023.