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StepRep Online Reputation Management Software

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MyFrontSteps.com Releases Software

Back in August of this year, VendAsta Technologies announced a first round of funding for $3 million for MyFrontSteps.com which is slated as “a social software initiative focused on the home and home services industry.”

The goal of the initiative is to connect people across social networks so they can talk about their home, their home experiences and collectively discover and recommend local service providers for all phases of home improvement from buying to improving to selling. With this round of funding, MyFrontSteps has designed an online reputation builder and manager which will “help consumers find, select and utilize home service providers and gain insight and knowledge about them from people they know and trust.”

According to CEO Brendan King, ”there are a lot of agents, brokers, contractors, developers – you name it – that have done just fine with traditional marketing and referrals. However, in the long term the Internet will have an overwhelming impact on this very same industry. These same players will not continue to be able to effectively function going forward in the next few years without embracing Web 2.0 techniques. MyFrontSteps and StepRep will allow their customers to showcase their products and services via online social networks.”

New Spokesmonster

With $3M, they’ve created an online reputation management tool backed by this marketing campaign (seen below). What do you think?


Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Chris de Jong

    October 17, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I have nothing but love for our Saskatoon tech community. It is filled with great people, great ideas, and great companies like Vendasta.

    That being said, this video left me a tad confused. Who knows though, perhaps that is what Vendasta was intending – building buzz by quirkiness alone! 🙂

  2. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 17, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I think it’s insane – what were they thinking?

  3. Jonathan Dalton

    October 17, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Aside from trying to insult as many people as possible with the video, what exactly is the point here?

    I’m able to monitor my online reputation just fine without their help, thanks.

  4. Vera Achino

    October 17, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    As soon as I heard “inbred” and “hillfolk”, I thought there was something wrong with my hearing and had to rewind. Not funny, not cute, not quirky, not effective at all. By the way, this 100% hillbilly found it a poor attempt to engage, insulting, and quite boring.

  5. jewdy7

    October 17, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    hi guys. this is really really bad. really bad. nothing good about it at all so nothing salvagable. scrap scrap scrap.

  6. Gregory Ng

    October 17, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Ok, so i’m not in the “industry”. As an outsider I feel this is successful because everyone is rewinding and rewatching this horribly concepted video and in turn building more press for this group.

    It is another case of someone putting up a video that is a result of a brainstorming gone too far.

  7. Bill Lublin

    October 17, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Looks like they might want to rethink this – a little TOO quirky perhaps?

  8. Benn Rosales

    October 17, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    What I find interesting is no one is being specific as to why it should or shouldn’t be changed. Are we being polite, or do we just not like it because it isn’t pretty?

  9. Todd

    October 17, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Wow. Way to insult the user! Marketing, basic professionalism EPIC FAIL!

  10. Matt Stigliano

    October 17, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    I’m confused. First off, what do they do? I mean I get what it is, based on Benn’s post and because the monster told me so, but…uh, I still don’t quite get it. Second, why would you use the monster/hillfolk/eskimo thing. I’m so confused that I don’t know what to even think. I went to the site, cause admittedly I’m a curious type and want to understand and know more, but of course, the site is “under construction,” so there’s no real answers there.

    Chris mentioned the possibility of building buzz with quirkiness and perhaps that’s what they’re going for, but I can’t say I quite see it…quirkiness (and any marketing hook) needs SOME substance to really draw users. Take me for instance, the “rockstar” thing might catch your attention, but if I’m a lousy agent, it doesn’t matter, I’m not going to surivive. Without substance, I will fail and so will anyone else. Now maybe they plan on some whizz-bang substance, but so far, I don’t see it, so for now, I’m not impressed.

    The thing that I feel most confused about? They say that we need to embrace Web 2.0 techniques in order to showcase our products and services. Isn’t that why we’re all here at AgentGenius? Isn’t that why we Twitter, use Facebook, read and comment on blogs, write at ActiveRain, Trulia, and others? Isn’t that what we’re all doing on our own? Maybe contractors and developers will bring with them a client base that are in search of real estate agents (and they will not be a part of our Web 2.0 world) and maybe that’s the hook for us as agents, but until I see how it all actually functions, I feel that it will be just another repository of home information.

    If StepRep is to be a source of referrals for us (via social networking) then to me it just sounds like a more real estate-centric LinkedIn, where we connect with new clients based on the fact that a former client is connected to us and had some nice things to say. (Of course, LinkedIn isn’t the only place that we can get testimonials from, I just figured it was the easiest comparison in these terms.)

    As a consumer, my opinions of this kind of referral site wouldn’t be very high anyway, as I am pretty skeptical of a lot of the internet, based solely on the fact that I know you can buy your way to the top on many sites or fill out enough phony registrations to “recommend” yourself all you want. I hate to think that people go that far, but I’m a realist on these sorts of issues.

    Now of course, having said all that, I welcome Brendan King or anyone else from the company to break it down for me and explain what I might be misunderstanding, misreading, misinterpreting, or plain old missing. I don’t mean to sound so negative, but I really just feel left in the dark after watching and reading.

  11. Benn Rosales

    October 17, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    @matt One thing I can add that may help with your perspective Matt, is that this isn’t professional centric, it’s people centric, meaning anyone can do this.

    So what’s your take on the video if you’re home seller or buyer? Does this campaign explain enough?

    I mean, you did click through to learn more, did the monster do that, or was it just your need to keep up?

  12. Jane Watson

    October 17, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I think everyone needs to get a sense of humour.

  13. Jay Thompson

    October 17, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve met most of the guys at Vendasta, they are a bright bunch of folks. I’m not sure exactly what Step Rep will be, heck – they – may not be sure exactly.

    As for people needing a reputation management tool, I think there is a LOT of need for that. Keep in mind that if you are out there in the blogiverse, reading blogs like AG and participating in social networking you are MILES ahead of what, 90%, 95%, 98% of real estate professionals. *THEY* can use something to help them “monitor, manage and build” their social reputation. So to that end, just because the readers of AG may not need it doesn’t mean no one else does. Reputation management is **huge** and poorly understood by many.

    As for the video, I didn’t find it offensive, but then I’m basically unoffendable. An “Appalachian” I talked to yesterday didn’t find it offensive (though they didn’t find it compelling or effective either). Will someone be offended, yep. Is that good or bad? I don’t know — I can’t see where it’s ever a good idea to intentionally offend, and I don’t think that was the intent.

    Sometimes things that make me say “WTF”? are effective at getting me to go look at a web site. Obviously Step Rep is still very much in development. Will this generate “pre-release buzz”? Beats me. Maybe. It generated some buzz here.

  14. Bob

    October 17, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I hope their tech skills are better than their marketing skills.

    ”there are a lot of agents, brokers, contractors, developers – you name it – that have done just fine with traditional marketing and referrals. However, in the long term the Internet will have an overwhelming impact on this very same industry. These same players will not continue to be able to effectively function going forward in the next few years without embracing Web 2.0 techniques. MyFrontSteps and StepRep will allow their customers to showcase their products and services via online social networks.”

    If this defines his target market, then I’m not sure what good the video does. The eskimo hillfolk are probably never going to ‘stumble’ across this.

  15. Matt Stigliano

    October 17, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Benn – Yeah, I guess nowhere does it push agent-centric, so I guess that shouldn’t have been part of my thinking necessarily, but as with anything, I assume it would quickly be filled with agents looking to be a part of that sort of home-centric community.

    The video itself? I just have no idea what its doing. I would probably assume it was a joke of some sort as I would imagine a company would try to explain what they do a little better than this. I do admit, because I saw it here I was curious. If I saw it while browsing the web on my own? Probably would have passed it up without a second’s thought. The click definitely wasn’t about the monster, but about where it was first shown to me (AG).

    Jane – As someone who is never offended and known for being completely un-PC about things (I made a healthy living on that reputation), I know what you’re saying, but if you’re trying to sell a product or service, is this really the way you want to project? Not only were some people offended (and in my experience someone will always be offended no matter how “clean” you are), but we still aren’t really sure what they’re trying to get you interested in. I think that no matter what direction the company takes (ie, they see all this, think “ooops, we better clean this ad up” or they continue on their current path), this is what the phrase “online community” is all about. A place to exchange thoughts and ideas about a variety of topics, good or bad, and speak your mind about them. I personally am a big fan of the web’s ability to affect change, even when the change is something I may/may not agree with.

  16. Matt Stigliano

    October 17, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    *THEY* can use something to help them “monitor, manage and build” their social reputation

    Jay – Excellent point.

  17. Brendan King

    October 17, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Recent posts on the AgentGenius blog have really hurt the SpokesMonster’s feelings! StepRep is still in Alpha but we thought we would give you a peek at the SpokesMonster’s StepRep dashboard just to show how badly the negative posts have damaged his online reputation. 🙂

    You can check out an Alpha screenshot here: https://steprepblog.com/2008/10/17/spokesmonster-epic-failure/

    P.S. Benn, way to force me to give you the inside scoop on our product! 🙂

  18. Jonathan Dalton

    October 17, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Why the video ought to have been changed – it doesn’t say anything. Even when it talks about what Step Rep has to offer, there’s no substance.

  19. Marc

    October 24, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Interesting points of view here. I am impressed by the deep insights many of you have applied to this campaign and the points view offered which I find breathtaking given the low standards and often confusing ways in which some of your peers out there in real estate tend to market and message themselves.

    Is this insulting? For some, I have no doubt that poking a little fun at our Appalachian neighbors stirs unease. We, as a nation are evolving realizing that we are indeed a great melting pot of races, colors and creeds. Personally, I was less shocked by this having grown up watching shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and The Dukes of Hazzard, which then and now, seem to pass through society without anyone raising a PC hand.

    But Jonathan asks, does this video say anything? I would respectfully suggest that it actually speaks volumes about the issues of social grace, social mismanagement and online reputation offered through a video that calls Vendasta’s own reputation into question. Granted it’s a bit subliminal but even after watching it once, it came across as delivering quite a powerful and effective message which is worthy of pointing out.

    Granted, this message may seem buried in the haze of a questionable character. But isn’t that their point as a company and the entire notion behind their soon-to-be-released, whenever that is, offering?

    For me this is what resonated in high volume. Granted it’s risky. And risque. But that is the making of a good and powerful ad. I am not advocating that offending people is a prudent means of promotion but this isn’t a random act of offensiveness. It seems quite calculated meant to illustrate what happens when you misstep online and the potential hits your reputation might encounter.

    I for one would hope that they present more ads like this and complete the story arc because like Jonathan said which I do agree with, there is no visceral substance. They need to take this campaign forward and tell the entire story.

    If not, at the very least, it did what all great ads do — got people talking.

  20. mattpeters

    November 4, 2012 at 12:22 am

    SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving your websites ranking on search engines such as, Google, Yahoo and Bing. In an overly saturated market driven by competition, you want your website to be the first one consumers see. Therefore, having your site ranked higher than your competitors’ is imperative. SEO may seem like a daunting process– something only a computer genius can do– but in fact, it’s so easy, your grandma can do it.
    I am a programmer from San Francisco and have spent my career working for top SEO/ reputation management companies. Through my experience, I have come to discover that SEO companies are unethical with how they present their services. They convince people who aren’t tech savvy that SEO is technologically advancedand should be left in the hands of an expensive professional, but that is not true. Anyone can do SEO easily.
    That is why I chose to branch out and create SearchManipulator.com, based off “do-it-yourself” SEO software. Our mission is to give you the power to manipulate search results in your favor, without having to pay the high prices asked by SEO companies. I’m not trying to make money for myself or my company, I am trying to bring honesty back into this industry. Money means nothing to me, which is why I’m giving away the software for free.AllI ask is that you make a generous donation to “The Susan G Komen for the Cure” (ww5.komen.org/Donate/Donate.html) or a similar charity in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, and for my grandmother who is bravely fighting the disease.
    The free SEO software: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hkmomhohdpkpinbmkmckhkofedoohjeh. You have to download “Google Chrome” (www.google.com/chrome), which is a free web browser from Google. It’s faster and more reliable than Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla FireFox.
    The reason SEO companies use to be valuable is because they know which websites rank high, how many you should sign up for at once, how many backlinks to add and where. Nowadays everything must be done carefully or Google’s “Penguin Update” will detect the spam and punish you. This is why we have broken up the software into “sets”. You should wait at least 2 weeks in between sets. Also, it takes about 2 weeks for Google to process the websites and put them into search results, so the 2 week time allows you to let the previous set of websites settle in.
    Don’t pay for monitoring services either. Free tools already exist for you to monitor your online reputation and search results. SEO companies offer this monitoring for a steep price, but all they do is sign you up for Google Alerts, https://www.google.com/alerts.
     
    The “Set 1” creates 18 high ranking websites for you while having a backlinking algorithm to make the 18 sites SEO-powerful. On the main menu, you can add which websites you want to SEO/promote. I have seen tons of ads saying “Buy 1,000 backlinks” or whatever, but keep in mind that Google only values legit and powerful backlinks. 18 quality backlinks is much more valuable than 1,000 power-less ones. 1,000 power-less ones may even get you caught and put in the “Google penalty box” for months-years.  The backlinking algorithm that the SearchManipulator software creates also promotes it’s own websites too that it just created, so when it points a backlink towards your business site/any site you want to promote, it carries a lot more weight. For example, the software will sign you up for Twitter and VisualCV.com. The VisualCV will have a backlink to Twitter, saying something like “Click here to see Mike Smith’s Twitter”. As a result, the Twitter is validated and SEO powerful. So when a backlink from that Twitter page says “Contact my business by clicking here”, that backlink carries a lot more weight than having a backlink come from an unimportant page that Google sees as spam.
    Make sure you don’t sign up for too many websites too quickly, or Google will get mad. At max, sign up for 30 sites a month.
    Set 1 signs you up for:
    Twitter.com
    LinkedIn.com
    Formspring.com
    Wordpress.com
    Fastcompany.com
    Ecademy.com
    Ziki.com
    Flickr.com
    Viadeo.com
    Posterous.com
    CVShare.com
    Connectture.com
    Ikarma.com
    Workface.com
    Xing.com
    Scribd.com
    Tumblr.com
     
    Set 2 signs you up for:
    Listal.com
    Gather.com
    Bigsight.org
    Entrepreneur.com
    Peoplepond.com
    About.Me
    Lookup.com
    Weebly.com
    Professionalontheweb.com
    Flavors.Me
    Seesmic (this site allows you to auto-schedule Twitter or LinkedIn Updates, which Google loves to see)
     
    Set 3 signs you up for:
    Biznik.com
    bx.businessweek.com
    dooid.com
    identyme.com
    re.vu
    bizwiz.com/networking
    brazencareerist.com
    focus.com
    follr.com
     
    There’s more, but you get the idea. If you want more sites, do an internet search of the top social media sites, or you can email me at matt@searchmanipulator.com for our free list and documents. Don’t forget to donate to a good charity if you like the software!

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Social Media

How this influencer gained 26k followers during the pandemic

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Becoming an influencer on social media can seem appealing, but it’s not easy. Check out this influencer’s journey and her rise during the pandemic.

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Influencer planning her social media posts.

Meet Carey McDermott – a 28-year-old Boston native – more widely known by her Instagram handle @subjectively_hot. Within a few months, since March, McDermott has accrued a whopping 26k following, and has successfully built her brand around activism, cheeky observations of day-to-day bullshit, and her evident hotness.

“It mostly started as a quarantine project.” Said McDermott, who was furloughed from her job at the start of shelter-in-place. “I had a lot of free time and I wanted to do an Instagram for a while so I thought, ‘I might as well take some pictures of myself.’”

To get started McDermott, used a lot of hashtags relevant to her particular niche to get noticed, and would follow other influencers that used similar hashtags.

“I definitely built a little online community of women, and we all still talk to each other a lot.”

Like many popular influencers, McDermott engages with her audience as much as possible. She is sure to like or reply to positive comments on her pictures, which makes followers feel special and seen, and subsequently more likely to follow and continue following her account. She also relies heavily on some of Instagram’s more interactive features.

When asked why she thinks she has been able to build and retain such a large base in just a few months, McDermott explained: “I think people like my [Instagram] Stories because I do a lot of polls and ask fun questions for people to answer, and then I repost them”.

But it’s not just fun and games for @subjectively_hot – Carey wants to use her account to make some substantial bread.

“I’ve gotten a bunch of products gifted to me in exchange for unpaid ads and I’m hoping to expand that so I can get paid ads and sponsorships. But free products are nice!”

Additionally, McDermott was recently signed with the talent agency the btwn – a monumental achievement which she attributes to her influencer status.

“Having a large Instagram following gave me the confidence to reach out to a modeling brand. After they looked at my Instagram, they signed me without asking for any other pictures.”

To aspiring influencers, McDermott offers this advice:

“Find your niche. Find your brand. Find what makes you unique and be yourself – don’t act like what you think an influencer should act like. People respond to you being authentic and sharing your real life. And definitely find other people in similar niches as you and build connections with them.”

But McDermott also warns against diving too unilaterally into your niche, and stresses the importance of a unique, multi-dimensional online persona.

“[@subjectively_hot] is inherently a plus size account. But a lot of plus size Instagrams are just about being plus size, and are only like, “I’m confident and here’s my body”. I don’t want to post only about body positively all day, I want it to be about me and being hot.”

And you definitely can’t paint this girl in broad strokes. I personally find her online personality hilarious, self-aware, and brutally anti-patriarchal (she explicitly caters to all walks of life minus the straight cis men who, to her dismay, frequent her DMs with unsolicited advice, comments, and pictures). Her meme and TikTok curations are typically some of the silliest, most honest content I see that day and, as her handle suggests, her pictures never fail in their hotness value.

For McDermott, right now is about enjoying her newfound COVID-era celebrityhood. Her next steps for @subjectively_hot include getting paid ads and sponsorships, and figuring out the most effective way to monetize her brand. The recent spike in COVID-19 cases threaten her chances of returning to the place of her former employment in the hospitality industry.

With so many influencers on Instagram and other platforms, some might find it hard to cash in on their internet fame. But with a loyal fanbase addicted to her golden, inspiring personality, I think Carey will do just fine.

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This LinkedIn graphic shows you where your profile is lacking

(SOCIAL MEDIA) LinkedIn has the ability to insure your visibility, and this new infographic breaks down where you should put the most effort.

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LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a must-have in the professional world. However, this social media platform can be incredibly overwhelming as there are a lot of moving pieces.

Luckily, there is a fancy graphic that details everything you need to know to create the perfect LinkedIn profile. Let’s dive in!

As we know, it is important to use your real name and an appropriate headshot. A banner photo that fits your personal brand (e.g. fits the theme of your profession/industry) is a good idea to add.

Adding your location and a detailed list of work-related projects are both underutilized, yet key pieces of information that people will look for. Other key pieces come in the form of recommendations; connections aren’t just about numbers, endorse them and hopefully they will return the favor!

Fill in every and all sections that you can, and re-read for any errors (get a second set of eyes if there’s one available). Use the profile strength meter to get a second option on your profile and find out what sections could use a little more help.

There are some settings you can enable to get the most out of LinkedIn. Turn on “career interests” to let recruiters know that you are open to job offers, turn on “career advice” to participate in an advice platform that helps you connect with other leaders in your field, turn your profile privacy off from private in order to see who is viewing your profile.

The infographic also offers some stats and words to avoid. Let’s start with stats: 65% of employers want to see relevant work experience, 91 percent of employers prefer that candidates have work experience, and 68% of LinkedIn members use the site to reconnect with past colleagues.

Now, let’s talk vocab. The infographic urges users to avoid the following words: specialized, experienced, skilled, leadership, passionate, expert, motivated, creative, strategic, focused.

That was educational, huh? Speaking of education – be sure to list your highest level of academia. People who list their education appear in searches up to 17 times more often than those who do not. And, much like when you applied to college, your past education wasn’t all that you should have included – certificates (and licenses) and volunteer work help set you apart from the rest.

Don’t be afraid to ask your connections, colleagues, etc. for recommendations. And, don’t be afraid to list your accomplishments.

Finally, users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. You’re already using the site, right? Use it to your advantage! Finish your profile by completing the all-star rating checklist: industry and location, skills (minimum of three), profile photo, at least 50 connections, current position (with description), two past positions, and education.

When all of this is complete, continue using LinkedIn on a daily basis. Update your profile when necessary, share content, and keep your name popping up on peoples’ timelines. (And, be sure to check out the rest of Leisure Jobs’ super helpful infographic that details other bits, like how to properly size photos!)

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This Twitter tool hopes to fight misinformation, but how effective is it?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Birdwatch is a new tool from Twitter in the fight against misinformation… in theory. But it could be overkill.

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Twitter welcome screen open on large phone with stylus.

Social media has proven to be a blanket breeding ground for misinformation, and Twitter is most certainly not exempt from this rule. While we’ve seen hit-or-miss attempts from the notorious bird app to quell the spread of misinformation, their latest effort seems more streamlined—albeit a little overboard.

Birdwatch is a forthcoming feature from Twitter that will allegedly help users report misleading content. According to The Verge, Twitter has yet to release definitive details about the service. However, from leaked information, Birdwatch will serve the purpose of reporting misinformation, voting on whether or not it is truly misleading, and attaching notes to pertinent tweets.

Such a feature is still months away, so it appears that the upcoming election will take place before Birdwatch is officially rolled out.

There are a lot of positive sides to welcoming community feedback in a retaliation against false information, be it political in nature or otherwise. Fostering a sense of community responsibility, giving community members the option to report at their discretion, and including an option for a detailed response rather than a preset list of problems are all proactive ideas to implement, in theory.

Of course, that theory goes out the window the second you mention Twitter’s name.

The glaring issue with applying a community feedback patch to the rampant issue of misinformation on social media is simple: The misinformation comes from the community. A far cry from Twitter’s fact-checking warnings that appeared on relevant tweets earlier this year, Birdwatch—given what we know now—has every excuse to be more biased than any prior efforts.

Furthermore, the pure existence of misinformation on Twitter often results from the knee-jerk, short response format that tweets take. As such, expecting a lengthy form and vote application to fix the problem seems misguided. Simply reporting a tweet for being inaccurate or fostering harassment is already more of an involved process than most people are likely to partake in, so Birdwatch might be overdoing it.

As always, any effort from Twitter—or any social media company, for that matter—to crack down on the spread of misinformation is largely appreciated. Birdwatch, for all of its potential issues, is certainly a step in the right direction. Let’s just hope it’s an accessible step.

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