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Archive for February, 2008

Strange Animals, Ecological Design and Free Travel

Planning a trip? Here are some awesome resources for free travel.

Have you ever wanted to own your own Flintstone’s car?

Here are 100 great Photoshop tutorials.

It’s only been a month and already 2008 seems to be the Year of the Strange Animals

The answer to life, the universe, everything and why not to like George W Bush is of course fourty two.

Digg Algorithm Changes Hurt the Community

There has been a lot of discussion recently about changes to Digg’s algorithm. While these changes have been subtle and complex, one noticable difference is the difficulty veteran users are having getting stories to the front page. Now, when I was new to Digg I was frustrated to see how many submissions by the so-called ‘top Digg users’ made the front page while newer users had to struggle to get enough votes. I’ve since become a more experienced Digg user and changed my mind about a number of things related to the site.

Still, today, I see the bigger picture and the algorithmic changes aren’t going to do what Digg wants – they aren’t going to give the newer or less frequent Digg users more of a chance, and here are some of the reasons why:

1) Veteran users get a lot of stories to the front page with good reason: they are trusted by others to submit top content from around the internet on a variety of subjects. This trust is built up over time. It is only natural that users who submit and participate more will have higher quality submissions worthy of the front page.

2) Spammers can easily fill the void when veteran Digger submissions can no longer rise to the top. In fact, they can do so with much less effort since their submissions require fewer votes to succeed.

3) With blocks to top Diggers they are forced to result to the same tactics spammers use: mass shouting, begging for Diggs, submitting only the craziest and most offbeat content. This simultaneously lowers the bar on quality content while also forcing quality users to work harder and arguably less ethically to get good content to the front page of Digg.

At the end of the day, we have seen the introduction of shouts and algorithm changes that have resulted in more and more poor content reaching the front page of Digg. Worse yet, quality submitters like CosmikDebris (who specializes in scientific and space-related links) suffer from low frontpage ratios because their content – while very interesting, newsworthy and educational simply isn’t sensational enough to compete with shout-spammers who focus primarily on offbeat news. This isn’t about top Diggers having their egos bruised, it is about people who invest time and effort to bring good content to all Digg users having their hands tied and about the mainstream everyday Digg reader seeing worse and worse stories on the front page.

There are of course other issues at hand right now and many of them are longstanding. The infamous autobury list remains in full effect and Digg’s creators remain in full denial despite the overwhelming evidence (it kind of reminds me of creationists denying fossils). Top users still remain banned for unknown reasons. Many other users have simply left Digg because of all of the uproar. Digg’s Alexa stats are suffering and frankly if they don’t work out a serious overhaul soon they will be vulnerable when the Next Big Thing comes along.

How to Choose a New Branded Domain Name

So what makes or breaks a domain for a website or blog? The days of strung together sequences of keywords is pretty much over, particularly of the hyphenated variety. There are still exceptions but they are almost all holdovers from the previous generation of blogging and website development.

But how do you come up with a branded domain? Well, you could take the approach of this site and simply go for something short, random and fairly spellable that doesn’t tie you to any particular niche. Another good strategy is to think of main keywords in your niche and change endings/beginnings, spelling or add suffixes and prefixes like this one and many others.

Things to keep in mind each time you search:

(1) Vary the suffixes/prefixes, maybe add something on both ends

(2) Change the spelling, replacing, removing or adding letters

(3) Think outside the box for uncommon but still niche-related terms

(4) Keep spellability in mind but remember it isn’t everything (e.g. Flickr)

(5) Memorability and brevity are key: keep it interesting and short

Personally, if I have a particular one in mind I just jump to GoDaddy and do a search to see if my idea is taken. Let’s say, though, that your first choice (e.g. AllSucks.com) is taken. Avoid going to the .net or .org options unless they fit the site (e.g. an internet-related site might do well on a .net or an environmental or non-profit site could work as a .org). Instead, look for other variants in the spelling and so on. If you’re on a roll, use a bulk domain search tool instead.

Of course, you often won’t be the first one trying to do this. You want to make a movie review site, let’s say, and aren’t sure where to start. You might try things like Movified, Cineviews, or other combinations that speak immediately to the subject matter only to find they are all taken. Don’t get frustrated and give yourself a break then try again later – if it hasn’t already been taken that perfect match is probably going to survive a few more days! Also, don’t forget, you can ultimately brand anything, but some things are easier than others.

Pirates, Canned Cheeseburgers and Terrorists

The Pirate Bay team is facing a variety of charges, but vows to keep the site alive no matter what.

So what is it really like to have a canned cheeseburger?

You kind of have to wonder if Osama isn’t winning this war, since his goal was (in case you forgot) to bankrupt the United States.

What kind of world do we live in where the city sues you for being environmentally friendly.

The Soviet Union may be gone, but many amazing ruins remain.

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