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Archive for web 20

(Re)blogging and the Art of Added Value

In today’s world of rampant regurgiblogging what constitutes originality in a blog post? Should every post be completely original or is that goal essentially impossible? In virtually any niche you will need to go beyond what you simply think up on your own and have to link to others and (gasp!) possibly reblog in one form or another. So the question is: how do you do that and still add value for your readers? Here are three general approaches to blog writing that involve added value, but you will notice that two of these are not about purely “original” content!

1) Original Posts: Sure, there are blog posts you could call “original” articles. Usually, though, these means telling a personal narrative rather than discussing a current idea, topic or news item. Why? Because as soon as you are talking about news or anything outside of your personal life you will inevitably be repeating information. Still, this applies to a rather limited set of blogs and blogging styles or one-off articles.
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SU and the Art of Adding Stumble-Friends

Perhaps you some enjoy pages you find on StumbleUpon but a lot of the results aren’t relevant? Maybe many of your finds are relevant but you want more people to share them with? Or maybe you just love StumbleUpon, have some people you know using it, but want to find even more? If any of these rings true perhaps you could use some better methods of finding ‘friends’ on SU.

While many StumbleUpon users merrily Stumble away without interacting with others, a fair number of people join StumbleUpon in part because they want to network with others in the community. Whether you want to find people with similar interests or simply want to find more interesting things to StumbleUpon it is worthwhile for every Stumbler to make Stumble-friends.
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3 Common Misconceptions About Digg dot Com

A lot of new people starting out on Digg.com have some of the same preconceived notions coming into the site – as those of us who have been on the site for a while did when we started. While there is an inevitable learning curve with any social media site while one learns the ropes, if you are new to Digg specifically here are common pitfalls frequently experienced by newer users.

1) Digg is a democracy: in point of fact there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes on with regards to upcoming stories making the front page of Digg. The algorithms of Digg are designed to enable newer users and new sites to frontpage more easily. However, the flipside is: new users on and sites submitted to Digg are watched more closely as possible spam. Further, there are even “secret editors” (Digg employees) that make final decisions on some content and who might choose to promote something (or not) for unknown reasons.
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Follow-Up: Why Not Use Keyworded Domains?

A lot of people use longer keyword-saturated domains. Some of these are carry-overs from an earlier generation of web thought which suggested that search traffic was king. In todays world of branding, name recognition and new media, though, these keyword-rich domains simply don’t cut it anymore. Buy why?

For one thing, they are long, cumbersome, awkward and hard to remember at times. They also tell any web-savvy visitor that you are doing whatever you can to come up on searches – that your goal is traffic and that you’re ‘working the system’ to get it. To people like me at least that is a warning light, a red flag that you might have poor content you are simply trying to dress up with targetted Google-friendly keywords.
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The Top 5 Ultimate StumbleUpon Resource Lists

StumbleUpon is arguably the ultimate social media network. It is easy to use: jumping from page to interesting page takes just a click of a button. It is diverse: unlike Digg and Reddit, StumbleUpon isn’t dominated by a few niche interest groups or a limited demographic. It is incredibly friendly: there is very little trash-talk on SU as compared to other social media sites. However, StumbleUpon does have one major shortcoming: it is somewhat difficult to move from the status of ‘casual Stumbler’ to ‘StumbleUpon expert’ because SU has hidden complexity beyond the Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down and Stumble buttons we know and love.
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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.

Random Snow and Other Ramblings

Now, I’m not from Seattle … I’m from New York an Minnesota, and snow’s nothing new. Still, it’s fascinating to watch how Seattlites react to a sudden dump of white stuff from the sky (not the same white stuff they’re snorting in front of the house right now) I’ve come to take for granted over the course of my life.

Other thoughts … let’s see here … Gil has to be one of the hardest-working bloggers I know, and a great guy to boot … he’s building up real momentum on his site and I highly recommend checking it out. There are a lot of nifty Diggers (yup, been spending a lot of time on Digg) I should call out as well but I’ve been thinking of saving that for a future post that highlights Diggers by niche.

Oh, yes, I just got back from Chicago where I flew in a small plane for the first time – with my brother (of all people) at the wheel. There’s also nothing quite like going from Seattle to Chicago to remind you just how big a big city truly is, but I digress. There’s also nothing like going shopping on Black Friday to stir up images of the opulent Roman Empire before its collapse!

Heading to DC (and Amending my Blog Posts)

No, the above things aren’t actually related. Anyway, heading to DC for a bit of a break and such. Big deadlines coming up, stress building, etc… of course now I find out I might also have to do some work while there to stay caught up! Such is life. Rant. It may be time for another rant soon. Meanwhile, happy Wednesday!

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