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All of us at Sphinn are happy to unwrap Sphinn 3.0 today. You'll notice some new graphics here and there, some tweaks, and a variety of what 'minor' changes. The bigger changes are: 1) Voting is gone, and 2) Discussions have returned.
Comments27 Comments  

Comments

Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1408 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Welcome to the new Sphinn, folks. I believe Michelle is going to start a new Discussion for reporting any bugs you find, so keep an eye out for that and please post any oddities there so she can more easily track things.

We always welcome member feedback on what we're doing, so feel free to use the comments below for that if you'd like. But really, I don't see much value in rehashing the voting/no voting debate that we already had earlier this month. Instead, I'd ask you to be patient, let us get settled in with the new site, and see what you think after a few weeks.

In the meantime, you can still submit stories (we're calling them "tips") and you can start discussions. Editors will review both and publish select tips/discussions to the home page. Best thing to do is probably to read the new Guidelines (link at the top of the page) to see what we're looking for. I'll try to keep an eye on this thread for any questions that may come up.



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from DavidZimm 1408 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Is this the conclusion of the survey you sent out a few months ago? Thanks for listening (although it might take me a while to get used to the new things around here)



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from bbriniotis 1408 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Good luck guys. :)



Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1408 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@DavidZimm - if you missed the news earlier this month, it's probably best to read the blog post Danny wrote:

http://blog.sphinn.com/20100901-094957.shtml

And there's a link at the bottom that leads to the discussion here on Sphinn.

@bbriniotis - thanks. :-)



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from cre8pc 1408 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I like it.  Took it for a spin :)   Now, with this new setup, I will want to return more often because the quality of posts will be improved.  I noticed that each category is stocked well.  For example, the usability category now shows activity.  It used to be dead because its one of the least posted to.  Was happy to see some of the older posts brought back there.

Congrats on this new journey.



Avatar Administrator
from Michelle 1408 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@cre8pc thanks Kim! please do come back, and please do submit items you come across that you think the community would benefit from - including starting discussions. It's all about raising the level of content and engagement - everyone wins.  :)



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from MilesCarter 1407 Days ago #
Votes: 4

I can't really see the point of removing voting - it's like it's just been replaced by a Tweet and like count - am I the only person thinking this?



Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1407 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Miles, the point of removing voiting is pretty much covered here:

http://blog.sphinn.com/20100901-094957.shtml

http://sphinn.com/story/158055

In short, practically no one voted. That left the site open to issues of vote gaming, where a tiny number of people could push anything they wanted to the home page -- which would cause other people to complain about the quality and demand action -- which would cause the moderators to get attacked, sometimes with f-bombs being directed at them, whatever they did or didn't do.

Voting really didn't help build a community to us, nor was it ensuring a great selection of stories. So we've dropped it. Anyone can still submit stories, and collectively, the moderators will decide what they think is worth pushing to the home page. It's not a perfect system, but it's at least as good as what we had, without the negativity.

And for those who really want to vote, the tweet and Facebook buttons allow them to indicate if they agree with the moderator choices.




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from ianart 1407 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I think you could have left a user-driven category at least, for those of us who liked the old sphinn.



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1407 Days ago #
Votes: 0

ianart, it is still user driven. Please submit your article tips here:

http://sphinn.com/submit/

And we'll all take a look and promote the great ones.



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from AndyBeard 1407 Days ago #
Votes: 0

The home page is choking with javascript

I know for a fact with the Twitter buttons you only need to load the javascript once, and that can be before the closing body tag.

It is probably possible to do the same with the Facebook buttons, though I have a lot less experience with those.

I would suggest using like buttons rather than share, and tie it into the Facebook page.




Avatar Administrator
from Michelle 1407 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Thanks @AndyBeard. Those scripts didn't get moved over properly at launch yesterday - but have since. We actually use the opengraph FB Like button here and at Search Engine Land (as well as the share button) but they're not playing well together at the moment on this site and we're sorting that out.



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from inkodeR 1407 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Being a lurker, I loved the Sphinn button - it was the voice of the community.

I think it is sad you let a small group of SM gamers destroy it for the rest.



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from AndyBeard 1407 Days ago #
Votes: 1

As a big plus - the home page is already a lot fresher



Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1406 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Well, I think it's sad a small group of SM gamers destroyed it for the rest.

It's not like we let them. We continually put things in place to prevent that type of skewing. But there simply weren't enough overall votes to ultimately allow things to work.

If you take a place like Digg, you get hundreds of votes coming into a story. It's harder for a small group to game that. Not impossible, but it's harder.

Here, because we didn't actually have much of the membership voting, it was much easier for a small group of people to make anything hot. It wasn't a "community" doing that.

If we actually had a community that was voting, believe me, we'd have renewed our efforts to keep that alive. But the community simply wasn't voting -- nor was what was going hot the "voice" of that community. So we let it go, so we could focus on what the community really seems to want, a nice selection of interesting articles.

And the community can still submit suggestions to us to consider. We love that, and more of our time can be spend on reviewing content than reviewing whether something was vote gamed.



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from emmadavis 1406 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think this is poor reasoning, you will never get MORE traffic by taking away usage features on your site. The main reason I started using Sphinn was the attractive voting counter badges that stand out among the sea of Tweet This and Facebook 'Like' buttons. If you rather encouraged more users to vote, and perhaps cracked down harder on poor quality stories with a score system like Reddit's, you'd be able to attract more users who would actually vote on quality stories.



Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1406 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Emma, we've done all that. I can't say it enough. We've encouraged users to vote, we've tweaked our voting algorithm, we've cracked down on votes for stories that seemed poor in nature. It didn't work. It didn't increase voting. All it did was increase hostility toward us from people who submitted and felt they'd been treated unfairly by whatever we did, even when we had people in the Sphinn community asking for it.

So voting is gone. A focus on shining the spotlight on quality content remains.



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from MySEMexpert 1406 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Hi Danny.  What constitutes "quality conten"t.  We write an original blog a day that emminats from the experiences we gain in working with our clients, yet it appears none of our blogs have been worhty of the editors' measure of "quality content".  It all seems like a big mystrery right now.  Thanks Danny.



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1406 Days ago #
Votes: 0

MySEMexpert, remember, what we're allowing through now are the ones that go to the home page of Sphinn. It's not the same model as before where every article would show up.

So if you ever looked at the "What's New" page, most of the articles there got 1 or 2 or 3 sphinns, but that's about it. They weren't usually deemed worthy enough for the home page from the community nor the editors to go to the home page. (For zillions of different reasons.)You can probably assume that a lot of the submissions that used to sit on What's New and get only 1 or 2 Sphinns are likely not to show up in the new Sphinn unless the writers up their game. Sphinn's home page isn't a place for every post you (or anyone) writes on their blog. It's for those that are truly exceptional.

We understand that most of us believe that all of our posts are in fact exceptional, but that may or may not be true. You'll notice that we're not showing every SEL article, or every post from any mod here. We wouldn't do that because every single post isn't exceptional.

I'm not sure that we can quantify exactly what "exceptional" means as it's likely to be different for each of the editors here. I can tell you that my personal criteria is mainly 2 things. The post must be well-written/easy-to-read and it must be providing me with information that I hadn't yet heard about tons of other places. If it's something that puts a different spin on the same old, that is likely to get my attention as well.

Hope this helps! Perhaps the other editors will chime in with some of what they look for in a post for it to be considered home page worthy.



Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1406 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Let's back up a bit, MySEMExpert, because there's some self-interest here that you and Emma aren't declaring.

Emma contacted us earlier today with a concern that two of your submissions this week haven't yet hit the home page and that, as a result, she's seeing a serious drop in traffic to your blog.

OK, that's not the goal of Sphinn, to provide you with traffic. The goal is to provide readers here a collection of interesting, unique or noteworthy stories. We're thrilled that in turn, this means the sites featured get traffic. Honestly, it's really nice to know we can send traffic that way. But it has to be focus on the quality of stories first, not who going to get traffic.

Now, I actually emailed her back, personally, with a long explanation looking at each of the stories in the submissions queue. When you say things are a mystery, either she's not sent that around to your company, or I didn't explain things well, or it's just that you'd really like to push this "mystery" as some type of negative.

Yes, we can't itemize what's going to cause the moderators here to think "ah, great story. we should get that out there." To me, these are things I look for:

  • Fresh take on a subject
  • Actual news, especially news that isn't already being reported in a variety of other places
  • In depth how-to based on actual experience
  • A pleasurable reading experience
  • Good documentation of what's put out there

Now as to what I told Emma. She asked about two submissions that she put in, and I found that actually, there are currently four from your blog -- because you and another person there have also submitted. So three of you, from the same place, have submitted four items this week. All four items are also the last four items on your blog. So you're submitting eveything.

Even I don't think everything we write at Search Engine Land deserves to be spotlighted on Sphinn, so when everything for your blog is submitted, that suggests that either you think everything you submit is super good or that there's no real attempt to put your very best stuff forward, which is what we ask.

As for what was submitted, from oldest to new:

In Defense Of Google: Submitted before we made the change, only got three votes, so it wasn't going to the home page regardless

8 Reasons Your Business Needs A Facebook Fan Page: As I told Emma, "This is one of those articles I feel like I’ve read over and over again. I’m sure you have, too – and I tend to think people want something fresh and new. On the upside, I agree with the premise. But it sure would have been more compelling backed by some hard data, some first hand information from the author about how they’d used a Facebook fan page. That would be killer over yet another “here’s what a bunch of people do on Facebook” type of thing.

5 Web Design Strategies That Work For Everyone: As I told Emma, "Seems OK skimming it, but it’s not particularly exceptional. Doesn’t mean it won’t make it, but there’s nothing that leaps out and makes me find it a compelling piece, sorry. Personally, I’d have loved a case study or some harder stats. It reads like basic common sense advice, which is fine – but not necessarily something we think should be featured."

Freemium Success Extends Beyond Exceptional PPC & SEO: This seems sort of so-so when I read it. But some of the other moderators might like it better, and maybe it will still make it.

Skimming through your blog, and the number of posts that have numbers in them "10 ways, 7 deadly sins, etc," my assumption is most of what your blogging is made-for-social-media posts. Those, I'm sorry to say, are a dime a dozen these days. Or "A Dozen Way Stories With A Number Of Items Aren't Unique," if I were writing these types of stories.

That's not to say that they don't work, or that they can't be helpful, or that they don't have good content. I just think they don't stand out as much, any more.

I hope that helps a bit in clearing up some of the mystery.



Avatar Moderator
from Sebastian 1406 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Well, besides geeky stuff, I like news. I mean stuff I didn't read on a gazillion of other blogs before. And I like neat titles. Even if you've really found a way to skyrocket your traffic with a Twitter list, then when you post your well documented findings and results as "Why Twitter Lists Are Great", I probably won't consider your submission front page worthy. Also, spot on descriptions appeal. If you can summarize your article in one or two short sentences --in a way that attracts interest-- you've got my attention.



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1406 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@AndyBeard

As a big plus - the home page is already a lot fresher

Agree! We're all hoping to do our best to keep it that way.



Avatar
from emmadavis 1405 Days ago #
Votes: -3

Thanks for bringing our personal conversation to the public forum, Danny. So what you guys are saying is now that only content that YOU like will ever be published? Why not keep the "Hot" or "Getting Hot" sections? I sincerely hope you're planning on charging for content and paying these authors that you so deem to be the only ones writing quality content.

It isn't that Sphinn SHOULD send our site traffic, it's that our site is highly relevant to Sphinn users and WAS getting lots of traffic and now you have deemed our articles unworthy. I guess this is why we had never heard of Sphinn before and if you ask me people aren't likely to be hearing about it in the future. Best of luck with your site full of what you believe is quality content.

Edited to add: I'm still ticked off that you published one of my articles, then decided it was never going to be popular anyway and UNPUBLISHED it. You all desire way too much creative control over what people read on Sphinn. Glad there are other sites out there without such desperate clinging to your standard of "quality".



Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1403 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Emma, it's not a personal conversation I had with your company. You didn't ask a personal question. You emailed with a business question, asking the admins what was going on with your submissions, concerned that your company was losing traffic.

At virtually the same time, you appear to have come over here and made a comment about the change. Then after that, another person in your company came along and asked me to explain what's quality content, because it's all a "big mystery."

So, I explained it again, for that person as well as for other people in general, who might want to learn from the observations I made. I also clarified that you'd been in touch, had this information already explained to your company and that there was an issue neither of you had mentioned about traffic because that was relevant to the discussion, in my view.

In terms of the traffic you've received, from what I saw in this week's review, it appears that people at your company were submitting your own content. It wasn't just showing up here because someone already in the Sphinn community found your blog and said “Wow, this is so awesome that I’m going to start submitting from it.”

In fact, looking a bit more, I think you submitted the first post from your own company back 41 days ago – and every submit you made since then has been from your own company. Shortly after that, I see two other accounts from others at your company that also have submitted content from your blog, and only content from your blog.

Overall, there appears to be about 50 submissions from people at your own company pushing your own content here. None of those submissions, that I can see, ever hit the home page. None of them, that I can tell, ever gained enough votes from when we had voting to be considered excellent. That suggests that your site wasn’t highly relevant to Sphinn readers. Rather, it suggests they found it lacking quality content.

I offered you advice about what we’re looking for here on Sphinn, as did some other editors. You can accept it, and perhaps increase the odds of being selected. I also think that will increase the odds of your content being seen as outstanding by others. That’s advice being given to you by someone with years of reading through literally thousands of articles submitted to him as an editor. Or, you can decide Sphinn is unfair, has an odd idea of quality and be done with it.



Avatar
from emmadavis 1402 Days ago #
Votes: -3

"You can accept it, and perhaps increase the odds of being selected. I also think that will increase the odds of your content being seen as outstanding by others. That’s advice being given to you by someone with years of reading through literally thousands of articles submitted to him as an editor. Or, you can decide Sphinn is unfair, has an odd idea of quality and be done with it."


Since you've already made it clear that our content is not "quality" to your standards, I'm not really holding my breath on getting content published. Have to say though that I find it a little fishy that by "accepting it" I might have a better chance of getting submissions accepted. Never realized you weren't allowed to submit your own content. Think I'll go with your latter suggestion especially since the submit button we just replaced our voting button with doesn't even work. Thanks for the response though! ;) Glad there are sites out there with a lot more objectivity than Sphinn. You should really call it "Danny Sullivan's choice content" to be more accurate.



Avatar Moderator
from kerimorgret 1402 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Emma, I went to look for mysemexperts on the web to fit Sphinn into the larger context of the social voting sites that have content from mysemexperts.

Reddit shows 12 submits for that domain, from two users, and the the submits have from 0-2 votes each. Those two users have only submitted content from mysemexperts.

Digg has 14 submits for that domain, all appear to be from one user, and the submits have from 1-3 Diggs.

Each of those sites has a considerably larger user base than Sphinn, yet they don't show a significantly different pattern of adoption by the users than the articles submitted here. To me, it doesn't look like a "Sphinn is out to get mysemexperts" campaign. It would certainly look different if the other sites had tons of votes and Sphinn was the only one that had no response from the users about that domain.



Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 1402 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Emma, you've always been able to submit your own content, and we welcome that. But we also ask that you submit stuff you think is really exceptional.

Your company apparently believes everything you write deserves to be on the home page of Sphinn, because you submit everything from your blog here, or at least you have. You show no attempt to be selective.

You've done this well before we had voting, and as covered, clearly the people who had been voting on content weren't selecting your material. From what Keri's pointing out, Reddit and Digg don't seem to favor your stuff, either.

My advice to you was from someone with experience in reading content from a lot of sources and trying to decide what's exceptional enough to feature through the editorial sites that I run. By no means was I suggesting that it was an objective measure. It's simply my own filtering process, how I try to figure out what seems to be good stuff versus stuff that's so-so.

Perhaps my system is wrong, and my advice is terrible. But then again, I've overseen successful editorial sites for nearly 15 years now, with substantial readerships that have depended on editorial judgement.

I've taken the time to try and educate you about why, in my opinion, the material on your site might not have been succeeding here, both before and after the voting change. You seem to want to ignore that advice as having no value.

That's fine. But that's not what a mature social media marketer would do. If you're really an expert, and if Sphinn really is important to you (as you suggested it was), then you'd figure out how to craft content that works here, working from the advice you were given.

But that's my take. Again, you're free to do as you please. Best of luck with whatever you decide.




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