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Amidst the excitement of this new portal for internet marketers, a lot of people didn’t seem to notice that Sphinn isn’t all it’s cracked up to be - yet. As is, Sphinn.com is basically a popularity contest.
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from vanessafox 2656 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Totally agree that everyone should comment more! I don’t know that I agree that people only comment on the big name articles. It’s possible that’s true -- I haven’t looked closely at what stories get comments. I think part of it is that it’s still a new community and it can be daunting to post in a new community before you really get the feel for it and what the dynamics and rules are. Every time I go to a new online community I’m hesitant to post because of this. I think it’s easier to overcome this feeling when you’re commenting on things written by people that you know or commenting in a thread with people that you know. You’re more comfortable jumping into the discussion because you aren’t so worried that they’re going to take something the wrong way or that you’ll be slapped down for not following the posting rules or whatever. I agree that for Sphinn to be a sustaining, thriving community, everyone needs to jump in the discussions. And I think we should all ignore those initial worries we tend to feel about being new and vocal because we’re all new! Sphinn’s new! We can make the rules up as we go along. Also, I need more people to talk to about my cats.

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from dannysullivan 2656 Days ago #
Votes: 0

FYI, we agree that comments are important that they are part of the system here at Sphinn. Commenting activity is taken into account as part of the reason a story might go hot. And we can twist the dials to make comments influence count more. I’ll post more about this as we get out of beta, but I want to make it clear that we really think comments are important. In fact, we have a new tab out shortly to make it easier to see all the comments happening. In terms of big names, I kind of disagree. I’ve been discovering sites I never knew existed with great material from the submissions and what people are Sphinning. It’s been a great fresh look at stuff for me.

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from TannerC 2656 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Thanks for the input Vanessa. Thanks Danny. The interest in comments on Sphinn is, what I think, will really bring the community together. It’s great as-is, but can be so much more and, as you already hinted at, we’ll be seeing a lot of improvement as it’s pulled out of beta.

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from TimDineen 2656 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It can’t be all that bad... you just some attention from Danny Sullivan and Vanessa Fox! I am curious how the ’big name’ pack will treat lesser known commenters/authors, though. I for one am glad Sphinn is here. I think open up dialogue in a new way and hope it will give chances to new or alternate voices to rise up.

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from MattC 2656 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I know I was fat and ugly in grade school hence why I participate a lot here. Overall I think there is a lot of categories and such and with the layout it tends to favor certain posts. It is hard to get through all of the stuff popping up here. I use the "live" page alot, it helps to keep up with everything coming in. It will be interesting how people with treat the site in the future.

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from vanessafox 2656 Days ago #
Votes: 3

I use the live page and the hot/new tabs. So far, I’m not using the categories much. I expect that will change as the volume of stories increases.

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from aimClear 2656 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Life itSELF is a popularity contest. Social media is about bookmarking (and voting for) content and people...just like life.

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from chrisdpratt 2656 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Every social website is a popularity contest. The intention is for popularity to be focused on the post, though, and not the author. Unfortunately, people seem to have a tendency to digg/sphinn/whatever articles simply because they’re written by a big name and not on any basis of their content. So if Sphinn is a popularity contest the fault is not with Sphinn, but with the users that frequent and populate it. Personally, though, I haven’t seen much garbage coming from Sphinn into my reader -- certainly not as much as from Digg (I had to actually remove Digg’s feed because of all the worthless articles clogging my reader).

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from AndrewGirdwood 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Interesting post. I have seen some posts and wondered "Why on earth would any one sphinn that?" and then noticed it was submitted by a well known name. I also think every single post I’ve submitted it really good! That’s why I submitted them... Only a few have had any number of sphinns. Yeah, I’m bias! So I can see where you’re coming from. There are levels of frustration there. However, I’m optimistic. I think if you continue to submit good stuff to sphinn that you’ll become known for finding good stuff by the seminal sphinners and as a result of that that you’ll get sphunn more. I also think people are just putting their toes into the water. Perhaps just checking the homepage or scanning for items which catch their eyes - and famous names are more likely to catch their eye. As Sphinn grows I think this will even out; rather than it being known names which catch attention it will be the most interesting submissions. Danny’s comment above kinda backs this hunch. He’s not skimming Sphinn, he’s paying attention to it and as a result is finding new stuff/new people. Popularity will always be a factor of a social site. I think that Sphinn just happens to be in the early days where someone’s name/face recognition is more important than it would be in an older and more mature site.

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from trickster 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Good post, I was thinking the same thing. As stated already by Sphinners above, I think once the community grows then it will all level out. Love the concept of the site and looking forward to seeing how it all works out.

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from todd 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Right now I have about 20 different SEO related feeds on my Google homepage and it takes a while to browse through them all. I’m dreaming of the day when Sphinn is big enough to replace a good chunk of those with just one.

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from everett 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I am not a "big name" SEO by any stretch of the word and yet I’ve had two submissions from my blog go front page on here because people thought they were quality posts - not because I’m ’popular’. So as far as I’m concerned that point is moot. As for the comments, you are absolutely correct. But I would assume people will start commenting more as the dust settles, and any time a story is controversial (like this one. See all the comments?). With the nature of the blogs though, they could just as easily comment on the blog itself, which is what I think many people are doing.

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from ciaran 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

everett’s experience is interesting. Obviously, like Andrew, I think that the posts I’ve submitted are good, but no more than 4 Sphinns for any of them suggests otherwise. Still, at least for 2 of them the only Sphinn they’ve had is from Danny - shouldn’t that get more weight, in the style of Animal Farm? All votes are equal, except that some are more equal than others. Seriously though - I think that at the moment there is a lot of stuff coming on here, as people are so excited about the site. I would imagine that may plateau slightly, giving the little fish a chance to shine..

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from Lyndon 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 1

You mean we are supposed to vote for the story rather than our friends? Man that is going to take some getting used to.

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from DazzlinDonna 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

See, I thought exactly the opposite. I’ve found more lesser known or unknown (to me) bloggers to read than ever before. Granted, not all of them would be stories I would qualify as being good enough for a vote, but some were. And I would never have known about these "previously unpopular" folks if it weren’t for this place.

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from SEOHonolulu 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

previously unpopular guy here but my bff Lisa Barone submitted one of my posts... so star power does play a role to a certain degree

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from fctoma 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I really enjoy Sphinn... I’m not a "big time" chatter, and definitely do not publish articles on SEO. I’ve been going to Danny’s conferences since 98 in the Bay Area and found something I really enjoy, SEO. Something I’m good at, something that is fun and changing. I’m guessing all that have entered Sphinn have their own background and reasons... but I do believe we all come here because we enjoy our work and enjoy networking and chat’n with each other. I pop in the various chat’s such as webmasterradio (my fav) to say hi to some new friends I’ve found via the SEO chat sites and other forums. I see other’s who are doing the same. Whether Sphinn is thought to be a "popularity contest" (sadly mistaken), its a great place to bring us all together and rant and rave... Really do enjoy your new project Danny, nothing but the best in 2007!

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from kimber 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

i agree with donna, i’ve seen more posts from blogs i’ve never read before on here. and as far as the comments, i’m not sure whether to comment here or on the actual blog???

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from MattC 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"i’m not sure whether to comment here or on the actual blog" Comment here first :) And then when you visit the blog perhaps you will find that it is a place you may want to continue to visit and be active on in the future. Its getting to the point where everybody has or is getting a blog. And naturally, you want your blog to be popular. But I’m not sure if its realized that bloggers should really be participating on other people’s blogs as well by leaving comments. It keeps the world spinning. It is no fun having a blog that no one reads or comments.

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from mikemurray 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I comment here and there, but have to limit when I do because of the pressures of running and growing a business. But when I do, the popularity of the article or the writer won’t really be key factors. I think it’s only fair to ensure that comments influence Sphinn.

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from TannerC 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

There’s no doubt that smaller blogs can get a lot of attention from Sphinn, but - currently - Sphinn doesn’t reflect that very strongly. As a lot of others have already stated: once the "newness" of Sphinn settles a little we should start seeing a bit more interaction between the community. Thanks for all of the comments everyone. Let’s keep this discussion going; if you haven’t shared your opinion yet, or if you have new thoughts on the concept, be sure to comment.

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from randfish 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I’m going to go out on a limb here and strongly disagree. I disagree that Sphinn is a popularity contest - it’s a "value" contest. People appear to be voting on what they find "valuable" from sites both big and small. I was actually impressed that there were several blogs and sites on here I’d never seen or heard of before. I disagree that a popularity contest is necessarily a bad thing - so long as it coincides with value. I disagree that this post made it Sphinn - it may have sparked discussion, but it feels inaccurate and "Sphinn-baity" to me. And, lastly, I disagree with making judgments on a site like this in its first full week of operation. If you want to talk about features or recommendations, I have no problem with that, but this felt a little over the top. I don’t think Sphinn is perfect by any means. In fact, at lunch yesterday, we were talking about all the ideas we had wanted for our SEOmoz "digg-clone" and how we wished Sphinn had incorporated more of them. Maybe I’m just feeling grumpy.

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from TannerC 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Wow Rand, you do sound grumpy. But I think you brought up some excellent points I should have address more specifically in my post. I never meant to state Sphinn being a popularity contest is a bad thing, it’s just not everything I think we all want Sphinn to be. But - as you even stated - it’s fairly early on to accurately judge the site. The purpose behind this post was to simply make other Sphinn goers aware, we need to communicate and Sphinn and be active if we want Sphinn to be as great as we know it can be. Thanks again for the post Rand, I appreciate your response.

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from ppedersen 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I liked this article but disagree that "because the big named marketers are already ’big named marketers’ it’s hard for anyone new to SEO or marketing to stand out from the crowd." I think the real issue is that it is more difficult to be noticed as being talented when you are in a big pool full of talented people. This is why, as a man, I thought it might have been nice to attended high school at an all girls academy. ;-) You’re sure to get noticed in a situation like that. But people can be noticed, and quite easily at that. Look at what SEO Loser (http://www.seoloser.com/) did last year. He went from a name nobody heard of, to the buzz of the SEO community ...and to be honest, he appeared to have a strong grasp of SEO and is a really talented writer. He is still in my blogroll to this day. If he had kept up the momentum after that first great post, rather than posting once a month, he would probably be recognized as one of these "big names" today. P.S. Danny: Please add "SEO" to your spell check dictionary. The spell checker didn’t recognize it :)

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from MattC 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 3

The irony is, big name marketers does not really translate into successful marketers. There are plenty of SEOs and marketers in their own right who are very successful with a decent amount of clients to show for it but you don’t hear about them. Seems a lot of notable people around here are the ones who seem to have more time on keeping up with industry gossip or who are great at industry analysis.

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from TannerC 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Good point Matt. Looks like there is a line between "successful" and "popular." Although, I would dare state it’s not a very big line for a lot of SEOs.

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from MattC 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I should also point out that my number of comments has no relation to my success as an SEO... i’m just really addicted to the site lately. :p lol

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from SEOhack 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 0

totally agree with rand’s disagreement. When I saw the post title I thought, "Hmm. Someone’s pulling a Calicanass here." I think perhaps part of the perception of the well-knowns getting the spotlight has more to do with the fact they have a feel for the industry, what’s relevant and how to write a headline.

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from SEOish 2655 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Tanner, your blog seems great and you have written an engaging article that has started alot of conversation within our industry. One other thing.... I was introduced to your article, and visited your blog, because of Sphinn.

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from MattC 2654 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I just wound up sphinning this discussion after all the sphinns at http://sphinn.com/story/814

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from TannerC 2654 Days ago #
Votes: 0

SpeedyPin: You seem to have missed the boat on this one. The point of this entire discussion wasn’t to say "you’re all wrong, anyone who is popular doesn’t deserve attention!" The point was to remind Sphinners of where our attention should be focused: content. Nobody is worried about who’s popular and who isn’t - as far as I can tell. We all want Sphinn to be big for SEO and marketers, so we’re focusing on community. It’s just always nice to have a reminder. Thanks for your comments.

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from MattC 2654 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"The point was to remind Sphinners of where our attention should be focused: content" I’m really curious to see how that plays out. You are absolutely right though, it should be based on content and not what person posted it. Let me ask you this Tanner, have you ever skipped a headline because you never heard of the person or never saw their name before? Do you ask yourself what is their credibility before reading the article and dismiss it because of it?

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from TannerC 2654 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Matt: not once have I, personally, skipped a headline because of who posted. In-fact, I rarely look at who has posted an article until after I read it. That’s the best way to go, in my opinion.

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from MattC 2654 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Sounds pretty fair to me :)

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from AussieRod 2654 Days ago #
Votes: 0

So are the days of beta gone where a site grew and developed over time? Launching social sites would have to be the toughest game in town ie. No content without the users although users are dissatisfied if there’s no content!! Makes me think, is there an industry waiting to happen in Pre-Launch Content Developer Services.

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from ciaran 2653 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and have come up with a slightly longer response. http://www.seomoz.org/ugc/why-rand-is-wrong-and-sphinn-is-a-popularity-contest if anyone’s interested. Essentially I really think that Tanner is right, but not necessarily for the reasons that everyone is assuming

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from TannerC 2653 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Wow, great article ciaran. Glad I could inspire you a bit.

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from Justin-Goldberg 2652 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Perhaps adding a blackhat section would be good; bring back the good old days of threadwatch. Edit: On second thought, maybe not.

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from bwelford 2651 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I guess I’m getting confused. If comments will play a big part in ranking, doesn’t that make Sphinn just an elaborate Forum. The advantage,or is it a disadvantage,is that the Sphinning voting system means that some voices will be heard more than others.

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from dannysullivan 2651 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Comments play a part in ranking, not a huge part at the moment, but they contribute. And yes, I’d say Sphinn is an elaborate forum -- forum 2.0 if you want. Click on the comments tab. We have an amazing amount of discussion going on for a brand new site. That’s good. That’s people caring about issues, swapping knowledge and interacting. That’s what happens on forums. With forums (say the traditional search forums), you do get threads that start around news stories (as you can do here) or threads that start around something someone is interested in (as you can also do here). The main thing lacking is that threads are typically sorted by how recent they are rather than how popular they are. Sphinn, for me, gives you the ability to see things both ways -- stuff people think are particularly hot or if you like the more traditional forum model, hit Comments to see see what’s hot in terms of discussion.

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from TheNiedrich 2626 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Well, like most online sites that have a large user basis, popularity contests will always be evident.

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