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Rae posted up something the other week about how Sphinn is broken, and needs to be fixed, because she’s tired of seeing the same rubbish on the homepage day after day. And I agree, to a point. We really don’t need any more posts about how to write ’list’ blog posts, or how to get links from blogging, or tools for Twitter.

However, her basic premise was, I think, flawed. She blamed the technology behind Sphinn. I blame the people.

Now, let me clarify this a moment. I’m not having a go at Danny or Rob, or any of the people behind Sphinn as an entity. No, I blame the community that sits on it.

I’ve no problem with people submitting their own content. I’ve no problem with pimping for votes. The problem is that your content is probably unoriginal at best, and rubbish at worst.

With that out of the way, here’s where I think the solution lies...

Someone needs to build a Techmeme for the search industry. Something bot powered and human edited, to make it less simple to get crap on the homepage.

The question I want to ask then is simple: should Sphinn be abandoned for this model, or should someone build this style of site, and then they can co-exist?

What do *you* think?
Comments23 Comments  

Comments

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from patrickaltoft 2163 Days ago #
Votes: 1

That’s an interesting idea but Techmeme is flawed on 2 counts. The first is that it never links to my blog and the second is that it just encourages everybody to write about the same stuff.<div></div><div>SEO is enough of an echo chamber already without Sphinn encouraging smaller bloggers to just re-hash whatever news SEL, SEJ or SERT has covered.</div>

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from AndrewGirdwood 2163 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I’d echo much of this. I think the team here do a great job - look at how much spam comes this way but how well its fought back.However, Sphinn’s list of hot topics often makes us all look stupid and in constant need of SEO 101 refreshers.

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from AndrewGirdwood 2163 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@patrickaltoft I take your point that Techmeme encourages people to write about the same stuff; but, my gosh, that’s what 99% of search blogs do. Have you ever mapped a topic ripple across authoritive search blogs? It’s like a flashflood.I’m in Techmeme. The trick wasn’t copying the headlines. The trick is in predicting the headlines so that the blogs already in Techmeme link to your original story/write up. Hopefully a Sphinnmeme or Searchmeme community would see that and we’d all benefit from better quality blog posts.

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from ViperChill 2163 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think if it is based on links to posts then that would be a great idea, but as Patrick said we might be getting people writing about the same things just to be featured?

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from iBrian 2163 Days ago #
Votes: 2

"I blame the people. "Quite right - Sphinn is labelled as a news and discussion forum for professionals - but those who are most commercially active in the industry have least time to blog about it under normal circumstances. Sphinn still has value, but it’s limits need to be realised - Sphinn is a public discussion community on SEO, not an expert resource on SEO - that’s SearchEngineLand. There’s a major difference in editorial approaches that define such sites.So long as people understand what they are going to get with Sphinn, then there’s no problem - but for anyone to imagine that people with demanding commercial contracts are going to idle away most of their time on Sphinn is gravely mistaken.The talk about getting traffic, subscribers, readers, followers, etc, should be plainly obvious that we’re not talking serious marketing - after all, 10 years ago SEO was about ranking porn for Disney to get "traffic". Then SEO grew up and sought to get "targeted" traffic.Once you see people focused more on targeting, ROI and conversions, you know the playing field being played in - but stories about blogging are rarely if ever going to be about real world commercial competitive marketing.2c.

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from Halfdeck 2163 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yeah, people are root of the problem at Sphinn.But what if Google said "the SERPs suck because people buy links and spam the web with crap content"?It doesn’t fly. At the end of the day, Google has to refine its algorithms instead of blaming spammers. Sphinn has to do the same.

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from theGypsy 2163 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I am with Brian on this one as far as one being an editorial effort whereas this is a community. I’ve had a few bitches over the last 15 months and ultimately I have to defer to the wisdom of the masses. It is what it is, like it or not. It is ’social’ media and we go with that. Considering it is a den of marketers, I can’t see anything drastically changing on how things ’really work’ around here. All level of entries from beginner to advanced have their place and as long as it is a social game the pimping and othe anomalies will prevail as they do in all of life from office politics to social cliques. Is it Sphinn that is the problem? Is there really a problem? Or is it nothing more than a reflection of who we are as a community? I figure the later myself...

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from corey 2163 Days ago #
Votes: 0

i visited the sphinn home page way less in 2008. now the only times i end up here is when someone mentions a sphinn story on twitter and it sounds good to me. i just visited the home page and counted 9 "list" stories. all those title writing stories sure are working on fellow sphinners. what if submissions or sphinns were limited so the circle jerk cannot perpetuate to the extent that it may now?

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from AndrewGirdwood 2163 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I suppose we could always argue that the people vote the 101 lists to the front page and therefore the people are happy with Sphinn. I wonder if the section of the search community who would rather Sphinn evolve are outnumbered by everyone else... I suspect so!

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from dannysullivan 2163 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Search Engine Land, Sphinn and Techmeme are all different creatures.At Search Engine Land, we have an editorial staff that decides what articles written by others to highlight plus more important, we have original content.Sphinn is a social news site. It’s a place for people to share and comment about stuff they like, driven by the community. There are ups and downs to that, but the point is that you don’t have an editor in charge deciding what they think is hot. The community does that.Techmeme is an automated news clustering site, a sort of front page to what’s hot in search. I love it. I’d love for their to be a Techmeme of search and had thought about this. A downside is that we don’t have that type of technology handy. And if we invest in building it, do I just fine that Techmeme itself decides to go in that area (or Google, for that matter). With limited resouces, we’re focused on the two areas we have already.I’d recommend reading this post that I did: Google Blogs & Other “Front Pages” For The Blogosphere which covers how there are some ways you can kind of get close to this. Or at our SEL blogroll, see the Blog Compilation section at the bottom for some resources.

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from yetanotherben 2160 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Interesting points guys - I really like to see people taking such an interest in the future of this social site - it shows that people really value what’s here and what it can be.A community is only as good as it’s members, which I guess is the same point as theGypsy’s when he said that it is what it is.   If we want to see knew/better stuff then we need to take responsibility for either writing it ourselves, submiting new stuff, voting in new ways or recruiting other marketers that will take a new angle themselves.  A community site is only as good as it’s members.@Danny thansk for mentioning the SEL blogroll - I wasn’t aware of that page...thanks for the resources.

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from TechFuga 2160 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It would not work trying to make Sphinn like Techmeme: as Danny well points it out; both are complete two different things; and a Sphinn like techmeme would be gamed very fast as I dont see out there more then a few 100’s or close to 1000 worth checking SEO related blogs. Second techmeme uses the linking data that tech bloggers use to refers stories to other blogs. And as someone that reads quite often SEO blogs I dont see that much relevant liking beteen SEO blogs goig on....What we are then left with is a good list of blogs: and how would the the sytem rank the latest top SEO news? maybe given some "value" to the already well known SEO blogs and then the smaller ones would soon be linking to the big ones...and at the end we have a "SEO echo chammber" - do we nee that? or do we need a Sphinn as it is? -  or a conbination of both? for me I would like to see a combinaton of both: techmeme + community and it wont be that difficult to set up...All systems that aggregate news have many flaws and good points; we at techfuga.com launched two days ago try to aggregate the top tech news aggreators and we consider Sphinn a very good source of news; check it out Shinn is part of the top 40 news aggregators we follow.keep Sphinnning....Joao - TechFuga.com

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from afhill 2160 Days ago #
Votes: 1

So I’m a sphinn newbie, but I’ll agree with the "problem" mentioned. As I try to learn more about search, I stop by every few days, and the front page DOES have the same 5 stories on it (literally as well as categorically).I’m just learning about the site, but isn’t there a little "Desphinn" option? If you’re sick of reading "how to generate new RSS subscribers" for the Nth time, desphinn it. Better yet, desphinn it AND sphinn something different elsewhere in the blogosphere.If the majority of the people on this site don’t like the content being shown, then why are we still seeing it? Because we’re not doing anything to introduce new content, and promote what we WANT here. Ok, back to lurking.. 

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from corey 2159 Days ago #
Votes: 0

speaking of the SEL blog roll, that page could use a run through xenu

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from tamar 2158 Days ago #
Votes: -1

"The first is that it never links to my blog"I can’t tell if you’re joking, Patrick, but there are two ways from my observations that can get you on Techmeme: 1. You need to write about content that you already see on Techmeme and link to the original story that Techmeme is highlighting on its homepage.2. You need to write about something that other blogs already in the Techmeme algorithm will also start writing about.  In other words, you need to break the news (or be one of the very first).  Hopefully other blogs will link to you (meeting criteria #1) and the link to Techmeme will follow.I read your blog and I have never seen you write about topics that are Techmeme-worthy at all.  As far as regurgitation, if anything, Techmeme shows you what is popular on news outlets and blogs right now.   That said, the regurgitation is somewhat necessary.  Not all bloggers will write what is already being reported on 59294923 other news outlets (I suppose that’s where you come in, Patrick), and personally I won’t either.  But Techmeme informs me what people ARE talking about at any given time and I appreciate that.As far as Sphinn being a Techmeme of search - it’s a nice idea.  But I’d have reservations on how frequently that page would be updated since search is a much smaller subset of technology, and Techmeme itself actually covers some of that search stuff on its site.  Still, though, it would be cool to see something like this in the future if the technology becomes available.

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from FPMarcil 2157 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I too believe Sphinn is somewhat broken by the community, but in my opinion, it is to be expected. <div>Think about this for 1 second: Imagine a community of bank robbers organizing a "trade" meeting in a bank. Could you foresee some problems with that kind of organization? Do you think some of the bank robbers could resist the temptation? "Hey, what if I rob the bank at the meeting, maybe some mafia leaders will give me his next big job." This is what I feel is happening here.<div></div><div>For Sphinn to ever function "at potential" SEO/SEM/SM people will have to leave their tricks / tools at the door and apply none inside(or tone it down a lot). In others words, theres too many social medias specalists/SEOs applying their own tricks on Sphinn, leading to a sense of uselessness in a lot of the content and limiting the value of the whole system. </div><div></div></div>

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from ggallucci 2157 Days ago #
Votes: -2

Rae’s wish is our command. We just launched Mar.com to create the Techmeme for not only search and social media, but for online and offline marketing, communications, and public relations. We’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts. -giovanni

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from peterryan 2157 Days ago #
Votes: 3

ugh... all this talk about community hocus pocus makes me feel warm and fuzzy and nauseous...This is the internet people!  It always has, and always will have useless content.  Half the fun is sifting through it for the real gems. 

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from dannysullivan 2157 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Well, Mar just looks like a social news site exactly like Digg or Sphinn, not an automated-clustering service.

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from 0thelisa 2157 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Agreed, Danny. But it was a nice attempt at a plug. :)

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from TCSM 2157 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Hate to say it @ggallucci but I agree with Danny. I think you’ve kinda missed the point I was trying to get to...

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from beussery 2156 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@TCSMWait, you just desphunn me for Sphinning new, unique, original content and publishing not so little known but "nifty tricks" as you called them....  So, just who do you blame again?  Oh, never mind I’ve got a HOT "Meta Keyword Generators Top Ten List of 2008" to finish. :)

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from Misscj 2156 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think that not everyone uses Sphinn for the same reasons.  I like to think of it as a place of information sharing.  When 20 people post the same story, it’s not information sharing anymore it’s spam.  I submit my own content too because I cover papers that not everyone has access to, and also because I’m trying to raise more interest in the scientific aspect amongst the seo community.  I think the categories are a bit restrictive for me, I’d like to see a more sciency one.  I also think that all kinds of spam can be avoided through automated means.  Duplicate stories being submitted is an easy one to deal with for example.  I like the community and have learnt a lot here over the last few months.  I think it’s a great resource.  If things stay in the spirit of information sharing and that egos stay in check, I think it’ll carry on flourishing.

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