April 29, 2006

How to Leave a Cheesy Comment

Some bloggers who have been around for years leave cheesy comments like

  • “I just blogged this on my site too LINK”
  • “This is relevant also LINK”

Worse yet, now there are meme tracker tools that track conversations and similar posts, and if you leave the cheesedick check out my site here comment on a couple blogs it looks tacky.

There are enough people doing automated comments that you really want to stand out as a signal of quality in a field of muck. If a blog has great reach then many people will eventually see your comments. I probably left a number of cheesy comments in the past, but on the whole I wouldn’t recommend doing it nowadays.

When blogs were new being relevant with your comment was enough, but as the amount of noise continues to grow and spam and ad networks make more and more things seem relevant good blog comments not only need to be relevant but also interesting and/or useful.

If your comments are good enough then eventually the other bloggers read your stuff and / or give you natural citations that are going to be hard to duplicate. If you just link drop eventually you piss people off.

SethF consistently whines about being a Z lister, but it is the cheesy comment link drops that makes him hard to like.

December 22, 2005

Post Frequency vs Post Quality and Automated Social Software

Some people create blogs that guarantee fresh content every day. In spite of writing many blogs I find it hard to have something useful, interesting, or original to say everyday. I think I perform far better when I do things sporadically.

I know when I have fire or passion or interest, but I end up getting bored or burned out if I do the same thing every day. That means for me being a daily poster is probably a bad fit…although recently I bought a community site and sort put myself in the position where I think I will have to post daily.

Some fields will require that people fight to be first with the story to compete, but as more automated decentralized social communities form around different topics (say Digg: movies) many of the first with the news type blogs will die a slow marginalized death unless they do one or more of the following

  • reinforce their market position using some type of social software
  • create custom programs to help them find news quickly and hunt for it early in the morning
  • create relationships with key industry sources
  • are in fields so small that they have virtually no competition
  • have a killer brand built up
  • stick to what they know better than most others
  • envoke emotional responses that make people want to come back
  • offer free time saving software
  • work in small groups where they cover each others holes
  • start to offer more in depth information

ThreadWatch is a great community site, but increasingly I have seen the tech news bits being done better by Digg because they are more decentralized and automated. I think the answer for ThreadWatch to doing well is to focus more on the search stuff than the tech news information.

December 8, 2005

Everyone is so Shite, and I Love Everyone, etc.

It is easy to link at a site that says everyone sucks.
It is easy to link at a site that calls out one particular well known person as being full of shite.
Self congradulatory industry specific coverage and awards are easy to link at.
It is easy to link at the person who tells me I spelled congratulatory incorrectly.

People want to post about something…sometimes you can create an idea that is easy to talk about or steal someone else’s idea by adding controversy.

November 8, 2005

The Linkable Topics

SEO = typically not linkworthy / linkable by mainstream credible sources
search = very linkable

Sometimes by changing how you cover a topic it becomes far easier to become a credible source. That may mean:

  • being the first guy with the news
  • waiting to see what others have to say
  • changing the topic to be broader or more focused
  • trying to grab news from less traditional sources

To tell the truth, I like reading and learning a bunch. Had I realized how hard it would be to get people to want to link at a site focused on SEO which also sold an SEO information product I probably would have rather picked a broader topic or chose other topics to write and learn about. That is a large part of the reason this site exists.

I have gave many people crap for creating blog networks. I don’t think owning a network is bad, I usually think that the owners do not offer enough to get their share. A recent interview of a friend helped clear up the point a bit for me though:

It irks me that people feel their own countrymen “deserve” jobs anymore than their counterparts 13 timezones over. I am looking for the best person for the job, and the buck stops there. Frankly, all the whining and complaining Americans do makes me less likely to want to hire them!

In reference to pay rates: I do believe I pay a fair wage. Of course, when outsourcing, the point is to save money on wages. One of the things my partners and I routinely look at are average wage figures and purchasing power parity stats for whatever countries we outsource to — we want to make sure we’re paying well above average wages. Firstly, this helps you sleep better at night. More than that, though, better pay helps you get higher quality people.

Actually it’s more than just researching wages — we have to remember to give the Diwali bonus, for instance, rather than the standard Christmas bonus 🙂

Just because you hire others does not mean that you are taking advantage of them, and if you help teach people how to make more profit with their time there should be no guilt or shame in that.

When you look at the competition in any field you only have to compete with the top channels. Sure that sounds stupid, but if all the top results for your field are from more diverse sites and there are not many people covering your topic specifically it may mean the field is open for the taking. If hundreds or thousands of people already cover your topic but are usually overshadowed by broader sources then it might be time to look at if the site should be part of a network or if it needs to be broadened or changed in focus.

Nick’s linkbaiting post is very good on a post by post basis, but you also don’t want to constrain yourself to a topic. If you find yourself posting off topic too often that might be time to create another channel or site.

Having said all that, I think many times people mess up because they stay stuck on a topic or do not look at how to make news / stories / ideas / topics / tools more linkable / sharable. I have only dabbled in the market, but intend to try out a few more ideas down the road.

November 6, 2005

Attack Mode: Links and Controversy

When you call out large corporations it may get you sued, but that can also be a cheap form of marketing. When you call out smaller or newer competitors it can often backfire. During times of controversy it is almost always best to paint yourself as David vs Goliath. It is not good being Goliath.

Recently Jason Calcanis ranted about a similar looking blog network. By doing so he gave a lesser known competitor the podium to tell him to screw off.

The bigger issue at hand though is if people think you play dirty as TJ stated about Calacanis on his site, and as I thought of Jason on SXSW 2005 it makes it harder to spread ideas. Would you work together with Jason after he called you a thief? How would this cooperative advertising line sound?

This is a “rising tide lifts all boats” type project.

I don’t think TJ would call it honest, and I suspect other blog network owners would also be suspicious.

Short term controvercy is always surrounded in links. The thing you have to ask yourself before jumping too far into the fire is what do you have to gain by jumping in. Sometimes escalation makes no sense.

Example #1:
As a CEO with a flat trading / sinking stock Patrick Byrne talking about Sith Lord and other evil co conspiritors probably drives down the stock price, and has little purpose unless he is trying to consolidate his own shares before a good quarter.

Example #2:
Daniel Brandt claims to be a social activists, and worries about his own privacy asking questions like:

The proper question is whether publishing information on a person in a form that will be number one on the three major engines in a search for his name, is justifiable?

I have to wonder why THAT is the proper question. If you are a social activists largely using technology to cover technology companies shouldn’t you be able to ensure your message spreads? Isn’t that part of being a social activist?

Daniel included me in some of his recent rants, and so I asked of him:

If you are a social activist trying to spread information and ideas…who has done it for over 30 years… why be so anti technology? I mean, shouldn’t you learn how to get people to pass authority your way? Shouldn’t you be able to be the top result for your own name or have enough friends that help you make yourself so?

I have only been on the web less than 3 years and already I have the #1 and #4 result for your name.

I say that in a non mean manner. I am generally not a mean / mad person, and when you first contacted me you were nothing but rude when a kind email was all that was needed to get the desired result.

You forgot that when I mentioned you I was trying to help you. If you are always in attack mode you can be certain you are going to be working with limited authority.

Earlier it even sounded as though you ticked of Philipp, and I think that is kinda hard to do.

Philipp Lessen also pointed out an underlying problem with the argumentitive tone of some statements:

Maybe paranoia can truly cloud someone’s perception, even when people give that someone the benefit of a doubt. Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; if someone accuses everyone of opposing one, then slowly people will indeed oppose one – because they don’t like to be wrongly accused.

If you wish something hard enough you can make it come true, but that does not help you much if the thesis is everyone sucks or everyone hates me.

And that is an important issue with the web. The web has a long memory. Today I messaged a past friend and got no response. If you piss off your friends or heavily limit your potential friend pool eventually it haunts and hurts you.

Stepping on a few toes is a good way to get noticed, but sometimes there are better ways, and you should evaluate the best, worst, and likely outcomes of telling people off or calling people out before you do so. At the end of the day you still need some people to like you / trust you / source you or your site or you have no authority.

October 21, 2005

Getting People to Ask Questions

A sign of a good blog is heavy high level commenting.

Another sign of quality may be heavy link citation.

In some cases though much of your potential audience may overlap with other channels that they prefer to discuss issues at, and you really only need one or two citations to make whatever you wrote matter.

Even if few comments occur on your blog you will still do well if you write things that lead to people asking related questions.