Delicious is still tasty to me

I can’t help feeling disappointed in how quickly folks jumped ship and stayed on the raft even when it became clear that it was just a leaky faucet and not a hole in the hull.

I’ve been seeing many of my friends and peers jump ship and move their social/online bookmarks to other services (both free and paid) since the Yahoo leak about Delicious being in the sun-setting category of products. Given the volume of outcry over this, I was pretty confident that either Yahoo would change their minds or someone would buy Delicious or someone would replicate Delicious. So, I didn’t worry. I didn’t freak out. I haven’t even made a backup of my bookmarks, although I plan to do that soon just because it’s good to have backups of data.

Now the word is that Delicious will be sold, which is probably for the best. Yahoo certainly didn’t do much with it after they acquired it some years ago. But, honestly, I’m pretty happy with the features Delicious has now, so really don’t care that it hasn’t changed much. However, I do want it to go to someone who will take care of it and continue to provide it to users, whether it remains free or becomes a paid service.

I looked at the other bookmark services out there, and in particular those recommended by Lifehacker. Frankly, I was unimpressed. I’m not going to pay for a service that isn’t as good as Delicious, and I’m not going to use a bookmarking service that isn’t integrated into my browser. I didn’t have much use for Delicious until the Firefox extension, and now it’s so easy to bookmark and tag things on the fly that I use it quite frequently as a universal capture tool for websites and gift/diy ideas.

The technorati are a fickle bunch. I get that. But I can’t help feeling disappointed in how quickly they jumped ship and stayed on the raft even when it became clear that it was just a leaky faucet and not a hole in the hull.

WordCamp Richmond: Strategery!

presenter: Bradley Robb

“A couple of tips for improving your blog’s readership and like 26 pictures of kittens”

A comprehensive digital strategy is what you are going to use when you build anything online. When you start a blog, you are committing yourself to putting out content forever.

The field of dreams fallacy: just because you blog it doesn’t mean anyone will read it. Knowing your visitors means knowing your visitor types. Referral traffic is your goal. Blog readership is not a zero-sum game; your fellow bloggers are your peers.

Quantitative analysis like page ranks compares apples to apples. But if you want to compare apples to oranges, you need to look at different things. Post frequency will increase popularity, particularly for those who do not read via RSS. Comment frequency is an indicator of post frequency. You also want to pay attention to whether the commenters are responding to the post or responding to each other (i.e. creating a community).

Amass, prioritize, track, repeat: Find all of the people who are talking about your niche in a full-time manner. Evaluate your own blog, then develop a rubric to compare your site to peers. Create a list of blogs where you’d like to guest post. Track your successes and failures – Robb suggests using a spreadsheet (blogs tracked, comments, linkbacks, etc.). Keep adding to your amassed list, keep evaluating your standing, and keep tracking.

You need to be reading the blogs in your community, but that can take a lot of time. Following their Twitter feeds might be faster. And if you’re not using RSS, you should be.

“Commenting on blogs is like working a room at a party with one major exception: nobody knows if you’re wearing pants.”

Make your comment relevant, short, interesting, but don’t steal the show. Make sure you put your blog anchor page in the URL field of the comment form. You want people to track back to your blog, right? If there is an option to track the comments, do it. It’s okay to disagree, but be intelligent about it. Be yourself, but better (and sign with your name, not your blog/book/etc.). Count to ten before you hit send, not just for keeping a cool head, but also for correcting grammatical errors.

Guest posting: write the post before you pitch it. It indicates that you understand the blog and it’s content, and that you can write. Plus, they won’t be waiting on you for a deadline.

Measure twice, cut once: If your commenting strategy isn’t working, then figure out how to change it up. Are you getting traffic? Are your comments being responded to?

Give them something to talk about. If you’re doing all this strategy, make sure you have something worth reading.

Questions:

Recommended features & widgets? Robb doesn’t use many widgets. Trackbacks is a big backend feature. Disqus can aggregate reactions, which you can publish with the post.

What are easy ways to get people to comment on your blog? There are several methods. One is to be wrong, because the internet will tell you that you’re wrong, and that can drive comment traffic. Another is to publish a list.

How do you know what to write about? By following the niche/industry, you can get a feel for hot topics and trends.

Do you have any specific strategies for using Facebook for publicizing your blog? Robb hates Facebook and it’s personal data-stealing soul. He recommends the same strategy as Twitter: for every ten posts about something else, post one promoting your blog.

What about communities like Digg or Reddit? Unless you hit the front page, you don’t really get enough traffic to warrant the time.

How many ads are too many? Depends on how big of a boat you want. If you build your theme to incorporate ads smartly, you don’t need as many of them to be successful with them. In print journalism, the page is designed for the ads with the news filling the rest.

IL2009: Creating Connections & Social Reference in Libraries

Presenter: Margaret Smith

Traditional reference has been one-on-one, but now there are options online for many-to-one reference, such as Yahoo! Answers, Askville, AskMetafilter, etc. The problem is that not all of the hives are equal in the quality of the answers they provide. For an example, look up "where do deer sleep?" sometime.

One of the benefits of social reference sites is that they generate a reference bank of questions and answers that can be linked to when/if someone asks the same question again. These can be both public forums like AskMetafilter, or a private forum like something you develop internally for your library or organization. Similarly, you can use wiki software to create an interactive social reference tool, but unlike a forum, it isn’t designed to make new content the most prominent.

One of the biggest challenges of implementing social reference sites is getting answers to the questions. A frustrating aspect of some social reference sources is an overwhelming number of unanswered questions. Your library can use any of the "free" services that are out there, or go with one of the vendor services like LibAnswers, just make sure you actively engage with it.

CiL 2008 Keynote: Libraries as Happiness Engines

Speaker: Elizabeth Lane Lawley, Rochester Institute of Technology

Libraries are an emotional center of a community that make people happy. The elements of happiness include: satisfying work to do, the experience of being good at something, time spent with people we like, and a chance to be a part of something bigger. Libraries will survive if we remain in the happiness business.

Virtuality is a way of beating an unhappy life. People go into virtual world to escape a lack of happiness in their real life. And, there is a blurring of the boundaries between virtual worlds and real worlds as players make connections in both that bleed over into the other.

“The grind” is a process that gamers go through in order to move forward or advance in levels. Players do tasks in game repeatedly until their goals are achieved. Lawley thinks of the grind as being a meditative activity, due in part to the repetitive nature of it. Why can’t we convey this to our potential readers? We can correlate the reward of working through a game to the reward of reading a book through to the end.

Tupperware parties are an example of real world games, with competition and rewards. Salespeople will work hard to move up levels and be recognized for their work. Another real world game that is popular in public libraries is Super Sleuth, which gives daily clues that kids research to find the answer every week. Summer reading programs are also like games, and they make reading a challenge that kids want to do in order to reach a point goal to win a prize.

Chore Wars is an online game that blurs the line between real and virtual worlds. Parents post job tasks with point values, and kids earn those points by doing the chores. In the business world, Seriosity’s Attent is a game that causes players to evaluate the value of email message sent and received. Social Genius takes casual game concepts and applies them to enterprise problems/solutions, basically by making players learn the names and faces of other people in their organization and forcing them to keep their online photos and bios up-to-date.

Passively Multiplayer Online Gaming gives points to players for visiting websites, among other things. Missions become annotated pathfinders that reward players for surfing websites that have some sort of relevancy to each other. It makes the process of going to websites fun instead of tedious.

Games can serve as gateway drugs, like Guitar Hero. [side note: I heard recently about someone modifying a real guitar to use the strum bar and buttons used on the Guitar Hero guitar.]

Online rebound is what happens when we go from virtual to real and back again, like LAN parties, Moo cards (“We love the web, but you can’t put it in your pocket.”), and Etsy (hand-crafted items sold online). Virtual does not take the tangible away. You want to retain a connection to the real world. Libraries are taking advantage of this online rebound by creating spaces where people can be together physically while also being online.

How does your library make people feel happy? How does it pull them into something bigger than themselves that makes them feel playful and productive at the same time?

quechup? no, thanks.

New social networking site gives everyone the how-to for bad PR.

Last week, I got an invitation to join Quechup, a new social networking site, from someone I’m pretty sure doesn’t want to network with me. Unfortunately, this person uses Gmail, which adds all new email addresses to the contacts list, whether you want it to or not. Since this person had emailed me in the past, my email address was still in their contacts list.

The problem with Quechup is that during the account creation process for new users, they are asked to give permission for Quechup to view their email address books in order to see if any of their contacts are already on Quechup. What most people seem to miss is the fine print that indicates Quechup will be spamming everyone in the new user’s contact list who is not already on Quechup.

I have two theories about why they chose to market their site this way. The first is benign, and assumes that someone at Quechup thought that users would read the text that indicates Quechup would be sending non-members email invitations.

quechup

The second theory is that someone at Quechup expected that few would read the text closely, and that it would be a simple and effective way of collecting a large number of active email addresses.

I suspect that the truth may be somewhere in between those two theories. Social networking sites do not exist out of the goodness of some programmer’s heart. They exist to gather information about you and your friends, and to use that information to make money off of you. Quechup is no different in that than sites like MySpace and Facebook. However, unlike other sites, Quechup is quickly getting a bad reputation for mass emailing, and that will be a tricky spot to pull themselves out of.

Be careful out there. Even if you don’t read the Privacy Policy or Conditions of Use before signing up on a new site, do at least read the text presented on the signup page. And please, stop sending me Quechup invitations.