Does Social Bookmarking Need A White List?

stumbleuponOne of the things that seriously chaps my ass is when someone posts my content to a site like StumbleUpon and marks it as porn.

It’s not that I’m not grateful to them for promoting my content, but lets be serious here, I don’t do porn. I write tech and express my opinion.

On Daily Shite it’s all humor. We don’t do anything that even vaguely resembles soft porn, or even nude art, and we won’t even allow a link to a site that we might consider objectionable. We have some very strict policies with regards to the content our authors can publish.

Now, this might not seam like a big problem to most folks. After all who cares if your content is miscategorized as long as it gets promoted?

When it comes to being marked as porn on a service like StumbleUpon, it becomes a very big deal.

When your content is marked as porn it automatically means that  unless somebody has changed their settings to allow them to see adult content when they stumble, then they won’t see it. It also means that if we have to go check and see how our posts are being tagged and categorized everyday in order to fill hit the button that allows you to say the post was miscategorized. This is something we have to do at least once a day.

If we don’t, then you might mess the next great post that goes viral. For us, the post may never go viral when it could have.

Anyway, now that I’m done ranting, I propose a solution. Sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit etc could implement a white list system.

For example, a site like Daily Shite, which does not have any porn on it, could register our details with these sites and sign an agreement where we list what categories our content could be promoted in (in our case – all except porn) and that would then ensure that users can’t categorize our stuff as such.

Don’t get me wrong, they could still get the category wrong, but at least it wouldn’t be porn and wouldn’t be preventing the post from being viewed by people who don’t have adult content enabled.

If we then want to change our content type at a later date, we need to contact the social bookmarking site or white list or not have it listed.

Also if a site screws up, lets say they start pushing porn when they’ve signed that they won’t, then they can simply have their domain banned for a period of time or indefinitely. Possibly with a review period that would have to be gone through if you want to be back on after you’ve broken the agreement.

Another way to think of it would be like a Twitter verified account, but with the ability to say how your content is categorized and with a punishment in place if you don’t stick to the agreement.

Why Pay For Old Content?

When will newspapers learn that charging for old content online is costing them money?

I was trying to dig up some information today on a recent news event here in Næstved (Denmark). Google didn’t help much, even when doing advanced searches within sites that should have had the information I was looking for.

I did eventually find the article I was looking for in the news section of Sjæ (Sjællandske Medier – a Danish media group) and clicked on the link to it.

Sjællandske Medier publish a number of newspapers. Some of these must be purchased daily, however the article in question was published in a newspaper that I receive weekly for FREE.

Instead of getting the article (which is nearly 8 months old) I was confronted with a page telling me that in order to read the whole article I would have to pay 236 DKK (42.25 USD) for a 3 month or 399 DKK (71.42 USD) for a 6 month subscription.

71 dollars for a 6 month subscription to old news that I already receive for free! It’s crazy! It’s also potentially losing them a lot of money.

The subscription model for online newspapers needs to be reversed. They need to make their archives freely available (ad supported if necessary, such as Google Adsense, and charge only for the news published within the past 24 hours.

Newspapers need to realize that people purchase them (and their online version for only a small few reasons)

  1. The news is current, up to date.
  2. The source is trusted.
  3. They like the editorial content. This is the most important reason and why paying customers choose one newspaper over another.

Online newspapers lose out because there are multiple online, free and trusted sources for the news. The only thing that can set them apart is their editorial content. But when it comes to editorial content, the only really valuable content is that of the past 24 hours. That’s what the readers want, because they desire their news content to be current.

What is the benefit of locking the old content away? As I see it, there isn’t one.

Locking the old content away reduces the value of search engine traffic. The search engines cannot access the content, therefore there are less potential searches that will result in a click thru to the publishers site. Less click throughs means less page views. Less page views means less revenue generated from advertising on the site especially those on a “Pay Per View” model.

Searches that do result in a click through are less likely to retain readers. They think they’ve found what they’re looking for and are confronted with a “Pay to Read” message. These readers will quickly click back to Google (or their search engine of choice) and get the information the require elsewhere. One thing they’re not likely to do is hang around the publishers site or click on an adverts. That’s a nightmare if you employ “Pay Per Click” advertising.

Most importantly, requiring potential readers to pay to view the archives makes it incredibly hard to generate customers or generate reader loyalty. Nobody is going to pay to read just 1 article.

People who don’t read your articles will never see the value in them when compared to other free sources. They have no opportunity to experience the quality of the editorial, and simple curiosity is not likely to get many customers to part with $71.42 USD.

The most valuable content is clearly the current (past 24 hours worth) of news. The value in the content is mostly attributable to the editorial as the news can be read elsewhere for free. You need to make current news as valuable as possible. In order to do that you need to give a sample, and the sample is the archives.

Most other industries give potential customers samples. You can test drive a car. There’s a tester bottle of perfume in the beauty store. Food and drink manufactures often have people with stands in stores giving away free samples.

One of three things happens when you give away a free sample:

  1. The customer doesn’t like the sample and doesn’t buy the product.
  2. The customer likes the sample and doesn’t buy the product. This is not a lose. This customer may buy at a later date because of their experience with the sample, and may refer others as well.
  3. The customer likes the sample and buys the product.

By using archives as the sample, newspapers make the current content valuable and can have more opportunities to have the customer react as is numbers 2 an 3 above.

Yes, they will also have a large number of reaction 1’s. However, this is preferable to driving away all the potential 2 and 3’s because they couldn’t see the archived content in the first place.