Categories
Applications Semantic Web

The curious announcement that Pinboard has acquired Delicious

I’m not sure what to make of the announcement that Pinboard has acquired Delicious.

This is what is going to happen:

If you’re a Pinboard user, nothing will change. Sad!

If you’re a Delicious user, you will have to find another place to save your bookmarks. The site will stay online. but on June 15, I will put Delicious into read-only mode. You won’t be able to save new bookmarks after that date, or use the API.

Users will have an opportunity to migrate their bookmarks to a Pinboard account, which costs $11/year. Those who prefer to bookmark elsewhere will be able to export their data once I fix the export link, which was disabled some months ago for peformance (sic) reasons.

Please note that there is no time pressure for moving off Delicious. You won’t be able to save new bookmarks after June 15, but everything else will continue to work, or break in familiar ways.

As for the ultimate fate of the site, I’ll have more to say about that soon. Delicious has over a billion bookmarks and is a fascinating piece of web history. Even Yahoo, for whom mismanagement is usually effortless, had to work hard to keep Delicious down. I bought it in part so it wouldn’t disappear from the web.

I used Delicious back in the day when it was del.icio.us (or something like that) and it was a great service then. I migrated to Pinboard a few years ago. It works well and I’m happy to pay the annual fee (currently $11 per year) to have a reliable bookmarking service.

Delicious didn’t seem to be going anywhere and if Maciej Ceglowski did, indeed, buy the service to preserve the bookmarks (particularly the public bookmarks) then that is a good thing for the open Web.

The one issue is that those bookmarks probably go back a decade or so and a good number of those bookmarks will point to sites that have since gone offline. It will certainly be interesting to see whether there is some sort of back-up similar to the Wayback Machine or Pinboard’s site backup service (for paid subscribers)?

As an aside and speaking of links … perhaps you could fix your RSS feed for your blog, Mr Ceglowski? The announcement post isn’t showing up on the main blog page or in your blog’s RSS feed. I still use RSS so that sort of thing is helpful.

Image credit: Sanwal Deen

Categories
Blogs and blogging Social Web

RTFBP is RTFM for blog posts

How often do you find yourself responding to a tweet or Facebook update linking to blog posts only to realise, after responding, that the answer you seek or point you make is contained in the blog posts you were in too much of a hurry to read?

TL;DR your blog posts but, hey, I commented!

I seem to do this often. Given the low click through rates I see in my social media analytics, I suspect the majority of people who respond to these social shares do it too.

After all, it is so much easier to just reply to a tweet or comment on a Facebook post and have your say than it is to click on the link, load the site and read the article that was shared.

As someone who shares stuff on Twitter and Facebook fairly often, it’s certainly my hope that people will click through and read my posts but that happens relatively infrequently compared to the “engagement” that takes place within Twitter’s and Facebook’s walls.

What is Twitter good for?

Twitter, in particular, is supposed to be this terrific platform for sharing stuff with people. What I realized is that when Twitter and Facebook talk about how their platforms are so effective as engagement drivers, they’re really talking about engagement on their platforms. This certainly comes across clearly on Twitter where you have analytics about your tweets available.

This isn’t surprising. Social networks make money from people using their services, not clicking away and going elsewhere. Still, many of us still suffer from this delusion that sharing our stuff on social networks will, necessarily, send more visitors to our sites.

Introducing a new acronym: RTFBP

So, assuming that this trend is only going to continue and relatively few people will actually click on those links we share and visit our sites to read our blog posts, I have come up with a snappy acronym: RTFBP. It stands for “Read The F$&king Blog Post” and it has the benefits of being short and easily hashtag-able.

RTFBP is intended for content marketers who find themselves answering questions and responding to seemingly insightful comments made by people like me who took the TL;DR approach to social media shares. As silly as that is, considering that I know that the point of social shares with links is to direct me to the blog posts that contain the information I seek, if only I RTFBP before tapping “reply” or “comment”.

So, as a self-confessed lazy follower, I both apologise and offer my newly minted acronym to all the marketers whose eyes I cause to roll, yet again. I am working on clicking through more often and reading before I trot out some pithy response. Promise.

Featured image credit: Pixabay

Categories
Blogs and blogging Social Web

What is Twitter good for?

My post about my little family project attracted some attention after Ory Okolloh Mwangi retweeted it and it got me thinking about what Twitter is good for as a promotional and distribution tool. I wrote about Twitter engagement in May 2015 after reading Anil Dash’s post titled “Nobody Famous” and although I have a much smaller Twitter following, I had noticed similar trends.

Twitter engagement – much ado about nothing much

The tweet attracted a fair amount of attention for my tweets (my “routine” tweets attract about 10% to 25% of these impressions) and yet the actual click-through rate was about 1.2% with a total “engagement rate” of 3.5%. Remember that the “engagement rate” includes –

  • Media engagements;
  • Link clicks;
  • Detail expands;
  • Profile clicks;
  • Retweets; and
  • Likes.

Of those, the link clicks and retweets probably offer the most direct value (a single retweet was why the tweet attracted so much attention in the first place). The other forms of engagement are focused on the tweet itself and attached media, not the blog post I shared.

Some stats to illustrate a point.
Some stats to illustrate a point.

So what is Twitter good for given the relatively low, meaningful engagement? By “meaningful engagement” I mean engagement that leads people to the blog post I shared. That, after all, is how I have chosen to share my content – on my blog. The answer is probably “not much” if Twitter’s value is the extent to which it sends traffic to what you tweet about as opposed to focusing attention on itself.

The rumour that Twitter is going to expand tweets to 10,000 characters and discard its vaunted 140 character limit casts a different light on the relatively low, meaningful engagement rates you see on Twitter. What it means is that the impressions a tweet receives and the tweet-related engagement rates will become far more significant than the forms of engagement the lead users outside the Twitter ecosystem. It sounds obvious when you think about it but the implications are pretty profound. As Mathew Ingram pointed out in his article on Fortune titled “Here’s Why Twitter Wants to Expand to 10,000 Characters” –

If and when Twitter does roll out its 10,000-character feature, in other words, expect that to be quickly followed by a pitch to publishers like the Post and others to host their content entirely on Twitter, in return for a share of the advertising revenue and a commitment to help those articles go “viral.” Another step in the death of the link.

10,000 characters is quite a lot. It is enough space to write a short story and if Twitter provides sufficient text formatting options for publishers, Twitter could well become another walled garden fuelled by the amount of impressions its various promotional and distribution options can offer. It will become another closed ecosystem to tempt publishers increasingly threatened by the growing ad blocker phenomenon and a shift of content to Facebook and even Medium. I agree with Ingram that this sort of move really erodes the link, the basic currency of the open Web.

Hey IOL, it’s ok to link to Gareth Cliff’s blog post

What’s going to happen, then, is that the content landscape will be divided between the gleaming, closed cities of Facebook, Twitter, Medium and others and the vast wilderness populated by blogs, independent publishers and others who either go it alone or form alliances to survive. For those whose content lives in the new gleaming cities, life may seem pretty good but there will always be the lingering fear that comes with knowing that they’re just tenants and their new patrons make all the rules.

Speaking of the wilderness, I have noticed what seems to be a resurgence of interest in blogging and running independent platforms. I’m not sure if this is just confirmation bias but it almost feels as if the blogosphere is making a comeback. I really hope it is because this the blogosphere is going to be the only environment where engagement translates into actual views of your content, not just some distributed flyer advertising your content. It could also become the only environment where you will have an opportunity to see all the content you want to see, how you want to see it (remember RSS?) and not the content someone else’s algorithm thinks you should see.

So, if I am right about all of this, what is Twitter good for? For that matter, what are Facebook, Medium, Snapchat and other social services good for? They have to attract publishers or they’ll have nothing to offer users but their primary focus isn’t publishers, it’s whatever it takes to keep users coming back and that will be at the expense of publishers who want pretty much the same thing, although ideally using good quality content. This doesn’t mean that publishers and social networks are aligned, at least not in the medium to long term. At some point their interests will clash and those walled gardens will start to feel like prisons.

Image source: Pexels, released under a CC0 Dedication

Categories
Web/Tech

Best plugin for URL redirects in WordPress?

I’d like to redirect urls in a WordPress site and I could use recommendations for good plugins or methods of doing this effectively and cleanly. What I’d like to do is redirect something like:

http://acmesite.com/pathA/page.html

to:

http://acmesite.com/pathB/page.html

What I want to do is change a top level menu item on the site without breaking all the links to the underlying pages. I can change the links I am aware of but I’d like to ensure that legacy links still resolve to the correct page on the new URL path.

Any suggestions how best to do this?