I think that shows there is a problem with blogging that goes beyond just the medium. Consider that blogging is a decentralised ecosystem, so you have no central place for discovery outside of Google specifically and search generally. Being on the top of Google is an attractive proposition because it means many eyeballs and lots of ad revenue. Therefore it is natural that many new blogs exist to game the search engine, hence the term "blogspam".
Some of the same incentives exist with large social media sites as well, but on Twitter and the like if you mute/block enough big people and follow only those you care about, your feed will eventually become clean enough to look at every day. So I think it is much more important to solve the discovery problem with blogs if you want them to get more traction.
If you want to read about barbeque, you need to start with a technical question about barbeque; if you want to read about Greek history, you need a question about that.
Eventually you will find somebody knowledgeable who is writing about that subject. They will in turn link to others, or comment on others, and so forth.
Discussion groups and forums and such are useful.
I'm sure they exist, but they are really hard to find.
Or don't trust Facebook to just change the way 'privacy' works
(Never mind the overlays which take up about a third of the viewport height and beg you to login / sign-up - Twitter have started doing this recently)
Discoverability is deliberately hampered by the lack of pagination and reliance on infinite scrolling.
To solve this problem I am building https://linklonk.com that cultivates trust as you rate content. When you upvote a link you connect stronger to the feed that posted it (which could be a blog's feed) and to other users that upvoted this link before you. When you downvote - your connections to those who upvoted become weaker.
The strength of your connections to other feeds and users represents how useful their content recommendations have been to you in the past and they could be used as a measure of how likely their future recommendations will be worth your time (ie, trust that they won't waste your time).
The content is ranked according to the connection weights - so you get information from the sources that have shown to be content curators for you.
I did a Show HN recently for this project that has more details: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28405643
 - like my comment here tries to draw your attention to my hobby project.
> To solve this problem I am building https://linklonk.com that cultivates trust as you rate content. When you upvote a link you connect stronger to the feed that posted it (which could be a blog's feed) and to other users that upvoted this link before you. When you downvote - your connections to those who upvoted become weaker.
> The strength of your connections to other feeds and users represents how useful their content recommendations have been to you in the past and they could be used as a measure of how likely their future recommendations will be worth your time (ie, trust that they won't waste your time).
> The content is ranked according to the connection weights - so you get information from the sources that have shown to be content curators for you.
> I did a Show HN recently for this project that has more details: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28405643
>  - like my comment here tries to draw your attention to my hobby project.
I find this so interesting. OP complains about people constantly trying to sell him something which is why he was turned off of blogs. And what happens? Someone tries to sell him something for his problem of too much selling.
Ah. What a world. Solution to too much selling is more selling.
This isn't somebody trying to sell something. It's somebody trying to help.
In that way, you could have curated content. Like if I find someone that has really similar interests to me I could import their weights and see the web via their prioritisation. Similarly, (countering a problem I always have with google search bubbles) I could explain to my friend how to navigate to a site I found via search if they import my weights.
Edit: being able to manually modify my own weights would probably be helpful as well to decay sell outs.
When you want to introduce someone to LinkLonk you could share with them your personal url.
As for decaying sellouts, wouldn't downvoting the content they upvoted do what you want?
By the way, every time someone you are connected to upvotes something, your connection to them becomes slightly weaker. So if you simply ignore recommendations from sources with a lower signal-to-noise ratio (or high volume) - their recommendations will eventually fade away from the "For you" page.
Or would you change something else?
I don't know if I can get rid of the bottom part with the buttons since this is where the collection selector is - where you pick what collection the item you like should go to.
Your intention is noble, but this is still based on network effects and a positive feedback loop. I doubt you can beat the social medias in their own game.
To make it worthwhile for the users before the project reaches that point, I am trying to make LinkLonk a better tool that helps you keep track of the content you liked (kind of a bookmarking service) and helps you follow RSS feeds in (kind of a feed reader).
If you have other ideas of how to make it more useful before we have enough users - let me know.
I have an idea; maybe you can enable people to publish a list of links that are curated by themselves, in the form of a RSS feed. This way your user can have a sense of ownership.
What you are suggesting is similar to another idea I had (https://linklonk.com/item/9146000221282140160):
"An option to generate a publicly visible url for any of your collections. This could help you share your collection of liked items with other people. And it could help LinkLonk get new users."
Adding an RSS feed for these publicly accessible collections would be a natural extension.
RSS would be the next step.
The discovery problem should be solved on page and spread that way, to remain decentralised and free from the all the centralised incentives that lead to clickbait. You almost have to punish hosts that appear anywhere centralized lest they get a taste for clickblood.
I didn't quite get what are the centralized incentives that lead to clickbait. Is it a comment about LinkLonk or centralized systems in general?
Centralization and decentralization have trade-offs. Right now the downvotes on LinkLonk are private. The upvotes are semi-public, but not available in raw form. If you wanted to implement the LinkLonk's algorithm in a decentralized manner then you would need all hosts to make the upvote and downvote data available to all other participants. Maybe homomorphic encryption can solve this problem.
My goal is to build a proof of concept in my spare time and the centralized approach seems to be the right option in my situation.
In the olden times blogs earned trust by cultivating a reputation. The reputation was earned by having an audience that trusted them and recommended them. Cross-linking content to other blogs, guest blogging, being included on a blogger's 'blogroll,' etc. were all ways they expanded their audience.
It was slower and had much less reach, but it also focused more on "building an audience" rather than
"driving traffic." We, fundamentally, don't trust content, so mechanisms that operate on validating atomized bits of content are going to fall flat. We trust people and institutions. If you want to build trust it has to work on the agents producing the content rather than the content itself. Segmenting content up into atomized bits is what creates the erosion of trust in the first place. It's something timeline driven social media feeds do specifically because it makes it difficult to parse genuine buzz from advertising, which makes the ads more effective. But that's the opposite of trustworthiness.
LinkLonk's algorithm works that way. It builds trust in sources of information (including users who rate content). And it does not and will not try to understand the individual pieces of content.
Unlike the social media feeds that are powered by black box neural networks, LinkLonk's algorithm is transparent. You know how your interactions with it will be interpreted. I hope that this transparency will help build trust in the system and in the sources of information you are connecting to.
Yes, bad actors will try to game any system to gain the attention that they don't deserve. I'm not claiming that LinkLonk is game-proof, but I think it has better feedback loops and incentives than other systems such as popularity based ranking (please don't take it as a challenge).
I have no idea about "too personal" mean, but the only reason you would consider RSS "outside of the flow" is due to the concerted effort by Google, Twitter, Facebook and Apple to reduce support. Even Mozilla(!) has been involved in removing support.
RSS is a perfectly good, tested and usable mechanism. Coming up with yet another syndication mechanism would be a huge waste of time and effort, most likely resulting in insignificance.
I think blogs started dieing when they optimized for maximizing their audience instead of being locations where people write about stuff that interests them without an expectation of "making it".
My way around that is to pay. I find paid newsletters/blogs tend to evade SEO crap, for good reason: no one actually likes writing or reading that shit. Also, usually by forgoing the SEO crap they can focus on niche topics and content because they focus on retaining subscriptions.
The subscription also allows the writers to be more human for lack of a better description. They actually use their voice when writing instead of the generic SEO salesman pep, and they feel more comfortable with offering their real opinions and views.
When they wrote for fun, not profit, the writings came out whenever they had something interesting enough to share. Now that it’s for-profit, the content is forced to come out faster and more frequently with posts that feel unnecessarily long to justify the cost. One author I previously enjoyed for well-researched topics that debunked popular opinions has been firing off un-researched posts with claims that can be debunked in 30 seconds of Googling.
The topics feel like they’re being chosen to produce the most interesting teaser (to convince non-subscribers to subscribe) or SEO juice. It feels like the clickbait factor went way up overnight.
Much of the magic of the past blogging era was that people were writing because they wanted to, not because they were fishing for clicks or subscriptions or pandering to future employers with every word. The move to paid takes some of that away.
What was once a "Ingredients:" .... "Instructions:" ... "Tip: goes well with sour cream", is now a whole story, how the author woke up one day, when the were 7, and noticed they peed their bed, and then their mother came to check on them, and started cleaning the pee, and the dog was barking, and the dog also pooped that day, and there was wheel of fortune on tv, and a friend came over for a lunch, but they ordered pizza for lunch, and then there was a rerun of mission impossible on tv, and then daddy had a beer or five, and mommy made sandwiches, and those sanwiches remind the author of this chicken tikka masala recipe, that was converted to a non-spicy vegan variant.
- what happened to AM radio as FM, satellite, and podcasting came to dominate the American driving experience
- what happened to landline telephone as point-to-point communication became dominated by cellphones, smartphones, and increasingly non-phone-voice-network audio and videoconferencing technologies
I wouldn't be surprised if blogs suffer the same problem in the era of microblogging and centralized microblogging services.
What I witness was that innovation stopped. For instance landlines could have been upgraded to support text messaging (just as they use a modem to send caller ID they could use a modem to send and receive texts.) Cordless phones, answering machines and such could have all gotten better but they didn't.
Most irksome, landlines don't support deliverability features such as STIR/SHAKEN so if you live in a place where cell phones don't work you might have trouble getting people to pick up when you ring them.
That's different from AM radio which, driving across upstate NY, I came to the impression that the only program you could expect to get reliably was the Rush Limbaugh show. If you were lucky around sunset you might catch a black power show from Philadelphia...
The majority of incoming calls on landlines now are people trying to scam the callee. [https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/almost-half-your-phone-ca...]. And the majority of AM radio content now is low-audience long-tail content (or mass-commodified syndicated content, like Rush Limbaugh) that is a medium for pushing low-quality bulk advertising for questionable products.
To expand upon the hypothesis (and this is half-baked and incomplete, so take it with several grains of salt): as technology evolves, people move to more comfortable / more convenient technology. AM is not comfortable or convenient; it's interfered with by too many EM flux sources in the modern world. Landline is not comfortable or convenient for the reasons you noted relative to modern alternatives.
The people who do not move off these technologies are various flavors of captive audiences: people who can't buy FM radios or don't want to adopt new stations / find content in new locations, people who can't use a cellphone, etc. As mainstream content creation leaves these channels, the vacuum is taken over by hucksters trying to take advantage of these captive audiences. The incentives to do so are lack of alternative content and a "softer" target audience (easier to fool, especially since these technologies were once mainstream and trusted so many of their users still believe they are, even after the hucksters have taken them over). I have relatives who still believe "They wouldn't call me if they didn't have business with me; how would they know my number?" And I still have relatives who believe AM news radio is news.
I have muted and blocked accounts on Twitter as well because of that: people clearly never having touched real data talking about ML projects, recommending libraries to manage lifecycle, etc. All that "audiencing" doesn't suit me, especially when it's clearly BS with no value, not even an entertainment value.
However there is no shortage of useless "app redesign" case studies from complete amateurs. And it's always the same ones too: Starbucks, Netflix, Snapchat, Instagram and Spotify.
How about a public health website? Or a university application system? Or something "boring" that's much more realistic for a case study than a billion dollar corp's app?
This cracked me up good lol. Btw, another big problem is people writing "blogs" as if they were experts without having expertise e.g. machine learning medium articles making wild unsubstantiated. It's so misleading, especially because ML is already not particularly rigorous due to black box models.
With blogs it used to be about the RSS feed, which had one job: to nudge users when new content is available. But ultimately users (or news aggregators) had control over what the algorithm does.
The problem with blogs as pointed out is content discovery. How can content be discoverable without commercial interests? Social media platforms make content discovery simple and effective. On top of that, the barrier to entry is low—a two or three step on boarding process which is free (as in beer) to-boot.
Anyone know of good content-discovery platforms?
Podcasts are interesting because multiple platforms support them so they exist somewhat in the borderland. Might be an interesting case study being podcast discover ability vs blogs vs social media.
All that being said, I think we simply have to go beyond the first page of search engine results to find the good stuff. Not finding stuff is a form of laziness when we are used to getting a quick info-fix on Wikipedia. But standardized P2P protocols might be nice too—good incentive for a crypto currency?
Blogging just for the sake of blogging is what caused their decline in the first place. If the blogpost can’t be easily understood within first few lines, it’s a wasted opportunity. The a reason Morgan House, Derek Sivers are still relevant.
A lot of people rightfully mention that we lack a proper micropayments system for the web and while that’s true, I don’t think it’s the only problem. A lot of people’s careers and companies are built on this parasitic model where they don’t actually provide any tangible value and only profit off leftover scraps, which wouldn’t be sustainable in a completely paid-for model because the end-user doesn’t actually get any value out of it and thus would never willingly pay money for this “service”.
I have a theory that 99% of blog posts could fit in a tweet's worth of text or a short thread. Most things that need more length probably don't need SEO-friendly length (500+ words) and are better bundled up in a traditional newsletter. And the stuff that does need that length can just be the main part of the newsletter.
 https://twitter.com/ViewfinderFox / https://newsletter.viewfinderfox.com/
However — I do wonder about this hypothetical: my blog (for whatever reason) blows up. Would I start to feel pressure to deliver content that starts trending towards "grind culture"? Or would I still be able to blog _for me_? I'm sure this is what some other content creators have faced before, especially in the YouTube community. If anybody has had this experience, I'd be curious to hear what you did.
The grind culture thing comes from people trying to make money off of their blogs. So, don't do it for the money :)
If you get to a point where your hosting provider comes knocking because you're generating too much traffic, you'll have a good inflection point to determine if there's some way to get the blog to pay for its own hosting without you having to change your approach (tip services are cool for this).
I've seen this a few times in very non-technical domains, eg Fishing hardware and ceramic glazing.
https://www.alanhawk.com/reviews/reviews.html has frequently had content stolen and republished on seo gamed listicle sites or used verbatim in youtube videos.
The fact is nobody is going to read your blog post about why you are starting a blog, so you are basically just writing it for yourself. Which is fine - but you need to be aware that if you are writing for yourself there is basically a 0% chance your blog will ever get any amount of traffic.
So keep writing for yourself and leave it at that but don't stress about problems you aren't going to have and calling yourself a content creator
The content marketing / grind thing - as far as I can tell, those people are born (decanted?) that way. It's a whole other value system.
I really wonder, is the money from ads good enough that publishing content like this profitable, even with all the blogspam competition?
Hence the proliferation of 'splogs' or Spam-Blogs. Also in terms of social media, most people who experience a viral blogpost that spreads like wildfire throughout the net, invariably try to recreate that past success. It's the sole motivation of clickbait and sensationalist articles. More eyeballs, more AD revenue and also fake Internet Points in general to be had.
SEO content farming is really destroying the web.
> I've come to dread the internet and social media because so many of is written by grind culture freaks who only write faux-insightful SEO'd content as a way to build an audience to sell snake oil.
It's the nature of the attention economy and ubiquitous ad tech.
The author already wrote about blogs that are trying to get views with various tactics vs old proper blogs that were just people rambling about their quirky interests or bad day.
Sure, you can do that. It will even work for that. But the tool has many, many more uses than that.
The blogs are in a race to the bottom in terms of quality because there is huge incentive to write for long-tail SEO rather than humans.
This is a lot closer to tragedy of the commons.
What is the common resource that you think is being used up?
If it's the brainpower of the people writing SEO blogs, it doesn't prevent other people using their own brains.
If you think they are polluting the infosphere with crap, I can't really argue with that, but I can point out that it's generally ignorable and self-curing: when you don't make money at it, you stop.
So if anything, it resembles a late-stage ponzi where people aren't paying in much but are getting nothing back.