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Time to ditch the arrogant tech blogs (kernelmag.com)
142 points by dchs 1904 days ago | hide | past | web | 53 comments | favorite

Arrogance, I don't care about. The shameless corruption, I do. PandoDaily, in particular, is funded by VC firms that also fund tech startups. They're basically buying coverage for their investments- it's taking the system that got Arrington fired and putting it on steroids. It works out great for the investment company, it works out great for their companies, the only person it doesn't work out for is that actual reader of the blog. It's why I will never read a PandoDaily article.

As a slightly more on-topic aside- an app I made was recently featured in the NY Daily News. The results were great- I got some useful feedback from real users, rather than hypothetical users more interested in gossip.

  PandoDaily, in particular, is funded by VC firms that also fund tech startups.
  They're basically buying coverage for their investments
I would like to point out that HackerNews is run by a VC firm and YC alumni effectively get free coverage here.

Yep, and that's one effect that I call "community myopia". This is a very wide spread phenomenon and it can be seen in almost every online community: members of a community have problems looking back at the support of their community and criticize it.

But the difference is that HN content is posted by any random user. It is not employing a staff of self righteous, egotistical reporters to post crap about YC firms.

The content on HN is more honest, if you will...

Except for the administratively front-paged YC ads.

Except for the easily distinguishable front-paged YC ads.

Disclosure matters. Everyone knows what is going on here.

Any coverage YC alum get is by us upvoting them, though.

Not the job postings, as far as I can tell.

But everyone gets free coverage hear. Not to mention great feedback. We don't have to ask anyone to submit ShowHN articles.

Posts from TC/Pando/Anyone affiliated with either shouldn't be allowed on Hacker News. There has not been a single post from either site that is of any use to us here.

They are biased. They are cry babies. They want attention. Stop giving it to them. TC & Pando stories should be banned from HN.

Add.: Maybe it's my introverted nature, but it really seems that this industry is heading to a place where if you aren't a complete arrogant ass without shame who can strut around going "Look at me I'm so cool! Look what I do!", your project won't get any mainstream attention. It makes me sad.

That's not going to happen, because those sites are useful to YC companies.

Then there needs to be an alternative. Anything Arrington, Lacy, etc. are affiliated with will be plagued with corruption, terrible writers, and self-important nonsense.

There doesn't need to be an alternative if what we have now is effective for YC companies. This isn't a moral issue. You might have an easier time finding an alternative to HN.

Useful for one thing but pollution for another.

Oh, I agree with you that it makes HN worse.

it really seems that this industry is heading to a place where if you aren't a complete arrogant ass without shame who can strut around going "Look at me I'm so cool! Look what I do!", your project won't get any mainstream attention. It makes me sad.

I don't think that's "this industry", I think it's "every industry". And I'm not sure it's a new thing, either.

It also doesn't work out for anyone working at tech startups that aren't funded by the VCs behind PandoDaily. That is the reason this is a Bad Thing, not "the reader is being poorly informed".

I think it depends on perspective. If you are working for a tech startup, it's The Reason. If you a reader, it's not. I figure there are a lot more readers than there are startup employees.

Disagree. If it's "bad" to provide incomplete or one-sided content to a reader, then we ought to get rid of 99% of the internet.

Ask yourself this - if PandoDaily remained exactly as it was but financial backers weren't VCs then how damaging would it be? Not very. Just another crap blog in a sea of crap blogs, hurting no one.

Nice point. Essentially these blogs serve as (indirectly) paid news with out the heading 'paid news'.

I think it's important to note the OP's beef is apparently with TechCrunch EU, not with the "US" version of TechCrunch we all know and love/loathe.

As far as I know, eu.techcrunch.com is magnitudes smaller than techcrunch.com.

EDIT: Looks like they folded eu.techcrunch.com into the main site at some point (after writing about eNovella, before writing about Jottify?).

eNovella post on TechCrunch: http://eu.techcrunch.com/2009/08/10/enovella-gives-aspiring-...

Jottify post on TechCrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/07/techcrunch-tv-three-startup...

Other reasons that could explain the low referral traffic: the eNovella post was very brief (and, again, on the European site at the time) while the Jottify mention was literally only one sentence in a brief post that also included 2 other startups.

EDIT2: Just noticed the author of the TechCrunch post on eNovella, Milo Yiannopoulos, is now the Editor-in-Chief of the OP site, "The Kernel" (and author of the 'editor's pick' article at the top of the right sidebar).

Maybe it's a coincidence, maybe it's a hatchet job on his former employer. Either way, I think it should merit a disclosure in the OP's article, no?


I picked up on the same point because the numbers just sounded too stupid low not to look into, I should have checked the comments here first.

I didn't pick up on the editor of Kernel and the author of the post being the same person - something that should be disclosed.

Explains why they didn't link to the posts!

Shame because in the previous thread about tech blogs The Kernel was mentioned as a good, new alternate source. Turns out they are not too different ..

I've reached the conclusion that a particular subset of the big tech blogs are to our industry as the celebrity gossip rags are to the entertainment industry.

With the obvious difference that gossip rags don't have a financial stake in the stars, starlets, models, semi-celebrities and wannabees on which they're reporting.

While it's simple dreck, it's not so insidiously corrupt like the tech blogs.

I think you're quite wrong on this, about the financial stake part, at least.

Gossip rags' fortunes thrive when there are big stars in the media. No Brangelina, Lindsay Lohan, Suri Cruz, Lady Gaga, etc., means overall less interest in gossip/celebrity news, thus fewer pageviews. So, there's an implicit interest to drum up fervor/attention, including coining attractive-easy branding phrases like, "Brangelina."

Celebrity agents work in tandem with publications all the time, offering them "scoops", such as, "Lindsay is going to be eating at [swank restaurant] at 7PM with her new respectable BF" in exchange for favorable coverage that makes their client look good.

And then of course, there are the many instances in which a publication will outright pay millions of dollars for exclusive rights to photos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_(magazine)#Competition_f...

> "People reportedly paid $4.1 million for newborn photos of Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, the child of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.[2] The photos set a single-day traffic record for their website, attracting 26.5 million page views.

There's still a difference between being in a symbiotic relationship with the subjects you cover and the rags that cover you and having a direct financial interest in the subjects (or companies) you cover.

The latter being arguably the biggest journalistic sin.

It would only really be the same thing if (say) Gala has a 10% stake in "The Brangelina Project" or an option on the gross receipts of their next movie.

I'm not claiming that those rags are lillywhite. For example: I know for a fact that reviews are sold for cash.

However, in my opinion that's not the same level of corruption then a "journalist" covering a company in which he has equity.

Well, if the movie industry is advertising in said rag, doesn't that translate into a financial stake? It may not be direct investment, but talking (even negatively) about celebrities is still buzz that draws audiences to the movies those celebrities are going to be in.

Let's just assume for the sake of argument that tech blogs aren't inherently wrong/evil/corrupt/worthless/etc.

I don't see why this has to be an either-or proposition...absolute number of referrals aren't the only "good thing" to come out of any promotional activity. Isn't it possible that a prominent mention gets you views/usage from people who are in a position to propel you forward?

Ask an investigative journalist: their 10,000 to 20,000 word, 1-year-opus will likely generate fewer page views than the high school basketball playoff recap. But as long as those viewers consist of politico staff members, agency policymakers, and judicial enforcement people...then absolute number of viewers is not the only vital metric.

Corrupt practices are only possible if they are hidden. Journalists like WSJ's Mossberg are able to maintain their credibility only because they keep it simple by not taking cash or freebies and restating that policy frequently.

If Blog X wants to take cash and freebies and then let me know about it in a nicely formatted web page, that's fine. I can keep reading and make a case by case judgement of their opinions. If not they are playing the game of monetizing their reputation and will one day be asking their hidden patrons for a job, or finding a new industry. Note the key driver in all this: transparency.

> Time to ditch the arrogant tech blogs

No. Time to stop disguising attacks at media outlets as constructive advice.

If the author had wanted to be constructive, the article would have read along these lines: "It's a tough problem to find out what media your audience consumes, and then cater your PR toward that media outlet. Here's how we screwed that up, here's what we did to fix it, and here's how you can avoid making the same mistake".

I've been covered on Techcrunch, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, TheNextWeb, GigaOm, Lifehacker, etc., multiple times, and I can say for sure that this guy doesn't know what he's talking about.

Sure it's not as effective as long time ago when there used to be this thing called "being Techcrunch'd", but it's nowhere as ineffective as that guy pointed out. It doesn't matter if his original statement included the part about "techcrunch UK" or not. His argument is based on his limited experience of being covered on TechCrunch UK which no one even reads, and a little mention from a short story.

I wouldn't say "ditch the arrogant tech blogs because they're not effective", if I've never been really covered by one. If you get covered properly, it still brings in tons of traffic.

I am bitter and jealous. :(

Those numbers sounded too low, which prompted me to look into it.

They were both featured on other editions of Techcrunch, not the main site. One was on Techcrunch UK[1], with a short post, the other on Techcrunch TV (way down with a single link in a short story)[2], both before the merge.

To say that it is important to the point of the story to mention that they weren't featured on the main Techcrunch site is an understatement. While the EU and TV properties pre-merger were doing well, the main site is an order of magnitude larger.

I used to work at TC, but I still refer a lot of startups there for stories and have been keeping up with the numbers. You can expect referrals in the range of a few thousand to up to 40k. In terms of the 'startup' space (that is anything funding related, launch announcements, hiring announcements etc.) there is usually no better outlet, since every single venture capitalist, journalist, blogger, entrepreneur, potential executive employee etc. reads the site.

The exception is if you are in a niche which can be better served by other blogs.

Being featured on Techcrunch usually leads to a couple of more blog posts from other sites, and it can usually lead to appearing on Techmeme - which every tech blogger and journalists checks regularly every day.

There is no doubt that with a good product a mainstream media feature will get you more long-term users. Every startup and announcement is different, you need to take all fo this into account when considering where and how you want to release your news.

What I can tell you is that a feature on TC definitely doesn't send referrals in the dozens - I think the post should be updated to clarify that.


Update: I just got a response from the author of the OP on Twitter. When I asked him why there was no mention of his stories being on TC Europe and no links to them, he replied[3]: "I actually did, I'm not sure why but they seem to have disappeared in the editing process. I'll try to get them put back in." and "Btw, both were featured on the TC Europe homepage in the main stream. I appreciate it probably should be more clear."

It is probably worth mentioning at this point that 'the editor' of The Kernel (although he may not have been the editor of this post), Milo, was the same guy who wrote the story on TC[1] referred to in the post. He worked at TC Europe and is now the editor at The Kernel - they somehow talked around this fact in the post without mentioning it.

I just pinged him on Twitter to ask if he removed the references or if they were simply just lost somehow.


Update 2: Further, from the author: "Mm, but this was a while back (2009), Milo has made no secret of being frustrated with TC Europe. I'm writing of my own volition." [5] and "I don't think missing links was intentional. I had also linked to Jottify and a few other things and they're also missing."[6]

From Milo: (when asked if he was editor on that post): "Hi there. No I wasn't - but I will nip in and make clear"[7]

The links may have been dropped, but there is still no distinction in the actual content that the post isn't about the main Techcrunch site.


note the link is now to techcrunch.com but that is because the sites have been merged

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2009/08/10/enovella-gives-aspiring-aut...

[2] http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/07/techcrunch-tv-three-startup...

[3] https://twitter.com/#!/jacklenox/status/190121611578441728

[4] https://twitter.com/#!/jacklenox/status/190122178547691520

[5] https://twitter.com/#!/jacklenox/status/190126807595495425

[6] https://twitter.com/#!/jacklenox/status/190127630606020608

[7] https://twitter.com/#!/Nero/status/190127568152838144

Every time a random blog like this surfaces on HN I make a point of considering the source, by clicking through a few of the other articles. In this and many other cases, scratch the bland surface of the linked post and you'll find this kind of nutty political screed: http://www.kernelmag.com/yiannopoulos/1786/extreme-cognitive...

So handle with care.

Whatever you do, if you get traction you are king.

If you don't no matter how much coverage you get you will go down.

The only precursor for traction are users, tech blog coverage wont do anything about it: even consumer gadget blogs are niche compared to the mainstream media, and even then most people care a lot more about gadgets than webapps.

.........unless all their friends are using them, that's when they care, but that's growth which comes after.......that's right, TRACTION.

Analyst firms and analyst publications are a related business area where some folks might be surprised at the processes and procedures that are used to construct the papers and recommendations.

The analyst data collection process can involve some very bizarre fill-in-the-spreadsheet questionnaires that are distributed to vendors by the firms, and there are sponsored technical reports and sponsored product reviews widely available, to what could be termed a product push poll. More than a little of what's printed in various publications and that's available at various web sites is little more than analyst- or vendor-provided text, too. Reworked press releases.

Informed and impartial product reviews are expensive. Which means they're comparatively scarce at the "free web site" product tier.

Corruption? No. It's a (sausage-making) business. Look for the disclosure statements where required, and generally follow the money. If you're not paying, then you're the product, after all. It's all sausage.

Ironic that this is coming from The Kernel. The editor is one of the most arrogant members of the London tech scene - just look at his Twitter feed. He is one of the very worst offenders when it comes to writing about stuff to try and cause a stink.

What is supposed to be being ditched here?

If it's the pitching to/grooming of tech blogs, then companies themselves will decide what's effective for them. Number of referrals is surely just one measure. Credibility ("as featured on TechCrunch"), SEO (backlink from TC sounds good to me?), the fact that other journalists read TC, metablogs and so on.

If we're supposed to be ditching reading the blogs, well then folk will do that naturally over time if the quality of content falls.

More than anything, we should probably ditch the idea that one well-placed referral from a powerhouse could be the shot in the arm that might make a service "go viral".

I've always wondered on "my startup is credible because I was on TC"...

Wouldn't actual user count and other metrics be more credible than "I was able to schmooze to some editor"?

I would guess it matters if you have a product that targets other startup-type people (e.g. some PaaS products), but otherwise I agree, the emphasis placed on it does seem odd. I had never heard of it before starting to read HN, and I still rarely see it mentioned elsewhere. Articles are linked here regularly, but the only TechCrunch article I can remember seeing linked in "regular" circles on the internet (i.e. anything other than startup-specific blogs/sites) was http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/28/women-in-tech-stop-blaming-..., which provoked a bunch of responses.

I've seen those "As seen on TC" images all over the web. It's to the point where they mean nothing to me.

And a backlink from TC is great, but I can count many many many sites with a backlink from TC that don't get powerful search engine traffic. It's still just 1 backlink.

Sure they would. But if a company has a complimentary quote from a reputable source then I'm more likely to find it credible than one without.

Reputable to whom? To the end user?

Unless the end user is a TC reader the endorsement is irrelevant. And that's my entire point.

This article from February talks about the business model used by tech blogs: http://www.realdanlyons.com/blog/2012/02/13/hit-men-click-wh...

Interesting discussion about that article here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3587730

Anyone with a start-up should leave the tech blog schmoozing to the professional CEOs/VCs who do it on a daily basis.

The bootstrapped start-up with no connections in the industry has slim chances of being featured in any tech blog.

My best advice is to keep your head down and keep coding and improving your product.

You should hit Techcrunch and the likes when you're about to go fund-raising because the audience definitely feels like other startups and VCs. If these are are not your audience you're just wasting your time.

Aren't there a number of publications covering this space that are run well and provide ethical coverage? Just read them instead.

Are there? How do you know if they do ethical coverage?

Not trying to be a jerk, seriously asking. How does anyone make those determinations?

Does parislemon feature here?

Adding to your list... how about Calacanis and Scoble?

So being featured in a tech blog is not a silver bullet? Good to know.

Kind of amusing that this article has such a link baity headline. I was expecting to see more tech blog bashing, which imho is well deserved. Nonetheless, this articles point that you should target journalists in your specific industry, rather than the tech blogs, is sound, but a bit boring.

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