Will Twitter Have To Ban Script-Users Like Digg?

Twitter sidebar script

With its first revenue stream now up-and-cash-generating, Twitter is going to have to police its platform a little tighter to ensure maximum revenue (that’s what a business does, right?)

What happens then if the ads they sell do not appear on users’ profiles? Lower revenues, that sounds obvious. With the scripts I use, The Twitter ads do not appear, as the sidebar gets re-formatted by the script:

Twitter sidebar script

But they do appear if I turn Greasemonkey off:

Twitter sidebar noscript

So if scripts start to dig a hole in Twitter’s revenue, will they start to ban users who use those? Should we expect a Twitter’s purge now that the service is mainstream and getting into serious business?

Scriptless Blind-Digging

digg terms of use

Being a regular Digger is time-consuming. Blind digging is pretty handy when your goal is to keep alive a community of friend diggers. There are some drawbacks to blind digging and pairing up with blind diggers:

  1. You slightly mess up Digg’s metrics and algorithmic adjustments, hence decreasing the value of Digg’s data.
  2. You can get 50 diggs for a submitted item, and not generate one single click on the item’s link.

But in the end it all comes down to quality content. Out of all the uninteresting content from noreply@digg.com, some keywords sometimes catch my attention, so I check out the link. I like: I favorite it. I really like it: I shout it. Heavy Digger, light shouter.

It’s not as fast as a script, but at least, it’s not a script! It’s more like a very simple video game! Or as Tomboy501 so clearly stated it:

Here’s some reality: digg is gamed beyond belief. Here’s the secret: Want to your stories to be popular and go to the front page? Blind digg. Blind digg everything the power users submit. You’ll get there soon. It’s a gross and disturbing display; digg is a mere shadow of it’s former glory.

Of course, with the technique above, sometimes you will get this message:

blind digging warning

Aaah… Banning its top users and calling the others lame… Digg is so corporate!

Chop Off a Top Digger’s Head, Its Body Will Haunt Your Domain Forever!

404diggstatistics

A good companion to all your digging activities is DiggStatistics. It’s not a productivity tool, but it does a good job at keeping the place clean.

diggstatistics

The deadbeats list is a great feature as it tells you who doesn’t reciprocate your invitations, that it be friendship or calls to action.

diggstatistics deadbeats

Just browse through the list and get rid of the useless contacts in there. On Digg, browsing through your list of friends is hell, so you almost never go through the process of cleaning your Digg rollodex. But from Diggstatistics, it’s sorted out for you. Just click on and unfriend the unwanted.

404diggstatistics

And sometimes you land on this page. For example, Zaibatsu’s page gives one of those error page (Get my point?). Since I can’t access their profile pages, I cannot click the unfriend link. And since managing friends on Digg.com is hell, I will simply remain a fan of those banned users for ever…

… And so will the 4275 fans of Diggboss, the 6508 fans of Supernova17, or the 9297 fans of Zaibatsu. Chop off a top digger’s head, its body will haunt your domain forever!

Recommendation Engines: Future for Retailers and Content Providers?

future

I’ll start this article by mentioning a news item that most of you have probably come across in your feed readings: The purge of Digg’s top Diggers. The problem is that top diggers were holding a monopoly on the site’s activity, making it almost impossible for the social news aggregator to organize social networks within the larger social news site’s community.

As Steve O’Hear mentions on this ZDnet article:

The result is that the site’s content becomes even more relevant and social to its users, while at the same time providing even more hooks to advertisers.

If I get this right, the better you can recommend items to visitors, the better you can advertise to those visitors. There are a lot of recommendation engines out there, most of them holding out the promise to find for you the stuff you don’t even know you want.

However, in the recommendation engine area, the business model seems obvious, but the ability to build the technology that will seduce users is less obvious. Here, I would like to show how recommendation engines successfully implement advertising solutions in their product.

On Twitter, someone told me yesterday:

Plus Pandora has the coolest targeted mobile ads going on the iphone. Possibly, greatest app ever… (tweet)

Pandora is one of the most popular apps on the iPhone. Their music-matching technology is perfect to automatically build audio playlists when you are on the go. However, we all know how doomed the music industry is feeling these days, so how could Pandora define a relevant ad revenue model?

Pandora was facing two challenges: How to place ads on the small iPhone screen? Which advertisers to target based on what criteria? The result is quite a success so far, as you can see here.

Another recommendation engine that competes directly with Aggregate Knowledge is France-based Criteo. The startup has developed a rich data infrastructure to serve up recommendations based on behavioral patterns, and swiped a $10 million fund in January of this year. The company has also integrated an advertising system in their recommendation results. Here is an interesting quote I picked from their blog posts announcing their new advertising system:

Another interesting feature is the pay per click business model for advertisers, which is (still) quite uncommon in the uprising behavioural targeting market. While the costs of sponsored links are increasingly high, Criteo offers advertisers an alternative with powerful ultra-targeting graphical advertising. In addition to high volumes of clicks combined with a high quality of traffic, we offer advertisers an exposure of their brand that is not possible on sponsored links. Various tests have shown that one post click order generates an additional 3 post view orders in parallel due to memory of the campaign.

aggregate knowledge

Aggregate Knowledge has recently launched the same solution for their clients. The product is called Pique, and it is now the feature product of Aggregate Knowledge homepage. The product is defined as “discovery advertising”. Pique targets retailers and major media Websites. It offers advertisers the opportunity to leverage Aggregate Knowledge’s network and technology to increase attention and traffic to their own items.

This is the most brilliant form of advertising for users, publishers and advertisers alike. Users get to find the content they are looking for; publishers get another page view per click through the recommendation widget, or a small ad revenue to compensate for the lost visit; and advertisers get a finely tuned ad server that guarantees a well-rounded ROI on ad spendings.

Should advertisers go along with Pique or Criteo for their marketing needs (I hear both in the back)? Having a robust technological platform certainly is a key criteria of success for recommendation engines. The size of the network matters too: Aggregate Knowledge has a network of about 100 Websites; Criteo has about 4,000. However, Criteo works with small publishers (bloggers), and Aggregate Knowledge doesn’t.

Aggregate Knowledge ultimate’s strength is its development efforts in the mobile device arena. Mobile devices are carry-ons with small interfaces. The lack of room on the screen requires that navigation be crystal clear, and that the information be accessible. It’s always easier to retrieve an information from a system that knows what you want. The technology that Aggregate Knowledge is developing is playing a key-role in the assimilation of mobile devices into our daily lives.

HyveUp – Ethan Mevi – YouBundle

Youbundle

Post by Youbundle founder

YouBundle is taking the most basic idea – links – and creating a centralized and organized database fueled and rated by users. Unlike social bookmarkers whose main goal is to simply get the links no matter their quality. The goal of YouBundle is for the USER to pick a subject – any subject – and put together a bundle of relevant links to pages, videos and photos. The Bundle actually becoming a new piece of content in the process.

Other users will then have the power to rate the quality of this bundle, with this rating determining how much exposure it will or will not gather. The value of YouBundle is a three-fold process.

  1. Creation – The user has an expertise on a subject, along with a knowledge of places on the web to find information on this subject – They come to YouBundle and arrange all of these links into a bundle.
  2. Share and Explore – Other users come to YouBundle to explore and learn all about new subjects. As they browse through various bundles – they get a concise summary of links regarding a certain subject so they can determine in a flash which subjects they would like to further explore in depth.
  3. Search – The internet information gatherer currently has numerous tools at their disposal including typing the query into Google and sifting through all of the machine generated and SEO’ed results to find the sites of true value.

YouBundle offers a shortcut to this process. As on any given subject, there will already have been a self-declared and community rated expert who has already created a bundle of results on the subject. Furthermore if the searcher is not satisfied with the Bundles offered, then the wheel turns back to the beginning where they can then become the Creator in order to offer their improved results. In this way it is a self-perpetuating system.

To further understand YouBundle and how it differentiates from time-substitutes and competitors, we have to know that there is no editorial process involved aside from basic TOS violation removal. If people make a bundle that is not full of quality links, then they are free to do so and to publish just the same. The crowd-sourced rating process will allow those bundles of highest quality to raise above the rest.

Furthermore – by the lack of an overboard editorial process such as Wiki which sterilizes results via need for consensus – YouBundle is offering the user to express their originality in the bundle. The same subject could have 5 different bundles from 5 different perspectives from 5 different people. Neither would be more right or wrong than the other (as opposed to the editorial model), rather it will be up to the community to decide which is to gather the most exposure.

YouBundle is such a simple and amazing concept that if it can reach the critical mass of users, then we should be prepared for a complete redefinition of the concept of how we search for information on the internet.

Neyma Jahansooz
Co-Founder YouBundle.com

My opinion

As an alpha user of the service, the thing I enjoy the most at Youbundle is the flexibility: Users create groups of links and are totally free to organize those the way they want. I put HyveUp in a top-ranked tech blog bundle, and I am expecting the community to readjust this by making new lists compared to which my vision of HyveUp will probably lose some ranks. Just give your subjective vision of things, and let the natural order object it back if needed.

YouBundle feels like a social network where users interact with links (basic social features so far). If I like your bundles, I become your friend and follow your bundle creations. The sharing experience is very similar to Digg, except that the user provides several links at once in a category withholding them.

As usual, by opening up the system to the user, there is always surprising things popping up like this bundle about the secret sex lives of Pandas. Very informative. By the way, this blue text (or green here) leads to the private beta version of the site, meaning you need an invite, and I’ve got a few to offer. If you want in, all I need is your name and email, which you can drop in the Disqus thread below, or email to interview@hyveup.com.

As mentioned in Techcrunch, so far, like Mahalo, YouBundle is more of a Web guide than an actual search engine. YouBundle is still young, but the service is really easy to use. So join in and let’s see how far this ship can go.