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Conducting the Bitch Train

photo credit: DávidSt.

As in, what’s the opposite of ‘Crushing It’? Not getting any traction. Very much all over the place. Conducting the Bitch Train, as it were.
It’s the execution of a plan that is the problem. No tech dude to tweak the phps. No $ to pay the outsourced. And not enough social currency to call in favors to jump start what is actually a simple idea: Hand-picked niche content aggregated by experts. Ideally they’d be well-known bloggers. Business model to follow but mostly likely simple sponsorship and perhaps a daily product sale. If you are an expert in Internet Marketing, Pro Blogging, Web Development or Web Design, and you’re already scanning hundreds of blog posts every morning in Google Reader, please consider joining with me in presenting the days’ best of the best content. It’s as simple as tagging an article.

Away From My Desk

credit: xlibber

My blog aggregation experiments will have to take a break. I’m leaving Monday for a month of work related travel. That means a lot of hotels, sporadic internet connections, and lots of hours in a van without any internet. I’ve got a copy of Stewart Brand’s new book, Whole Earth Discipline to read. And I’ve just downloaded the Harvard Extension School Fall 2009 “Building Dynamic Websites” course taught by David J. Malan.

I knew this was coming up and so wanted to have put a lot of time into Readerss before I left. I wanted to have a good solid month of aggregation into the sites to see what would happen traffic-wise.
For whatever reason, has done the best. But we’re talking about 2-3 visitors a day. is up to about 20 visitors a day, but it’s been around longer. It’s also a much smaller niche that doesn’t have any ‘competition’ really. It’s nice that BlackSwanReport has generated some positive feedback lately. Some people have expressed their appreciation.

But what has impressed me the most over the last month is the amount of work that it required to populate these sites intelligently. There is just so much content in these internet related areas. Companies spewing out content in some cases. Pro bloggers obviously feeling compelled to write daily. You really have to read a lot of it in order to find the best. I’m not going to be able to sustain this amount of time investment. I’m going to have to make some changes when I get back.

What would be best is to find some other passionate people to share their favorite feed items with me. I do feel I’ve got domaining covered – I have a lot of energy  for the domain industry and can pour over all the news. I need people who feel similarly about blogging for a living, seo, web development, web design and internet marketing. If you’re one of those people please email me and let’s talk. If you’re using Google Reader it’s as easy as sharing your favs.

Scrape Hate – Aggregate

Creative Commons License photo credit: the half-blood prince

A lot of hate going on in the blogosphere around content scraping and aggregating. I noticed it first around a couple of posts coming out of Aaron Wall’s blog (here and here) directed at Jason Calacanis and It boils down to this, again from Aaron Wall in a response to a question in the comments.

When you take 3rd party content (without permission and offer no way to opt out) AND then use that content to pad out a page AND then put it below the fold (so it helps pull in search visitors but rarely sends any traffic out to the sources) AND you strip attribution from the links THEN all that does is “borrow” content & steal traffic from smaller sites (using their own content against them).
I guess if the links were not nofollowed it wouldn’t be so slimy.

Wait a second, isn’t that what I’m doing? Let’s have a look.

Taking 3rd party content without permission…
Right, I’m doing that. I mean, but anyone could opt out with a simple email.
below the fold
Well no, not in my case.
AND you strip attribution from the links
Shit, I think I was doing that. I guess because I just copied and pasted the code. So I went back and fixed that. Those are now follow links.

In the absence of feedback I’m simply building on what I’m seeing other sites do.

In my naivete this is how I’m thinking about it, why I think it’s ok…
I’m not taking the full post-just a long enough, and juicy enough bit to whet the appetite of the reader and to let them see that the author is the real deal. In the rare instance I do take a full post, it’s because it’s short but deserving of attention and either to a blog that is just getting started, OR their ad is in the post footer. The link back to the original post is front and center.  And lastly I’m not running any ads.

What do you think? Is this a fair approach to aggregation?

See Also:
Excellent overview of the entire space How Search Engines, Aggregators & Blogs Use News Content
Blames Google for setting the bar so low Google’s Legacy – the Internet Cesspool
Changed his mind about full content feeds The Positives and Negatives of Having Your Articles and Website “Scraped”

Outsource Your Attention!

We read it for you.

No I'm not advocating child labor, but you get the idea.

Where we’re headed: We read it for you!
Readerss consume hundreds of niche topic news and blog articles daily, pick the best, and share them with you. Readerss are real people, not algorithms. We weed out the spam, the cheesy link bait, the SEO keyword dross, all the manufactured news, to connect you with what deserves your attention.

Where we’re at: Are you using Google Reader to scan 100s of blog posts a day for those choice bits of special information? Perhaps you’d consider becoming a part of an aggregation experiment. I started out to do this alone, but what I’ve discovered is that caring for even one of these blog niches is a LOT of work! I’ve got my hands full with (130 blogs and counting). So I’m looking for some knowledgable, passionate, people to handle aggregation for these other domains:,,, and

Automated aggregation catches all the noise. And in a space where smart people are vying for search ranking by spewing out tons of content, the amount of information becomes overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a portal for a favorite niche you knew you could trust to find all the best new content? wants to be a community of people-powered, domain-driven, blog aggregators. It’s not about ripping off content, it’s about weeding and pruning.

What’s in it for you? Right now it’s hard to say, apart from the satisfaction of collecting all your favorite posts, including yours, into one place. Online income derives from traffic so only if/when became popular would it be practical to attempt to monetize. But hey, who knows? With an expert (or at least aspiring to be) Domainer, Internet Marketer, Pro Blogger, Seo Blogger, Web Developer and Web Designer on board, we might have the beginnings of a startup.

Anyway, like I said, it’s an experiment for now and if you’d like to participate it’s as simple as hooking up a Google Reader feed to the site I’ve already built. Try it! Please email me, for details.

John Humphrey