July 17, 2007

"Sphinn.com is basically a popularity contest."

Social media websites are driving the internet forward. Websites like Digg, Facebook, and Netscape are helping people meet, communicate, and be-friend one another. Not only are address books filling up through these online connections, but these social media sites allow the internet to be funneled into an easy-to-use website. Giving just about anybody access to the best in news, entertainment, and almost anything else you can imagine.

That's why search engine marketeers and optimizers rejoiced this past week, as Danny Sullivan launched a social media site specifically for innovative, online marketers. It's called Sphinn - pronounced however you feel comfortable pronouncing it.  Amidst the excitement of this new portal for internet marketers, a lot of people didn't seem to notice that Sphinn isn't all it's cracked up to be - yet. As is, Sphinn.com is basically a popularity contest.

Anybody who is anybody in internet marketing is either using Sphinn already, or is in the process of getting involved. Big names like Todd Malicoat, Rand Fishkin, and Venessa Fox have already began taking over the home page. And I'm sure we'll see much more activity from the big players in internet marketing within the next few weeks - as Sphinn is debugged and tweaked.

Unfortunately, because the big named marketers are already "big named marketers" it's hard for anyone new to SEO or marketing to stand out from the crowd. Similar to Digg.com, those who are already known to be knowledgeable and innovative get practically all of the attention. Don't get me wrong, every article I have seen on the front page of Sphinn deserves to be there - it's great, useful stuff. But I've also seen tons of articles that received only two sphinns, even though they provide more unique, useful, and interesting information than "How to pronounce Sphinn."

Another example of the popularity contest that Sphinn is can be seen in almost every article post. Hardly anyone is using the comments feature to share their opinions. In big topics a few comments can be seen - roughly 20 or so - but even on articles with 10 or 20+ Sphinns there are zero comments. Granted, this is a new community, the growth rate and article submission rate can literally be seen skyrocketing and the interaction between users should resemble that.

Instead of people really putting themselves out there to participate in Sphinn, they are commenting on the big-named articles, posted by popular names in internet marketing.

If the online marketers of Sphinn don't start taking the time to really read through submissions and evaluate quality content - which I have seen 98% of Sphinn articles to be thus far - the community will take a drastic hit and never become what it could be.

Users need to seriously consider the articles they are Sphinning and really devote themselves to creating a community where everyone can learn and grow, rather than a place to make already-popular marketers even-more-popular.

You can help. If you haven't already, head over to Sphinn, sign-up, Sphinn articles you think are great, comment on every article you read, and share your opinions. Sphinn has great potential. A truly valuable resource for anybody interested in online marketing, SEO, SEM, web design, etc. But it's the community that has to make that happen.

I don't believe everyone is focused on the popular marketers only, but it is clear that a lot of useful, intelligent, helpful, and interesting information is being passed up. Let's change that.