November 19, 2007

" is now a pathetic, practically useless, extremely worthless popularity contest."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: (the search and internet marketing social website) is now a pathetic, practically useless, extremely worthless popularity contest.*

Now, before all of you Sphinn-faithful start thinking "Tanner is just looking for attention," or "What a load of crock.": read this entire article before you start making assumptions about my thesis on the state of Sphinn.

For everyone else, I'll warn you: this is a rant on the state of social networking websites. It's fairly lengthy and will require at least two coffee breaks.

When Sphinn first opened to the public back in July it seemed like one of the best online communities for search engine marketers, optimizers, and anyone else who deals with online branding or internet optimization; but quickly, the negative side of Sphinn started to show.

Only popular, prominent members of the internet marketing community where being displayed on the front page of the website. It seemed as though the only "useful" and "worthwhile" stories were the ones submitted by familiar names and faces. So I cried out a warning: if the members of Sphinn don't pull together and start Sphinning, submitting and commenting on ALL useful stories, the value of Sphinn would quickly fade.

The community of Sphinn quickly took note and a lot of people began stating their opinion on the "popularity contest" that Sphinn was to become.

And then they proved me wrong.

Well, they mostly proved me wrong about Sphinn turning into a popularity contest. New members to Sphinn (even new internet marketers) began gaining popularity on Sphinn. New website's began gaining tons of popularity and new faces began to mix with the popular, already-well-known/big faces.

The quality of comments and interaction made on Sphinn became incredible. You could submit your own article to the website and within a few minutes you could have a number of Sphinn votes for your article and a lot of valuable comments (even helpful criticisms).

But the high-value of Sphinn, and the great interaction of the community was short lived.

It was bound to happen.

A lot of responses to my original article about Sphinn becoming a popularity contest brought up some great points, most notably: websites worth being noticed will become popular.

While Miss Hoffman's article is the exact truth (only websites that are worth a damn will gain attention on the internet), it defeats the ultimate purpose of an online community, such as Sphinn.

The purpose of a social community such as Sphinn - as defined by my own, personal observations - is to share knowledge and breaking news. According to a lot of the feedback I have received: even pointless articles and news stories, ones where no value or knowledge what-so-ever is passed on, can become popular.

That's great, but it's not what Sphinn was meant to be about, right? Wrong.

Sphinn was designed to be a Digg clone. A website where people can submit anything they want in hopes of getting attention or becoming popular. The evidence is in the design of the website. The evidence today, can be found on the home page; where the new popular faces can be seen almost everyday.

Does that mean these new "known" people are only submitting crap? No, of course not. A lot of the articles that hit the Sphinn homepage are valuable and full of insight on the latest happenings. But even more articles that are hitting the homepage are crap - completely useless.

If that's not enough to make you sick...

These popular faces aren't the only people doing Sphinn an injustice, the popularity of "gaming" Sphinn has risen off the charts. I get e-mails and messages at least 25 times everyday with people asking me to Sphinn their completely dull, and useless, and worthless, and pathetic articles (nobody cares that you know how to make money online, a quick search on Google can show me what you have to say AND MORE).

Sphinn is a wreck. A pathetic state that could have been avoided if the community had only not gotten so wrapped up in it's self.

For example: what about all of the great community interaction that once happened? It's as if a bunch of trolls, and greedy marketers (aren't we all in some way or another?) have taken over Sphinn and they're not going to give it back.

Don't submit your own material, even though it is recommended in the guidelines. If you do submit your own material (even if it's the most helpful, ground breaking information) you can expect a lot of negative comments saying something along the lines of: "Sphinn-bait, don't Sphinn."

Can Sphinn ever be something more?

I had high hopes for Sphinn when it was brand new. I was excited to share the experience of sharing and gaining new knowledge and opinions with some of the best people in the industry: the new people, like myself. But lately I have avoided Sphinn.

The community is now practically worthless: focused on their own popularity and nothing else.

I still have hope, despite all of the horrible things happening over at Sphinn. If people begin to Sphinn articles, regardless of the name and face attached to the article, and providing quality feedback to everything they sphinn, things will turn around quickly.

If the Sphinn community begins to realize that not EVERYBODY is trying to game Sphinn (which doesn't provide that much traffic anyway) the discussions could become that much more enriched with valuable feedback and criticism.

Sphinn is in need of help; because it can be MUCH more than a clone. Sphinn can be THE FUTURE of social networking websites. It really can. There can be a whole new level to online communities and interaction, but it has to start with you.

*DISCLAIMER: This is nothing more than my personal opinion. If you do not agree, great, move along. If you agree, thank you for your opinion. If you could care less about Sphinn: why did you read this article? If you liked this rant, go ahead and subscribe to Internet Hunger. But no matter what your opinion is: this is MY personal, unprofessional opinion, and is to be taken as nothing more.