Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Revisiting: What Is A Blog?

There's been a  very interesting discussion today on a an Empire Avenue-related Facebook group.    Adriel Hampton posted in the X-Bar that he was disappointed that Empire Avenue seems to be permitting "content farms".  

On Empire Avenue,  the seemingly simple question "What Is A Blog?"  can be anything but simple to answer and there was a spirited discussion about, well the morality of having a Tumblelog that consists of embedding videos from YouTube and adding just a one line quote from the lyrics and two tags,  connected to Empire Avenue as a "blog".

I'm a writer.   For years I updated my book review blog about one or more books three to five times per week.    I am very well aware of the difference in terms of time, effort and skill between researching and writing a professional quality three hundred to five hundred word blog article vs re-blogging a picture or a video that someone else has already created.    And yet,  I found myself arguing on behalf of folks like,  well myself,  who regularly "blog" twenty or thirty music videos every day.   It is,  I believe,  a curatorial endeavor.    My music tastes are a bit narrow,  a bit odd and rather well-defined.    I listen to select pop/rock music from the 1960's--1980's for the most part.     And the fact is that I have through Tumblr made a few friends who share at least some of my tastes in music and tell me they enjoy having my videos in their Tumblr stream.   And every day it seems,  there are people who Like and Re-blog the videos that I post.   It seems to me that if what I am posting is reaching out and connecting with an audience,  my posts create real value in my personal social network.     Which is why I don't in any way feel that I am "cheating"  on Empire Avenue.

My friend Jake,  whose Tumblr curates amazing landscape photographs from all over the world pointed out that he has made real friendships through sharing amazing pictures-- which he pointed out he spends a great deal of time selecting and in the cases of photographs he takes himself editing.   Jake argues, and I am inclined to agree,  that he does put as much time and effort into his photo blog as any of us writers do on cranking out those 300--500 word posts that many people do in fact find challenging to do more than once a day.     One thing that many folks in that discussion did seem to agree on, is that Empire Avenue should regard Tumblr as another content site,  like Twitter and Facebook, etc.  rather than as "blogs".    As my new friend  Roger Hoyt and I agreed-- we're supposed to be networking and making friends--not arguing over what a blog is.   So how about a nice, non-spammy campaign to convince Dups and the EAv team to make Tumblr another top level network.

cc: @adriel  @dups


Adriel Hampton said...

I'd like to see Tumblr as a top-level connection. The whole reblog phenomenon and the culture there make it an animal of its own. Great discussion today!

Holly Jahangiri said...

I agree with Adriel. I'd give it somewhat less weight than original work, but I agree with Alan that there's something to be said for information that is "curated" by people we share interests with, whose taste we admire, whose opinions we respect.

Neoma said...

On my tumblr you will find my written poems and pictures make up most of the content, but I also repost the content of others that I find appealing or interesting. I use tumblr to do both. I have connected with many poets on tumblr.

I am on the fence about it being a top level connection. Only your top five largest connections work for you.

I would have to move my original content to a formal blog like wordpress to continue to receive the benefits of the content that I do create. Not that I mind, but it does take considerable time to migrate content.

I see many blogs set up even on wordpress and blogger that utilize solely "curated" content. You can find examples of these prevalent throughout Empire Avenue as well. Wordpress allows you to connect with other bloggers, although not through similar manners. They want their users to read one another's content and comment. You do make friends and connections via subscriptions, commenting and RSS feeds.

Where is the line in determining what is a blog? Honestly, the terms of service on Empire Avenue require that we post our own content. That tells me that their original intent was looking for a person's original created content and works to be utilized as their "activity".

I am not against curated activity, but I think that maybe, although it might be difficult, they should break out curated from original content and give the original content a slightly higher value. Then people can share their likes, interests, news, finds, feeds and such with everyone, but Empire Avenue can also encourage the creation of new content. That way everyone can play.

Holly Jahangiri said...

Neoma, laugh all you want, but I have yet to figure out how to connect with ANYONE on Tumblr.

And I'm noticing that most folks don't seem to care much about original content. I think I'm going back to reading the 5-10 blogs I really enjoy, and being a hermit. :)

On the upside, I got a terrific idea, this morning, for a children's book! I'm actually excited about it - which is sort of my clue that it's really going to happen. (My publisher will be pleased.)

Amanda said...

:) glad to see this becoming a public discussion.


For any questioning the impact of blogs on activity and div payouts .. please see.. NOKIA and look at all their stunning weekly activity that still pays out over 1 in divs this last week :)

Compare it to say.. XBOX no blogs and bruttttal divs(.3 yesterday I believe) with scores just as high.


What saddens me MOST about this current trend on EA is two things.

1) The majority of people using tumblr are recycling content from other EA users. Its just a pool of EA user 1 shares a funny or pretty photo they found and then several hundred people on ea share the same photo, (One Click also = blog post, twitter post, facebook post for all those people too don't forget) Of course ALL scores are going to start going up for tumblr users! Get some EA buddies to like it, RT etc and your golden! There is a fine line here.. but Is this influence? Is this what EA wanted to create?

2)Within moments of looking at an account I can tell you if they will be giving DIV payouts over 1. No math required. Orange Blogs with multiple posts a day? Div payout = over 1 or very close to it depending on other scores. Give them a week of regular tumblr post and they will be there for sure!

There are also several users using various other cross blogging systems where 1 blog gets repeated through several other blog systems Or random quotes or feeds or whatever else that is nothing like a blog are all counting as 'blog posts'... (and tweets and facebook posts for that matter.) Can i sell these content farm users and show my dislike? sure.. but my portfolio would be pretty slim pickins indeed. It saddens me that so many people on EA are using these methods.

I understand cultural differences of blogs and "what is a blog" but no one can argue that microblogging and blogging are they same thing. Even with the changes.. they are still being scored as the same thing and they are wide spread abused.

I also understand no computer program can measure 'self generated' content vs recycled cute cat photo I found online. Of the hundreds of tumblrs i've looked at from EA orange approved - i've found a HANDFUL of actual themed or mostly self generated content. Some exist for sure but not the hundreds/thousands using Tumblr or other blog systems on the site currently.

How can anyone tell me this is not being abused either intentionally or not?

If anyone can find me more than 1 or 2 accounts with DIV daily actually PAYOUT over 1 who have no blog posts this week, id be realllly happy to buy them! ( and dissect what they are doing )

Ive spent a good while debating... do I actually go through with making a tumblr just so I can keep up? Its clear to me its required to keep a good score And that is what I think is truly sad.... To continue to 'win' this game I need to start recycling or mass producing too, otherwise my div payout of .80s or .90s just doesnt cut it. Just not worth it.

I really hope EA takes a serious look at this issue and nips it in the butt. Either lowering the impact of blogs alot more or separating tumblr and measuring reblogs, friends just like they do on twitter and facebook etc... Because leaving it as it is... IS a VERY serious issue IMO.

Holly Jahangiri said...

Amanda, the new definition of what Empire Avenue considers a blog and what it does not should be helpful. And the admonition that it will be spot-checked by humans, disconnected if found to be in violation, and possibly BANNED if abusive is a step in the right direction. I think Dups cares about the quality of the content that counts, and genuinely is trying to find ways to identify it and give it more weight.

Amanda said...

Agree holly... but unless more become aware there is indeed an ISSUE... (which is clear with the nokia/xbox example) no one but me and you will be reporting them.

Thats the big problem :) Its still very subjective... and people will often walk/cross the line .. of subjective.

Libdrone said...

I find Holly and Amanda's discussion about all this especially fascinating. The thing is, as I've tried to make clear-- I don't make music, I don't bake pies. I don't record video, and my picture taking is Very amateur. I do genuinely believe that my picture blogging friends do indeed sort through boatloads of images to find the best ones to share with me. I do believe they add value to my stream. The friends I've made on Tumblr who Like and re-blog the music videos I post on my music Tumblr seem to find real value in my posts. I'm curating content that is finding an audience. As I said, I'm very much aware that there is a big difference between researching and writing a 500 word blog post vs pressing "Reblog" (the pretty picture).

I agree the scoring should probably treat Tumblrs a bit different than full fledged blogs with well-written posts. My concern is that we not throw away or discourage all of the folks who have put real effort into finding and working a niche that "Tumbles well". My obscure words blog being one example. Again, it is short, easily digested content that appeals to a particular audience.


I've found Tumblr to be somewhat insular. To follow people on Tumblr, you have to have a Tumble log yourself. Don't worry too much about the theme or even about what you will post there. Create an account and start following people like and see who you meet, whose content you like and whom you'd just as soon block. (Some younger folks especially use Tumblr the way I use IM. Boring)

Libdrone said...


What you said pretty much goes for me too. I am Not trying to start a war between the curators and the creators. I think most of the curators would also consider themselves creators, honestly. So let's all convince (e)DUPS and the #EAv team to implement the change ;)

Scott said...

I think both original content and curated content have merit depending on the purpose. The cool thing about the new semantic web is you don't have to rely on search engines for all your info. I learn a lot from friends that curate and pass on content for certain topics. It's a discipline in itself as if you curate crap content no one will follow you.