There has been a lot of chatter about Squidoo as of late, and most of it isn’t very good. Squidoo, a company that…nevermind…the official description is here…has supposedly become a bit of a haven for internet marketers, and that is rarely a good sign. My take is this (including some background):
I put up a lense over a year ago. Squidoo was barely off the ground, and I was simply curious as to what it was all about. I spent about an hour doing it, and was left with the impression that the whole bit was pretty easy to use and might make a good tool for the soccer mom set. Sometime later, I had an email exchange with Seth Godin on an unrelated topic, one that frankly left me with a bad impression regarding Seth himself. Not long after that I was reminded that I had a lense out there, and I proceeded to take it down and delete my account. It was kind of a “screw this” reaction, and I thought no more about it until Jason Calacanis fired a cannon across Mr. Godin’s bow. I swung by Squidoo, and immediately found a lot of what people were talking about – tons of pages filled with nothing but keywords, and a ton of highly ranked lenses clearly created by SEO types. Not good.
Fast forward a few weeks, and you find Squidoo addressing the problem (or at least saying they are addressing the problem), Calacanis is offering congratulations for the efforts (as well as a watchful eye), all while the chatter escalates to the pages of TechCrunch. To complete the latest picture, there are plenty of folks offering up their opinion as to why Squidoo now has one foot in the grave because Google is penalizing them.
What I haven’t found is…
- Valleywag joining the funeral (in fact they pounced on Jason Calacanis instead…and no, I still don’t read ValleyWag…I just paid a quick visit for a quick search)
- Any reason why someone would listen to an internet marketing guy who misspells the word “Interrnet” in his blog header
- Anyone noting the fact that Google’s actions against Squidoo are at least slightly hypocritical, considering their very own Blogger was the last bastion of spammers and they dragged their feet on that one
- Anyone offering up any constructive suggestions that might aid Squidoo in their battle (a battle against a problem that anyone with a scalable, user generated content-based web app might face at some point in time)
I can only surmise from these observations that 1) Nick Denton likes Seth Godin and/or isn’t stupid enough to burn a bridge with a high profile marketing guy sitting in his backyard; 2) guru Ed Dale isn’t selling many get-rich-quick interrrrrrrrrrnet marketing programs; 3) Google has only gotten around to hitting Squidoo because the site just so happened to be next in line…a very very long and growing line; and 4) very few people have any good ideas while a lot gain self-worth primarily by kicking other folks when they’re down.
Number four seems to be the flavor of the day, and I’m curious to see what people are going to say when those presently winning the high school popularity contest (Facebook and Bebo) get caught in the same rut. Meanwhile, I am giving a thumbs up to Calacanis and Godin. Jason gets a brownie button for opening up regarding the situation yet still having enough class to point out when Squidoo was doing something right. And Seth gets a gold star for keeping quiet, head down, making an effort to solve a problem while faced with obvious adversity.
I hope Squidoo gets the situation straightened out and continues its climb on a cleaner slate, if for no other reason than to hear the deafening silence created by feet in mouths.
1) I did not drop my Squidoo lense because of any negative opinion regarding the service – in fact, I pointed out that the site would be well suited for soccer moms. If you can win them, you can win period, which is more than I can say for a lot of services that are, shall we say, less user friendly. I dropped out because I was a little miffed. It was an emotional and probably somewhat juvenile reaction – so be it.
2) I don’t hold grudges – in fact I practice flushing the memory of unpleasant experiences the moment I’ve garnered a lesson from them. I did not point out the issue I had with Mr. Godin because I hold a grudge; I pointed it out so there would be no question as to where a “spam-hater” such as myself stood, prior to commenting positively on Squidoo and the actions it was taking to right itself (particularly in the face of the bandwagon attempting to push Squidoo through the glue factory door).
On a final note: I like trends – trends are your friends. Betting on winners and shorting losers is fun and profitable. I also believe that information flow serves a valuable purpose, particularly in the case of public companies where the sting of a negative event should rightfully be publicized. Leave investors to digest and take action on that information as they see fit. It’s what makes markets such beautiful things.
Clubbing a private, closely held company does not, however, seem particularly useful to me.