30 November 2009

Uncover personal secrets with Spokeo Social Networks Aggregator

When you enter Spokeo for the first time, you immediately notice the program slogan: “Want to see something juicy? Spokeo searches deep within 48 major social networks to find truly mouth-watering news about friends and coworkers”. While that might be attractive for some visitors, there is definitely not too pretty slogan for me. However, let’s not look too close on the façade, but review what this site can do for you, and how it can enhance your social presence on the Web.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Mashable.com called Spokeo a simplest of the social networks aggregators today. It is useful for the Internet fans, trying to cover all bases in the multi-sites virtual presence and bring all the contacts together under one single “roof”.

What can you use the application for?

Spokeo is a powerful online application that is designed for syndication of information available publicly across the Internet. In other words it is a social aggregator that allows the users to aggregate photos, videos and blogs available on the web. It often happens that the people/friends of the same group use different online services as per their liking and preferences and it is very difficult for them to aggregate themselves at one common place and they keep hovering around looking and searching about what their friends are doing. Spokeo aids users to maintain separate profiles of all friends and it automatically scoops important information from all the contacts (without letting them know that someone is keeping an eye on their activities). Spokeo is an important technique to manage all information of the user under one roof and let him decide what information is to be provided to others and what not. One of the main features of Spokeo is 'recommend', when any person recommends a message or post on the website it will automatically spread through and show on the home pages of everybody in the contact list.

What is the history of the application?

It was started by Harrison Tang and three other Stanford graduates in the year 2006 with a view to provide a helpful interface to the users if they are unable to keep up with their friends.

What are the differences to other applications?

The website is pretty useful and beneficial for users who have large friends base. It keeps tracking all the contacts across 48 social sites and concurrently updates the action. With its features like Recommend and Contact Ingestion, Spokeo has tried its level best to eliminate the deficiencies and fill-up the loopholes of other service across the web.

How does the registration process work?

The user can easily join Spokeo service by just providing the e-mail and passwords of AOL, Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail accounts and in just 5 minutes the user can follow up his/her friends on 48 social networks. And in case a person doesn't have the e-mail he/she has the option to create it at the same place itself. No credit card details are required for registration.

What does it cost to use the application?

Getting registered with Spokeo is free and easy. The site is funded by 'Angel Investors'. Spokeo also provides for advertisements with the concept of 'sponsored insertion' in which the advertiser is allowed to specify the blog that he wants to promote.

Who would you recommend the application to?

Spokeo is a social aggregator and is beneficial for such users who remain wired up on the Internet all day long and have a big bunch of friends across the web. It is likely that they face difficulties in tracking them and updating their actions and activities on numerous sites. So this site can be recommended to the persons who wish to enlarge and maintain their communities across the web.

Control your privacy

Spokeo respects the privacy policies of your social networks. Your content can only be read in Spokeo by the same people allowed to read it in your network.

Currently supported networks
  • 43 Things
  • Amazon
  • Bebo
  • BizShark
  • Blogger
  • Buzznet
  • dailymotion
  • deviantART
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Flickr Group
  • Flixster
  • Fotolog
  • Friendster
  • Goodreads
  • Hi5
  • iLike
  • imeem
  • Last.fm
  • LinkedIn
  • LiveJournal
  • Multiply
  • MySpace
  • Netlog
  • Pandora
  • PhotoBucket
  • Picasa
  • PictureTrail
  • Slide
  • Stumbleupon
  • Tagged
  • Target
  • Twitter
  • Upcoming
  • Veoh
  • Vox
  • Web Results
  • WebShots
  • Windows Live Spaces
  • Wretch
  • Xanga
  • Yelp
  • YouTube
You can access and instantly sign in for the Spokeo membership at http://www.spokeo.com/

20 November 2009

Entrecard - virtual business card directory

Entrecard is one of the few blogging networks, which considered being quite useful for the blog promotion by many respected and successful bloggers. There you can buy and sell ad space for credits, which you can use for spreading a word about your own site.

Entrecard is actually a virtual online business card directory. By creating your online business card, you can use your blog as a social networking tool to increase traffic, , reach new readers, or just to make new friends.

How it works

  • When you put the Entrecard widget on your blog, your visitors are able to leave you their virtual business cards. All cards received are stored in your dashboard.
  • You can find the blog sites you like and click on the "drop" link on their widget. This is how you give your business card to people you want to network with.
  • You can communicate directly with people in your network through our private messaging system.
  • By giving your business card way, you earn Entrecard credits! It is a virtual currency. You can buy/sell/trade services with other users using earned Entrecard credits.
  • The service is free for all users.
For a limited time only, community is offering new users 200 free credits when they become active members of the Entrecard community. The promotional credits will encourage new users to spend their credits and become familiar with the Entrecard system.

There is also promotion for current site users. You can promote Entrecard through the referral program and receive 800 credits for every new referral that joins Entrecard. You can promote Entrecard on blog posts or by putting our pre-made banners on your blog.

Get your unique referral code and pre-made banners here: http://entrecard.com/r/referring

You can access Entrecard site through the link: http://entrecard.com/

14 November 2009

Obsessive-Compulsive Blogging Disorder (OCBD)

Blogging is a pastime for many, even
a livelihood for a few. For some, it becomes

an obsession. Such bloggers often feel
compelled to write several times daily
and feel anxious if they don't keep up.

Katie Hafner
The New York Times
May 27, 2004

Do you see random events in your life as blog-fodder?

Are you struck with post ideas when you're nowhere near your computer?

Does a sign, a conversation, or even your lunch make you think- "Hm, I should blog about that"?

Do you take photos of things which no one else can understand why you're photographing?

Then you might just have Obsessive-Compulsive Blogging Disorder (OCBD)!

05 November 2009

Top ten blog design mistakes to avoid

Today, I want to present Jakob Nielsen’s publication on many blogs, which are too internally focused and ignore key usability issues, making it hard for new readers to understand the site and trust the author. The original article was published in 2005, but it is even more important for the bloggers than before.

Weblogs are a form of website. The thousands of normal website usability guidelines therefore apply to them, as do this year's top ten design mistakes. But weblogs are also a special genre of website; they have unique characteristics and thus distinct usability problems.

One of a weblog's great benefits is that it essentially frees you from "Web design." You write a paragraph, click a button, and it's posted on the Internet. No need for visual design, page design, interaction design, information architecture, or any programming or server maintenance.
Blogs make having a simple website much easier, and as a result, the number of people who write for the Web has exploded. This is a striking confirmation of the importance of ease of use.

Weblogs' second benefit is that they're a Web-native content genre: they rely on links, and short postings prevail. You don't have to write a full article or conduct original research or reporting. You can simply find something interesting on another site and link to it, possibly with commentary or additional examples. Obviously, this is much easier than running a conventional site, and again indicates the benefits of lowering the barriers to computer use.

As a third benefit, blogs are part of an ecosystem (often called the Blogosphere) that serves as a positive feedback loop: Whatever good postings exist are promoted through links from other sites. More reader/writers see this good stuff, and the very best then get linked to even more. As a result, link frequency follows a Zipf distribution, with disproportionally more links to the best postings.

Some weblogs are really just private diaries intended only for a handful of family members and close friends. Usability guidelines generally don't apply to such sites, because the readers' prior knowledge and motivation are incomparably greater than those of third-party users. When you want to reach new readers who aren't your mother, however, usability becomes important.

Also, while readers of your intranet weblog might know you, usability is important because your readers are on company time.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Usability Issues
To reach new readers and respect your existing readers' time constraints, test your weblog against the following usability problems.

1. No Author Biographies
Unless you're a business blog, you probably don't need a full-fledged "about us" section the way a corporate site does. That said, the basic rationale for "about us" translates directly into the need for an "about me" page on a weblog: users want to know who they're dealing with.

It's a simple matter of trust. Anonymous writings have less credence than something that's signed. And, unless a person's extraordinarily famous, it's not enough to simply say that Joe Blogger writes the content. Readers want to know more about Joe. Does he have any credentials or experience in the field he's commenting on? (Even if you don't have formal credentials, readers will trust you more if you're honest about that fact, set forth your informal experience, and explain the reason for your enthusiasm.)

2. No Author Photo
Even weblogs that provide author bios often omit the author photo. A photo is important for two reasons:
  • It offers a more personable impression of the author. You enhance your credibility by the simple fact that you're not trying to hide. Also, users relate more easily to somebody they've seen.
  • It connects the virtual and physical worlds. People who've met you before will recognize your photo, and people who've read your site will recognize you when you meet in person (say, at a conference — or the company cafeteria if you're an intranet blogger).
A huge percentage of the human brain is dedicated to remembering and recognizing faces. For many, faces work better than names. I learned this lesson myself in 1987 when I included my photo in a HyperCard stack I authored that was widely disseminated on Mac-oriented BBSs. Over the next two years, countless people came up to me and said, "I liked your stack," having recognized me from the photo.

Also, if you run a professional blog and expect to be quoted in the press, you should follow the recommendations for using the Web for PR and include a selection of high-resolution photos that photo editors can download.

3. Nondescript Posting Titles
Sadly, even though weblogs are native to the Web, authors rarely follow the guidelines for writing for the Web in terms of making content scannable. This applies to a posting's body text, but it's even more important with headlines. Users must be able to grasp the gist of an article by reading its headline. Avoid cute or humorous headlines that make no sense out of context.

Your posting's title is micro content and you should treat it as a writing project in its own right. On a value-per-word basis, headline writing is the most important writing you do.

Descriptive headlines are especially important for representing your weblog in search engines, newsfeeds (RSS), and other external environments. In those contexts, users often see only the headline and use it to determine whether to click into the full posting. Even if users see a short abstract along with the headline (as with most search engines), user testing shows that people often read only the headline. In fact, people often read only the first three or four words of a headline when scanning a list of possible places to go. Sample bad headlines:
  • What Is It That You Want?
  • Hey, kids! Comics!
  • Victims Abandoned
Sample good headlines:
  • Pictures from Die Hunns and Black Halos show
  • Office Depot Pays United States $4.75 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations
    (too long, but even if you only read the first few words, you have an idea of what it's about)
  • Ice cream trucks as church marketing
This last headline works on a church-related blog. If you're writing an ice cream industry blog, start the headline with the word "church" because it's the information-carrying word within a context of all ice cream, all the time.

In browsing weblog headline listings to extract these examples, I noticed several headlines in ALL CAPS. That's always bad. Reading speed is reduced by 10% and users are put off by the appearance of shouting.

4. Links Don't Say Where They Go
Many weblog authors seem to think it's cool to write link anchors like: "some people think" or "there's more here and here." Remember one of the basics of the Web: Life is too short to click on an unknown. Tell people where they're going and what they'll find at the other end of the link.
Generally, you should provide predictive information in either the anchor text itself or the immediately surrounding words. You can also use link titles for supplementary information that doesn't fit with your content.

A related mistake in this category is to use insider shorthand, such as using first names when you reference other writers or weblogs. Unless you're writing only for your friends, don't alienate new visitors by appearing to be part of a closed clique. The Web is not high school.

5. Classic Hits are Buried
Hopefully, you'll write some pieces with lasting value for readers outside your fan base. Don't relegate such classics to the archives, where people can only find something if they know you posted it, say, in May 2003.

Also, remember to link to your past pieces in newer postings. Don't assume that readers have been with you from the beginning; give them background and context in case they want to read more about your ideas.

6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation
A timeline is rarely the best information architecture, yet it's the default way to navigate weblogs. Most weblog software provides a way to categorize postings so users can easily get a list of all postings on a certain topic. Do use categorization, but avoid the common mistake of tagging a posting with almost all of your categories. Be selective. Decide on a few places where a posting most belongs.

Categories must be sufficiently detailed to lead users to a thoroughly winnowed list of postings. At the same time, they shouldn't be so detailed that users face a category menu that's overly long and difficult to scan. Ten to twenty categories are appropriate for structuring many topics.

On the main page for each category, highlight that category's evergreens as well as a time line of its most recent postings.

7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
Establishing and meeting user expectations is one of the fundamental principles of Web usability. For a weblog, users must be able to anticipate when and how often updates will occur.

For most weblogs, daily updates are probably best, but weekly or even monthly updates might work as well, depending on your topic. In either case, pick a publication schedule and stick to it. If you usually post daily but sometimes let months go by without new content, you'll lose many of your loyal — and thus most valuable — readers.

Certainly, you shouldn't post when you have nothing to say. Polluting cyberspace with excess information is a sin. To ensure regular publishing, hold back some ideas and post them when you hit a dry spell.

8. Mixing Topics
If you publish on many different topics, you're less likely to attract a loyal audience of high-value users. Busy people might visit a blog to read an entry about a topic that interests them. They're unlikely to return, however, if their target topic appears only sporadically among a massive range of postings on other topics. The only people who read everything are those with too much time on their hands (a low-value demographic).

The more focused your content, the more focused your readers. That, again, makes you more influential within your niche. Specialized sites rule the Web, so aim tightly. This is especially important if you're in the business-to-business (B2B) sector.

If you have the urge to speak out on, say, both American foreign policy and the business strategy of Internet telephony, establish two blogs. You can always interlink them when appropriate.

9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
Whenever you post anything to the Internet — whether on a weblog, in a discussion group, or even in an email — think about how it will look to a hiring manager in ten years. Once stuff's out, it's archived, cached, and indexed in many services that you might never be aware of.

Years from now, someone might consider hiring you for a plum job and take the precaution of snooping you first. (Just taking a stab at what's next after Google. Rest assured: there will be some super-snooper service that'll dredge up anything about you that's ever been bitified.) What will they find in terms of naïvely puerile "analysis" or offending nasty flames published under your name?
Think twice before posting. If you don't want your future boss to read it, don't post.

10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service
Having a weblog address ending in blogspot.com, typepad.com, etc. will soon be the equivalent of having an @aol.com email address or a Geocities website: the mark of a naïve beginner who shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Letting somebody else own your name means that they own your destiny on the Internet. They can degrade the service quality as much as they want. They can increase the price as much as they want. They can add atop your content as many pop-ups, blinking banners, or other user-repelling advertising techniques as they want. They can promote your competitor's offers on your pages. Yes, you can walk, but at the cost of your loyal readers, links you've attracted from other sites, and your search engine ranking.

The longer you stay at someone else's domain name, the higher the cost of going independent. Yes, it's tempting to start a new weblog on one of the services that offer free accounts. It's easy, it's quick, and it's obviously cheap. But it only costs $8 per year to get your personal domain name and own your own future. As soon as you realize you're serious about blogging, move it away from a domain name that's controlled by somebody else. The longer you delay, the more pain you'll feel when you finally make the move.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...