Blog Engage & Blogatiser: forkage?

I’ve recently encountered two metablog sites, Blog Engage and Blogatiser. One of them specifically requested a review. What is striking about these two sites is how similar they are. Pretty much everything I say here applies to both sites unless specifically noted otherwise. If I were still a computer science lecturer, I’d think these two lads copied each other’s homework or something. In the real world, it’s called forkage, and it’s considered “building upon the work of others,” It’s OK as long as the “others” are OK with it.

Here’s the idea: You join the site, then you submit your blog posts. The posts hang out in kind of a limbo until a certain number of people vote for them. If they get buried beneath a load of new posts before getting the required number of votes they could hang there forever. Once they get the required number of votes they are considered “published” and so you have another inbound link to juice your Google-iciousness.

When I last checked, Blogatiser had 150 or so members, and Blog Engage was out front with 2000 according to the site owner. On Blogatiser it seems like a small interconnected group upvote each other’s posts and ignore the rest. Blog Engage seems to be a bit more even-handed in this respect, and I believe that springs from the dynamic of a larger group.

Both sites have a social aspect — you can add other members as your friends but I don’t see what that does for you, except artificially make it more likely that they will vote for your posts. Blogatiser allows you to input your Google adsense pub id. They talk vaguely about adsense revenue sharing, but I didn’t see my adsense id on the page with my post. Maybe you only get that once you get published — the site isn’t very clear about it.

Blogatiser offers a browser toolbar. No thanks. Blog Engage offers a WordPress plugin which I also declined, because all it seems to do is make a badge and the documentation on the badges seems unfinished.

Blogatiser borked when I attempted a spellcheck.

Here are the issues with both these sites as I see them.

  • Inputting your post is tedious. You have to fill out a lot of formularia, and categorize and summarize your post. It violates the DRY (don’t repeat yourself) principle. When I create a blog post I already do a summary and tags, etc. It would be better if the thing could suck the summaries and tags right out of our blog on the back-end automatically. I’d really rather visit the site and vote if I’m going to visit at all.
  • No allowance is made for the bell curve of interests. An idiotic post about the latest shenanigans of Brittney Spears will appeal to a large number of less intelligent people on the fat part of the bell curve. A proof of Fermat’s last theorem would be earth-moving in its own sphere, but probably only 1 out of 100 cruisers would have any interest in it. Such a post would get buried under under five fart jokes, two lame political rants, four linkbaits and so on. The unpublished stuff just piles up in chronological order, much like the unsorted pile of stuff on my desk. You can select a category, but only from a post in that category. Category selection really needs to be in the top bar of the dashboard.
  • The assumption seems to be that these sites will give bloggers exposure and that a link would be a high value item. Well, Blogatiser has a GPR of 0, except for one datacenter gave it a 2. Blog Engage seems to have an edge here, with a lot of zero’s but also a number of 3’s. From their pageranks, a link from them would be about as valuable as a link from any other blog.
  • Every vote seems to count the same. So, if the laws of normal distribution apply, that means a large number of idiots will get on and upvote a bunch of idiotic posts on popular topics, or do a “friend-whore” thing. Epinions tried to fix this problem years ago by “hatting” certain respected members and giving their votes more clout. But that just turned it into a “suck-up to the hats” fest.
  • There is no incentive for voting, other than it might make other members vote for you.
  • They lack stickiness. Who wants to go to a site and spend time redoing all the meta stuff you do when you post and then sifting through a bunch of unvetted posts to see which ones you want to vote on. And even if you browse the published posts, knowing that they were selected by popular vote of people who spend their time doing this kind of thing does not give me great confidence that I will find anything I really like among the chaff.
  • The vote button is outside of the post. You can vote without even reading the post. After you’ve gone inside, you might not be back.

To summarize, There is an interesting concept here. Here is what would need to happen to make these sites truly take off: They need to:

  • write plugins for all the major blogging platforms so that when I make a post I can click a check box that says submit to Blogatiser/Blog Engage and poof done.
  • provide some real incentive for voting. Otherwise vetting and voting is just unpaid work.
  • provide category feeds for the unpublished posts.
  • have some solution for the normal curve problem, i.e. really awesome posts in a small niche don’t get buried under the avalanche of “popular” stuff.
  • The vote button should not be active unless the reader has actually read the post.

8 comments to Blog Engage & Blogatiser: forkage?

  • Well on one hand I say a lot of what you mention makes sense and again on the other hand I think to myself wow this guy has a lot of issues with social networking!

    All the typical digg like rules apply to both sites you mentioned! Our pligg sites are based off the same concept as digg.

    Unlike the rest I delete the old submissions! I only keep the published stories! I normally like to keep the upcomming page to a maximum of 100 pages and this will be getting a clean up again!

    this allows members that got missed to re submit their articles!

    Also if you ever want to see the most voted or things like that there is links for this!
    Yes we need a new vote button but I cannot make them all happy. one person says it’s good and another says it’s bad! What can I do? Nothing I have to meet in the middle!

    Overall a good review on the software but not the websites!

    You forget to mention blogengage has active community forum and a blog link directory!

    bbrian017s last blog post..3 Diseases That Hit The World…Hard

  • admin

    Hi Brian, I figured you’d drop by here and comment. 😉

    My apologies for the omission and I stand corrected on the “hang forever line.” I guess pretty much everybody has blog directories and forums these days it just failed to grab my attention. When I review a website, the owner will let me know if I missed anything. That’s the beauty of blogs!

    I tend to focus on software. I’m a software person. And I also tend to be a bit stingy with the warm fuzzies. I wouldn’t have reviewed it at all if I thought it was nonsense. My training was old school that way, just take something worthwhile and tweak it until it’s better.

    As for issues with social networking well, maybe. I have only made one real friend through strictly SN. Mostly I use it to keep in touch with people in the real world.

  • I try not to take anything personal seeing I can only work with what I’m given right? I mean pligg is great software and maybe even one of the greatest CMS solution on the market but lets not shy awy from the truth!

    The system has many issues and the things you mention are minor! I work daily to get support and resolve internal errors but I can only do so mush! I also heard a new version of pligg will soon be released so this is exciting news as well!

    I’m personally excited for this release seeing I’m already starting to talk with a designer about a new template! Should be exciting days ahead!

    I also wanted to add a FYI regarding the copy cat websites statement you made in your first paragraph! There are 4 major played right now offering the same service as blogengage. I will display them in order of launch date!

    This is in order of who was first! If you check out you will see the difference in bloggingzoom and blogengage are days… this means we both had unique ideals and launched relatively close in date. Literally days if you look close between bloggingzoom and blogengage.

    bbrian017s last blog post..3 Diseases That Hit The World…Hard

  • admin

    Aha .. the reason for the similarity is that they ARE based on the work of others — they are sitting on Pligg. That one I hadn’t heard of. I’ve done some work with Drupal. And I don’t think it’s any shame that the CMS suggested the same idea to other people. Your burden is to differentiate yourself from them and add value on top of what the CMS already provides, and it looks to me like you are doing that. I’m happy to hear you think the things I mention are minor because that should mean you will be fixing them soon. In my experience with web apps, what’s minor to the developer is a major barrier to the user. And it’s sooooo much fun to wear the hat of the user for a change so I can nitpick and complain and be a general PIA to the developer instead of my users whining and complaining to me. 😉

  • Interesting. I was not aware of either of these sites but in all honesty, who cares? There are so many of these sites popping up that one wonders where the bloggers still find the time to write decent content. This could be the reason why so many bloggers are offering such mediocre articles. Nice article.

    sailors last blog post..I am looking for a ‘new’ world

  • admin

    Good point. Yes these sites need to add unique value proportional to the time it takes to use them. And like Brian said, I still have issues with the whole social networking thing–you create all these relationships online but they seem about as robust as soap bubbles. Thanks for dropping by.

  • I’ve been using BlogEngage for a while now and I like it. Even though only 4 of my posts out of about 40 are considered published, I’ve gotten fairly regular traffic from it. I usually get a few hits a day from the site which is worth it to me.

    Also, I just noticed another one of these sites, Post on Fire, that uses the same template also.

    Jennifers last blog post..LOST Season 4 Finale

  • Interesting concept sailor but I’m not to sure if that has anything to do with content quality! Maybe we just have so many bloggers now we are seeing the weaker of the writers starting blogs!

    Maybe only strong witters use to have blogs!

    bbrian017s last blog post..Top SEO Articles regarding Organic Traffic Resources

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