Search Engine Land have launched a new social news community called Sphinn. Think Digg and you’re there. This, hopefully, will be a social news site for the search marketing world.
This is a great idea. I’ve signed up already and have put this rapid-fire review together. You’ve already had the first bullet from this review – great idea.
Let’s start at the profile pages. Search Engine Land have kept the emphasis on the search community and blogging habits of their audience. This is both clever and wise.
My profile has links back to this as my personal blog and the bigmouthmedia news page as a work blog. I try hard to keep the two separate, I will not be the only corporate SEO in this situation and so this clear division is welcome!
Towards the bottom of the profile page you’ll find space to link to forum profiles and social media spaces. This helps keep the community. Sphinn includes SearchEngineWatch’s forums in this – Danny Sullivan’s old haunt – and I think it is big of Danny and the SEL team to include the site.
So – what about the actual functionality of Sphinn itself? Well. There’s nothing dramatic here.
You know how the system works. Someone submits a blog post or story by providing a URL and summary. Once you’ve voted for a story you’ve sphunn it. There’s no system to vote down unwelcome stories, though.
Sphinn offers the following categories; Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Search Marketing, Social Media, Online Marketing, Searching and Other. The Ask team will be sulking. The “Live Search” branding team will be sulking too. That said; I wouldn’t really try and argue that Sphinn should change the categories that they’ve started with.
There are RSS feeds too – handy. I’ve already added the “Hot Today” feed to Google Reader and can spot the signature sites of a MyBrand Feedburner option. A rather nice feature is that the RSS includes the number of votes (which I imagine will be re-named to sphinns / sphunns later) so I can see which are the hottest of the hot stories.
Sphinn’s what you would expect from a social news site. There are no new innovations here. So why do I like it so much then?
It’s the community. Digg is hostile to the Search World. Reddit, sadly, seems to be getting a little stale. My great expectation for Sphinn is that it will become the site to find the breaking stories from all the blogs and forums I no longer have time to read. The throughput of stories will be higher than the selections we get from the Search Engine Land editors.
Spam’s a concern. My fear is that the Digg community will be proved right and Sphinn will be hit with a tidal wave of low quality and regurgitated blog content. I admit spam is a concern but my belief is that the SEL/Sphinn team will beat it. Relevancy is perhaps a bigger issue. Sphinn’s brand new and already we’ve a story on blending an iphone to which my initial thought was “is that search or social media?” Social media, perhaps. Linkbait, perhaps.
That then gives us the three bullet points from this review; great idea, basic but solid implementation and already facing challenges of relevancy and scope.
I’ll make the point of doing a “second impression” look at Sphinn in a number of months. The compare and contrast against this very first impressions will be interesting.