Delicious and Altavista cut?

Yahoo EVP & Chief Product Office learned today the lesson of discussing shutting down services via internal webinars and the sh!t storm it creates when it’s leaked online.  The internal screenshot contained a list of what Yahoo services were to be sunsetted, sold or merged into other products was leaked via yfrog by MyBlogLog co-founder Eric Marcoullier and onto twitter. While the image is no longer available you can still see the thumbnail generated by AllThingsDigital shown below.

Following Layoffs, Yahoo Cuts Products: MyBlogLog, Delicious, Yahoo! Buzz

To show the true power of social media the image was viewed over 52,667 times, liked 38 times on Facebook and Tweeted 683 times but didn’t exactly get the typically company response.  The leak angered Blake Irving enough to take a swipe at both Eric Marcoullier but also Joshua Schachter and threaten the staff member who leaked the screenshot, the response from Blake Irving proved interested enough for 20 others to retweet it, which has increased the interest around the story but taken the focus off the Yahoo product closures. Social media is a bad place to bring personal attacks or make snap statements without following up quickly with an official company post/article as early as possible to counter any negative press that might build up around your business decisions to close platforms.

Note that Blake has tried to back peddle on the issue with an updated post appearing by Chris Yeh on the Yahoo Developer Network blog covering what is next for Delicious, but why wasn’t this posted sooner or before the webinar went live? So all the focus seems to be around Delicious but what about the other platforms that are to be sunsetted including Altavista, Yahoo Buzz, Yahoo Bookmarks, Yahoo Picks or MyBloglog or are already closed like Geocities? It seems that a number of the services listed should have been merged, made into a Yahoo feature or sunsetted long ago as some haven’t been updated for over 3 years like Yahoo Picks.


Only Babel Fish Translation service still offers some value

Altavista was one  of the web’s most popular search engines started back in 1995 but was passed around between companies eventually to be taken over by Overture Services in Feburary 2003 and then Overture by Yahoo in July 2003 where it was left to slowly die. Since December 2009 the average number of unique visitors has dropped from 878,000 to around 495,000 today according to, which is a massive loss of potential for what was once a star.  Altavista had one of the best image search functions and still has a very powerful translation service that could have been a challenger to Google Translate but was also left alone to die but hopefully will emerge again with an update in 2011.

My Blog Log

MY Blog Log could have been a serious competitor for Facebook Connect

My Blog Log had the makings of a serious way to tie both your online communities to you blog but the only sites that appear to have done much with it are and who still use the platform and have a reasonable amount of members.  It could have easily been expanded and developed into an embeddable widget like the Facebook news widgets or Facebook like buttons and built and expanded it’s community members to ensure the service was viable enough to continue.  The number of unique visitors spiked at the start of 2010 with over 6,891,000 but has since dropped back to around 3,388,000 as of November 2010 and seems to be gradually falling according to

Yahoo Bookmarks

Not updated since 2009 this could be merged with Delicious

I have never actually ever used this service but it does seem like a valid platform to merge with delicious or even make it possible to share between the two platforms via a private API, but it might be too late to save this product as an individual platform.  The platform has already had data merged once when MyWeb service was closed in 2008 and all the users were moved to Yahoo Bookmarks but it looks like they might be moved again, but how many people will have trust in the platform for a 3rd time?

Yahoo Buzz

A competitor for Google Trends & Twitter Trends and previous Bing xRank

Yahoo Buzz had the makings of a great platform which could rival Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Twitter and Google Trends but it was not effectively implemented to make it easy to use and failed to capture the attention of the social media mavens.  It would have made sense to link Yahoo Buzz into more Yahoo properties such as Delicious and even it’s Chat and Email platforms to make it easy for people to share stories or track what is stories are trending, discussed and shared based on Yahoo’s massive audience base.

Yahoo Picks

12 years of the most emailed picks of the web

Yahoo picks was closed back in 2008 but it was also left there to slowly die off but showing some potential it does have 4 sharing options: email, delicious, my web and digg.  While My Web was closed around the same time as Yahoo Picks they platform did show where the platform could have headed if it was allocated enough resources to compete and continue expanding it’s content and improving the interface.  You can see at the bottom of the page the footer was last updated back in 2007 which showed the product was starved for resources long before it was closed down which is a shame.

Yahoo needs to think Data Portability!

This type of worry by the use of cloud based platforms like Delicious was covered in some detail in my previous post on data portability able to prevent the web 2.0 shipwreck created over the past few years occurring when platforms have been closed due to business models fading or companies getting bored with the mundane day to day running of their platforms. So hopefully delicious is made stronger by merging Yahoo Bookmarks, Yahoo Picks and Yahoo buzz into a single platform but that might take another few years at this rate….

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Linkedin goes down

In an interesting move to their new bigger better and more reliable data Los Angeles data center they managed to bring their site down as part of the cutover, synchronisation and testing.  The official Linkedin blog advised that it should have been only offline for around 6 hours starting at 5pm on Sunday but at 8am Monday morning the site was still having some issues. It’s a bit of irony that the move of the production site to the more robust Linkedin data center lead to this downtime.Linkedin Down

So what can be learned from this?

  1. If you have this planned please update your error message to reflect the likely issue is that the site is moving to a new server, don’t use generic messages and hide the story on your company blog.
  2. Linkedin was correct when they used a blog for their company news so any issues with their main site doesn’t prevent them getting their message across
  3. Linkedin did the right thing but it’s stream of updates via twitter but they could have also posted a quick note on their company blog
  4. Don’t self congratulate yourself before the move is complete, the staff jumped the gun early with this Twitter update

It’s great to see companies like Linkedin upgrading their infrastructure but others can always learn from their mistakes when it comes to your time to upgrade your servers and no Wikileaks is not responsible for this downtime.

Shipito website issues

This post should have needed to be written I was looking at US providers for mail forwarding/package delivery and one of the providers I looked at was Shipito but I did notice that one of the product links didn’t actually work, so being a good net citizen I used the contact form to send them the following message.

On Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 12:32 AM, David Iwanow <…………….> wrote:
New website inquiry
Name: David Iwanow
Message subject: broken links
I’m just looking at your products and noticed the link needs to be updated on to

After reading my initial message realise my message wasn’t completely clear I did feel that I provided enough information and the request would be passed onto their webmaster/webdevelopers to look at.  This is a typical response and I think if you find something wrong with a page/website you should tell the company about it as part of good karma and improving the future experience for yourself and other visitors.
Don’t argue or correct customer
So I was more than a little annoyed when I received the response from their customer service team saying well that I was wrong and that link did not exist, I wouldn’t really call it much customer service when they are also too lazy to use my name when I took the time to include it on the inquiry form. The Shipito support response is shown below:

We do not have the link on our website and if you select the assisted purchase it will take you to the correct page. I am not sure what link would take you to the page as this is not a page on our site.

So I thought I would help them out finding the broken links with the following 3 links… it’s really not that hard…

  1. W3 Validator
  2. SEOmoz Crawl Test
  3. Link Tiger

So next time you are working in customer service and get an email with an error or problem on your website, take the time to thank the person for reporting it and pass it onto your web developers, don’t advise them they are wrong and it’s not their job to explain what is wrong and place doubt in the accuracy of their issue they discovered.

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SMH publishes garbage article on seo

Snake Oil SEOIt’s clear sometimes that personal blogs and open forums are not always the best source of information about SEO from a best practice “white hat” perspective, but you can usually rely on main stream media to not screw up and publish garbage like I read today that encourages spam as a SEO technique.  There are lots of blogs,communities and forums that specialise in SEO covering practical/training, guides, tips and from a pure research perspective such as: SEOmoz, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, SEOBook, SEO Dojo, Webmaster World.  A majority of these sites work hard to educate their members about not spamming or following the advice contained in the SMH article I read today.

Before I upset every journalist who writes for The Sydney Morning Herald or any of their other papers such as The Age, this is a story that shouldn’t have gone to print and there is another related articles by the same writer that do nothing but cloud businesses view on SEO and increase businesses view that the whole industry is made up of Snake Oil salespeople. From my many past conversations with business about what is SEO and how it can help their business get more traffic from Google there often confusion around what you should and shouldn’t be doing as part of getting more organic traffic from Bing & Google.  Garbage articles like this break down all that good knowledge and understanding with cheap parlour tricks and spam.

Search engine voodoo: little-known SEO tricks” should not have been published as one it’s based on a technical paper published back in February 16th 2010 and its fairly clear that the SMH journalist didn’t take time to even read it as many of the points he later suggests are not advised by Nicholas Carroll.  The two so-called experts he quotes in the piece don’t appear to be anyone known in the industry and if I have the website right one expert is more of a snake oil salesman that is out of his depth in being quoted for this article as knowing what was is seo.

Comment spam is back in

The biggest failure around this article is the around the encouragement of comment spam, where readers are encouraged to use your keyword phrase as your name using blog finder software to pick which sites to attack with your spammy comments.  This is one of the many parts to the article that is not in the spirit with the original article by Nicholas Carroll that this article is apparently based around. So there you go its official from 2 experts no-one has ever heard of and a journalist how you can get ranked #1 in Google that no-one else has ever tried and failed to use successfully.  Now go search for a general blog topic and comment spam away and you will notice a huge increase in your search rank in no time, no need for link building campaigns or creating content just comment spam what’s already out there! It’s article like this that encourage the constant bombardment of your blogs with crappy comments and irrelevant statements just to get that link, no comment on how well it works in the short-term but its not something business should be using if they value their reputation.

Fact check please

I would expect that publications like The Sydney Morning Herald would at least take some time to vet or fact check what garbage some of their journalists are pushing out into the market place under the Fairfax brand.  It wouldn’t take more than an email phone call to the Fairfax owned Advantate to fact check the article or even provide some guidance around what is SEO for the journalist.  Publications like SMH’s My Small Business carry a lot of weight for business wanting to stay ahead of their competitors, so seeing low quality articles like “How to rocket your search engine ranking to the top of Google” make me understand why Australian businesses struggle with SEO, it’s the garbage they read online.

One of the previous articles written by the same SMH journalist uses terms like mysterious or art when he is discussing SEO does nothing to improve both a reader’s understanding of search optimisation, unless you are doing blackhat/greyhat practices it’s not a mystery it’s just hard work!

Keyword stuffing??

The rocket your search ranking article talks about peppering pages with keywords and every page should repeatedly feature one keyword and to embed that keyword several times.  This amounts to nothing more than keyword stuffing or spam and shows the misunderstandings the website designer has about effective SEO and to the writer for publishing it, where is your journalistic skills in vetting both the subject being interviewed about a subject he doesn’t understand and a topic you vaguely don’t care about. If you are unsure of his experience his background states that he “vaguely specialises in the internet” in an interview back in 2007.

Don’t make SEO harder

If you are going to conduct an interview with a focus around SEO that is just going to make the job of SEO consultants and SEO agencies that much harder, please just don’t publish it.  Articles like this are often brought up during discussions with business owners when talking about SEO, and often the business owner will stand by the article’s points because they read about it in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Small Business section so it must be of reasonable standing.

Facebook Places fails

Facebook Places Logo

Facebook has finally rolled out its location feature today, in what seems to be a stamp down on FourSquare and Gowalla’s growing dominance of locational based badges and social networking, but are they going to ruin it for everyone? Facebook is a global platform so today’s announcement that going just allow the product to their US members is more of a slap in the Face of their growing international audience, which according to official Facebook statistics, they are only concerned with offering their product to 30% of their users.  Once again Facebook is trying to set the rules in social media and well there is a good chance that you or your business is not invited!

How can Facebook with over 70% of its audience outside of the USA, launch a new product that is just usable for their US members, and that’s not counting the international audience that is currently visiting, working or living in the US.  It seems that the Facebook Places functionality is not just geographically limited to those who have created an account in the US and not those who have a current location as being in the USA.  Its not clear if this is a move by the company to segment user data via the initial settings, but doesn’t make sense that accounts might be treated different based on their initial settings.  People change and move but it seems Facebook hasn’t yet worked that concept into its platform… people share but don’t ever move country….

Facebook Places So What?

So Facebook has started marketing the service as the ability to share where you are, what you are doing and the friends that are with you right now, but several other platforms already offer that functionality and don’t violate your privacy on a daily basis.  The other idea of connecting to friends nearby is not a ground breaking option and is also very limited to those who are using an iPhone and can once again already be done by a number of platforms such as FourSquare, Google Latitude or Gowalla, so do we really need another me too app?

Facebook App

Facebook Geolocation limited to iPhones

It seems that a few other people were having some issues with Facebook places already even the US audience and has been intentionally held back as Facebook is trying to test to see if their severs can handle the service. Another aspect of failure around launching a product that clearly was not ready was a new version of the Facebook iPhone app was required if you wanted to use the service, it’s not ready and its a concern that Facebook continues to be cutting out the testing stage before launching new products.  This seems to bring a level of concern that the platform might be a stable enough.  My early testing shows that might be a bit problem with the user adoption of its Facebook places product as its fairly slow to locate you running on Wifi, imagine how slow that will be on older iPhone models running on EDGE or 2G. But maybe Facebook doesn’t really want to develop its platform so Google Android users can use it but a good question will be if it is available for the Windows7 Phone from day 1?

Facebook has a perfect mobile audience

Being that more than 150,000,000 active users are currently accessing Facebook via their mobile devices it shows a huge audience but the launch of this platform shows that it’s not yet ready for market as its only available to iPhone users.  A larger number of mobile users are not using devices as advanced as iPhones that support W3 geolocation that limit its potential audience, it is also unclear with a larger number of Facebook users using SMS to update their status can be integrated into the Facebook Places platform. So even when they have 150 million mobile users its a struggle to understand how they could have failed to build a platform that allowed all their mobile users to utilise their places platform.

Facebook just copied Google

As for naming a product after a competitor is not really a smart move from marketing perspective and its likely to confuse less technical users as the difference between Facebook Places & Google Places, and why the hell can’t they just work together? By creating a new place for business to register and claim their online presence may lead the a low acceptance of businesses and defeat any future commercialisation plans that Facebook might have in the pipeline around local advertising.  The big difference is that Google Places receives a massive traffic exposure via Google Local results as shown below which is of massive commercial value to businesses but it doesn’t appear that Facebook has matched what a competitor already offers.  If you are going to copy a competitor seek to at least improve on its product…

Google Local Places

The search results for a known place on Facebook that has already recorded 2 checkins, doesn’t actually show when you do a search for its business name, so is Facebook keeping 2 separate locational datasets?  This one of many early failure if they are trying to build a local business product if Facebook lists it as a local location I can checkin but I can’t find the location at a later stage unless it’s in your news feed. You can see on the side menu that its not possible to find or search for places you just have to find them via your iPhone/iTouch or if one of your friends checkins and it shows up in their news feed.  The failure to allow places to be easily found via the main interface is very strange as there is limits as to what you can do via your iPhone and most business owners would likely prefer if they make the effort to claim their Facebook place that it would at least show up in internal searches.

Friend Chicken Locations

Facebook Places Stalks your Friends

Facebook has developed a new tool that allows you to select between mayhem and stalking your friends online, one of the first and only one of my friends who has tested the platform checked in last night.  By moving your mouse over the location you view the pop-up window that features a Bing map, a list of friends who have been to that location, the ability to like that business or get directors.

Facebook Checkin

Clicking the local business link brings up far more information than any of their competitors such as FourSquare and brings concern around zero privacy features of Facebook places.  I can see who is at a particular location currently, who of my friends has been there and even exactly when my friend checked-in.  The problem is as the service grows the ability to understand friends movements is a little creepy this was highlighted in a blog post I did in June Finding Location, Losing Privacy, do you really want the ability for your movements to be profiled? Some of the early responses from twitter show those who understand the value of privacy understand the concept but see it as a problem. “Thinking #facebook places – good concept but not liking the privacy issues. Go original. All the fun. None of the worry.

Facebook Checkin Places

Using Facebook Places

You can see below that the way that Facebook provides a list of nearby locations is fairly useless compared to FourSquare, as it doesn’t show useful icons of what the place is “food,art,drinks,deli,pizza,pharmacy”.  To roll out a product that once again fails to match what the competitors having been doing for a while will likely lead the product to failure.  Also unlike Foursquare or Gowalla there is no real benefit to checkin, no badges, no discounts, no prizes, no points… its not offering the users a perceived advantage such as Facebook Credits for checking into a business.

Facebook Places Locations List

Facebook Places allows Tagging

I was alerted to an early privacy issue by @schachin, as the Facebook Places platform allows you to out friends with you via the status tagging feature even if they are not there “With #facebook places checking in is subject to YOUR Privacy settings TAGGING is based on your FRIENDS!“.  The Huffington Post also did a detailed write-up on how you can avoid the embarrassment of being tagged by a friend as being somewhere you are not supposed to be and show everyone in an instant. You now have to worry about friends tagging you in photos, status updates and now via Facebook Places and you don’t even need to be there to have your privacy violated. FourSquare got it right when it automatically associates your checkin with existing friends if you both checkin to the same venue, you should have to manually tag them as being with you at the same location.

Facebook Places Checkin

Share Facebook Checkin

You don’t actually have much of a choice if you want to checkin to a location and not reveal this to all your friends, unlike FourSquare which has a always visible setting on your update to not share this checkin with your friends.  This continuing failure to accept users privacy rights seems to be a constant theme with Facebook with its share all and everything mentality, but why don’t look to other services like FourSquare which are trying to build a wall around their users privacy and protect their users if selected. Unlike FourSquare which allows you to checkin and just not tell your friends it seems that Facebook doesn’t allow this option, and really if they are looking to bring in FourSquare and Gowalla users via API, its going to produce some issues and complications for their users who are used to having control of their privacy.  Facebook only allows you to share your location or not checkin there is no halfway option which makes most people not inclined to use it.

Share Location with FacebookLooking at the Places checkin screen shown above, the use of the language also implies that you enter into a long-term contract which is a little more worrying, and the language used to advise about the check-in functionality is a little scary “wherever you go”.  So think clearly about if you want to be Facebook’s guinea pig for its latest product test, my advice is to sit this feature out.

How to Disable Facebook Places

LifeHacker has posted a good article on how to disable Facebook Places, but you can also do it easily through your privacy settings as shown below, it is important that you consider at least checking the places feature to ensure its set that you just show your friends immediately, then I advised that you can goto your privacy settings and ensure its disabled.  An important not that if you are under the age of 18 or have changed your date of birth to make you under 18, you have an increased level of privacy settings enabled automatically that will limit updates to just your friends.

Facebook Privacy Settings

The privacy setting you are looking for to disable Facebook Places updates is hidden under “applications, games and websites”.  You will see 5 Facebook privacy settings that you can select to refine your privacy settings:

  1. What applications you’re using (Tweetdeck/Eventbrite)
  2. Games and application activity
  3. Information accessible through your friends (Places)
  4. Instant personalisation (Facebook connect)
  5. Public search (Bing/Google)

Facebook Privacy Settings Options

Once you have selected option 3 highlighted with the red arrow you are shown a pop-up window with the privacy settings.  All your Facebook information available is available to any applications, games and websites when friends choose to use them, so its important to limit what information Facebook obviously advises you to share more information to make the experience more social, but that’s not always advised.  Consider if you really need to share all the following information with everyone, but you will want to ensure that the “Places I check into” setting is unchecked and then click to save changes.

Facebook Privacy Settings

That’s done you now know more about how Facebook Places works, how it might affect you and how to disable it so you reduce the risks exposed with sharing too much information online, and go back to using FourSquare or Gowalla. Think twice before electing to share your every step and visit even if there is a slight benefit for your social circles and not everyone cares to know what you are doing at every moment of the day!