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All sphunn out

So I started my little tool initiative last week with a little help from Kevin Shea of Twing. This post’s tool is Sphinn, I was reminded of it because of a Twitter post which lead me to Social Media Mom. As an aside, Twitter does in fact make blogging just a little more fun and generally improves the conversation.

Social Media Mom (SMM) is a fun little blog, which taunted me to Sphinn for several articles I read, but not being a user I didn’t. SSM’s header is peppered with tools including Mixx link and Propeller, so I now have 3 posts because of 1 tweet. Mixx and Propeller are in currently in progress – a little more complex and extended content. Sphinn’s content is a considerable more narrow – focused on the SEO and SEM segment, with a dash of social media and news. Sorta news, kinda like Reno is sorta like Vegas – both have gambling. Yup – Sphinn is the Reno of social news, it has voting just like Digg. That’s my metaphor and I’m sticking to it! Sphinn has ads too, just like any good SEO oriented site, one of the better ones was a Ninja ad.

Be a SEO Ninja

Yes – a SEO Ninja! That IS a lofty goal. Question: Just how much content do you have to consume to become a ninja? I clearly would like to be all stealthly and DEADLY while killing it with ad based revenue. I spent the better part of the week experiencing social media through the Sphinn lens, mainly because of that ad. Phinn is essentially what you would think from a content perpective being kin folk of Search Engine Land and all. This is essentially where social media tweekers hang to get thier next fix of tips, tricks and search algorithm updates. There is one BIG twist – a fully engaged conversational community.

Despite the extremely limiting taxonomy, the community is an engaged and passionate group of folks. Quality of the content is managed by an actively engaged community, example conversational comments below from a single post around fake articles:

What’s more annoying? A story is submitted to Sphinn and the story may not be true? Or readers assume that the person who submitted the story is the one who created the untruth? Don’t shoot the messenger….


So its ok for people to submit a bunch of junk on Sphinn and waste my time by lowering the signal to noise ratio? Submitters’ reputation on Sphinn depends in part on a submitter pushing quality content.

It is this very core community value which essentially provides all the relevant headline content for SEO in an easy to reference list of top Sphunned articles. The popular Sphinns for a segment are more or less quintessential nuggets by category. There is one interesting thing about the “optics” of the community’s content; there seems to be a challenge to get to 300 sphinns, two digit rankings are the norm. The highest Phinn, Seattle SEO John Andrews challenges Sphinn to top 300 Sphinns, has not yet reached the elusive 300 since August. I find this a little odd with such a search engine optimized title (place, category, name, keyword and keyword pluralized), but not when content is limited. You can just put your content into the big watercooler bucket.

Net-Net, I have learned a great deal from the community and the content over the last week, but the value just appears to not be sustainable over time for me. Is Sphinn a victim of it’s own specificity? It IS a capable social news platform that is easy to use. I hope Sphinn take the opportunity to leverage a vibrant community to provide more diverse content with extended categories. With extended content it’s possible 300 will no longer be a relevant number.