Guidelines Update: Attack/Shame Stories

August 4th, 2010 by Matt McGee

Hey Sphinners,

I want to give you all a heads up on an update to our Sphinn Guidelines. In the News Submission Don’ts section, we’ve added a new item — it’s #11 on the guidelines page and reads like this:

(Sphinn users should not submit…)
11. attack/shame stories. Sphinn is not the place to wage reputation management battles. We may remove any submission that attacks or shames another party. Exceptions might be made in cases when there’s significant value in the submission. Our editors have final say over what constitutes “significant value.”

This is an issue we’ve been discussing internally for a long time — I’m talking at least a year or two. Attack/shame posts used to be fairly infrequent on Sphinn and we never reached a policy on them. But they’ve become more frequent in recent weeks and months, and we’ve decided it’s time to make it clear to all users how we’ll handle them in the future.

I hope the wording we’ve published is clear enough. As always, feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

– Matt

“Hot On Sphinn” Now Appearing On Search Engine Land

August 2nd, 2010 by Matt McGee

Hey Sphinn users, let me point you over to a story I just published on Search Engine Land:

Hot On Sphinn: PPC Bid Management, Link Building Via Twitter, Clueless SEOs, & More

It’s the first of what will be a weekly recap that we post on SEL to highlight the Sphinn stories that went hot in the previous week. We’re including the Sphinn headline and description that you’ve written, and the headline links to the Sphinn story. Obviously, we’re hoping this helps Sphinn gain some more exposure among Search Engine Land readers — and we’re also hoping it rewards you for sharing great content on Sphinn. (Not to mention the little extra SEO benefit from the inbound links that will flow to the original authors/articles.)

We may tweak the format of the article in the future based on how users interact with the content, and if you have any ideas, feel free to share with us.

New Sphinn Buttons for Your Blog

July 8th, 2010 by Matt McGee

Quick heads up for our blogging members: We’ve just made two new Sphinn buttons available for use on your blogs/web sites. One is square, the other is a smaller rectangle; we hope these will fit in well with any other social sharing buttons you’re already using. Here’s what they look like in Before & After mode (i.e., before getting Sphinns and after getting Sphinns):


The old button code will still work if you prefer that, but you now have a couple new options, too. You can find all of the appropriate code and instructions on our Sphinn Widgets page.


Congrats to Our Sphinn Survey Winner!

July 7th, 2010 by Matt McGee

For those of you who took our 2010 Sphinn Member Survey last month and were willing to provide your name, we offered a pretty sweet prize: a free pass to either SMX East 2010 or SMX West 2011.

Well, the survey responses are all in and we’ve drawn the name of our winner … drum-roll, please …

Melissa Fach of

A huge congrats to Melissa, who gave me a chuckle with her “Holy crap! Wow. Thanks!” response when I emailed to let her know about the prize.

And a huge THANKS to everyone who took the survey last month. The responses were excellent. You gave us honest and candid feedback about what we’re doing right and wrong, and where we can improve. We’ve already began discussing the survey responses internally and will use them to guide us as we continue to evolve and improve Sphinn.

2010 Sphinn Member Survey: Now Open

June 21st, 2010 by Matt McGee

If you have 5-10 minutes, we’d love to get your feedback on Sphinn via a new member survey that we’re launching today. Before you start the survey, though, please read this:

Survey Details

1.) The survey has about 50 multiple-choice questions with one open-ended, tell-us-whatever-is-on-your-mind question at the end.

2.) It should take about 5-10 minutes to complete. You can’t start, stop, and come back later. (sorry)

3.) You can take the survey anonymously.

4.) If you give us your name and contact info at the end, we’ll enter you in a drawing to win a nice prize (and you can actually choose which prize you want).

5.) Closing date: June 30, end of day (U.S. Pacific-time).

Why a Survey?

I mentioned last week that we’re very interested in member feedback as we prepare for the next evolution of Sphinn. We’ve had a meeting with some of our members at SMX Advanced, we’ve received some great ideas in this Sphinn thread, and we want to get even more feedback and ideas from our members.

Yes, the survey may seem a bit on the long side, but we think it’s best to err by asking for too much feedback than asking for too little.


The survey is open now, and will remain open until end-of-day (U.S. Pacific-time) on June 30 — that’s next Wednesday. If you don’t have time to take it right now, you’ve got more than a week. If you’re ready to take the survey now, here’s the link:


Thanks in advance for giving us your time and opinions! We’ll use your feedback to guide us as we make the next round of upgrades and improvements to Sphinn.

– Matt McGee,
Sphinn Editor-in-Chief

Introducing Our 5 New Editors

June 18th, 2010 by Matt McGee

Introductions may not be needed because you probably know these folks already. In any case, please join me in giving a warm welcome to our five new Sphinn Editors:

Glen Allsopp
Debra Mastaler
Todd Mintz
Mat Siltala
David Wallace

Glen now has the distinction of being the only person on the Sphinn admin/editor staff whose last name begins with anything from the first half of the alphabet. 😉

I should point out, too, that we’ve killed off the term “moderator” to describe these folks. “Editor” better represents what they do because, by looking for content that’s worthy of being manually promoted to the home page, they’re helping to edit Sphinn in much the same way editors work in other industries/sites. Yes, we’re all involved in policing spam and other quality control issues, too, but “moderator” isn’t the right term for what the role entails. So, “editor” it is.

As always, questions/concerns/ideas and other feedback can be shared with any one of us. We’re always open to hearing from Sphinn members. If you don’t have our direct email addresses, feel free to use the contact form to get in touch.

Sphinn 2.2 in Planning … Your Feedback Requested

June 17th, 2010 by Matt McGee

We’ve started putting ideas on paper (well, e-mail) for upgrades and new ideas we want to implement here on Sphinn. Oh, and there’ll be some bug fixes in there, too. We already have a good, long list of ideas — enough to make me think we might skip “Sphinn 2.2” and go straight to 2.5 or maybe even 3.0. But these are early days, and we don’t even have a roadmap or timeframe at this point.

What we do know, though, is that we want your feedback and input.

Actually, we’ve already started collecting feedback. Last week at SMX Advanced, we hosted a small, informal lunch with a few Sphinn members — some who are active now, some who haven’t been as active recently as they were in the past; some who are active in voting, some who are more active in commenting/submitting. It was a great lunch that helped us understand more about our users, the things they like and dislike about Sphinn, and the things we need to do better. I’ll say it again to those who joined us: thank you!

If you weren’t at that lunch, my hope/goal is that we’ll do more of these in the future — perhaps at our SMX East conference in October? And at other SMX conferences, too? I hope so.

In the meantime, we’d also appreciate your feedback outside of planned events like that. In the next couple days, we hope to launch a general survey of our members asking for feedback on a variety of things about your Sphinn usage and new ideas/features. We’ll post here on the blog when that’s ready and put it on the Sphinn home page, too, to make sure the most users are aware of it.

Until then, here’s one question: We’re considering some kind of icon, or maybe a different color, to distinguish stories that are manually promoted to the home page. What’s your opinion?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and feedback as we continue to evolve the site.

Say Hello To Sphinn v. 2.1

March 23rd, 2010 by Matt McGee

As you use Sphinn today, you’ll probably notice several changes we’ve made to the site — not enough to call this version 3.0, but enough to blog about the updates and call it Sphinn v. 2.1. Here’s a guide to what’s new on Sphinn:

Navigation: We’ve added a new tab to the top menu called “Getting Hot.” This page will show submissions that have the most Sphinns but haven’t reached the home page yet. The old “Upcoming” tab has been renamed “Hot or Not?,” and this is where you’ll find the most recent submits. There’s also a new “Tools” tab where you’ll find links to the user directory, the Top Sphinners leaderboard, Sphinn search, and the Sphinn Live activity board.


Goodbye Members section: We experimented with the idea of having special, private forums and content areas for paid members, but there wasn’t much interest in the idea, so we’re discontinuing Sphinn memberships. Existing members with up-to-date accounts will be refunded over the next week or so. Member badges on icons will also go away soon, but mods and admins will continue to be distinguished with badges on their avatars. With the end of the paid memberships, we’re making the Sphinn leaderboard and user directory available to all Sphinners again, as described above.

RSS Feeds: If you’ve previously subscribed to the “Upcoming” feed, you’re now subscribed to the “Getting Hot” feed, which matches what’s on the Getting Hot tab. The “Hot or Not?” page has a new feed. You can see all of our RSS choices on the Feeds page.

Twitter & Facebook sharing: We know that a lot of our users are active on Twitter and Facebook, and like to share the Sphinn stories they find and submit with followers and friends in those communities. We’re making that easier with buttons that will let you share stories and/or comments from Sphinn on Twitter/Facebook. You’ll find the new sharing buttons across the site, including on on individual story pages (see below). There are also links to share comments on Twitter and Facebook.


More Editorial Picks: As Sphinn’s Editor, I occasionally promote submissions to the home page that I believe are noteworthy, even if they haven’t received the minimum votes. You’re going to see more of that from this point on, and it won’t just be stories that I choose. A handful of our moderators will also take a more active role in promoting deserving submissions to the home page. Our goals are to make sure Sphinn users see the day’s most noteworthy stories on our home page and to help good content get the visibility it deserves.

First-Post Moderation: While making sure good content is more visible, we also want to make sure spam and off-topic content is even less visible. When we relaunched Sphinn last summer, we made several changes that have helped cut down on spam — like forcing all users to upload a custom avatar before they can post a news story. That’s helped, but some spam still gets through — and about 90% of it is from new users.

To fight that, we’re instituting first-post moderation. The first submission from all new users will be moderated, and won’t show up on “Hot or Not?” until a moderator has reviewed and processed it. Once a new user’s first submission is processed, his/her future submits will show on “Hot or Not?” as soon as they’re submitted.

So there you have it — a roundup of all the changes that are in place now. We’re excited about all of these changes and we hope you enjoy them, too. Feel free to share any feedback or questions you have in the comments over on the Sphinn story page for this article.

Matt McGee
Sphinn Editor

Sphinn Is On Facebook

March 17th, 2010 by Matt McGee

You may have noticed this already in the sidebar on the main site, but just in case: Sphinn is now on Facebook! You can follow us via this page:

At the moment, we’re sharing the stories there that have gone hot here on Sphinn — but over time we may also promote stories there that we think deserve some extra attention. And no matter what we post, you’re invited to leave comments, like a story, and so forth.

So, if Facebook is one of your preferred hangouts during the day, we hope you’ll join us (and the folks below) there, too.

Sphinn on Facebook

Two Small Additions to Sphinn Guidelines

March 15th, 2010 by Matt McGee

Hey gang, just want to share a quick “heads up” about two small additions to our Sphinn Guidelines. Both of these are in the News Submission Don’ts list:

  • Don’t use auto-submitters or other automated software when participating on Sphinn.
  • Don’t submit news releases.

On the first one, we want users to engage with Sphinn in a hands-on, human way. Using software to submit stories or vote up stories doesn’t accomplish that.

On the second one, we know that companies and individuals often want to share announcements with the community, and Sphinn exists (in part) for discussion of current internet marketing news. But we’d rather see news articles or blog posts submitted for discussion, not news releases that use the URL of a wire service. There may be a rare exception, but in the vast majority of cases our moderators will discard news release submissions.

As always, if you have any questions or thoughts about our guidelines, feel free to contact us directly.

Upcoming Conferences

Search Engine Land produces SMX, the Search Marketing Expo conference series. SMX events deliver the most comprehensive educational and networking experiences - whether you're just starting in search marketing or you're a seasoned expert.

Join us at an upcoming SMX event: