One of my favorite blogs is John Battelle’s Searchblog. John provides the best and the most intelligent analysis and discussion focusing on the search industry.
So, when John (and his readers) started experimenting with a digg-like reader-controlled “SearchMob” run using the very clever Pligg community software to provide reviews and links to search related news and articles I was very optimistic. In fact I quickly became one of the top submitters and voters at SearchMob.
Although I write a lot about search issues I have avoided posting my own articles there. I don’t think there’s a problem posting a few of your own pieces, but the system becomes fairly useless if the bulk of activity is self-promotional. This appears to be a problem at SearchMob now.
Of the “top stories” listed this afternoon it appears that every single one was posted by the author. It also appears that some of these authors have several SearchMob accounts so they can vote for their own stories which pushes them to the top.
There are some easy spoofs of the current system, which does not require a log in to vote, that make it easy to push your own articles to the top of the heap, and I fear this is driving the top stories rather than reader interest. This also keeps “legitimate” stories from appearing where they can get more votes, further undermining the integrity of the system.
Solutions need to be largely spoof proof, especially in a reader community filled with SEO specialists. I think requiring complete contact information for anybody posting articles might help to make abuses easier to track. Also it may be necessary for the community to start hassling those who are using this too opportunistically via the discussion feature, though this does not seem to be the intended use of “discussion”.
Here are the top 4 stories now, all appear to have been submitted by the … author and most have questionable vote totals:
An Investment Approach to Marketing
Mobile Sites for Information
A social news service for free advertising
Google Checkout Now Working with Froogle