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Localism Getting a Facelift?

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Up to something…

Seems that the fellas over at Active Rain are up to something… But this time, it’s with Localism. Just check out their new home page (screen shot above).

Facelift or more…

Is it just a facelift or is it something more? I don’t know for sure. But based on the information on the current home page, it looks like they’re trying to compete with Trulia and Zillow be the place for consumers to find RE information on a hyper-local level. They may be trying to grab the most amount of consumer traffic possible based on hyper-local organic searches and then make money off of ads based on traffic count. They’re probably betting that they can sell agents on the idea of getting leads from Localism if they contribute.

Will it work…

IMHO, I’m not sure if it’ll work. I post a lot of the same if not similar stuff on Localism as I do on my local blog. I get tons of clients from my local blog, but none from Localism. I even ask every new client how they came across me and I have to have one answer “Localism”. Unless Localism truly provides a benefit to agents, it will not work out in the long run because agents will stop posting to it. 

But that’s just me… Does anyone else have any positive or negative feedback regarding Localism or an idea of what the goal of their new site will be?

Danilo Bogdanovic is a Real Estate Consultant/REALTOR(R) in Northern Virginia and author/owner of LoudounScene.com and LoudounForeclosures.com. Danilo serves on various committees with the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS(R) and the Virginia Association of REALTORS(R).

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88 Comments

88 Comments

  1. Paula Henry

    July 8, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Danilo –

    Last year I closed several transactions as a result of AR posts, which show up on Localism. When I started my outside blog – I posted less and less to AR. Now, I only post my listings to AR/Localism.

    I still have had a few listings this year from last years Localism posts. I know, because the articles which brought the clients were from AR. One client told me she searched for “The best agent in Avon Indiana” and since I was at the top for that city – I was first in her search.

    Even today – if you search Avon Indiana Neighborhoods, the first four returns are Localism posts I posted last year. Avon Indiana (insert subdivision) will bring at least 2-3 of the top ten.

    I believe there is Google power in AR/Localism posts about community and neighborhoods, but, ultimately – I want my blog to be #1 for those terms. Realizing the Google power, should I duplicate my posts at Localism, therefore, compete with my outside blog?

    Just something I wonder about!

  2. Ashley Drake Gephart

    July 8, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    I stopped posting to both AR and Localism last year. I now only post to my own blog. I never saw one transaction from AR/Localism but have had a few this year from my blog. The content is the same hyper-local posting. I even took some of the older posts from localism and put them on my new blog and even though the localism post was older and the original my blog shows up first for those terms. There is only one local neighborhood that my localism posts outrank out of the couple dozen I was trying to capture. Not a good ratio. Since I want total control of my material, not to mention the traffic, I will continue to post on my own blog only.

  3. Elaine Reese

    July 8, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    According to the referring links to both my web site and my WP blog (per stat counter), I do get some traffic coming from the AR domain, but nothing from the Localism domain address. When I started my WP blog, I focused on it because I didn’t want to “compete” with myself (as Teresa B said was a no-no). As a result, in the year my WP blog has been up, it just keeps getting stronger for generating actual business.

    With the snippets that the AR Gods have been giving, it seems they want something other than real estate articles, and instead want – as one Rainer put it – the Chamber of Commerce type of articles. We’ll just have to wait and see what the rules are when it goes live. But my WP blog is and will continue to be my main focus because I can do so much more with it to target my intended audiance.

  4. Broker Bryant

    July 8, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Danilo, Localism is being launched tomorrow according to the AR guys. Up until than it has basically just been in a holding pattern. In my opinion, Localism is getting ready to be HUGE!!!

  5. Frank Jewett

    July 8, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    The problem with Localism 1.0 was that every agent wanted to be at the top so many spammed or gamed the system. Consumers want quality content, even if its free. The only way to feature quality is to have an anonymous editor who isn’t part of the RE.net clique, otherwise you get the same people being featured over and over (even when they write poorly) which discourages newcomers from participating. I’ll be interested to see how AR approaches that problem. Their daily newsletter hasn’t impressed me. Too many of the articles or videos have been weak. It’s not “must read” material.

    Who is the competition? Teresa Boardman and other local bloggers who don’t have to deal with the politics of spreading the wealth. Sure, Teresa still features herself (so to speak) when she has an off day, but any group would be hard pressed to compete with her individual consistency. For Localism to become the ultimate local real estate portal, AR would have to find a Teresa in every community. At the moment, those writers aren’t there, and those who are close struggle to be heard over the din of the shameless self promoters who won’t take the time to learn how to write for anyone but themselves.

    It’s going to be an uphill battle, particularly since ActiveRain doesn’t generate substantial revenue.

  6. Bob

    July 8, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    AR’s Localism sucks. The term sucks as well. It sounds nimby-ish. In a surfing community like San Diego, the term localism has a negative connotation.

    User generated content is not all it’s cracked up to be. Given that it’s self-serving real estate agents generating the content, which will be self evident to anyone who can read, and the number of returning visitors will be minimal.

    My guess is this is primarily going to serve HV’s lead generation.

  7. Barry Cunningham

    July 8, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    @BB..you wrote..”Localism is getting ready to be HUGE!!!”…….for whom? Why do you say so?

    For those who already rank high in google for short and long tail are you implying that those on AR who post on Localism will over take them? No way..not a chance. So who will it be HUGE for?

  8. Irina Netchaev

    July 8, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    I haven’t seen any leads from Localism yet, but do see it coming up in page searches pretty high up thanks to my posts on Pasadena. I am not sure what AR is up to with Localism and what their ultimate goal is. It remains to be seen.

    Ultimately, I am thankful to AR for everything that I have learned about blogging, social networking and the friends I made there. I wish the AR team the best in all their endeavors.

  9. retrove

    July 8, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Personally, I think it has potential if used correctly by the community but as with everything… GIGO. Keep in mind that out of the gate there is traction from the AR side.

    If users try to post to add value to readers with useful local articles or news as it is designed to be instead of spamming it with self serving promotional posts (as noted above)… it could help your overall online efforts. Spending 10 minutes a week to post can do nothing but help your main online presence where you spend the majority of time and effort. As with everything online being early can have significant benefits if it gets traction with little cost other than time and at this point only time will tell.

  10. Rich Jacobson

    July 9, 2008 at 1:21 am

    Now that Localism is ‘live’ you should start to see some pretty amazing ranking results. I posted an article last night, and this morning, it was 3rd on Page 1. The old Localism was in a BETA holding pattern for a very long time. Stuff wasn’t getting updated. Now that it’s active, it will afford our members some really excellent exposure.

    Allow me to share what I posted tonight about “What is Localism?”

    Localism is the valued point of connection, a place of meaningful interaction. It’s where neighbors and local merchants share what’s happening in their community. It’s people collectively communicating the unique flavor and nuances of where they live, work, eat, and play.

    Localism is ‘Old-School’ in a New World portal. It’s reminiscent of an earlier day when people shopped where they lived, and everyone knew their butcher. Localism makes the world smaller and more personal. It reacquaints and re-establishes the lost bonds between neighbors. It revives and restores the relational elements of what neighborhoods used to be, and should be.

    Localism provides the environment where residents and business owners can create a micro-social network uniquely attuned to their individual communities. Together, they use multi-media to paint a canvas of local color and texture. Their Localism ‘Neighborpedia’ becomes an extension of who and what they are.

    You can read the entire article here: https://activerain.com/blogsview/584121/-What-is-Localism

    And the official news release is here: https://activerain.com/blogsview/584513/ActiveRain-Unveils-the-New

  11. Rich Jacobson

    July 9, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Frank: As always, your ever optimistic and positive outlook shines the way!

    Bob (whoever you are): What really ‘sucks’ is people who dump critical comments, but don’t have the backbone to reveal who they are. Go back to surfing!

  12. Matthew Rathbun

    July 9, 2008 at 2:09 am

    Paula – Good for you, for finding a tool that works and sticking to it!

    Frank – I hear ya (man, you’re cranky sometimes but you make great poinst) but I want to say this – agents are spending far too much effort worrying about everyone else and not concentrating on their own business. If break-dancing was the agents way of getting business and they did it better than all the other break-dancers and were getting business who cares what cardboard they were dancing on? Do agents abuse the system? Yes, every system; not just AR is abused by agents. I think the consumer will see through the crap and either dismiss or find someone better.

    Barry – I get your logic, but so few agents (at least in my market) are ranking well at all, that anyone who does localism will do well here. I do think that eventually Google algorithms will being to alienate these multi blogger systems in favor of independent domains but if there is a void in the market area of good solid independents, I think that AR posts will start filling that void.

    Irinia – (please just take this as constructive and not demonstrative) If you’re seeing high page rankings, but no leads, you may want to re=evaluate content. With over 90% of consumers claiming to go online in their real estate search, agents should be making lots of coin if the come up well in Google results. Russell Shaw and others have written great posts on who to “speak” to consumers in your blog to compel them to call you. But, great work getting high in the rankings!

    Rich, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you “crabby” before… 🙂 I think that it’s good opportunity to correct perceptions that may not be supportive of AR. As for Bob, if you click his name, he had linked to his site, which gives you his information, so I don’t think he’s lacking backbone. I don’t get the whole surfing reference, but I think that the relationship with HV is a valid question that maybe you could explain a bit better. There are few services that I can’t stand and will discourge people from using and HouseValues and AdvancedAccess are the two main ones. Even I’m a bit skeptical of the AR and HV relationship.

  13. Matthew Rathbun

    July 9, 2008 at 2:15 am

    Look, AR is providing a FREE service for agents. What they do with it, is up to them. Some people are finding success with it’s usage. Are all 80,000 plus? No, but since only about 20 percent of licensees are making over poverty level doing real estate, can we really say AR (or any other service) is a failure because not EVERY agent is making a living off of it?

    I’ve never been a fan of the points system, but it’s there and if agents abuse it, than well…. we’ll just put that on the list of everything else people abuse.

  14. Rich Jacobson

    July 9, 2008 at 2:33 am

    Matthew: You’re right. I don’t normally do ‘cranky’…it doesn’t suit me very well. I apologize. I should have been in bed hours ago. But we rolled out Localism tonight, and posted several articles. And as for Bob, my bad. I forgot about the link through your name. I still don’t care much for your criticism, but to each their own. I am curious as to your statement that Localism is primarily going to serve HV’s lead generation. What’s your basis for this comment? Do you have some ‘inside’ scoop that the rest of us are not privy to?

    HV has been an excellent minority investor in AR. They are very much ‘hands-off’ as far as our day-to-day operations go. Jon and Matt call the shots as they always have. And HV has not been granted access to any of our data. They advertise on the site, but that’s about it. I can certainly understand the skepticism, Matthew. Many people in our business have strong feelings, one way or the other, about HV. So a certain amount of cautious skepticism is in order. I was actually much more disappointed in the whole Move.com thing. But that’s just me. The infusion of money has enabled us to proceed with several new features, including the recent outside blogs, the new Localism launched today, and a few others coming soon.

  15. Matthew Rathbun

    July 9, 2008 at 2:39 am

    My skepticism comes from distrust of HV and not having a clue (till now) about how they interacted with AR. If it’s a marketing investment than I am all about someone benefiting from HV’s money!

    The fact that they don’t have access to the information is the important issue.

    … I can’t believe I didn’t get any AR points for the “crabby” reference… I guess since I don’t list and sell it just don’t matter…. 🙂

  16. Rich Jacobson

    July 9, 2008 at 2:45 am

    I gave the points to your wife. She’s more active on the platform!

  17. Frank Jewett

    July 9, 2008 at 2:47 am

    Rich, are you here as Rich Jacobson or ActiveRich, or are those two entities now inseparable? I don’t mind a little stakeholder sarcasm aimed at me, but your “Go back to surfing!” slap at Bob Wilson, basically trying to bully him off someone else’s forum on behalf of your employer, seems totally out of line.

  18. Michelle DeRepentigny

    July 9, 2008 at 2:52 am

    Ironically, the two converted leads I’ve gotten specifically from Localism in the last three months have been sellers who like the way I posted my listings in their area. I don’t see listings anywhere in the new format. Rich – are they going to be there, anywhere?

    When I first started posting to Localism, I was getting a lot of buyer leads and those have slowed considerably in the past 6 months. I’m also not sure sure how I feel about “buying” communities! I can see where that works great for niche marketers – but I work 5 counties to be able to live, it looks like a great opportunity for folks to purchase their way to the top instead of writing crummy post – so maybe it will be an overall improvement.

  19. Frank Jewett

    July 9, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Matthew, Localism is a collective concept. Individual members get good Google juice from their AR blogs. There is nothing inherent in the platform to prevent members from aiming their posts at consumers rather than peers, with or without Localism. The potential value of Localism is as a magnet for generating even more local consumer traffic by becoming a destination for people who want to browse a local real estate (and lifestyle) information portal rather than searching for a specific subject.

    Look at AgentGenius. Any post here generates its own Google juice, but it also draws additional readers because AgentGenius is a destination. I end up reading posts here that I never would have searched for on Google. That drawing power is the brass ring Localism and more than a dozen other ventures are trying to grab. Once you become a consumer destination, you can start to monitize that traffic, either by selling ads to affiliate service providers or by charging a nominal fee for membership.

    The challenge is developing compelling quality in enough markets so that you generate the sort of buzz that propelled brands like YouTube or MySpace. I’ve told Rich and others at AR that I’m rooting for them to put the 1-800-DENTIST sites (fugazi real estate sites with canned local content that exist solely to generate and resell leads) out of business. To do that you need great local content generators in lots of markets with something in place to weed out the background noise.

    Localism 1.0 tried a self-ranking merit system. Gaming (multiple accounts to vote for yourself, deals with friends to vote for each other) destroyed that system, so AR tried some sort of moderator ranking system. The result was that the market updates and local events were no longer displayed in chronological order. When consumers see market updates from last year or Easter Egg hunt notices around Halloween, they abandon the site. That flight will occur regardless of anyone’s optimism.

    I’ll be watching the new launch with interest. If it works, it puts money in my pocket because local agents will want to learn how they can participate, so if I was strictly thinking about my wallet, I’d be waving the pom-poms. For better or worse, I think a sober assessment of the challenge is more useful to everyone. I leave the cheerleading to others.

  20. Frank Jewett

    July 9, 2008 at 3:38 am

    Wow! Localism already has a profile for my neighborhood, Willow Glen, courtesy of Kathleen Daniels.

    https://www.localism.com/blog/ca/san_jose/willow_glen/posts/580176/Willow-Glen-in-San

    Oh-oh! Kathleen’s neighborhood profile looks suspiciously like the profile from Boulevards New Media.

    https://www.willowglen.com/

    Boulevards New Media is an example of a lead generator I’d like to see put out of business, but STEALING THEIR CONTENT isn’t the way to do it. Will Kathleen’s posts be pulled? Will she be punished for violating ActiveRain (and Localism) terms of service?

    *shakes head*

    Is it bad luck that I stumbled onto (fairly obvious) plagiarism almost immediately or is this problem as common on Localism 2.0 as it has been on ActiveRain?

  21. Daniel Bates

    July 9, 2008 at 4:44 am

    Like most of the more internet savvy readers of this blog, I use AR on a casual basis, cutting and pasting some of my articles (I use partial posts with a link to my outside website), but never get any leads. Sadly it’s about the closest thing to getting real local information from a national site, however that being said it has a HUGE slant on the information. No one knows the local areas like local real estate agents, but no one also knows self-promotion without any shred of dignity like real estate agents. I wouldn’t post 1/10 of the crap I see on Localism on my blog, because I try to

    The new design looks good and AR does have some strong SEO power, but since the quality data comes mostly from outside bloggers, who presumably know to post to their site first and then post to AR, their articles will be first. My broker and I are still the only people who have ever posted about our local town so our Localism page looks like a “best of” congregate for our local posts and I contributed all the photos, so my name is pretty much everywhere.

    I think the people that will benefit the most are those that haven’t made the jump to an outside blog but can narrow their focus and actually write well about their local area. You might be able to convince a few people that you are a professional and get their business, but I’d rather spend a few more buck and get my own site and play with the big boys.

  22. Daniel Bates

    July 9, 2008 at 4:46 am

    Did you see this “community sponsorship”, what a rip-off. If you want to “own” a community, just write a few informational and competent articles about it, if you have to pay you shouldn’t even be on AR.

  23. Eric Blackwell

    July 9, 2008 at 8:15 am

    May I quietly and humbly suggest that Bob’s point that we as REALTORS should consider whether this is or will be an attempt to create the lead generation capacity of yet ANOTHER third party and as such we should be careful of feeding the hand that will eventually bite us?

    Has that not happened with Trulia? May that not again happen here? We donate our content in terms of both listings and “answers” and then have a perplexed look on our face when the Third party goes for search engine dominance and (eventually) charges us for that presence…

    Do you REALLY own the neighborhood or are you renting. With no rent control… Do you know who owns this rental unit? even if you TOTALLY trust them can they not sell out?

    IMHO these are things to think about.

    best;

    Eric

  24. Eric Blackwell

    July 9, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Typo in above post. May I suggest…that Bob’s point may be CORRECT.

  25. Danilo Bogdanovic

    July 9, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Paula – Congrats on your success with AR and Localism. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, right? Wonder if you’re doing something differently than others who are not having success with it, if it’s the area you’re in, etc.

    Broker Bryant – I checked out the new site this morning and it’s definitely an improvement. But the guage is going to be in its benefit to consumers and agents. Wonder how well the “sponsor a community” program will work once it’s launched on the 31st.

    I tend to agree with Daniel in his statement (2 comments above). It doesn’t matter whether you really are or are not the community guru – just fork out some dough and you’ll be perceived as one (until the client finds out otherwise and then curses Localism’s name).

    Yes Matt, the service on AR and Localism is free and that gives them the right to do what they want. But they let the community run too rampant and without ANY rules, which is back-firing. Agents are posting listings and self-promotion posts, both of which consumers and other agents are not here to read about. I would love to speak with a buyer or buyer’s agent that bought or sold a listing because they saw it on AR or Localism.

    The potential for AR and Localism to own hyper-local real estate traffic and provide a wealth of information to consumers across America is huge…if they were to execute correctly.

  26. Irina Netchaev

    July 9, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Matt, appreciate the feedback and yes, you are absolutely right. Over the last few months with the roll out of my new outside blog, I have revamped my posts and added call to action buttons and additional links to my AR/Localism posts. I am tracking my numbers closely and seeing new home search registrants referred by AR (not localism yet). Time will tell. Thanks for the critique!

  27. Bob

    July 9, 2008 at 9:55 am

    I still don’t care much for your criticism, but to each their own. I am curious as to your statement that Localism is primarily going to serve HV’s lead generation. What’s your basis for this comment? Do you have some ‘inside’ scoop that the rest of us are not privy to?

    No surprise that you don’t like criticism. As for the statement, what I said was “My guess is this is primarily going to serve HV’s lead generation” and would be considered speculation by most people.

    HV invested some decent coin in AR. Most investments of that sort include certain benchmark goals, and having spoken with an HV investor, I believe that not everyone is happy with the ROI. Localism is the only obvious revenue stream left.

    In the sport of surfing, localism is the negative part of the culture. It’s basically territorialism that results in surfers protecting their surf break from outsiders, frequently by doing stupid and illegal things.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surf_culture#Localism

    Is it bad luck that I stumbled onto (fairly obvious) plagiarism almost immediately or is this problem as common on Localism 2.0 as it has been on ActiveRain?

    Localism will only feed the plagiarism problem that exists with AR.

  28. Rich Jacobson

    July 9, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Daniel: No one is twisting your arm and forcing you to sponsor a neighborhood. You can continue to participate in the same manner as you have been. As we continue to roll out the New Localism, and explain the various aspects of sponsorship, the value will become much more obvious.

  29. Glenn fm Naples

    July 9, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Eric – “Has that not happened with Trulia? May that not again happen here? We donate our content in terms of both listings and “answers” and then have a perplexed look on our face when the Third party goes for search engine dominance and (eventually) charges us for that presence…”

    Very true statement – so the question becomes – why don’t agents create and post to their own blogs? Shouldn’t we engage the readers of our blogs?

    Are there many comments posted by AR or Localism visitors by the way? Or is it agents talking to each other to make the content?

    The leads I have gotten from AR (none from Localism) were because of my bio and not the blog postings.

  30. Paula Henry

    July 9, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Danilo – I haven’t posted there in almost a year, except for my listings. I have concentrated on my own blog, which is now, also being ranked high. I think my success came from the lack of competition in my market.

  31. Rich Jacobson

    July 9, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Bob: I can handle genuine constructive criticism quite well, thank you very much. It’s baseless slams that I have no merit with me. To say that Localism ‘sucks’ when it’s just been released is unfair and a tad bit premature, don’t you think? Wouldn’t it be more fair to give it some time to develop before passing such harsh judgment? Fortunately, not every one surfs…

  32. Rich Jacobson

    July 9, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Frank: It was late, and I later apologized. My ‘Surfs Up’ comment was meant to be sarcastic as well, not an attempt at bullying by any means.

    Michelle: Yes, there will be a place for listings in the new format.

  33. Bob

    July 9, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Rich, that is my unvarnished opinion and it is “based” on what localism has been. What it will be remains to be seen.

    Question: Say someone sponsors a community, then later decides to not renew. What happens to their content? Who owns it?

  34. Glenn fm Naples

    July 9, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Bob, your question is a good one “Say someone sponsors a community, then later decides to not renew. What happens to their content? Who owns it?”.
    Will be interested to hear the answers to that one.

  35. Bob

    July 9, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Another Localism question Rich – do you plan on putting up the TOS for this new brand of localism prior to the “land rush”, or is the plan to just take people’s money and then let them know the fine print details?

  36. Frank Jewett

    July 9, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Rich, I began my response before you posted your apology. I wasn’t aware of your apology until after I clicked Submit. Had I seen the apology first, I wouldn’t have responded in that fashion.

  37. Rich Jacobson

    July 9, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Bob: We plan to make the value proposition, expectations/requirements very obvious before ‘taking’ people’s money.

    In regards to your earlier question, blog content on AR has always been, and will always be, the property of the original author. Whenever a member chooses to leave AR, they can remove their blog archive, and take their content with them.

    In regards to the new Localism, when you sponsor a neighborhood/community, you are afforded a static section that you provide content for. If you decide not to renew your sponsorship, that information will become replaced by whoever sponsors the neighborhood/community next. Any articles/content that you contributed to Localism thru AR will remain intact, and will continue to show up in the community, or on your blog profile.

  38. Frank Jewett

    July 9, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Rich, I have no problem with attempts to monetize the platform, but I’m not surprised by the reaction. Web 1.0 was about giving away content for free and worrying about how to monetize it later. Web 2.0 has been about convincing users to generate free content and figuring out how to monetize it later. Developers (as a group) haven’t been completely candid with users, but users should have seen this coming. AR has to be able to pay their bills. We can’t count on VC money covering costs indefinitely.

  39. Bob

    July 9, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Well said, Frank. For many, creating user generated content for others isn’t a big deal because you are not competing with it. Obviously, the real estate space is different.

  40. Rich Jacobson

    July 9, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Frank: Membership and involvement on AR and Localism is still free, last time I checked. If a member wants to sponsor a neighborhood or community to gain some additional exposure, then they have that option. Overall, the reactions today have been pretty positive. Those who are overly critical are simply jumping the gun and drinking a glass of Kool Aid that wasn’t served.

    But as others have so eloquently commented, to each their own. Each of us needs to explore and discover what Web 2.0 technologies/social networking venues work best for us, according to our individual marketing plans, and within the context of our own respective markets. ActiveRain and Localism may work for some, but not for others. One size doesn’t fit all.

    I loved what Matthew said earlier “agents are spending far too much effort worrying about everyone else and not concentrating on their own business.” That’s really good counsel.

  41. Bob

    July 9, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Nah Rich, they are just reacting to your blatant sales pitch.

  42. Frank Jewett

    July 9, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Frank: Membership and involvement on AR and Localism is still free, last time I checked.

    Rich, you and I keep getting our wires crossed. While you were posting that, I was posting the following in the other Localism 2.0 thread…

    Actually AR is still free and I do believe that you’ll get just as much Google juice today as you did last week. Localism sponsorship only matters when visitors hit a neighborhood page, but they still navigate directly to your blog (completely missing the sponsors) when they find you on Google.

    Until the neighborhood pages of Localism.com become actual destinations, this argument is really much ado about nothing. The rest of the AR value proposition remains intact and is still totally free.

  43. Michelle DeRepentigny

    July 9, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    So many of the commenters here don’t see the value of localism, but I feel just the opposite. Y’all talk about competing with yourself, there is no way your independent blog is going to hold all top 10 spots on Google. My little hyper local blog does well and has been consistently in the top 10 of Google for my keywords for a long time now. I don’t want all ten spots but I want several of them, because I want a consumer to see that I participate heavily in many real estate arenas and different consumer are drawn to different types of sites, IMHO.

    So I do see the value in contributing my content to multiple sites and we are all entitled to our opinion on that. I guess that is my problem, I’ve been a kool aid drinker 🙂 since the day I stumbled across AR – maybe I should have called myself a cheerleader instead, but at 3am Eastern, it just poured out that way.

    What I am still looking for is a definition of communities or neighborhoods or however AR is planning on charging for them. And I don’t want to see it at 1 minute before midnight on 7/31/2008. Releasing that bit of the algorithim could have cut down on some of the bitterness from those of us who see the value and have contributed.

  44. Bob

    July 9, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Michelle, it isn’t that we don’t see the value, it is that for some of us, it goes against the whole principle of being in business for yourself, but renting online presence from a 3rd party who can change the terms on you as they see fit. The web gives you a chance to compete straight up with anyone, so the need for an AR/localism site is minimal.

    Y’all talk about competing with yourself, there is no way your independent blog is going to hold all top 10 spots on Google. My little hyper local blog does well and has been consistently in the top 10 of Google for my keywords for a long time now.

    I would suggest that you are making the argument for us. No site will take more than two spots per 10, so your logic is that you have your site with hopefully 2 spots and localism gets you another 2. If it’s the same content, that isn’t likely to happen. If it is different content, then starting another local blog with that content gives you the opportunity for the same results.

    I know I won’t buy a community. I’ll beat localism for the areas I want and if necessary, help other sites enough to push any localism post to page two.

    Controlling serps is both an offensive and defensive game. We can play it, localism can’t.

  45. Rich Jacobson

    July 9, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Bob: I am just really curious as to what I or ActiveRain has ever done to cause you to be so caustic and bitter? Did we take your toys away as a child? We aren’t the Anti-Christ.

    Frank: We’re like ships passing in the night. Know that I do always value your opinions and input. I have found your comments in the past extremely insightful and helpful to our process.

    Michelle: We will make all the details very plain and obvious. Again, I would simply reserve your judgments until we’ve had adequate time to unroll and populate everything.

  46. Bob

    July 9, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Localism/AR is no longer the agent watercooler, but now a fee based advertising company with a lead generation company as it’s primary investor. AR is now going to be competing for eyeballs and selling the pageviews with a different motive. It’s a safe bet that what is rolled out today is not what will be there down the road. Would it surprise anyone for future renewals to be based on size of community, housing prices, page views, click thrus or even search engine ranking? Doubtful.

    While AR has every right to monetize their site as they see fit, since the method is via an agent, I choose to educate the agent as to how to do it themselves so they don’t have to be indebted to the company store.

    Rich, I haven’t directed anything at you, but that is twice that you have attempted to make this personal with comments like caustic, bitter, spineless and anonymous.

    Nothing spineless or anonymous about my position, As for caustic and bitter, those labels may better fit the people, who, having provided tons of content to Localism since its inception, now find themselves having to pay to play.

    I like competition and I hate to lose. But if I have to lose, I would prefer to lose to a fellow agent and not a 3rd party site.

  47. Rich Jacobson

    July 9, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Bob: For someone who has had such a cursory experience and minimal level of involvement on our platform, I don’t think you’re necessarily qualified to predict what AR or Localism will become. I will grant you your ‘speculations.’ I haven’t attempted to make this personal, Bob. You are entitled to your opinions. Our members don’t have to pay to play. The overwhelming majority of the network is still available at no charge. Let’s agree to have this same discussion 6 months from now, and compare notes.

  48. Bob

    July 9, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Rich, you have no idea my experience or level of involvement with regard to AR. Assuming that my lack of any substantial content contribution means that I don’t have a thorough working knowledge of AR and how to extract value for myself and others without having to rack up 6 figures in points would be a mistake.

    BTW, let me know if you would like to know why your AR county and city pages are for the most part toast in Google.

  49. Jonathan Washburn

    July 9, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Hi Bob, Goodness it’s been a busy day. In reply to one of your comments to Rich I noticed you made this statement:

    “…having provided tons of content to Localism since its inception, now find themselves having to pay to play.”

    That is actually not right. We chose a revenue model where a user can choose to “pay to play” or they can continue to post to Localism like they always have done for free. In fact most of the content (over 95%) on the new Localism site is free for members to post to.

    The pay option is just another option for people who would rather invest $’s into Localism than time.

    It takes all kinds to make the world go round.

  50. Rich Jacobson

    July 10, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Bob: Our conversation here isn’t accomplishing anything positive. I would hope that over time, as Localism develops, your opinions expressed here would change. My sense is that I doubt that will happen, regardless of what we do, or the successes we enjoy. But ya never know! I wish you good fortune in your endeavors there in the San Diego market…

  51. Barry Cunningham

    July 10, 2008 at 4:27 am

    @ Bob….”let me know if you would like to know why your AR county and city pages are for the most part toast in Google”

    I would like to know..if not in an open forum..please email me. Very interested in knowing this

  52. Mack in Atlanta

    July 10, 2008 at 6:01 am

    @Rich Jacobson – Quoting from your comment #14: HV has been an excellent minority investor in AR. They are very much ‘hands-off’ as far as our day-to-day operations go. Jon and Matt call the shots as they always have. And HV has not been granted access to any of our data. They advertise on the site, but that’s about it.

    Perhaps you can explain why I now get an email update from AR daily with HV and JL all over it. This has just begun recently. Not only is the advertising on the site but it is going out in emails to, my guess would be, every email address that AR has. HV probably considers this to be a very cheap avenue of advertising to get to their source of income.

  53. Eric Blackwell

    July 10, 2008 at 9:09 am

    “Every form of refuge has its price..”
    Lying eyes–The Eagles

    Can you explain to us Rich, where the return is going to come from for the capital that HV invested and how that will play out? My healthy skepticism on this comes from past experience with VC investors.

    If it was truly just a “They advertise on the site, but that’s about it.” sort of a deal..as you claim…..then why did they buy a piece of the company? If I want to advertise on a local TV station, I don’t go down and buy a 10% or 20% or 30% stake in it. I just buy off of the rate card. HV did NOT buy off the rate card. They INVESTED in a STAKE in the company, no?

    Do you see why some of us, (myself included) are having a difficult time swallowing this Rich?

  54. Frank Jewett

    July 10, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Rich, since you’re fairly new to this whole corporate shill social media guru gig, I’ve assembled a handy template you can use to defend your employer against outrageous slings and arrows from ignorant bloggers help clear up any misconceptions about Localism.

    =====

    Hi *insert name of critic*,

    Just to be clear, ActiveRain offers lots of great free features to agents which helps increase traffic to their websites and increase their brand. For example, some core free features that we offer and which are pretty valuable in my mind are *insert features list here*. These features and many more, will remain free.

    Being a business, we offer additional cost effective services to those that choose to enhance their visibility and brand on ActiveRain. So if you’re an agent, local business or service provider, you can promote yourself and your brand with Localism. If you are a major advertiser, we offer banner ads throughout the site. This is how we monetize our site so have no fear.

    Hope this clears up where Trulia ActiveRain stands.

    Peace,

    ActiveRich

    =====

    The key to success is to stay as close to the scripted remarks as possible. It’s like regurgitating talking points on Hannity and Colmes. Stay on message and above all, try to be friendly, at least in your first response. After all, you’re not a corporate shill, you’re a community member dropping by to help clear up any unfortunate misunderstandings. Web 2.0 is all about free help from people with no financial stake in the discussion. 🙂

    Good luck!

    (Thanks to Rudy from Trulia for providing the corporate talking points boiler plate used in this example)

  55. Bob

    July 10, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Jonathon, please explain to me how this isnt going to be pay to play at the same time you are trying to create a feeding frenzy with your land rush concept? If I buy up $700 worth of San Diego County, including all of North County, how do the Jeff Dowlers and Roberta Murphys still contribute to their preferred areas?

    As I see it, if they can, then why pay? If they can’t, then how is this not pay to play?

    Rich, if I’m wrong or my criticism is unfounded, I’ll be the first to man up. In the meantime, why not address the issues or questions being raised instead of trying to discredit me because I won’t sit around your campfire and sing Kum ba ya with you?

    @Barry – that info may require an investment on your part 😉

  56. Rich Jacobson

    July 10, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Frank: And this is exactly why I value and appreciate you! I sent Rudy a message on Twitter last night, and suggested that we hook-up to compare notes….

    Thanks for the template. It will save me a lot of time!

  57. Frank Jewett

    July 10, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Rich, I’m happy to help. I felt bad when I saw the “Lyin’ Eyes” lyric dropped on you. Ouch!

    Invite David from Zillow, too. It’s a small, but growing fraternity.

    “It would sure do me good, to do you good. Let me help!” – Billy Swan, “I Can Help”

  58. Rich Jacobson

    July 10, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Bob: I am not trying to ‘discredit’ you. You’ve been at this a lot longer than most of the people around here who claim to be so-called experts. I respect that. Your initial remark that Localism SUCKS put me on the defensive. To cast such a precipitous judgment when the platform isn’t even a day old was being a tad bit unfair, in my opinion. Understanding the ‘mechanics’ of AR is one thing. Being a vested member and actively participating in the community is another. I find that many of those who are critical of us have never taken the time to gain a real appreciation for the benefits membership/participation offers.

  59. Jonathan Washburn

    July 10, 2008 at 11:41 am

    “Can you explain to us Rich, where the return is going to come from for the capital that HV invested and how that will play out?”

    ActiveRain has an amazing future ahead of it. Our plan is to make lots of profit and give HV a fantastic return on their investment.

    (And they do not have access to our member’s email addresses. They buy advertising on our website and in our newsletter through our sales guy Jerry, just like all of the other businesses do.)

  60. Frank Jewett

    July 10, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Jonathan, since you’re here, any comment on the plagiarism at Localism that I reported to you yesterday morning?

    https://localism.com/blog/ca/san_jose/willow_glen/posts/580176/Willow-Glen-in-San

    It appears the same member committed plagiarism in all 6 of her Localism posts. Do you have a plan for curtailing plagiarism on AR/Localism?

    Obviously taking away 200 points hasn’t been an effective solution.

  61. Eric Blackwell

    July 10, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    @ Frank-

    You cracked me up with that. Honestly Frank (leaving aside the Eagles humor–what can I say. I am a fan,) do you think my question about HV investing in Active Rain was unfair? I don’t think so and I would like think it deserves an answer. Is it unfair to ask these questions of a “partner” before spending hours generating content for them?

    Who owns you? How much revenue do you HAVE to generate to pay them back? What might that cause you to decide? Where are you getting your traffic from? Where do you intend to get traffic from? What is the likelihood you will become a competitor? Are these unfair questions? (seriously…)

    @Rich- Please take Frank up on the advice to talk to David G. He will tell you that I have been more than friendly and fair with him…of course he has never referred to me or friends as “the lynch mob” either…grin. (different post) (He has sent me several emails at different times and we have agreed on some and disagreed agreeably on others) Don’t expect me to change my principles or suddenly like the product you are offering when you are a competitor with the REALTOR (hint: No-following user generated content qualifies), then I start getting upset….but I will wait and see what the post BETA version looks like.

    Best to both of you.

    Eric

  62. Bob

    July 10, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    But Localism isnt new. This is a remodel and my critique was based what was previously there, not your as yet to be fully unveiled reincarnation. At the moment there isn’t anything to evaluate and few details. Even AR acknowledges that much of the previous content is junk, which is why you are instituting an editing policy and much of the old stuff was removed.

    I find that many of those who are critical of us have never taken the time to gain a real appreciation for the benefits membership/participation offers.

    That is merely assumption on your part. I am a member and I have participated. It became obvious to me that the value proposition for me was purely SEO, so I highly maximized my ROI. I am not a fan of diminishing returns. I also know quite a few previously “vested” members with points in the 6 figures and we share similar opinions at this juncture. Once they learned the value of their content and how to best use it, they too looked at AR from an ROI perspective.

    If the content improves and provides some actual value to the casual visitor, then localism won’t suck. Last month it did.

    Clearly the financial goal is to have everything sponsored, so I am unclear as to the free part. Who knows, I may even be a buyer, even if its a defensive move.

  63. Frank Jewett

    July 10, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Eric, I thought your questions were fair and I liked your observations regarding advertising versus investing. As for the lyric, it made Rich sound like he had made some sort of moral compromise to survive the downturn. Let me suggest an alternative lyric:

    “And all this science I don’t understand. It’s just my job five days a week” – Elton John

    Web 2.0 titles like “Community Builder” and “Social Media Guru” have created confusion. These folks are simply employees doing a job on behalf of their employers. We should never lose sight of that.

  64. Barry Cunningham

    July 10, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    We just interviewed Bob Stewart of Active Rain..Fuhgettaboutit! We understand where this thing is headed…This is may be a very good play..if you expand your mind. Beyond the confines of a real estate play, this Localism has legs.

    I’m jumping in with both feet, and payng for multiple communities AND will be interested in advertising in display ads as well.

    My participation will not be ANYTHING like most would ever associate with our normal marketing.

    I think that confining the talk hear to real estate is a mistake or at minimum not seeing the true big picture.

  65. Jonathan Dalton

    July 10, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Well, if Barry’s doing it then I’m more confident than ever in my decision to sit this one out. 🙂

  66. Paula Henry

    July 10, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Barry –

    I wrote about what I should do with this whole thing – I haven’t been there in a while. I’ll listen to your show; at the same time, I have to decide how much effort and time I can allocate to blogging.

  67. Frank Jewett

    July 10, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    We understand where this thing is headed…

    Yeah, toss in listings and you’ve got Zillow REALTOR Voices 3.0, the new national social MLS network for bloggers!

    No, I don’t have “the scoop”, but when a member asks “what happens to our listings” and the response is “wait and see”, it’s pretty easy to connect the dots. Basically all of the players are attempting to copy each other, a strategy which is being facilitated by low barriers to entry on the technical side.

    Who will ultimately prevail and why? Well, when Overstock.com swings open their doors with 2.5 million listings, it obviously isn’t about the listings anymore. It isn’t about the technology either. Everybody is developing heat maps, Zestimators (REALTOR.com provides 18 months of mostly useless comps), and community based consumer communication portals.

    The only area still open to competition, the one commodity that can’t be sublicensed or copied is… you. Your knowledge of the neighborhood, the industry, and the buying and selling process is the only competitive advantage still on the table.

    Choose wisely.

  68. Bob

    July 10, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Gotta say Frank, that last paragraph is a thing of beauty.

  69. Paula Henry

    July 10, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    @Bob@Frank – Agreed – so why should we leave our knowledge on other sites who compete with us.

  70. Bob

    July 10, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Barry, since you have the scoop, can you answer the question I asked earlier?

    If I buy up $700 worth of San Diego County, including all of North County, how do the Jeff Dowlers and Roberta Murphys still contribute to their preferred areas?

    As I see it, if they can, then why pay? If they can’t, then how is this not pay to play?

  71. Frank Jewett

    July 10, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Bob, Teresa Boardman made some great comments here about ActiveRain, SEO, and blogging.

    https://agentgenius.com/?p=1544#comment-7058

    The line that sticks with me is “I also find that everything I write on my own blog is featured.”

  72. Barry Cunningham

    July 10, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Hey bob..I don’t have the “scoop” but rather a fresh perspective. I can’t answer your question because as I said above, I think that confining the talk about Localism to real estate is a mistake or at minimum not seeing the true big picture.

    I am not enthused about Localism for the direct nature or proposition of selling real estate. I believe the power it offers is well beyond the narrow thinking of just real estate.

    Not at all saying you are narrow thinking, just that I see a much bigger picture for the platform where real estate is not the primary objective.

    This being a real estate forum, it’s likely most here will not see the potential tie in. That’s quite ok with me.

  73. Frank Jewett

    July 10, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Fortunately ActiveRich has connected the dots for those who do not see the potential tie in.

    Imagine if you’ve been farming a particular development. You may even live there, and be active in the Homeowners Association. What better way to be the chief authority of that development than to create a community on Localism for that specific development. Send out a mailer and solicit involvment on the site for all the residents. Have it become the local community bulletin board to share upcoming events, advertise garage sales, school events, whatever. And guess what? There you are right in the middle of it all!..

    What remains to be explained is why I wouldn’t apply the same model using Blogger to eliminate both the sponsorship fee and competing agents. Pay money to sponsor a blog that I have to share with competing agents or create a free blog with no competing agents?

    Hmmm… I think we’re gonna need another batch of Kool Aid.

  74. Dan Connolly

    July 10, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Hmm let’s see if I’ve got this right, Localism …..this will be the end of the rainbow for consumers hungry for information on their local areas and when they skip down the yellow brick road to their local area what do they find? Any agent who happened to have $7.50 who got there first and has established himself as the local expert. What was the criteria that made him the local expert? Well… he was the first agent to come up with $7.50 for the spot! Anything else? No just $7.50, that’s all it takes to be an expert on Localism. Wow! I guess that means that the information will be cutting edge and up to date huh? Yeah, because if an agent has $7.50 and isn’t afraid to invest it in his business he must be an expert! Right? Okay I get it now! Can’t wait. Where do I sign up? …..Really!

  75. Frank Jewett

    July 10, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Dan, we should be like Barry and think outside the box. I live in Willow Glen, a neighborhood in San Jose. Let’s say I plonk down $7.50 a month for the Willow Glen franchise. We happen to have a bunch of Eichlers in one part of Willow Glen. They even have street signs celebrating their Eichlerdom. You could come along and sponsor “Willow Glen Eichlers” and then invite all those owners to join so that they can discuss heating and cooling tips. The heart of Willow Glen is Lincoln Avenue. The business owners on Lincoln Avenue have their own association. Barry could come along and sponsor “Willow Glen – Lincoln Avenue” and invite them to discuss avenue business. Now I’ve got the entire neighborhood of Willow Glen, minus all the Eichlers and Lincoln Avenue. Damn, I thought I was locking up the entire neighborhood.

    Think I’m making this up? Read Jonathan’s latest blog. Here is an excerpt that caught my eye.

    Question: How do you define a community?

    Answer: We decided to leave this up to our members. My belief is that it will start with users only submitting large neighborhoods as communities, but over time the number of the communities will expand as people choose to submit individual buildings as communities. For example, I could see a school, church, office building, or apartment complex all receiving great benefit from keeping a community blog on Localism.

    Question: We still need some more clarifications on sponsorship. In the city of Henderson, NV there are several master planned communities, and many of these have unique subdivisions within them. If one AR member sponsored the master plan, could others sponsor subdivisions within the master plan?

    Answer: Each submitted community will be sponsorable. The two main requirements are that the community have a unique name and reside within the geo-graphical confines of a city. For example one person could sponsor “Queen Anne” Seattle, and someone else could create and sponsor “North Queen Anne” Seattle.

    Before I’d buy, I’d want to know exactly what I was buying. “Leave that up to our members” doesn’t sound like a good plan for defining sponsorship areas.

  76. Bob

    July 10, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Thinking outside the box, you could create your own site and own it. With the low number of search engine visitors many of these communities are likely to get, $7.50-15.00 a month will cover the ppc.

  77. Bob

    July 10, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Barry, I understand your perspective, but the success of Localism hinges a lot on search engine placement. I would not assume that to be a slam dunk.

    The early juice AR enjoyed stemmed from the links they got from agents for a few measly points and was built upon by agents linking to their own posts. That won’t happen to anywhere near the degree. Right now, localism is being juiced by AR. That isn’t going to be enough for anything that you couldn’t get by default on your own.

  78. Bob

    July 10, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Barry, after reading the localism Q&A, and re-reading your comments, I think the natives at AR will freak when they get what you are saying.

  79. Rich Jacobson

    July 11, 2008 at 12:38 am

    Frank: Remind me never to go shopping with you!

  80. Frank Jewett

    July 11, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Rich, you gotta admit, “leave that up to our members” hasn’t worked well in the past.

    Look at all the redundant groups members have created. How are you going to cross check local situations to make sure that agents aren’t creating subcommunities that are essentially an excuse to squat in a community someone else is already paying to sponsor?

    It’s only a “land rush” if the land is unique. This subcommunity scheme sounds more like a boxing manager selling 200% of a fighter.

    Look at all the dead groups members have abandoned. What happens when a sponsor walks away? Nothing, as long as the credit card is still valid? Listen to Bob’s pitch. He’s counting on Realtors to drum up traffic for Localism. Why would I drum up traffic for an area being sponsored by a no-show competitor? You’re running the risk of people buying up shelf space simply to block their rivals. Yes, you’ll make a few bucks, but the site won’t become the consumer destination you need it to become. I could buy an area simply to try to kill it off. I believe someone already mentioned a “defensive” buy here.

    What happens when a sponsor cancels? Do you have another “land rush” every quarter, like trying to register for college classes, or do you auction off the community like a recycled URL? I’m not trying to focus on the negative outcomes, but I don’t think you can count on consistency. Some sponsors are going to flake out on you. Hopefully less than the 90% or so who flake out overall, but it will still be a significant number.

  81. Bob

    July 11, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Push a competitor’s area down in the SERPS and boost a subcommunity and the sponsor will quit paying. Localism will have their own foreclosure problem.

  82. Mack in Atlanta

    July 11, 2008 at 8:40 am

    @Bob – Will there be Localism sponsor short sales?

  83. Barry Cunningham

    July 11, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Bob..like I said…IMO…real estate is but a small part of what Localism will be and and even smaller part of the overall opportunity. Those focusing on it as a real estate website will be missing the proverbial boat.

    When it gets open to the public and ANYONE can contribute..what exactly do you think will happen? I envision everyone from your local barber to your 5th grade teacher blogging and putting stories about there communities.

    Here..do the math…if only 8% of all realtors are blogging based upon NAR stats and we all know that’s generous. That would mean there are about 120,000 agents blogging. Let’s take a modest distribution of dividing that thru 50 states and you come up up with 2,400 agents blogging PER STATE, well once you reduce that to local cities and communities you easily see that Localism is not going to be the realtors nirvana nor is it designed to be as such.

    I see the opening up of Localism actually DWARFING real estate agents and agents actually being like they are now in real life. Agents aren’t the focus, they are just there if and when you need them.

    Far more people are interested in the community than they are an agent or a house.

    We had 500 people show up for a dog show here in Fort Lauderdale last weekend. All last month only 600 homes sold.

    More people interested in the community than an agent…it’s those who know how or are willing to monetize it that will truly profit from Localism.

    Are you ready?

  84. Jim Warner

    July 12, 2008 at 1:30 am

    Well then, after reading through all these happy posts I gotta say… Maybe Phil Graham was on to something after all. How ’bout let’s all try to get some sleep, there’s a lot of work to be done and plenty of people out there who could use our help. What say we all get back to our day jobs and just let this thing fish awhile. Kudos to those who are trying to make this whole thing go, no matter your motives. Raspberries to the whiner pusses that have nothing better to do than gripe about it. Good Lord!

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Social Media

Facebook beta features fresh friendly facade you can try out

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is trying to change it’s image, literally. They already changed their logo, now is time for a new design you can see in the beta.

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After sixteen years in the game, Facebook is getting a facelift. Facebook has been working on a redesign for quite some time and they’re finally starting to roll out a beta. Facebook is taking the rollout slow, so it looks like just a few users are seeing the redesign and the rest of us will have to wait. Want to be among the first to test out the new look? Here’s how you can, maybe, make it happen.

If you are one of the lucky few who has been selected to beta test, then getting the new design should be simple. When you log into your account (as if you ever log out) a pop up will prompt you to try out the new beta. If this doesn’t happen, and you’re still feeling optimistic, then turn your eye to the upper right-hand corner of your screen and look for a button labeled “See Facebook Beta.” Still no button, but want to keep the hope alive? Click the drop-down arrow in the right-hand corner of your screen and see if the Facebook Beta option appears in the dropdown. Nothing yet? Tough luck, kid. You have not been chosen.

If the new design is available to you, then Facebook will offer to give you a tour of the new system. The fresh UI aims to simplify the user experience by making the page less cluttered and easier to navigate. Icons will be sleeker and brighter and it should be easier than ever to access your Messenger conversations. And if you decide that you kind of hate the new design, no big deal. Users will have the option to switch back to the classic design, at least while the redesign is still in beta.

Platform redesigns are always a contentious topic of conversation for users. Twitter, in particular, has seen some user drama over its redesigns through the years. Sometimes a redesign will knock out your favorite feature or make a shortcut you used to take in a workflow pointless. And, honestly, sometimes people just don’t like change. Whatever side of the coin you’re on, let us know how you feel about Facebook’s new look.

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Google takes a shot at competing with TikTok, Pinterest videos

(SOCIAL MEDIA) We all love to sit and watch short videos, be they humorous, reactionary, or weird, but here is Googles attempt to get educational with Tangi.

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Tangi screenshot

It’s happened to anyone who’s ever been looking online for how-to help… you click on a likely-sounding YouTube video, only to be greeted by an ad you can’t skip, a whole lot of introductory chit-chat, and three minutes of build-up before you finally see exactly what you need to do to handle your would-be DIY hack.

But what if you could get your answer in 60 seconds or less? It’s the concept behind Tangi, a newly released Google app created in the company’s Area 120 incubator by developer Coco Mao.

Variously described as short-form YouTube, video Pinterest, or TikTok for makers, Tangi was inspired by Mao discovering that her “smartphone challenged” parents were using their devices to watch photography and painting tutorials—and developing new hobbies as a result.

She came back to Google and worked with her team to develop Tangi as a place where such how-to inspiration could be more easily found and taken advantage of. “The name is inspired by the words TeAch aNd Give,” she explained as she introduced the app at the end of January. “’Tangible’—things you can make.”

The philosophy behind Tangi means this is hands-on how-to for the crafty club. The time-lapse heavy videos “could quickly get a point across,” Mao said, “something that used to take a long time to learn with just text and images.”

Videos fall into categories of art, cooking, DIY, fashion and beauty, and lifestyle, and are often accompanied by links to recipes or the maker’s blog or Instagram for more information. Some makers don’t quite have the format down pat yet, but most manage to provide a good balance of visual inspiration and a little more information.

And like Pinterest, Tangi can turn into a time-lapsing rabbit hole of its own. I started with a mere 10-second clip on propagating succulents (I’ve been doing it wrong), which led to a minute on “when succulents stretch” (“etiolation” — new vocabulary word!), which led to a succulent cake which led to a conversation heart cake and before I knew it, 20 minutes had gone by and I was watching an exploding heart science Valentine and had washed up at “Yoda one for me.”

While the app has only been out for about a week … and is only available on iOS and the web … it’s already well populated with content from makers and lifestyle bloggers who partnered with Mao’s team during the development process. And though it’s still in closed-beta mode for content creators, users can apply to be on a waitlist to be invited to upload their own work.

There are a few question marks still. No word on when it will be available on Google’s own Android platform, for one thing. While a couple of intrepid contributors are reviewing education apps and dispensing startup advice, its philosophy as stated by team lead Mao may not extend much more beyond the maker and creative fields to include technology and workplace input. And Google doesn’t always support its apps for long.

But it’s fun, simple, and easy on the eyes. As a place to find quick inspiration and direction, Tangi could carve out a niche.

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Social Media

New Reddit policy on impersonation mimics other social media giants

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Reddit is the latest social media company to change their policy to protect against deepfake impersonation, because of the harm they can cause.

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impersonation with deepfakes

Reddit is the latest social media company making updates to their rules and policies ahead of the 2020 election. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and now Reddit are all trying to make the social internet a safer place to receive information.

Reddit’s new policy officially bans impersonation with the goal of handling “bad actors who are trying to manipulate Reddit, particularly are issues of great public significance, like elections.”

Deepfakes have become a key topic of conversation the last few years. In the wake of the mass spreading of misinformation during the 2016 presidential election, users have grown wearier than ever of the information they see online. Deepfakes are no longer a niche subject, but an everyday pain point that technology companies are scrambling to control.

In a statement made on r/redditsecurity, Reddit informed users of the change to website policy stating, “Reddit does not allow content that impersonates individuals or entities in a misleading or deceptive manner. This not only includes using a Reddit account to impersonate someone, but also encompasses things such as domains that mimic others, as well as deepfakes or other manipulated content presented to mislead, or falsely attributed to an individual or entity.”

The platform isn’t trying to make a mass change to it’s often humor driven culture. Parody and satire are still allowed forms of impersonation so long as the joke is obvious. Reddit has vowed to always take context into account when looking at cases of user impersonation.

It’s a good sign for society when popular social platforms start taking their role in controlling the spread of false information seriously. Companies like Reddit are in a position to create real change in the way we spread and consume information about major global events.

What’s unclear is how much man power these companies are putting behind their policies. Reddit ends their statement by pointing users to a report form that users can submit if they or someone else is the victim of impersonation. The question users should be asking is how long would it take to get a response or see action on these reports?

Policy changes are great, but if companies are simply throwing them onto their fine print with no resources behind enforcement then it’s not social change, it’s just legal jargon to protect their ass.

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