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Blog Carnivals: Announcing an Automated Submission System. Kickoff with TMBN hosting of HWR (6/1) and Grand Rounds (6/6).

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TMBN launches a ground-breaking blog carnival management system that will be tested on Health Wonk Review (6/1) and Grand Rounds (6/6).

In anticipation of TMBN hosting of the leading medblog carnivals, Health Wonk Review on 6/1 and Grand Rounds on 6/6, we have a major service update. In fact a real trifecta:

  • Blog Carnival Management: Automated system for managing entry submissions to blog carnivals.
  • Blog Listings & Member Profiles: All-new blog directory to give you improved ways to promote your blog(s).
  • Syndication & Revenue Sharing: A way to give back to our members, including bloggers interested in feed syndication.

Bloggers who plan to submit to the carnivals please take note. I ask you to submit your entry through this system. (Quick Start). Feedback will be important to help future hosts decide whether to use it too.

So, let me describe the services launched in more detail.

1) Blog Carnival Management

What is the Issue?
This is not a secret that popular blog carnivals that build broad community sooner or later succumb to a "success disaster". The challenges of hosting Ground Rounds and handling up to a hundred (100) submissions have been well documented:

What Proposals & Concerns are Out There?
Ves Dimov at Clinical Cases has suggested "Digging" Grand Rounds. This is basically using an automated system to submit posts and rank them by votes & popularity. The concerns have been about taking out of the "human touch" and linking from actual blogs. There has been a lot more debate about inclusiveness vs. size & quality control. I think the key to success is balancing the competing demands in a fair way. 

How TMBN is Hoping to Help
By launching a "carnival submission service" that includes tools to help everyone! The service is now ready to be tested in practice. Organizers can administer their carnival rules & rotation. Bloggers can submit their entries the way they want. Hosts can cut down on email overload and focus on highlighting and commenting on the best posts. Here is the summary of why this should be promising:

  • Balance between inclusiveness and filtering
  • Preserves and enhances the role of hosts
  • Less risk of host email overload or leaving out a worthy entry
  • More time for hosts to focus on more enlightened tasks
  • "Structured" submission reduces risks of mis-communication
  • After reading the "best" posts highlighted by hosts, readers can choose to look at "raw" submissions too
  • Ultimately, boost to community and readership

This would also facilitate setup of more specialized carnivals. To be sure Grand Rounds will remain the granddaddy and pioneer. But with growth, more "circles of interest" are bound to emerge and I am happy to help other medblog carnivals get organized.

Health Wonk Review is the first to fully commit to this service, after using a similar tool, developed by Shahid Shah.

To start participating, look at the next two sections on setting up your blog listing, member profile & revenue sharing.

2) Blog Listings & Member Profiles

Why is This Needed?
Blogs, bloggers and their posts need a way to introduce themselves. This often gets lost in carnivals especially when hosts reference bloggers they never heard of before. Once you create a TMBN account, you can represent yourself the way you want it and have this info in front of carnival hosts when you submit your entries.

What is Included?
Your personal profile now allows you to enter full name and relevant degrees, as well as location to facilitate future setup of "local groups". Once signed in, you can list your blog and find like-minded bloggers, by going to the Blog Community Central. Rest assured, this is only a start, but I do not want to get too far too fast.

What Happens Then?
With your profile and blog(s) configured (only once!), you can submit your entries to your favorite carnivals. NOTE: Current TMBN members, do not forget to update your profiles to use these new features (use "my account" in menu)! Issue's hosts then will be able to review and decide which entries to highlight in the posts on their blogs.

But this announcement would be incomplete, without addressing a very controversial issue that flared up in last few months.

3) Syndication & Revenue Sharing

Why Was There a Controversy?
If anybody really cares, they can read my older post (Online Content Aggregators: The Past, The Present, The Future) or MedGadget's coverage of the BlogBurst Backlash. But suffice to say, any perception of the problem *IS* a problem by definition. So for what it is worth this release is an attempt to fix the concerns, real or perceived.

What is Changing in TMBN Aggregator?
Now a blog listing is the primary place to promote your blog. When it is created (or edited) you have an *option* to apply for inclusion of your feed in the aggregator. Once installed, the feed will be accessed from your listing through a link. So let me summarize the key points of how the syndication will work going forward:

  • You decide whether to be syndicated
  • You retain all the rights to your content
  • You decide what to include in the feed (full or excerpts) and provide the right URL
  • Unlike BlogBurst, we will only syndicate your feed on this site and never republish it
  • Unlike, we will actually keep aggregator in good working condition

Now, What about Revenue Sharing?
As promised it is ready to go and is real simple. You provide Google Adsense ID and TMBN displays it on 50% of full views of your pages, including syndicated feeds, carnival entries and yes, original blogs authored here. Whenever visitors click on ads with your ID, Google credits your account. Here are the things you should consider:

  • Teaser feeds mean Google will serve lower-paying ads, but you can expect more traffic back to your site
  • Full feeds will get higher-paying ads, but readers are less likely to click to your site (but they will still read your work).
  • The go-live date of these features and final instructions will be up when TMBN hosts Grand Rounds (6/6)
  • Do not expect Google to pay your mortgage yet! The tales of AdSense profiteering are somewhat exaggerated
  • This is not required. But if you want to make an impact, link often to help drive the traffic!

NOTE: Currently syndicated bloggers, please register and create your blog listings to "claim your feed". Then your feed will be transfered under your account. To have revenue sharing enabled you need a Google AdSense ID. If you do not have it, go to "my account" and under "my ads" click the referral button. Finally, over time the "legacy" aggregator view will be sun-setted, so hurry up!

Now, the most important part! Please take your time to provide feedback. These services will be really helpful only with YOUR INPUT on what to improve. Suggestions welcome!

Trackbacks (1)

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from GruntDoc on Tue, 06/06/2006 - 6:55am

What would GruntDoc do today? Why, link to this week's Grand Rounds, and give an excerpt! Not until the last moment did I realize that my Grand Rounds falls on a day of apocalyptic significance, celebrated by some. My hope...

Comments (18)

Submitted by Dr. Deborah Serani on Sun, 05/28/2006 - 7:06am.

It was very easy to follow the guidelines to submit a blog to the carnival. I think this will be a great success. I can see that a lot of work was done to streamline this!

Submitted by gmlevinmd123 on Sun, 05/28/2006 - 9:26am.

Dimitriy, do I need to set up the RHIO monitor in the carnival section, and do I post to that instead of directly to RHIO Monitor??

Gary Levin MD

Submitted by hippocrates on Sun, 05/28/2006 - 9:49am.

Blog carnival listings are mainly for blogs hosted elsewhere. You may want to list "Inland RHIO" blog right there.

Nothing has changed about posting to regular TMBN columns, including RHIO Monitor. You should continue posting there too!

Submitted by mistiejourney on Tue, 05/30/2006 - 4:25am.

I notice that my last name appears with my blog entry description and that it is required. I do not use my last name on my blog and although I blog semi-anonymously, using my last name would affect that. I think I should be able to use my first name only, followed by my degree.

This is a major issue, I believe.

Submitted by hippocrates on Tue, 05/30/2006 - 4:43am.


You just solved the problem. While I would encourage people to introduce themselves, if you are not comfortable you can edit your profile (through "my account" in menu) at any time.

I would still recommend putting your degrees into degrees field and use a pseudonym or space (" ") for the last name.

Submitted by Kevin (not verified) on Tue, 05/30/2006 - 9:17am.

I don't think that Grand Rounds submitters should be forced to register to TMBN.  This simple fact may sharply decrease the amount of submissions (for instance, I am not submitting this week since I don't want to register).  

Can you also leave an e-mail option for those who do not want to register?


Submitted by hippocrates on Tue, 05/30/2006 - 9:38am.

... to register.

I am simply asking this as a courtesy to help evaluate the process / format and whether people might find it helpful.

If you really object to registration, but still want to submit this week you can still use the contact form, it is there.

But I am curious, why would you put up with registering on blogspot but not here?

P.S. There is a feature request to add email reminders for people to submit. This will be added, so on the balance the service will INCREASE the number of submissions.

Submitted by Hsien Hsien Lei PhD on Fri, 06/02/2006 - 2:17am.

I agree with Kevin.  While I am registered here, I can imagine that many would be averse to the requirement.  And, since I'm not yet sure that I want to register my blogs,  that's another requirement that may prohibit me from participating in Grand Rounds this coming week.

Another question about registering our blogs.  Can I assume that if I haven't done so, mine are not included in TMBN?

Hsien Lei

Submitted by hippocrates on Fri, 06/02/2006 - 5:11am.

I do not know how to say it clearer than that. You can submit an entry without registering anything. Look at HWR #8 that worked just fine and see the submission stats and observations.

Now about this:

Another question about registering our blogs.  Can I assume that if I haven't done so, mine are not included in TMBN?

I do not understand the question. What do you mean by "not included in TMBN"? The blog is yours, it is up to you whether to register it and we are simply offering a directory to promote it. Tied with carnival submission service and other goodies.

Take it easy! Aloha!

Submitted by Hsien-Hsien Lei, PhD (not verified) on Fri, 06/02/2006 - 1:45pm.

I doubt Kevin and I are the only ones to have reservations about being required to both register at TMBN and claim our blogs.  It seems like a thinly veiled attempt to boost TMBN membership.

You will disagree but I am certain that others feel the same.  Just thought that I'd be honest with you.

Hsien-Hsien Lei, PhD
Science and Health Editor


Submitted by Hsien-Hsien Lei, PhD (not verified) on Fri, 06/02/2006 - 1:51pm.

And, I know you said it's possible to submit via email but that option is definitely obscured by the heavy sell to register.

Submitted by Hannah (not verified) on Sat, 06/03/2006 - 8:27am.

...I registered, but my blog isn't listed.  Was I somehow not considered suitable or am I missing it?


Submitted by hippocrates on Sun, 06/04/2006 - 3:38am.


Welcome to the community!

I looked up your blog and please do not worry, you are in!

Your blog shows up on your user profile and everyone will see it when clicking on your user name. To verify, after you log in go and click "my account" in the menu.

This will always be the most inclusive place for med bloggers to hang out and we are just getting started!

Submitted by neonataldoc on Sun, 06/04/2006 - 11:38am.

With all due respect, I find this a little annoying.  I just want to blog and submit to grand rounds when I feel like it.  I don't want ads on my blog.  I registererd for an account on TMBN but, after trying for fifteen minutes, have not figured out the carnival submission form.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a real computer genius, but it shouldn't be this hard to submit to grand rounds, and we shouldn't have to make an account in TMBN to do so.  I guess I'm skipping grand rounds this week. 

Submitted by hippocrates on Sun, 06/04/2006 - 12:15pm.

... are on the forms. The first step to submitting to carnival is to create a blog listing. I think you kept going back and forth between the blog listing and carnival entry forms.

But this new method is not required. If you are still having problems you can use the site contact form.

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Submitted by Able Mart (not verified) on Tue, 12/26/2006 - 6:51pm.

If I have a blog already, is it possible to just syndicate the feed on the site here?

Submitted by hippocrates on Wed, 12/27/2006 - 9:34am.

Able Mart -

Please create a blog listing and check the syndication box. We are almost done with rolling out the system upgrade to have all these new feeds turned on for syndication.


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