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 Medlogs.com, 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!