MyBlogLog Social Activity Time Line Disappoints

I normally include a disclosure at the end of my posts relating to Blogcatalog and MyBlogLog, because I want to preserve as much impartiality as possible.
I have always tried to give them equal coverage, and whatever financial benefit I gain from working a little closer with Blogcatalog behind the scenes I try not to influence my opinion. If I was writing paid reviews about them, or had accepted direct advertising, I would have earned a lot more than I will probably receive long term if you factor in associated risk.

I do benefit potentially from long term promotion of Blogcatalog and by giving their competitors equal coverage I also gain a benefit, because if for instance MyBlogLog becomes a massive success, the value of competitors as a viable business also increases.

Thus it is actually with a very heavy heart that I am going to write what might be my first ever critical review of MyBlogLog.

It is my hope the MBL guys take this as constructive criticism, which I haven’t honestly seen on any other blog over the last couple of days since the features were announced, other than what seemed to be a universal yawn.

What Is Wrong With The Activity Time Line?

MyBlogLog have so far added 42 services, and I am only looking at a few of them.

However based on a comment over at Brian Solis the LifeStream currently supports

– Bebo
– Deli.cio.us
– Digg
– Flickr
– Jumpcut
– Last.FM
– MyBlogLog
– Netflix
– Stumbleupon
– Twitter
– Yahoo Answers
– Yelp
– YouTube
– Upcoming

Here are some quick annotated notes in a quick screenshot

MyBlogLog Social Activity Stream Bugs

Now I wouldn’t be so harsh if I hadn’t already read this comment by Eric on the Techcrunch writeup

Sadly, this feature has been ready to launch since June of 07, when it would have been a pioneer instead of a follower. Regardless, I’m psyched that the rest of the team had the temerity to stick it out at Yahoo in the belief that they would get to start launching killer features.

If this has been ready for 8 months and just needed pushing out of the door, you would expect a few refinements.

I have seen a few comments on the Techcrunch article suggesting that there is a lack of control of what you see in the timeline, either for privacy or information overload.
It is true that Blogcatalog have this side of the feature set more refined, but at the same time I am not a great fan of micro-management, and it is not needed with the current maximum of 40 people you follow… possibly because not enough people have added their services yet.

Tags

The way MyBlogLog has tagging implemented has always bugged me – all tags on the site still lead only to people and communities that have been tagged manually in the MyBlogLog system, rather than using the tags supplied within content with rel=”tag” or categories.

Here is an example

Tags in Matt

Those tags from Matt’s delicious feed lead to MyBlogLog’s internal tagging system, not where you would expect… either Matt’s or the global tags on Delicious. Very annoying.
It is equally annoying when you click similar tags below RSS items and again you are not presented with content.

No Mentions of Blogcatalog

Here are some reports on the MyBlogLog new features, but they ignore Blogcatalog

ReadWriteWeb
Techcrunch
Mashable
Louis Grey
Cnet
Brian Solis (Brian I am disappointed)
Webomatica
Download Squad

Best of all, Read Write Web did a round up of 35 Life Streaming sites, and for some reason Blogcatalog didn’t make that list either.

I know everyone is talking about FriendFeed which has some useful viral ideas to encourage everyone to sign up, and their Facebook integration really kicks butt.
I have a problem with FriendFeed – it is trying to grab the conversation from the various services with an internal comment system. I am not sure that is healthy.

MyBlogLog have added some kind of blog comment monitoring system, that is a good idea and something I have nudged the Blogcatalog guys about a few weeks ago, but moving the comments to FriendFeed? I am not happy with that.

If you want to compare, here is the current list of “LifeStream Supported” services on Blogcatalog

Amazon Wishlist, Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Flickr, Last.fm, Myspace Blog, Sphinn, StumbleUpon, Twitter, YouTube

I believe there are 15 others on the way soon.

There are some inherent problems with all of these platforms… information overload and lack of specific topical areas or niches. Once you go beyond your core friends, the noise increases.

I really want to throw a wide net for information retrieval, but I only want some of it.

Update

For those unaware of some of the features introduced by Blogcatalog over the last 6 months here are some links to relevant articles.

For the programming geeks, you might be interested in the BlogCatalog API which was introduced August 2007

If you are looking to differentiate between MyBlogLog and Blogcatalog, I wrote this article back on July 2007 and it covers many of the differences which are still true today.

More recently, Blogcatalog partnered with SezWho to enable a comprehensive comment feedback system. At that time they also surpassed MBL on Alexa, though as everyone knows Alexa stats are not the most accurate to go by, and the unique differences between the services create a different usage profile.

To compare social graph features, I would suggest my article from when Blogcatalog introduced their dashboard 2 weeks ago. Of particular interest for many are the very specific controls available to protect your privacy, or to control which information you receive from different people.

p.s. I don’t class the problems previously with the messaging system as a negative review – I think that was more a general outburst from the whole blogosphere.

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Comments

  1. How To Get A Six Pack says

    I need to do more with both MyBlogLog and Blogcatalog. These are excellent for bloggers, but I usually neglect them.

  2. says

    In comparison with MyBlogLog, how big is BlogCatalog? I didn’t ignore the service out of spite, but instead, out of a lack of familiarity. I see MBL a lot more frequently, and have been a user for some time. If a blog has opted into one “visitor catalog” system, is there any benefit to using both?

    • says

      It is hard to quantify these things because there are different cultural elements.

      Blogcatalog isn’t on any of the major blogs, and until their partnership with Sezwho hadn’t received any coverage on major blogs.

      With the main discussion forum and custom groups that any user can create, they have a stickiness that goes beyond the number of widgets they have displayed each month.

      I went into this a little in my write up at the time of the SezWho partnership, which was also around the time that BlogCatalog passed MyBlogLog on Alexa.
      http://andybeard.eu/2008/01/blogcatalog-sezwho.html

      Recently MyBlogLog disclosed some figures and also mentioned that the change in their server architecture means that traffic numbers are no longer relevant.

      http://mybloglogb.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/02/2008-state-of-t.html

      When they started they were using Amazon S3 for a lot of delivery, so I am not sure what major changes would lead to a significant change.
      Significant changes normally are depicted in some way with a steep increase or decrease in traffic stats, and that isn’t visible on the simple traffic stats I have access to such as Alexa and Compete data.

      I have also written extensively about the differences between the 2 services.
      http://andybeard.eu/2007/07/mybloglog-vs-blogcatalog-differentiation.html

      There has been an API available since August 2007
      http://andybeard.eu/2007/08/blogcatalog-api-launches.html

  3. says

    I definitely don’t see the new layout at MyBlogLog to be an improvement. It’s way too cluttered. The font is too small. I’m really hoping they’ll give us the right to revert to the old layout.

  4. says

    I definitely agree with you. I was shocked when I saw the new layout because I had honestly just gotten used to the old one, which I thought functioned very well. This new layout isn’t very aesthetically pleasing in my opinion, which should be square one for such a successful online community.

  5. Anthony says

    I am a new reader, but if there was another better layout like Jim is mentioning I would like him better then this one. This one suckes, sorry to say that. But this is only my opinion.

    • says

      Anthony, you seem to have some kind of nasty penalty on your site or it has suddenly appeared in the last 24 hours and has never been indexed.
      Either way, I have taken the precaution of removing your link.

      I did check, currently only the index page is in Google’s index.

  6. says

    Hi Andy,

    Thank you for the feedback, yes, it is constructive. Just want to make clear that we were not working on this for eight months. When priorities shifted, we put this on the back burner while we worked on other things.

    Couple of notes.

    Twitter urls not clickable – good suggestion!

    StumbleUpon – the duplicate looks like an artifact particular to the example you saw, I’ll continue to monitor it

    Tags: We want to use tags on updates as a vector across members and sites featured on MyBlogLog. The idea is that if you want to drill down on content back at the source, you’d click through the headline to get to that source post and any actions attached to it. I can see why it’s unexpected behavior, I’m open to other presentations.

    Comments: I’m totally with you on this. I’m not a fan of spawning yet another disconnected pocket of conversations. It’s important to tie it together with the source material somehow. If you cannot, then don’t do it.

    Also, I looked for the Facebook integration on FriendFeed but couldn’t find it.

    All the best,

    Ian

    PS.
    The TechCrunch link goes to the wrong article. The one you need is:
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/29/yahoos-mybloglog-adds-an-activity-stream-feature/

    I think you mean “Blogcatalog partnered with SezWho” not MyBlogLog.

  7. says

    Andy, isn’t funny that everything is just within a few days of each other. An I the only one who notices the dishonesty in BC. They added this feature 11 days ago because you leaked news to them that MBL would be launching theirs is that not right? Pathetic! It shows you can be bought and you are bought in my opinion!

    • says

      Hi Rose

      So delightful to see you here again

      I found out about the MBL timeline around the same time as everyone else, in an email the MBL staff (I think it was signed by Ian) to ALL MyBlogLog members.

      Facebook has been doing a lot of this stuff for ages, and the ReadWriteWeb article linked contains 35 similar services.

      One of the things I effectively gave up when accepting some kind of financial compensation from the BC guys for the help I give them as a sounding block for new features was any kind of inside line with my friends at MyBlogLog, who also I might add invited a few bloggers to look closer at new features some time ago, though I wasn’t among those because of my BC connection.

      As it happens I also don’t hear about everything from BC a long time in advance – I give feedback when it is asked, and whenever I spot something useful to them.

      Some aspects of the timeline are relatively simple to implement, but that certainly isn’t true of all the enhanced privacy and information overload controls that BC have built, which I even missed when I first wrote about the timeline. That doesn’t necessarily mean I want to use them on BC, because currently not enough people have imported their connections.

      If you read carefully, you would note I made it very clear it is in my commercial interest to promote MBL just as much as BC – Facebook wouldn’t be worth as much if it wasn’t for the success of Myspace.

      Developing scalable web applications isn’t like installing WordPress. I am sure Yahoo have done a lot of work on that side of things.

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