Dave Sifry steps down as CEO of Technorati...

image Today Dave Sifry announced (also here) that effective immediately he was stepping down as CEO of Technorati and turning over the reigns to the CFO, VP of Engineering and VP of Marketing while the organization continues its search for a new CEO.  Dave will now take on the role of Chairman of Technorati's Board of Directors.


In full disclosure, I should state that I've known Dave for quite a long time now.  Back in the fall of 1998, it was Dave who offered an email mailing list from his brand-new startup then called LinuxCare (with a capital C) to a group of people who thought we ought to have a vendor-neutral professional certification program for Linux. Dave was later involved with the process of hiring me into Linuxcare and giving me the freedom (and funding) to run all over the world getting people on board with what would evolve into the Linux Professional Institute (LPI), today the leading vendor-neutral certification program for Linux professionals.  My involvement with leading LPI led to me taking a position with a startup named e-smith up in Ottawa in 2000, which was acquired by Mitel in 2001... and is how I wound up where I am today.  I love what I do today and really have Dave to thank for a lot of what started me down the path that led to here.

So I've naturally been watching the growth and challenges of Technorati over the past few years.  It's definitely done some fantastic things... and also had its share of challenges.  I've had my own issues with the site redesign earlier this year.  It has, however, provided us with one way to sort through all the zillion things happening out in the world of social media.  Given that absolutely anyone can set up a blog and start publishing,  how do you sift through all the sites out there to understand what and who matters?  Technorati's attempts at Authority and Ranking have been one way to help with that.  They will continue to be, but the other reality is that the space they are in, "search", is awfully crowded.  Technorati was the first major site to really focus on searching blogs, but now of course Google and every other search site does that.  Technorati's expanded its focus, but so have all the others.  It's definitely an interesting time for them, I think.

As Dave says in his note, Technorati is a "revenue stage" company at this point, and a different stage calls for different leadership.  As Dave writes:

I've been doing startups for almost all of my adult life. And I LOVE startups. I love the teams. I love the sense of mission, and the fast innovation. I love building something from an idea - a whiff of air over vocal cords - into a real, concrete business with real customers and a deep and real sense of corporate mission. I feel incredibly lucky to have gotten the opportunity to do that with so many diverse teams and businesses - SecuRemote, Linuxcare, Sputnik, and Technorati.

There's a definite difference in heading up a startup from heading up a more mature company.  Kudos to Dave for recognizing - and accepting - that and stepping out of the way so that others can take the reigns and move the company he founded to the next step.

Best wishes to the Technorati team and to Dave for whatever comes next for both of them.

Technorati tags: ,

Huh? No "date sort" in Technorati photos? Am I imagining this?

image While I have historically been a huge fan of Technorati, I'm increasingly getting disappointed with the site (as can be seen in my recent posts) and today provided yet another disappointment.  Since my employer, Mitel, had a major reseller conference last week, I was searching technorati for postings about the event.  There seemed to be a number of photos, so I followed the link for the page of "photos about mitel".  However, once there, I found there was no way to sort by date!


Did I imagine this?  Am I missing some option somewhere?

Why should I really care about photos posted 362 days ago?  or 131 days ago?  (Or even, amazingly, 806 days ago?)  How about something closer to, oh, today?  When I did scroll down the page I did find a few posted 4 days ago... but that was all the way at the bottom... and there would seem to be at least 6 more pages of photos... would I really have to scroll through them to find more recent photos?

Now, I don't really think of Technorati as a place to go search for photos, but that's part of what Technorati aims to be, by their own admission.  If they do want to be "the place to go" to search the multimedia web, though, I do think they need to improve things like sort capabilities!  I want to see the search results not only in terms of what my be most relevant, but also in terms of timeframe.  I want to see new photos first.

I know the team there is working hard on improving the site.  Hopefully some of these changes will be made.  In the meantime, I think I'll pretty much ignore the photo search capability.

Technorati tags:

Technorati - where has the "Sort by Authority" gone for search results?

Am I missing something?  Prior to Technorati's recent redesign, I was rather sure that there was a way to sort your search results by "Authority".... I seem to recall using the feature many times to find out who were the most "authoritative" bloggers talking about a particular topic.  While Technorati's Authority measure isn't perfect, it does at least give some sense of how popular a given blog is.  Sorting the search results by authority gave you a sense of which blogs to perhaps take a look at first.

I am, however, questioning my own memory - was this feature there before the redesign?  Or did I just imagine it?

Today, post-re-design, I can't for the life of me find that ability in any of the search results.  Yes, I can filter the results based on authority (i.e. specify the amount of authority to be returned: "any", "a little", "some", "a lot") which can help, but I can't seem to find any way to re-order the search results.  I get them in reverse chronological order (newest first). Period. End of story. 

Am I missing something?  Or is there no way to do this in Technorati?

If not, does anyone have any suggestions for how to do it? (or other sites that make this easy?)

Technorati does a design refresh - but seems to lose the easy "tag" search in the process (and I'll miss that!)

Congrats to the Technorati team on their new site design!  Overall it's a nice "refresh" of their design.  Of particular note, I like their new simple search interface, s.technorati.com, which is very simple and clean and shown in the image on right.  (And as an old-time UNIX/Linux guy who likes short commands,  can I just say that I appreciate the shortened subdomain of "s".)

Dave Sifry's post has much more info but there's one item I'll pull out that is a mixed change for me:

First, we've eliminated search silos on Technorati. In the past, you had to know the difference between keyword search, tag search and blog directory search in order to make use of the full power of our site. No more. Starting today, we now provide you a simplified experience. Simply indicate what's of interest to you and we'll assemble the freshest, hottest, most current social media from across the Live Web - Blogs, posts, photos, videos, podcasts, events, and more.

But what if I want the search silos?

Specifically, what if I want to search for posts tagged with a given tag?  Yes, that's still available on the Advanced Search page and yes, I can create a URL like http://technorati.com/tag/voip and use that... but I guess you can count me as one who liked the aspect of the old interface where you could choose to just search on tags.


Well, searching on posts by tag represents a richer way to search for me.  Searching for a string in blog posts pulls up all sorts of things (and can be very difficult to sort through if you are searching for a generic text string), but searching for a tag gets into the author's intent.  The author did more than just write about something, they tagged it to indicate that it had some relevance to that category.

It also, quite frankly, provided a way to separate out the absolutely clueless newbie bloggers from those who have a clue about blogging and applying meta-information to their entries.  Tags are not perfect... spammers certainly tag their entries with all sorts of irrelevant tags which pollute search results... but they are one additional way to aid us in sorting through the huge volume of information posted to the blogosphere.

So I use tag searches all the time, and it was easy to just go to technorati.com, enter in text and change the option box to a tag search.  Now, that option seems to be gone and I have to either do one more click to the Advanced Search (easy to bookmark and use from my systems, but not as quick when I'm elsewhere and need some info) or construct the appropriate URLs.

Technorati team, for those of us who love tag searches, how about giving us a "tag.technorati.com" that will let us search by tag?

Other than that, the refresh looks quite nice - kudos to the team for making it happen.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Technorati Authority Widget does NOT do what I thought...

Hmmm.. so the "Technorati Authority Widget" I mentioned in my previous post (and described on the Technorati blog and Tools page) does NOT do what I thought it would do.  Based on this:

What's your Authority? Are you considered an authoritative blogger who's fluid prose rakes in link love by the bushel? Now you can proudly display your official Technorati Authority with our new Authority Widget.

I assumed that the widget would return your Technorati "ranking".  Instead, it returns "the number of blogs that link to you", which is an okay thing to display... but not my expectation.   It's also the opposite of the "ranking" in that you want a higher link count.

It seems to me that Technorati needs to clarify, at least for this widget, what they mean by your "official Technorati Authority" because they have two (well, really three) measures in their stats (example - stats for this blog):

  1. Technorati Ranking: lower is better - ranking of your blog against all others based on some metric Technorati developed. Down side is that widget could get quite huge due to large numbers and there is also little incentive for someone who is #1,891,345 to put it on their blog.
  2. Number of blogs that link to you: higher is better - number of blogs that have linked to your site in the last 6 months.  Appears to be a major input into "ranking" and is a good sign of potential "authority" of blog.  Widget size is probably no issue because count grows up and realistically won't get too high (top blog list currently has high of 26,866). More bloggers might use it because again it is counting up and not on such a massive scale as the "ranking".
  3. Number of links from other blogs: higher is better - number of links to your blog from the blogs counted in #2.  Useful in that some blogs might link to you many times.  The challenge is how to interpret the number.  Knowing that a blog was linked to several times by a highly-regarded blog is useful information.  Having it linked to many times by a spam blog (or one of the author's other blogs) is not terribly useful.  This number would seem very easy to game.

Obviously they have chosen #2 for this widget... but my feedback to the Technorati folks would be to clarify in the text on their Tools page exactly what this widget is showing.

Technorati rolls out new widgets for blog authority, tag clouds, top searches...

UPDATE: See my follow-up post about how the "Technorati Authority Widget" does not work like I thought it would. 

I enjoy the fact that the folks at Technorati continue to roll out new tools of interest to bloggers.  This month brought new sidebar widgets for tag clouds, the top technorati tags and also for blog authority.  While I haven't yet decided whether I do want to add them to my sidebar, they are interesting to consider.  I'm going to try posting the "blog authority" widget here in an entry, primarily because Technorati's tools page says that it may take a bit to generate the widget:

View blog authority

I will be honest, though, and wonder how many people will actually use it outside of the truly "top-ranked" bloggers. I mean, currently this blog is ranked around 42,000, which, out of 71 million blogs, is admittedly quite good.  But is it good enough that I really want to clutter up my sidebar with something like that? (As well as adding yet one more thing to delay the loading of my page?)  I don't know...  I'd need to think about that a bit.

I also don't know about adding the tag cloud... but I'm thinking about the top tags, if for no other reason than the fact that it's interesting to see one way to view "the pulse" of what people are talking about.  (And I see my own blogs whenever I post, which means that I would see the list of top tags, which might then make me curious about what people are writing about.)

P.S. And yes, regarind the "authority widget", I fully realize that Technorati rankings are a very imperfect way of understanding how "important" a blog may or may not be... but until someone else comes along with something better, it's one of the few tools we have in our arsenal, IMHO.

Owning the #1 Technorati search result through using the new WTF feature!

How would you like your text and a link to your blog(s) to show up at the very top of a Technorati search as the #1 result? As shown in the picture to the right, I just did that.  If you do a Technorati search on "Michael Keren", with or without quotes around his name, you wind up with a screen like the one I've shown, and right up on top is a peach-ish/tan-ish box with a flame next to it that has a headline, some text and a link to my Technorati profile.  I just put that up there a few minutes ago.

It turns out that two days ago, Technorati released a new feature called "WTF", which they are defining as the more "work-safe" acronym of "Where's The Fire?" [1]  Essentially, you can create a "blurb" explaining why there's a "fire" around a certain search term and post it. Other Technorati users can then vote on the blurb and the blurb with the most votes is the one that lands on top of the list.  As explained on Technorati:

Ever wonder why something is sooooo popular? Why are the hot topics hot? WTFs explain the buzz around people, things, and events. Who writes these WTFs? You do! Anyone can write one on any topic, and everyone can vote for the best explanations. The ones with the most votes rise up and the dreck sinks. Let millions of other people benefit from your genius… no blog required!

Dave Sifry writes more about the new feature and says this:

Here at Technorati HQ, we know that we're taking a pretty risky step - we're putting our highest-value real estate - the topmost search result - in the hands of our community. This is a big social experiment to see if people will work together to help create something great and useful, and will use the voting system to push up the best explanations to the top.

Indeed they are taking a risk... and the experimentation is great to see.  Now let's see how successful it is.  I can see the power of it... but I can also see the abuse.  Since anyone who is a Technorati user can create WTF blurbs for any search, there is nothing to prevent people from leaving blurbs that are quite negative.  For instance, in light of today's economic news, I could (but won't) go leave a blurb on the Exxon Mobil search that says:

Exxon Mobil is a sleazy oil company that announced a quarterly profit of $39.5 billion which works out to a *profit* of $4.5 million dollars *per hour*, while the US Senate is debating whether the minimum wage should be bumped up to $7/hour.

Uh, oh... sounds like yet one more thing that PR and marketing folks need to pay attention to!  I'm guessing the PR folks could put a counter-definition up there as a WTF blurb, but then you've got to get the most votes to wind up on the top!  (And in today's climate, gee, which one is going to get more votes?)   Of course, you could do it for individuals as well.  For instance, because Mitch is just way too easy to pick on, I could (but won't) add to the "mitch joel" Technorati search:

Bald black-wearing blogger from "beautiful Montreal" with tons of groupies who raves about Second Life and pronounces "image" a funny way.

I don't know what happens if Mitch then posts a WTF blurb of his own and both have no votes.  Does the latest blurb win?

So the question is - will bloggers in search of links go through and populate Technorati with WTF blurbs that might get people to view their Technorati profile and then their blog?  Will we see "fights" to determine whose blurb gets on top?  How long will it be until unethical people start WTF-spamming to drive links to their profile and blogs?

Interestingly, there doesn't seem to yet be an overly easy way to monitor if there is a "WTF" blurb written for your company... obviously you can look at the page for your search.  If there is already at least 1 blurb, you can monitor the URL "www.technorati.com/wtf/<name>", as in  http://www.technorati.com/wtf/michael-keren, but it's not clear to me that there is yet an automated way to do this (like an RSS feed).

 It will be fascinating to see how people use - and abuse - this system.  So the question, if you are a Technorati user, have you written a WTF blurb for the searches that relate to you?  Will you do so?  Or will you let others...   (and no, Mitch, I won't be submitting that one for you!)

[1] Non-English readers may not realize that "WTF" is also translated in at least American slang as "What The F___?" with the commonly used profanity that sounds a lot like "duck" (as Dan continues to try to keep his blog work-safe).