Shaking things up on clipmarks.com

For the past couple of years we have tried very hard to create a web site where people’s interests, curiosities and expertise could blend together to create a harmony of content that showcased the great diversity of mankind. We have tried to think outside the box, enabling anyone to post clips, pop clips or comment on clips. Rather than try to create some kind of algorithm that churned out a master list on our home page (like sites such as digg, reddit and many others do), we took a leap of faith and allowed our home page to be determined by the latest pops of each and every user. Miraculously and splendidly, this often produced a high quality ever-changing stream of content that we believe educated and entertained people, opened minds to new ideas, and made connections with information and people that otherwise may never have happened. For this we have been very proud.

Unfortunately, we have recently become increasingly concerned that the site has become overly antagonistic and inappropriately controlled by a disproportionately loud group of users. In all honesty, we no longer feel that the processes of our site are producing a unique, high quality blend of content. Instead, the magical blending of diverse topics on the Clipmarks home page has seemed to dissolve into a battleground for extremely hostile politically oriented users who are overwhelming the rest of the site. Because of this we are working on making some fundamental changes to the way the Clipmarks site works. We will do our best to make changes that improve the site and will continue to iterate until we are comfortable that it is just right.

Whenever we have intervened in matters on the site, we have often been accused of censorship; specifically in ways that people believe further our personal views. To those people, let me say that you couldn’t be more wrong. We have always been grateful for those users and clips that caused us to rethink some of our ways, see things from different perspectives, learn something new or most importantly, realize that we were wrong. I think it’s obvious to anyone who understands the way clipmarks.com works that if we wanted a web site that solely reflected our views and opinions, we never would have created clipmarks.com in the manner we did. Second, our decision to substantially alter the way the home page content is determined is something that everyone who works at clipmarks unanimously and passionately supports…and that includes people on both sides of the political aisle.

The changes we’re working on will hopefully be introduced very soon. We just wanted to give you advance notice of these changes and the reasons behind them.

An update from Clipmarks: Guides, Invitations, Twitter, FriendFeed and more…

Over the past month or so we’ve been working on a number of things that went live yesterday. Some of the more noteworthy changes are as follows…

  1. The first new thing you’ll notice is that we no longer refer to “All Clippers” and “My Clippers” in the header or anywhere else on the site. Instead, we decided to change All Clippers to Everyone and My Clippers to Guides. There were two basic reasons for this. First, we began to feel that “Clippers” sounds more like a ‘what’ than a ‘who’ (ex: Please pass me the clippers. Or, has anyone seen my clippers?). Just not personal enough. Second, we really wanted to think of a word that gives greater meaning and credit to people who gain followers on the site. We talked about what it means to follow another person’s clips and we concluded (after a few trips to dictionary.com) that what you’re doing is making that person a guide (def: Something or someone that shows the way) for you on the web. What they find on the web that interests them enough to clip, you will easily see – that seems like a web guide. Hope you like the new terminology!
  2. In the spirit of enabling you to easily become Guides for your friends and other people you know, we introduced an invite form (see the invite link on the right side of your page) that lets you invite friends to join Clipmarks and automatically makes you a Guide for those who accept (this is made very clear to recipients of the invitation). You also have the option when sending the invite of automatically adding people who accept to your list of Guides. Our goal with this invitation is to make it much easier for people who know each other to find and follow each other’s Clipmarks. For those of you who wish to use this, I urge you to visit your profile and add your real name and a real photo of yourself so that your friends who get the invitation will recognize you.
  3. We have added Twitter and FriendFeed to the “Share Window” and the window that opens after you save a clip; making it easy to post anything you clip or any clip you find on the site directly to either of these sites. We have also contacted FriendFeed about adding Clipmarks to their list of supported sites. Hopefully they’ll do that soon. Lastly, we created a page that has tips and suggestions about how to automatically post your clips to many other places on the web (ex: Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, your blog and much more). You can see it here: http://clipmarks.com/broadcast-your-clips/
  4. When you’re logged in to clipmarks.com, you’ll see that there is now a drop-down arrow next to your username in the right side of the header. You can use this to quickly access your clips, pops, comments, profile page, widget or settings from anywhere on the site.

Lastly, though it’s not ready yet, we have a new, much improved version of our clip button for Firefox 3 and Internet Explorer coming soon. We hope to have it ready within a week. We’ll keep you posted about that real soon.

Hope you enjoy!

A few important updates to Clipmarks.com

A few important updates to Clipmarks were introduced today. In no particular order, some of the headline changes are:

  1. Key improvements to our mobile site at m.clipmarks.com. Due to the inherent nature of the clipmarks experience to allow for rapid fire consumption of small – but potent – bits of information, Clipmarks.com is ideally suited for viewing on mobile devices (especially iPhones). Eric G says there’s no better use of your iPhone when you’re on a bus or train or, even better, in the bathroom :)

    Specific enhancements include:

    • Improved popping functionality (logged in users at m.clipmarks.com can pop and comment on all clips).
    • There are now “next 20″ links on all sets of clip results so you consume clips to your heart’s content.
    • For logged in users, the “remember me” feature now works better.
    • Some nice improvements to the way clips are displayed.
  2. On the main clipmarks.com site and on m.clipmarks.com, you can now use your email address to log in. We made this change to give anyone who forgets their Clipmarks username another way to log in.
  3. On clipmarks.com, you’ll see new Share and Pop interfaces below each open clip. In addition to the design changes, the new share interface makes it very easy to post any clip to sites such as Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc., as well as to your blog or to a friend via email.
  4. The windows for saving, blogging and emailing clips have been redesigned a bit to (hopefully) make the experience a bit simpler and more pleasing on the brain and the eyes. Hope you like! Also, new users can sign up for a Clipmarks account directly from inside any of these windows, so the getting started process should be more fluid.
  5. When saving a clip, we have removed the “My Network” saving option. This was intended to allow users to make clips public on their own pages, but keep them off the main clipmarks site. Though there is definitely some clear value in being able to do this, we consistently found that the confusion it caused people was too significant to justify the utility. We are going to consider alternative ways to offer this type of capability (perhaps on an account and/or folder basis), but until we work out a better solution, we have decided to simplify the process by removing it.

There are a number of other changes on the site, but these are the big ones. We hope you enjoy!

Best,

The Clipmarks Team (eric, eric, eric and derek)

Busy week here at Clipmarks!

So, a busy week for us at Clipmarks that culminated in a number of things being uploaded this afternoon.

  1. New header: We have simplified the site header dramatically. Rather than continuing to fork the site into two viewing modes, all header links will now keep you in the Classic View. We have concluded that the clip widget (formerly known as clipcast) is best suited for showcasing or following clips on other web sites, as opposed to being an alternative viewing mode on clipmarks.com. So, when you’re logged in you’ll now see simple links to All Clippers, My Clippers and My Clips in the header. Each takes you to the classic view for the respective clips.
  2. Real name: We have added a field to each user’s profile page for your real name. Anyone who provides their name will have it displayed below their username when people visit their page and in the clipper card that appears on mouseover of any username. Here’s a link to the profile page where you can add your real name. We’d also like to request/suggest that users upload a real photo of themselves for your profile image. Our feeling is that the community on clipmarks.com would be a lot more welcoming if real faces and real names were available. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the page where you can upload a photo. To anyone who isn’t comfortable doing so, that is totally cool.
  3. No more hiding clips from certain users: While we know that this was an appreciated feature by many users, we were simply having too many technological side effects (site slowness and instability) from having to filter out clips from particular users for every single query on the site. The ability to ignore a user’s comments or prevent them from commenting on your clips is still available. We hope that you will simply avoid clips from user’s you don’t like and/or use your My Clippers list to create a feed of clips from your favorite users.
  4. Name your widget: You can give a name to any widget of clips on the site. If you want to see a widget for any set of clips on the site, you can click the “get widget” link at the top-right of any list of clips. From there, you’ll be able to customize the color, size and name of the widget and get code to embed it on your MySpace page, blog or anywhere else.
  5. Daily email sent again: We were having problems sending out the Daily Clips and My Clippers Digest emails, but these have been resolved. So anyone who subscribes to them should begin receiving them again immediately. Sorry about this!
  6. Video: For anyone who didn’t notice, we are now including video clips along with text and image clips in all feeds on the site (including the home page). The blog post below this one explains our thinking behind this change.

We’ll be rolling out lots more changes and new features over the coming weeks. We’ll keep you posted about them here.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Giving Video Center Stage

We’re now featuring video clips along with clips of text and images in all feeds on Clipmarks.com. Though we’ve supported clipping video for a while now, we’ve never given them equal treatment on the site. This change will make the site’s navigation a bit simpler and increase the overall speed of the site. But the main reason we made the change is because we just don’t see a good reason to keep videos separate. Since the web is largely a blend of text, images and video, and since we support clipping of text, images and video, we feel compelled to at least try to let them live together on clipmarks.com as well. We’re definitely interested to see how this change affects the experience on the site.

More updates soon.

List mode and “clip widgets”

Last night we uploaded some changes to the ClipCast to make it faster, and to add a bit of new functionality. You’ll notice that ClipCasts now default to list mode, allowing you to get an overview of what’s inside before you have to page through each clip.

If you prefer to keep using clip mode, you’ll now find options for switching the default in the settings of our iGoogle and Netvibes widgets, and also on getaclipcast.clipmarks.com .

We’ve also changed the name of the ClipCast to simply be the “Clipmarks Clip Widget”. While we liked the name ClipCast, it was confusing to new users, and the word “widget” is becoming widely understood as a small application that you can take and embed elsewhere to display information. At the core, that’s exactly what our Clip Widget does, so we’ve changed the name to match.

Along with the name change, stay tuned to this blog for more updates as we roll out changes to the site over the coming weeks!

Changes at Clipmarks…

So, last week we went live with Clipmarks 3.0; a HUGE set of new features, functionality and user interface changes. This was definitely the most challenging time we ever experienced, as it literally felt like there were a million pieces to the assemble. Overall, I feel really good about how everything went. That said, there were a few things I wish we handled better. Tonight, we’re introducing the first in a series of updates aimed at improving upon the initial release of V3.0. These are based in large part on amazing feedback we received from our users. So, here are some of the big changes:

  1. The home page is back to the Classic View. We had tried to change it to a page that was more focused on getting our messaging across, but at the end of the day, we just missed the old home page too much to live without it…it’s back!! :)
  2. We have redesigned the style and navigation of the site header. There’s no doubt the header was confusing so we gave it another shot. I think this one is much more effective.
  3. When a clipper adds remarks to their clip, the remarks are now shown at the bottom of the clipped content inside the ClipCast. This one is awesome!!
  4. On Facebook, we made a number of design changes to our app, including showing you which one of your friends popped a clip when you’re looking at the Pops by My Friends ClipCast.
  5. We’re currently having a problem displaying video in ClipCasts, so for now, we have added a link that will take you to the video.
  6. We worked out a ton of other issues that are each too small to get into here, but that together make Clipmarks a much steadier ship.

Thank you to everyone for giving us your feedback and caring so much about Clipmarks. We’ve got a lot more coming…

Clip on!

eric