An update to our users regarding ClipCast

In response to feedback we have received from many of you, I just want to reiterate that we did not create the ClipCast to compete with our traditional web site (what we are now calling “classic view”). The reason we developed the ClipCast is so that you could effectively take clipmarks with you when you go somewhere else – anywhere else – on the web. There are two main reasons to use a ClipCast. First, if you want to have your friends elsewhere see your clips, put a ClipCast of your clips on facebook, MySpace, your blog, or any other site. Second, if you want to be able to follow clips from all clippers or your favorite clippers, put a ClipCast of any feed on sites like iGoogle and Netvibes.

There was literally no way in the world we could build ALL the functionality and ease of our entire site into the ClipCast. But quite honestly, I think the team did an incredible job coming close. I’m not saying this to be defensive, just saying it because I think to compare the functionality of an entire web site to that of a Flash application is unrealistic. The bottom line is that I hope you won’t look at the ClipCast and Classic View with an eye to compare them to each other. Rather, I hope you will look at them as serving two entirely different purposes. You can obviously use one or both of them, depending on your needs.

I am very excited about how the ClipCast empowers our users to easily spread their knowledge and ideas beyond the borders of clipmarks.com. I think in time it will allow all of us to have greater influence and impact on the proliferation of information around the web without having any negative impact on the quality of the experience on clipmarks.com.

— eric

Advertisements

Clipmarks 3.0 – Introducing ClipCast

One of the greatest users of Clipmarks stated on his blog, “The 21st century marks the beginning of the ‘new information age’, at which, nothing will be hidden under the sun. If in this new era the entire world is about to witness a dramatic change on how the information is created and shared, the pioneers of this revolution should be emerging all over the world right now.” Well, the pioneers of this revolution are all of us…we the people who use the web. We are on it 24 hours a day; searching, finding, uncovering, discovering, teaching, sharing, learning.

At Clipmarks, our mission is to help empower people to make greater use of the information they discover on the web. Specifically, we want to make that information more portable and easier to consume. With that in mind, we went back to the drawing board in January, 2007, aiming to create a solution that better accomplished our goals. Eleven-and-a-half months later, we are now lifting the curtain on a new version of Clipmarks. Version 3.0 – centered around our new ClipCast technology – is all about opening up the Clipmarks experience to people wherever they go on the web.

Specifically, Clipmarks 3.0 enables users of Facebook, MySpace and any other web site to easily and instantly share anything they clip from the web directly with their friends on any other web site. In effect, everyone one of us becomes a hunter for cool, interesting information that our friends should see. With Clipmarks, any piece of information found on the web is now literally a click away from being shared with friends on any other web site.

We hope that by making information more portable and easier to consume, all people will be able to gain a bit of knowledge about a wider variety of topics than ever before. In the spirit of Invictus’ quote above, it is truly the responsibility of each and every one of us to discover and share the world’s information. We hope that Clipmarks 3.0 is a step towards making that more possible.

— eric

The way it’s going to be on clipmarks.com

I’ve had it. I’ve worked my ass off for the past 2 years helping to create clipmarks.com. I’ve watched Derek and W and Adam and more recently Skiff bring their heart and soul to work every day and many nights trying to create a special place on the web for people. A place where people could enjoy themselves, learn from each other and share. Share what? Share information. Share ideas. Share opinions. Share perspectives. Share knowledge. Share confusion. Share anger. Share encouragement. Share experience. Why? Because I believe there is so much to learn. And because through learning, I believe people become better. They become better because they are less ignorant, less naïve, less intolerant. Through learning they become more open minded, more accepting, more aware. In my opinion, the best way to learn is from each other. That very fact alone demands that we don’t all see things the same way. If we did, then through each other nothing new would be learned. So I embrace disagreement. I embrace debate. I actually embrace realizing I was wrong. Better to realize it than continuing to go on falsely thinking I’m right.

It is with many of those ideals in mind that clipmarks.com was created. I believe it is with those ideals in mind that so many of us go out to the web and clip interesting things we find. And we don’t only post clips so others can see them, but also so that others can comment on them. We do this because it is though comments that everyone is given a chance to be heard. A chance to react, to present different points of view, offer different opinions, different approaches, different answers. That is how we all learn from each other and not just from the clips that are posted.

From my experience on this site, I believe there are two key components that are necessary to make the ideals of the site become reality. The first is that interesting clips about a wide variety of topics need to be posted. I’m ecstatic to say that together we are all creating a vast, diverse library of fascinating clips that offer an incredible resource for people to learn from. It is through these clips that bridges are made between people and ideas. It brings me great pride and happiness to be a part of it. The second necessary component is that people need to act with civility and respect towards each other. I believe that nearly all of the people who participate on the site do so in a way that i’m not only comfortable with, but i am extremely proud of. But amazingly, it seems to only take a few exceptions for a powerful, disruptive friction to grow that interferes with the positive nature and flow of the site. Not only that, but it is literally exhausting. Deciding whether to fight back or simply ignore mean spirited, antagonistic comments is not an enjoyable or productive way to spend your time. I want to be very clear. I am not suggesting that people should agree with other or that they even have to be friendly towards each other. But you must treat others who are on the site with respect and civility if you want to remain on it. Otherwise, I will deactivate your account.

Recently, Kevin Rose of Digg.com took a bold stance and decided that on behalf of his users he was going to permit a controversial story to remain on the digg.com web site. In conclusion, he said, “If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.” Well, I’m saying the same thing now in response to a different issue. Clipmarks.com will be a place where people can share information, ideas and opinions in a civilized, respectful way. It will be a place where people who are sick and tired of the typical hostility, name calling and bitter divisiveness that is so common in most of our media can come to get away from that without losing the variety or substance of the content. Clipmarks is not a place for liberals or conservatives, democrats or republicans. It is a place for liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans, and everyone in between or on either side of those all-to-often conveniently used labels.

I wish I could tell you there was some sort of black and white definition of what will be considered acceptable. Maybe some day there will be an algorithm in place for determining this (maybe Google already has something like that). But today, on clipmarks.com it’s just going to be based on our (and yes, that mostly means my) perception of what is reasonable. Track records will definitely be taken into consideration. But we will do whatever we feel necessary to protect the sanctity of the system we believe so much in. I have no idea how many people that appeals to, but that is who we’re going to appeal to.

Clip on!

eric (egoldstein)

 

A couple of updates on the site

This morning, we uploaded a few changes to the site. There are two that I’ll briefly mention and then one that I want to discuss a bit more in depth.

1) Featured Popper: Each day, we will now have a Featured Popper on the site (below the Featured Clipper on the right side of the home page). We’re looking for ways to recognize users who consistently pop clips on the site. It’s currently difficult for them to get the appreciation they deserve, simply because popping is a more anonymous act than clipping. However, just as the site wouldn’t function without the great contributions of clippers, it also relies on people who pop the most interesting clips so that everyone else can have a better chance of seeing them. Adding a Featured Popper to the site each day is our first step in giving greater recognition to our poppers.

2) Who’s following who: Under each open clip (just to the right of the clipper’s username) you will see a little button that displays the number of followers the clipper has. Clicking this number will open a window that lists each of the users who are following that clipper. By making it easier for people to see who is following each clipper, we hope to also make it easier for everyone to connect with more users . The idea here is that if you know that a bunch of users who you like and respect are following a particular user, then you would likely be interested in learning more about that user and perhaps following his/her clips too. Over the next few weeks we’re going to try making each users My Clippers list a much greater focus of the site.

3) Ignore clippers: We have always taken great pride in the open nature of our system. Other than a few rare exceptions, we have tried to create a site that is completely in the hands of its users. Users contribute the clips…users pop their favorites for others to see…and users are free to add their own comments to any clip. Though we are very passionate about the concept of a completely open system without any limitations on user behavior, based on our observations of the Clipmarks site as well as other sites, we feel that it’s necessary to embrace some rules and boundaries in order to maintain harmony as the size of our user base grows. I anticipate this being an ongoing process where we do our best to react to site dynamics with measures that honor the idealism with which we started Clipmarks but also address some of the realities that come with a growing user base on the Web. As I indicated in this video clip, we have recently begun introducing a number of measures on the site aimed at dealing with this issue.

This morning, we added a little “x” next to each username in the comments section of each clip. If you click the “x” a little window will open that allows you to hide that user’s clip and/or comments as well as block them from commenting on your clips. Though these options can be used at each user’s discretion, I strongly ask of you not to use it to block people on the grounds that they disagree with you or who present views that challenge your own. It is through the presentation of differing views that we learn, so please, lets not use this as a way to censor those who don’t advocate our own way of seeing things.

We are offering this feature because of some consistent user complaints as well as our own observations that some comments on the site seem overly antagonistic. There have certainly been times when i have read comments on a clip and felt bad for the user who posted the clip because the comments seemed so inappropriately harsh. I’ve struggled with the decision of whether to simply allow this to continue because of my desire to keep clipmarks as open as possible or to try to curb it. Ultimately, we decided that each user should be free to make these decisions for themselves.

If you relate this to the Don Imus situation, our goal is to remove our own discretion from the equation as much as possible so that unlike CBS that chose to yank Imus off the airwaves, users will be able to make the choice about who they interact with on the site. Lastly, I’m hopeful that simply knowing that others can block you from commenting on your clips will spur people to maintain a greater level of respect for each other…even through their debates and disagreements. One suggestion/request I’d like to propose is to not use this measure immediately based on people’s past comments. Give this new system a chance to have an impact on how people comment and then use it when you feel necessary.

Like all of our work, nothing is permanent. If we come to believe this is a mistake or that there is a better approach, we will gladly make adjustments.

Improving Clip-to-Blog…

Have your ever experienced simultaneous multiple blogasms? Doubtful, but now you can! Today we introduced a pretty major upgrade to our Clip-to-Blog feature that lets you simultaneously post clips to as many blogs as you have. Also, you can save each of your blogs as part of your Clipmarks profile and then easily toggle to the one you want a specific post to go to. Bottom line, if you manage more than one blog, Clip-to-Blog just made it much easier for you to easily and quickly keep them fresh with new, interesting content.

A little downtime tonight

Wanted to let everyone know that we’re doing some work that requires us to take the site offline for around 30 minutes tonight at 12:30 am EST.

Derek and EricW are working their magic on some new Clipmarks features and need the time to put all the pieces together.

Sorry for the downtime. We’ll get the site back up as quickly as possible.

– Adam

Friday the 13th proves to be bad luck

At around 9pm EST friday night we began to notice odd behavior on our servers. Shortly thereafter, our web site went down. It quickly became clear to us that this was a Denial of Service attack…meaning that someone was intentionally trying to take down the site.  We have a very robust back-end, so we knew this had to be some massive attack to have this kind of affect. Well, it turns out that it was a distributed attack coming from many thousands of computers around the world that were all attacking the site simultaneously. Thankfully, we were able to isolate the source and begin to choke it off. This got the site back up and running.

I want to apologize to anyone who was inconvenienced by this. We don’t yet know who did this or why, but hopefully it is behind us.

eric