Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Chuck Cowdery Blog Gets Outbrained. Do You Like It?

Regular visitors will notice something new on The Chuck Cowdery Blog, some stars at the bottom of each post, followed by recommendations of other articles on, presumably, similar subjects.

I say "presumably" because I have nothing to do with generating the recommendations. The stars and the recommendations are provided by outbrain (all lower case appears to be their preference). It applies retroactively to every post made since the blog began, but since I just added it about twenty minutes ago, there are no ratings yet.

You probably have seen this on other sites. My question is, what do you think? Do you like it? Is it useful?

My first impression is that it makes the page look more cluttered. I haven't put up widgets like "Ads by Google" because the revenue is negligible, it makes the page look busy, and I don't like the idea of ads being placed on my site over which I have no control. I have the same reservations with the outbrain recommendations, although I don't see any problem with the ratings system per se.

There is an option to restrict the recommendations to this site, so only my own past posts on similar subjects would be recommended. I can also turn off the recommendations altogether. What do you think?

(Note, October 19, 2009. I recently turned it off, as the automatically-generated recommendations especially were getting on my nerves. No one has complained. Sorry, Yaron.)


sku said...

The obviously computer generated recommendations are innane but some are unintentionally funny. You're piece on Red Stag leads to a recommendation for a post on whiskey flavored condoms!?!

Unknown said...

Hey Chuck - outbrain CEO here. Thanks for trying out our widget! Just wanted to let you know that if you feel like the recommendations clutter your blog but still want to use our service for ratings only - you can turn the recommended links off in your outbrain dashboard.

If you need any help with that or have other feedback - we'd love to hear from you on our support forum:

Thanks again!

Max Watman said...

I think the rating idea is silly. Why would I rate your blog entries? I don't want to give you grades, and I read you because I like what you write. Sometimes I like something a lot, but that's what comments (or emails) are for. I can't imagine the moment at which I say "Hmmmmm. This is pretty good, but really, Cowdery can do better, I think this is a two star post."

Related links, however, are fun. Often silly, but everybody is accustomed to that.

Chuck Cowdery said...

I signed up for it at the urging of the Chicago Tribune, which uses it to select what gets featured on their Chicago's Best Blogs page. However, it appears that the result of using this is that all of the blogs they feature are about sports.

Like you, Max, I don't think I've ever "rated" anything online. Of course, in my book I say that rating whiskeys is silly, so I'm not big on ratings in general. This thing is easy enough to turn off, so I'll let it go a little longer. If somebody, other than the CEO of outbrain, wants to explain the rationale for it, I'm listening.

Unknown said...

Sorry you dropped it Chuck, but thanks again for giving us a shot. Just in case you ever decide to try this again, you should know that we now let you drop the 5-stars (keeping only the recommended links), and we do have a thumbnail version coming out soon as well. Take care!