Jul 20 2007

Taking Sphinn for a Spin

Published by at 1:31 pm under community,social media


Alister sent me a message the other day asking me if I’d heard about sphinn.com. After I’d had a little look, my response to him was “…Perhaps Digg can go and get, well… dugged 😉 ”

The difficulty in getting posts “dugg” is well lamented by bloggers. Too often one measly digger can get a popular post “buried” because he or she disagrees with its content.

I really liked the feel of Sphinn (if the logo looks a little familiar, that’s probably because it’s a spin off (pun intended) of Search Engine Land) . As of a day ago there were a thousand registered users, and Danny Sullivan is the man behind it all.

I suppose it IS another “digg clone”, in that you vote (sphinn) for posts which then become popular (“hot topics”). But Sphinn is aimed at a niche market. As you can see from the screen shot below, Sphinn has various categories that posts can be submitted to (with sub-categories under these). Digg, in contrast, has a broad range of general categories, and a large number of blog posts would fall into “Tech Industry News”.

Sphinn Categories

At Sphinn there are categories for Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Search Marketing, Social Media, Online Marketing, Searching and Other. It’s easy to drill down and see what’s popular in the subcategories too. Below is an example of the subcategories of “Social Media”.

Sphinn Social Media Categories

After having a look around and reading the submission guidelines, I decided to try submitting one of my posts (Beginners Guide to StumbleUpon) in the “Bookmarking” subcategory. The post made the “Hot Topics” list (I guess getting in early has its benefits, as there’s not much competition 😉 ).

I can’t compare it to digg or reddit traffic, because I’ve never had any success there, but I had 157 visitors from Sphinn in 48 hours, 33 “Sphinns”, 10 comments on the Sphinn site, another couple of comments on the post, and two trackbacks.

What I can’t work out is how the “hot” list is displayed – it doesn’t appear to be either chronological or by popularity. But perhaps there’s a reason for the seemingly “random” display.

The website has only been actively in beta for a week or so but there’s already dissension. Tanner Christensen described Sphinn as a popularity contest, whereby he comments

Unfortunately, because the big named marketers are already “big named marketers” it’s hard for anyone new to SEO or marketing to stand out from the crowd.


Hardly anyone is using the comments feature to share their opinions. In big topics a few comments can be seen – roughly 20 or so – but even on articles with 10 or 20+ Sphinns there are zero comments.

I’d have to disagree from my experience. I’m NOT a “big named marketer”, and I think the response was pretty good.

Like any community site, Sphinn has a profile page, which displays a number of fields (including your links to other social media and forum profiles), your blog URL, and links to your last 3 posts. If you see a sphinner that interests you, you can “stalk them”. I’m not sure of that terminology, but I daresay everyone will take it as being “tongue in cheek”. Reciprocal stalking makes someone a friend (or you can add them directly from your “stalkers” page). You can also track items you’ve submitted, “gone hot”, your comments,  the Sphinns you’ve made, and of course your friends, stalkees and stalkers.

Sphinn Profile

And of course there’s already a facility to add Sphinn to your WordPress blog.

I can see myself hanging around Sphinn, as it’s a great way to find posts about topics I’m interested in. I especially like the way they’re classified, which for me, makes it much more relevant than Digg. But I daresay like any community, you’ll only get out of it as much as you put in.

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Taking Sphinn for a Spin”

  1. John Lampardon 20 Jul 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Sounds interesting! Thanks for the write up, think I’ll sign up and see if I can “sphinn” myself!

  2. Megon 20 Jul 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Hi John – I think it’s got a distinct market potential. Stalk me, and I’ll stalk you back :)

  3. robon 20 Jul 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Hi Meg from a newly acquired ‘stalker’ – 😉

    I thinks a funny little term too, injects a little humour and makes a change from that whole friending word we see all over the shop.

    Pligg is a great piece of software – I keep meaning to do something interesting with it myself, but just haven’t had the time .

    I agree that SEL will give Sphinn a nice little kickstart. DS is a popular guy he and his little crew certainly have their fingers on the pulse.

  4. Utah SEOon 21 Jul 2007 at 6:31 am

    My only beef with sphinn is the same look of SEL. I wish they would’ve given it a new, fresh look. Something a little more interesting than it is now.

  5. Megon 21 Jul 2007 at 11:05 am

    @ Rob – Hehe you are no longer a stalker :) I haven’t looked at pligg, but will check it out.

    @ Bryan – maybe they’re concentrating on getting the functionality right and it probably doesn’t hurt their credibility having it branded so tightly with SEL.

    Thanks for dropping by :)

  6. Tanner Christensenon 22 Jul 2007 at 5:56 am

    Hey Meg, I just want to say that I wasn’t disputing whether or not Sphinn is a great place for SEOs and marketers in my article. I was simply saying that the community needs to get actively involved if they don’t want it to become another digg.

    Great review though, I like what you had to say regarding the difficulty of getting “dugg.”

  7. Megon 22 Jul 2007 at 11:06 am

    Hi Tanner

    Actually, I thought what you’d written was an interesting viewpoint (I sphunn it). I think my situation showed that part of what you’d said didn’t *seem* to apply, of course how it pans out is entirely different. What you said about Sphinn needing community involvement was spot on….

    “If you haven’t already, head over to Sphinn, sign-up, Sphinn articles you think are great, comment on every article you read, and share your opinions. Sphinn has great potential. A truly valuable resource for anybody interested in online marketing, SEO, SEM, web design, etc. But it’s the community that has to make that happen.”

    Thanks for popping in :)

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