Our Viewpoint about instablogs

Posted on March 16, 2008. Filed under: Indian Startups, Review | Tags: |

I met Ankit of Instablogs at Proto 2008. I didn’t know how to introduce myself.

So I introduced myself as “Hi, I am Prabhu, I have a small blog called desistartups“. Immediately, his eyes brightened and he started talking, “Hey I have read your blog. I like your latest post blah blah blah”. Thank god, atleast one more person who likes my posts, apart from me, was the thought I had. I also happened to sit for their presentation. Like everyone, the very first question I got was what is Instablogs? Is it a blogging platform? Should I move desistartups straight to their platform and start receiving money, etc. Their website appeared very interesting though. (Whisper: Lindsay Lohan’s photo was appearing at that time in their home page!). Ankit mentioned during that talk that they have Bloggers all over the world and are very popular in many countries except India. That appeared very weird though.

Ok forgetting the past, I started playing around with his site (based on his request He just wanted me to try the new features. I thought this to be a review request. Anyways, I have reviewed sites without explicit requests, in the past. This one belongs to that category.). The very first thing that impressed me is that even though the name suggests something like instant blogs, the homepage is not dumb like our wordpress homepage.

Infact, it started displaying news from UK. (Yes I am in London now). Mostly news submitted/linked from other sites, from AP (legally licensed) or people copy-pasting a snippet, but courteously giving the source. They call this as Citizen Journalism. One request here is to disallow too many copy-pastes. Otherwise, the site would appear diggish! (Update: What do I mean by copy-paste? Posting a summary of an article of a different website and also allowing people to comment about that in your own site rather than the original site. There is nothing with this, but I personally don’t like this approach, simple.)

Each section also has original contents. You can even write one after creating an account. Every post that gets posted or linked from a different site gets a good commenting option, which separates out local and global comments. Wait a minute, I live in UK. So UK is local to me and not India. Also the submit article page needs some tweaking. How about adding tinymce? I also had difficulties in adding yes or no type commenting option to my post. May be someone from Instablogs could post that as a comment?

After spending a good time with this site, below are my questions/comments.

What is the purpose?

Why should I use Instablogs? To read news? No, I am not finding enough news or quality content. You cannot replace my daily news site. To ditch wordpress and start blogging with your platform? No I am afraid not. I don’t see enough value add in that, apart from may be more traffic to my blog. Can someone at Instablogs, convince me and my readers regarding this?

“My tracker” is good but surprisingly hidden!

Ideally my tracker should have been the homepage. Or atleast it should be available under “Customize” menu. Also how about RSS support for my tracker. The way I will use this feature is if I start finding enough quality content by a blogger (Or Editor in their terminology), I will track them and would prefer to read their contents first before others. Same is the case with a post that receives more comments.

Open source is a key to success

Release a stripped down version of your platform as open-source. You can also have a enterprise version that supports some more features like themes, moderation etc with a licensing model.

Well defined goals

Clearly decide, whether you want to be like a “Social news” site or a blogging platform. Merging both these concept is not appearing great at the moment. What I could suggest is this. Make registration invite-only. Only invite people who already have a blog and write quality contents. In this way, people like me would start spending more time with your site, more comments etc. But of-course, you are sacrificing “Page views”. I wonder if people care about page views any more in this web 2.0 age!

Speed up the Homepage

Too many sections appearing in the Homepage. Please show only few related to me. Don’t expect the user to explicitly hide the unwanted ones!

Better algorithm to decide what appears where

I saw few “test messages” appearing on top along with the text “Made popular 10 hours ago”. Popular has to be something which receives X number of votes from at least Y number of quality readers. Can we fix this?

Look forward for more viewpoints from the readers and from InstaBlogs team.

-Prabhu

Update:

  • I forgot to mention about their UI, JSON, firefox plugin. My bad. They are really a neat idea. Hats off!
  • I got an update that they have close to 300 original contents being written daily. Some of them are linked in major sites like nytimes. That sounds great.
    • Original contents could be accessed from “Citizen Voices” section of any page. When I checked out one such page, it was again a summary of an article.
  • Some of the competitors are Gather, Associatedcontent, Nowpublic. It sure helps to check out these sites to understand clearly about IB. May be a reader could come up with the differentiating aspect of IB.
  • They also have a live page, featuring all the live updates, comments, articles happening.
  • Some of the new features are yet to be announced public, despite being public. An announcement is to be expected soon. So I guess we are the first to announce then!
  • Instablogs is not a blogging platform and they have no plans for open-sourcing their product etc. But I felt it is a good product and definitely needs to come out to public.

I would like to finish this post with this note.

It sure hurts to see the negatives getting pointed out. But it sure helps.

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    12 Responses to “Our Viewpoint about instablogs”

    RSS Feed for Desistartups – Indian Startups Blog | Startup Reviews | Interviews Comments RSS Feed

    IMHO, it always makes more sense in spending few minutes in reading FAQs/help section of any website before reviewing it.

    Here’s the link for you

    http://www.instablogs.com/tour/

    I liked the design. But did not find much relevant stuff there. 🙂

    Hi Pankaj,

    May I know what made you to think that I didn’t check out the faq section. Infact, I did check out those. Can we have some official explanation in the form of comments for the sake of the readers.

    Hi Rajiv,

    I think it would help IB, if you could point out what stuff you were looking for and what was not there in their site.

    I have visited this site on many an occasion now but this post is the 1st one that I have ever commented on.

    Congratulations on such a fine article and site I have found it very helpful and informative – I only wish that there were more out there like this one.

    I never leave empty handed, sometimes I may even be a little disappointed that I may not agree with a post or reply that has been made. But hey! that is life and if every one agreed on the same thing what a boring old world we would live in.

    Keep up the good work and cheers.

    […] Our viewpoint about instablogs – Tag line of InstaBlogs “Everyone has a viewpoint” […]

    This is self promotes article- this is a couple hosting this blog from Shimla- do little googling and you will know that their real business is something else.

    instablogs is fake-being run by a couplewho started adventure business from Delhi, shifted to Shimla and get exposed. All data is stolen and posts aremostly from a small group which is trying to make a brand.

    Everyone can see that they are fake….a little googling can prove that.

    I think instablogs is more focussed on earning from google ads…if you submit any article to them- they will inject google advs. in your post and images too.
    Vow- and you called it CITIZEN JOURNALISM !!
    This looks crap and I see more and more dramatic revelations about people behind instablogs.

    Instablogs seems to be closed and cooled down. Thanks to vigilant readers who could see real business of these people who jumped from adventure to journalism. I think that domain dispute has been solved..as I see domain is with origional company now.

    This is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Short but very precise info… Appreciate your sharing this one.
    A must read article!

    You can definitely see your skills in the article
    you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to mention how they believe.
    At all times follow your heart.


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