Squidoo is a content publishing site founded by Seth Godin. Users build “lenses” that share their view on a certain topic.
I’ve been a Squidoo proponent and user: I’ve built lenses for my own business and for clients; I’ve often advised that lenses can be part of an internet marketing plan.
But the truth is: I’ve struggled to love Squidoo. That was true back in 2010 when I critiqued Squidoo’s strategy and ranted a bit about why I didn’t like them. Since then, I’ve built some lenses now and then.
One lens that I built a year or so ago was a lens about financial fiction — a genre of fiction about money and the stock market (including movies like Wall Street and Boiler Room). Of all the lenses I built, that one was the post popular, ranking well in search engines. Additionally, it was probably the most fun for me to create, since I would add a review every time I read a financial fiction book.
But then I got an email from Squidoo that changed everything. Their email — sent out to many users at once — essentially said “there are problems with your lens and if you don’t fix those problems, we’re going to ‘lock’ your lens until those problems are fixed.”
I clicked over the Squidoo to find out what the problems are (the email hinted at several possible problems and their goal was to reduce spammy lenses — fair enough). I signed into Squidoo and learned that the complaint about my lens was: “You have too many nofollow links pointing to your lens.”
Then they explained the way to fix it (which I’m paraphrasing): “Avoid posting nofollow links to your lens from forums and blog comments”.
I was puzzled because I have never posted a nofollow link to my lens. In fact, the only places I’ve posted about my lens at all have been here on my blog and over at my Google+ page. Any other links — whether follow or nofollow — were posted by someone else (I have no idea who or where).
Are you seeing the problem here? They have a problem with my lens and are going to shut it down unless I fix it — but the problem they have isn’t something that I control, so their solution is inadequate.
That’s like me telling my friend whose car was wrecked because someone ran a red light: “You can avoid collisions in the future by driving more carefully”. It is A solution to a related problem but it’s not an effective solution to the current problem.
Squidoo runs a forum for its users and numerous threads about this problem have been created, including this thread and this thread and this thread, as well as others that are less specific to this problem. Yet as I write this, Squidoo has yet to respond to the problem on any of the threads.
The moral of the story: I have a decent quality lens that has actually won me back to Squidoo that they now want to shut down because someone else has posted nofollow links to it.
This is an excellent lesson in the realities of posting on media that you do not pay for.
For that reason, I’m shutting down my financial fiction site and posting it here on an upcoming blog post.
And if you’re from Squidoo and you’re reading this (which is highly unlikely: Hey, you have a site that has an active and avid userbase and you are pissing a lot of them off. Your value proposition to some of us (especially B2B publishers) is a little fuzzy and could use some cleaning up but there was so much promise. I respect your desire to reduce the spamminess of the site (and some of the other problems you are addressing in this same sweep are legitimate spamminess issues) but nofollow links are links that your users have little control over and cannot easily correct.
A former user