Cheap inbound links

Normally paying for links to your website or blog is a quick way to lose money (and arguably Google ranking), but in this case, I think Google will oblige. Ruby Inside, a blog devoted to the Ruby on Rails web development framework, is offering $100 for the best Ruby on Rails how-tos and tutorials if you get your post in before Sunday. What a great way to encourage more documentation on the web!

Normally I wouldn’t link to such a brazen request for links, but

a) I use Ruby on Rails for web development and have been disappointed only by its lack of documentation and my lack of skill
b) They’re offering $15 just for linking to the contest

Comments

  1. Do note it’s not a paid-for link. It’s a second prize. :) The drawing is next Thursday, so I’ll be sure to let you know if you win.

    The main inspiration for the second prize was so Ruby blogs would link to the main contests so we’d get more entries for the top prize :) Over 20 entries now though, so something must be working!

  2. Or … you could just continue to blog about Real Estate and join the weekly Carnival of Real Estate (www.carnivalofrealestate.com). Admission price is one original blog post about Real Estate and links are awarded (each week, on Mondays) to participants who submit great content. In the 6 weeks since it launched, participation in the carnival has grown to around 30 great blogs.

    Monday’s carnival will be hosted at: http://www.pineneedlelawn.com/
    Last week’s carnival is at Brownstoner: http://tinyurl.com/hm2gq

    Galen, I for one would welcome some RE-technology posts in the carnival.

  3. Or … you could just continue to blog about Real Estate and join the weekly Carnival of Real Estate (www.carnivalofrealestate.com). Admission price is one original blog post about Real Estate and links are awarded (each week, on Mondays) to participants who submit great content. In the 6 weeks since it launched, participation in the carnival has grown to around 30 great blogs.

    Monday’s carnival will be hosted at: http://www.pineneedlelawn.com/
    Last week’s carnival is at Brownstoner: http://tinyurl.com/hm2gq

    Galen, I for one would welcome some RE-technology posts in the carnival.

  4. David G.

    Hmmmmm…sounds like I have to think about a winning blog post to bring to “the carnival”. Are the previous winners posted so I can “research” your choice process :-)

  5. Ardell, details can be found on the carnival’s home page (www.carnivalofrealestate.com), but to answer your question:

    Selection of posts to include in teh carnival and which is the “pick of the week”, is at the sole discretion of that week’s host blogger. Hosting responsibilities rotate amongst participants. Hosting the carnival is another great way to get cheap inbound links. To join the roster, send an email indicating your interest to host to [carnivalofrealestate at gmail].

    Some hosts forgo choosing the pick-of-the-week. I think everyone’s criteria for that varies, but when we get to host I like to look for original content that explores a topical issue more thoughtfully than most of the writings on that subject. Something like your recent posts about Zillow ;-), or my favorite recent post of yours, “The ideal Business Plan”.

  6. Ardell, details can be found on the carnival’s home page (www.carnivalofrealestate.com), but to answer your question:

    Selection of posts to include in teh carnival and which is the “pick of the week”, is at the sole discretion of that week’s host blogger. Hosting responsibilities rotate amongst participants. Hosting the carnival is another great way to get cheap inbound links. To join the roster, send an email indicating your interest to host to [carnivalofrealestate at gmail].

    Some hosts forgo choosing the pick-of-the-week. I think everyone’s criteria for that varies, but when we get to host I like to look for original content that explores a topical issue more thoughtfully than most of the writings on that subject. Something like your recent posts about Zillow ;-), or my favorite recent post of yours, “The ideal Business Plan”.

  7. Ardell and David,

    Despite a personal invitation pre-launch, I’ve been hesitant to join in the carnival for a number of reasons… Mainly, my gut reaction is that it feels like a high school popularity content, and I think the real estate blogosphere needs less of that motivation, not more.

    The reality is that the real estate blogosphere would be better off continuously linking to each other and not waiting for our weekly “highlights”. Do you find good content? Link to it! I actually think that the carnival has the potential to hurt the real estate conversation as oppose to help… What’s to stop any and/or all of us of creating a “best of” list every week besides the fact that they don’t want to read that much stuff.

    In reading over the first few installments, I would say that the typical host only linked to about 75% of the content because they wanted to take part in the popularity content, not because they found the content interesting. (In other words, if not for the contest, the typical carnival host would be unlikely to link, let alone read, most of the content that they included)

    Finally, despite the benevolent talk, I’m not sure that as an agent, I would want to be doing anything that helps build up a database of quality real estate content for Zillow… I probably wouldn’t mention this because of my obvious bias against Zillow, but if David is going to throw an ad for the service on RCG, I feel compelled to state why I think it is a dangerous proposition for agents. (For some background on my logic for this topic, check out my article on paying for the privilage of marginalization.)

  8. Ardell and David,

    Despite a personal invitation pre-launch, I’ve been hesitant to join in the carnival for a number of reasons… Mainly, my gut reaction is that it feels like a high school popularity content, and I think the real estate blogosphere needs less of that motivation, not more.

    The reality is that the real estate blogosphere would be better off continuously linking to each other and not waiting for our weekly “highlights”. Do you find good content? Link to it! I actually think that the carnival has the potential to hurt the real estate conversation as oppose to help… What’s to stop any and/or all of us of creating a “best of” list every week besides the fact that they don’t want to read that much stuff.

    In reading over the first few installments, I would say that the typical host only linked to about 75% of the content because they wanted to take part in the popularity content, not because they found the content interesting. (In other words, if not for the contest, the typical carnival host would be unlikely to link, let alone read, most of the content that they included)

    Finally, despite the benevolent talk, I’m not sure that as an agent, I would want to be doing anything that helps build up a database of quality real estate content for Zillow… I probably wouldn’t mention this because of my obvious bias against Zillow, but if David is going to throw an ad for the service on RCG, I feel compelled to state why I think it is a dangerous proposition for agents. (For some background on my logic for this topic, check out my article on paying for the privilage of marginalization.)

  9. Dustin, I normally share your views on technology and business but on this (and corporate blogging), I think you’re very wrong. I’m glad you’ve asked and admit that I have wondered why you haven’t submitted any posts. Blog carnivals do have a few limitations but not the ones that you’re concerned about. This is a discussion I’d far rather have over beers, but I’ll take a swing at addressing each of your criticisms;

    1) Carnivals are a popularity contest = Impossible.
    This is actually quite a cool self-controlling system; posts are selected on merit of content, not authorship. Highlighting poor content reflects poorly on the host so there’s no incentive to “pick the cool kids” unless they write well. Further, all participants have equal opportunity to host, so the “cool clique” can never take control.

    2) Top posts are biased = a misunderstanding.
    The reasons that the C.O.R.E. doesn’t automatically include all posts submitted is a) reading the carnival becomes overwhelming when more than 20 to 30 posts are included and b) so does hosting. We consulted with the founder of web’s longest running blog carnival who advised us that this is the best way to ensure that participation would “scale”. That said, if this policy is working against participation, then it was a mistake – I’d welcome other opinions on this. Lastly, on this topic, I’m sure you’ll appreciate that each carnival receives a few submissions that are spam or borderline spam and that aren’t original content – we’re convinced the host should exclude those in the interests of a quality carnival.

    3) You find great content by linking to it = naive, especially in Real Estate.
    You find great content by reading good blogs (who write or link to great content) and by searching. There are some problems here though; first, there are potentially a million good bloggers in our industry, some post more often than others, and some post content of variable quality and originality. Reading everyone in Real Estate every week is impossible. Next, searching for great posts in our industry is difficult — what search term could you enter into technorati to pull the top 30 posts in real estate? It was the absence of a good blog aggregator of Real Estate that prompted launching the C.O.R.E.

    4) Building a database of great content for Zillow = an incorrect assumption.
    Zillow does not own the carnival, we founded it as a service for the entire industry. Carnival content is the property of carnival bloggers. Simple, just like any other blog content. Zillow.com’s involvement is limited to a) sponsoring the home blog (without Zillow branding) and b) administering host registrations. Even Greg Swann understands this :-). This is a bit of work that has no direct benefit to Zillow but I thought it was worth it for the time it saves in finding great Real Estate blogs and content and the community it creates in our industry. We considered branding the “Zillow pick of the week” for about a second and then decided we’d rather not have any barriers to entry for other corporate blogs.

    Just like blogging, you need to actually participate in blog carnivals to “get it” – there are 500+ blog carnivals on the web to choose from – I highly recommended giving it a whirl.

  10. Dustin, I normally share your views on technology and business but on this (and corporate blogging), I think you’re very wrong. I’m glad you’ve asked and admit that I have wondered why you haven’t submitted any posts. Blog carnivals do have a few limitations but not the ones that you’re concerned about. This is a discussion I’d far rather have over beers, but I’ll take a swing at addressing each of your criticisms;

    1) Carnivals are a popularity contest = Impossible.
    This is actually quite a cool self-controlling system; posts are selected on merit of content, not authorship. Highlighting poor content reflects poorly on the host so there’s no incentive to “pick the cool kids” unless they write well. Further, all participants have equal opportunity to host, so the “cool clique” can never take control.

    2) Top posts are biased = a misunderstanding.
    The reasons that the C.O.R.E. doesn’t automatically include all posts submitted is a) reading the carnival becomes overwhelming when more than 20 to 30 posts are included and b) so does hosting. We consulted with the founder of web’s longest running blog carnival who advised us that this is the best way to ensure that participation would “scale”. That said, if this policy is working against participation, then it was a mistake – I’d welcome other opinions on this. Lastly, on this topic, I’m sure you’ll appreciate that each carnival receives a few submissions that are spam or borderline spam and that aren’t original content – we’re convinced the host should exclude those in the interests of a quality carnival.

    3) You find great content by linking to it = naive, especially in Real Estate.
    You find great content by reading good blogs (who write or link to great content) and by searching. There are some problems here though; first, there are potentially a million good bloggers in our industry, some post more often than others, and some post content of variable quality and originality. Reading everyone in Real Estate every week is impossible. Next, searching for great posts in our industry is difficult — what search term could you enter into technorati to pull the top 30 posts in real estate? It was the absence of a good blog aggregator of Real Estate that prompted launching the C.O.R.E.

    4) Building a database of great content for Zillow = an incorrect assumption.
    Zillow does not own the carnival, we founded it as a service for the entire industry. Carnival content is the property of carnival bloggers. Simple, just like any other blog content. Zillow.com’s involvement is limited to a) sponsoring the home blog (without Zillow branding) and b) administering host registrations. Even Greg Swann understands this :-). This is a bit of work that has no direct benefit to Zillow but I thought it was worth it for the time it saves in finding great Real Estate blogs and content and the community it creates in our industry. We considered branding the “Zillow pick of the week” for about a second and then decided we’d rather not have any barriers to entry for other corporate blogs.

    Just like blogging, you need to actually participate in blog carnivals to “get it” – there are 500+ blog carnivals on the web to choose from – I highly recommended giving it a whirl.

  11. > Even Greg Swann understands this.

    Fallacy of the No-True-Scotsman, Anthony Flew.

    Even so, I think Zillow.com has been very even handed with the CoRE. To their credit, they are exceedingly non-censorious on their weblog, too. If they’d disclose that what they’re peddling is only the first and most-disposable 10% of an opinion of value, I’d have no problem with them at all. Away from that, they seem to be uncommonly decent people.

  12. David G.

    What is your role at Zillow? I’m trying to remember who was at the M.I.T. forum. Have to go back and read those articles. And no fair inviting Dustin for beers…Redfin only invited me for coffee AND they refused to come to the Eastside to do it, making me come to THEM…I wonder what they want to talk about? Hmmmm…not inclined to find out if they are not inclined to come to me. We’ll see. I like “my turf” rules, it’s an old Philly thing…maybe a Mafia thing as well.

  13. Ardell, my business card says “Director, Customer Service” but in a Web 2.0 world, I’m best considered a CS Representitive in the same way that Craig from Craigslist is.

    I have the privelige of engaging our users 1:1, analysing their feedback, commenting on their blogs and ensuring that they comply to our terms of use. The feedback loop of ensuring that user’s interests are addressed in our product strategy is also my responsibilty. To set expectations, though, I can’t increase your Zestimate … but I’d be glad to talk you through it.

    Something tells me we should be planning a happy-hour meet-up for Seattle Real Estate bloggers. Name the time and the place and I’ll be there.

  14. Ardell, my business card says “Director, Customer Service” but in a Web 2.0 world, I’m best considered a CS Representitive in the same way that Craig from Craigslist is.

    I have the privelige of engaging our users 1:1, analysing their feedback, commenting on their blogs and ensuring that they comply to our terms of use. The feedback loop of ensuring that user’s interests are addressed in our product strategy is also my responsibilty. To set expectations, though, I can’t increase your Zestimate … but I’d be glad to talk you through it.

    Something tells me we should be planning a happy-hour meet-up for Seattle Real Estate bloggers. Name the time and the place and I’ll be there.

  15. Wow… I leave for the day to spend some time at the beach and I come back to find that I have the “boring” thread to respond to… :) (The action was clearly over on this thread today.)

    Greg: I’d have to agree with you… I’ve met a number of people from Zillow and every one of them has been decent, interesting and smart. Make no doubt that these are good people who are looking to break down some of the massive inefficiencies currently in the real estate market. (Agents: this last sentence should not bring you comfort!)

    David G: Unlike you, I don’t get paid to write these comments. (LOL! I only say this because of your previous comment that you were writing these comments on your own time and not as someone representing Zillow, both of which statements may be “technically” true, but seeing as how they are built into your job description, they are definitely not honest.)

    I could try to go over the points you picked out, but I’m not interested. You “technically” went through my comment and picked out four points, but once again, you didn’t do an honest job of it (i.e. I never said the results were biased and any despite your best effort to twist the topic, agents are taking part so that they can be popular for a day.)

    Since you like the number four, here are four points (in question form) that I think more accurately reflect the nature of my comment:
    1) Do you think the fundamental reason agents take part is to get more traffic for a day (i.e. become popular)?
    2) Do you think there would there be a better discussion if real estate bloggers linked to each other more often in an effort to really create a community (as oppose to waiting for the weekly carnival installment)?
    3) Do you think the hosts include articles that they normally would not find interesting because that is the trade-off they accept (explicitly or otherwise) when the agree to host a carnival?
    4) Does Zillow database the articles?

  16. Wow… I leave for the day to spend some time at the beach and I come back to find that I have the “boring” thread to respond to… :) (The action was clearly over on this thread today.)

    Greg: I’d have to agree with you… I’ve met a number of people from Zillow and every one of them has been decent, interesting and smart. Make no doubt that these are good people who are looking to break down some of the massive inefficiencies currently in the real estate market. (Agents: this last sentence should not bring you comfort!)

    David G: Unlike you, I don’t get paid to write these comments. (LOL! I only say this because of your previous comment that you were writing these comments on your own time and not as someone representing Zillow, both of which statements may be “technically” true, but seeing as how they are built into your job description, they are definitely not honest.)

    I could try to go over the points you picked out, but I’m not interested. You “technically” went through my comment and picked out four points, but once again, you didn’t do an honest job of it (i.e. I never said the results were biased and any despite your best effort to twist the topic, agents are taking part so that they can be popular for a day.)

    Since you like the number four, here are four points (in question form) that I think more accurately reflect the nature of my comment:
    1) Do you think the fundamental reason agents take part is to get more traffic for a day (i.e. become popular)?
    2) Do you think there would there be a better discussion if real estate bloggers linked to each other more often in an effort to really create a community (as oppose to waiting for the weekly carnival installment)?
    3) Do you think the hosts include articles that they normally would not find interesting because that is the trade-off they accept (explicitly or otherwise) when the agree to host a carnival?
    4) Does Zillow database the articles?

  17. Dustin,

    Sorry I mistook you on that point (“high school popularity contest” is hard to interpret accurately).

    Your questions:
    1) I’d guess it’s a split between a few different motives. I primarily did it to find great content – there are no good aggregators for Real Estate blogs now that pubsub stopped updating and I don’t often get to read even the blogs I knew of that are in the carnival. If a new blogger’s primary motive is to grow their audience, I don’t really have a problem with that.

    2) Yes, the discussion would be better with more linking. But it is not an either/or proposition. I find most people only link to the blogs they read normally – but that the carnival generates links to the best of the content you don’t normally read or don’t have the time to. Plus, it’s a weekly reminder for those bloggers who forget to link – a good thing.

    3) No, they include posts they would normally not find. The idea is that participants submit their best recent piece. But yes, some content is weak – and these get excluded – the Zillowblog was left out of a recent carnival, and for good reason – our post was weak that week

    4) No. Posts are the property of their authors.

    You are right, I have commented on RCG both in my professional and my personal capacity – you’ll know the difference either by a disclosure that the comment is mine an not my employers or by a sig. including “from Zillow.com”. Yesterday’s comments were made in my Zillow.com capacity – my apologies if that wasn’t clear. On a personal note though, I’m lucky to have a job where I believe in what I do, so when commenting in my Zillow capacity, understand that I’m honestly reflecting my own opinions.

    LOL – and … on being paid to comment, do I need to point out why this blog was started – or the content of the post you linked to? (can I say that on here?) Nice weather we’re having :-) Seriously though, It’s not easy blogging both professionally and personally – we should compare notes sometime.

  18. Dustin,

    Sorry I mistook you on that point (“high school popularity contest” is hard to interpret accurately).

    Your questions:
    1) I’d guess it’s a split between a few different motives. I primarily did it to find great content – there are no good aggregators for Real Estate blogs now that pubsub stopped updating and I don’t often get to read even the blogs I knew of that are in the carnival. If a new blogger’s primary motive is to grow their audience, I don’t really have a problem with that.

    2) Yes, the discussion would be better with more linking. But it is not an either/or proposition. I find most people only link to the blogs they read normally – but that the carnival generates links to the best of the content you don’t normally read or don’t have the time to. Plus, it’s a weekly reminder for those bloggers who forget to link – a good thing.

    3) No, they include posts they would normally not find. The idea is that participants submit their best recent piece. But yes, some content is weak – and these get excluded – the Zillowblog was left out of a recent carnival, and for good reason – our post was weak that week

    4) No. Posts are the property of their authors.

    You are right, I have commented on RCG both in my professional and my personal capacity – you’ll know the difference either by a disclosure that the comment is mine an not my employers or by a sig. including “from Zillow.com”. Yesterday’s comments were made in my Zillow.com capacity – my apologies if that wasn’t clear. On a personal note though, I’m lucky to have a job where I believe in what I do, so when commenting in my Zillow capacity, understand that I’m honestly reflecting my own opinions.

    LOL – and … on being paid to comment, do I need to point out why this blog was started – or the content of the post you linked to? (can I say that on here?) Nice weather we’re having :-) Seriously though, It’s not easy blogging both professionally and personally – we should compare notes sometime.

  19. I actually expected this post to be a novelty that warranted no more than a glance. Maybe I should submit it, in all it’s off-topic glory, to the carnival.

    So David, I have checked out the Carnival of Real Estate a couple of times and I like the concept. I do sort of agree with some of Dustin’s points, but on a much more basic level, I find it to be too many links for an industry so thin with analysis (and so thick with . I’ll become a regular reader when over 50% of the links are actually interesting. Lets be honest: I would just be making matters worse if I submitted most of my posts.

    I’ll consider submitting stories, but I’m not really one to join weekly contests. And I don’t really feel like most of my posts really warrant a “best of this week” link.

    Re Zillow: I am enjoying your posts recently. You are one of the only corporate real estate blogs that doesn’t read like a bubbly cheerleading / marketing squad. And your market snapshot maps look exactly like something I was planning on developing. Keep up the intellectualy stimulating discussions like how close is close enough and I’ll keep skipping past the “my hometown” fluff to read them.

  20. David, I guess I’m still searching…

    I read over the carnival this week and I didn’t really find a there there…

    And despite the fact that you compare yourself to me (let alone Craig Newmark), I can’t really find any information out about you on the web… The only real estate stuff I can find is a few overviews posts on the Zillowblog which are clearly not enough so that I’ll be prepared when we meet to compare notes. :) Are you this David Gibbons? (I’m guessing that you are not this David Gibbons since he is a system architect for another company). Are you an XML expert?

    I’ll keep searching…

  21. David, I guess I’m still searching…

    I read over the carnival this week and I didn’t really find a there there…

    And despite the fact that you compare yourself to me (let alone Craig Newmark), I can’t really find any information out about you on the web… The only real estate stuff I can find is a few overviews posts on the Zillowblog which are clearly not enough so that I’ll be prepared when we meet to compare notes. :) Are you this David Gibbons? (I’m guessing that you are not this David Gibbons since he is a system architect for another company). Are you an XML expert?

    I’ll keep searching…

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 1. Duncan Beevers (though not if he wins the first prize) 2. Galen Ward 3. Tim Shadel 4. Matthias Von Rohr 5. Satish Talim (though not if he wins the first prize) 6. Scott Meade The draw itself happens in the next post! [...]

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