your sessions, our standards, and more

Hi Bloggers –

In answer to the question on everyone’s mind, no, we haven’t hacked into Google Analytics to lower your posts’ sessions so we could avoid giving you raises. In fact:

(a)    We’re actually much more focused on quality over session quantity when it comes to evaluating our bloggers;

(b)   We got a new tracking link with Google Analytics, which initially didn’t get attached to new posts, and then (as part of the fix) overwrote the old posts. Our tech guys have fixed the issue, so your crazy numbers on old posts should be better now, although we’ll now have a day or two delay on displaying your sessions; and

(c)    Our tech team is good, but Google is a freakin’ fortress.

In other important blog news…

Tightening up on tickers

Imagine you’re perusing the Yahoo Finance ticker feeds, searching for investing insights on your beloved Annie’s (NYSE: BNNY), and you see a headline that catches your eye. You click, but then find that your favorite purveyor of organic mac & cheese is only mentioned as one brand on the shelves of Whole Foods (Nasdaq: WFM). It’s heartbreaking.

To prevent that scenario, we are asking you even more than we already do to justify the tickers that you choose to include. Yes, we want each post to include three to five tickers, but we need you to include relevant and useful information about each of those companies. Passing references, comparisons, mentions, and laundry lists of companies that are not the main focus of the article cannot be tickered. If you wonder if a ticker meets the standard, it probably doesn’t. Err on the side of caution, because we never want to disappoint our readers.

Raising more standards

Along those lines, we are raising the bar when it comes to the quality of posts we’re willing to syndicate. If a reviewer comes across a post that is hard to follow, littered with little mistakes (misspellings, omitted words, company names that aren’t bolded on first reference), doesn’t flow logically, has an unFoolish tone, or generally feels like it was whipped off on your iPhone while riding the subway home after a night out drinking with the boys, we are going to decline to syndicate. In the past, we likely would have worked with the blogger of that post, going back and forth (and back and forth) with edits in order to get it to a point we feel it would represent the Fool brand well.

But I’ve decided that improving a post from poor to mediocre is not the best use of our reviewers’ time and, moreover, those handful of subpar posts are the primary reason for our overstuffed queue and your extended delays. If “Incredibly Handsome Blog Editor” Mark* spends 20 minutes cleaning up a borderline post, then sends a note to the blogger to clarify a couple points and justify three tickers, and then reads it again when it comes back in … well, he probably could’ve syndicated five or more clear, clean, high-quality posts in the same time.

So, I promise it’s nothing personal if we reject a post. It’s a business decision designed to get the best content from our best contributors to our readers as quickly as we can.

Changes on the horizon

Special thanks to Steve Symington, Richard Saintvilus, Jason Hall, Erik Eason, and Daniel Sparks for serving as the test users of our new CMS. Thanks to their help, our tech team has been able to clean out a lot of bugs and get the new platform much closer to the functionality you all need and want. We’re optimistic we’ll be able to have everyone jump to the new system in February.

Know a college investor?

The Fool is about to kick off its first ever Campus Challenge, in which college and graduate school investors strut their stuff via the Blog Network. They still get paid for their posts and syndication still awaits the strong, but we’re also adding in team and individual prizes plus the opportunity to attend a taping of Motley Fool Money, the Fool’s award-winning radio show. If you are a college investor or know one, have him or her shoot an email to the aforementioned Mr. Reeth at blog@fool.com.

Three other detail-y things

  1. If you are going to write as “we” in your posts, please clarify who “we” are so it doesn’t seem as if you’re writing as a designated representative of The Motley Fool. For example, “we at All-Organic Investing believe that shares of Annie’s (NYSE: BNNY) are among the best buys on the market today.”
  2. Don’t write that shares closed at $24.93, please. Chances are we won’t get to that post before the market opens the next day, or perhaps not even within 48 hours, and it turns out that share prices change over time. Better to be less specific.
  3. We will be upgrading our database servers from 10 p.m. on Feb. 1 until 8 a.m. on Feb. 2.  The Blog Network (and fool.com) will not be available at this time. Please don’t panic.

Thanks for all your great work, and we’ll get to your post soon!

Fool on!

Roger

 

*Yes, Mark Reeth’s title on his business card reads Incredibly Handsome Blog Editor.


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