Performancing: Back from the Brink?

As Nick Wilson writes on the Performancing blog: ‘Wow, what a start to the year‘. Let me try and get this in some kind of order:

  • Performancing announce their metrics package in unsustainable and needs a buyer
  • PayPerPost steps in to buy the package and the Performancing website, there is blogosphere uproar
  • The Performancing editor is rebranded as ScribeFire
  • PayPerPost drop out of the purchase, and the metrics package will be released to open source
  • Nick Wilson resigns from Performancing and is replaced by Chris Garrett
  • Chris announces that Performancing’s ad network will close, to much bafflement
  • Two days later, Garrett is gone and Wilson apparently back!

It sure has been a crazy time, and Performancing has almost been like a mini blogosphere soap opera. I’m sure the guys there are gutted about this, and it is a shame. Why?

Performancing was/is/will be again a great site. It was a proper community of bloggers, giving an example of how Drupal can be used to forge great togetherness online. The blog editor is a super tool and an example of software written by bloggers for bloggers – not forcing functionality upon users. Furthermore, those involved, like Nick Wilson and Chris Garrett are good people, and it would be a shame to lose them. As Darren Rowse notes:

I loved Performancing the most when it was just a blog. They produced amazing content and generated wonderful conversations. Perhaps it’s time to go back to that?

The idea appears to be to go back to the days of Performancing as a blogging community. This is Good News. It looks like ScribeFire will remain separate, which is no bad thing, but it will be cool if the Performancing community looks after it. In Wilson’s words:

  • We are still interested in talking to potential partners that could help us relaunch our adnetwork – there is a ton of functionality never released and I’d love to have conversations with serious players re the possibilities.
  • ScribeFire also needs some help. Jed Brown has gone MIA and we need some hlep talking it further.
  • We still plan to open source Metrics, but there is no firm time frame
  • And lastly, but by no means least. I intend to correct some of the mistakes I’ve made with community functionality and management here at Performancing, and again, am entirely open to suggestions and partnerships that will take us forward in 2007

Wilson was obviously unhappy with the direction Performancing was taking in his absence, and all credit to him for stepping in and trying to sort things out. Let’s hope Performancing goes on to bigger and better things in the future.

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WordPress 2.1


Sorry for the lack of posting in recent times, folks. Here’s a biggie I missed out on reporting: the release of WordPress 2.1.

I’ve installed it over on my personal blog, and I have to say it’s a great release that has sorted out a number of the issues people have had with previous releases. Some of the new stuff includes:

  • Improved rich text editor with tabbed window for code editing
  • Spell checking
  • Autosaving of posts
  • Ability to have a static home page without needing a plugin
  • Improved attachment uploading
  • Export and import of other WordPress blogs
  • Nicer log in screen
  • Slightly confusing link management that ties into post categories

WordPress is easily the best open source blog platform out there now, and probably the best full stop. A giant slap on the back for the developing community.

[tags]blogging, wordpress, wordpress 2.1[/tags]

Drupal 5 released

The popular open source CMS Drupal released its latest version today. I’ve been using a release candidate version of the new release on a couple of sites-in-development for a few weeks now, and can confirm that it’s a huge improvement on the old one – two big plus points being the beautiful new Garland theme and the graphical installation.

Drupal is a superb piece of software for community building – it includes traditional CMS, multi-author blogging and forum software all in one super-customisable package.

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PayPerPost backs out

Mike Arrington posts that the Performancing Metrics deal is off:

It’s not often that a company announces the acquisition of another company and then subsequently walks away from the deal, but PayPerPost isn’t a typical kind of company.

In a post on the PayPerPost blog today, the company said “We…dug into the Metrics platform and regretfully found that it wasn’t what we were looking for right now.” That came just a week after the official announcement of the acquisition.

Generally speaking, responsible companies “dig into” the acquisition target before they announce a deal.

Nick Wilson at Performancing puts a slightly different spin on it:

After much discussion, we’ve decided that the deal proposed by PayPerPost just isnt right for us or our community. It’s regrettable that we should part ways as I still feel that Dan and Ted are stand up guys breaking new ground, but in the end, the deal was just not right for them or us.

On his personal blog (which is wonderfully profane, as are his expletive-ridden podcasts), Nick is a little more candid:

It’s a huge relief not to have to lose

We’ve made our mistakes, now it’s time to crack on…

Chris Garrett, another guy involved in Performancing – though not a shareholder – gives his view, again seeming relieved that the deal is off:

  • I am pleased because I don’t think the two communities, Performancing members and PPP members, actually overlap or make as good a fit as PPP assumed they would.
  • I’m looking forward to an open source Metrics and I will work on it given time
  • For me the best news is that is staying with Nick. We put a lot of work into building the site and community, with a terrific group of members. The Performancing domain and brand is hopefully still a valuable asset

Good news though, rather than find a new buyer (which might be hard now anyway), Performancing Metrics is being opened up to the community and made open source. Cool.

What form it will take will be unknown for a while, but I reckon a small metrics service that each site hosts for itself would be a good route to go down.

Performancing for Firefox will remain ScribeFire – excellent news, it’s a much better name and can give focus to the blog editor as a project in its own right.

Two things come out of this. One is that not only is PayPerPost a crappy idea for a company, it’s a pretty crappily run place if this mess is anything to go by. Second, the breakdown of this deal will be good in the long term for Performancing, Scribefire and the bloggers who will use the future open-source metrics.

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Word Count Journal

Word Count Journal might be a good option if you would like to start a blog, but aren’t sure how you will manage the words. A blogging NaNoWriMo, anyone?

Sometimes a little bit really does go a long way. In Word Count Journal, by gradually building up your writing stamina and discipline, you will see just how easy it is to get a whole lot done. By simply writing a set number of words each day, every day, you will write a whopping 66,795 words at the end of one calendar year. Little by little, through the power of series, the total of your written words will add up to more words than contained in the average novel.

Quite frankly, the thought of reading a blog where the words have to be dragged out of the author in this way fills me with horror, but I guess for someone who isn’t sure about dipping their toes into blogging waters, it might just help.

But then…a account is free. Go there instead.

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When is a Blog not a Blog?

Mike Arrington has opened up a storm of a debate over at TechCrunch, criticising the official Google blog for not allowing comments. He’s picking the issue up from a post by Zoli Erdos. He asks

Is a blog really a blog if there are no reader comments?

It’s an interesting question, but the answer is pretty obvious. Yes, of course it’s still a blog.

As Arrington notes, most definitions of a blog is a regularly updated website with content in reverse-chronological order. I reckon that’s about right.

Comments are nice, but not a requirement. John Naughton’s blog, for example, doesn’t have comments open, but that doesn’t make his site into something other than a blog. It’s not something I would personally do, but on a popular blog, the moderating of comments could turn into a serious business. If Google allowed comments on their blog, they’d probably have to employ someone full time just to deal with them.

And people can still comment on the articles, through their own blogs. Such comments will soon be found through Technorati, or Google’s own blog search.

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PfF/ScribeFire Review

I’ve been using Peformancing for FireFox, shortly to be rebranded as ScribeFire, for my last few posts on hyprtext, and my initial impressions are pretty good. It certainly fills the gap left when my switch to Ubuntu meant I could no longer use my beloved BlogJet.

It works, as I am sure most people know, as an extension to FireFox, that allows you to create blog posts by either clicking the little icon at the bottom right of the browser window, or by using the right-click context menu’s ‘Blog This’ option, which will insert a link to the current site into the editor, along with any text you have selected. Nice.

The Good

  • Setting up blog accounts is very easy, and most settings are automatically detected
  • FTP settings are easy to complete, making the posting of images very simple
  • All the little extras are there when making your post: technorati tagging, automatically adding a post to your bookmarks, trackbacks, etc
  • All the standard formatting is there, and it works very well, unlike quite a few rich text editors I could mention…
  • You can save draft posts as ‘notes’ and finish them off later

The Bad

  • Deleting notes doesn’t seem to require a clarification. I lost the first draft of this post that way.
  • I can’t edit the way some automatic content appears. For example, in my Technorati tags, I’d like the “Technorati Tags: ” bit to appear in bold.
  • The way line breaks are handled is a bit different to others – and the HTML view doesn’t insert <p> tags so it’s a bit tricky to know exactly what’s happening there

The Ugly

  • I can’t add alternate text to images, or text links. This is very bad for accessibility.

In conclusion, I like PfF/ScribeFire and I’ll be using it as my blog editor from now on. Most of my ‘Bads’ were pretty pernickety, but those alternate text issues need sorting out quickly.

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Blogsmith Coming Soon?

It looks like there will soon be a new contender in the hosted blog platform sphere. Blogsmith, the engine which was designed to run Weblogs Inc, Jason Calacanis‘ early blog network which was subsequently bought up by AOL.

WordPress seems to be the market leading platform at the moment, certainly among hardcore bloggers. It will be interesting to see whether Blogsmith’s imminent arrival will affect that service at all – especially in terms of the release of the awaited 2.1 release. currently forwards to Brian Alvey’s blog. I’ll keep an eye on it, as it’s likely to change soon.

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I wrote a couple of days ago about the purchase of Performancing Metrics by PayPerPost. The Performancing blog editor and advertising partnership programme were to be continued by the same team under different banners.

Well, the blog editor is now going to be called ScribeFire, which is a nice enough name. You can still download the editor (which is a FireFox plugin) from the Mozilla site, under its previous banner.

Since my switch to Ubuntu, I’m on the lookout for a new editor. I didn’t get on with PfF the first time round – it kept asking me to put my password in all the time which got annoying. I might give it another go now.

[tags]performancing for firefox, scribefire, blog editors[/tags]

PayPerPost buys


PayPerPost, the people who line up advertisers to pay bloggers to write nicely about their products, have bought – specifically the website and the Metrics system. Performancing for FireFox and the Performancing Partners advertising programme will continue under a new banner(s).

Something along these lines has been coming for a while and it’s fair enough that the Metrics project just wasn’t producing the goods for them. They wanted out, and I’m guessing they made some money on it. Fair play to them.

But PayPerPost? There will be plenty of bloggers among the 28,000 that they have ‘purchased’ who won’t want anything more to do with the project. Tris Hussey is one. I’ll be taking Performancing Metrics from my personal blog too.

Why? Because PayPerPost, to my mind, Just Don’t Get It. The notion of influencing bloggers through cash stinks, because it puts into question the validity of the blogosphere, no matter how many disclosures you put in.

Performancing, up to this point, have been considered to be among the good guys. Let’s hope that by selling up to the likes of PayPerPost, they haven’t lose some of the credibility they’ve rightly earned.

[tags]performancing, payperpost[/tags]