When Did Mashable Lose the Plot?

Posted on March 23, 2009. Filed under: blogging, Business, Observations | Tags: , , , , , |

Image representing Mashable as depicted in Cru...

I used to think Mashable.com was a pretty good online publication. Certainly enough to pitch them ideas and actually have a few posts published by them, but of late, I really think that Pete Cashmore and his organization has lost the plot. Mashable used to be “All That’s New on the Web”, now they are titled “The Social Media Guide”. Unfortunately they aren’t either.

The posts they now put out are mostly lists, now I know that blog readers like lists, 10 best this, 7 ways to do that, 18 plugins for this problem. But seriously are there not enough bloggers out there already producing those types of posts. If you have a visitor base of some 1.5m unique visitors per month (according to Compete.com) don’t you think you could try and be a little bit different?

Has Mashable gone the way of its print cousins and become so focussed on Ad revenue that they have decided it is better to turn out the same old stuff that everyone else is doing and play it safe?┬á One post today just made me laugh, 18 WordPress Plugins for RSS – this is one of the laziest types of posts, and takes about 5 minutes to pull together. Just go to the WordPress Plugins Directory type in the resource you are looking for, and viola you have a list of plugins.

For example here’s how to produce a post called 5 WordPress Plugins for Podcasters:

Type in podcasting, get the following result:

podcast_plugins

Now just rewrite some of this info which comes from the developers and you have a post! No magic to it, no effort either.

Perhaps I am holding them to too high a standard, perhaps I shouldn’t expect anything approaching journalism from what is really “just” a blog. But I do, if Social Media is to progress, those that put themselves out there as “leaders” in the space need to try harder, need to raise the bar, not just produce the same old junk that any hack can pull out in a pinch.

Whilst I agree finding new and interesting Social Media stories is hard work, if you are truly going to be “The Social Media Guide”, then guide don’t follow.

Mashable Image via CrunchBase
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6 Responses to “When Did Mashable Lose the Plot?”

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Well put. I know using “lists” is one of the formulas that works, but I’m tired of lists…and seeing the same ones repeatedly. I hold Mashable to a higher standard. They didn’t get where they are by repeating what everyone else said.

Hi Simon,

Thanks for the feedback: always appreciated.

Of course I tend to disagree that our posts “are mostly lists” – I just skimmed the current output and only one of the past 16 posts is a list. Going back a few days in our archive, it seems around 80% of the content is currently news and opinion: I think that’s a healthy number.

What’s more, we get a lot of positive feedback on our lists: the comments on the post you cite appear to be wholly positive (or neutral) and include “Thanks for a really useful list” and “Nice plugins, thx!”. I’m aware that some people just read Mashable for the news and opinion, and that’s fine: we’re all about balance and offering a variety of content.

I disagree that we’re lazy, too. As you know from having submitted guest posts to Mashable in the past, we’re very rigorous about content quality and at least one editor double checks everything that goes out. I know for a fact that particular post took multiple hours to put together.

With regard to leading and not following, I think we’re doing some pretty innovative things at the moment. In the past month, we launched a new form of engagement-based advertising (“Twitter Brand Sponsors”), acquired a company that takes us beyond blogging (Blippr), and debuted a new comment aggregation system on the Mashable blog (“Social Media Comments”). Given the number of late nights we spent working on those things, we’d like to think they’re pretty unique ideas. :)

That said, Mashable is far from perfect and you’re right in saying that some of the list topics could be a bit more original. We’re gonna work on that for sure.

Pete

Thank you for taking the time out to comment on the post. As you can see from the other comment on this post, I guess people hold mashable to a higher
standard.

You are right lists are popular and they are useful, I guess I am one of those that wants to see more guidance from you. When you retitled the organization The Social Media Guide I was very excited because I felt that you had the ability to become that leading light that wasn’t ego based as some of the “rockstars” were tempted to become. I do like the innovations but what I would like more and what I think would differentiate you from your competitors is more focus on the How less on the What. For example lists of plugins are useful to bloggers like me, but not so much to a small business that is looking to use Social Media.

So whilst you have a “Business” section it again includes lots of lists, and less real editorial/opinion/guidance which is a shame because some of the pieces that Mashable has put out in the past have been absolutely stand-out pieces. My point here and of this post is that the mainstream media still portrays Social Media as either the latest toy of the geek-classes, something to be smiled at from afar, or they portray it as the latest get-rich quick scheme and want to jump on board to show that they are hip to it and can use it as well. Mashable, given its long connection with Social Media has the opportunity to provide unbiased reporting about what is really important in Social Media. Who are being innovators, what companies and individuals are having success with it and how they are achieving it. Maybe that just needs a section of its own – a “Whats Happening Section” – maybe thats a weekly round up – like the Sunday Supplement for Mashable.

All of that said I still think that Mashable is the best hope for those seeking to know about Social Media and I know that your fans (myself included) will keep looking to you to push the edge of online reporting of social media.

I Love this!

I just went to my first-ever Social Media “Camp”, and all of the advice was so formulaic, you might as well just stamp “I’m Just Like Everybody Else” on your banner. It was about bulleted lists, asking a question in the headline, etc.

Why don’t they put out a query for guest writers if they’re tired of churning copy?

Thank you,

Lavanna

I like this post, Simon. So many of us have become internet savvy that we don’t need someone re-broadcasting a list that we can find in two seconds on our own. I like the site and do go to it, but I want to find something that wouldn’t be readily available to me.

Cheryl
Thank you for the comment, glad you liked the post. I think its important that we try and push the leaders in the field to be leaders. I believe it helps them innovate and lets them realize our expectations.
Simon


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