Changes, Changes, Changes

Change… nobody likes them much except when they makes things more awesome and we’re about to make some changes to the UrlyBits network that we feel will make the network a better place.

First off we’re cutting the fat. Over the next few weeks we’re planning to roll Get In Mah Belly, Utterly Cute and Unscrwed into Is Viral. The reasons for this are many, but boil down to some very simple things.

  • Is Viral already had similar content and existing sections to much of what is on the other sites before they were rolled out, and we feel it would be better to roll it all back together for the user experience.
  • A lot of what gets posted to the other sites is of lower quality than the bigger sites because we’re getting the content AFTER the bigger sites have been done. This means that you guys are getting a poorer experience and less LOLs. Less posts (more than Is Viral currently post but less than all 4 combined) on a daily basis should give you guys a far better experience.
  • Consolidation – the simple fact is that it takes me a ridiculous amount of time to to maintain and find content for 7 sites every day and that is hurting the user experience. Cutting down to 4 will make my life easier, free me up to do cool new things with the sites and give you guys a better more unified experience.

We’re going to start by posting the content to Is Viral until the integration is complete, so new posts won’t be going on the other sites and after a while visiting those sites will bring you to the appropriate category on Is Viral.

For those of you subscribed to the Facebook pages,  worry not, because we’ll feed the individual categories to those pages so you won’t lose out, or be inundated with content you don’t want and life shall continue pretty much as normal.

Look for the changes to where we post to start today and the rest to come in the following days.

SOPA and PIPA – You Shall Not Pass

Shall Not Pass
We’re protesting SOPA and PIPA today with banners placed on all our properties.

Please join us by visiting American Censorship and adding your voice to those protesting against legislation that could censor the internet and could results in sites like ours having to shut their doors.

Even if you don’t live in the US you can still protest by petitioning the State Department who constantly speaks out about internet censorship in other countries.
Pressure them to speak out about America’s new domestic censorship system.

Help kill SOPA and PIPA in order to keep sites like ours alive for your enjoyment.

Take Action: Petition the State Department and  Stop American Censorship.

Image credit – Dan Fugate

We’ve Dropped Wordbooker And Moved All Sites To RSS Grafitti

It’s with a heavy heart that we’ve made this switch,  but updates to the Facebook pages for all of our sites when posts are published are now being handled by RSS Graffiti instead of Wordbooker.

Wordbooker is an awesome plugin and formats the posts  in a much nicer way than RSS Graffiti does but it has one major flaw, a flaw which it isn’t even responsible for – as far as we can tell Facebook doesn’t like it.

Facebook isn’t blocking the plugin, but it does appear to be grouping or hiding the updates from people’s streams, an issue which doesn’t appear to be affecting RSS Graffiti.

We’ve used both systems for a while on various sites and thought that the lack of interaction on some of our less established sites pages (which were using Wordbooker) was down to the limited numbers of users, however we switched over two of our main sites to Wordbooker and the difference was instantly noticeable.

The pages, which usually have interaction one every post had ZERO interaction for 24 hours after switching.

It could just have been that we were posting crappy content, but we doubt it. The posts did well on the actual sites and a mirror version of one of the pages which was left using RSS Graffiti (the mirror version is a remnant from a rebranding) continued to get likes and comments on the posts.

Again, let me say that we make this change almost against our will. Wordbooker is an awesome plugin, it just appears that Facebook does not like it.

BarCamp Mobile 2011

BarCamp Mobile is being held on the at University of South Alabama on November 12, 2011.

We’ll be there. In fact, Sara is the one organizing this years even and Scrw Media will be one of the sponsors (which BarCamp could do with more of.. hint hint!). I’ll be running a session at the event, although we’re not sure about what yet (we have plenty of time) and we’re hoping that it will be an even bigger and better event that the last Barcamp Mobile.

You can register to attend (which is free) here or drop along to the site to find out more information, such as what a BarCamp actually is and why they’re so different to other conferences.

TechMixer University

We’ll be in Birmingham, Alabama on Tuesday the 27th of September for TechMixer University.

TechMixer University is an annual one-day conference that offers a full day of free technology training. This Birmingham, Alabama event is attended by the area’s brightest and enriched technical professionals, including developers, database professionals, project managers, network professionals, IT directors/managers and C-level executives. The event also provides coverage of non-Microsoft technologies such as Oracle, MySql, and Ruby.

There are 40 sessions that day (a full list can be found here) and I (Paul) will be speaking about “Optimizing WordPress for Shared Host Environments” from 2:55 to 4:15.

Register for TechMixer University.

BarCamp Birmingham 5

Morning Schedule
Last weekend we made our way to Birmingham Alabama (photos on Flickr) to partake in BarCamp Birmingham 5.

While we were there we got to meet some awesome folks who were kind enough to share their expertise on everything from critical thinking to running your start-up and cutting the cord.  I also had the opportunity to give a talk on “WordPress Optimization for Shared Host Environments”.

We’d like to send a massive thank you to everyone who made BarCamp Birmingham 5 a possibility and for welcoming us so openly.

There’s a full post about our trip over on my blog.