An Open Letter to Scoop.it

I'm hearing from more and more faculty about Scoop.it -- a "curation site" that they think might help them assemble resources for their students.

And I thought it was a great idea.

But there seems to be one fatal flaw.

Scoop.it (apparently) doesn't monitor its user sites for active content.  Yet it assigns topic-based "vanity URLs" that, once taken, are unavailable for others.

So if you have a topic that you want to "curate," you'd better hope that you can find a word related to it that hasn't already been taken by a topic-squatter who's saying nothing about it.

  • "/religion" is taken... and was last updated in early 2011.
  • "/philosophy" is taken... and has only one link to one external page -- either a mistake, disinterest, or SPAM.
  • "/fatherhood" was grabbed by a woman a couple weeks ago and she hasn't posted anything at all.
(You can tell by the fact I got down to "fatherhood" as a topic that I was pretty desperate for a coherent topic.  Unfortunately, it was available last month and had I known that Scoop.it didn't care whether people posted any content I would have grabbed it "just-in-case." Instead, I was trying to be a good Scoop.it citizen and waited until I had some content lined up before I logged back in to assign it to myself... only to find it unavailable...)

And, no, I really don't want to invest any time in writing under "/fatherhood-as-seen-by-eric".

If these topic pages were active, I'd have no problem with other people "owning" them.  And if Scoop.it assigned everything by username (or, at least, "nested" them under a username directory) I'd have no problem, either -- "/fluffybunny12/fatherhood" could maintain a site separate from "/emlarson/fatherhood".

But if you're going to present something as authoritative -- if you're going to assign a URL like "/philosophy" to a particular user -- then, if you want to encourage people to participate, you'd better make sure that there's something there.

How can this be solved?

Simple:  Act on the existing TOS:
Scoop.it reserves the right to revoke and/or reassign any username and/or topic name in its sole discretion. You understand and agree that Scoop.it reserves the right to change, remove, alter or delete any username and/or topic name, with or without prior notice to you, at any time and for any reason in Scoop.it's sole discretion.

Just set up a policy/practice that any topic not updated in x-many days (30? 90?) be revoked and "returned to circulation" -- either with the old content intact, or new-and-empty.  (Take your pick.)  Warn users of pending revocation with a friendly email.  Offer longer topic-ownership windows to users as a benefit of paid membership.

This isn't hard.  And it would make Scoop.it a much more interesting and viable resource on the internet.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Passing on Panel Discussions?

Commercial comments (Blogging from Word!)

Great teaching on the book of James