Today there was a conference call held by the team – Seth Godin (Squidoo Founder), Bonnie Diczhazy (Squidoo Head of Community) and Gil Hildebrand (Squidoo Chief Engineer) – to discuss the recent changes and issues at Squidoo.
The call was limited to 150 people on a FreeConference line, I managed to reserve a spot but I know there are way more than 150 Giant Squids out there. I think it would have been worth the small fee to upgrade to an 800 person line with a web call-in option.
Edited to update: Originally we didn’t know if there would be a replay available or not. An official replay of the conference call has been provided at Squidoo – http://hq.squidoo.com/squid-news/recording-of-giant-squid-conference-call-with-seth-bonnie-gil/
Conference Call Recap from My Point of View
First off, they didn’t mute the entrance beeps. So the first 15 minutes was really difficult to hear anything anyone said over the annoying beep every time someone connected to the call. Annoying. I’m not sure if they just didn’t know how to mute that out or if the freebie version of the FreeConference doesn’t offer the option to mute those.
Seth did a very nice warm fuzzy welcome and thank you to the community. He mentioned that there are over three million lensmasters on Squidoo. That’s a lot of people. And this conference call was limited to only 150 people. I’m grateful that I was able to be a part of the call and listen to the conversation.
I use the term conversation very loosely here because this was not an interactive phone call. This was just Seth, Bonnie, and Gil discussing the issues and the vision for the company.
That was also the first question, what’s the vision, what’s the goal. Seth said from the beginning the main goal was to give people a place to be heard and to trust people to use it wisely. (I’m paraphrasing there.) He also mentioned some of the charitable donations that the site has generated, which I find to be a very positive side effect of Squidoo.
Next up for the second question answered Gil talked briefly about the filters and technical details in the combat against spam and how important it is for content to be personal in nature. His three points were; focus on quality and not quantity, how you fit into the niche you’re discussing, and add value. Quality and adding value are always on my list of content creation requirements, so I’ll go ahead and agree with Gil’s quick list of points.
Third question was answered by Seth in regards to his own lenses breaking Squidoo’s rules and also addressing the overuse of affiliate links on a singular page. I think he handled this fairly well in pointing out that there is no cookie cutter set of guidelines to follow in this regard. Like I said in my previous post, whether or not Seth’s own lenses are good or not is not the issue and it’s not important.
I am, however, tired of hearing about shower curtains. I confess, I rolled my eyes as soon as those two words hit my ears.
His book list lenses may be short on content, but they have much more content than some of the lenses being hit by the filter and locked right now, and they’re very personal – after all, they are his book reading recommendations and books that he has read. People who follow Seth online want to know what he’s reading and a quick Squidoo lens made it easy for him to share his reading list with his tribe.
He said “if you’re trying to beat the system then you’re starting off on the wrong foot,” and I agree with that. “Make stuff that’s beautiful, make stuff that’s important to you, make stuff that spreads.”
Fourth question was “What’s the best way our Giant Squids can lead by example on Squidoo?”
Nice question! Overall the answer was to teach those who want to learn. Don’t do things for links, likes, or shares. Treat lensmasters like friends. Gave the example that farmers in Iowa don’t keep secrets from each other, because they’re all in this together and they want to have the best results possible for the entire farming community.
Bonnie added here that she’s in Squidoo every day about 10 hours per day looking at lenses and finds Giant Squids amazing. (Here I would like to insert a big thank you and kudos to Bonnie for her hard work!)
Seth said 97% of the people on Squidoo “get it” and they’ve built millions of pages that have made the internet better. He doesn’t have time for snarky notes from the people that don’t “get it.”
He said if you think a page is spammy or smarmy to send a link report in and they’ll look at it. Then he also said here “Know that there aren’t very many of us. It’s better to ask each other. Ask each other how you can improve the community and the quality.” The tone here was a bit short and it kind of sounded like “stop bothering us” but at the same time I took that to mean that he wants the community to grow and mature organically without being told what to do all the time.
Call ended at 20 minutes – They originally had implied that it would be an hour and a half conference call answering 10 to 12 questions as time permitted. They held a 20 minute call answering 4 very general questions. That was all. I was a bit disappointed that they only gave 20 minutes and then they all hopped off really quickly. I know there were plenty of good questions in the submission pool so they couldn’t have had difficulty coming up with talking points. Perhaps it was too difficult to choose so they just stuck with the general points they wanted to make and called it a day.
Note: Please don’t consider this an exact transcript of the call. I can rock a transcript out with accuracy pretty quickly, but I certainly can’t transcribe a live call word-for-word as it happens. I wrote out shorthand notes and filled it in at the end of the call.
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Edit again to add that Bonnie has posted an additional 10 questions and answers on the HQ blog tonight; http://hq.squidoo.com/squid-news/10-questions-from-our-giant-squids/ – Question #10 is actually my question from the conference call registration form, which I asked because a lot of folks were wondering if doors would be closed to lensmasters in favor of some other content system. Also, I’m starting to think Bonnie deserves one of those fun vacations they’re giving away at the end of the year for all she does in a day!