The Giant Squids Conference Call About Squidoo Changes

telephoneToday 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 –

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.

Comments are open below, but will be moderated. No mud slinging on my blog, please and thank you.

Edit again to add that Bonnie has posted an additional 10 questions and answers on the HQ blog tonight; – 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!

12 thoughts on “The Giant Squids Conference Call About Squidoo Changes”

  1. Good recap of the call. I think the whole thing was just a reaffirmation of what Squidoo has always asked for – good, personal content. The difference now is that they’re not just asking for it, but enforcing it.

    1. I think that was a big part of the problem up until this point – no enforcement of the general content standards until the big G came along with their algorithm updates over the past six months…

  2. Loretta, thanks so much for this basic info of the conference call. This is pretty much what I got too. I still believe we have lots of questions that were never answered, but I intend to get back to my writing on Squidoo, and stop bellyaching! LOL! Thanks again!

    1. The question I submitted was about the expanding vision and overall goals of Squidoo going forward, so I guess my question was technically answered. Although, I think they would have started with that even if it wasn’t pulled from the question pool.

      I was disappointed with the shortness of the call, it seemed like they were in a hurry to leave there at the 20 minute mark. However, if they hadn’t implied an hour or longer call with 10 to 12 questions, I don’t think I would be as disappointed though.

      I do think a few things could have been addressed more in depth than they were. That shower curtains example is getting old – and we all know what they’re talking about when they say it so in book of manners and politeness that’s still finger pointing.

  3. Nicely recapped Loretta.

    I think the 3 million lensmasters was meant to make us go “wow” but I think probably 1/2 of those didn’t get beyond signing up, another 1/4 probably published 1 lens or started 1 and gave up. Active lensmasters I am sure must be 250k or under. It would be interesting to see some stats.

    Dissappointing content in a way and such a short call, and from what you said, not particularly well conducted. It might have been better to have them record a video together and then send the Giants the link to it.

    I hope this is an opportunity to move forward, but I still feel that HQ is giving out mixed signals, especially when it comes to Sales/Content on lenses and Squidoo/Own affiliate links.
    Tony Payne recently posted..Dragonfly Moroccan Mint Green Tea ReviewMy Profile

    1. Good point about the three million lensmasters. It would be interesting to know how many of those are actively using Squidoo.

      I know awhile back (maybe three years ago) there was a big rush of people that signed up just so they could comment/like and have a link from the standard profile page that comes with an account. I’m sure there are probably tons of “dummy accounts” sitting out there, and I don’t know if those are ever moderated in any way.

      And then, like you said, probably plenty of people with only one lens that never came back to Squidoo after that page went live.

      1. You know I hadn’t even thought about the number of people who must have signed up to be part of Liking rings etc. They must number in the thousands.

        I know when Squidoo was fairly new (6-8 years ago) that the initial community of lensmasters pretty much blasted out referral links, and there were phenominal numbers of signups as a result. I imagine there was a 80-90% dropout.

        I signed up 6 years ago, and I know that the confusing initial screen that expected me to create a lens when I had only just joined and didn’t know anything about Squidoo or lenses almost had me giving up. I’m pleased I didn’t though.

        One thing that has frustrated me is that all the url’s for those thousands of lenses that were started and never got beyond WIP, and where the lensmasters will never return, are still sitting there locked. I hope they clear them out and release them at some point. It would definitely reduce the data on the Squidoo servers and speed things up a bit.
        Tony Payne recently posted..Dragonfly Moroccan Mint Green Tea ReviewMy Profile

    1. A lot of people had that issue, unfortunately. I called in via Skype so I was using my headphones to listen. I don’t think I would have been able to pick up as much had I called in via phone.

  4. Lisa Marie Mary

    Wow – sounds like the call was a real disappointment and not really what anyone was needing. As in, they just basically said stuff that’s already been said, stuff we already know, etc. I hate to say it, but, when they act like this I get a distinct chacha vibe. *shivers*
    Lisa Marie Mary recently posted..Time To Say GoodbyeMy Profile

  5. Listening to the call now, not anything of value as far as I can see… he’s just saying that we are now untrustworthy.
    And what is this BS about having a week to edit and review… no – I have had 40+ lenses just locked, in two accounts… no review option.
    Even in my Giant account they Locked (no warning) 10 of my lenses, including at least two in a set of recipe/cooking lenses from you: “Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas” and “Delicious Cherry Recipes” which just does not make sense.
    Not happy that I could not even get a chance to edit them. I emailed the direct addresses I had (that newbies would not have access to, so they are totally in the wilderness) but my requests for reviews of two good lenses in another account have just been ignored, so I’m not even trying to ask for human review on the other 10 lenses.
    Stupid and overbearing behaviour, zero consideration for their lensmasters, who have built their business for them after all, because we give them our content free and promote the socks off our pages.
    Helene Malmsio recently posted..Mar 29, How to BlogMy Profile

    1. Everyone seems to be reporting the locking and fixing a little bit differently, I can’t tell if they’re tweaking the process as they go along or if they’re doing different things all at one time. Giants are supposed to have extra time (someone said 3 weeks) to fix locked or flagged lenses to go green.

      Yours are locked up and can’t be edited to republish? That’s so not how they said things would work.

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