The Problem with Badges

Fun-loving, happy-go-lucky Nick Carr points to TopRankBlog’sRSS Button Maker and declares it a problem with RSS.

I’m assuming he’s commenting – not so much on RSS but – on aggregators trying their damnedest to co-opt RSS to their specific silo.

That’s a little unfair of me considering 33 of the brands in the list are aiming to solve a problem I bumped up against again this morning while working on FeedSeeder.

Dealing with URL strings any longer than is cumbersome and error-prone.

The buttons in question, from Yahoo, Google, Technorati, and 30 others are trying to eliminate that problem. Same with the ‘Digg this post’ links on Nick’s site and the pile of bookmarking badges at the bottom of each post at the TopRankBlog proper.

Each badge represents a single action (bookmark or subscribe) at a specific account-based (login/password) site. Once I’ve decided on where I’m doing my bookmarking and where I’m aggregating my feeds and set up the pre-requisite accounts – all of the other badges are irrelevant, noisy, and ignore the fact that most of those places have bookmarklets. If I haven’t set up one yet – it’s the paradox of choice.

I suspect way back at the beginning, these badges were an easy way for publishers to promote and recommend the sites they themselves use. Word-o-mouth and all that. No longer. Today, these are straight-up free advertising (there is a difference).

I’m making the following assumption;
People reading this post and find it interesting and want to bookmark/subscribe know how to deal with URL strings.

31 Oct 2006 Related:

“This focus on campaigning over content seems like a classic case of misplaced priorities. The reason posts wind up at Digg, Delicious, or elsewhere isn’t because the authors made it easier to vote for them (it’s already easy). A post winds up at these sites because people respond to its content and quality.” – Matt Linderman

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