Saturday, May 19, 2007

Serious Plans To Establish A Blogs Aggregator (Updated)

Why a New Aggregator:
It has become clear to me that although the blogs aggregation for our small country (Jordan that is) is high, with numerous blogs aggregators serving the readers, there is still something that is missing. Respect. Most Jordanian bloggers started blogging with one reason in mind: To avoid the restrictive one-sided journalism, a free voice to speak up their mind with no censorship or boundaries. But it seems to me that none of the currently existing aggregators have had any serious policies that give the readers a grantee against censorship.

For this reason, I am planning one such aggregator that will actually promise its readers their right to know what goes behind the scenes. No blogs or posted entries will be censored abruptly. There might be some criteria to delete some posts, but all such criteria will be publicly announced. In the extreme cases where one post\blog has to be removed, that case will be announced publicly along with the reason for it. There will be NO silent removals while secretly hoping no-one will ever notice [like some have previously done!!]. The reader will have the right to know what material has been removed, and why it was removed... But my hope is that there will be no such removals to start with.

What Has Been Done So Far:
I registered my own domain and I am working now to configure an aggregator. I have installed several aggregation (content management softwares) and I am testing which one suits my vision best. In a few days, I will post preliminary links to temporary test aggregation attempts in order to ensure their suitable configuration. After I become satisfied with the result, that aggregator will hopefully go to wide-scale consumption and site feeds will be added.

Note: Updates on this project will follow in the coming days. Please provide my with preliminary thoughts whether or not you think I should go on with the project.

Please Tell Me What You Think:
1- Should the aggregator be strictly for Jordanians?! For Arabs?! Or multi-cultural?!
2- Should the aggregator have low requirements for inclusion?! Should new and\or mediocre blogs be included?! Or should it be picky with high requirements?!
3- Any other recommendations?!

Update: (May 19, 2007) An aggregator is setup and running. Please note that I am in the process of adding blogs as I am exploring blogs to find good blogs. The policy of the aggregator is not ready yet. Also note that, neither the site look or feature set are final. I am working on a completely new look and feature set, but this will take a while (maybe two months)...

16 comments:

Qwaider قويدر said...

Heyyy :)
Good luck ... the more the marrier ..

hamede said...

Excellent idea,and good luck.

7aki Fadi said...

Good luck.

The Observer said...

I am so happy for this news. If anyone would provide us with the utmost freedom in an aggregator, it is you. Wish you the best luck :). and thank you for putting your efforts for this cause.

Tala said...

i think you can handle it perfectly and its a great idea :)

Issa said...

"some criteria to delete posts"
"in extreme cases blogs/posts has to be removed"

If the goal of the new aggregator is to allow people to speak freely, you should not repeat previous errors and put new boundaries and allow censorship... I think it's good to make a new aggregator in which everyone can express what he wants to say without any kind of censorship or suppression, hoping this is what you'll do, I wish you a good luck!

Devil's Mind said...

Yes Issa, this will be my primary goal of this established aggregator, and if I was gonna repeat the same mistakes I would not bother overloading the blogosphere with yet another aggregator.

I will come up with a draft of the policies, and hope they will make clear what might not be tolerated. Once they are published, anyone who thinks that one term is unreasonable can object.

Preliminarily, insults and public threats will not be tolerated. Apart from that, it should be alright.

Tala said...

you know, i always ask myself, why would a blogger want to aggregate his/her blog? isn't it a method of promotion..? why would you want to increase the number of views unless you write for people not for yourself,,, do we really seek to promote our thoughts? think of it from the aggregator's POV, a good aggregator would act as a collector, i.e he is a good researcher in the first place to become a link or a communicating node for separate units,, but a bad aggregator is who plays the role of the controller, the selector,,, whats more important than the manufacturer and the client is the distributer,, because if you gain the trust of being a reliable source... khalas you grant that who is rolled under you has the thought that they don't have to do the search coz you provide it. and its a very sensitive string,, same goes to media,, i guess if people realise this point, everything would change.

Devil's Mind said...

Good point Tala, and I have been already considering it.

We can think of several types of aggregators:

1-Universal aggregator: An aggregator that collects feeds from too many blogs without any kind of monitoring.
2-General purpose aggregators: Aggregators with no specific purpose or requirements.
3-Special interest aggregators: Aggregators for certain ideologies, for example, religion-specific or politics-specific, philosophy-oriented, ...etc
4-Geographic aggregator: Like jordanplanet.net which is dedicated to one country with no specific topic interest.


Two questions arise: 1-Why would a blogger want to be enlisted in a blog. 2-Why would a reader use an aggregator.

Starting with question number 2: I here only speak for myself, so others might have a different purpose in mind. For me, aggregator's main advantage is usability. It saves times searching for good quality posts.

Also, it gives an opportunity to read blogs that I have not known before that might actually be good. In this regard, (before being an aggregator owner myself) it seemed like there were some folks doing a good job (like jordanplanet.net) at locating blogs of interest.

For the above reason, I, personally, would prefer an aggregator that collects a hand-picked group of blogs rather than ALL IN policies. (I'd probably NOT use a hand-picked policy, since in my vision, this new aggregator will target general public rather than my personal interests.)

As for the question: Why would a blogger want to be enlisted, its basically (IN MY OPINION) two reasons: 1-Discoverability ("promotion" as you described). 2-Ease of access for the lazy folk (all in one stop).

Lastly, "because if you gain the trust of being a reliable source... khalas you grant that who is rolled under you has the thought that they don't have to do the search coz you provide it." - Exactly, thats why a good aggregator should use transparent policies, because when the users cannot trust the aggregator to perform its job well, that aggregator loses its purpose.

Who-sane said...

Looks promising.

Good luck!

The Observer said...

Excellent job. Looks good. Thank you for your efforts

Devil's Mind said...

It is fine, although not very good looking. I am not satisfied by its current design and will be changing it.

Some might have noticed that it took me a long time to announce a running aggregator. There are mainly four reasons:
1- I have been busy.
2- In the free time I had, I was lazy.
3- I tried different softwares to host my aggregator, and so I have setup an two aggregators before this one, only to later on cancel them.
4- I still have pending issues other than design. Administrative issues, like deciding on the policies of the blog, and the criteria for enlisting blogs.

Anyways, as I said, even this current aggregation design is temporary (will be replaced in two or three months). But I have this now setup and running so as not to be late to deliver a "good for now" aggregator...

Mohanned Al-arabiat said...

Best of luck, but keep in mind that freedom of speech means that anything goes!! No limits!

Devil's Mind said...

I don't think I am free enough to provide full freedom of speech medium. At the minimum, I have to make sure that everything that is said is legal in both Jordan (since I live here) and the USA (since my hosting company is there).

My hosting company has some restrictions on what I may host on my account and what I may not, thus limiting my freedom of speech. I have signed a contract that gives them the right to cancel my account without a refund if I don't comply!! (I am willing to test my luck, upto reasonable limits. I don't pay more than a month in advance so that I don't lose much if they cancel my account!)

Anyways, I will try my best to provide the best freedom-of-speech-friendly experience. I am ready to switch hosting companies if I had to, in order to find a company that is least restrictive in their policies.

kinzi said...

Hi DM! Congrats on the new aggregator! I didnt' realize it was you until Who-Sane commented on my question.

I should be honored that you, Mr. Deep Thinker, doesnt' consider my blog mediocre...or did you choose it AFTER deciding to include us non-issue blogger moms? :) Anyway, knowing how differently we look at life, I appreciate your willingness to include my point of view.

Devil's Mind said...

As you guessed your blog is currently enlisted, and the honor is mine. Jordanfreevoices.com is NOT meant to create an elitist subgroup of blogs. It is NOT for one point of view over another. Yes, maybe we have different views on life, but this is a good reason to include your blog, because diverse views is a goal of jordanfreevoices.com.