“Helm, Full Stop!” I yell as Captain.
We’ve got to address an issue before we continue on our journey together and I’d like to get your input prior to making some hard decisions.
After we accept and publish your article, we inform the search engines via our sitemaps that there is a brand new quality article for them to discover (and hopefully index). Unfortunately, if the search engines don’t find your article (after we just told them to find your new article) because you decided to take it down to edit it, that creates 2 problems …
- They inform us that they were unsuccessful in finding the article. That’s bad, because now the chances of that article getting indexed are significantly lower.
- Worse, our reputation is on the line. When we tell the search engines that there is a new article for them to crawl and index, that article had better be there for them to discover! Otherwise, we’re wasting their time and resources, which makes us look incompetent.
- Last month, members edited 22,993 articles that were previously live. These articles were removed from the site for 1-4 days awaiting a full re-review before going back live.
- 19,153 of those articles (83.3%) edited by members didn’t improve the article body and only changed something in the Resource Box.
- Hundreds of thousands of articles annually are at risk of not getting indexed at all because of this issue.
Here are two options we could pursue to fix this issue:
Option A: Discontinue allowing any articles to be edited. Period. – Move the 2 full-time people we dedicate to reviewing newly edited articles and use their labor to accelerate the review of new articles. Your only option to fix an article will be to remove it completely – it won’t be allowed to be submitted ever again. Nor will our Member Support Team be allowed to edit your article for you.
Option B: Put a 30 day lock on all new live articles. – They cannot be edited within 30 days of going live no matter what. Member Support would not be allowed to edit your article for you. After 30 days, you’d receive 1 “article edit credit” to edit each of your live articles (once per lifetime). When you consume an “article edit credit” to edit your article, your article would remain live on the site during the re-review phase. Upon re-acceptance, your edited article would go live, replacing your current article.
Why the “Article Edit Credit” system? We want to discourage members from frequently editing their live articles because the majority (83.3%) are not adding value nor are they improving spelling/grammar or sentence structure. They are simply revising their Resource Box.
Your thoughts? Option A, B or other ideas?
UPDATED TUESDAY DECEMBER 15th 2009 4PM CST:
Because this blog post is now over 400 comments with less than 24 hours since it was released, I’d like to thank everyone for their input! :-)
Clearly this is an issue you have great interest and passion for communicating your thoughts/concerns. We’ve received hundreds of private email responses as well.
Rather than respond to every blog comment and repeat myself several times over and over again, I’m going to share our updated position as of right now:
Why do we pull the live article off the site and put it into an inactive status in the first place?
It was a built-in mechanism to discourage members from frequently editing their articles because it’s our belief that you can get a higher return from using your time to write new articles instead of hyper-optimizing your existing articles combined with our fear of showing a high page mutation rate that looks like dofollow link rotation (look at this issue from a search engines perspective… if you saw 250,000 links change in less than a years time…you’d think something weird is going on perhaps). If our resource box links were rel=”nofollow” someday… we might feel differently.
An “article edit credit system” is not something we can implement overnight. Should we implement such a system, we’ve already agreed that legitimate dead links should not count as part of your edit credits as a concept because it’s in our mutual best interests that your dead link be changed to a working valid link.
Articles To Stay Live During Edit:
We’ve decided that immediate action is needed that can’t wait for an article edit credit system, therefore very soon we’ll be changing the edit process over to keep your article LIVE while it’s being edited by you and upon our acceptance of your edit, the new version will replace the old.
This solves two of our challenges:
- When we tell search engines that your content is here where we told them it was, they will find it and thus your chances of getting your article indexed goes up.
- When members edit articles that were previously accepted that wouldn’t be accepted with today’s standards, there was no recourse for a member other than lose the live article to become a DRAFT that wasn’t able to be re-submitted for review without it meeting today’s standards. In the new system that will roll out before December is over, if our submission form won’t accept your article or your article gets rejected by our team, your live article isn’t touched throughout the whole time period that you make changes. Additional guidance will be forth coming on how this system will work as we’re whiteboarding it yet.
Article Titles Now Locked On Edit:
Article titles will no longer be allowed to be changed once an article has been previously live. If you want to optimize your article title, we suggest that your next new article submission is the best place to experiment with new article titles. This change has gone live as of the past hour and it only applies to articles that were previously live. You can edit and change your article title up to the point that your article gets accepted and published.
Main reason for the article title locking on live articles is that changing the title = changes the URL because the title is in the URL. Changing the URL after its been published and announced to the world is no longer ok. We’re standardizing further the URL structure so that when we tell the search engines of the URL of your article, we want them to find it as we said it would be.
UPDATED THURSDAY DECEMBER 17th 2009 2PM CST:
This blog thread will remain open for a little while longer so that your voice and ideas can be heard. Please know that we’re no longer asking for votes on either A nor B because we’ve already decided thanks to your input of nearly a thousand emails and blog comments that we’ll be keeping the articles live during the EDIT process.