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I’d like community input on where and how Barnacles draws a line between content marketing and outright spam.

I’ve previously deleted articles that are pure lead-gen - no article, just a signup form. In the last week it was Justin Jackson’s “Tiny Marketing Wins”, a little while ago it was the landing page for Amy Hoy’s “Year of Hustle”. I know Hoy’s email course was solid and expect the same of Jackson’s, but I previously drew the line there. The rule hasn’t been tested yet by a submission with a razor-thin paragraph of content and a hard signup squeeze, but I’d lean towards deleting it.

When I just opened this article it attempted to send notifications, then a full-page popover (without an “X” to close it, but at least it doesn’t have a shaming “I want to stay ignorant” microcopy on the close button). This article is a retread and not well-written, but everything’s new to someone and I figure voting can sort out quality. But I’m not especially happy about it.

I mentioned in a recent comment I’m increasingly displeased by this level of intrusive advertising. I know if you track signup counts it works (especially if you don’t track Net Promoter Score or another trust metric…) but it’s unpleasant.

I don’t have any illusions about how content marketing works, or that it does. Most of the excellent blogs are written by folks who sell marketing tools and services and want readers to be aware of them, maybe enter the top of a sales funnel. There are also plenty of people who want to exploit “wantrepreneurs” and the less-savvy (and I’m strongly resisting naming examples because I know opinions differ on who’s a guru vs. huckster and don’t want that deliciously gossipy tangent in this thread).

So I’d really like to hear your opinion on where and how Barnacles should be drawing this line.


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    Because there aren’t a ton of new articles being added daily, I don’t think voting will sort out quality until we have a lot more voting and stories begin to move up and down the list a lot faster. Is the “flag” feature being used by people at all? Maybe turn up the sensitivity of that so that stories disappear when they are flagged by fewer people?

    When I run into articles like the one you mentioned with the annoying full-page squeeze form, I immediately close the browser tab. I’m not interested in reading if its that obvious that you only want my email address. I don’t mind a subscribe form of some kind if you actually provide value with a well thought out article. No matter how well thought out it is though, I’m not even going to give you a chance with desperate tactics like full-page popups.

    Its tough, because if you moderate too much, fewer content will appear, and the community will grow a lot slower. But I think we should err on the side of quality over quantity. I would much rather know that the few links that appear are actually worth reading than take a chance every time I click on a link.

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      I’ve never used the flag feature, typically I just upvote stories that I find that are high-quality and/or relevant. I’ll make a point of flagging any stories I feel are spam but to be honest I haven’t found many since using Barnacles. It’s probably because of the work pushcx is doing!

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        Agree about maintaining high quality, but disagree on your hardline stance. An outright ban on popups/exit intents/others will hurt otherwise good articles. The techniques are so prevalent, and are typically applied site-wide through some plugin or add-on that the author thought (or was lead to believe) was a good idea (probably because it works). As much as I am not a fan of these distracting/annoying/exploitative techniques, IMO they have no direct correlation with the quality of the article. At some point you just have accept it, desensitize yourself to it, and ignore it. Links without content are definitely unacceptable though.

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          The techniques are becoming prevalent because people are putting up with it. I’m not suggesting we can change the world by discouraging them, but in my experience they are often an indicator of half-baked content. IMO, when they employ tactics like that, they make it clear that their #1 priority is to grow their email list, not provide value.

          I don’t mean to suggest a hardline stance on this. There is always a gray area. Maybe just a tag named “popup” or “full-page ad” (or something similar) would help people that get frustrated with those tactics like I do.

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        Looking for objective criteria: “Anything obscures or distracts from the content to a visitor without an ad blocker”. This would cover modals/popups/flyover/overlays/toasters/animations/exit intents.

        It could be addressed with an outright ban or an intrusive tag (not married to the name) with a negative hotness penalty.

        This wouldn’t address blogs that have 11 ads alongside/inside them (though this example also has a modal, flyover, and exit intent modal).

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          I really like the idea of an intrusive tag - while signup pop-ups increase the chance of the article being bullshit, there’s still quality content out there that has it.

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          I’m glad this is being brought up - especially seeing how some of the stuff that gets posted here is not just blatant content marketing but also blatantly pulled out of the author’s arse.

          Right now a big problem is that anything posted will get on the front page and stay there, because the lowest that a terrible-quality article ever gets is “1”, so it doesn’t ever fall below older, higher quality content. There are a couple of users who post 1-point-article after 1-point-article too.

          Maybe lower the threshold for downvotes? I’m assuming barnacl.es/lobste.rs is like HN where you have to reach a certain threshold to downvote. I don’t think there’s enough users to really worry about brigading, and the community’s pretty positive so far.

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            Somewhat relevant: https://www.scribblrs.com/google-now-penalizing-mobile-ads/

            Maybe the problem with intrusive ads, at least, will begin to subside on its own because of this. Definitely not overnight, but Google will start to punish the behavior.

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              I think commenting on the article with information about what is most intrusive about the way a page is set up can be helpful for the individual marketers (like myself) who are posting here.

              And tagging / being able to tag intrusive posts is also key for the community at large.

              At the end of the day, if a person isn’t responsive to feedback about intrusiveness, that’s a decent sign of spammy behavior.