Over the years I’ve participated in a few roundups (a.k.a. crowdsourced content) – sometimes via HARO, sometimes by being approached directly by email. Whenever the latter happens, I’m always chuffed that someone’s asked me and wants me to get involved with what they’re putting together. However, a few recent roundup experiences have left me a little… unhappy. I know that sounds harsh, perhaps even ungrateful, but there’s been a few bugbears with them that I’d like to share, so that other roundup rounder-uppers can avoid them if they can. I don’t know about you, but if I’m included in a roundup that fits one of these three criteria, it’s unlikely that I’ll promote it on your behalf (sorry)…
1) There’s too many people in it
I get the appeal of roundups, on both sides. The contributor gets a link to their site. The ‘host’ (for lack of a better word) not only gets content written for them, but the contributors are likely to share it and promote it on their behalf. If 5 people are included, that’s 5 potential tweets/RTs. If 50 people are included… well, you get it.
I was recently part of a roundup that included over 100 contributors – so many, in fact, that while there’s a pic of a bunch of the contributors, I’m not even one of them, hah! I’m sorry but that’s just too big a number to even be readable – either people will glance through it and/or read the first few, or they’ll simply look for people that they know and only take their contributions on board.
2) There’s no women in it
As a young, white, middle-class male, I feel like a complete jerk for even bringing it up – but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t. Rand Fishkin (@randfish) shares this way of thinking and is a good person to follow on the subject in our industry.
A recent roundup that I was involved in contained about 12 people – a nice, decent number. The only problem? There were 12 men (including me) and 0 women. I didn’t share/tweet/RT it – I was too ashamed to.
The same also applies to ethnic minorities. No one likes an all-white, all-male list. Not even white males.
I do feel like a bit of a hypocrite saying this… When I did a roundup on behalf of my parents’ business, we had 16 contributors, only one of whom was female. I really wish that I could’ve done better – hell, I would’ve preferred a 50/50 split – and admittedly it can be really tough in some male-dominated sectors, such as IT. But to have a 100/0 split isn’t acceptable. If I couldn’t have gotten at least one woman involved, I don’t think that I would have published it.
3) The link to my site is nofollow
I wrote about this in detail over at State of Digital, citing at least one example that came through HARO.
When someone takes the time to write something unique for your roundup, especially if they don’t reuse it, and bearing in mind that they might’ve written a few hundreds words (almost a blog post unto itself), then the least you can do is to make sure that the link is dofollow (normal). To make it nofollow is just naughty. It shows no respect for your contributors – hell, it shows that you don’t even trust your contributors! And if you don’t trust your contributors, why the hell should they help you?!
So if you include me in a roundup and the link to my site/blog is nofollow, don’t ask me to contribute to a second. “Fool me once…” as they say.
It’s up to the roundup hosts to do something about it
I wrote a while back about how the whole roundup thing has been a little ‘overdone’… so if you’re doing a roundup, especially these days, make sure that you’re producing content that is worthwhile and helpful to your readers, that is sourced properly, and give credit where credit is due. Do that and we’ll be friends, yeah? Alright. 🙂