Skip to content

Sp(h)inn: I’m OK, You’re OK, Be Happy!

Okay so when I asked “Who Paid ThreadWatch to Close” I was alluding. Yes I heard the question asked, but I also had my thoughts… the owners had conflicts of interest, conflicts of behaviors, and the audience wasn’t expected to pony up for $5,000 meetups featuring Dinner With Ego. The “pay to close” bit alluded to a higher conceptual exertion of influence along those lines.

Was ThreadWatch in the way? Surely it was, if for no other reasons than is was heavily branded (hard to overcome that), perseverant (did the editors even matter?), and not monetized (that had to suck). In an SEO world more incestuous than even the 2002-03 WebModeratorWorld, those forces would be enough to choke ThreadWatch to death if more than two BigBoys said it was time to feed the daisies.

And today everyone rejoice and be happy about Sphinn. It’s new, it’s branded BlueAndGreenGears and it has Danny! Vanessa says it’s Fun! DaveN says it’s “DaveN approved”. Rand has posted, Tamara has posted, Lee has posted. It’s community! It’s.. umm.. great! Did I say fun? Oh, yeah. And how about clean and smart and hip and and and and… web tooey? Can you say Joint Venture? Can you spell Strategic Alliance?

The SEO world is becoming much more fun now that everyone is friends, isnt it? More obvious, more blatant, more of all stuff that caused Nick Wilson to start ThreadWatch. Funny, that.


  1. Am I Tamara? :P

    In any event, I personally beta tested Sphinn (and if you look at my account’s creation date of June 21st, you can confirm) before it was out in real beta testing phase and when nobody knew about it. Aaron announced the closure of Threadwatch on June 25th. I know there it’s an uncanny coincidence but I don’t think that it had anything to do with ThreadWatch.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 8:02 pm | Permalink
  2. IncrediBILL wrote:

    Yup, looks like TW was thrown under the bus.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 10:41 pm | Permalink
  3. stever wrote:

    Must admit my first thought was of your original TW post when I saw the announcement. Kudos. Always worth reading.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 11:54 pm | Permalink
  4. mat wrote:

    John – when is your birthday and how many cats do you have?

    About me: I don’t like cola, but I don’t really like many things that are bland, cloying and have limited fizz.

    My network: Still runs on co-ax.

    Daily funny: Some joke about Sphinncters


    Friday, July 13, 2007 at 12:34 am | Permalink
  5. Ari wrote:

    So perhaps those of us not sleeping in bed with the other SEO folks should revitalize threadwatch, new name, new face, same principle?

    Friday, July 13, 2007 at 2:18 am | Permalink
  6. Appreciate the conspiracy as always, John.

    I liked Threadwatch. I supported it when it started; I kept support it when Aaron and DaveN took over, and I was disappointed and surprised to hear about it closing when I learned of it like most people, through my feed reader. That’s not how I would have learned about it if I’d been part of a hit squad to remove it from competition.

    No, Threadwatch was not in the way. Threadwatch was its own unique community which neither wiped out Search Engine Watch Forums, WebmasterWorld, SEOmoz or Digital Point (which is the real monster of the webmastering forums). It provided a home to a number of people who appreciated it, some of whom did so exclusively, but others who had it as one of several places they went to.

    Sphinn is not a Threadwatch replacement, nor was it designed that way. As always, you can believe what you like — and there’s some fun and linkbaiting you get with stoking up the conspiracy. But here’s the truth for me, if you want to believe it.

    I’ve wanted to do a Digg-like site for very long time. Like look here:

    That’s last September. I’m still at SEW when I wrote it, and when I did, I was already saying how I’d been wanting to do this. Threadwatch was nowhere near closing; SEL hadn’t been launched, but I felt there was a place for this type of site for the search community in particular.

    I left SEL, of course. One nice thing about going was the ability to do stuff I wanted. And Sphinn has been part of my plan of things I’ve wanted to do when I rolled out the site (which is exactly what I said when I did the Sphinn post, which talked about the community promise I made with the SEL launch).

    Threadwatch was still alive when all this happened. So what? I mean, Threadwatch was the reason Sphinn wouldn’t get going. Seriously? WebmasterWorld wasn’t an issue? Heck, SEOmoz wasn’t an issue? How about SEW Forums?

    None of these were issues for two reasons. First, SEL has its own unique community that needs a place where it can congregate, if it wants. That’s part of the role for Sphinn. Secondly, we’re doing things I think are and will be unique at Sphinn in terms of networking. It will fill a hole that I think is out there, a hole that existed even when Threadwatch was around. It’s not Threadwatch; it’s something different. Though Threadwatchers are welcome, of course — as is anyone. Even you, if that’s not too chummy.

    Monday, July 16, 2007 at 6:07 pm | Permalink
  7. john andrews wrote:

    Thanks for the comments, Danny.

    I have always found that quantity does not infer quality when dealing with contemporaneous commentary. While DP may be big or as you say “the real monster” it is not the highest quality. Signal to noise ratio is critical for technical forums, and especially niche areas like search where nuance carries a ton of weight.

    TW, despite the UFO posts and my own occasional drive by snarkiness, had a high S/N ratio. If you could read between the lines, it was in a league of its own.

    I never said Sphinn was a TW replacement. I just marvel at the coincidences. And note how the managers of TW have all much to gain from its demise, at the expense of the community they are actively monetizing elsewhere and via things like Sphinn.

    Monday, July 16, 2007 at 11:32 pm | Permalink