My lengthy blog post last night regarding the concerns webmasters and search engine marketers have regarding the new Tynt Beta service was met with cult-like following. While my post received attention from sources like Twitter and Sphinn, where many shared my views – it also helped Tynt to understand concerns and prepare a response plan.
Talk about proactive brand management, right?
I can’t steal any credit here. I spoke with Scott Polk earlier today as he prepared to have a phone call with Derek Ball, CEO of Tynt. Derek was interested in what Scott had to say, and based on the research and efforts that Scott (as well as many others) provided – Derek and Tynt were prepared to respond thoroughly.
Before diving in too far, I’d like to draw your attention to a few resources, cited accordingly:
- Derek’s comment on my first blog post (available here)
Hi Eric and crew. Eric, you’ve put a lot of energy and concern in your posting and I want you to know that we are listening and not trying to be a huge thorn in your side. We’ve been thinking through many of the points that you (and others) have raised to our attention. I’ve written a more detailed response on our blog for those who are interested at http://tynt.wordpress.com/ . From your comments I fear that Tynt in its beta effort has already registered so deeply negative in your mind that I do not know if we can win you back, but I do want to let you know that we want to be valuable and useful members of this community and would welcome input on how you believe we can do this.
- Derek Ball’s comment to the Sphinn Community
Hey everyone. We’ve put some of our thoughts from Tynt on our blog. If you are interested, please check out http://tynt.wordpress.com/
- And of course, Derek’s complete response to the SEO community. In the interest of space, please read Derek’s full post on their blog. Click here to open it up in a new window and not lose your place. :)
First, A Note of Thanks & Appreciation
First off, I need to thank everyone who read and weighed in on this issue. My approach was rushed as more information became available – and I know that it was not a great representation of me or my full take on Tynt’s intentions.
I apologize for that.
Reputation Management in Action
In our little niche industry, “reputation management” typically refers to pushing out some negative listings and promoting positive information. That’s skewed because of our professional background though and I want to recognize Derek and others at Tynt for being proactive. They not only responded quickly, but they were willing to listen to what we had to say.
Tynt may still cause concern for many content owners, but the fact that they’re willing to listen and provide resources for us to accomplish what we’re after is commendable.
I think it’s great that Derek not only commented here on my blog, on Sphinn and on the Tynt Blog; he actually took time out on extremely short notice to work with Scott and schedule a call where concerns could be aired.
A Review of My Core Issues with Tynt
Tynt replicates your site and does so in order to allow it’s users to markup your page visually. Whether users add notes or clipart-like graphics, or simply cover things up… It’s all fair game. Since they’re actually visiting tynted.net when they do this, it doesn’t affect the general visitor to my domain. I get that.
Unfortunately, search engines do not. Or at least have not. Not yet, anyway.
In my original post I referenced a Google Search for “site:tynted.net” (quotes removed). At the time I mentioned that there were results being served up from Apple Insider in those search results, too. If you click on the screenshot I provided you’ll notice that in addition to being indexed, the pages on www.appleinsider.com.tynted.net also had their content cached.
And that’s a problem for me and other site owners.
When a user accesses a domain on tynted.net, they’re effectively having the visual overlay of Tynt appear over the page they’re browsing. The content on the sourced domain is still being served up by the fully qualified domain being viewed.
If you review Google’s Cache of pages indexed though (such as this one from Apple Insider) you will see that the text from the sourced page is now, in the eyes of Google, owned by Tynted.net.
This creates opportunities for confusion, as site owners now have to battle tynted.net as original soruces of content and information. I know that it’s unlikely that a site as large as Apple Insider would be effected, but that doesn’t create any less of a risk for them or other, more vulnerable content publishers.
Now, Derek speaks a bit to this point in the post on Tynt’s Blog:
…we have been very publicly accused of being ‘content-thieves’ and scraping content from other sites, storing it in our own systems, and serving it up for our own benefit and revenue. When the Tynt plug-in is used, we only ever visit the original site and all Tynt content is simply layered on top of the existing site…
That is incorrect. Once the text cached Google believes the content is indeed that of tynted.net subdomains. While Derek may not have realized it, Google is absorbing the content as if it were served up by Tynt as the cached version of pages show.
It’s worth noting too that last night images, css files, robots.txt files (thanks to Rae for pointing this out) and even webmaster’s sitemaps (ex: domain.com/sitemap.xml) were all able to be served up through Tynt.
Michael Gray Weighs in on Copyrights, incrediBILL Takes a Stand
My personal stance on Tynt is still a bit undecided as I can see the pros and cons of the service. Michael however carries a lot of influence and his opinions are not only respected – but also believed in by many unwilling to form judgment of their own.
Michael continues with two more updates (one in response to muunkky who disliked my approach in my previous post):
Update #2 — if there are any copyright lawyers following get in touch w me I actually have a full legal copyright on some sites be fun 2 see what happen
His argument is simple and powerful. If site content is held under copyright, what legal abilities exist for Tynt to replicate that and permit markup on their own site?
If you’re familiar with Brett Tabke‘s WebmasterWorld you are likely familiar with incrediBill (Twitter, WMW Profile), the moderator of the Search Engine Spider Identification Forum and Cloaking Forum. Bill published a post on his blog called Exploring The Tynted Web which featured statements including the following…
Many webmasters take their livelihoods and reputations very seriously and don’t like being [expletive] with so there needs to be a way to detect the use of Tynt and or a way to opt-out of Tynt before this happens or it could get very ugly.
All very telling of his stance.
What I Believe Tynt Needs to Do
There are many folks out there who are unwavering in their criticisms and concerns of Tynt. I applaud those people for holding onto their values and defending their stance.
For Tynt though, the time is now. As an emerging brand, company and service – Tynt will forever be challenged by this in a socially driven space.
It’s up to Derek and others at Tyne to make the right decisions moving forward. The key for Tynt is to move on with this same approach by being proactive, responsive and willing to listen. Assuming they do this with the same open mindset demonstrated in the past 24 hours, I’m confident they will find more success.
They will need to get the right people involved though. Also, there’s a risk/reward with being engaged with critics and industry representatives. Being all of those things can take an incredible amount of time, money and planning.
I hope that Tynt understands this. Based on some personal emails exchanged with Derek Bell, again, I will say that I am confident in their abilities.
My Opinion of the Response?
I openly applaud Derek and Tynt for being responsive to the concerns and criticisms at hand. At the same time, I applaud Michael Gray, Edward Lewis, Scott Polk, incrediBILL, Rae Hoffman and everyone else who has weighed in on this discussion in the past 24 hours.
But, I simply cannot form any immediate opinion of Derek’s response. To do so now would be taking things out of context. Tynt, to their credit, is a BETA service at this time and restricted to a particular number of users for testing purposes. I will observe, quite closely, everything Tynt is up to.
But to further form an opinion now (as I did last night) would be unfair.
Follow The Tynt Twitter Discussions
Here’s a list of the people I have seen weigh in on the Tynt conversations on Twitter:
Apologies if I missed anyone.
You can always use Summize to search for tynt, but keep in mind that protected feeds like mine will not appear in those results.