Today’s New York Times covers Zebo.com, “The World’s Largest Repository of What People Own.” Zebo is not a competitor, and I wish them well. But somebody needs to hold the NYT’s coverage to a higher standard.
Here is Zebo’s Alexa traffic chart, as of today.
Was the article titled “Zebo Falls like a Stone” or “Social Shopping Site Fails to Keep Users”? No, it was a glowing and hopeful profile—a site that’s going somewhere, not the red-stomached belly-flop it really is.
The Times cites the founder that “four million people” have joined since January. Check the blogosphere. Google Blog Search knows of only 47 bloggers linking to the site, compared with 4,785 for LibraryThing, a site with 2% of Zebo’s stated users. Is it possible people who join LibraryThing are 5,000 times more likely to blog about it? Did they discover the perfect user repellent?
I love the New York Times. I get it nearly every day, and read it voraciously. The LibraryThing office is literally strewn with old copies. I can’t imagine a world without it. The Circuits sections is, even now, one of most important ways I learn about new trends in Technology. But this article—and one about swap site Zunafish earlier—have me stumped. How do they come about? Can there be any explanation other than good PR and lazy reporters? Besides Alexa and Google Blog Search, there’s Technorati, Feedster, Media Metrix, Del.icio.us (14 people to LibraryThing’s 4,843!) and on and on. A check on any of those should would have thrown the story in a very different light.
It should be hard to spin on the web. If you product isn’t working online, it should be very hard to hide it. Even from the New York Times.
PS: LibraryThing’s never been covered by the Times. I rely on my still substantial trust in their journalistic ethics not to hold this blog post against me.