Ryan is Nominated for Canada's Top 40 Under 40
Yeah, he's Canadian
If there's one thing Canadians are known for it's being humble. It seems that the InfoBarrel guys are no exception.
With all the buzz about user-generated content sites being downgraded by Google, there's one site that is still going strong.
After DebW07 told me about InfoBarrel, I was ashamed I didn't find it sooner - I mean, I'm Canadian too.
After a month on here I wrote a little comparison between the now defunct Squidoo site and InfoBarrel.
Now that I've been on here almost 11 months, I asked Ryan McKenzie if he'd be open to an interview with me. And even though he's been doing the work of about eight people, he agreed.
Partial Quantcast Data (Traffic Up 691%)
InfoBarrel Traffic August 3rd to November 29th, 2014
Have you ever been on a site and wondered, how did that get featured, stay published, or win some kind of accolade?
Yeah, me too.
Yet I've never wondered about or questioned the work highlighted on InfoBarrel. If you want a taste of what I'm talking about, just check out The Top 100 sometime.
Since nothing beats a sit-down interview, I thought I'd ask my man-servant to drive Mr. McKenzie to my country estate.
The Girls Went Crazy
Twelve Questions for Mr. McKenzie
1) Are you the only writing platform that uses human editors and what advantage do you feel this has?
I'm not really too up-to-date on what other platforms use in regards to quality control, but we have always been human edited. It has given us the ability to prevent spam from surfacing and has helps keep content quality higher so readers have a better experience.
2) Your ad share revenue program is generous for writers at 75 percent (most are considerably less). Plus, I've found if I can maintain 31 (or more) points per month I can increase my ad share to 90 percent. How are you able to pay out top dollar to InfoBarrel writers?
In order for InfoBarrel to succeed, writers need to be taken care of. Without the writers, we wouldn't have the content, and without the content we wouldn't be able to provide readers with an entertaining and educational service. We keep our costs down by creating ultra efficient systems that take a lot of the footwork out of running a business.
3) The homepage features are based on an editorial calendar which you publish one month ahead for writers. Do you feel this helps to keep featured work from becoming too saturated in some topic areas?
We created the editorial calendar for two reasons. It creates some consistency for our readers and it helps writers come up with ideas to write about. We find that it also helps to foster subject matter experts in verticals we feel our readers will enjoy.
4) The new InfoBarrel version 4.0 is due out any day now. What changes have you made that will make InfoBarrel more user-friendly for readers and writers?
I don't have an exact date for the new version of IB, but we are doing lots of new fun things. We are trying to balance giving readers the best possible experience while also helping writers build their own personal brand. There will be more focus on helping writers build out their social media presence so that regardless of where they post they will already have an audience. We hope to make IB a spring board where writers can develop their personal brand and spring board into other writing opportunities.
5) I noticed that you've added some new homepage features about current affairs and world events (e.g. politics and government, world events, green living). Do you find you are attracting more journalists to the site? And if so, has your readership increased by publishing articles that are hot news items?
For a long time we've wanted to let writers publish news content, we just haven't come up with a solution that fits our current model. We have done some testing and it is something we want to do in some capacity in the future. Whether that is on InfoBarrel or another platform has yet to be determined.
6) How have you been dealing with spam?
Squashing it with steel-toe boots. Actually, we don't get that much spam. We get a character or two in the forum on occasion, but they typically get flagged by a user quickly and are swiftly terminated. The same goes with spam comments. We have software that analyzes both prior to publishing as well that makes it hard for spam-bots to get their job done.
Always the Consummate Professional
Ryan Had to Stop and Answer Some Business Calls
Here's a Sneak Peek at InfoBarrel V4.0
Notice where author info and social share buttons are:
7) Have you been looking into the problem with trolls or shills on the site?
For the most part our long term strategy has been to squash debates that get emotional. We squash them by locking the threads. We are human and miss some threads though and arguments with 'trolls' have happened. We would love to keep IB as positive a place as possible where being abusive is not tolerated.
8) Unlike other platforms, during the last couple of months, InfoBarrel's traffic has soared. You've also had your own article 22 Habits of Unhappy People go viral and is currently no. 10 on The Top 100 list. What do you attribute that success to (besides your good looks)?
IB's traffic has been growing based on a few things. We have raised our quality standards to prevent thin content and have more or less eliminated InfoBarrel as a platform for SEOs to build links. We've cleaned up our link profile by removing hundreds of thousands of links from sites that don't fall within our Trust Score standards.
9) One of the pleasant surprises for me this year has been far less plagiarism of my articles. I think the reason is because the date of publish and subsequent edit dates are displayed at the top of each article. Do you feel this makes life easier for writers on InfoBarrel?
It is funny that posting the date has accomplished this. We actually put the date in originally to give readers a better user experience to help them determine whether the information they were reading was still relevant in the current time. I think one thing that has cut back on plagiarism is the fact that we've reduced the marketers using InfoBarrel and have increased genuine writers. This has affected plagiarism as IB isn't a place where writers post self-promotional content then leave, never to be heard of again. We have more and more writers consistently contributing very high quality content. As a result we have more authors aware of their content and reporting plagiarism to Google. Scrapers have started to steer clear as plagiarizing IB tends to get their sites reported.
10) Do you feel that the use of references, footnotes, and the bibliography (at the end of articles) helps with credibility and reader satisfaction? I noticed it has kept readers on my pages much longer than when I was writing for other sites.
Yes, yes and yes. Not only does it prove you know what you are writing about, it also shows Google that you are creating valuable content that is backed by other reputable authors. If you want to be a respected writer, sharing your sources makes you that much more credible.
11) What's ahead for InfoBarrel, is there anything new and exciting on the horizon?
Always tons on the horizon for InfoBarrel. There may be plenty of paid opportunities in the future for outstanding authors.
12) What would you want every writer on the site (especially newbies) to know about InfoBarrel?
InfoBarrel isn't a get-rich-quick scheme. You aren't going to write ten articles then cruise off into the sunset on your yacht. InfoBarrel is a platform for writers to create outstanding content without having to spend time and money building their own website. It is also a great place to create content for website owners who might want to write on different subjects. If you create great content you will generate revenue, and we will help build you up as an author. We want writers who are passionate about writing, and want a venue to share their content. When you put quality first, the revenue will come.
Some Helpful People and Articles
Now that I've been writing on InfoBarrel for almost a year, some key people routinely answer questions in the forum such as Vic Dillinger, classicalgeek, and JadeDragon.
But before you ask, your answer can probably be found in one of the following helpful articles:
What You Need to Know About InfoBarrel Updates by classicalgeek
My InfoBarrel Article Has Been Denied for Using English Awkwardly by classicalgeek
One last question I forgot to ask Ryan (perhaps he'll answer in the comments section next). What's the story behind the admin avatar of Mr. Serious Cat?
Thank you for reading and sharing my article. I wish you every success on InfoBarrel.
Addendum January 29th, 2015
- Serious Cat is serious. He means serious business.
- He likes to be called Serious Cat.
- And, he is always watching.
- He is also the identical voice twin of Samuel L. Jackson.
Author's note: I kept on trying to find out more (like if Serious Cat had a lady cat friend) but Ryan turned me away, stating:
"That is all! His identity is safe with me."