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By RBA - October 3rd, 2007, 11:58, Category: General

Today we just launched a new feature we hope you'll like it.

The Dashboard is, at least conceptually, your entry window to your world at coRank. Ok, that sounded a bit too fancy, so let me explain.

Up until now, there was no central location from where you could monitor your activity at coRank. If you were only using one site at coRank that was okay, but if you were using more than one as many of us do, you had to go to each coRank site to see whether you had any alert, someone had replied to your comments, etc.

It was clear that there was a need for a central location where you could monitor all this without having to travel to each coRank site, and that's what the Dashboard brings you. When you go to your dashboard, you are presented three blocks of information:

  • My Alerts: It works similarly to the "Alerts" section you can already see on each site at coRank, but here it actually notifies you all the sites where you have pending alerts, so now you don't have to visit each and every site to see whether you have pending alerts or not at that particular site.

  • My Sites: It's divided into two sections: Sites I've created and Sites I've visited recently, the latest being a list of the last 8-10 coRank sites you've visited - just because sometimes it's nice to know where you've been in the past and perhaps pay that site another visit :-)

  • My Last Comments: It shows the latest stories where you've most recently posted a comment. Like with the My Alerts section, here you can see your comments from all sites at coRank, not just one of them.

We're not adding other data (such as the latest stories you voted, all your favorites across all sites at coRank), but those may come in the future, likely as additional tabs on the Dashboard. Certainly, if there's a piece of information you think it should be there, let us know!

Also, you may see we've made a few changes to the coRank home page, and changed the legend to "A better way to get, keep and share the web you want". The previous one, if you remember was "Create your own coRanking site".

The reason for this change is almost obvious. No, we haven't changed out mission not what coRank is about. We're simply making it more clear than before.

Before, a newcomer faced a statement that didn't say anything regarding what coRank is about. Ok, so I can create my own coRanking site. And that means... what? Not only that, but that statemtn presented coRank as a site where you can create some sort of site, but left out another very important purpose of all sites at coRank: discovering, sharing and saving the content you care about. Not everyone comes to coRank because they want to create their coRanking site. Many in fact benefit from being part of existing sites, and telling them upfront this was a place to create sites might leave them in the dark

So, what do you think? Do you think it better conveys what coRank is about? We think it does - and trust me, we've shuffled with quite a few taglines before selecting this one! :-)

By RBA - September 11th, 2007, 10:27, Category: General

Today we're launching yet one more feature!

If you have a coRank site (or if you would like to create one), now you can configure it so that whenever you - or someone else - submit a story or web page, coRank can save a cached copy of the original page to your site (this excludes pages submitted via an RSS feed). This way, if the original page is gone in the future, you can still access its original content.

Search within those saved pages is not yet available, but it will be soon. With that in hand, in addition to the many different kinds of web sites one can already build with coRank, it is now possible to create a permanent repository of whatever is submitted. Permament because you no longer depend on the original page to stay live should you need access to its content. As long as you keep your coRank site, the information will always be there as well. This is also a feature that enables people to create their personal or collective bookmarking area that will endure the test of time.

At this point only web pages are "cacheable". That is, if you submit a direct link to a video, mp3, image, etc. (anything but a web page), a local copy will not be created.

If active, a "cached" link will appear for each story whose original page has been cached (see image above). It's all done pretty much the way Google and Yahoo handle cached pages, except that in coRank your cached page is not periodically updated - it really is a snapshot of the page the moment it was submitted (you will be able to update cached pages if you want, though).

This feature can be requested (it is not in closed beta) by going to the Advanced tab in your coRank's admin pages.

By RBA - September 10th, 2007, 0:10, Category: General

Yesterday we quietly rolled out several new and exciting features for coRank site owners.

  1. You can now let other users (all or just a selected group) edit submitted stories, wiki-style if you please. This sounds simple, but in fact it opens the door for the kind of sites you can build with coRank. Now collaboration doesn't have to be only at the "submitting story" level but also at the editorial level. Of course, all changes are registered, and everyone has access to the change history:

  2. You can now assign certain privileges to individual users. So for example, you could only allow a small group of people being able to submit stories or edit submitted stories. This is perfect if you don't allow others to submit stories to your site, but still would like some people to help out.

  3. You can now assign site co-admins. In other words, you don't have to be the only one managing your own site - unless you really want to. Just be careful and give this privilege to people you really trust.

  4. View latest comments with one click. We've added one more tab "Talking about". Clicking on it you'll be able to see the latest comments left. That way, especially on sites with low commenting activity you won't miss it when someone leaves a new comment. And RSS feed for comments is coming soon!

Now for the last feature (latest comments), if you already have a coRank site, this tab will be present in all your site's pages except for the index page. If you would like to add a tab there, all you need to do is to edit the index.html file and add the following line:

<li class="hie"><a href="/comments">Talking about...</a></li>

rigth where the rest of the tabs are defined (hopefully you'll be able to locate these. Contact usif you have any problems).

For site owners who have requested the Full Edit option, things are a bit more tricky, because you already own your own set of templates for your site (and we do not update them) so you need to do the update yourself. Soon we'll offer an auto-update feature but that is still in the works. By the way, if you're not sure whether you have the Full Edit option activated in your site, it's very easy: if you haven't requested it, you don't have it. If you did, then it's active and you'll see a Full Edit tab in your site's admin pages.

Sites with the Full Edit option active will need to add that same line we indicated above to the following files (again, at the right place, something we expect you'll be able to figure out, as the Full Edit option is meant for advanced users only):


And that's it for now!

By RBA - August 30th, 2007, 21:44, Category: General

Do you have a coRank site? (if not, you should :-)

Have you customized it but wish you could do more?

  • Would you like being able to edit the menu on the left?

  • Or add/remove options there? Perhaps move it to the right?

  • Would you like to get rid of some functionality (such as the sources, or favorites, etc)?

  • How about completely redesign the block that shows each submitted entry?

  • Or modify the forms used to submit stories?

  • Add new functionality via the coRank API right where you want it?

  • Or, to put it simple, being able to edit virtually every template used by your coRank site?

Up until now, you've been able to edit a handful of files. These include the CSS definitions, headers, footers and index pages.That gave you the power to give your coRank site a unique look. But still, you couldn't do any of the things mentioned above.

Not anymore.

Starting today we're launching a new advanced feature (available so far only upon request) that allows you to edit however you want the almost 150 templates used by your coRank site.

That gives you the power to truly customize your site, not only at the CSS/header/footer level as it's been the case so far, but reaching almost every single detail.

For example, right now a story box may have this structure:

And by editing your CSS file you could actually change its look considerably:

That's quite a makeup! However, although different in design, you're stuck with some restrictions, such as having the Submitted by, Tags, Category, etc. lines at the bottom, the "Join discussion" text link is where it is no matter what, the associated image goes all the way to the right, etc. In essence, you are still limited to live with the same elements and their positioning - more or less. What if, using the first example, you'd rather present it like this?

In this case, we've removed the URL under the title and the "Join discussion" link, we've moved the Tags and Category links to the top under the title, we've also removed the time, reformatted and moved the vote count, got rid of the submitters name in the "Add xxx as a source" and also moved that link to the top, and moved the associated image to the left.

Ok, this may or may not be your ideal way to present submitted items, but hopefully you get the idea. Full control over the way things are presented. And of course it's not limited to the submitted stories box, but, as I mentioned before, you now can edit almost all the templates used internally by your coRanking site.

Now, with power comes responsibility. By being able to edit almost every template used by the site, you could screw things up royally in just minutes. Obviously not only you need to know where each template is used and how, but you also must have at least a basic-medium understanding of HTML/CSS. Also, although the feature is fully functional, we have not written the documentation yet - that's where we'll explain how each template is used, what are the variable names used in the templates, and provide examples about how to do the most commonly edits people will be interested in doing.

That's one of the reasons today we're making available this feature only upon request, and will only make it available to everyone after a brief closed beta period. That will allow us to better identify the most common issues, so when the feature is rolled out for everyone, we already have answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Of course, you don't have to use this feature if you're happy with the current look of your site. The main idea of coRank is to provide the best framework, hosting and technology for you to create a coRanking site without having to install anything or deal with any programming, editing, etc. but at the same time we want you to have the freedom to customize your site the way you want it, if you want. And because you can also interact programatically with your coRank site via the coRank API, you can now do almost anything you want.

So... If you would like to try out this feature, let us know!

By RBA - August 18th, 2007, 0:58, Category: General

Nothing big, but just to keep you updated...

Submitting stories: Now you have a 5000 characters limit for the description, instead of the previous 500 characters. You probably won't need this many characters, but if you do, now you can enter long descriptions or even complete articles. This only made sense since we've always allowed up to 5000 characters for the comments.

API: A new call has been added. That's coRank.News.GetItemFromUrl. It basically allows you to query coRank to find out whether a particular URL has already been submitted. How could we miss this one when we first launched the API?

You need fans: A few days ago we added the requirement that, if you wanted to submit a new story, you must have at least one person as your fan. This was only activated at the main coRank site, so other coRank sites continue working as usual and no special requirements are needed to submit stories.

Stay tuned, some new features are coming soon!

By RBA - August 11th, 2007, 2:19, Category: General

Well, the coRank API is finally here!!

This is the very first version of the coRank API. At this moment it provides a handful of basic calls, but there's a lot more funtionality on the way.

And of course, the coRank API is not limited to the main coRank site, but it is available to any and all coRank sites, and best of all, if you already have a coRanking site, you don't need to do anything. The API is already available at your coRanking site, and you can see its specific API documentation by selecting the API option in the left menu of your site.

For example, the API documentation for the Almost Everything iPhone site is here. Also, if you have your coRanking site under your own domain, same thing. It's there for you to use however you like. You can find, for example, the MapMole API documentation right here.

One of the neatest things about the API and coRank in general is that, because you can already edit certain areas of your coRanking site however you like, you could develop a tool using the API and apply it right into your coRanking site, effectively adding new widgets and functionality to your coRanking site. Of course, you can also create apps to use in your own blog or however you like.

One thing to note is that this first version of the API is read-only. That is, you can read data from your coRanking site, but you cannot use the API to write things. In other words, you can read data from stories, users, who voted what, comments, etc. but cannot use the API to cast a vote, submit a story or a comment.

We left the "write" part of the API for the next version, coming very soon. But even before the next version comes out, we're already working on a new group of "read-only" calls to provide even more functionality and flexibility very soon, so check this blog often.

Now that the first version of the API is finally out there, there's only two things we'd love to hear from you. One is of course that if you build something interesting, let us know. We might feature them here in the blog, or even build a repository of cool apps developed using the API.

The other thing is, if you start using the API and feel that something is missing, or would like to have an API call that does something in particular, then by all means let us know.

As always, you can contact us either by posting a comment here in the blog, or by using our contact form.

By RBA - August 6th, 2007, 15:32, Category: General

Within a month or two, owners of a coRanking site will be able to customize all pages and templates that build their sites - all of them! They don't have to, but they'll be able to do it if they want.

In the meantime, you know you can already edit a limited number of pages (index, header, etc) as well as defining three terms used across the site: voting up, voting down and sources (friends, contacts...).

Well, following that trend of being able to quickly define terms that are used across a coRanking site, today we've added one more customizable term: Story.

So if you have a coRanking site where people submit something more specific than just "stories", you can go to the admin pages, select the Terms tab, and you'll be able to define the word that better fits the type of content that your site is about, and then, magically (well, not really magically, it's all trivial science :-) whenever the words story/stories were originally used, you'll see the new term instead. So for example, if you replaced the words story/stories (the default) with news/news, where before one could read "There are no stories yet", now it would say "There are no news yet". Or if you replaced it with photo/photos, it would say "There are no photos yet".

This is aimed at making it easier to craft a term across an entire coRanking site, but as I said before, for those who truly would like to customize their site to their hearths content, in a few weeks you'll be able to edit any of the templates used by your coRanking site - something that will allow you to completely redesign the UI of your site if you like.

But before that happens, we'll be launching something even more exciting. Something we've promised a number of times but just didn't happen. The coRank API. And I'll talk about that in an upcoming post.

By RBA - August 1st, 2007, 16:16, Category: General

ReadWriteWeb just published an article I wrote that talks about how the type of services coRank provides goes a long way from just being a service to create "Digg clones". It somehow relates to my previous article here in this blog.

By RBA - July 25th, 2007, 15:53, Category: General

It's been a while we haven't blogged (sign that we're working had behind the scenes, by the way :-), and although some interesting news are coming very soon, this post is not to announce any new features but to briefly mention the post that The Name Inspector has written an interesting analysis about coRank.

For those of you who don't know, The Name Inspector is a very interesting blog where its author analyzes from time to time dfferent names in ways you may have not thought before. Some of the names he has already analyzed are Apple, Digg, Flickr, Amazon, Pandora, TechCrunch, etc. and of course, now coRank :-)

I admit that the analysis hast something to do with the fact that I myself sent Chris (The Name Inspector) a brief story about how the name coRank came to be - a story that you can read in his post about coRank and that, in case you wonder, is 100% true. But it is still nice to see that the name coRank has, among other things,  well, poetic symmetry :-)

By RBA - June 22nd, 2007, 0:05, Category: General

I've had to present coRank a couple of times since we launched, and it's always presented with a "Do you want to create your own Digg clone?"

However many people are missing that coRank offers a lot more than that.

Take for example my own little showcase site Northern Lights.

It looks like Digg, someone may land there and feel they're on a "Digg clone", but you see? From my own point of view - and I'm the one who created that site - it is nothing like that.

I'm going to tell you why I created Northern Lights and why it's not a Digg clone at all...

I'm interested in many things. Auroras borealis (or Northern Lights) is not one that drives me nuts, but I like them enough to devote a site to them. Now, I wanted to have a site where I could share this hobby with others.

I could have created a Geocities-like page, or an email list for other enthusiasts to share stuff abut them, but that's just so last century.

I could have created a blog, but I didn't want a site where I could be the only one posting content about auroras. I wanted a space we all could share. Besides, a blog where most content is actually links to other sites isn't quite a blog if you ask me.

Ok, I could have created a wiki. But again, that was't it. If I find something on the web - a nice photo of an aurora, for example - I want to simply submit that to this "site", and yes, that would be my submission. No need for others to edit my link, description, etc.

With coRank however I could create in an instant a site that, whenever I find some good photo or article on the web about auroras - or whenever I feel like writing something about them - I could just "submit" it. And whenever anyone else who also likes this topic, finds something cool as well, they can send it too.

And we all could comment on whatever we send. And yes, we could vote them up or down if we like.

But the purpose here is not to make it to the front page, or even voting. And honestly, if nobody ever visits my Northern Lights site or nobody ever votes, I would still continue submitting whatever cool content I find, because after all, this is something I do because I like this topic, and slowly I'm building my own repository of content about northern lighths.

So what I've done with coRank is to create a site that somehow combines functions you can find in a blog, in Digg, in a wiki and in a bookmarking site. Except that it isn't any of them.

And after having been posting content to my Northern Lights site for a while, I must say I love it. And you know? Nobody has submitted anything else so far, but that's ok. There are just a few votes, but that's just fine, and I don't think I've read any comments, but that's cool too. Of course, it would be great if more people would participate, but right now I'm just happy contributing to a site I like, about something I like, and unlike if I had done this in a blog, the door is open for anyone else to participate, whether by sharing stuff they also find on the web, voting, commenting or however they like.

Yes, the site still looks like Digg, so you could call it a Digg clone for its appearance, but the way I'm using it has nothing to do with it. And in the end, I think that's what really matters. And the best thing is that this is just one way some people - including myself - are using coRank. Others decided to build a HotOrNot for the Orkut population. Others are experimenting as a tool to engage supporters of a presidential hopeful, others as a repository of cool pictures found in Google StreetView, and so on.

And that's why if you visit coRank today, you'll see the heading now goes "Create your own Social Content Network" instead of "Social News", because although it can certainly be about news (and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that), it can be about anything.

How are you using coRank?

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