The blog is 15 months old now. Not too long ago the blog (momentarily) hit 700 readers. Clearly enough of you find the blog to have sufficient value that you subscribe. But, I’m not satisfied to have a respectable reader base. I’d like to see the blog grow in a couple of areas: input from vendors and experiences of people implementing federated search solutions.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been mostly exposed to one federated search product. You can read more about me in my About page. My experience with federated search is fairly deep, but it’s with a single vendor, blog sponsor Deep Web Technologies. I worked there for five years and have consulted with them for a year after starting a consulting business. I’m familiar with many of the technical issues that customers face because I wore enough hats at Deep Web Technologies to encounter many of these issues. I built (simple) connectors. I deployed their products, I did troubleshooting. I managed engineers who worked with the technology and customers.

This blog’s niche is educating people about the technology of federated search. What I’m lacking is first-hand experience with products from vendors other than Deep Web Technologies. And, I don’t have a pulse on what non-Deep Web Technologies customers do with federated search and what issues they face. Yes, I monitor the industry and I review interesting and relevant papers and there’s a gap I’d like your help to fill.

I’ve tried in the past to engage vendors to write about their companies and about their views about the industry. I’ve met with mixed success. Carl Grant, president of CARE Affiliates and now president of Ex Libris North America stepped up to the plate and has written a number of very popular articles and, even though I’ve encouraged him to give (small) plugs to his company’s offerings, he’s never wanted to do that. I’ve gotten valuable contributions from Kate Noerr from MuseGlobal and Todd Miller, formerly of WebFeat. And, I got to interview Mick Wever from Sesam.no. Plus, I’m having a conversation with a federated search vendor who will be writing an educational piece for this blog. But, this is just a drop in the bucket.

If you’re a vendor, consider the value of having 700 readers who care about federated search exposed to your products and services. I don’t do sponsored posts so there’s no cost to publish a piece in this blog (and there’s no payment either.) You get an interested readership and I get to provide more value to my readers. That sounds like a win-win to me. What I’m looking for are pieces that educate readers about the technology and the industry. They can inform readers that your company sells solutions, they should include your bio and picture, and they can compete with Deep Web. But, they have to meet two criteria: they have to be mostly educational and not “salesy” and they can’t bash other vendors. Contact me via the email in my About page to discuss this further.

I’ve scratched my head trying to figure out why vendors don’t come running to engage readers. I’ve come up with a few guesses (fantasies) as to why that might be the case:

  1. Writing for this blog would promote this blog and would promote Deep Web Technologies. Vendors, especially established ones, have more to lose by promoting growth of the blog than by ignoring it. My question to you: Would things be different if the blog were to have multiple sponsors?

  2. Business is so good for all federated search vendors that it’s not worth their time to do outreach. In this economy I can’t believe that.

  3. This blog is so Deep Web Technologies-centric that I won’t publish anything that might hurt Deep Web Technologies’ business. This is flat out not true. Try me. If you’re informative, relevant, credible, and respectful I’ll give you a platform to say your piece.

I have the same offer to customers and to other readers of the blog. Tell us your story and I’ll provide you the audience. If you’re a blogger you might enjoy increased visibility of your writing, traffic back to your site and the relationships you could establish through this form of outreach. If you’re in the process of exploring federated search or implementing a solution, share your experience with the rest of us.

Help make this blog the community you want it to be. Lend your voice to the cause.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!


This entry was posted on Monday, March 9th, 2009 at 5:27 pm and is filed under viewpoints. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or TrackBack URI from your own site.

2 Responses so far to "A call to vendors and readers"

  1. 1 Sebastian Hammer
    March 9th, 2009 at 9:34 pm  

    Ok, I’ll bite. Sol, you write exceedingly well and your blog is an excellent resource for lots of people. I admire folks who have leveraged blogging to help feed and interact with the community around their company, and who thus give something back to that community while also serving a public relationship role. Kudos.

    My favorite bloggers represent their companies very well exactly because they’re not making a sales pitch. They refer back to their employer or sponsor only extremely sparingly. There’s a sort of integrity to that which grabs me better than the most carefully crafted line of copy.

    Other blogs are essentially pure marketing vehicles — little more than a place to host press releases and canned marketing-speak. Such sites can certainly be interesting if the product is interesting.

    If I were to offer a critique of your effort — and this is with the jaundiced eye of another vendor in the space, if not a competitor (we’re in the business of manufacturing tools and supplies for other vendors rather than solutions), it would be that this blog is kind of sitting a little bit between two chairs… I think you’d perhaps like to be more product neutral than you are, but this is very clearly a Deep Web vehicle, and if I were to offer a guess as to why you struggle to attract submissions from other players, that would be my guess. That’s not to say that you would be anything less than the most gracious host of other people’s neat news, but it would still happen in a context that’d feel less than neutral.

    More sponsors are a possible solution, but, I think, not an absolute necessity. I’ve seen purely corporate blogs in our space which maintain the appearance of more rigorous ‘journalistic firewalls’, if you will, and they impress me all the more for it. Congratulations on a fine blog, and I wish you every kind of success.

  2. 2 Sol
    March 13th, 2009 at 9:09 am  

    Sebastian — I appreciate your kind words and your blunt feedback. Yes, it is difficult to be a Deep Web Technologies vehicle and an industry blog at the same time. I am working on relationship building with vendors and, hopefully, when a couple of vendors get visibility through the blogs others may become more interested. Time will tell.

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