As Pligg approaches v1.0, Digg-like sites powered by Pligg and other systems are becoming more and more popular. The idea of a site created with user-submitted content is seductive. But here are some things you probably don’t know about what it’s really like to launch a Pligg-powered site.
First, let me say that none of this is a criticism of Pligg. I’m a Pligg fan. I’ve ported two templates to Pligg, which have been very popular, and created a third template as a place to start for people who want to create a custom template of their own. And I’ve written a couple of posts about understanding Pligg template files and hacking templates.
And none of this is meant to discourage you from starting a Pligg site of your own. I just want to start a conversation about some of the challenges facing Pliggers and others launching similar sites. If you have a plan for dispelling these myths, you’ve probably got a good shot at a successful site.
Myth: A Pligg Site is a Turnkey Solution to Web Publishing
Reality: There’s very little turnkey about it. There’s a lot of management involved. Just look at the Pligg Admin Panel. What do you see? User Management. Category Management. News Management. Comment Management. Module Management. That’s before you even click on Configure Pligg.
Myth: I’ll Customize This Template in No Time
Reality: Pligg is still young, so there’s a dearth of templates available. How long is it going to take for people to get tired of yget, or any other template. And customizing or making your own templates is not as easy as you think. Pligg is much more complicated than, say, WordPress. That’s not a criticism. Pligg is powerful out-of-the-box. But trust me, digging into Pligg templates is not for the faint of heart. If your blog is on Blogger, you’re going to have your hands full with your first Pligg site.
Myth: A Pligg Site is a Surefire Way to Generate Traffic
Reality: You won’t get traffic just because you throw up a Pligg site. Even if you fill it with stories from feeds, it won’t be enough to create a stampede. Sure, you’ll get a trickle of traffic, but it won’t convert very well.
Myth: People Will Flock to Join My New Pligg Site
Reality: It’s not as easy as you think to get active members. Look at most Pligg sites and you’ll see very little activity from outsiders. You can always spot a hopeful, lonely Pligger: all of the stories have the same number of votes, whether 3 or 5 or 10.
Myth: My Pligg Members Will Create Quality Content
Reality: Most of what gets posted by members is off-topic, and most of what’s on-topic is usually of questionable value. In fact, most of what’s likely to get posted to your site is spam.
Case #1: Upstart Blogger had an associated Pligg site, the Upstart Blogger Grapevine. When I launched it, I offered to contribute $1 to Pligg for each person who joined and posted a legitimate story. No response. It gets some traffic because I have a good domain and I’ve posted all of the stories myself, but there’s not much happening there.
Case #2: My first Pligg site was devoted to stories about the future. Browse Futurosity now and you’ll see stories about everything from Discover Horse Tack Trunks to Hysterectomy alternatives video about uterine fibroid embolization. Nicely done and informative to PopThatZit.com Pimple popping videos and pictures to No more sites blocked at work or school. Lots of stories about web proxies.
Myth: Once My Pligg Site is Up, It Won’t Take Any Time to Maintain
Reality: Managing a Pligg site takes more time than you think. Not just because you’ll have to stay on top of the spam if you want to create a quality site. You’ll also have to manage comments and users, tweak and fiddle, market, maintain, etc. In short, if you want a quality site and not a dumping ground, it will take as much time as creating quality content of your own and posting it to your blog.
Myth: Once My Pligg Site is Up, It Will Be a Cash Machine
Reality: You’re unlikely to make a lot of money from advertising. Pligg visitors tend to be drive-bys because the real content isn’t on your site, but somewhere else. I haven’t read any great Pligg success stories (see How profitable is a Pligg site ? in the Pligg forum).
Myth: It’s a Ground Floor Opportunity, Launching Before Pligg v1.0
Reality: The opportunity to claim a niche with a Pligg site has probably already passed. Remember, a Pligg site is an imitation of Digg, and how many imitations of Digg are there? It seems like this is just the beginning for Pligg-powered, or Digg-like sites.
Maybe this is like staking out some territory with a blog, long before there were 7 million bloggers? The blogosphere feeds on itself. The more good blogs there are, the better it is for your blog. But unlike blogs, the more Pligg sites there are, the less valuable your Pligg site is. Blogs can trackback and pingback each other, but are you going to link your Pligg entry to another Pligg entry?
I haven’t given up on Pligg. My Pligg sites are dormant now, I don’t have the energy to fiddle with them. But when Pligg v1.0 is released, I’ll be giving it another go and trying to address these challenges. What works for you?