Curating Content for a WordPress Blog (How I Do It)

Content Curation

If you’re a regular reader of the ManageWP blog then you know that my last couple of posts have either been about creating or curating content for a WordPress blog.

In one post I discussed a simple method I’ve developed for concepting months worth of great blog posts. In my most recent post I attempted to answer a question that has been bothering me for a while: what is the most efficient way to sort through and curate a large number of online sources for a WordPress blog? I tried using an autoblogging plugin but as you might expect it performed wonderfully as an aggregator but poorly in terms of curation.

So for today’s post (as a follow up to both of those articles) I’d like to explain a method I’ve come up with that allows me to sort through and curate up to 700 sources a day for my visual arts curation blog. A feat I am quite proud of regardless of the fact that for me, it needs to be executable in just a few hours in order for it to be ideal. But it is a promising start and I think many of you will find it helpful.

Here’s what you’ll need to follow along:

But First: Let’s Clarify Some Commonly Confused Terms

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-TermsBefore I dive into this method, I want to take a minute or two to clarify some commonly used terms that I think get confused on a regular basis. Partially because they’re over-used, partially because they’re popular buzzwords and then partially because most people online do a combination of them all at the same time – but only attribute one term to what they do.

If that sounds confusing I’ll be able to clarify better after we cover the terms and their definitions. So here we go:

Content Creation: The act of writing original words, taking an original picture, shooting an original video, etc.

Content Sharing: Taking a piece of content created by yourself or others and distributing it to a following or audience. This can be done in many ways and through many channels; blogs and social media outlets being just a few of the more popular examples.

Content Aggregation: This is like content sharing on steroids. An aggregator typically uses software that automatically pulls in content from multiple sources (such as RSS feeds) and reposts it all at one central location, usually a blog.

Content Curation: Similar to content aggregation, content curation also pulls from many sources. However, instead of automatically posting every piece of content pulled in there is a manual filtering and sorting process that takes place in order to select only the most valuable pieces of content for a given audience. Curation also involves adding helpful annotation that frames the information already provided from the original source in such a way as to add additional value and/or understanding.

Examples in Action

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-Terms-ExamplesSo with those definitions let’s look at some online examples and properly label them:

Link Sharing on Twitter: Many people are quick to call link sharing on twitter content curation. And in a way it is since it involves manually choosing something and distributing it. But with the 140 character limitation of Twitter it’s difficult to add meaning and value. I’d say this is (at best) 20% curation and 80% sharing.

Clicking Share on Facebook: Without adding a comment that brings additional value or understanding this is probably 90% sharing and 10% curation (since you had to friend or like something for it to show up on your Facebook feed in the first place).

Clicking Re-Blog on Tumblr: Similarly to the Facebook share feature this method of sharing something requires very little thought or effort (translating into little to no added value) and therefore comes out about the same at 90% sharing and 10% curation.

Using an Autoblogging Tool on WordPress: Supposing you are simply pulling in content from various sources and reposting them automatically, this is about 90% aggregation and 10% curation. Of course you had to choose the sources in the first place, but almost everything else about the process is automatic and in many ways offers less value than the original because you’re simply pointing your visitors back to the source.

Writing an Original Essay or Article: Obviously, this is your pure version of content creation. It can be expected that you’ll probably use some creative commons images or videos to accompany your thoughts but for the most part you’re a content creator in this instance.

As you’re probably beginning to realize, the most elusive of these terms is the one that gets thrown around the most: content curation. Obviously we know what it is now, but what are some good examples of content curation for us to look at and study?

Well, there are three that I look to on a regular basis. Each of these websites takes content created by others and repackages/reframes it in such a way as to add value.

1. TED

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-TED

TED finds individuals who have done or said something important already. Their message is already out there in its original form. However, TED repackages that idea into a live talk. They also reframe that idea by making that talk a part of an event with a larger theme or context.

2. Open Culture

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-Open-Culture

At Open Culture, the curators take existing free educational content from around the web and re-organize it into courses. They also introduce one-off pieces of content (videos, images, etc.) via blog posts where they add a lot of original annotations and helpful information; often linking to other resources they’ve gathered on their site.

3. Brain Pickings

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-Brain-Pickings

At Brain Pickings the goal is to foster combinatorial creativity – the cross-pollination of ideas. To accomplish this they take existing content (from the web and elsewhere) and write blog post introductions/reviews. They also provide features that make great ideas easier to consume such as their bookshelf page and literary jukebox feed.

In each instance the process of curation requires that the curator also create something of their own in addition to sharing content created by others. And that is the biggest difference between content curation and content aggregation or sharing.

So that’s where I’m coming from in this post. From a place that says true curation takes some serious time, effort and creativity. It can be aided by tools, but not put on autopilot or dumbed down to merely clicking share or re-blog.

The Origins of My Curation Method

In the fall of 2010 I began a tumblr called The Astonishing Post (or TAP for short). In its infancy it was basically just a bookmarking tool. A place where I could post cool art that I found around the web and refer back to if I wanted to dive deeper with a post for one of the popular art and design blogs I wrote for at the time.

However over the course of a year or so I began to attract a following of my own and decided to take things a bit more seriously. I developed this method of sorting through my RSS sources in an attempt to figure out a way for my one person tumblr to keep up with the post volume produced by some of the large multi-person blogs I was writing for (and ultimately competing with).

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-theastonishingpost-tumblr

Here’s how it worked:

1. Open up Feedly and go through my art sources feed by feed; “tabbing out” anything that looked interesting.

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-Feedly Curating-Content-for-WordPress-tabbed-browser

2. Beginning with the tabs on the far right I would then use the tumblr bookmarklet to sort through and create one or multiple posts from the content on each tab.

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-Tumblr-Bookmarklet

3. After I’d been through all of my rss sources and blogged the posts that I’d tabbed out, I would move into tumblr itself and begin re-blogging the best posts from the blogs I followed there, as well as several posts per day from popular art related tags.

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-Tumblr-Dashboard

In this way I would sort through and blog the best works of art from nearly 700 sources a day. And what’s really awesome about this is that if I was hustling I could get that all done in under two hours! But of course there was a downside.

While tumblr is a great place for posting/consuming content quickly, it’s not so great for a lot of other stuff – such as on-site navigation, internal search, SEO, long-form articles, building an email list, launching e-courses/e-zines, creating start pages, etc. And for me this meant that I wasn’t delivering the best curated experience that I possibly could. In fact, I was just aggregating manually. And I wanted more than that. So I shopped around for a new blogging platform and of course I decided upon WordPress.

Unfortunately, as I discussed briefly in my last post here, blogging on WordPress is a bit more complicated and time consuming than blogging on tumblr. Because of the power and flexibility of the platform there is a lot more you can and should do for each post far above and beyond copying an image link and attribution link (as on tumblr).

If you’re wondering what those things are then I recommend checking out these four posts as I don’t have time to get into all of that at the moment:

Anyways, what this effectively meant is that until I either made enough money to hire on a team of bloggers or someone came up with a great WordPress curation tool or set of tools, I was stuck doing the same old thing on tumblr that I’d been doing to attract a following in the first place. Which was fine, but not what I was hoping for.

As a result things at TAP sort of plateaued while I kept things going, mostly with re-blogs, and waited on a solution to present itself. One didn’t, but after creating the full WordPress version of TAP for my last post here I decided to look outside of just the plugin world and come up with a solution of my own.

My Adapted Method of Curating for WordPress

After trying out two different automated plugins, the premium Auto Blog by WPMU and the free MyCurator from the WordPress plugin directory, I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want a plugin that pulled content directly into my blog, cluttering it up with posts and media I ultimately didn’t want and wouldn’t publish (and would have to delete). What I really needed was something to help me quickly sort through a lot of sources, hand pick the pieces of content that interested me and then quickly convert those into posts or drafts on my blog.

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-TheAstonishingPost-WP

Here is what I came up with:

1. This part is the same as before. Open up Feedly and sort through each feed, “tabbing out” the articles of interest.

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-Feedly Curating-Content-for-WordPress-tabbed-browser

2. And again, same as before, I begin with the tabs on the far right and begin blogging my way back towards the Feedly tab using the WordPress “Press This” bookmarklet. But before I ever click “Press This” I’m sure to right-click save-as and re-name all of the images I want to include in my post.

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-Saving-Images

Once I’ve opened “Press This” I simply re-name the post, outline it very simply, assign my categories/subcategories/tags and click save draft.

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-Press-This-Post-Outline

It’s at this point that I have the option to keep blogging straight through my tabs or click the edit post button and finish the post on the spot. For this example I’ve clicked Edit Post.

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-Press-This-Edit-Post

As you can see in the image below I am immediately brought to my full post in the backend of my blog’s WordPress Admin.

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-TAP-Editor-Outline

Here I can quickly and easily upload the images I’ve already saved, add my own annotations and publish or schedule.

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-TAP-Editor-Outline-w-Images

I also do the same thing with the posts I find via tumblr, resulting in an awfully lot of open tabs! Which brings us to step three…

3. Inevitably I’m unable to get through all of my tabbed out posts each time I sit down to blog. That’s where the TabCloud extension comes in. I simply save the browsing session and when I have some more time either later that day or the next, I revisit those tabbed out posts and repeat step two.

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-TabCloud

There’s a lot to like about this method. Even though it’s far from automatic, it’s the fastest way I know of to manually sort through, track and blog from that many sources.

Improvements That Could Be Made

Curating-Content-for-WordPress-Press-This-ImprovementsFeedly and TabCloud work great. They’re exactly what I need them to be. Feedly provides a beautiful magazine style page where I can quickly identify the articles I want to use.

TabCloud allows me to save and keep track of my browsing sessions so that if I can’t finish my blogging right away I don’t have to leave a ton of tabs open; or worse, lose the work I’ve already put in.

“Press This” on the other hand could be a lot better. If given the chance to assign a features overhaul for the bookmarklet, here is what I would do:

Of course there are probably more features I’d want that I’m not thinking of at the moment, but these are definitely the big ones.

Final Thoughts

What I’ve learned is that when it comes to creating a curation blog, there’s no getting around the time-consuming manual work of actually curating. However, there are a lot of little technical details that various tools can help out with to a great extent. I guess my problem with most of the tools I’ve come across so far is that they over-compensate in some areas while completely under-performing in others.

A great example of this is how AutoBlog and MyCurator pull in a ton of content to your blog. You’re not going to use all of that content. In fact, if you’re actually sorting it properly you will probably end up deleting most of it. But that means until you do delete it, it’s there, taking up space on your server and potentially slowing your whole website down. To me, that’s insane. Why on earth would I ever want to host a bunch of content that I’m never going to use?

I’d much rather use my method and simply keep tabs on the things I want to blog in the future, while only ever hosting the content I plan on publishing. In my opinion, we don’t need an amazing content curation plugin for WordPress. We need a better bookmarklet.

But what do you think? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

Image Credits: Trey Ratcliff, Cassandra Rae Nelson, Rosaura Ochoa and Mike Paine

Nathan Weller

Hi! I'm Nathan B Weller: writer, book lover, and digital publisher. I use WordPress to launch blogs, products, businesses and portfolios for myself and my clients. If you'd like to see what I'm up to on a regular basis stop by my website at www.nathanbweller.com.

60 Comments

  1. Brian

    Great information and valuable nuggets for future planning.

    Thank you

  2. Joe — Funkish

    I have a funky world music curation website, so these tools will come in handy for me. Thanks!
    I don’t think it dilutes ones authority to be a curator because it takes intelligence to sort through all the crap out there, highlight what’s quality, and disseminate so people can use it.
    It depends on the subject I guess. We can’t all be musicians, athletes & actors so curation sites are very worthwhile in many fields.

  3. Nathaniel

    Sounds like an interesting concept, but putting the focus on curating instead of making quality content of your own takes away from your site’s authority. But it definitely is an option.

  4. Jan de Vriesz

    Came across your page searching for a curating solution for my new blog. Perhaps unintended but you created original and very useful content. :)

    Auto blogging tools miss the point when it comes to curation. They are developed for people who reblog for commercial purposes – recycling whatever is most popular – or those who want to be liked rather than those selecting art or news that is relevant to the blogger’s field of expertise. Less is more is what adds value.

  5. Jeff Yablon

    Very nice, Nathan.

    I’ve been struggling with the issue myself as I slog through WPCurator, ExpressCurate, and others and realize that … what you’ve said is exactly right; sometimes tools are less useful than just our own heads. I’ve added TagCloud to my repertoire, and also like Awesome Screenshot.

    Thanks for pointing all of this out.

  6. jason

    hello Nathan…I am a bit late to the party but have to applaud your aggregation and curation process. I was using social accelerate, which is now hero tower. It basically was a WP plugin that allowed you to search Facebook pages based on your search query show you the page like and people talking about it. It it would also aggregate to your WordPress blog where you could curate the content and then repost on your Facebook page.
    The whole idea was to curate socially viral content verses aggregating content around the web with no social viral pick up to it. Unfortunately, they have discontinued the service/plugin.

    For my next project, I think I will use your process of discovering content, curating and posting.
    I find that sourcing content isnt the challenge…Its more managing and curating the content itself.

    I find that I will have to hire writers or so I can focus on the site architecture and sourcing content…that is until I can outsurce that as well.

    enough of that rant.

    I am very interested in your google plus conversation on curating please add me.

  7. Shamim

    As Social Sharing plays one of the biggest role in Content Curation; i would like to add one thing that most of the people ignore. And that is – think about the site speed that seemed low due to using too many social media icons as they are made of JavaScript.

    So, stick to 4 social media at best and let the stuffs run away. :)

  8. Zubaida

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  9. unni

    Great article. I am working on a news aggregation website. I am looking forward to create a website similar to newsnow.co.uk. I dont even know if this could be possible in wordpress. I have been trying out some plugins which allows you to post feeds as posts. But reading through here, i understand that it wouldn’t make sense on SEO viewpoint if you auto post articles.

    I have a question for expert curators here, if i am creating a website with only links just like newsnow.co.uk, would search engine still shy away from my website?

  10. Giulio

    Image Elevator for WordPress might solve some of the problems for adding images to your post as well as renaming and resizing images. You can copy and paste images from posts and you can drag and drop images from other applications that support copy and past. I have only tried the free version but it works great.

  11. Matt Fields

    Thanks for this post Nathan! I’ve been trying to figure out a good approach to curate content for our site without having to aggregate and delete every blog post from contributing sites.

  12. Phil Hill

    Only if Press This wasn’t so clunky. It’s one of those buried features in WP, that could be so useful but it’s has that air of neglect. It works well for the truly committed curator but there are just too many steps involved.

    I’ve tried countless ways for Flashissue.com. At the end of the day, all i want is a single click way to curate the list of posts that have been amassed through my aggregation process – feedly is so close but not quite there.

    It seems that for serious DIY curation all roads point back to a reliance on RSS and that has the feel of putting a round peg in a square hole.

    Nice post all the same.

    1. Nathan Weller

      Thank you for sharing this Phil. I think we feel very similar about the curation options open to WordPress users. This post was born out of frustration and a hope that this community might come together to help move WordPress forward in terms of curation tools. I even created a Google+ group to keep the conversation going long after people stop commenting here. Feel free to join and add your voice to our ongoing conversation!

      https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111636223940561576687

      1. Nate

        Hi Nathan,

        Do you know if anyone has developed a better bookmarklet plugin for WP or even taken the “Press This” code and expanded upon it so it performs better?

        Quality curation is something I’ve found to really help raise the profile of my blog. Especially if you tap into the current community of a social site through the use of groups. Now I want to take that following and expand upon the curation by building a website to go one step further and add more value. In turn I think this will help my blog even more as well as give me more control over the group.

        All the best,
        Nate

  13. Kevin

    I am thinking of curating items about running news and reviews on running shoes and also including my own posts once a week and this article was perfect in helping me see how I can do it.

    1. Nathan Weller

      Awesome! Glad it helped :)

    2. Gabor

      Kevin,
      Your comment was about from three years ago. Have you launched the site? Can you share the link with me? I’m thinking to do something similar in a totally different topic, that is why I ask it. Thanks.

  14. Wordpress Blog

    It is a new idea of introducing curating content on wordpress blog. Explanation and screenshots are easy to understand.

    1. Nathan Weller

      Thanks! Although I wouldn’t call it new. More like a personal remix of existing techniques :)

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  16. Arabella

    Hey Nathan! Thanks for this. I was wondering if you ever tried Scoop.it to curate content onto Tumblr and/or WordPress. Full disclosure here…I know I’m Scoop.it’s marketing director…but seriously, before I worked here, I used Scoop.it to find content on startups and then published the curated content on my WordPress blog. There’s even a suggestion engine on Scoop.it that you can put RSS feeds in so that you don’t need to use Feedly. Scoop.it will save you a few steps. I’m going to stop here in fear of sounding like I’m just marketing to you…but really, this is a workflow that makes content curation publishing to WordPress and Tumblr even easier. Let me know if you want to chat further. :)

    1. Nathan Weller

      Hey Arabella,

      Thanks for your comment and suggestion. I have checked out Scoop.it before and I like it. However, it’s probably more akin to the sharing/aggregation tools and platforms I mentioned in the post. You may be right in that it could potentially help me cut out feedly and some steps but as far as actual curation goes (as I outlined in the post) I’m not seeing how it’s different than re-blogging with minimal annotations on tumblr or facebook.

      Am I not seeing something? Feel free to go nuts and talk about Scoop.it as much as you want in your answer, lol 😉

      Best,

      Nathan

    2. Nathan Weller

      Also, it sounds like you’d be a great voice to have in the brand new Google+ community I’ve created so that this discussion can be ongoing. Please feel free to check it out and join :)

      https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111636223940561576687

    3. Michael Sherriff

      I’ve just started using Scoop.it as I wanted a method of curating content that I can share on my clients social sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I must say that Scoop.it works exceptionally well on all fronts and I especially like the suggestion engine for finding content that would otherwise take hours to find and sort through. Anyway, I am joining in over at the G+ page to discuss this topic further.

  17. Nathan Weller

    If anyone is interested, please join myself and MyCurator creator Mark Tilly in this new Google+ community. We plan on hosting some Hangouts in the near future to continue this conversation and potentially create some new curation tools ourselves.

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111636223940561576687

  18. Bryan

    Hi Nathan,

    Excellent post. I wonder if you might also be able to do a complimentary screen shot video of how you go through your process. This would be extremely helpful as I have the plugins you mention, but am still missing a couple things on how they are implemented.

    Thanks!
    -bryan

    1. Nathan Weller

      Bryan,

      I did try to do this for you yesterday but I was having issues with Screenium my screencapturing program. I’ll give it another try in the near future (hopefully) and post the results to the Google+ Community I created above.

      Best,

      Nathan

  19. Greg Bussmann

    Nathan,

    Great post on a particular area of interest for me.

    I wanted to suggest to you, if you are a Mac user, that you take a look at a piece of software called MarsEdit. It is like Press This on steroids. I don’t know if it can do everything on your Press This wishlist, but it can do several of them.

    I am not affiliated, just a happy user.

    Keep up the good work.
    Greg

    1. Nathan Weller

      Hey Greg,

      Thanks for the kind words and the recommended software. I took a quick peek at it and I’m not sure it’s what I’m looking for, but interesting nonetheless. I’ll have to take a deeper look at it later this week.

      Best,

      Nathan

  20. Scott Scanlon

    Nathan,

    Late to the post here but wanted to say awesome outline on curation.

    On finding content, I tend to agree with what I think your point is. That machines and tools aren’t quite there yet. We’ve intentionally not created a listening platform as part of our tool because I think creating your own listening platforms (like using tools like Feedly) is probably the best method out there. Ultimately the problem is these tools all pull from the same sources, using the same set-up keywords, or same publically available data. I’ve found that good curation pulls from sources well outside your niche or your market. I’ve not yet found a tool (even if it pulls in tons of RSS feeds or sources) that helps find the gems that a good human curator can.

    Probably should bring up too that we created a WordPress curation tool named Curation Traffic. One of the main features of our tool (both theme and plugin) is the bookmarklet, which we based off of Pressthis. It finds all the images, content, auto-summarizes, twitter users, etc. We are also in the final stages of adding the scheduling aspect and recognizing other plugin meta options.

    Out tool is really designed for quick short form curation, which I think you outlined here. Meaning your typically quoting from one source and adding commentary around one source.

    Look forward to more of your stuff.

    1. Nathan Weller

      Scott,

      Thanks for the kind words. I think we’re on the same page for the most part. Maybe you’d enjoy sitting on an informal Google Hangout discussion I’m putting together for next week?

      In fact, anyone here interested in brainstorming better curation tools for the WordPress platform is welcome to join. Just comment here that you’re interested and I’ll shoot you an invite. Or you can find me on Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/117930730043793469237/posts

      Best,

      Nathan

  21. Rich Owings

    I use the Postalicious plugin for my weekly link roundups, even though it hasn’t been updated in a couple years (a little scary, huh?). I save interesting things to Delicious and add a category note. At the end of the week I open up the draft post created by Postalicious and use the sort tool in Text Wrangler, sorting everything by category. An hour or so of cleanup and I’ve got my weekly link roundup ready to post.

    1. Nathan Weller

      Rich,

      Sounds like you’ve found a workflow that works for you, congrats! I think your comment about the postalicious lack of updates is pretty telling. I can’t remember the last major features update to the “Press This” bookmarklet or if there’s ever been one.

      It seems that the ease in which people can share is much more attractive than providing actual curation tools. But I think professional bloggers like myself (or even just passionate amateurs) make up an overlooked market of people willing to pay for quality curation tools. Tools that aid in more than just aggregation and digital content distribution…but in the process of actually building a great post by using other posts as a starting point.

      Thoughts?

      Best,

      Nathan

  22. Jay Kanakiya

    Hey , loved the new insights . I run a jquery plugins called http://jquer.in .
    My favourite tool is http://wunderlist.com for saving , curating ,deleting , resaving .Personally its a great way for me to keep track of the new jquery plugins . One feature I love is their bookmarklet and they have got applications running on all platforms.
    Although the actual curation part of adding , filtering , following , unfollowing has to be still done manually.
    Hope they integrate with wordpress.

    1. Nathan Weller

      Jay,

      Thanks for the links! Those jquery projects look interesting and I’ll have to dive in and take a closer look in the near future :)

      Best,

      Nathan

  23. Mathew Porter

    I can see the reasons for doing this to sift through a vast number of information sources to compile useful articles in one place… I could do with something similar as I find it hard to sift through all of mine each day and can miss some great resources.

    Again having the resource available online for all is positive again… However the mass amounts of what would be duplicate content on site would have a very negative effect on the site’s SEO. Obviously if the site is just a resource for compiling multiple resources for ease of access then who cares. lol.

    The ideal solution you would want is the WordPress site to trawl the specified source feeds, determine what articles are relevant by keywords specified etc. and then spin those articles so that they are unique… but obviously its a very tall order as spinning content takes a large amount of setup and input per article and can be frowned upon anyway as an SEO / content creation method.

    1. Nathan Weller

      Matthew,

      You’re right that SEO can become tricky when you’re covering the same material as a large number of other online sources. This is why it’s so important to add original annotations. As far as I know, google does not penalize you for quoting someone else and using their article as a starting point for discussion. However, you will definitely get dinged for pure duplicate content.

      You also touched on another interesting issue: relevant keywords for primarily visual curation. It’s simply not possible…yet. Since most blog posts featuring an artist’s work is low on text volume and high on image volume it makes it difficult and near impossible for an automated plugin or service to help narrow things down in a helpful way.

      If you’re interested in such tools though I would suggest looking into MyCurator. It wasn’t a perfect fit for me but it might be for you.

      Best,

      Nathan

      1. Mathew Porter

        If the article is purely 100% the same then Google’s Panda update is going to be a big problem, if the articles were spun to a decent level to get the content less than 30% the same then it would be ideal, but again the time this would take to have an automated system that did this would be a huge ask.

  24. Pawan Deshpande

    Great blog post, very informative and I’m impressed with the technique. I wanted to share a little insider info with you – there are tools out there that can help make your curation life easier and simpler. My company, Curata, is one of those such tool and we integrate with wordpress among other CMS platforms out there including Joomla and Drupal. I’ll spare you and your reading audience a hard sell but I do want to share that using Curata, tool is not only able to find you new relevant content but you can include any feeds you currently follow as well. Sign-up for a demo of the software and as specifically for more info on the wordpress integration and my team will happily answer any questions. http://www.curata.com/demo

    1. Nathan Weller

      Pawan,

      Thanks for the comment. After viewing the video on your website your service sounds like an aggregation and digital distribution tool more than anything else. Not really a curation product at all.

      That said it looks very handy for improving workflow across multiple content platforms and I’m curious about learning more.

      Best,

      Nathan

  25. Rebecca Haden

    The tools and process you’re describing are interesting, and this kind of curation seems to make sense for artworks, assuming the artists are okay with having their work reposted.

    For text, though, you’re looking at duplicate content. For personal blogs, again with the caveat that the authors don’t mind having their work reposted, this may be acceptable. If you’re blogging for your company, though, you should bear in mind that search engines will not consider your website as valuable if it consists largely of duplicate content, so you won’t show up as readily in search as your competitor who posts original content.

    1. Antone Roundy

      That’s a big issues with aggregation, though less so with curation as described by Nathan:

      “Curation also involves adding helpful annotation that frames the information already provided from the original source in such a way as to add additional value and/or understanding.”

      I see it as a continuum, stretching from scraping and autoblogging through different levels curation (mere content selection on the thin end — added commentary on the thick end), to what I call “Blog Riffing”, to completely original content. At each level, more original content is added.

      My name above links to an article I posted a year or so ago that dives deeper into each level. I would guess that there’s value from the search engines’ perspective in some limited duplication, because it shows that websites are citing each other as part of a conversation. The key is to surround the quotations with original, related content.

      1. Nathan Weller

        Antone – you are absolutely correct. And I like the terms you’ve come up with in your post for the gradations that transition a blogger from aggregation to curation to original content. It’s a very relevant article, thanks for sharing.

        Rebecca – I didn’t mention this in the post but I think it’s a point worth making here: most blogs doing the type of curation I’ve outlined above are not only going to be posting content at different levels of curatorial depth but they’ll most likely be producing 100% original content as well. Not to mention writing response pieces and all the other normal types of blog posts too.

        So while search rankings are definitely a concern for anyone, as Antone said, it’s the aggregators and content scrapers that have the most to worry about.

        Best,

        Nathan

  26. Mark Tilly

    Nathan,

    Great post, really enjoyed it. I couldn’t agree more that whether you use a tool or a process like yours, curation is hard work! Its a real skill to continually identify and highlight content for your audience or clients.

    You are also right that using a tool such as MyCurator does generate a lot of content. We’ve found that sometimes 90% of that content can be classified as ‘not good’ after training the tool. MyCurator has an auto-delete process just for this reason, something you should look for in any curation tool.

    Looking forward to more of your posts! Thanks

    1. Nathan Weller

      Tim,

      I feel kind of bad in that it appears in my two posts that I’m not impressed with MyCurator at all but the fact of the matter is that I’m extremely impressed with it and I think it’s probably a great tool for some people. But for me it’s greatest power is also it’s biggest weakness. A big part of curating is not just choosing the sources but sorting those sources – also manually. I realize that the training tool is getting more an more accurate, something I’m certainly keeping an eye on, but don’t you think it’s a bit dangerous (and by that I mean there’s a high potential to miss good content) if you’re relying so heavily on automated training and deletion?

      For instance, If I’m curating a bunch of photography blogs I’m not looking for specific keywords. I’m looking for quality photos. And beyond that, quality photos that I have something to say about or that I feel fits into something bigger that I’m trying to communicate with my curation efforts. I just don’t see how an automated tool could ever tackle something so ambiguous and highly dependent on human judgement.

      Thoughts?

      Best,

      Nathan

      1. Nathan Weller

        Whoops, that should have been addressed to Mark. Sorry. Writing too fast.

      2. Mark Tilly

        Nathan,

        I’m really excited to see such good posts on curation. I think the problem is that most people think that a curation tool is all about auto-posting – probably because that is all that was available for a long while.

        In fact, the best use of a tool like MyCurator is to help you with the discovery of content. As you point out, to be a good curator you have to read very widely. By automatically finding and bringing the content into one place, throughout the day, and helping with training features, I think we can consistently provide a wide range of content. But it is still up to the curator/user to look through the material and decide what to post and how to personalize it for their audience.

        All content in MyCurator comes into a private custom post type. Only the admins, editors and authors can see it. Whether it is images as in your case or text articles, it is up to them to decide what to post on their live blog. Once they make the decision, they can easily work with all of the images, the full text of the article and their own content right in the WordPress editor. They can truly craft a real curated post, not just what the system decides.

        Yes, you can turn on an auto-post feature. But frankly as you point out, that doesn’t really add to your blog or help your audience. Most of our clients progress from that to real curation over time. Just as you moved from Tumblr to WordPress, I think it is a natural progression to go from sharing/aggregation to real curation for most people.

        Sorry for the long-winded response. But I really do think that you have done a great job getting the word out about curation, what it means and how to do it right. Whether someone uses a tool is just a choice, but is not the heart of good curation. Thanks,

        Mark

        1. Nathan Weller

          Mark,

          Thank you for the thoughtful response and kind words. I agree with everything you just said. However, I’m not sure I communicated my point as well as I could have in my previous comment. What I’m getting at is that when it comes to the actual training of MyCurator, I’m wondering how it approaches image heavy posts that require an understanding of either an audience’s particular visual taste or the art itself and the techniques used to create it. That is the aspect that I’m having the most doubts about and the reason why I’m so opposed to pulling in a bunch of content in in the first place. It would literally put thousands of posts on my site (albeit in a private way) that I’m never going to use and would have to delete. Of course that is probably where your deletion feature comes in very handy but nevertheless (in my specific situation) it just hasn’t been a great fit.

          That said, I’m seeing more and more how incredibly useful MyCurator could be for others curating more text heavy posts with lots of identifying keywords and filterable topics. Once again, I will be watching as your plugin continues to develop and I wish you all the best.

          Thanks,

          Nathan

          1. Mark Tilly

            Nathan,

            I did get off on my own tangent there and didn’t really answer the image question! You are right, images just can’t be scanned and ‘understood’ well by computer – yet. And as you well know, the titles and alt tags are usually not relevant, if they exist. As you point out, having all of that content in one place doesn’t really help, so a curation tool like MyCurator probably won’t be of any added value at this point. Your process you outlined in the post gets the job done.

            Thanks for the great conversation and I look forward to more of your work.

            Mark

  27. Tim

    Oh, I forgot to add that the TabCloud extension you mentioned looks really useful – thanks for the tip!

  28. Tim

    Thanks for the email Nathan, and an interesting article as ever.

    As I said in the comments to your previous piece, we seem to go through a similar process to you for much of our curation.

    I currently use Netvibes as the RSS reader, but am looking at Feedly (and the upcoming Digg reader when its released).

    We then use a customised Press This button – a rough hack working with some of the Press This Reloaded plugin to help sort the content and meta-data.

    Images are the main point of contention for us, as I haven’t found a decent way of auto grabbing them with our setup. That said, much of our content is news based, and we have to license images directly from photographers or from agencies and pay for the privilege, so it is always going to be a hassle really.

  29. Rick

    Great post about bringing in content. I never know what I’m allowed to bring into my site though. Can you use pictures and content from the other blog if you give them credit? Just wondering what’s legal and what’s good practice. Thanks.

    1. John

      That was my thought as well — the author seems comfortable reposting other people’s content. But to what extent?

      1. Nathan Weller

        To both Rick and John,

        In almost all cases it’s all about proper attribution. A clear link at the bottom of a post, in the main text of a post and/or linking images to the original source is standard practice. In the art and design blogosphere I tend not to repost anyone’s full article (the words). I might quote and annotate with proper attribution, but never straight up repost. And of course you always have to look out for people who state on their websites that they do not want their work shared or distributed without their permission etc.

        Many curatorial blogs also have a notice in their footer that says they’re willing to remove anything if the original source wants it taken down. So I guess when it comes down to it just make sure you’re not trying to swoop in and steel someone else’s work without putting effort in yourself and adding to the value. Always attribute/credit and be willing to respect the wishes of the source.

        If you follow a lot of art and design blogs you’ll see the same work over and over again because that’s what’s trending at the moment. Sort of like news sites that cover the same story with slightly different commentary. Which is great for the artists because they’re getting massive amounts of attention and probably a lot of customers/clients in the process. So as long as you’re pointing traffic back to them they tend to be pretty happy about being featured. But the challenge for bloggers/curators becomes finding things first and/or putting the right “mix” together that readers enjoy more than other blogs they might visit.

        Does that answer your questions?

        Best,

        Nathan

      2. Tim

        Being as we do something similar on Descrier.co.uk, I thought it may be useful to chip in…

        We work a little more like a collective of all our disparate and independent sources, and work with them on various things from hosting to ad sales, and have full license agreements in place before we curate full content.

        Even when you have full permission, it is still polite (and generally required) that you fully attribute everything to the blog and author.

      3. Daniel

        There are images you can use from websites like pixabay and Wikimedia, some require attribution and some dont. Here’s a checklist for ethical content curation that’s good to follow: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2013/11/ethical-content-curation-checklist/

  30. Antone Roundy

    It’s interesting to see someone else’s process, and the features you’d like to see added to Press It — something for me to think about adding to my own tools.

    Years ago, I used to subscribe to RSS feeds in NetNewsWire, and bookmark posts in my browser that I wanted to come back to and blog about. The problem was that I only ever actually came back and wrote the blog posts once or twice, for two reasons:

    1) Because the interruption between being inspired by something and coming back to write about it killed the inspiration.

    2) Because there was too much copy-paste involved in getting the quotes I wanted to refer to from the original into my blog editor.

    I ended up with a similar workflow to what you describe, but using a tool I created myself (Blog Riffer — that’s where my link above goes), which was an RSS feed reader with a blog editor built in.

    As I read through the feeds I was subscribed to, when I found something that inspired me, I could either flag it for later, or, more often (while the inspiration was hot), select a quote and click a button to open the editor with the selected text in a block quote, ready for me to add comments.

    That got me to a point similar to WordPress’ “Press It” feature, except that I didn’t need to have a separate “Press It” bookmarklet for each blog, and it worked with WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Posterous. And there’s a similar button for Twitter, and sharing buttons for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

    Objectively, the difference between bookmarking, copying and pasting, and the process I ended up with wasn’t all that great — a few seconds less work. But subjectively — emotionally — it was enough of a difference to take me from twice-a-month blogging to daily blogging, and sustain it for well over a year.

    1. Nathan Weller

      Antone,

      Thank you for the read and great comment. I know exactly where you’re coming from and it sounds like you’ve created an interesting tool. Personalizing a process is often just as important as any other benefits it may provide precisely because of that emotional connection and ownership it imbibes. I’ve heard the same said for developing methods of keeping track of projects and to-do’s. Or writing in general for that matter.

      Anyways, I’m not curious to discover when the last major update was made to “Press this” and if anyone is actively trying to improve it. When I get a chance I’ll probably head over to the forums at WordPress.org. Personally though, because I’m a Chrome loyalist, I’d love to see some create a kick ass Chrome extension too.

      But now I’m rambling.

      Again, thanks Atone and I hope to see you around the blog some more :)

      Best,

      Nathan

  31. Tom George

    I would love to have you mention Internet Billboards sometime. I think it’s great to connect to like minded people. We are a growing community of content curator’s. Thanks for a great post, I use much of this methodology you have mentioned.

    1. Nathan Weller

      Tom,

      It’s always nice to meet a fellow curator. From the looks of your website it appears you have a strong grasp on aggregation. I look forward to checking it out again in the future to see how else you develop things.

      Best,

      Nathan

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