Are we done with Paper.li yet?

As The Thing would say if he had been a blogger, “It’s complainin’ time.”

For the last year, all of us who use Twitter have seen posts that look like this:

“The CRAP I’M INTO SO YOU MUST BE INTO IT TOO Daily is out! bkt.ly/blahblahblah Top stories by: [Insert hapless Twitter followers who’ve had their content scraped here.]”

If you’ve clicked through on any of these links, you’ve seen a nicely designed page, full of stories credited to some people on Twitter.

The way this all works is, when you create one of these “dailies,” or weeklies or what have you, you tell paper.li to sift through your Twitter followers and post to this pretty page anything they post or tweet relating to a specific subject. If you want to create a “Star Trek” daily, anyone who posts a link with “Star Trek” in the destination, or tweet about “Star Trek,” will be placed in your daily.

Okay – useless explanation done. Onto the problem: Paper.li is a crutch for people who want to post to Twitter regularly, but don’t have enough to say themselves.

I really thought this trend would have burned out by now, as there are SO MANY people posting these things. Paper.li posts don’t provide any new information, and frankly if I really want to know what my friends are posting about Star Trek I’ll do a search to find out.

Some might argue it’s a way to cluster interesting nuggets together in an easily digestible format. I disagree. For one, you have to “luck” into these paper.li dailies when they hit someone’s Twitter feed. Maybe you could probably set up an alert for when they are published, but anyone willing to do that could also set up a Google Alert to find the same information.

No, Paper.li is not about providing useful content – it’s about getting around content. It let’s people abandon their social circle for a few days, but know that the hard work of creating posts is being taken care of by, effectively, a bot that scrapes RSS feeds.

I stop short of calling this plagiarism because Paper.li does credit the original authors. The point with these posts is not to pass off someone else’s content as your own. The real problem is still posting other people’s content so you have something – anything – for your followers to see.

Let’s say I’m a stand-up comic, but I have no jokes. Would it be acceptable for me to perform George Carlin’s, “Ice Box Man” in my act, even if I credited him as the original author? If the Carlin estate went along with it, at least it would be legal. Still, as an audience member, wouldn’t you still feel kind of cheated?

If you’re as tired of this crap as I am, join me in doing something about it: Block paper.li from using your posts to help other people’s laziness, and remove yourself. It is simple to do. Just tweet:

@NewsCrier please stop mentions paper.li/stop-mentions.html

This will get you off of their system, and keep these posts from showing up in your menitons when you’re in one.

“But why would I want to keep from being mentioned?” I can hear you ask.

Well, it’s like #FollowFriday – no one really follows anyone on the basis of a #FollowFriday post. People just do this to let some of their followers know they are loved.

In the same way, mentioning people in a, “The WHO THE HELL CARES Daily is out” doesn’t promote the people mentioned in it. It’s actually designed to get those people who were mentioned to click on the paper.li link itself.

Getting this kind of mention doesn’t help grow your social circle as much as it fools you into giving paper.li – and the user who, again, is riding on the coat tails of whatever interesting stuff you shared – more traffic.

Let us all band together and end this cycle of content rehashing by removing ourselves from the paper.li roles.

And if we can’t all do that, let’s at least agree that these dailies are really pretty lame.

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8 comments

  1. Thanks for the POV! I was wondering what these were all about, and whether or not I should feel flattered. I will say, that I have actually acquired a good number of followers through #FFs and #WWs and other mentions, but can’t really see the Paper.Li ads making much of a difference. Hard to tell.

    1. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone on this! 🙂 And congrats on the success with #FollowFridays – I probably get some as well, but I can never tell.

  2. I find these updates to be completely useless because even though they’re generated from keywords, the stories are not logically or carefully compiled. It’s just a bunch of random posts that may or may not be worth putting into a “daily”, let alone a “weekly”. I believe the #1 reason people use this, is to get mentions and followers. “Wow, this person put me in their Daily update! I’m going to thank them and follow them.” Except they didn’t actually put you in the update, the system did (AFAIK). And like I said, what they put in there is totally random, even within a given subject.

    You could have a post that says “PowerPoint makes me pick my nose”, and it would have an equal shot at getting featured over “PowerPoint can be useful for x, y, z (link).”

    Paper.li is a complete (and short-sighted) gimmick IMO. Anyone who needs this feature to find relevant stuff, needs to go back to Google class and learn how to type a search. This company product adds no real value to existing search engines and online media.

  3. I agree that it’s basically just a crutch for people who don’t have enough to say themselves. It seems that a lot of services like this are springing up these days in various forms, especially so called content curating services like scoop and PInterest which are basically just ways to scrapbook Web pages. I’m just amazed at the amount of hype surrounding basic bot-like services that require little creativity or thought by the actual user.

  4. Gee, I’m glad I found this. Paper.li does not seem to be a crutch (as is your OH!pinion) for many folks though. Some people DO want to help their followers broadcast what they have an interest in.

    Quite frankly, P.LI only picks up what you tell it to pick-up and from where. It not only aggregates from Twitter, but also FB and G+, if you set it up to do so. It’s a great social media tool, (when used properly) to the extent that it helps people find other people, whether they are newbies or experienced users of any popular platform. Just my OH!pinion, of which I have plenty, so I’m happy to share. 😀

    1. If it were used that way, I wouldn’t have such a problem with it. Unfortunately, the majority of people who run a paper.li do so in absence of any interesting or useful posts the rest of the time. The result is I never click on anyone’s paper.li.

      I’m glad you like it and aren’t abusing it yourself, but I have a feeling a lot of the other users of this service have ruined it for everyone else.

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