Several people have been talking about the new Alltop and the customizations available for MyAlltop. So, I figured I should try out the customizations to see whether Alltop was ready for the mainstream. Disappointingly, it is not ready yet, but it is getting closer. The good thing is that it probably has the foundation needed to make the mainstream crossover in a short amount of time.
What Is Missing?
First, adding feeds to MyAlltop is not obvious. When you first create an account, only the Alltop blog is added to your custom Alltop. There is no readily apparent way to add feeds. You need to go to the main Alltop categories and find the feed you are looking for. Once you find the feed, you will notice a “+” next to the feed name. When you click it, it gets added to your MyAlltop. Also, there is no help link available on the site to make it simpler for people to navigate around.
Second, feeds are somewhat hard to find, even when you know what you are looking for. There is good search functionality, so that makes the searching simpler. It is not hard to get listed in the Alltop categories, you just need to send an email to the folks at Alltop. However, I am wondering if more of a tag based directory would work better, or whether there is an issue with being listed in multiple categories.
Lastly, how do you use Alltop to find new blogs to read? Discovery is one of the hardest problems in the blogging industry. Early adopters quickly get information from various people that they know. They also read several blogs already, so discovery is a smaller problem for them. Mainstream users need much more help to find new blogs to read. Typically they will not be hooked into the early adopter set, so how do they find new blogs? A blog discovery engine or recommendation engine would definitely help mainstream adoption.
How Far Is Alltop?
Mainstream adoption is probably not very far for Alltop. The first two issues I listed above should be easy to resolve. The discovery or recommendation engine is typically fairly difficult. However, they have a very good list of blogs already. Writing the engine is the only issue remaining, and there are plenty of methods freely documented on the web. With the “online magazine rack” concept and the new customizations, Alltop could be well on its way to mainstream acceptance.