ManageWP has been teasing ManageWP.org for what must be a few months by now. I received an email invite yesterday to see what the wait was all about. Based on the teasers, the new service seemed to be some sort of aggregated WordPress news source, and that appears to be accurate.
I played with it for about half an hour, and my main takeaway was that it felt like a Digg style resource geared around WordPress. The user experience is pretty good and the web technology appears quite advanced. Interestingly, the app isn't built on WordPress; or at least the display portion of the site isn't WordPress. It appears they've invested a significant amount of energy, and potentially money, into the project.
In it's Digg-like manner, the site requests users to submit links, which get delivered to a “latest” feed. Then, based on popularity, articles are featured. Logged in users can upvote items. When submitting an article, users are asked to provide a title and description, with an option to include an image.
Honestly, the site functionality is very familiar to my original ideas for what Post Status would be. However, I iterated toward a more traditional blog with links that are more editor-curated and less user-filtered. I think ManageWP could succeed with the user-filtering method as long as the audience is large enough to actually vote on items with enough relevance to know what to feature. It'll also require that submission levels are high enough to justify variations between “latest” posts and “top stories”.
The “member” section also has a gamification aspect to it. Users receive rankings based on their number of submissions, the comments on their submissions, and the upvotes on their submissions.
I'm not sure when exactly ManageWP.org will launch in full to the public. At this time, you get directed to the landing page still unless you have the link from their early-access email.
Can ManageWP.org succeed?
I have no desire to predict whether or not ManageWP.org will succeed. What I can say, is they've invested quite a bit on the model. I would not call what I've seen in my preview a minimum viable product. It's a fully fledged web app. I mean, they even built their own sharing buttons for blog owners to include on their websites. They've built pretty much exactly what I envisioned (and then some) early on, from a functionality perspective, for the ideal curated resource — so I'm glad they built it.
However, I've since changed my mind on what I think my readers value, so I would no longer do it like they have. Fortunately for me, I did create the absolute MVP for the first Post Status.
I know the ManageWP site management product has a large audience, and they already invest significantly in their WordPress blog. So this is complementary to things they are already doing. And I look forward to seeing how it goes. I think they'll need to utilize their large existing network as much as possible to get the community going quickly.
The name is confusing
My biggest beef with this service is probably the name. Even in this blog post, I don't know what to call the thing. Should I say “Manage WP Dot Org” every time? That's the WordPress.com/.org way, I guess. I just think perhaps they should have learned a lesson from WordPress' branding struggles between .com and .org versions.
If I were ManageWP, I'd want the brand recognition, but I think calling it essentially the same thing as your bread and butter product isn't the wisest move.
Is it getting crowded in here?
The other obvious point worth noting is that it's yet another entry to the WordPress news fray, and it's starting to feel pretty crowded in here.
There are probably a dozen websites vying for your attention, some old and some new. Not to mention all the WordPress podcasts. Some of these sites have caught your attention and others have a hard time getting off the ground. Some fizzle out quickly, others fizzle slowly. The common thread is that almost all WordPress news sites have, at some point, fizzled.
From a monetary aspect, it seems that companies bankrolling WordPress news sources is the hot new thing. That's how WP Tavern is funded (Matt Mullenweg), as well as Torque (WP Engine) and WPMU.org (WPMUDev). Now ManageWP. And there's merit to that. It's a calculated investment by these companies. Only time will tell whether readers care who's funding these blogs, or if they view it any different that the way I monetize, or even those that monetize with things like affiliate links.
Long term success
I think that the keys for WordPress news site(s) to succeed long term are consistency, trustworthiness, authority, and monetary sustainability. Those are my goals every day, even though I'm not always successful. The first three can presumably lead to long-term traffic, and the fourth should help prevent burnout.
I encourage other bloggers (not just WordPress-oriented ones) to consider these same goals. If all of the sites that are in this space strive for these four qualities, then I honestly don't care how many of us there are, I'll read them all.
What are your thoughts?