A Table Of Contents for MBA Mondays
For the past few years, I've been using a third party service called Pandamian to power a table of contents for MBA Mondays. They've been awesome to work with but the honest truth is I would prefer to have this thing run natively on AVC and point to MBA Mondays posts on AVC.
What I want is something that I expect others might want as well. I want a cloud based solution that crawls my blog regularly and looks for posts that are tagged MBA Mondays (and tagged other things) and then generates the front end code to render a real-time table of contents on my blog that links to the actual posts on my blog.
The main reason I want this is to power the table of contents for MBA Mondays, but it would also be awesome to power a table of contents for a bunch of other categories on AVC. These table of contents pages would be great to put behind the "topics" links on the AVC Archives page.
I suspect the answer is that there are a number of WordPress plugins that do this but nothing for folks like me who are on Typepad. Which is yet another reason to consider switching to WordPress. But I really don't have time in my life for yet another project right now.
So if anyone has any good ideas how I can get a tool to power this table of contents for MBA Mondays, I am all ears.
If you were to make a full move to WordPress these features could be build directly into the system. Making a migration from Typepad used to be a chore but with a new importer system it’s much, much easier. The simplicity of your design, the combination of your use of Disqus, and the vast world of (quality) WP plugins would be a boon not only for your pageviews but your readers with increased opportunities for engagement, delivery, and more.It would also shine a real-time light on your functional approach to technology and your progressive stance on investing in progressive ventures. I see nothing but a “win” all the way around.And if you’d allow me, I’d like to do it for you just – WordPress has quite literally changed my life.
You make a compelling case. Particularly that last point
I like John’s confidence and assertiveness in putting it out there. What’s to lose? All to gain. For both of you.
I think we all benefit if he goes to WordPress. I’d definitely get “warm and fuzzies” at the very least!
A lot to be honest
Shouldn’t this stuff all fall under the *new USV platform* project from last year? BTW, what’s the status on that?
Coming real soon
Fred,Wanted to show you very quickly how fast and easily you could migrate to WordPress with very little downtime. Within the last 60 minutes I endeavored to showcase the core functionality that you asked for as well as spend a little time on the design aesthetic.The point of this concept is to prove the following:1. Technically-speaking, a migration is easy and quick.2. Aesthetically-speaking, your design is also simple and easy to mimic and reproduce.3. Core features (such as Archives, Disqus comments, Soundcloud embeds, etc) are also easily doable.But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Your ability to customize far beyond just the Archives page, categories, and design is now a real and pragmatic possibility. Things like “infinite scroll”, better out-of-the-box SEO, and compelling integrations with other technologies are just a click away (literally) which is great for users and can up pageviews like whoa.Oh, and you could do a very sweet design “upgrade” too with the many options out there.Simply put, using WordPress will make your more awesome, period.Thanks for the opportunity – if anything, it’ll showcase to the rest of your community how kickass WordPress really is.~~~ Video explaining my work here (about 4 min long): https://www.youtube.com/wat…~~~ Demo site: http://iama.vcIf you have any questions, you can contact me here (email): [email protected] a great one; that was fun.
not genius. simple. 😛
Simply genius. ;-)You make it look easy…and I guess it is for you. Great job.
Nice hustle. Love it.
Yeah, I just – – – when I think of the money we (and clients) have wasted on Joomla and Spree and Ruby on Rails when plain ‘ole wordpress works fine, I get irate (at myself, for letting developers sway me).
I will look at this over the weekend
of course there is no pressure. enjoy!
Really cool, John! I have a few questions. Will follow up via email!
WordPress comes with a decent search option too…for your actual use case of search it would prob. Be good enough (not that I want you to drop gawk.it of course – just saying WordPress would make that an option)
I’d use Google custom search. it’s free (or paid to remove ads) and is amazing as most users know how to use google search it increases engagement and lowers cognitive dissonance.
You had me until ‘google custom search’…if there’s one thing in the market that defines crap search (at scale) it’s google custom site search (to be fair, I acknowledge that I’m a search snob and millions of people who don’t care if they have a crappy search experience can do just fine with Google custom search). 🙂
you can customize your CSE pretty granularly… you may have to check it out again.*** EDIT ***If you’re a snob there’s no way to “win” this argument with you (not that i’m having one). Love your staunch perspective!
Not that you asked, but I’m going to give you a small brain dump anyway…so fair warning ;-)Putting the design and interface stuff aside (because honestly I’m weak there too)…if you really think about what made google so powerful, I think you would come to the conclusion that it was PageRank…and the secret to PageRank is scale and reach (how many quality sources are linking into to this given page)…the problem with CSE is that they actually eliminate that scale off the bat (by definition of CSE) and PageRank (the most powerful thing they bring to the table) immediately becomes worthless (I have tested this on many different sets of content, and from all of those tests it seems that CSE does nothing more than simple keyword [tf-idf] searching).They get away with it because they are Google and the brand automatically makes people think it’s best in class for search (users question themselves before they question google results — unless they *really* know the content collection)…but the truth is that the CSE they offer has no real intelligence in it at all.All that being said, if I’m being totally honest my own service is not all that much better (yet)…we take into account the conversation around the content a little bit and so I think that’s pretty unique and interesting…but it’s not close to a full solution…for a long time now, I’ve been working on implementing what I call StoryRank that takes things like # comments, # likes, # of links shared in comments, and recency of the conversation along with tf-idf and a handful of other factors into weighting what the proper results for a given search (for a given sub-set of content) should be…I have a *long* way to go before it’s world-changing (and all of this is just a side-project/hobby for me), but I guarantee you that it’s at the very least interesting (to me) 😉
+1 point for you good sir. love the passion. my soapbox begins and ends with WordPress in the context of this conversation. 😛
…except for when it comes to WordPress search I guess (which is also just basic TF-IDF from what I can tell but is at least directly integrated into a users site so they get the design/UI/UX integration)…but fair enough and thanks for giving me the opp./reason to vent a bit in public about CSE 😉
I will say that WordPress’ Jetpack new feature “OMNISEARCH” has some incredible potential… but that’s neither here nor there at this point…..
I love your reply whereas John decided it wasn’t worth the effort to try and convince you.By the way on “story rank” I’d call it something else. The man has a trademark obviously on page rank:http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/…
Thanks – I’m not married to the name (though I would think that I can *very* easily defend the name story rank as that is specifically what it does, rank stories).It’s just one of many domains I’ve owned for years (because I’ve always known I wanted to work on some process/system for properly ranking stories…though I didn’t always know it was going to be related to search)Right now I care more about getting the system/process right than what I brand it ( though I do think it should have a proper/powerful brand position as well ).
Falicon – thank you for putting in words why good search isn’t good for in website search! @fredwilson:disqus would be great to have a guest post on this as discovery is so important!ps the discovery/search you describe would be extremely powerful for traditional publishers with a decades of archives – who have more money to spend on this kind of thing than bloggers!!
Thanks for the kind words. I think either @danielha or @wmoug:disqus are prob. both more authorities and capable of an AVC guest post on discovery than I am…but I could certainly give you my hackers take and how/what I think about the problem…I’ll try to find a bit of time soon to at least dump that out to my own blog…
Hey – you put in a good hack, and the brain dump above was very helpful. I’ve forward to several people at my firm to try and shake the google loose!
Did you know that Falicon is the author of Gawk.it? Have a look at it. It does a lot more than Google Custom search in the context of blogs and AVC + it indexes the comments.
Keeping wordpress secure and running is not trivial. Not something I would recommend that you simply maintain without help.This is not a matter of set and forget. (Not that anything is of course.)http://ithemes.com/2013/04/…http://www.hostpapa.com/blo…http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…(This all is nothing new by the way..)2008:http://techcrunch.com/2008/…In any case, this company specialize in wordpress hosting and they exist to exploit the difficulty in doing that DIY as well as the resources necessary to serve up pages cost effectively because of the hog that wordpress is:http://wpengine.com/about/Note the pricing!http://wpengine.com/pricing/Lastly, your blog is high profile and high traffic so security is a bigger concern than it is with the local bake shop.
of course. moving the content is only 1 part of the equation.
Yeah but not everybody realizes that actually. Same reason that people don’t understand the difference between General Motors (or Boeing) doing something feature or software wise and some startup offering a free service adding a feature over the weekend. Where if said feature fails or causes pain to users it’s a “oops sorry”.
I sent you an email. Did you get it?
i did not.
Hmm. check spam maybe? it went to john at me do
[email protected] got it reversed.
It went to me @ originally. I just checked.
perhaps [email protected]
Since both of these are “projects”, why not start with moving to WordPress? The right person can “manage” the transition for you AND get the plugin or appropriate TOC going on WordPress.I know a couple of AVC’ers that are WordPress experts and they came forward and helped me 3 weeks ago.
Switch to WordPress – volunteers abound
Welcome to the world of technical debt.A place where the sole currency is frustration and the best time to deal with things is always yesterday.
The only option is to switch to wordpress. If that’s too much work, then I favor doing nothing and letting the current situation persist.
it’s not. give me 5 more minutes…
apparently Youtube hates me. Taking a while to encode my video…
is this running on typepad?yes, i missed that it is.
Time to turn on the Kevin Marshall signal.
Don’t volunteer Kevin. I got shit last week for implying he could build something here. 😉
Not from me…I like tossing around ideas with people…some I even build (eventually) 🙂
I think that was me. Noting that the ensuing discussion garners even more recognition for KEVIN MARSHALL. I’m the bad cop with benefits.
Man I love that guy… 🙂
I had the same first thought as @daveinhackensack:disqus did…
Gawk.it basically does this already (just search for MBA Mondays – you can even do just a title search if you want though it’s un-documented.
Wouldn’t you say Gawk.it is analogous to an Index, while @fredwilson:disqus is looking for a Table of Contents?
To me they are both search…one is guided or saved search but I think still search.
Off the subject, but is there a way to sort the search results looking inside this blog by date? When I search the comments, they are automatically sorted by date but looking through the blog posts, everything comes out random? Am I doing it right? Thanks.
Both sections are actually sorted by relevance, then date for the default…the blog posts are not always sorted this way because the system does not always pick up the proper date for a given blog post (though I *think* all avc posts are properly tagged with dates — I’ll have to check that).That being said, there is a ‘sortby’ param that you can mess with to get results in a different order…just adjusting that to be either ‘date’ or ‘date_asc’ should do the sorting…
My apologies for not responding back sooner as I never got a notification from Disqus as I’ve normally gotten from them.I’m not completely useless when it comes to using technology but I just can’t seem to find the sort (or date/date_asc) button anywhere on the page and I’ve looked for it a bunch of times in the past and have never been able to find it which was what prompted me to ask the question in the first place.I’m using Chrome as my browser though not sure if that would make a difference in not being able to see the sort button.Thanks for your help.
For example, when I run this search, I don’t see anything on the page that would let me sort by date:http://gawk.it/search?searc…
ah – thanks for the link and details…it does appear to be a bug…so I am looking into it now. Thanks!
What? No Geocities import tool?
Intern + Manual Labor = Mechanical Turk Solution
I have blogged on other platforms, and wordpress is simply the best for a full blown blog. I recommend Tumblr to people that want to blog but just want content out there.
I read this and I think it is a heads up to every platform out there to smarten up and understand the power of plug ins.The small shop platforms like Shopify and the rash of marketing platforms (don’t get me started!) all basically suck for connecting your world together.
When are you scheduling in your next redesign?
Switch to hyde (i’ about to start that process myself)Because it is static and you can include disqus, you can in fact get everything you want whenever you post, plus the site load time speed would improve.And you could write posts where there is no internet
Yes, site load speed is also a reason why I suggested a static site generator. It’s a LOT faster for readers to load in their browsers than a regular dynamically generated blog like Blogger or WordPress, since the templating, etc., is pre-generated on your local machine before the post is pushed to the actual site, and also, AFAIK, the post is generated again for each new viewer, though Blogger and WordPress probably use caching. And on a site like Fred’s, that gets tens of thousands (at least) of visitors, that would make even more of a difference.But one con (as in pro/con) I see for Fred is that since he travels often, and writes posts on his mobile too, the static approach may not work easily, unless some software is written to enable him to upload his content from his mobile to, say, his PC at home/office and the software there runs the generator with the new post as input, and then publishes it on the site.
“It’s a LOT faster for readers to load in their browsers than a regular dynamically generated blog like Blogger or WordPress”That’s only true if not using a good caching plugin and n nginx server can handle all but the biggest blogs. WPEngine, ZippyKid, Synthesis, Page.ly and other WP hosts could handle all that stuff for Fred.
Ok, didn’t know about some of those sites, though had heard of WPEngine. Also did mention caching. Anyway, good to know.
Static site generators, at least as is currently fashionable are geek-chic, they are not solutions viable for mainstream bloggers.
I’m with everyone in saying the WP migration would be painless, quick, and worthwhile, but I think you can do this in typepad if you’ve got advanced templates enabled. Not 100% sure though, it’s been awhile.
Even with automated tools, migrations tend to involve a few *surprises*. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t jump to wordpress. I use it on my scalable startups blog http://iheavy.com/blog/That said, expect issues around internal links (links in your content that point back to other content on your site), plus image hosting & the audio tracks you have at the bottom of all your posts. Lastly I would expect there to be issues around disqus integration & comments. I’ve never tried to migrate a site with disqus, so I don’t know how well or not it handles this.Glad to provide an opinion or two if you need help during the process.
Another vote for WordPress here.
You know you need to migrate to WordPress, just freakin “do it” 😉
Well Fred – I’d just about had a turn-key solution for you and your provider DDoS’d me. Couldn’t crawl it!
i’m considering investing in blogging myself (meaning that i will begin writing a blog), and the options appear to be to use either typepad or wordpress. wp seems to have the market share, but i’m wondering if tp devotees know something that i don’t that stops them switching to the market leader (which they will because i know nothing about either option)?Once i start with a platform i’m not going to switch, and so i’d like to get the choice right from the get go. Fred, is there a reason why you chose tp over wp?
tp used to be a market leader in the mid 2000’s, but has been crushed recently by the strength of the WP community. Same dynamics as Apple has w/ the app store….everyone uses WP, so all the plugins are written for it, which attracts more bloggers. I suspect Fred chose it back when TP was neck and neck with WP, or even more of a market leader. But he can speak for himself… 🙂
I’m prob. an exception here as well, but I use/prefer Tumblr even for text blogging…simple, clean, and mostly stays out of the way (which I personally love).
“but i’m wondering if tp devotees know something that i don’t that stops them switching to the market leader”Switching involves making decisions and doing something. There are things to think about. You have to put the effort into actually doing it.If you have little time you have to carve out time which you may not want to do. Simply reading the instructions and understanding what you need to do takes time. And making sure you don’t overlook an important step and mess up.One of the ways to make money in business is to take things that others don’t want to think about, that they only need to do once, and come up with a fair charge to handle that thing for them turn key.Or something they know about but would rather outsource to someone who does it more efficiently or more frequently.(One of the problems of course is coming up with the right person to do the thing you don’t have time to do. That’s something that unfortunately takes time as well.)
i normally steer away from a market leader, but i am a convert to Fred’s networking thesis (even though i don’t fully understand the dynamic forces at play), and so wp seems like a choice that doesn’t need to be made, but just an action to be taken, without thought, sans time, effortless and yet still correct.I agree that the hard way is the route to the prize, but not always. Getting to the top of Everest by helicopter is ‘cheating’ but it is still the top of the world and ‘i was there and here’s the photo to prove it was so’. it just depends if the climb was more important than topping out.In the network age let the network take the strain.
I never thought of this as networking thesis so much as making the ubiquitous choice which is a great shortcut and time saver and right more often than wrong. For me that has worked over time more often than it hasn’t. When I’ve deviated I’ve had problems.A few examples:1) Used to be you couldn’t go wrong by buying Sony or HP. To this day I still will (not talking cameras even though I own several excellent Sony digital cameras I prefer Canon). When I wanted a new TV I would just buy Sony. When I want a laser printer I still buy HP even if it’s not William’s HP.2) When buying a car look for the model in the class that is best selling or at least very close to the top. Don’t go for the Zebras. An example of this used to be the Honda Accord. And in fact if you test drive Honda CRV vs., say, Volkswagon Toareg or say BMW SUV vs. Volvo SUV you will know why the BMW outsells the Volvo and Honda outsells Volkswagon. The market has figured out it’s a better value and a safer choice.3) David Pogue suggested strongly the Sony RX100 camera in an article “buy it” so I did without spending the time to compare to anything else. No need to read dpreview.com . Turns out it’s a great camera (and many people followed up with this opinion). I’m going to by the RX100-2 which was just released.4) Old saying which was “nobody gets fired for choosing IBM”.5) Deviation: I bought SGI servers back in 1996 because the tech guy I asked said they were better than Sun. They did have better performance but Sun was more ubiquitous and that actually mattered more (software, guys who knew Solaris vs. Irix etc.) Tech guy didn’t take that into account in giving the advice. He gave advice on something he cared about without looking at the total picture. (Binary thinkers tend to do this getting caught up in certain numbers and minutia.)6) In contrast to #5, when I went into the printing business and knew nothing at all about it I went with the presses that were ubiquitous and had great results. Why? Because many people knew how to run them (labor) plenty of spare parts, mechanics, etc. All that was super important. Pioneers get shot in the back.The idea with any of these is that when lacking the ability to do a full investigation and to reduce risk you can’t fall far from the mark by using this type of shortcut.As far as the Mt. Everest climb vs. Heli I guess it’s a matter of whether you want to risk your life with the result being that if you succeed you can walk around with the “party in your head” thinking everybody thinks you are great. I don’t take chances for that reason.
I started this blog in 2003
of its time, and times change – as you said, be relevant.it’s the two year rule – only as good as the last two years. before that is no longer relevant.
Godin and you are the last two (that I read) left on Typepad. Seems like Godin will be the last man standing soon.
Only if the commenters get their way
I suspect you’ll be glad they did
Wow. The output is impressive.
Fred, an idea might be to place that A-Z list from Brandon’s page in the right margin.
ThanksI will look this over this weekend
Sounds good – it’s at a point that you can drop one ‘<script>’ tag into a table of contents page and it should work.
Sounds like you’re trying to disrupt the ebook business which just disrupted the physical book business. I could see a market for this sort of thing for authors to publish serials or related short stories and host them on their own site to increase engagement with their readers.
Books are a thing of the past just as CDs and records are
You know you could always get *someone else* to move your site to WordPress…
Yeah but who makes the decisions on the questions that come upYou can hire someone but you still have to manage them
“who makes the decisions”In a sense you are in the same shoes as the typical main street small businessman with something like this.One of the things I learned back in the 80’s when I was in printing – that allowed me to charge more than competitors that had better quality and been around since the 1930’s – was that we did all the thinking for customers.Our competitors would drop off 3 paper sample books.We would give them 3 paper samples and say “choose from these”. No paralysis.It was quick and easy. (Same with ink and a host of other decisions). “This is what you want to do” worked very well.One thing that stops small business people dead in the tracks is having to read, think and make decisions.
Thanks this is wonderful.
Fred, it may be possible to set that up with yahoo pipes,maybe..depends upon what new improvements yahoo did to pipes
I have used WordPress extensively for the past year and my biggest beef with it is the limitations imposed by each theme. Sometimes it gets very frustrating when a seemingly simple change is not doable because it is not supported by the theme. However, their large support community and extensive plugs make it still one of the best choices!
It’s pretty cool to see how much people care about a mans blog. cc/ @fredwilson:disqus
I’m a long time fan of WordPress.I know Fred didn’t put this up for a vote 🙂 but if he did, my vote on “should Fred ‘just do it’ and move to WordPress” would be NO.I used b2 before WordPress was forked from it, and I’ve used WP and developed themes and plugins and custom functions for it since the very early days. I agree with most of the comments here about how “powerful” it can be – one can use it to set up so much more than “just a blog.”But I usually do not recommend a move to WordPress without a serious discussion of the issues involved.If you ask me – and one of you did in an email 🙂 – moving a high-profile, heavy-traffic, long-lived site like AVC should be handled by a professional.I posted a longer version of my opinion at http://48.bsoi.st/
You nailed it, Bill.
Thanks.Amid all the WordPress discussion last week, I neglected to address the original point – creating a table of contents.http://bsoist.smallpict.com…@fredwilson:disqus
You certainly did address it well, here: http://whsjr.soistmann.com/…
The point was how easily something like this could be done. Now that we have a complete list, we could also parse the RSS feed every day for new entries. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about the page format changing.It looks like the pandamian provides the text of the articles and links to ePub, etc. I did not mess with any of that, but that could all be done programmatically too.
DOH!You know, when reading AVC and clicking your heels three times while holding the shift key down reveals one of the most killer hacks I’ve ever put in place…can’t believe you actually discovered it! 🙂