Paul O' Connor is the mastermind behind a new photography resource called photographyVoter. It's a site modeled after digg, but with a strict focus on photography. With his new site now one month old, Paul has agreed to an interview with me. Here is our conversation.
When did the site officially launch? And how long did it take before people found out about it?
The website is up just under one month now. It was something we initially looked at as a methodology of sharing articles/tutorials etc. amongst a group of friends who shared an interest in photography. After a short while and with the knowledge that there was quite a voice for a Photography section on Digg, we decided to make the site available online. To make people aware of the website, we posted on a few forums and were picked up by some bloggers (including Epic Edits). In addition to this, we posted on Digg itself and reddit and the site grew from there.
The site went live under the domain name of diggPhotography.com — then it was quickly changed to photographyVoter.com. What's the scoop on that? Who shut down the first domain? How long did it take for it to get shut down?
The issue of the name is one I've seen mentioned on a few blogs. Basically we had the system designed and ready for use but we hadn't a name. It was simply a case of going to our registrar's website and seeing what was available. After several failed searches, we came up with diggPhotography.com, snapped it and and put the website live under that name. This was posted on a couple of forums. It was only later in the day that we discussed trademark implications and indeed, after some research, it became apparent that the people at Digg are quite protective about their domain name (Google ‘Digg cease and desist'). This is fair enough as they are required by law to pursue unauthorized use of their trademark. We quickly took the site down (with only a couple of users registered) and relaunched as photographyVoter.com.
What prompted you to start a digg-like site just for photography? Are you a photographer? Are you a digg user? What made you connect the dots?
I'm probably crossing over on ground covered in the first question but the decision came about as a result of a couple of things. Firstly, I am a photography enthusiast and spend a lot of time reading blogs/tutorials etc. A lot of the time, I'd share these links with a group of friends who shared the interest. I am also a Digg user and saw several requests on there for a Photography section – indeed one of the search terms I spent a lot of time typing into Digg was ‘Photography'. Once we got the initial site up and running, it seemed like a good idea to make it available online. The site is still very much in it's infancy but we've had a lot of visitors which can be largely tracked back to mentions we've had from various blogs. Personally, I find it a really useful resource and I think as more users join up and participate by adding and voting on stories, it'll become more and more so.
So you were a digg user. Are you still? And what other social networks do you favor or belong to?
I am still a Digg user but not on such a scale as I was before due to the fact my main use was for photography articles. I keep tabs on a number of photography forums and subscribe to a number of photography blogs.
You mention having a lot of visitors, and I've also noticed many new users in the last several weeks. Would you mind sharing any stats with us (don't worry, we'll understand if you don't)? Things like visitors/day, submissions/day, votes/day, # of registered users/day, etc. Maybe some area or bar charts? You know — eye candy.
I'll have to come back to you on that one – I'll dig (no pun intended) up some barcharts. All I can say is that we have being experiencing consistent growth since the launch of the website in both visitors and signed-up members. Mentions on a couple of blogs also saw a spike in sign-ups.
What do you plan to do in the future to help ensure the growth of the site? Ever put any thought into things like vote-count buttons or text links that bloggers can place on their articles to assist with submissions and votes? How about a Firefox extension?
To be honest, the site has grown so quick that we haven't had a chance to go through future plans. To date, we've been making some minor adjustments to keep the website running smoothly. Vote-count buttons are something that have been suggested by a number of users and we will certainly be adding that. The other modifications we'll be making are behind the scenes to ensure the site will not suffer slowdown as more users visit. We are very aware that it's a community-driven website and we are always happy to hear suggestions from those same users.
Let's say this thing really takes off sometime in the next 6 to 12 months and gains some real visibility. How do you think digg will respond? Do you expect that they would open up a photography section? Or, are they already planning on it? And if they did, what do you think this would do to photographyVoter?
It has been rumoured for some time that Digg are planning to add a photography section but to date, this hasn't happened. To be honest, it's not something we worry about. Like I said, the website was setup for a reason, that being to provide for something the community has being calling for. I think that if it grows sufficiently, it'll always have a role to play. All we can do is try to keep the website preforming well and make any additions requested by our users.
Anything else you'd like to share with the readers?
Like I said, we're always keen to hear from users as regards suggested improvements to the website and we'll do our best to provide them. There is a really active and growing photography community out there and it's great to be a part of it.
So there you have it folks — the story behind photographyVoter and Paul O' Connor. If you haven't checked it out yet, get over there and pay Paul a visit. It's free to sign up, which will give you access to vote on stories and submit new stories. There is also an RSS feed that you can subscribe to in order to see all the new stories as they come in. I've been involved with the site from day 1 of the public launch, and I find it to be a great resource. I've seen the site grow from 3 users up to where it's at today, and as Paul said, it keeps getting more interesting as the community grows.
Thanks for the interview, Paul! And best of luck on photographyVoter's success!