Today is my 7th Squidiversary on Squidoo! Here’s a shot of my new 7 year trophy. It looks suspiciously like the 6 year trophy. Maybe HQ figures that any lensmaster this old is color blind by now.
Two new lenses launched in celebration of this milestone.
The first is Gifts for LOST Fans. Yes, the tide of interest in the TV show LOST went out a long time ago. This had been on my lens idea list since before the show ended. It was now or never time to build and I wanted it to complement my books seen on LOST lens.
The second new lens shot from idea to creation in a few days. It’s for people looking to buy gun window decals and stickers. I see lots of bumper stickers on my daily commute and the gun themed ones are usually funny.
While driving home recently, I spotted a stick figure family sticker on the car in front of me. Only this was different. The stick figures were running.
At the next stop light I realized they were being chased by another stick figure in a hockey mask wielding a chainsaw! Underneath were the words, “Nobody Cares About Your Stick Figure Family”.
I laughed. It was the comic relief I needed driving home from a long day at work. A few days later I saw a zombie version like the one pictured.
Stick family stickers were kinda cool when they first came out but now it seems that every other car has one. These “nobody cares” anti-stick family stickers are a funny way to tell the world that the stick figure family trend has reached its peak.
What lens ideas have you gotten while sitting in traffic?
Image credit: darinrmcclure, used under Creative Commons.
One way to add more on topic content to your Squidoo lens is with a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. Providing an FAQ helps visitors who may be looking for the answer to a specific question on your topic.
Where can I get ideas for FAQ questions?
Watch your lens stats for questions in the search terms. If someone is looking for an answer, it’s likely that others are, too. Adding the question to your lens helps the search engines know you have the answer. All of the questions in the FAQ section at the bottom of my fantasy football commissioner guide lens came from search stats. (A bonus of doing this is that you may find search terms that spawn ideas for new lenses to build.)
You might also find questions in your guestbook comments. Another way is to look at the lens from a visitor’s perspective and think of questions you would have about the subject. The cool thing is that you can add to the FAQ over time as you brainstorm or find new questions.
Where do I get the answers for these questions?
Write your own original answers. You’re the expert that wrote the lens so this should be the easy part.
What Squidoo modules are good for an FAQ?
The Text List and Text modules are naturals for an FAQ. They look good, the content gets crawled by the search engines and you have formatting options. When using either module, I like to put each question in bold so it stands out.
What types of questions should I add?
Only feature questions that complement your lens topic. If the FAQ list gets too long, consider building a new lens that covers a subset of the questions and point readers to it.
Any other FAQ tips or ideas?
Another option is to write most of your lens content in a natural question and answer format. Phrase the module title in the form of a question then answer it in the body.
If you have a lot of lenses in a niche, you could build one lens that’s the FAQ for all of them. Each lens in the niche would link to it and the FAQ lens would link back to the other lenses in its answers.
Experiment with different formats and have fun adding an FAQ to your lens! Let me know what you discover.
Image credit: Steve, used under Creative Commons License
In 5 years of being a lensmaster, I’ve always finished and published every lens I started. No longer. I’m deleting an unpublished WIP lens for the first time. There’s an important reason why…
Two years ago I wrote code to work around a missing feature in some office productivity software I use at work. Nothing grand, just some XSL to display the program’s XML output in HTML so that my coworkers could easily view it. It should’ve been a basic function of the program, IMO.
It wasn’t pretty (my XSL skills are basic) but it worked. I thought other users of the software might look for this type of solution so I started building a lens to share it. Even wrote a sample file and took before and after screenshots to include on the lens. All good helpful stuff.
But when I first wrote the XSL, I didn’t start from scratch. I searched the vendor’s support site for how to do what I wanted (assuming it was a standard feature hidden somewhere). There I found an XSL snippet they wrote to do something similar. I heavily modified it for my needs (their version wasn’t very useful) but I did start with their base code.
My plan was to link to their support article and give credit for the starting point along with my version of the code. Then I thought about possible copyright issues. It’s one thing to give away code I wrote on a lens. But the snippet I started with could be considered proprietary and not modifiable, even though it was posted on a support page. Plus the software vendor vigorously defends their intellectual property so there’s a potential legal risk.
That uncertainty about the copyright status combined with the risk prompted me to stop construction after halfway completing the lens. And it’s lingered in WIP status at the bottom of my dashboard ever since.
For a while, I’d occasionally think about the lens and reconsider my reasons for not publishing it…always reaching the same conclusion. Then I learned of 3rd party tools that provide the functionality I wanted in a much better way and I don’t even use my hack any more.
There’s two lessons here for lensmasters…
- Think about potential copyright issues when building a new lens. Whether it’s code snippets, photos, recipes, song lyrics, or anything else that wasn’t created by you, always stop and consider the item’s copyright status. When in doubt, don’t use it unless you can get permission from the owner.
- Consider alternative approaches to the topic. Once I decided not to publish the lens as originally planned, I could’ve taken a different tack. The lens could have done any (or all) of the following instead: discussed and linked to the 3rd party tools, linked to the support article and given readers tips on how to use the code themselves, or hosted a debate on the value of this feature to the product. You get the idea. I’m not interested enough in the topic to do any of those.
So this lens will never be published and it’s time to send it off to the breakers. I’m deleting it right…now. Poof.
Have you ever deleted a WIP lens? Why?