Have you ever thought about starting a blog about a subject that interests you? A lot of people like the idea in theory, but writing posts regularly is not easy to keep up.
What if instead you could write the occasional opinion piece and simply add related articles from other sites and blogs to your site as you go? That, in a nutshell, is what Scoop.it allows you to do.
Scoop.it is a cross between a blogging platform and a web clipping application. It is a powerful tool that allows you to create a site consisting of selected articles on any subject, in the same way that you might curate a group show of paintings where only some (or none) of the works are your own. The free version, moreover, is ad-free.
First off let’s get one thing straight about Scoop.it: we are NOT talking about plagiarizing content. While the illustrative thumbnail and excerpt may be copied verbatim, Scoop.it will link and send readers to the actual article or blog, such that content creators will be grateful for the publicity. (It was that, in fact, which lead me to discover this service in the first place, as some users where linking to Freewaregenius articles).
To test this service I created my own Scoop.It site; you can check it out here (warning: political content).
PROS: 6 things I like about this service:
1. So easy to add content: via the use of a bookmarklet placed on your browser toolbar, you can be reading or browsing an article and quickly add it to your site in a single click (see screenshot below).
There’s even an iPhone app that you can use to add articles on the go.
2. So easy to edit your site: and is in fact performed straight on the site itself, not in an admin/dashboard/backend section. If you’re logged in you can change the text, the thumbnail, tags, location on page, etc. straight away via drag and drop.
The screenshot below, for example, shows how changing the size and location of the thumbnail image is done, completely via pointing and clicking. The buttons towards the bottom enable you to perform various other editing functions.
3. No ads in the free version: at least not at the time this review is being written. Their monetization strategy seems to involve charging for ‘premium’ subscriptions, more advanced analytics, and the ability to add your own brand and/or custom URL to the site (see differences between free and paid plans here).
4. Users can suggest content: that they feel might fit with your site, which you as the ‘curator’ can choose to accept or not.
5. Broadcastable: via RSS (find the tiny green RSS icon to the right of your site’s slogan), or via widgets that you could add to other sites.
6. It looks pretty darn good: and in fact is customizable to a good extent, although less so in the free version than the paid versions.
Wish list: two features that would make the FREE version of this service even better:
1. A better looking URL address: as things are, Scoop.It provides a URL that looks like this (scoop.it/t/site-name-here). It would be better if (scoop.it/site-name) was possible, or a subdomain such as (site-name.scoop.it). I know that part of the attraction of paid plans is control over the URL, but I would consider paying a one time fee to get a scoop.it subdomain. In the meanwhile, TinyURL allows you to get a redirectable URL that looks like this (Tinyurl.com/site-name) provided it is available, and that might be easier to distribute and for people to memorize.
2. The ability to restrict access via a password: such that your site might serve as a private space for you or a tight knit group of people, without being broadcast to the world at large.
The verdict: an excellent service. So polished and well constructed, so easy to start, and thereafter easy to maintain and keep going. It has an addictive quality to it and for those who are interested in any topic, can be an extremely useful tool.
Go here to sign p.