Category Archives: startup reviews

SkimFeed – Fast News Reader with a Beautiful Design

Today we are proud to announce the newest member of the family of websites and webapps.  Everyone gather round and cheer as we celebrate the announcement of the fastest news reader in the west –

What is SkimFeed?

SkimFeed is the fastest news reader available in the world today. Some say it’s better than the Google News reader.  Skimfeed weighs in at under 100kb compressed with gzip. It’s hyper fast, lightweight and Javascript free.  It finishes loading before you lift your jaw from the floor.  The sheer amount of information contained within a Skimfeed page is amazing.

How many feeds does Skimfeed show?

At this moment in time, Skimfeed consists of over 40 premium feeds. These will be changed over time as we see what is popular and what is not.  The more popular catagories right now are tech and news.  Skimfeed avoids political news because that’s a waste of time.  The key metric is Signal to Noise ratio.  A heavy focus on Quality articles, less Forbes and more Longform and Tech.

Can I link to Skimfeed?

Yes you can link to Skimfeeds like this. It’s getting some good heat on Twitter right now too, your friends will love it.  Sharing is encouraged, tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter, let’s get this SOCIAL people.

Why are you writing this article? Because I need to write something about the fastest RSS news reader, Skimfeed, and I’m not sure what to say about it.  We need to get Google to pickup SkimFeed quick and this seems like the best way to do it.

50 words to go…any last words?

You should probably check out Skimfeeds yourself right now.  It was created after I stopped visiting Reddit.  Again, we come back to the Signal to Noise ratio metric discussed earlier.  Reddit is a mess of memes right now, with no quality content.  Submitting articles and anything that’s not an image or a self post is actively discouraged through downvotes.  Skimfeed is a step back to before user voting and it’s a refreshing change.

No downvotes, just curated feeds and quality, varied content.  Varied content is another big ticket item.  The variety keeps Skimfeed from getting stale.  It has the usual Tech sites like Techcrunch and Business Insider, together with VC blogs and Maker feeds.  Mix in some Longform articles, mac sites and tech hardware and you cover all bases on a single page.  Check it out!

This article is sponsered by

Viglink Review

Viglink reviewed over our recent trial period to see how well it converts. Note this Viglink review also compares Viglink to Skimlinks because we now have data for both.

The key point against Viglink is it has no clearly accessible merchant list and no indepth reporting systems.  Key point FOR VIGLINK is it earned over double the revenue of Skimlinks over the trial period!

Click here to see the new Viglinks homepage.

Viglink background and recap: Viglink founder and CEO is MIT and Harvard AI pro Oliver Roup, CTO is Christian Romming.  ’11 series B raised $5.4 million leading to a $7 mil total, approximately matching Skimlinks investment to date as of end ’11 according to the Viglinks Crunchbase article.  The general online consensus is Viglinks is slightly behind in terms of functionality from Skimlinks at this point in time.  Particularly in areas of reporting and serious questions as to why Viglinks lacks a viewable merchant list with commission transparency.

The Viglink address is 420 Bryant Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 United States according to their online Linkdin profile.

Reasons to install Viglink

  • Viglink affiliate commission is set at 30% commission on the entire first year affiliate earnings of referred users.  30% is huge in comparison to the Skimlinks 10%-12%.
  • According to Viglink representative Whitney (See her Skimlinks article comments here), Viglinks is backed by Google Ventures (Rich Miner managing).  Google Ventures also houses ex Digg 60 million poster boy Kevin “V4” Rose following his departure from earlier this year, so you know Viglink will pay out.
  • Viglink seems to have a slightly higher CTR than Skimlinks across the 4 sites and 4 accounts we use for testing.  Although this result was statistically insignificant due to the variety of content types tested and variability of pages.
  • Because of the higher CTR, Viglink earned a higher revenue CPM of almost double the Skimlinks CPM.

Viglink vs. Skimlinks

  • Viglink has fewer options in their publisher control panel.  Things like page link density, which Skimlinks offers, is missing as an option.  This means your page can be covered in links if you mention Amazon or Ebay repeatedly.
  • Viglink offers a merchant checker service if you already have a merchant in mind to check.  I could not find a Viglink merchant list anywhere on the site.
  • Merchant Commission rates are NOT shown explicitly anywhere.  This is huge, you don’t know what you’re getting.  Skimlinks offers a “browse Merchants” option once signed up, this Skimlink merchants list shows commission rates clearly displayed.
  • It’s a small point but Viglinks page design is not as good as Skimlinks.  The text is vertically stretched 2x and there’s too much white-space and scrolling.  Viglinks has a busier accounts screen with less scrolling and more options along the top.  This gives the impression that Skimlinks is the lead and Viglink is still playing catchup.
  • Skimlinks offers more reports than Viglinks.
  • Viglink offers a similar javascript script to install as Skimlinks.  and both work essentially the same, replacing certain keywords with commission generating affiliate links.

Viglink Review conclusion

In terms of functionality it’s a thumbs uncertain for Viglinks.  I want to recommend Viglink for providing a juicy referral fee of 30%, but lack of merchant transparency and detailed reporting is hurting them.  Why would an affiliate service not state the commission rates offered?  Yes Viglink aggregates affiliates so you could argue individual commission sare unimportant, but it’s useful when comparing services, for example, Skimlinks to Viglinks.

Viglink does not have a merchants list or show merchant commissions.

Without knowing commission rates for Viglink merchants affiliate links the only way to know who wins in Skimlink vs. Viglink is to split test.  This means more work on the back end to set up the split test and more work tracking it all.

Like with the Skimlinks review, I would strongly recommend trialling Viglink on a  forum or other site with many repeat visitors who trust community representatives.  Alternatively, Skimlinks and Viglink could work great on a product review site of any kind.  Lack of fine tuning of links per page/density options hurts Viglinks.

Both Skimlinks and Viglink essentially handle product shopping comparison and affiliate link localization for you.  Any website owner who has used the Amazon or Ebay direct affiliate programs will know how difficult affiliate link localization is to get right.  European visitors clicking on US Amazon ads and earning no revenue is a thorn in all Blog and Forum owners sides.

Both services (Viglink and Skimlinks) seem to have their individual pros and cons and in the end it’s all about revenue generation so you can do what you do best.  For that reason, Skimlinks vs Viglink is a draw.  Try them both, see which generates the most revenue and go with the highest earner, it’s the only way to tell which script is best for your individual use case.

Link to Skimlinks:

Skimlinks or Viglinks? – no clear winner, try both, track, split test, profit.

Late Edit: We continue using Viglink over skimlinks on  The primary reason is Viglink convert more text into links than Skimlinks do and have a higher CTR and higher earning per mille (EPM) during our Viglink test period.

Skimlinks Review

A Skimlinks review, this is the information I wish I had known before signing up to the Skimlinks service. This Skimlink review covers why you should not use skimlinks to gain revenue from your blog, website or forum. The conclusion is a thumbs across and why is below.

We signed up for Skimlinks about a month ago. Signing up to Skimlinks is currently free and the approval process is quick and problem free (takes under 24 hours). The plan was to place Skimlinks javascript code on our test wordpress blog before rolling it out across our major web properties.

Skimlinks vs. viglink as a replacement? We have not tried the skimlinks competitor viglink yet although we are looking into it. It is likely to be the next test we run.

Quick history lesson. Skimlinkswas started by young co-founders Alicia Navarro and tech guru Joe “Joey” Stepniewski from London. Webmasters add the Skimlinks affiliate enabled code to their codebase then, when a user visits the page with Skimlinks enabled, they see products mentioned on the site as actual links to affiliates. If you have Skimwords activated they get a popup too with price comparisons from various suppliers. Some of these links earn the website owner affiliate commission from Skimlinks association with affilite providers like Amazon, Ebay and others.

What we liked about Skimlinks, the pros:

  • Skimlinks is a great way to generate extra revenue from text heavy pages. Skimlinks works well on forums and wordpress blogs and links created are relevant to the content. Skimlinks has a wordpress plugin you can use but it’s best to just use a text wordpress widget and add the code manually.Skimlinks
  • CTR was very good on a WordPress blog. But Skimlinks revenue and conversion ratios are a big problem (see below).
  • Technically, Skimlinks just works. Although at this point in tech the “just works” is becoming common, it’s still useful to mention. We had no problems with Skimlinks while it was on the nerdr wordpress test blog.
  • Skimlinks Amazon and Skimlinks Ebay links are auto targetted to the correct region. Anyone who has used Amazon or Ebay affiliate links knows the problems of region specific affiliate URLs. With Skimlinks, you don’t need to worry about region coding and checking.


What we didn’t like about Skimlinks, the cons:

  • Some rumors on forums like Digitalpoint and v7n suggest that Skimlinks slows down page load which can lead to Google penalties. We didn’t measure for this on nerdr and so we can’t comment on Skimlinks and page loading times, however I suspect the code is asynchronous once the Skim Javascript snippet is loaded.
  • Skimlinks merchant list consists of the usual Amazon and Ebay, together with excessive padding of random and small time ecommerce shops. The Skimlinks merchant list is what you would see from any affiliate network like CJ (commission junction) or LS (linkshare), but still contains many small timers.

Skimlinks Review and Conclusion

Thumbs unsure, we are now trialling viglinks too. We originally removed Skimlinks for one very simple reason: non affiliate enabled merchant links.  It turns out we were wrong about this and it was simply measuring non-skimlinks outgoing links.  It would be nice if Skimlinks explained non affiliate enabled merchant links on a FAQ page or similar.  Under 10% of links visited by users on were affiliate enabled during the trial period and this looks bad until you figure it what affiliate enabled links means.

Conclusion, I would recommend Skimlinks as a revenue source on your website at this point in time.  It’s free to sign up and they’ll sign anyone up at this stage so give it a shot below. Startup App Review also known as trap!t and trapit is a new iPad app based startup. I recommend trying it out and here’s why.

I downloaded the app today on my iPad after a friend mentioned it. She knows I recently deleted the flipboard app because it had become slow, boring and irrelevant and I had been looking out for a replacement to recommend. is the Flipboard replacement we need, it’s Flipboard 2.0. works by taking keywords, then intelligently gathering data and articles related to those keywords. The more keywords you add to trapit the more it knows about you and the better the suggested articles. Trapit is free and available on the appstore to download right now.

The look and feel of trapit is bulky but pretty. It feels slightly slow at times, especially when gathering new information. However, the information and articles returned are of very high quality and relevant. Trapit is like stumbleupon 3.0 and actually useful.

My major complaint on the usability of trapit is it does not display a lot of information on screen. There is lots of scrolling and swiping required to use the app. Sometimes I just want to read interesting articles and not have to scroll everywhere.

I am concerned about privacy on the data it collects and could not find any information or terms and condition regarding how trapit will use the information gathered. For this reason I unfortunately deleted it. If privacy is of no concern to you, then get trapit. I might download trapit again, but I will keep it for general browsing and not medical research or anything work related. Edit – for those interested, Gary Griffiths from Trapit has left a comment below linking to trapits privacy policy.

Trapit is great and I highly recommend it, 5/5 stars.

Quora Needs To Die

Quora Experts Exchange Fail

Please let Quora die.

“Sign up for free to read the full text. Login if you already have an account.” –

Quora needs to be removed from search results like Expertsexchange for this silly bait and switch.  Having a web 2.0 styling (as Quora does) is not an acceptable excuse.

I might not be Joels biggest fan, but at least he has his head on straight when dealing with visitors to Stack.  Here’s his finest work (Google tech talk regarding Stackoverflow how and why – long, but good):

Joel Spolsky Stackoverflow talk

Search engines need a system of collectively flagging sites like Quora, so I, and everybody else, would never see it in their results ever again.  This is the only way they’ll learn.

And the real kicker is it only turns up when I have an urgent tech problem.

Fuck Quora.