Squidoo has implemented a Lens filter that scans through lenses and locks them based on some criteria. This could be good for Squidoo and Lensmakers, as it would weed out the spammy lenses. It, however, seems to cast too broad a net, catching lenses of mine that I wrote 5 years ago.
The Real Problem
The real problem isn't the random locking of lenses, however. My problem with Squidoo is the communication they provide after locking a lens. The first two locking notices I received were "Low Quality Content Notice"s. These notices in May were extremely generic, covering all possible reasons why Squidoo could have locked the lenses. They left me to spend lots of time guessing about why the lens was locked, and potentially correcting problems that never existed. From the forums, users say that they have had lenses locked for:
- To short on content
- Too many keywords
- Content updated too often.
- Inbound links from the wrong kind of websites
The second locking notice I received in July was slightly more descriptive, saying,
Your lens was just reviewed and it's not quite up to par in terms of the quality we like to see on Squidoo. We love to see unique, creative, personal lenses that share the things that you're passionate about.
Another reason your lens could have gotten locked is for empty modules, thin content or generic titles but this is easy to fix too.
While this description is slightly more descriptive, it is still extremely vague.
I'll admit that one of the 3 lens that were locked in May was uninspiring. I simply deleted that one. One however, was on hard drive data recovery, and I wrote it because it was the method I used to get data back from a hard drive that died when I didn't have any backups. It seemed the perfect article for Squidoo. The second was on how to backup a linux computer to a windows computer without losing permissions. You probably have already guessed that I wrote this one after the one on hard drive recovery. Both of these lenses were useful guides based on my experiences. I was proud of them, and occasionally use one of them, so I decided to just move them to hubpages.
One of the lenses that got locked in July really bothered me. It was another how to lens that also provided a link to the product that it teaches you how to use. Two days before it got locked, I noticed that it wasn't getting promoted, because Squidoo had suddenly deemed it a "work in progress". I spent about four hours rewriting content to no avail. Eventually, I noticed that I had lots of Squidoo tags on this page, and started deleting them. Bingo! I was able to publish my lens again, and it was no longer a work in progress.
Then, two days later, Squidoo locked the lens that I spent four hours working on bringing up to their standards. One interesting thing is that even though it is locked, it still has a 100% on their lens checking tool. (Talk about some mixed messaging.) I don't have time to spend guessing at why this lens got locked this time, so I decided to just move the lens it to my own website.
What Squidoo Needs to Do
Squidoo has to get specific about why it locks lenses. They are using an automated filter that is looking for specific things. They should say the specific reasons, instead of giving a vague form email. Was my lens locked because:
- I had a keyword used too often?
- One of the modules only had two sentences in it?
- I had a link to a website that sells the product mentioned?
- I didn't have an amazon module so you could sell something?
If Squidoo gave specific actionable information, then I could easily correct the problem without wasting lots of time guessing.
I realize, that Squidoo probably doesn't want to reveal their algorithm for locking lenses, as spammers could use that info to evade locking. However, without providing the information, it doesn't seem worth the time to try to guess at why a lens is locked. Thus, each time a lens gets locked from now on, I'm moving it away from now on.