One of the things that has been interesting about Techmeme is that it somehow managed to avoid the standard blogosphere "cycle of love and destruction"
What I mean is that there is a cycle to every product that becomes the darling of the blogoshpere. Bloggers tend to (a) fall in love with a product, (b) talk endlessly about said product, (c) start to get annoyed with the product and finally (d) completely turn on the product to the point where they endlessly bash it (even though it remains essentially unchanged from the time when they loved it).
This cycle has played out more times than I can count over the years with products of all shapes and sizes. Everything from the iPod to Facebook have fallen prey to this cycle at one point or another.
That is, everything but Techmeme.
Sure there has been the occasional bias accusation but Techmeme seems to have skipped the attack part and instead simply stopped being the topic of conversation. That is, until now. Lately there has been an endless parade of Techmeme bashing (the latest comes from Duncan Riley) seemingly determined to do whatever possible to make the site seem irrelevant.
This is fascinating to me and I've been trying to determine exactly why this is. What I've come up with is this...
Blame it On Twitter
As odd as it sounds I think a lot of this has to do with Twitter's downtime.
Twitter was, in the cycle outlined above, entering into "stage d" as more and more people started to turn on it. The problem is, in most cases, the criticism being levied in this last stage isn't justified. Facebook for example hadn't changed when Scoble started to bash it for having a 500 person friend limit he just picked that moment to turn on it.
So when Twitter actually started deserving every bit of criticism levied at it the complainers thunder was stolen. No one was there to defend it which meant there was really nothing to discuss and that left those who would normally attack it for the next couple months with a bunch of negative energy to expend and no target to expend it on.
Enter Techmeme, an old faithful service that had never been the target of everyone's ire before.
Gabe's Big Mistake
When someone is trashing you for no good reason the worst thing you can do is give them a response. That's exactly what Gabe Rivera (creator of Techmeme) has been doing lately and the end result has been an endless stream of attacks.
This is because, whether people are conscious of it or not, they attack to get a rise out of the person they are attacking. So giving them that satisfaction just fuels the fire and encourages more attacks.
The referenced Inquisitr post above is the perfect example of what I'm talking about. I like Duncan Riley, he was always my favorite Techcrunch writer and the number of times I've linked to the Inquisitr in the last few months should indicate that I'm still a fan. But this falling out with Mike Arrington has really caused him to stray into some unseemly territory and the post he made on Techmeme is clearly a dig at some kind of perceived relationship between Techmeme and Techcrunch.
So Mr. Rivera choosing to respond to it will just encourage others to write similar attacks in the future
Pay deference to the A-List or they'll make you pay
FriendFeed, despite what people say, is no where close to doing what Techmeme does. Techmeme is a memetracker while FriendFeed is essentially a RSS Reader with a few nifty features. It does nothing that Google Shared Items didn't do before it.
Yet over and over again you hear how FriendFeed is taking the place of Techmeme.
But what's interesting about that claim is (a) it's made almost exclusively by A-Listers and (b) it's generally made by those A-Listers that have not been enjoying success on Techmeme lately. Which leads me to believe the argument is really just an outgrowth of their resentment of Techmeme.
Like the jilted lover who claims he "didn't like his ex-girlfriend that much anyway" these A-Listers denounce Techmeme as no longer relevant because they are no longer the center of it.
So what is to be done?
Honestly I think the most important thing to remember here is that all the blogosphere's past targets are still standing. iPods, Facebook, and even Twitter are all still going strong and will continue to do so. If I were Mr. Rivera I'd go out of my way not to respond to attacks on Techmeme anymore (as I said above) but beyond that this is more of a "weather the storm" situation than it is a "proactively do something" situation.
If there's a lesson to be learned here it's simply that every product that gains focus in the blogosphere will eventually get beaten up by it. Even if you don't follow the traditional cycle your time will come and you just have to be mentally prepared for it.