Saturday, 7 June 2014

Launches Social Networking Features, Reader-Suggested Site Enhancements

Thank you to all the News readers who have participated in our on-site surveys and feedback forms over the last several weeks. We've been gathering feedback and listening carefully to what readers wanted, and now we're rolling out the features you asked for.

What follows is an overview of the features and content we've recently introduced to the NaturalNews website.

More reviews of natural health products

In our surveys, you told us you wanted more reviews and recommendations of natural health products. Previously, we had only been reviewing two or three products a month, but now we've introduced our "Breaking Product News" section that brings you five short product reviews each week.

So far, I've reviewed over twelve products, and you can see those reviews here

For each product review, I cover the pros and cons of the product, and I give you the website address where you can find the product. I openly disclose any affiliate relationship (if any) NaturalNews might have with the product retailer or its manufacturer, so that you know exactly where we stand on each recommendation.

You'll also find these short product reviews headlined near the top of each article and breaking news item. My aim is to post one new product review each weekday, bringing you about twenty new product reviews and recommendations each month.

Also based on your feedback, we're currently working on a new product directory guide that will feature the industry's top anti-cancer products. This guide will be available in early January, and I'll keep you posted on its availability.

More clarity of news sources

One of the most common suggestions we received asked us to differentiate between the stories of in-house authors vs. contributing writers (citizen journalists). In response to that suggestion, we created two sections on the home page, placing the in-house news reports at the top half of the page, and the Citizen Journalism stories in the bottom half.

This still gives you full access to all the stories while allowing you to visually discern the source of the news (in-house vs. contributed).

Please note that I don't personally always agree with the stories posted by Citizen Journalists. I only post them because I believe they offer valuable commentary on an important subject that should be open to more than one view. Although I would never post a story that suggested something ludicrous like supporting mandatory vaccination policies for teens, I do believe there are equally valid perspectives on many health issues, even if they differ from my own views.

Elimination of photos for many articles

Although we've been using pictures on our articles for several years, we've decided to stop sourcing photos for most of the articles from now on. Why? Because the photo searching and integration process was slowing the posting of the news, causing several articles to be out of date by the time they were posted.

So in order to move more quickly on the news, we've let go of the most of the photos, resorting to a text-only layout. Although you'll still see photos on articles from time to time, most will be text only.

Social networking unleashed!

One of the most surprising suggestions we kept hearing from readers involved the integration of social network features. In case you're new to social networking, it's a layer of interpersonal online networking that's sweeping the 'net. Through sites like MySpace, Facebook and many others, users can connect with friends, share articles and photos, invite friends to view their websites, distribute announcements and much more.

We had been looking at Facebook integration for quite some time, but the technical requirements were a bit steep. Fortunately, Google went live with its Friend Connect technology a few days ago, and we leapt at the chance to integrate Google-powered social networking features into our site. You can read about Friend Connect here

So now we have social networking features rolled out across the NaturalNews website. These features allow you to:

• Join the NaturalNews community and invite others.
• Rate articles, cartoons and other content.
• Post your own comments on articles (moderated).
• Become a friend of the Health Ranger or other NaturalNews members.
• Post NaturalNews articles to your social networking accounts, where they can be shared with others.

... and a whole lot more. The benefits to YOU for joining the NaturalNews website as a social networking member include:

• You can post comments that encourage people to view your profile.
• Your profile can link to your own websites, including a site for your book, your business, your healing practice, etc.
• You can meet other NaturalNews community members with similar interests.
• You can help shape the content on NaturalNews by making thoughtful suggestions in the form of article comments.

... and more. These social networking features are very powerful, and you can use them in many ways to connect with others, promote your ideas and join an expanding community of health-conscious people.

You can see current NaturalNews members right now on the home page: www.NaturalNews.com

This is all part of our continuing effort to make the NaturalNews site more about YOU and less about any one person. Although I will continue to be the primary content driver for the website, the conversations about the article topics will expand far beyond the ideas of any one person.

I'm a strong believer in the wisdom of groups (when they're not drunk, anyway, because the opposite of the wisdom of groups is the madness of crowds...), and I welcome discussions, suggestions and constructive criticisms. Purely negative comments or personal attacks will be deleted, of course, but any constructive comments will be posted, even if they don't agree with the views of myself or the News community at large.

You can read some of the comments that have already been submitted by viewing the right-hand column of the home page (scroll down below the breaking news...)

You may have also noticed that, over the past few weeks, we've added news aggregation buttons to the bottom of our articles. These buttons allow you to vote for NaturalNews articles on Yahoo Buzz, Digg, StumbleUpon and HealthRanker.com.

When you like an article and want to help others see it, simply click these buttons on the bottom of the article. Each click counts as a vote towards the article's popularity on these news aggregation sites, boosting their visibility and readership.

Currently, the most popular news aggregation site is Digg.com, so if you want to boost the article on only one site, click the Digg button. (And thank you for doing so!)

You can "Digg" articles written by myself, in-house writers or Citizen Journalists. If you're a contributing writer, you can even Digg your own article once. (I digg my own articles sometimes just to get the votes started...)

Thank you for your suggestions!

In all, these new features are content formats designed to enhance your experience on NaturalNews. They are, after all, the result of your own suggestions! So thank you for your suggestions, and thank you for your continued support for our mission.

Speaking of our mission, I'm working on a "guiding principles" document that aims to spell out the fundamental philosophies that guide NaturalNews content. This document will describe a powerful, yet self-evident collection of guiding principles that probably 99% of NaturalNews will agree on.

It will be prominently placed on the website so that new users can readily find it and learn what NaturalNews is all about.

I'll bring you the news on that document when it's ready. Until then, have a great week and enjoy the new features on jb.

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