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David Jackson
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I'm founder and CEO of Seeking Alpha. I started Seeking Alpha after working for five years as a technology research analyst for Morgan Stanley in New York. Seeking Alpha is now the dominant crowdsourced equity research platform, with thousands of contributors and millions of monthly visitors,... More
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  • Upgrading Our Daily Email 7 comments
    Jul 2, 2009 10:38 AM

    When Seeking Alpha was in its early days, we published about 25 to 30 articles per day. So it made sense to offer our readers a "Daily Dispatch" email, containing links to all the articles arranged by theme and sector.

    But despite our high article rejection rate, we now publish 200 to 250 articles per day excluding conference call transcripts. As a result, the Daily Dispatch email became too long, and the click through rate of any but the top articles was low. This matters, because there are about 150,000 subscribers to that email alone.

    So we've redesigned the Daily Dispatch email. It now features Wall Street Breakfast, our daily news summary, the two most popular articles from the last day, and the top two Editors' Picks.

    We've ensured that there is backward compatibility for those who liked the longer list. First, there's a link at the bottom of the email to "View all of today's articles by sector at Stocks & Sectors", which covers most of the content of the old email. Second, you can get the entire content of the old emails by subscribing to the collection of emails on the email alerts dashboard. The old email was Stocks & Sectors + Macro View + Investing Ideas + ETF Daily, all of which are available separately. The downside is that you now have to subscribe to 4 emails to get the same as the massive old Daily Dispatch; the upside is that they are easier to navigate and less cumbersome.

    We've learned that whenever we make changes, some of our readers always prefer the way things used to be, and they are often the most vocal. So we listen carefully to feedback, but also track the impact of changes in the usage stats, in this case the open rate and click through rate of the emails. We hope our readers will like the changes.

    As the number of articles we publish continues to rise, personalization becomes more important. We're seeing steep increases in the number of our readers setting up portfolios and following authors they like. On the email side, that's reflected in a rise in subscriptions to the daily email alert featuring articles on the stocks in your portfolio and articles by the authors you follow. You can set up that email by clicking on "Settings" in the bottom toolbar after logging in.

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Comments (7)
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  • Pax Americana
    , contributor
    Comments (196) | Send Message
     
    Thanks David, enjoyable read very informative as per usual, as an aside.....
    the guy at the top of the page, Hyperinflation, is excellent blogger!
    2 Jul 2009, 11:12 AM Reply Like
  • Chancer
    , contributor
    Comments (4046) | Send Message
     
    Maybe you did not consider that a few of us still have "cheap ($5.50) dial up ISP" and opening 4 emails is a lot more time consuming. I will cut it to 3.

     

    I liked to scan the entire Daily Dispatch to click on those I wante to read.
    3 Jul 2009, 09:41 PM Reply Like
  • mktcycler
    , contributor
    Comments (14) | Send Message
     
    I also preferred the old format (i.e. all daily dispatch alerts in one email). But I appreciate this note and will modify my email preferences accordingly.
    16 Jul 2009, 11:08 AM Reply Like
  • SPACpro
    , contributor
    Comments (6) | Send Message
     
    this change makes Seeking Alpha a lot less useful to me. I could quickly scan the old large email for articles. Click through was no issue, since I'd click all the articles I wanted before beginning to read any of them.

     

    At least you should change the description of the Daily Dispatch on the email selection page.
    20 Jul 2009, 04:51 PM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (19388) | Send Message
     
    "The old email was Stocks & Sectors + Macro View + Investing Ideas + ETF Daily, all of which are available separately. The downside is that you now have to subscribe to 4 emails to get the same as the massive old Daily Dispatch; the upside is that they are easier to navigate and less cumbersome."

     

    As others mention, folks without broadband, or who get charged on a usage basis should be considered. As long as each user can configure to meet their situation, I don't care.

     

    What I didn't care for was that my daily mails stopped coming without notification (unless I just missed it) *and* after a few days I realized that I needed to go to the settings and fix things up, IT DIDN'T WORK (and still isn't).

     

    As a many-decades IT professional in my former life, can you guess my assessment of this situation? And it's not the first "glitch" seen recently.

     

    HardToLove
    26 Jul 2009, 02:13 PM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (19388) | Send Message
     
    Oh I know. And there's an old adage that says we can never prove a program (or system) has no bugs. But there is a "standard" methodology called "regression testing". It encompasses several things.

     

    It first attempts to determine if the basic specifications, which themselves may be flawed, are satisfied. It then attempts to test "boundary conditions" - extremes of ranges, volumes, etc. It includes building a "data base" of previously encountered flaws and tests to be sure they are not reintroduced as changes are made.

     

    Most of this can be mechanized today. The expense to do it is "up front" cost and tends to amortize over a reasonably short period (a couple years) or less with todays available software tools.

     

    Since I'm from an era when we took pains to do these things and can identify a pattern in the results of not doing these things, I'm naturally critical.

     

    Whenever your changes can have a large negative effect on a large user group, good development, implementation and maintenance processes become more important.

     

    If they are changing "code" weekly, something is certainly wrong - either in the design, incorrect assessment of usage and volume, lack of discipline in the development process, etc.

     

    Well, I said enough about that. I'll just refer to something we all understand - risk management. It applies *everywhere*.

     

    Oh! By the way. Certain glitches are completely understandable. Complete failure to deliver e-mail to your users after an unannounced (again, unless I missed something) change is not one of them. And I updated the settings yesterday or the day before and still am not getting them. I'm informed there is a problem at the mail service provider(?).

     

    HardToLove

     

    On Jul 26 04:40 PM Freya wrote:

     

    > HTL: Think in terms of the lines of code in any app., SA does a Weekly
    > change to those codes. I doubt that testing these changes includes
    > all possible events, ergo, "glitches".
    >
    >
    26 Jul 2009, 07:35 PM Reply Like
  • one eye
    , contributor
    Comments (645) | Send Message
     
    On weekends, they system is sometimes unavailable because they are making it "Better" for us.
    27 Jul 2009, 12:40 AM Reply Like
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