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The Buzz about Yahoo Buzz

yahoo-buzz.pngI opened my inbox this morning to find quite a bit of mail on the one topic – Yahoo Buzz which today opened up its doors to the public and started allowing other sites outside of it’s initial closed test to submit stories to it. Yahoo Buzz is a social bookmarking/voting site (quite similar to Digg) and some of it’s top stories even get to the front page of Yahoo. Sites that have been to the front page of Yahoo have reported more traffic than they’ve ever seen before – even when they are just on the front page for an hour.

This lure of massive traffic has many bloggers ‘buzzing’ today. But is it worth getting buzzed about (OK, I’ll stop with the buzz talk now)?

Read Write Web today asks some questions about Buzz and muses that Buzz could be a system with more editorial control than Digg (particularly with what gets to the front page of Yahoo).

My advice to publishers is to not become obsessed by Yahoo Buzz but to keep an open mind.

I’m seeing bloggers either proclaiming it as the answer to all their traffic needs or writing it off as something that won’t last – but somewhere between these two extremes will be the truth.

As with all social media sites – Yahoo Buzz will appeal to a certain type of audience and reader and will therefore present different opportunities to different publishers.

You can submit stories to Buzz here and get Buzz Buttons for your Blog here.

How To Get to the Front Page of Digg – 6 Ingredients of a Successful Digg Campaign

digg-front-page.jpg“How do I increase the chances of getting a blog post to the front page of Digg?”

I’ve had questions about getting to the front page of Digg many times in the last few weeks so thought I’d put together a guide with a process for doing it. By no means is this something that will guarantee you success on Digg – but from my experience it’ll increase your chances to follow some of this advice.

1. The Content

If there’s one factor that can influence the success of a post on Digg it is the actual content that is submitted. This should go without saying but I chat to bloggers all the time who tell me they have no success with Digg and when I look at the posts they’re submitting – they’re just all wrong.

Digg users like a certain type of story and it can be well worth your time doing a little research into what works and doesn’t work by spending some time on Digg:

  • Topics – a large range of topics work on Digg but some are more likely to work than others. For example Tech, Offbeat, some Entertainment stories can work really well – but if you have a craft blog or are blogging about cats you might need to work a little harder. It’s not impossible to do well on digg with some of these less popular topics – but you’ll need to think carefully about how you present it (read on)
  • Voice - one way to rank well for a more obscure topic is to write your post in a style that grabs attention and appeals to the Digg crowd. They’re a bunch that likes humor, irreverence and quirky stuff – so if you’re writing on cats you would do better to do something off the wall like strap a camera to one than to write about something more serious.
  • Titles – sadly, some stories get voted up and down on Digg simply based up their title. Take time to get it right.
  • Page Layout - make sure your blog’s design is well laid out, not stuffed withe ads, professional looking and not cheap and nasty. Pictures can work well.
  • Format – some people say that the best way to get on the front page of Digg is to write ‘list’ posts. I agree – but also find that when you write a more comprehensive and in depth article that this can also appeal.

For more on the type of content that works on Digg I’d highly recommend that you read Maki’s post on how to create Digg-Friendly Content.

2. The Submitter

The person who submits your post to Digg can be a very important factor in how well it does.

From talking to hardcore Diggers there are two theories going around in how to approach who should submit your Diggs (and these theories change depending upon what Digg is doing with their Algorithm:

  • Power Diggers – one approach is to find a power Digger to submit your posts for you. What happens when you have one of these Diggers submits a story is that it gets seen by their friends on Digg and voted up quite quickly. You can expect to see 100 or so Diggs within a few hours of them submitting it. Once the initial rush dies off things tend to slow with Power Diggers – although just having their name on your post can create buzz and additional diggs.
  • Small Time Diggers - another approach is to have posts submitted by lesser known Diggers. The theory here is that it can take these Diggers less votes to get to the front page while a Power Digger can take a lot more.

Whichever method of submission – in the majority of cases on Digg it’s not enough. As a result you might also want to consider some of the following.

3. On Page Digg Cues

One important factor in drumming up some more organic Diggs to go with those that your submitter naturally brings is to add visual cues on your posts inviting people to Digg the story.

  • Digg offers a variety of Digg Badges for you to use
  • The ‘Digg This’ button is also fairly influential
  • Also check out the Digg Widget – this is particularly good because you can get it to show any recent posts from your blog that have been submitted to Digg. Put it in your sidebar and it means people who are on any page on your blog know there’s something climbing up the ranks in Digg (not just those who are on the post itself).

Don’t feel you have to use these buttons on every post. I actually will use them more when there’s a post climbing up Digg.

Lastly – add a text link to an upcoming post inviting readers to submit it. Again – I wouldn’t do this on every post but it can be effective when you’ve got something on the rise.

4. Giving it a ‘Nudge’

So you’ve got some great content that’s been submitted to Digg, you’ve got visual cues in place that will make it easy for readers to Digg it – now it’s time to give your post a nudge.

There are a number of ways to do this. Some are more blatant than others.

  • Ask for Diggs - lets start with the obvious, one way to get Diggs is to ask for them. You can do this in any number of ways and using any number of tools. Some will shoot quick requests to people that they know using instant messaging, others ask on social messaging services like Twitter, others have email lists that they utilize. The key with asking for Diggs is to think about who you ask and how often. Work out who is open to invitations and work with them, but only on your best stuff. If you ask for Diggs on every single post you write you might annoy people more than anything else.
  • Shout It - Digg has a tool on each digg page that enables you to ‘share’ the story – it’s there to help promote stories on Digg so use it. This enables you to email people, blog it or ‘shout’ it with your friends on Digg. Shouting can be a great way to get a story in front of other active Digg users. Once again – don’t shout too often – pick your best stories for this type of thing. Also know that the more you digg your friend’s stories when they shout them to you the more chance there is that they’ll reciprocate. If you’re looking for Digg friends – start with this list.
  • Drive Traffic to Your Post - another technique that is less blatant that asking for Diggs is to work instead (or as well) at driving traffic to the post you’re working to get on the front page of Digg. Here’s the thing – if you have a post with ‘digg this’ buttons and you’re able to get another popular blog or site to link to it you’ll increase the chance for organic diggs. You’ve got 24 hours once a story is submitted to Digg, so if you think you’ve got something that other sites would be interested in make sure you send them links at the start of the 24 hours (or even before it’s submitted).
  • Other Social Bookmarking Sites Help – I quite often notice that the posts that do well for me on Digg will often do well for me on Delicious or StumbleUpon first (although sometimes it happens the other way around). What happens is that when you get on the popular page of Delicious users of that service who also use Digg will bookmark your story in both places. As a result it can be worth working on ‘nudging’ votes in multiple places.

You’ll notice that on this point I said to give your post a ‘nudge’ rather than spam every person you know asking them to vote. Subtle promotion of your posts on Digg is recommended for two reasons – firstly you’ll annoy everyone you know if you’re constantly asking for Diggs and secondly, Digg has measures in place to track people who are manipulating their system and too many people voting up your stories too quickly or from the one source could send warning bells ringing and get your story buried.

5. Educating Readers

Lastly I want to talk about something that has less of an immediate impact upon a specific Digg campaign – but which over time can help.

Educate your readers about social bookmarking.

Many blog readers have never heard of Digg so finding ways to show them what the service is and how they can use it can have a real impact. The more of them who know what it is the more likely it is that they’ll use it – something that will benefit you as you begin to create a Digg Culture on your blog.

6. Organic Diggs

There comes a point in every story’s rise (and fall) on Digg where you have to stand back and let things happen.

What you’ll find is that at some point most successful Digg stories enter the ‘upcoming’ and ‘recommended’ lists and a certain amount of natural and organic digging begins to happen by people who you don’t know. This is where you see if your story has the legs to go all the way or whether it’ll be buried by people.

This is where you realize that it’s not about how many people you can get to Digg a story from your network that matters but whether you’ve actually written something that appeals to Diggers – because if you’ve written something bad you’ll find the story gets buried and all your hard work has gone to waste.

One more thing….

Let me finish with one more piece of advice. Don’t become obsessed with Digg.

I see a lot of bloggers obsessing over climbing the rankings on Digg and while it can bring a lot of traffic to your blog and be worth the effort to promote some of your posts on it when you become obsessed you can fall into these traps:

1. Only ever writing for Digg – I wrote about this earlier in the week but if all you ever write is content aimed at the Digg audience blogging can end up being a bit of an empty experience.

2. Spending All Day on Digg and Not on Your Blog – I’ve come across a lot of people on Digg that could benefit from spending a little less time trying to game Digg and a little more time investing into building a quality blog. The funny thing is that if they actually built a better blog they’d probably end up doing better at succeeding on Digg.

3. Submitting every post to Digg – not every post that you make will be ‘diggable’ – and that’s ok. IF you’re going to use some of the above techniques I would recommend that you only do it with your very very best content. Choose that content that people would want to naturally pass on to a friend or bookmark for later – this is the type of content that will do well on Digg – concentrate on promoting these ones, not your day to day posting.

Linkbait, Passion, Fluff and Mixing it Up: Reflections on Content Development

Today I want to tell you the story of a blogger whose problem that he was too good at getting on the front page of Digg. But first – I want to share a quote from Michael Gray who said something last week that hit the mark for me:

“One way to make sure your linkbait is successful is to pick a subject that you believe in, are passionate about, and that will bring out an emotional response from members of your target audience.

Or you could play it safe and write the 5 ways Twitter is helping web 2.0 businesses.

The first is memorable the second is utterly forgettable. ”

I wish I’d said that.

A Blogger With a Problem

I spoke with a blogger (we’ll call him Buddy) last week who presented me with a problem. Buddy’s problem was this:

He had been blogging for a year or so and had worked out how to write the kind of content that did well on Digg. In fact he’d perfected the art of writing Diggable content to such a degree that he hit the front page most weeks. As a result he had a blog with a lot of monthly traffic.

This doesn’t sound like that much of a problem… well not yet….

Buddy’s frustration was that he had no (or very few) loyal readers.

His reflection to me was this:

‘I’m writing fluff. It’s good fluff because it can draw a crowd, but I think they quickly leave because it doesn’t really mean anything to anyone, including me.’

Buddy asked me if he should stop writing the ‘Diggable Posts’ (the fluff)? My response to him was to try a couple of things:

1. Bring the Digg formula to topics that matter - what if he applied the principles to topics he was actually passionate about?

2. Mix in posts that go deeper - not every post needs to be ‘fluffy’ – in fact I find that a good mix of styles of posts can work well on a blog. A ‘Top 10 ways to…’ ‘how to’ list post one day, a ‘review’ post the next day, a question for your readers the next, a ‘rant’ the following day, followed up by a case study the next day….. etc (you can see 20 types of posts here).

What I find is that the ‘fluffy’ posts draw the crowd but the other types of posts actually engage them and keep them coming back. In effect this is what I’ve been doing on DPS and it’s worked well for me.

There’s nothing wrong with writing the type of post that could go viral on social media sites – however like Michael says – it’s posts that mean something to you, that are written with passion and that bring out some kind of emotional response in your readers that will make an impact upon people.

How Social Media Helped Me Get Unbanned from a Social Media Site in 1 Hour and 44 Minutes

stumbleupon-unbanned.pngIn my last post I wrote that I’d just discovered that StumbleUpon had banned me.

I’m happy to announce that 1 hour and 44 minutes after posting that – I was unbanned.

How did it happen? I put it down to Social Media. Here’s the story:

  1. I had a number of people Tweet me 30 or so minutes before I posted my last post telling me that I was banned. I can only presume it happened around that times they all came at once.
  2. I reacted quickly by first emailing StumbleUpon using their contact form.
  3. I then posted my last post here at ProBlogger
  4. This post appeared moments later in my Twitter stream (this happens automatically)
  5. I plurked a link to the post.
  6. A few minutes later it was submitted to Digg (something I didn’t even consider doing)
  7. I received a heap of Twitter responses and the story was re-tweeted by quite a few of my followers
  8. I received a Direct Message tweet within moments fro a follower who gave me the email address of the community manager at StumbleUpon – I emailed him
  9. The post on Digg was at 90 Diggs within about half an hour
  10. Twitter was alive with the story (see this screen grab of Twitscoop which shows the tag cloud of what people were talking about on Twitter).
  11. Many readers emailed Stumbleupon
  12. I received an email and a comment on ProBlogger from the community manager at StumbleUpon an hour and a quarter after the post went live. He said that it could be resolved and that he’d like us to blog about the situation both here on ProBlogger and the SU blog. I emailed back that I would be happy to do so.
  13. ProBlogger was unbanned 1 hour and 44 minutes later.
  14. A few minutes later a story appeared on Digg about how I had been unbanned from StumbleUpon – linking to my Tweet about it.
  15. Now that I’m unbanned from SU the post saying that I’m banned is getting heaps of bookmarks…. ironically on StumbleUpon.

Here’s that Tag Cloud from Twitscoop

twitscoop.png

So what did I learn today?

  1. ProBlogger readers and Twitter followers are amazing. Between putting me in touch with the right person at SU and all your tweets, plurks and diggs you got this fixed really quick.
  2. StumbleUpon are responsive – or at least Walter their Community Manager is
  3. Social Media his powerful – while I knew this I don’t think I really had experienced it working so quickly on something that was personal to me
  4. When you’ve got a problem it can help to involve your friends, not completely lose it and blog a rant (while I was angry in my post I didn’t completely lose it – I tried to reach out to SU) and lastly – sometimes there is opportunity in when bad stuff happens. The buzz and traffic around this whole story has been quite amazing today. I think tomorrow I’ll get banned by Digg :-)

Thanks to everyone for your support, ideas, feedback and offers to help today. Thanks also to StumbleUpon for responding quickly. I look forward to hearing why all this happened and what we as bloggers can learn about it from your end. I’ll post more about this as Walter gets back to me.

The one thing that I do hope StumbleUpon will learn from and change is their ‘banned’ page. It has the potential to unfairly hurt reputations and tarnish sites that have not deserved that. I’m no lawyer but I suspect it could even border on some kind of defamation.

ProBlogger is Banned from StumbleUpon

banned-stumbleuponThis story has been updated at the bottom of this post.

This morning a number of readers have emailed or tweeted me to let me know that when they try to bookmark a post on ProBlogger that it leads them to a page saying that ProBlogger has been banned from StumbleUpon (thaks to @Fussypants on Twitter who was first).

You can see a screen capture of the page here – subtle isn’t it!?:

Picture 2.png

The page says that we’ve either been banned for abusing the service or have been asked for the site not to be included.

I can tell you that it was not the 2nd option (and if it had of been I would be pretty upset to see it presented as ‘banned’).

I’ve sent off an email using Stumbleupon’s contact form to ask for more information on this – but to be honest I’m pretty shocked and a little angry at this.

I can’t think of any way that I’ve abused StumbleUpon and if I had I would have thought that they’d have banned me as a user of it as well or instead of banning my URL.

I’ve got two theories as to why I may have been banned

1. ProBlogger does get a reasonable amount of traffic from StumbleUpon and perhaps the powers at be at SU think I’ve manipulated the system to get it. This is not the case and I’d suggest that perhaps I get more traffic from SU than some other sites because:

  • I’ve written about StumbleUpon many times. Writing about any bookmarking site tends to get people who use that site to bookmark those posts
  • I write to an audience who use social media a lot – ProBlogger readers are a very social media savvy lot and probably bookmark more than the general web user.

2. My recent social media love-in and list of bloggers who use StumbleUpon might have been interpreted abuse.

Perhaps I should have checked with SU before running that social media love-in but my motivations for doing it were not abusive. All I was hoping to do was to build community here on ProBlogger and give readers an opportunity to connect with one another in mediums other than here on this blog.

If anything I thought it would promote and build traffic on the social media sites that we developed lists for. If SU don’t want bloggers to use their service and don’t want sub communities within their user-base then this is their prerogative – but I’m a little put out that as someone who has actively promoted and used their service and even encouraged my readers to advertise on them that they simply banned me.


Some articles I’ve published on StumbleUpon for bloggers include:


I’m also a little angry that people voting for my posts get led to a page that accuses me as the owner of this site of abusing their service. If that’s not a slur against my character then I’m not sure what is. If this upsets you I’d encourage you to Stumble a ProBlogger page, click the ‘contact us’ link and let them know what you think (that’s what they’ve asked for on the page anyway).

Dear StumbleUpon

I am obviously feeling a little put out by you banning my blog from your service.

I do love StumbleUpon and hope that you’ll reconsider your decision and I’d love to hear from you with how I can remedy any actions that I might have inadvertently taken that don’t fit with your terms and conditions.

update – just heard from StumbleUpon’s Community Manager (who I emailed) – he’s also commented his email in comments below. We’re going to work on sorting this out and then I’ll post about the results in the coming days so we can all learn a thing or two about why this happened and how we can avoid it happening to others. Fingers crossed that this is resolved soon.

update 2 – 1 hour and 44 minutes after I posted this post I’m no longer banned from StumbleUpon. I put this down to you – my amazing readership who reacted with emails, Diggs, Tweets and more. I’ve never seen first hand what a blog community can achieve like this so quickly. Now if only we could pull ourselves together and work so hard to do something that REALLY matters like doing something about poverty or the environment…. :-)

update 3 – Check out this post that I’ve written the full story of how I got banned and unbanned from StumbleUpon in under two hours.

Add These Plurk Users as Your Friends

Today the Social Media Love-In here at ProBlogger continues with a list of 145 bloggers who use Plurk.

So far we’ve presented you with bloggers who use Digg, some that use StumbleUpon and a lot of them who use Twitter. Today’s list is smaller than the others but I think it is just as worthwhile as Plurk has become a key part of my daily social media interactions and is a place of wonderfully rich conversation and networking.

As usual – if you didn’t get your profile in the list – all is not lost because these 145 profiles are a great place to start and you can benefit from adding them as they’re a great bunch of people.

Hundreds of Bloggers to Interact with On Digg and StumbleUpon

It’s time to release into the wild another two of our Social Media Love-In lists – this time it’s all about social bookmarking.

The opportunities for collaboration and cooperation on sites like Digg and StumbleUpon are amazing. They can be powerful tools with the potential to drive significant traffic to a blog.

One of the keys that I’ve found to doing this is to have a good base of friends on the sites. As a result the following two lists could be quite significant.

Didn’t make it on the lists?

Unfortunately we were hit so hard with people submitting their social media profiles that we could only take submissions for 24 hours – however all is not lost if you missed out for two reasons:

  1. I’m hoping to do this again (it won’t be for a few weeks as this has taken a lot of work to compile)
  2. If you befriend the above people you can still benefit. I find that when I befriend someone on a site like Digg or StumbleUpon that it often comes back to me with the other person friending me. This is less so on SU where there’s a limit to friends (200 last time I looked) but there are plenty of opportunities for collaboration even if you’re not on these lists.

Keep in mind – these people are bloggers – they’re influencers – they’re a part of sites that are incredibly powerful and networking with them can be a powerful thing.

PS: don’t forget our list of 538 Twitter using bloggers.

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Twitter for Beginners – 5 Things to Do as a New Twitter User

Yesterday I added all 538 Twitter users that submitted their details in our Social Media Love In. It took me a couple of hours to do – but I’m glad I did it because already there have been some wonderful conversations emerge.

As I was adding new people to follow I noticed that there were a real range of people in the list. There were Twitter users with thousands of subscribers and others with 20 or so.

Among the list there were quite a few who had literally just started using Twitter in the last 3 days (they’d started because of the Love-In itself).

I’ve had a number of these people contact me to ask me where to begin as a new Twitter user. As a medium it can be a little overwhelming to know how to use it – so I thought I’d put together this list of things to do as a new Twitter User (this is definitely pitched at the beginner).

update: Check out my new Blog TwiTip for more Twitter Tips.

1. Work Out Why You Want to Use It

One of the key things to do early on is to work out what your goal is. It could take a little while to work this out but the sooner you nail down what you’re going to use twitter for the better. There’s no right or wrong with how to use Twitter – your focus might be:

  • to use it on a personal level to share what you’re doing with real life friends and family
  • to build up you and your blog’s profile in your niche
  • to unwind and have fun with new friends
  • to build up your network in a niche

The list could go on (and it could include multiple goals) – however knowing them up front will help you as you explore how to use it.

2. Start Tweeting

One of the things that I noticed yesterday adding all 538 twitter users is that a number of them had only ‘tweeted’ once or twice (and a couple had never tweeted at all). I asked one person why this was and they said that they wanted to build their follower numbers up before they started using it.

The problem with this thinking is that one of the best ways to build your Twitter network is to be active. Your Tweets are your best advertisement for people to follow you – if you don’t have any (or many) what reason do people have to follow you?

So start updating your Twitter account. Don’t just write about anything – remember that every Tweet you make can either take you closer to or further away from your Twitter goals.

3. Start Following Others

I spoke to one new Twitter user yesterday who told me that the ‘Love-In’ had brought them over 100 new followers – but that they’d increased this even further by finding other interesting people to follow herself.

This user had discovered the power of adding followers on Twitter. She’d invested time into seeking out other twitter users who were Tweeting interesting stuff.

This process is a bit of an experiment and involves following people and then seeing if their tweets ‘resonate’ with you. Sometimes it means you’ll follow someone for a while and then unfollow them – but you’ll eventually find a group of people that you enjoy conversing with. Which leads me to my next point….

4. Get Interactive

OK – so you know why you’re using Twitter, you’re actually tweeting, you’re following what others are tweeting – the time now is to start reaching out to others and getting a conversation going.

This happens on a couple of levels:

Firstly it’s about writing things that others will want to interact with. The best way to do this is to ask a question. People are wired to reply to questions so start asking some. Keep them relevant to your goals and be willing to reply to people’s answers.

Secondly it’s important to respond to what other people are saying. The ‘reply’ feature on Twitter is key and should be used regularly, otherwise your use of Twitter will be quite one sided.

After a while you’ll find that the conversation becomes quite natural as you get to know others that you mutually follow and track what they’re doing, what your common interests are etc.

The beauty of being as interactive as possible with other Twitter users is that you’re talking to them in public and you’ll find your other followers and their other followers will chime in and make the conversation a little more multi-dimensional – it’s a great way of finding new friends to follow also.

5. Don’t Spam

Another thing that I noticed happening with a few of those that I added yesterday is that the only thing they were using Twitter for was to promote their own content. While it’s possible to do this I wouldn’t advise it. I do promote my posts on Twitter – but I try to balance them with other natural and organic conversation as well.

Another tip is to not just promote your own links, promote others. Keep them on topic and interesting and your followers will thank you for the links that you suggest.

But Wait – there’s more…

There’s a lot more that can be said about using Twitter – but I want to keep this as basic as possible for those just getting into the medium. Start with these five basic things, work on them for a week or so and then you’ll start discovering your own way.

For more reading on using Twitter you might also like to read my previous posts on the topic:

Follow These Twitter Users – They’re Just Like You

ProBlogger reader – I’d like to introduce you to some new friends – around 700 of them (and counting).

Over the weekend, on a whim, I started the ProBlogger Social Media Love-In as a way of linking you as readers of this blog together via social media. In that post I invited you to submit your social media profiles in comments and then to start be-friending one another.

The response was swift and overwhelming with around 700 people participating.

Reports started tricking in of people getting a lot of new friends and making all kinds of useful connections. The ProBlogger community spun out to all kinds of places as people began to connect and start working together on sites like Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, Myspace, Pownce, StumbleUpon, Digg and more.

As I began to watch what was happening I began to ask myself how I could make the long and scattered list of profiles more helpful. Some readers were content to surf down the comments list and start adding friends – but could the information be presented better?

I got in touch with Lara and asked her if she wanted a couple of days work to organize the lists. She agreed and today we’re rolling out a group of Twitter users (the most popular profile link left).

Lara has created a page of 538 Twitter profiles here.

Yes – that’s 538 ProBlogger readers who want to connect, work together and learn from one another.

As I was scanning down the list today it struck me that almost everyone on this list has a blog and as a result the collective influence that we have as a group is quite amazing. If on average we connect with 100 people a week each we’re influencing 53,800 people each week. I suspect the number is far greater than that because there’s some pretty significant bloggers on the list.

As I’ve mentioned on the twitter list page – over 500 people is a lot to follow on Twitter so you might not end up following them all – but do try to add as many as you can and see which ones connect with you most to stick with.

In the coming days Lara will compile more of these lists (one for each type of social media and one more miscellaneous list) so if you’re not a twitter user hopefully there will be a great list for you in the days ahead.

Missed Out On Submitting Your Profiles?

If you missed out on the 24 hour window where we allowed people to submit profiles don’t worry. The beauty of this project is that by befriending others who did you’re still going to make some great connections. We might open this up again at some point in the future but in the mean time I’d start with the lists that we’re publishing this week.