I have received an e-mail from Squidoo yesterday outlining the policy and Terms of Service updates that will be implemented on July 15th this year. That's a first - I don't remember ever receiving a news e-mail from Squidoo before. If you somehow missed it you can always find the updates here.
I have taken a look at the changes and as usual some make a lot of sense while others make little despite the good intentions. I've written down some of my thoughts on the policy updates below. Just a note, I'm skipping the part about spam since it wasn't allowed before either and is just a reminder from the HQ that spamming will get your account locked.
All X-rated and porn lenses will be removed on 15th July
I am glad that Squidoo is finally acting instead of technically allowing X-rated lenses but blocking all outside traffic to them with that absurd splash page that requires registration just to view the lens. There's a lot to be won here. Squidoo domain won't link to porn sites anymore which should increase it's reputation and - possibly - give us all more search engine love. I am sure it will also make certain people who are against the very idea of porn happy :-)
This will leave just two lens ratings on Squidoo, namely G and R. R rated lenses are still useless and pointless to make due to the splash page I mentioned so G is the only choice if you want to receive search engine and other "outside" traffic. I hope with porn lenses gone, Squidoo will consider changing the splash page to a simply age verification like many lensmasters - me included - requested.
Now, there are two quotes from the Policy Update that caught my eye.
If you'd be glad for your 10 year old to see it, make it G. We're not out to be puritanical. Your lens won't get locked for saying shit. (But it could be recategorized as R-rated).
We need more clear guidelines because earlier on SquidU it was said by a Squidoo official that a lens could get it's rating changed if it wasn't "kindergarten friendly" which would mean you wouldn't want a 6 year old to see it; now a 10 year old is mentioned. More importantly, we still need a rating between G and R which would allow us to discuss topics like crime, war, certain movies and video games and so on - such as a "PG" rating.
Another quote is a funny one:
While X-rated lenses tend to get decent traffic, they make practically no money for the community or the people who run them.So first they block all outside traffic to X rated lenses, and then say they make no money. Really, what a huge surprise!
New outbound link limit: 9 links to the same domain per lens
At first, I thought this was a great change. There's a long and ever-growing list of whitelisted domains such as Wikipedia or Amazon that will not count towards the limit. Even if a domain is not in the whitelist, you can still use as much as 9 links which I think should be more than enough. But the I realized this limit was per a single domain (e.g. you can link to as many domains as you like that are not in the whitelist, as long as you do not exceed the "9 links per domain" limit).
What will stop people from masking their ClickBank (or other non-whitelist domain) links using services like TinyURL? You could have 9 links to TinyURL.com, 9 links to bit.ly, 9 links to snipurl, 9 links to tr.im, 9 links to redirection setup on your own domain and so on all redirecting to ClickBank URLs - resulting in hundreds of promotional links, should you wish so - and still not exceeding the 9 links per domain limit.
It's hard to believe the people who made the change didn't think of something as simple, but either I am missing something here or this policy change is pointless and will do nothing except give more work to the HQ and make hardcore promoters mask their links in order not to avoid the limit.
Taking down spam, junk and lenses with plagiarized content
I fully support Squidoo's stance on spam and plagiarized lenses (but then again, all sites are legally bound to fight spam and take down plagiarized content if they are requested by the copyright owner). I am more interested in the updated list of SquidDon't junk topics which will include things like free movie downloads, acai berry reviews, WoW gold farming and such. All I can say here is keep up the good work Squidoo!
While I find the update positive overall, I am curious as to how they will react to people masking their links in order not to hit the limit and hopeful that R rated lenses will finally be able to receive traffic as well. Squidoo has been rather active with the updates recently so I hope more good ones will come.