For the last few months, parts of the Internet have been talking about a new service called BO.LT. If you haven’t heard of it yet, BO.LT is a content sharing service that allows you to make a copy of a website, edit the contents, place a “sticker” on it showing you as the sharer, share it with your social networks, and analyze the clicks that the new link receives.
BO.LT is a bit different from other URL shorteners and content sharing tools for the simple fact that it enables the user to edit the copy of the site before sharing it. This ability has many benefits and users are still finding new uses for such an ability. Still, others have concerns over copyright infringement and spamming. We believe that a tool like BO.LT, if used correctly, can be a very useful and revolutionary tool.
How to use BO.LT to edit and share content
Signing up to use BO.LT is as easy as entering your email address and a password, confirming the account via email, and setting up a username and profile. They make the whole process of signing up and using it very simple.
Once you sign in, you can begin to enter any page URL for sharing. When you find something you want to share, just paste it into the field and click the “copy it” button.
At this point, you can do several cool things to personalize this link:
- First, you can actually modify the link itself to say whatever you want;
- Next, you can choose to enter a comment about the content;
- Finally, you can decide which social networks, if any, you would like to share this link on.
You can also click the “skip this” link and go directly to the next set of options. This is where you can actually make some changes to the content that you are going to share. Under the options of the link you want to make edits to, click “more options”. Once you are there, find the “Edit” button in the bottom right corner and click on it.
This is where you are given an exact copy of the page content so you can change elements as you see fit. You can change text, upload background images and even delete whole blocks of information.
When you are finished making your edits, simply click the “Done” button at the bottom right corner of the screen (in the red action bar).
Here’s a screenshot of a webpage’s original look:
Here’s a screenshot of the edited version (can you tell the differences?):
That’s how simple it is to share and edit content using BO.LT. This tool has the potential to revolutionalize the way we share content on the web.
The dangers, highlighted
Having the ability to easily edit someone else’s webpage before sharing it can certainly be misused, as mentioned earlier. On top of spamming and copyright issues, the unscrupulous can also use a tool like this for phishing. Someone can change text and links and the only difference anyone would notice is a little red icon and the URL change.
Don’t mistake that to mean that there are only negative applications for such a tool. In fact, content editing aside, there are several tools that set BO.LT apart from some of the other URL shorteners and content sharing tools.
One such tool is stickers. The sticker is the little box that accompanies the page when you share it. It contains an avatar of yourself along with the comment you left for the link. One top of that, you can also set it up to share a link to your own website or blog.
This means that as you share content from all over the web, folks from your networks can re-share and everywhere the link goes, people can click back to your website. This means that when you share content from other sites, you can still get referral traffic from it back to your website.
I know that other URL sharing services offer analytics as well, but it’s nice that BO.LT has it as well. You can track how many people have clicked each link and even integrate these links into Google Analytics.
When you save a page in BO.LT, you are actually saving that page in its current form and if there are any changes to the original site, including deletion of that particular content, you still have a saved copy.
Users are finding many creative ways to make good use of BO.LT. One example is of a blogger who saved a copy of her own site, edited it to highlight different ad placements and included prices, and now uses that link as a tool to help sell advertising (here’s a link to the page). As you can see, the sky’s the limit if you’re creative enough.
BO.LT is super simple to set up and use. It has its abilities to aid the evil side of the web, and perhaps soon the developers can find ways of minimizing that, but the benefits reach very far. The idea behind it can certainly end up changing the way we save and share content online.
Have you tried BO.LT? What did you think of it?