Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Content Curation Tools: 21 Criteria To Select And Evaluate Your Ideal One

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Nonetheless we are just at the beginning of a new era, in which content curation will be as important as search, there is already an apparent abundance of content curation tools of all kinds.

Photo credit: Hand filling out checklist on clipboard with a pen by Shutterstock

To the superficial eye, many such curation tools also appear to be very similar to one another, especially if evaluated exclusively from the type of news streams or visual collections that can be produced with them.

On the other hand it is not realistic for someone to go out and test each and every one of the available solutions.

For these reasons, it is quite difficult and time consuming to select and identify the most appropriate content curation tool for a specific need and as a consequence most rely on the tools they have tried and that satisfy their basic needs but remain quite ignorant about what options they are leaving on the table only because they have not yet tried them.

The most limiting factor of all, in making an effective selection when it comes to content curation tools is the lack of a proper evaluation framework, identifying the specific requirements and needs that need to be met by the content curation tool to be selected.

As I have been testing and trying out most of the content curation tools available out there (the only exceptions are a few of the enterprise level solutions and products which generally refuse to let an outsider like me test and report publicly on their products and pricing strategy) I have been able to gradually identify and organize a detailed list of all the features and technical issues you may want to check against before adopting any such curation tool.

I did this to facilitate my own work as a content curation technologies evaluator, and with this goal in mind, I have started listing down and grouping together a growing number of features that I generally want to systematically test and verify when I evaluate or compare any two or more curation tools.

I am now publicly sharing this list of selection criteria, complemented by relevant questions to be asked when verifying the availability of these features to help both individuals, small organizations and companies evaluate better, and in a more systematic fashion, their ideal content curation toolset.


Selection Criteria to Evaluate Your Ideal Content Curation Tool


Here the features-list, organized into 21 groups, against which you should check and define your content curation needs and with which you can define the precise feature-profile of your ideal content curation service / tool (*I have marked with HS those features relevant only to hosted content curation services, that is those where the rights and physical storage of the content you curate is not under your direct control):

  1. Import and Export functions

  2. Content Organization

  3. Clipping Abilities

  4. Integrated Search

  5. Content Monitoring - News Discovery

  6. Filtering

  7. Display formats

  8. Arrangement

  9. Navigation

  10. Editing and Formatting

  11. Ownership - HS

  12. Collaboration - HS

  13. Private Collections / Streams - HS

  14. Intelligence - Memory

  15. Crediting and Attribution

  16. Preservation - Archiving

  17. Distribution options

  18. SEO - HS

  19. Reach (for hosted curation platforms) - HS

  20. Integrations - API - HS

  21. Branding - White Label - Design Customization - HS


1) Import and Export functions


  • Can the tool import/export existing collections or streams?

  • Which import/export formats are supported (RSS, XML, CSV, PDF, etc.)

  • Does the tool support OPML import/export?


2) Content Organization


  • How many ways are available to organize your content?

  • Channels? Tags? Folders?

  • How many levels are available?

  • Can you nest?

  • Can you copy/move curated items between collections / streams

  • Can you duplicate collections to create subsets?

  • Can you create subsets easily?


3) Clipping Abilities


  • Can you "clip" content from the web easily?

  • Is there a dedicated bookmarklet, browser extension or add-on?

  • Can you clip any specific text, image or video?

  • Can you clip a full web page or a part of it?

  • From which content sources can you clip?


4) Integrated Search


  • Can you search for content from within the content curation tool?

  • What sources can you search? (Google, Flickr, YouTube, etc.)

  • What "types" of content can you search (text, images, video, tweets, etc.)?

  • Can you easily drag & drop search results into your curated work?


5) Content Monitoring - News Discovery


  • Can you create "persistent searches"?

  • Can you designate what sources to tap?

  • Can you subscribe and monitor any RSS feed?

  • Is it possible to import an OPML file?

  • Can the tool suggest relevant content based on your past activity?

  • Can the tool suggest relevant content based on your network of contacts?


6) Filtering


  • Can you filter incoming content by keywords / hashtags / users?

  • By popularity / relevance?

  • By date?

  • By language?

  • By type of content?

  • By type of source?

  • By popularity (views, shares, etc.)?


7) Display Formats


  • Can you select between different display formats (list, grid, magazine, etc.)?

  • Can you personalize your display format?

  • To what extent?

  • Are there different quality display templates to choose from?


8) Arrangement


  • Can you re-arrange and juxtapose content items in your collection / stream in the way you want?

  • Is it possible to "feature" individual items?


9) Navigation


  • How easy is to navigate your curated collections / streams?

  • Are there dedicated navigation features to facilitate moving through a long stream or a large collection?

  • Can you move rapidly from the start to the end of the collection, or to the middle of it? How long does it take?

  • Can you easily jump to different points of the collection?

  • Can you easily jump from a full collection view to specific groups or individual items in it?


10) Editing and Formatting


  • Does the tool allow to fully edit the content being curated?

  • Is it possible to edit/correct/revise title, image and content?

  • Is it possible to edit/correct/revise the original image?

  • Is it possible to edit the actual content?

  • Is it possible to format it?

  • Which formatting controls are available?


11) Ownership - HS (Hosted Services)


  • Is the curated content yours and sitting on your servers or is it "owned" and controlled by someone else?

  • What rights do they claim on your curated work?

  • Can you decide under what license your curated work is distributed?


12) Collaboration - HS


  • Can multiple individuals collaborate and contribute to a collection / stream?

  • Can you select whether collaboration mode is open/moderated/by invitation?

  • Is there a mechanism in place dedicated to receive "suggestions" from readers?


13) Private Collections / Streams - HS


  • Is it possible to create a "private" collection / stream?

  • Is it possible to create a private collection / stream accessible by others with a password?

  • Is it possible to sell access / subscriptions to access specific collections / streams


14) Intelligence - Memory


  • Does the tool memorize what you curate making it easy to find related items or to spot and suggest relevant complements?

  • Can the tool automatically tell you whether you have already curated an item or not?


15) Crediting and Attribution


  • Are images and other citations utilized in the curated content automatically credited?

  • Does the system use a standard way (e.g.: Curator's Code) to provide standard credit and attribution?

  • Is it easy to trace back the originating piece of curated content when multiple people repost it as is?

16) Preservation - Archiving


  • Does the tool permit to fully archive/preserve a copy of the original content?

  • Is the archived copy a full image? An indexed text? Both?

  • What safety mechanisms have been put in place to guarantee long-term permanent archival?


17) Distribution Options


  • How easily and where can you publish and distribute your curated content?

  • Can you embed your collection / stream elsewhere?

  • Can you post straight to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Google+?

  • Can you diversify your message for each destination?

  • Can you easily manage and distribute your curated content via email newsletter?

  • Can you schedule the posting of your curated content?


18) SEO - HS


  • Can you control page title and description on your curated content?

  • Are the page URLs of the curated items you publish intelligible (do they contain strange codes or do they contain the title of your curated item / collection?)

  • Has each curated content item in a news stream or collection its own dedicated page - URL with no other content in it? (unlike Rebelmouse,, etc. where one URL hosts one post surrounded by many others)

  • Is Google authorship supported?


19) Reach - HS


  • How broad is the reach of the curation platform?

  • Is it available on desktop and mobile devices? Does it have an app?

  • How much traffic does it move monthly?

  • How is it ranked by Alexa / Pagerank?

  • How many active users does it have?


20) Integrations - API - HS


  • Does the curation service have an open API that can be queried from your own site / server / app?

  • Does it integrate with other useful complementary services?


21) Branding - White Label - Design Customization - HS


  • Is it possible to brand your collection with your name / logo?

  • Is it possible to personalize the look and feel to fit your website design?

  • Can you access / modify the CSS


Additional Selection Criteria

In addition to the basic criteria outlined above, there are other questions I suggest you ask yourself to evaluate which content curation tool to adopt. Among these, I would consider of the highest importance, the following ones:

  • Its price

  • How long the company making that tool has been there?

  • Likely future lifespan of the company?

  • What does their blog say? When it has been last updated?

  • How do they sound about their product future?

  • Have they received recent unding?

  • Do they have an apparent sustainable business model?

  • How many users it has? Is the company transparent about it?
  • Ask / check / verify whether there is a published list of real-world examples of curated collections / streams created with that tool / service
  • Availability of a free trial
  • Support level
  • Online reviews and opinions that pinpoint pros and cons.
  • Ethics: does the company behind that tool / service respect your ethics and values? What do they stand for? Content marketing ideals? Organizing the web? Creating value for others? Monetizing easily? Check and align.



If you need to select and evaluate a content curation tool, service, software or app, it is likely that you will find lots of possible choices but little systematic information explaining to you which one solution may be most appropriate for your needs.

To facilitate this task, I have:

a) organized all of the content curation tools that I know in this categorized supermap.

b) highlighted the most relevant and useful ones in this content curation tools directory.

c) created this introductory evaluation & criteria checklist guide you are looking at right now to help anyone identify first its objectives and then the features that may be most relevant in this list, before evaluating and comparing competing content curation solutions.

I hope this short guide will also be of use to content curation startups looking to get a fuller picture of what users like me may expect from them, and in which directions they may venture to gain a competitive advantage while providing to specific groups of users more useful tools.


Originally written by and first published on MasterNewMedia on Tuesday January 7th 2014 as "Content Curation Tools: 21 Criteria To Select and Evaluate Your Ideal One".

Photo credits:
Selection Criteria to Evaluate Your Ideal Content Curation Tool - Set of evaluation criteria
Import and Export functions - Keys for import / export by Shutterstock
Content Organization - Design of organization structure and work process by Shutterstock
Clipping Abilities - illustration of colorful camera lens on white background by Shutterstock
Integrated Search - Magnifier Glass and Zoom Icons: search find lupe by Shutterstock
Content Monitoring - News Discovery - Modern cyber woman with matrix eye concept by Shutterstock
Filtering - Closeup of photographer man holding and looking through by Shutterstock
Display Formats - Set of 5 different sequence templates by Shutterstock
Arrangement - Caprese salad with mozzarella, tomato, basil and balsamic by Shutterstock
Navigation - Mobile GPS navigation, travel and tourism concept: modern by Shutterstock
Editing and Formatting - Publishing and text editing icons by Shutterstock
Ownership - HS (Hosted Services) - key by Shutterstock
Collaboration - HS - Ants at work moving food a teamwork concept by Shutterstock
Private Collections / Streams - HS - closed box for jewelry by Shutterstock
Intelligence - Memory - Red bow on woman finger isolated on white background by Shutterstock
Crediting and Attribution -
Preservation - Archiving - Big golden safe isolated on white background by Shutterstock
Distribution Options - Social Media Concept Present By Hand With Social Media Icon by Shutterstock
SEO - HS - A magnifying Glass is searching the internet and there are by Shutterstock
Reach - HS - Vector Colorful Water Ripples, Also See Bitmap Jpeg In My by Shutterstock
Integrations - API - HS - Teamwork concept - metal cubes assembling into gold one by Shutterstock
Branding - White Label - Design Customization - HS - Grunge rubber stamp with the text trusted brand written inside by Shutterstock

Robin Good -
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posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, January 7 2014, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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