Spike

Posted on February 27th, 2007 by Reza.
Categories: General, Power of Persuasion.

I unexpectedly got a spike in hits today (300 from a normal of 30). As it turns out, mapdaze was listed in gmapsmania, quite a popular page on various uses of google maps. As a result my hit count (that’s the number of pages, not necessarily the number of people) went through the roof. I also received a couple of questions related to maps (as well as related to mapdaze) and one offer to work together on a project.

How did I get my page on that list? Well I sent an email to them stating that I am doing a project which blablabla… That was 2 weeks ago. I thought they don’t read those things, or don’t read unsolicited emails. As it turns out they do.

Moral of the story, when advertising, try to get on blogs and ezine. Sure adwords works (well not if you have a low budget), and forums and newsgroups bring some, but it seems that blogs are the true click bringers. Thank you gmapsmania!!!

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Splogs… Should I be worried?

Posted on February 23rd, 2007 by Reza.
Categories: Features, General.

Okay, so I was browsing the blogosphere today just reading, when I found this nifty article on splogs. Splogs are basically spam blogs, which is either MFA (made for adsense) or take you to porn site, or another MFA site. They either do this to get their link rank up on Google (or other search engines), or to promote with tags for blog aggregators such as Technorati.

Reading the article, 2 things caught my eye. First of all, Lansing, MI (which is basically right next door) is the 5th biggest splog producer. Lansing is such a small city that I found it surprising that it produces splogs in such a large number. Perhaps only one person is doing it, but a whole lot of it:). Secondly, 50 percent or more of all pings are from these splogs. It’s not a big surprise, I browsed on the travel tag of technorati, and all I got were splogs.

I guess, there will be a day when mapdaze will need to take care of spam. People will create maps and markers for splogs hoping other people will click on them. It’s still far away in the future though, and I’m not too worried

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Hmm.. What can I do with this?

Posted on February 22nd, 2007 by Reza.
Categories: Available products, General.

Just saw this image cutter software in action for google maps. You can cut images in such a way which allows you to use it in a google map interface.

Sounds really cool. I wonder what I can do with that with mapdaze?

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Yahoo Spam Filter

Posted on February 22nd, 2007 by Reza.
Categories: Uncategorized.

After complaining about Friendster’s spam filter, I’m now going to complain about Yahoo!’s. The first thing the user does when registering with mapdaze is to confirm his/her email address. Unfortunately for my users, if they have a yahoo email address, this confirmation letter is going to be dumped into the bulk mail folder.

Why is that? Well I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s because I buy hosting space, and unfortunately, when mail is sent out, it shows the address of my hosting space instead of my own address (mapdaze.com).

So far only one person has managed to actually confirm from a yahoo email. Other people haven’t. So that’s about 8 people (not many have registered) being forced to give up because of mailing issues.

I’ve warned them about looking in their bulk folder (it seems many people do not look at their bulk folder). Maybe I should tell them to whitelist me beforehand. I’m also currently trying to get into a whitelist.

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Friendster “spam filter”

Posted on February 22nd, 2007 by Reza.
Categories: Available products, Bugs, User Interface.

A friend of mine IM me today and asked me how to bypass the spam filter to write comment for other people blogs. It seems that the really intelligent people on friendster created a spam filter for blog comments (it’s a big problem). The so called spam filter classifies a person’s comment post and rejects a comment if it considers it to be spam, and accepts the comment if it is not. Great idea? You’d think so.

This is the first idea from friendster that is so stupid, that I just had to write a blog on it. Other ideas include groups that are available only in english speaking areas (which incidentally is based on, God knows what, since I was locked out of groups for a while). Of course there’s the idea that there should be a delay between doing something (reading a new message) and the message/reminder to dissapear (in this case, that there is a new message).

Anyway, what’s wrong with the spam filter. Well after you write something and post it, it gives you a message (sometimes) “This post was rejected because we think it is spam” (or something like that). That’s it. There’s no way around it, for real actual non-spam message. There’s no moderated comments (with the blog author doing the moderating), there’s no ‘turing test’, for example type in a number (which is a really simple thing to do – if you don’t want it to be complex). Hell, there’s no “only friends can comment”…. So if the wisdom of friendster (oxymoron, I know) determines that your comment is spam (even though you have not written ‘viagra’ 10 times), that’s it, you won’t be able to comment.

A lot of company’s response to problems seems to be this. Let’s try a quick fix. Let’s go with something that works, even though most of the time it causes other problems. I tried writing viagra in a comment to my friend’s blog, and yes it doesn’t show up. But I tried writing normal text, and .. whoops spam.

The point is when you’re friendster, and you’re big, and you already have a large following (who doesn’t want to move), I guess you can get away with that. The rest of us small startups, we can’t make those stupid mistakes, because users are prime commodity, one added user is very very important.

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If you build it, will they come?

Posted on February 21st, 2007 by Reza.
Categories: Power of Persuasion.

One of the biggest concerns with a new product is getting people to use it. Consultancy firms have it easy, they already have a client. A new product like mapdaze must create its own set of clients.

I’ve done a few advertisements on the limited budget that I have. I’ve told my friends to use it (only 2 have). I’ve placed flyers on walls near my neighborhood.

I’ve also used adwords and yahoomarketing, I have received free credits to use for both, so I haven’t really had to pay a lot. Of course, because I’m trying to budget this, I haven’t really gone all out with both systems. I’ve had a steady stream of people coming in (perhaps 5-10 people a day), but not many really sign up for the service, or even create maps.

I’ve also advertised on various forums. For example, all my web pages in all my social network now have a link to mapdaze. I’ve also joined may groups/communities in orkut/friendster and talked about mapdaze. I’ve also used google groups (newsgroups) to good effect. Based on my incoming link, I see that a small number of people actually use those links.

Half of the people comes through these ads. Half of them actually comes from these group forums. It’s not much, perhaps 30 hits a day (maybe 10-15 people a day). Unfortunately maybe 5 of those people are actually either google bots or msn bots. Don’t talk to me about income yet :).

So all in all, I’m not sure how to get more people interested. Should I put up more ads? Conversion rates (meaning those that actually sign up/create a map) are low even for those coming from these ads. Forums seems the way to go, but I don’t want to overwhelm people (or be thought of as spamming) by continuously writing about mapdaze. Any ideas?

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My startup struggles

Posted on February 11th, 2007 by Reza.
Categories: Available products, General.

I want to write about the daily struggles of creating a startup business. Hopefully I will be able to learn and study myself more, and I hope that others who are also trying to create a startup will be able to learn from my mistakes.

My startup is called Mapdaze. Mapdaze is a online (web 2.0) application that allows you to easily insert Google(TM) maps into blogs. Currently it’s quite difficult to insert maps into blogs. Simply because not everyone knows how to code in javascript.

Users can also place markers on their maps. Markers that are near to one another will be grouped such that users will be able to see who else has written in the area that they have written about.

This blog was written because I’ve seen so many product blogs now. For example the CEO of my hosting site (bluehost) writes a blog, the founders of meebo, not to mention the various Google blogs available.

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