Friday, December 09, 2005


resize photos with javascript

Cool little script to let you resize photos the way iPhoto does. Good stuff, not sure what to use it for though.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


what does a slashdot look like?

In the off chance you ever wondered what it was like to get a front page link on SlashDot then you are in luck as SEOmoz has put up a post on their blog with all the wonderful details. In short they went from 1200 visitors a day to 35000 visitors in 2 days. Not bad.


mystery: myspace sends xents a half million hits

So I know the webmaster over at (short url service) and he was telling me that five of their links produced an incredible half million hits in the last two days. Poor little box the site runs on was nearly buried alive. It appears that someone used the url redirection to load a remote javascript file on literally thousands of myspace pages. The problem is that neither of us can figure out what the file does or how it got so widely dispersed on myspace. Any smart people able to lend a clue?

Here is the javascript files:

And here are 5 (of thousands) myspace profiles that loaded it. Warning, these pages may not be safe for work. Search the source for "xents" to see the javascript call:

Profile 1
Profile 2
Profile 3

Here is the hit count spike:

12/01/2005 1
12/02/2005 3
12/03/2005 3
12/04/2005 8
12/05/2005 916
12/06/2005 412888
12/07/2005 11610
12/08/2005 814

Would love to be able to publish more information.

UPDATE form digg user bonzooznob:

XSS hack in progress is my guess...

Since the file it points to, isn't there (yet), this may be a ticking time bomb...

(Similar to the Sober virus due to hit on Jan 5th, 2006)

If I was a MySpace user, and I had anything important on there, I would consider making a backup ;-)

UPDATE: If I'm ready this write it appears to be using javascript to pull data off the page and make a form submission to MySpace. Very clever. Anyone able to figure out more?
}else if (window.location.href.indexOf("") != -1 ){
occPage = request("", "GET", null);
occPage.onreadystatechange = function (){
if (occPage.readyState == 4) {
if (occPage.status == 200) {
currToken = getToken(occPage);
var occVars = parseForm(occPage);
var occForm = "" + currToken;
addOcc = request(occForm, "POST", occVars);
} else {
UPDATE: looks like this may not be the first time this has happened. Found a digg link from 25 days ago about the last MySpace worm. Also found some more information on how that worm worked.


dot tactics makes it up on hot links

I was watching my traffic and saw some clicks come through from upian Hot Links. I've never looked at the site before but it has a nice approch to showing what topics are popular in the blog-o-sphere.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


communities a hot topic

So my little post about communities generated more interest than this blog ever has seen before (which isn't saying much, but still). To start with we got a few diggs and we made it up on threadwatch and tech.memeorandum. We also got a nice mention on both bubblegeneration and conversion rater. Emergic also has some nice thoughts posted. Big thanks for the shout outs guys!

Some interesting feedback has been created as well.

From conversion rater:

I’d like to see something that mergest the best of everything out there. Give me a Digg front page news system, combined with photo/media sharing like Flickr, profiles for social networking within the community to act as the user’s home page like Myspace, and perhaps some social bookmarking capabilities like

From a comment by Adam:

I think there's something to be said about hobbyist communities, such as the uber-popular swing dancing forum at Yehoodi. There's no pre or post-modding of original posts or comments, but rather... threads that are perceived as particulary interesting or funny or otherwise valuable will end up constantly at the top of each sub-forum, since each new post brings a thread to the top (standard for most forum software).

From a comment by Rishi Khaitan:

You didn't mention sites like Memeorandum which leverage the existing decentralized blogsophere community that and then algorithmically figuring out what are the most important and popular topics at any given moment.

From bubblegeneration:

My kid sister is young enough to think that MySpace is corporate and lame. How do you think her generation is going to express and define itself?

From a comment by anonymous:

You didn't talk about wikipedia. Overall the things I like best in communities is where it is really easy (craigslist style) to start making posts to communities but where there is also a big reward (like digg) to sign up and become a full member. Its going to be hard to scale any community though and will probably require more oversight than digg, but less than slashdot.

There is a lot of possibility out there and no one seems to have found anything that can be as well used as usenet back in the day. The key will be to find something that will be like a reverse IM revolution, where instead of communicating being "instant" it can now be channeled into contributions to a longer lasting knowledge base that is shared and maintained by, well, everyone. In theory things like wikipedia and digg are already doing that, but they are too complex and tend to turn off readers rather then engaging them. IM doesn't have that problem. No one downloads AIM or Yahoo Messenger to listen, they download (and sign up) to talk!

For my part I still want to know more about the direction the Internet community expects community tools to go. What say you Internet? Got in a fresh ideas?


Beginner's Guide to Search Engine Optimization has a really nice document up with lots of tips for those just starting out building search optimized sites. Check it out here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


worn looking text using CSS

Very good expose on how to do worn looking text effects using css and an image. Click here for the article or here to see all the different text effects this guy put together. Good info!


what does the future hold for communities?

Search has, thanks to Google, dominated Internet innovation for years. But, while search has made our lives easier and put hundreds of gigabytes of useful data at our finger tips, it has also served to sterilize the Internet. Google isn't a club that you learn from and contribute to, it is an encyclopedia that you use when you know what you are looking for. But what if you don't know what you are looking for? How do you sort through all the news and information that gets added to the internet every day? That is where communities come in.

The entire Internet seems to be waiting with bated breath to see what will happen with communities on the Internet. Who's going to be big? Who's going to find something that works as well as eBay or Google? Almost every major new addition to the big three in recent months (be it Google base, local search, or Yahoo 360) has had the goal of better engaging users in the content creation process.

a simple search

Perhaps to best way to underpin this change and the need for communities is to try a search on Google. If you search for eBay on google you come up with stock information, spammy ads, and a ton of eBay sites. While this all looks good on paper it is based on an algorithm (pagerank) that gets less meaningful the more targeted the search. That is to say, it forces the less current results to the top. eBay is making news, but it is also making buzz, and you just can't find buzz through Google.

This is where communities come in. Communities provide a forum for users to decide what is important on any particular topic. They are also much more organic in their approach and quicker to let trash fall by the wayside as useful information rises to the top. They are also not in business to compete with search and, as such, feel no need to duplicate the reference nature of Google or Yahoo or Wikipedia or

Consider a search for eBay on digg. What do you find? Well you find that people are selling fake xBoxs on eBay, you find an eBay Developers Challenge, and you find a coupon for %10 off your next winning auction. Now, the dynamic nature of digg means you may not find any of this information tomorrow, but you'll never have to sort through stock information, or a links to eBay, to see what the Internet is abuzz about.

But what makes sites like digg possible? And, more importantly, what keeps them useful? This is where community accountability comes in.

community accountability

There are a number of different models for accountability in online communities. Most exists with one common goal: to stop lame or spam posts and to encourage good posts. I've divided the varying types of accountability into four groups, represented by the largest communities using the approach.

The craigslist model

Users can post anything with only email verification. Posts go live instantly. Spam posts are taken care of by visitors who can flag posts as mis categorized, prohibited, or spam. The model as a whole is easy to use, doesn't require a signup, and is very flexible.

The fark model

Any new link (or topic) has to be greenlighted by an administrator. Offensive comments are blocked by an administrator (or, in some cases, an algorithm). The model encourages quality (at least in the topics) but isn't very flexible. The fark model has been adapted to TotalFark, a premium "anything goes" community that is a little more adaptive.

The slashdot model

Administrators oversee the creation and posting of topics, but the comments (where the real magic of slashdot can be found) are overseen by users who are randomly (in effect) assigned administration points. This lets them classify comments to make them more visible to readers or to mod them into oblivion if they aren't useful. The model encourages intelligent and entertaining discourse and rewards the best contributors with more exposure. The model is also very adaptive and flexible but still requires a large amount of administration oversight to keep the site and topics interesting.

The digg model

Users have full control over administration and posting, but every post starts out at the bottom and must be "dug" up by "power" users who choose to monitor new posts on their favorite topic. Most digg posts fade into the background, but those that succeed quickly build steam until they reach the main page. The model is the most flexible of the bunch and does the best job turning readers into community members. The downside to the digg model is that often some of the better posts and comments are never recognized or given exposure because they fade into the noise of all the new activity.

what is next?

There are other models and variations on these models out there, but this gives a good overview of the approaches currently being tried. The question I have is what will be the final model that will work? All of the above sites are targeted pretty tightly and so aren't useful unless you are looking specifically for the type of content or community they provide. What will it take to produce an adaptive model that will be like Google for community discussion and buzz?

Of all the sites I've looked at I think digg is the closest so far. Its difficultly is that it is primarily just a link and community news aggregator and provides a poor platform for posting your own content for discussion. It does nothing to replace fark for entertainment, slashdot for quality, or craigslist for classifieds and targeting. Likewise it is easy to see how changes, such as introducing user produced polls or photoshop threads, would detract instead of add to the community. Digg does, however, appear the best and combining low administration oversight with a high quality front page that is useful to the casual user and to the pro.

I realize no one has the perfect answer, but what winning features have you found in online communities and how would you scale them to a world wide market? Please post your thoughts.

Monday, December 05, 2005


wikipedia feels the pain

There is a big article up on CNET about Wikipedia's growing pains. It talks about a former aid to Robert Kennedy being implicated in the assassination of both Kennedys for over four months before the article was taken down. There are other examples, many less gross, of how Wikipedia has grown so far and so fast that it has difficulty policing itself. Supposedly there are over 1500 new articles added a day. Quite a lot when you consider how quickly they go live and how little time volunteers have to police the articles before they are buried under the next day's listings. This is made worse by the sheer number of articles being updated and the fact that unless you are really interested in a topic, and watch the relevant articles like a hawk, there is a really good someone will change them when your back is turned and introduce fiction or spam.

With all that in mind, let me just say: what a fantastic problem to try and solve! I'll be interested to see how the free (and open source) market tries to deal with it. How would you deal with it?

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