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It creeps and leaps and glides and slides

8:54 am et  ¦  Thursday, January 16, 2003

Last night was the deadline for entering to win The Onion Platinum Prestige Encore Gold Premium Collector’s Collection. Tonight is the end of the SLAPPA HardBody Blogstakes. Winners will be chosen for both contests next week.
Stopdesign’s Doug Bowman posted a glowing review of Blogstakes and promises to let everyone know if a free year of BrowserCam is as life-altering as it sounds.
Over on the Web’s equivalent of The Sundance Channel (or would that be Bravo?), Jason is Blogging Sundance. While he posts interviews with all of the directors and movie stars he runs into, I’m building the publishing system that makes his journey blogable — and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Iraq of servers

12:21 pm et  ¦  Saturday, December 20, 2003

After contacting and confirming all of the winners of our first two contests, we received a note from the Free Year of BrowserCam grand prize winner which contained the following:
I really appreciate this award and would like to make the most of it. However, I’m in the Army National Guard and my unit has been activated in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The orders are for 2 years, which would take me beyond Jan 1, 2005. If you could save the account, I’d really appreciate, if not, pass it on to someone who can make the most of it.
They’re holding your unlimited usage account for you as long as you need.
Come home safely!

Do your eyes water when you read The Onion?

10:11 am et  ¦  Thursday, December 18, 2003

I’ve got a great new Blogstakes contest: Win The Onion Platinum Prestige Encore Gold Premium Collector’s Collection. It’s three hot books from The Onion for the price of none.
Seriously, blog this one. Then enter from your own blog so you can win two copies and give one to a friend. (There’s nothing in the rules that says you can’t do that!)

Get your clip on!

7:59 am et  ¦  Thursday, December 18, 2003

I sometimes worry that someone might be underwhelmed when their Blogstakes prize arrives, but letters like this give me the courage to carry on:
First of all, wow. What a great prize. When I came in the door dragging my two screaming kids in from school, I had only enough energy to open the box up and realize what it was and who it was from. I saw a couple bags of chips with the clips, and thought, “Hey, that’s neat.” Later when the kids were in bed and hubby and I dug through the box, I couldn’t believe how much stuff was there!
And I have to say that the clips are amazing. Even my 4-year-old can get the clip on. Those other clips that you buy at the store are hard to get on, and they don’t work. And I can finally stop using bread ties for the frozen bags in the freezer!
I’m so glad you liked them!

Shake it like a BrowserCam picture

11:22 am et  ¦  Thursday, December 11, 2003

“A Free Year of BrowserCam” Grand Prize Winner BrowserCam Runner-up Prize Winners
Congratulations to all twenty-two BrowserCam winners. I will be frequently checking your online portfolios to make sure that you’re creating top-notch cross-platform Web designs.

Cool case

12:20 pm et  ¦  Monday, December 8, 2003

Here’s the latest Blogstakes contest: Win a SLAPPA HardBody CD case. (I told you they’d make a great Blogstakes contest.)
I’ll be announcing the winners of the BrowserCam Blogstakes next.

Frosted Blogstakes

9:51 am et  ¦  Friday, December 5, 2003

I got my hands on some SLAPPA Hardbodies yesterday. No, no, no. They’re not what you think. They’re these rugged, velvet-lined CD cases that also hold all of your CD booklets.
They’d make a great Blogstakes contest.
I also got a copy of the ultimate guide to business blogging. That’s not what they’re calling it, but it is full of great advice for businesses looking to venture into blogging, case studies of business blogs (including our good friends at Clip-N-Seal) and somewhere around page 93 they mention one of my earlier rants.
Great work, Marketing Wonks!

Subliminal snowmen

9:34 am et  ¦  Friday, November 21, 2003

Do yourself a favor and go see the new Will Ferrell film, Elf. Don’t be selfish; take a friend and share the laughs. Myself, I would go see it a twelfth time if I didn’t have so much self-restraint.
Do you like angelfish? If I wasn’t so concerned for their welfare, I would buy a barrelful of angelfish and throw in some squirrelfish and damselfish to help them with their self-esteem.
P.S. — Don’t go see Elf without reading The Da Vinci Code. I’m not saying that Elf’s plot is lacking anything in and of itself, but a seemingly simple story like Elf’s often reflects the perfect channel for hidden symbology. Elf might make more sense once you’ve acquired that novel for your bookshelf.

In the fresh

10:20 am et  ¦  Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Clip-N-Seal Grand Prize Winner Clip-N-Seal Runner-up Prize Winners
Congratulations to all ten of our first round of winners.
Coming soon: new Blogstakes contests and we’ll be announcing the winners of our BrowserCam contest.

You may have already won

9:25 pm et  ¦  Wednesday, October 8, 2003

This afternoon, 16 messages went out to people to verify contact information and confirm eligibility. Once I have their responses, I’ll contact their referring blogs and our sponsors can start awarding prizes.
In the meantime, work continues on the new A List Apart site and my publishing company Weblogs, Inc.
Plus Niki and I are glued to the Yankees game. It would really suck if next year we have to taunt Red Sox players with chants of “2003”. It just wouldn’t be the same as “1918”.

Zeno of Elea would have loved blog marketing

8:10 am et  ¦  Friday, September 19, 2003

This week saw the end of the first Blogstakes contest, the one for Clip-N-Seal. Soon I’ll set up a script that lets Clip-N-Seal randomly pick their winners and notify everyone who participated in the contest if they asked to be notified.
Then I’ll delete all of your email addresses.
It was no surprise that blog marketing is powerful in short bursts. That’s the nature of blogs. Links to a hot new site spread like crazy through the blogosphere and two days later (as blog entries falls off of the main screens and onto the rarely-visited archive pages) traffic dropped to half. Then half again the next day, but it never died completely. Blogstakes settled on a couple of hundred visitors a day — partly because of the speed at which it made its way into Yahoo and Google and partly because of the dozens of sites that added Blogstakes links to a fixed location on their blog like a BlogRolling list or a BlogShares link.
Before launching Blogstakes, I had to solve issues like how to start a contest that requires inbound links to run. If you visit a contest and a requirement for entry is that you’re visiting from a blog and no blogs have linked to my contests, then how can you enter? I created an engine that analyzed new visitors to determine whether they were coming from: a known blog; an unknown blog; a site that sends visitors, but isn’t allowed to co-register as a winning blog (like Yahoo or a contest sponsor); or no detectible blog at all. The “no detectible blog” visitors were people who either typed the URL into their browser (so they came to Blogstakes from no other site) or they were using security software that hides “referer strings” and negates my ability to detect their blog of origin.
My original plan for visitors who didn’t come from a valid referring blog was to have them click a “randomizer” link and send them to one of the blogs that had already referred someone to Blogstakes. Then they could explore that blog, find the link back to Blogstakes and enter the contest. But some people had problems with the random link taking them to the same site every time they clicked it. So I made it a list of ten referring sites. Then I ran into a new problem: I was sending people to a site that had sent people to Blogstakes a couple of days ago, but no longer had a link to Blogstakes on their home page. So I created a system of link aliases that allow me to send people to the archived entries that have Blogstakes links — eliminating lots of frustration.
Blogstakes is just getting started. I have more features in the pipeline and some great contests coming up. Just between you and me, I knew that I wouldn’t have enough time to get new contests running (since I’m hard at work developing a massive Web publishing system and Blogstakes is just a fun diversion for me), so I set the first two contest deadlines far enough in the future for me to prepare the next batch of contests. Upcoming contests will run for less than the four to six weeks of my original two contests.

A September 11th To Do List

9:50 am et  ¦  Thursday, September 11, 2003

  1. Send email to friends — like Richard the great SQL developer — who were in the buildings two years ago and made it out.
  2. Accentuate the positive: When recalling those events, focus on the good that came in the weeks following the 11th. Remember how Jason opened our office in the city to several displaced companies including Logicworks (then DTI) and how Logicworks donated networking equipment so we could keep everyone connected even after they were allowed to return to their offices.
  3. Take Walter out tonight to celebrate his 34th birthday — a day he used to share with Harry Connick, Jr. and Moby, but now a day they all share with the World Trade Center.
  4. Keep Walter away from television screens.

All blog marketers are going to hell

4:15 pm et  ¦  Wednesday, September 3, 2003

I found out where some of those people from 1994 ended up. You remember the ones that believed any commercial use of the Internet — like banner ads or putting your magazine online and charging money for people to read it — is a corruption of their pure medium? They have blogs now.
But what is “pure” online?
Is it wrong or deceitful for Mena Trott, DL Byron and Macromedia employees to tell their stories to customers using blogs? I don’t think it is.
Maybe if you’re promoting anything at all online (including yourself), then you are evil, but that would include just about anyone who is doing anything online. Let those whose blogs are without Google AdWords send the first flames.
How evil would you rate conferences on blogging, books on blogging and corporate blog-training?
Blogstakes is a derivative work. Without blogs and without incoming links there is no Blogstakes. It’s no different from BlogShares, Blogdex, Daypop, BlogRolling and dozens of other sites in that respect.
Blogstakes is both a social experiment and a learning experience. I’ve built a set of tools that tackles a long list of features: tracking referring sites, processing registrations, generating XML feeds, activity tracking, redirect tracking and detailed reporting.
Now I’m watching Blogstakes links make their way through the blogosphere and I’m meeting people I never would have heard of before they linked to Blogstakes. All but two of the messages I’ve received have been positive and several people have raised intelligent questions about the logistics of a Blogstakes contest.
Question: What happens when I link to the BrowserCam contest on my blog and someone goes and signs up for Free Panty Hose For Life instead?
Answer: Then you and that person might both win free panty hose for life. I’m considering solutions to this issue that still allow painless blog participation — ones where they don’t have to pre-register and opt-out of contests or contest categories. This is one reason why you haven’t seen any new contests yet.
Question: What if someone has cookies and “referer strings” turned off by their security software?
Answer: I don’t recommend disabling security software just so you can enter a Blogstakes contest.
Question: What if someone links to a contest from someone else’s comments section? Does the blog that sends entries win a prize or the person that posted the comment?
Answer: Only the blog’s author can link to a contest and qualify to win a prize. I call putting a contest link on someone else’s site using their comments forms “blogstakes slamming” and those entries are disqualified.
There are supposedly more than 900,000 blogs out there and I know now a few thousand more than I did two weeks ago.
I’d love to know what you think about blog marketing.


10:08 am et  ¦  Saturday, August 23, 2003

All of the visitors and contest entries don’t really say “you have arrived” quite like getting your first 4-1-9 spam. Now that tells me that my five-day-old site is on the map.
Thank you Mr. John Williams, accountant with a private bank in the United Kingdom (UK).
Wait a minute — his email specifies that “in the course of this transaction, everything must be done in absolute trust and confidentiality.”
Does mentioning your email on Blogstakes disqualify me from receiving my share? I mean, we are talking about 25% of £4,182,000.00 (Four million, Two Hundred Thousand British Pounds) which is approximately $7,182,000.00 (Seven Million, One hundred and Eighty-two Thousand US Dollars).
I can’t help but wonder, “What would Eric Cartman do?”

I can’t believe it’s not button

2:20 pm et  ¦  Thursday, August 21, 2003

The second most popular question I get from visitors is, “Where are your little buttons?” There they are over there on the right. If you want to use them, please do so by downloading them to your own site.
The RSS ones came from other sites and the three custom Blogstakes buttons were made using the awesome button maker from Kalsey Consulting Group which is just an interface for a script by minimal verbosity.
The most popular question is, “When are you giving away a truck?”
It was just an analogy!

You like me, you really like me

4:32 pm et  ¦  Tuesday, August 19, 2003

About 24 hours ago, Blogstakes was unleashed and it’s moving pretty quickly. I’ve been interviewed on Up2Speed and Boing Boing and the mail I’ve received from bloggers and interested contest sponsors has been incredible.
Thank you for your warm response!
Now back to our regularly-scheduled development work.

Let’s do launch

3:21 pm et  ¦  Monday, August 18, 2003

Blogstakes is a unique new kind of sweepstakes with two winners for every prize: a person who entered and the site that referred the winning entry. So if the prize is a truck, then the winning entry gets a truck and the blog that sent them gets a truck too.
Blogstakes opens today with two contests.
One of them — Free BrowserCam for a Year — is a good match for people who design Web sites and the other — The Clip-n-Seal Fresh Party Pack — is a good match for people who eat.
There are more contests launching in the next few weeks. If you aren’t someone who builds Web sites or eats, sign up for the announcements mailing list or subscribe to an RSS feed and maybe I’ll have something that appeals to you in a future contest.

A snow day in the middle of summer

3:22 pm et  ¦  Friday, August 15, 2003

Everyone I work with is home from work today and many of them are still without electricity or running water. Since my electricity was on and my server in the city had not yet reappeared, I tinkered with some SQL code for my next version of Meet The Makers and I braved the shopping throng to replenish my Diet Coke supply.
You might not know this, but the word “throng” is a Middle English word from before the 12th century and — despite what you think — it is completely unrelated to the words “throb” and “thong”.

We’re gonna turn it on, we’re gonna bring you the power

3:13 am et  ¦  Friday, August 15, 2003

The lights came back on, so I shut the candles down.


6:12 pm et  ¦  Thursday, August 14, 2003

Maybe you’ve heard a story like this one: I was in a chat session with co-workers in LA and NYC and I was knocked offline when the power died at my home office in White Plains. Before I could call anyone to explain my sudden disappearance, they called to tell me that their whole building in the city just lost power. Uh-oh.
Thankfully, my wife and son are safe in Florida this week. I mentioned that to my neighbor across the street and he suggested that while I was a bachelor again, I should “get a whore.”
Get a whore? That is so wrong.
Aren’t you supposed to refer to them as escorts or call girls? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s only number six on the list of things they like to be called.
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