Buy Back Announcements

The newest batch of WebList Buy Back winners was just announced.

The big winner was earthbound, who was nominated and won for not one, but two WebLists - Puzzles and Animal Usage.

Some veteran Weblisters such as irishgit, tboneya, and redoedo hit paydirt, as well as relative newcomer texasyankee, who did a fantastic job with images and descriptions in her South Park Episodes WebList.

Thanks to everyone who makes WebLists, and remember, keep those nominations coming.

Did you know... (part 2)

... that the Alert check box visible on every ratings list page (for logged in users only), is an easy way to activate an email notification when new reviews are posted for that item?

For example, checking the alert sign up box next to "Back Bay" on this page...:


.... means that you will receive an email whenever a new review is posted on Back Bay.

For more info on how to use alerts, click HERE.

Did you know....

...that you can access the RIA Blog through the "Company" tab on the navigation bar on every page of the site? It's right next to the "Help" tab.


Couple new lists to check out

A couple of new ratings lists were just added to the main RateItAll index - Boston Neighborhoods and Constellations & Stars.

Feel free to start rating...

Hurricane Katrina

I've set up a link to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina donations.

WebList Rating Scale Tool

OK, another new feature just went live.

You can now set a ratings scale for your WebLists (e.g. 5 = Strongly Agree, 1 = Strongly Disagree).

This ratings scale will be displayed right under the title of your WebList, and will also populate the drop-down fields on the RateIt! page when people try and rate that WebList.

The ratings scale is a required field for all WebLists made from now on. I'm hoping that this feature will help remind people that RateItAll is a ratings site, and that while forum-like discussions can be fun, they're really not what RateItAll is about.

For older WebLists without a viable ratings scale, I wouldn't worry too much about them. We will most likely moving them to User Page Only status, in order to start adding a little structure to the Wild West that is WebLists.

RateLocal iPod Winner

Congratulations to RateItAll member Andrew Scott for winning the RateLocal promotion. He will receive his choice of a 20GB iPod or a $300 gift certificate to Amazon.

We'll be running more promotions in the near future....

Stay tuned!

South Park Episodes

Just noticed that TexasYankee has put together a collection of 110 South Park episodes.... good stuff!

Want fresher RIA comments?

Well here's a trick.

I stumbled onto this one myself.

If anyone uses the Google Customized Home Page, you can set up an RSS feed of recent RIA comments that is fresher than what is displayed on the site.

It's very easy to do. To set this up, follow these instructions:

1) Go to your Google home page. If you don't have one set up yet, you can do so HERE.
2) Click on the "Add Content" link in the upper left hand corner
3) Click on the "Create A Section"
4) Copy and paste this url into the field: http://www.rateitall.com/recentcommentsrss.aspx

If you get stuck, post a comment here, and we'll see if we can figure out what the problem is.

Lots of good stuff in the works....

Site Speed:

Another DB upgrade is happening Thursday evening. We're doubling processing power again, and now have perhaps the most powerful, custom built database on the planet. Well, maybe not the planet.

I've brought in an optimization expert to recode all of our ratings list pages. I've seen examples of his work, and the difference in page loading times before and after is impressive. I'm optimistic between this recode and the upgraded DB, the site will fly, and we'll be able to undo some of the caching stuff that is causing delays on new posts displaying on the Recent Comments page and User page.

Site Search:

I've closed a deal with a site search company, and we're getting really close to launching a real search engine for RIA. This search engine will mirror how the best ones perform (Google, Yahoo, MSN), where you can type in a query and the search engine will show you the best results throughout the site. You'll also be able to rate directly from the search results. I'm hoping this will be live within two weeks.

Lots of other good stuff in the pipeline as well, I'll do my best to keep you posted.

P.S. I'm looking into going back to the RateIt! Pop-Up window based on your feedback.

Working On Ratings Scale Tool For Weblists

..... There may be some momentary glitches.

Stay tuned.


Help FAQs Updated

The RIA Help FAQs now have more detailed information about some of the new features like how to add a new listing, and how to set up alerts.

Feel free to point Newbies to the Help page if you see them struggling... as the info is now up to date.

Time for bed now, my eyes are starting to glaze over.

Updated WebList FAQs are Now Live

We've added info to the WebList FAQs regarding how to respond to user suggestions, how to add new items to your WebList, and why the cumulative rating of a WebList matters.

Orphaned Weblists

I've created a Weblist account for orphaned Weblists - Weblists whose original author is no longer willing or able to administer them. These Weblists can be found HERE.

In other Weblist news, you may have noticed a slight change to the Weblist administration tool. Weblist authors are no longer able to delete comments from their Weblists - this responsibility will now fall to RIA Administrators, and eventually, to RIA Mods.

Finally, as some of you know, a former Weblist author recently deleted thousands of reviews. We're working to restore these reviews. It may take a couple of days or weeks, but we should be able to bring them back... doing frequent back-ups to a database the size of RIA's can be a pain, but every once in a while you remember why you do it.

I'll keep you posted.


Weblist Community Controls Now in Effect...

OK, now you should only be seeing unrated Weblists or Weblists with a cumulative rating of 3.0 or higher in the main Weblist index.

All other Weblists are accessible through the profile page of their author, via the search engine, or via the New Additions page.

So now we will decide as a community which Weblists get airtime, and which don't. Please use this tool responsibly :)

Over the next couple of days, I should have a tool available that allows each Weblist creator to indicate a ratings scale, as well as an administrative override tool that lets RIA staff manually assign Weblists to user page only status. This tool will be used initially to relocate highly personal Weblists (e.g. "Songs I Play on Guitar.")


Weblist Changes

There are now nearly 3,000 Weblists that have been created by RateItAll members. Many of these make for compelling reading and have been put together with a lot of time and effort. Some of them haven't.

As more and more Weblists compete for airtime, we felt it was the right time to institute some community controls to allow the RateItAll community to determine which weblists get the most exposure. In addion, we'll be taking advantage of the changes to clarify some of the existing guidelines.

Very soon now (possibly as early as this evening), we're going to be launching a series of tweaks to the Weblist channel of the site. As mentioned in earlier posts, these tweaks are going to:

- Require that every Weblist have a ratings scale in order to be published.
- Ensure that the highest quality Weblists, as determined by the community, get the most airplay.
- Clarify some of the guidelines related to Weblists.

Specific applications of the new Weblist approach will include the following:

- Weblists that have a cumulative rating of 3.00 or higher will be accessible through the main Weblist index. Weblists that have a cumulative rating of a 2.99 or lower will be accessible through the user page of the Weblist creator.
- Weblists that are entirely personal to the reviewer (e.g. "Songs I Play on the Guitar," "Rate My DVD Collection," "A Few Ideas I Have") will be accessible only through the user page of the Weblist creator.
- There will be an administrative override, that in certain cases, will be used to assign a Weblist to "user page only" status.

Initially, it will only take one 3+ rating for a Weblist to show up in the main index. This means that all of us will be able to make an immediate impact in determining which Weblists get airplay, and which don't - as many of the Weblists have not been rated.

To ensure that quality, but as of yet unrated Weblists, don't get lost in the shuffle, any Weblist that is unrated will also show up in the index, until its cumulative rating drops below 3.0.

As always, feedback is welcome....


RateLocal Contest Ends Today....

Still anybody's ballgame. To sign up to win the iPod or $300 Amazon gift certificate, read the instructions here.

All local reviews must be in tonight by 11:59 PM CST, AND your contest registration info must be received by me at lawrence AT rateitall.com by 5:59PM CST this evening.

Good luck!


Get those local reviews in....

....As an iPod is in the balance.

Just two days remaining in the RateLocal iPod promotion, and it's still anybody's ballgame.

Remember, to participate you need to follow the instructions HERE.


New Features!

OK, a bunch of stuff just launched.

You can now set email alerts on the following:

1) When a new review is posted to a specific item (we had this before, but now it's easier to manage)
2) When a new item is added to a specific ratings list (RIA or Weblist or Local)
3) When a specific user leaves a new review
4) When a specific user creates a new Weblist

#1 can be triggered from three places: the ratings list page, the RateIt! page, and the item page.
#2 can be triggered from the ratings list page.
#3 and #4 can be triggered from that user's profile page.

Also, there is now a "User Block" feature. This feature is triggered on an incoming personal message. If you get an unwanted personal message, you can now block the person who sent it from contacting you again.

Blocking a user also prevents them from setting alert type #3 for your reviews.

You can manage all your alerts and user blocks via links from your profile page.

Got all that? As there are a lot of changes involved in these features, be on the look out for bugs.

Feel free to email me with questions lawrence AT rateitall.com.

Have fun with them, and please test them out.


Weblist Ratings

I'm looking seriously at implementing some sort of community quality control over Weblists. As more and more Weblists gets created, it is becoming more important to find ways to ensure that higher quality Weblists (more original, more carefully constructed, more useful), get more airplay than lower quality Weblists.

The most reasonable way to do this will be to utilize a Weblist's rating to determine which ones deserve more airplay.

So I'd encourage people to make full use of the Weblist rating feature. And please, try to rate the Weblist based on its own merits, and not how friendly you are with its author :)


RateLocal Contest

If you would like to participate in the RateLocal contest and don't live in one of the cities that we already cover, please feel free to send in feedback to the site.

We may be able to put up a few new categories so that you can submit your own favorite places using the new item submission tool.


Site Speed and RateLocal Promotion

OK, we successfully installed the new database last night. We effectively doubled our db's processing power last night - and have another major upgrade planned for the next two months. The site seems to be pretty fast today, but I welcome feedback.

Also, the RateLocal iPod Promotion starts today. Reviews left between today and August 24 will count towards the promotion (make sure to check out the full rules of the contest).


RateLocal Promotion

Hi all, just a quick heads up:

We're going to be running another RateLocal promotion, with a chance to win a 20GB iPod or $300 gift certificate from Amazon.

Here's how it's going to work - the RIA member who leaves the most qualifying reviews of local businesses on RateLocal between August 10 and August 24, will have their choice of the two prizes listed above.

We ran this promotion about 2 months ago, and RIA user Jder walked away with a new iPod.

For a review to be considered a "qualifying review" it needs to be at least 2 sentences long, be in your own words, and reflect your personal experience at the local business.

To participate in this promotion, you must send an email to promotions@rateitall.com before 6 PM Central Time on August 24 (the last day of the contest) that includes your full legal name, your street address, your telephone number, and your age as of the last day of the contest. For the full rules of the contest, click HERE.

Remember, you can take full advantage of the "Add a new item" feature - this feature makes it possible to rate ANY merchant in or around the 52 cities covered by RateLocal - your bank, your grocery store, your favorite retailers, restaurants, bars, gas stations, dry cleaners, etc, etc, etc.

Feel free to email me with any questions.

Database Update

OK, we have finally tracked down the part we need to install our new, high-powered database.

RateItAll's hosting company says it was like "trying to find a crankshaft for a 2005
Lamborghini Gallardo." Not really sure what that means, but as we like our hosting company, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Once installed, this database will provide us with eight times the processing power as our existing one. This doesn't necessarily mean the site will be eight times as a fast, but there should be a noticeable improvement.

We will be installing this thing Tuesday evening / Wednesday morning at 1AM EST. Please expect several hours of downtime.


New Database Server NOT Going in Tonight


Unless a miracle happens, it looks like we're missing a part. It looks like the DB won't be live until late Tuesday evening...

I'll keep you posted.

New Database Server Going In Tonight


As reported elsewhere, RIA will be down from about 1AM EST to about 4AM EST this coming morning while we get this thing configured. Could be less, could be more.

I'm hoping for less.

Going to the ballgame with your Dad

Nice post from RIA heavyweight IJR on going to a ballgame with his dad.

Bad Experience

Long time RateItAll contributor Molfan was recently scammed by a magazine company.

They apparently didn't know who they were messing with.

Molfan has set up a Weblist entitled "Companies That Will Scam You," in which she recounts her experience.

Feel free to contribute to this list - who knows, maybe some of that bad karma will float back around to some of these thieves.


Identity Theft

Nice list of tips for avoiding Identity Theft put together by Graymalkin, with lots of contributors.

Of course, if you prefer reviewing the Citibank Identity Theft Victims ad spot, you can do that too.


Weblist Cleaning....

Did a little Weblist cleaning this evening. Thanks to all who flagged bogus Weblists.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.... post in bogus weblists at your own risk, as you never known when they will disappear.

So what's a bogus weblist? One example would be those that are without a ratings scale / impossible to rate.... More on this to follow.

Scheduled Downtime

The new database server has arrived and we will be installing it Friday evening at 1AM EST.

RateItAll will be unavailable for several hours. Please make your weekend plan accordingly :)


A Comment on Privacy

It's been a while since I've said this, and it's worth repeating.

RateItAll has never sold or compromised any of the personal information submitted by RateItAll members through registration.

And as long as I'm with this company, we won't do it. Ever.

We hate spammers with a passion, and decided a long time ago that we wouldn't go that route.

Click through to see the full details of the RateItAll Privacy Policy.

Another thing to keep in mind - RateItAll does not require the submission of personally identifiable information such as Name or Address. There's a reason for this - if we don't have it, it can't be compromised. Even by accident.

To further protect your online identities, we will soon be instituting a personal messaging blocker that will allow you to block RateItAll personal messages from specified users.

Stay tuned for more info.

Feedback on Site Caching

I've gotten some feedback on the recent implementation of page caching. Specifically, this caching has resulted in; 1) delays for new comments hitting your user pages; 2) less frequent updates of the RateItAll recent comments page.

So here's the deal:

- The caching was implemented to protect the database from surging traffic until we can get a new database server in place

- The new database has been purchased, and is scheduled to go online late Friday evening

- I am hopeful we can do some of these caching delays once we have the new server in place.

Thanks for your understanding and I'll keep you posted.


A Tip

One little benefit of the new Weblist Admin Tool - you now have another option for how to add new items to YOUR OWN Weblist.

Instead of using the Weblister tool available through the profile page, you can send suggestions to yourself and then approve them.

The benefit of doing it this way? I'm not sure. It's a little easier to add new stuff in flow directly from the weblist as opposed to going to your user page. Also, new items approved in this manner will credit you on the item page.... this may be interesting should RIA ever start tracking who has submitted the most new items.

Not that any of us are competitive or anything.