Merry Christmas

Just a quick note to say thanks to everyone who makes RIA the diverse, crazy, and unique community that it is.

Have a great Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate), and I am looking forward to a great 2007 for all of us.

- Lawrence


Batch Delete for WebList Suggestions

We just added a useful tool for the serious Weblister - the ability to delete batches of Weblist item suggestions at once. Just check the box next to all the suggestions you want to remove, and click the big delete button at the bottom.

This is the first of a number of tweaks planned to make it easier to create, manage, publish, and distribute rating lists.


Any Francophiles out there?

New member Frenchboy2000 has created some excellent France related rating lists:

Top French Champagnes
Top French Cheeses
Top French Beer
Top French Red Wines
Top French Rose Wines
Top French White Wines

Video Weblists

HKK has a couple of new video Weblists out.

Check out her lists of Christmas videos and Funny videos with stuff she's pulled from YouTube and Yahoo! Video.


T-Shirts Ordered

Folks, I ordered t-shirts for everyone who messaged me. They're all getting sent here, and then I'm going to pack them out and send them to you all.

I wouldn't count on them for Christmas day :)

Two Small Fixes Just Went Live

We just rolled in two little fixes:

1) we changed the layout of the item page in order to give more width to the review column. Before the rating associated with the review had its own column. The rating associated with the review now appears below the RIA nickname of the reviewer. This is less crammed looking, I think.

2) We fixed the RSS feeds on all ratings lists pages. Before they worked some of the time - now they work all of the time. I'm talking about the link in the "actions" box that says "Follow This List Through RSS."

One neat thing that you can do with this now is to plug any list's RSS feed into the Springbox RSS Feed Reader widget like this (you can then embed any list on your blog, or MySpace page):

T-Shirt Update

Guys, I'm working on processing the t-shirt orders today. To those who missed out, I'll try and open up another batch in a few months.

Happily, I was able to get a t-shirt over to Ridge at his moon dwelling. Here's a quick shot that Stark snapped from the shuttle:



Over the last few years, I think RateItAll has gotten a bit too complicated. We've been piling on features, and developing our own terminology for things that nobody outside the world of RIA understands.

We have three channels - RIA, Weblists, and Local all of which consist of basically the same thing.... ratings lists. We have so many things jammed into the home page that I'm not really sure newbies have any idea what the heck the site is about. There are six calls to action packed into the yellow header on the home page - this message needs to be simplified into something that is easy to understand.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to work on simplifying the site. I plan on collapsing the three channels of the site into one and placing the emphasis of the site on the related activities of finding a list / publish a list. I'm going to make it so it doesn't take three clicks to start publishing a Weblist. I'm also going to invest heavily in the weblist publishing tool - with the availability of things like Ajax, there's no reason that we should have to reload a page to add a new item to a list.

The goal is going be across the board simplification - you may even see the disappearance of a few bandwidth intensive features that people aren't using much.

As these changes progress, I'll be asking from feedback from some top RIA members. If you'd like to be included in this feedback loop, please feel free to message me.


Can I Get a Price Check Please?

Here's a sort of neat, unintended consequence of the Yahoo! Shopping feed. Need to a quick price check on something for your holiday shopping? Add that product name to one of your Weblists. Product images and prices will be immediately fed into your weblist page - I tried it with this digital picture frame.

I quickly learned that these things are pretty expensive.


Formatting Problems with your Widgets?

Here are two easy formatting tips to help your pages look better when you embed YouTube videos or Streampad Music Players or other widgets.

The line of space is particularly helpful between text and widgets in an item description of a Weblist. The Center command is particularly helpful for making YouTube Players look better.

Just type the appropriate code snippets above directly into the same field where you are pasting the widget (before the widget code).

Let me know if anyone needs help with this.


RateItAll is PC Magazine's Web Site of the Week

Wow, RIA just got some love from the press. PC Magazine has named RateItAll its Web site of the week.

It's obvious that the editor really dug into the site - he gets that it's not the mainstream stuff that makes RIA unique - it's the bizarro, off the wall stuff.

Here's a quote that demonstrates this:

"The results that one encounters are equally fascinating, informative, and maddening. Users can not only discover what people think about a product—something that can be found just about anywhere on the Internet (for more comprehensive listings of actual products, you might do best to consult those other sites)—they can find out more than they could ever possibly want to know about people's opinions on just about every angle of the product on RateItAll. For example, the Dell Inspiron 8600 scores 3 stars; company CEO Michael Dell earns a nice 3.94 stars; one-time mascot "Steven" manages a respectable 3.5 stars (dude!); and his unloved replacements, the Dell Interns, get a paltry 1.69 stars. Clicking on a result will display an explanation of the subject, individual ratings, and user comments."

And I think this is the money quote:

RateItAll is perhaps not the most professional of all consumer-based rating Web sites, but it's quite possibly the most fun."


Merry Xmas / Happy Holidays

Hi everybody, first 25 people to send a message to lawrence from their RateItAll account get their choice of one of the new RIA t-shirts displayed here on the sidebar.

Here's the info I need:

name and address where you want the shirt sent
size, model, and color of shirt (probably easiest to send me the Zazzle URL)

That's it - if you want to send me a quick note to lock up the shirt, and then figure out what style you want, that's fine.

Feel free to tell your favorite RIA reviewer to check the blog.

I really wish I could buy everybody a shirt... but they're expensive, and I'm broke.

Widgets on Profile Pages

Guys, can I just say that I'm really enjoying what folks are doing with their profile pages? IJR has a few new videos up that had me cracking up.

This whole widget thing is really cool - and by widget, I mean anything that you can grab off one site (like a YouTube video) and plug into another site (like RIA).

Anybody who is interested in finding the latest and greatest widgets to plug into their profile page should check out another blog I write called Sexy Widget.


Ad Network Slowing Down the Site

Apologies, folks. There's an Ad network that we run on RateItAll called Adbrite. When a RateItAll page is called up, Adbrite serves an ad from their servers.

Right now, for the second time in the last two months, the Adbrite servers are not responding, and it's breaking our site. Our pages won't load properly, because they're getting hung up on Adbrite's not-responsive server.

So we're ripping these guys out permanently now, as we speak. Things should be working properly again soon.


Who says Yahoo! Shopping doesn't have a sense of humor?

Check out Yahoo! Shopping's matches for "proctologist" (in worst jobs in america).

You can buy either a "your proctologist called, he found your head" t-shirt, or "fanny floss" (whatever that is).

Christmas / Holiday Shopping on RIA

Some of you may have noticed that we've just rolled in a Yahoo! shopping module on many of RateItAll listing pages. The cool thing about this module is that it's all dynamic - we send Yahoo! the name of the page (e.g. Nintendo Wii), and Yahoo! dynamically feeds us the lowest priced merchants from their shopping network for a product that matches that query. This communication between RateItAll and Yahoo! happens instantaneously, every time a page is loaded.

What this means is, no matter what page of RateItAll you are on, you will always see competitive, real time prices.

I think that this will be a useful feature as we approach the Christmas shopping season. So before you buy, see what your friends on RIA have to say about the product, and see what the lowest prices are. That's a pretty powerful combination, I think.

Here's a screenshot:

Doing a DB Back Up

Site might be a little sluggish for the next few minutes.


Big Traffic

Today was our biggest traffic day in quite some time. By the time midnight strikes here in SF, we will have done more than 32K visits to RateItAll for the day.

That's not bad for site run out of a living room, and I'm thrilled that the site seems to be stable again, and pages seem to be loading crisply.

Between big traffic and the aWiseguy video, it's already been a good RIA week :)

Display Your RateItAll Reviews on Other Sites

Hey, check this out. I've set up a feed of Magellan's reviews in this widget. It's easy to do, and it updates in real time - in other words, as Magellan leaves reviews, this display will update.

So what does this mean? It means you can display your RateItAll reviews on your MySpace page (or any other social networking site) or on your personal blog or anywhere else that lets you embed widgets. If you want, you can display this feed right on your RateItAll profile page.

Here's how you do it:

1) Go to your RateItAll profile page. Click on the link below your photo that says "Subscribe to USERNAME via RSS." Copy the URL in the url field.
2) Visit this page.
3) Paste your RateItAll RSS feed URL into the line that says "param."
4) Click the icon that looks like this (it's right next to the MySpace logo)
5) Copy the widget code, and paste it into your MySpace profile, blog, RateItAll profile, or anywhere else you want to display your RIA rants.

Cool, huh?


Best. RIA Video. Ever.

aWiseguy has outdone himself with this one, I think. Check out the choreography on this RateItAll Video.


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving RIA'ers one and all.

In true RateItAll spirt, here is a list of Thanksgiving related ratings:

Rate Thanksgiving Foods

Rate Thanksgiving Guffaws

Rate Thanksgiving as a holiday

Rate not having school or work on Thanksgiving

Rate Poor Thanksgiving (i don't know what this means either)

Rate the Dr. Quinn Episode called Thanksgiving

Rate Thanksgiving Dinner (in Numbah's favorites)

Rate Thanksgiving (in American Foods)

Rate Thanksgiving (In usurped American Holiday Symbols) (?)

Rate Thanksgiving (in things to love about autumn)

Rate the Agency episode called Thanksgiving

Rate things that sound dirty at Thanksgiving but aren't

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.


New Comment Alerts Now Live on old Reviews

OK, we've run the script. Any time anybody comments on any of the hundreds of thousands reviews in the RIA db, the publisher of that review will get an alert.

This is helpful for us old timers who have been on the site for a while...

Weblist Duplicate Item Bug

You know that bug where if you add items to your Weblist then click "back" on your browser, the new items duplicate?

Well, we're working on it now.

Here's the schedule for fixes:

This Morning: Fix a bug that made it impossible to change their email addresses in their RIA account

Tonight: Add new review reply alert for every review in the database

Tomorrow: Fix that Weblist duplicate item bug


Comment Alerts Rolling in Tomorrow Night

Guys, I've postponed rolling in the comment alert stuff on legacy reviews until tomorrow night. Traffic is very high today, and I don't want to risk slowing the site down.

Shoot me a note if there are any little annoying bugs that you'd like to see fixed tomorrow evening. Maybe I can put numbers back in the rankings per your request.

Keeping Track of Replies to your Reviews

One obvious thing we need to do is to provide a better way for folks to know when their reviews have been commented on. There's some discussion of this issue HERE.

I think we have this solved. We've written a script that will set as a default an email alert for all new comments on any review.

The problem is that RateItAll is SO big, with so many reviews, that it's going to take a while to run this script over the whole site.

We're tentatively planning on running this thing tonight at midnight PST. The site will most likely be down for a few hours while this happens.

Once the default option is for folks to be notified when someone responds to one of their reviews, they'll be able to turn off those alerts as required.


Site Wide Search

We finally have site wide search.

Searching for something will now show all the results across the whole site for a given query. Here's an example with Jessica Alba.

In my opinion, this makes the site INFINTELY easier to use.

Some Fixes

We've been pretty busy. We've expanded out the reviews to full length, so that you can now read the first 20 reviews of any item without having to go through that "click full review" stuff. You can give feedback on this tweak HERE.

We've also fixed the email alerts for new reviews on a given item. You can now activate and disable email notifications for new reviews directly from the item page, by clicking the link in the "actions" box in the right hand column. In this example, it is displaying the turn off alert option, because I already had the alert on.

We're also working on implementing a default site wide search (RIA, Weblists, Topics). The search engine may be a little buggy for a few minutes as we work through the issues.


aWiseguy Video

Check out aWiseguy's profile page. He's embedded a video in which he discusses RIA, partisanship, and some ideas for a weblist. I think it's pretty cool how he uses this new medium to communicate with his readers.

How did he do it? He shot a video of himself, uploaded it to YouTube, copied the embed code, and pasted it into his RateItAll profile page.

Let me know if you see other folks doing cool things like this with their profile page, and I'll mention them on the blog.


Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween to RIA'ers everywhere. This year's scariest profile goes to HKK.


Spot the Bot

So I had a really fun day yesterday. I spent the day poring over reports like this, trying to figure out which robots, or bots, are responsible for our servers being hammered over the last few days.

Bots are little software programs that follow links around the Web and that suck back data to some central location. Examples of good bots include Google and Yahoo! bots which collect the data to build the indexes for their search engines. I don't mind them, because they send us traffic. Examples of bad bots include mysterious, unnamed sites in China who don't obey the bot standards, and are most likely scraping data for their own use.

I found about 30 IP addresses of suspicious looking bots that were consuming large amounts of bandwidth, or were hitting us large numbers of times in short periods.

I then crosschecked these IP addresses against an RIA member list, to make sure that the black list that I was building did not include any humans.

The good news is that I found a couple of culprits - bots that are hitting us so hard, and so fast, that they would have the potential to cripple the site. Those bots have been banned now, and I think that performance is improving.

Widget Formatting Tips

As I see more and more people customizing their profile pages and weblists with html embeds, I thought it might make sense to share some formatting tips. Here are some snippets of code that should be helpful in making your pages look nice (i had to put these examples in an image so they wouldn't format this page!):

Some widget formatting tips

Do you want to center a YouTube video on your profile page or weblist? Just add this before the YouTube or other widget code:

Do you want to add a line of space between widgets on your profile page? Just add this between widget codes:

(don't look now, but we're all learning a little HTML.)


Cool Music Widget

For all of you iTunes users out there, I just found a fantastic music widget from a company called iLike.

Here's how it works:

- You download iLike's software to your computer
- This software reports back your iTunes listening behavior to iLike
- iLike generates music widgets based on what you're listening to right now
- You copy and paste this widget code into your Music field on your RIA profile

The best thing about this widget is that you can actually play samples of the songs within the widget - for an example, check out Magellan's page.

For all of you music snobs out there, I'd love to check out what you're listening to as you mess around on RIA... why not throw an iLike widget up?

Still working on some performance issues

One of our Web servers keeps getting maxed out, and we're trying to figure out why. The site is slow, in case you haven't noticed...


Site is Humming Again

We applied a few patches and the site seems to be moving nicely now.

Site Performance Issues

We seem to be having some serious page load times at the moment. We're looking into it, and I'll keep you posted.

Doing a quick Reboot

Guys, the site was sluggish, so we're doing a quick reboot. RIA should be back up very shortly.


Maps on RateItAll Local Now

We've integrated Yahoo! Maps on RateItAll Local now - I think it looks pretty sweet.

You can toggle between satellite images, regular map images, or a hybrid of the two. If you use the satellite option on this example, you can actually see RateItAll Mission Control (I won't tell you which structure it is though).

Over the coming months, I'm going to be paying a lot more attention to Local. There are now more than 15K local business ratings - little by little, this is becoming a useful service.


More profile creativity

Courtesy of Numbah.

Wilco Songs

One of the benefits of making editorial decisions for RateItAll is that I get to ensure that things that I like are covered in the main RateItAll index. One of those things are songs by the band Wilco - I spent about 2 hours last night adding in Streampad audio players for most of the songs on the Wilco song list.

If you're not familiar with this band, a couple of tracks that you may want to check out are Via Chicago, California Stars, She's a Jar, and Heavy Metal Drummer.
Wilco Songs - View All
How To Fight Loneliness
Muzzle of Bees
Forget The Flowers
Remember The Mountain Bed
Sunken Treasure
Company in my Back
Handshake Drugs
Wishful Thinking
Jesus, Etc.
She's A Jar
California Stars
Far, Far Away
Heavy Metal Drummer
Shot In The Arm
Airline To Heaven
I'm Always In Love
Via Chicago
Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway (Again)
RateItAll.com - A network for opinionated individuals.



HKK has quietly put together a very nice list of fictional / tv / movie witches. She's got pics and descriptions for most of them.

Favorite Witch - View All
Uncle Arthur (Bewitched)
Aunt Clara (Bewitched)
Doctor Bombay (Bewitched, Tabitha, and Passions)
Salem (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch)
Scarlet Witch
Samantha Stevens (Bewitched)
Jenny Calendar
Angelique (Dark Shadows)
Willow(Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Aunts Hilda and Zelda (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch)
Miss Eva Ernst/Grand High Witch (The Witches)
Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
Sabrina Spellman(Sabrina, the Teenage Witch)
Maleficent(Sleeping Beauty)
Prudence Halliwell( Charmed)
Witchiepoo (H.R. Pufnstuf)
Eglantine Price (Bedknobs and Broomsticks)
Galadriel (The Lord of the Rings)
RateItAll.com - A network for opinionated individuals.

Nice Looking Profile

PlanetaryGear has done a really nice job with his profile... videos, games, he messed with the font... looking good.

Very Strange Profile Page Bug

It was just reported by an RIA member that when they visit their RIA profile, the system boots them out of being logged in, and they are unable to check mail, make edits, etc.

I logged in as this member and was able to recreate the bug. I have no idea why this was happening.

We changed her nickname and things seemed to work fine.

If anyone else is having this problem, please let me know.


Couple More Fixes Just Rolled Live

Here's the list:

- You can now add photos in any format (png, gif) in addition to jpegs
- The ratings list widget width has been fixed at 200 px so it easily fits in blog sidebars
- That annoying profanity filter bug has been eliminated. Any post will go live on the site in real time now. Profane posts are still sent to my attention however, where I will make a go / no go decision on it.
- The character limit for posts has been pushed up to 7000 characters - both EO and GTH have had problems losing very long posts. This should fix that.
- The new reply (to a given review) email notification feature has been fixed
- A few more tweaks to the registration process

As promised, we're going to continue our focus on tightening things up, as opposed to adding more features.


Bigger Text Box to Leave Reviews

Hi guys, per your feedback (thanks to Randyman and Ridgewalker), we've increased the size of the review entry text box by 50%.

Feedback is good folks, we really do listen. Please keep it coming. Tell me what bugs you about RateItAll.


A friendly reminder...

... just as a heads up - as discussed a while back, RateItAll is a ratings site. The purpose of Weblists are to display groups of thematically connected items that can be logically rated.

As fun as these types of lists are, they just don't fit into RateItAll's format very well. For a full list of Weblist guidelines, please see here.


Back in Business

OK, the login / profile pages have been fixed. If you're still unable to reach your profile page, try quitting your browser and then reopening.

Here is a complete list of tweaks made today:

1) We fixed the broken local links on this page (in the right margin):


2) Any logged in member can now add html / flash embeds to any item description using the Wiki Edit feature (this is the link that says "Add a Description" on items that don't already have a description.) This should be especially helpful for people wanting to help other folks out with their movie, song, or game weblists.

3) The Weblist ratings scale is now visible on every weblist item page (though this will be changed to only show the "5" rating - the rest of the scale should be obvious if you just know the "5") (this one's for you Ridge)

4) We cleaned up the registration process a bit

5) We fixed the password reminder tool

6) A few tweaks were made to speed up the loading of the profile pages

A few more fixes will be rolled in tomorrow.

Login / User Page Issues

Guys, our fixes of today broke something regarding login. We're aware of the issue and are working on it right now.

Bunch of Fixes Live On Site

Guys, we rolled in a bunch of fixes to little nagging bugs today.... I'll summarize them later this evening.


Pic of the New T-Shirt

Here's a pic of the new RateItAll-Star T, courtesy of Brian Solis.