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.


I just got my first "test" shirt in the mail from Zazzle, and I love it. I have the one with the big star on the front. As you can see, I'm trying out a Zazzle widget in the sidebar that lets me display the shirts on this blog.

My friend Brad Thompson is the designer - if you want to check out any of his other stuff, click HERE. My personal favorite is the Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutras Ghali hipster T.


Put Your Blog on Your RateItAll Profile Page

So this is pretty cool.

For those RIA'ers that have their own blog - and I know there's a bunch of you - here's a neat way to display your blog on your profile page.

For an example, check out http://www.rateitall.com/lawrence

I'm feeding the RateItAll blog through to my profile page.

Here's how to do it:

1) go to www.thespringbox.com
2) click "widgetize"
3) enter in the rss feed for your blog (for those using Blogger, the feed format is: "http://mysite.blogspot.com/atom.xml, for example: http://rateitall.blogspot.com/atom.xml)
4) Copy and paste the code into one of your profile fields that accepts html.

That's it... no registration required, and it should take you about 5 minutes.

Let me know if you get stuck.

Get a widget for desktop!
Get a widget for your site!


Balancing Features vs. Ease of Use

There's some interesting discussion going on here about a few members' feeling that RIA may be going through "feature creep" - the state of adding so many features that the overall usability of the site goes down.

Please sound off on this... I want to hear what you think.

There's a delicate balance between providing folks with cool features, and cluttering things up. The goal would be to provide those users who like the bells & whistles with enough things to keep them occupied, without losing track of our core focus of being a ratings community.

Kamylienne, a long time member, writes that:

"I think what it all boils down to is identity: What direction does RIA want to take? Does it want to focus more on the "ratings" aspect of it, or the "online community" aspect?"

I actually don't think that this is the choice. I don't think that RIA would be nearly as fun without the pure community type features - user profiles, messaging, testimonials, etc. But I do think that identity IS the question. But I see the fork as being: "Does RateItAll want to be a useful site first, that can be fun, or a fun site first, that can be useful."

I've been putting a lot of thought into this recently, and I think it's something that may need to be addressed.

As I mentioned earlier, there are no more major features on the docket for a while... just about everything from here on out will be focused on tightening things up.

But if we need to remove some features, we're prepared to do so.

Breaking News: RateItAll.com Considered Second Greatest Thing about the 2000's....

.... coming in just behind "Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

Thing's you love about the 00's, so far. - View All
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
X-Men Film Series
MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge)
Harry Potter Books
You Tube
Playstation 2
Charity wristbands