12/24/09

Christmas Lists

Check out these holiday related lists we have highlighted for you.

Christmas Carols
Things You Hate About The Holidays
Things You love About The Holidays
Holiday TV Specials

Pushed Some Small Changes to Facebook Sharing

We just pushed some small changes to how RateItAll reviews show up on Facebook, when you choose to share them with your Facebook friends.

Now, if there is a photo associated with the item or list, that photo will be included when you share the review, item, or list on Facebook. Here's a screenshot of my Facebook page - note the photo of the little Deuce Brand Watch that I reviewed:



I think the photo looks pretty sharp.

I probably only share about 10% of my reviews on Facebook - only the ones that I put a lot of thought into, and the ones that I think my real world friends will appreciate.

The other benefit to me, of course, is that people clicking through on my reviews from Facebook tend to give me lots of helpful votes :) And they don't have to login to do so.

We chose to make our Facebook integration pretty conservative - if you sync your RateItAll account with Facebook, we will prompt you every time if you want to share on Facebook. No auto spamming here. You can also turn off the Facebook connection at any time just by logging out of RateItAll, and then by logging back in using your RIA login (and not the FB button).

It's a neat feature, that's even better now with the photos. I'd encourage you to give a try if you haven't already.

To sync your RateItAll account to Facebook, just click on any of the Facebook links that are all over the site (every item page, list page, home page (sidebar), etc.). Here's a screenshot of the RateItAll logged in home page sidebar, where you can sync up with Facebook, to give you the choice of sharing your RateItAll reviews with your Facebook friends.

12/23/09

The Lists of 2009

OK, we're closing out another year here on RIA, and I wanted to surface a few of the lists that people have made about this last year of the 00's. Here we go:

Movies of 2009
Baseball HOF 2009 Candidates
Number One Songs of 2009
E3 Video Games of 2009
Events of 2009
2009 Oscar Nominees
2009's Dead Celebrities
Sports Stories of 2009
Obama Report Card 2009

12/22/09

Top Rated Video Game Systems

It's officially time for last (last!) minute Christmas shopping. Are you completely stuck? Give the gift of gaming.

As for which system to buy, RateItAll can provide you all the information you need with its Top Rated Video Game Systems list.

Check out these reviews:

Sony PlayStation 2 - " The best console for gaming ever released. It has lived a long plentiful life and is still alive. Companies continue to release better games for the PS2 pushing the limits of its aging processors..." read more.

Microsoft Xbox - " I didn't like it when it first came out and I don't like it now, not many exclusive titles are on it that I would consider AAA's, other than Forza, Halo, DOA, and Ninja Gaiden there isn't much that comes to mind..." read more.

Nintendo Wii - " The Nintendo Wii is a great family gaming system. That does mean it may not be ideal for serious gamers..." read more.

Nintendo GameCube - " When I played Super Mario Sunshine, I saw just how impressive Nintendo's GameCube is. The graphics that are on some of these games are marvelous. This is a damn good game system indeed..." read more.

Microsoft Xbox 360 - "I got this for my Birthday in May and so far everything's great. I got the limited edition 360 that included Halo3 and Fable 2 with it so that was a nice surprise..." read more.

Oh! He doesn't like playing video games... see other options on this guide of 2009 Best Christmas Gifts for Men.

12/21/09

In the News: December 21

Here are a few events from over the Weekend:

World Leaders, including President Obama, gathered in Copenhagen to sign a new climate deal.

Prime Minister Berlusconi was attacked by a man in Milan, using a replica of the Duomo of Milano as a weapon.

Sadly, our 2009's Dead Celebrities list was joined by actress Brittany Murphy and Oral Roberts.

Finally Avatar came out, and early reviews seem to be very positive.

In the tech world, we heard last Thursday about rumors (via Techcrunch) of Yelp being acquired by Google. As of Monday December 21st, the deal seems to have stalled.

12/17/09

Two Nominations for Rant of the Day

There were lots of entertaining rants on RIA today. There always are.

But there were two rants in particular that stood out.

1) Irishgit, reviewing his ex Mother in Law. Here's a taste:

"...The second was some kind of denizen of the Seventh Circle of Hell who had taken time out from tormenting poor sinners to inflict herself on earth. She hasn't said a kind word about anyone since the Truman administration, is a full-blown hypochondriac who insists on special treatment for her largely imaginary woes, combines a vicious tongue with an incredibly thin skin, is ignorant in a way that requires considerable effort to maintain, weighs about as much as the John F. Kennedy (the aircraft carrier, not the president) and detests, check that, loathes with every atom of her being, each of her sons or daughters in law...." see the full post.

2) LivUVA's review of Ronald Reagan National Airport. Here's a taste:

"...Yeah, ok, I normally like terminals B and C. They seem to have their $hit together. But on last Friday afternoon, for whatever reason, TSA apparently lacked the normal D team they bring to the airport game and opted for the F team in Terminal A...." see the full post.

Don't hold back folks, tell us how you really feel....

What we Tweeted: December 17, 2009

For those of you who don't follow us on Twitter, here is a summary of our most recent tweets.

Some fun tweets were The Robot Hall of Fame, and the Most Popular Holidays TV Specials.

We also helped our followers to discover The Best Art Museums in the World and to ride public transportation in major cities with The Best Mass Transit Systems list.

For snow-sport fans, we highlighted our guide to The Best Ski Resorts in California. If California is not an option for you, find other resorts on RIA's ski resorts guide.

We also pointed out the passing of Oral Roberts.

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12/16/09

National Rate Your Cell Phone Day

Today is national "Rate Your Cell Phone" Day.

Well, not really.

But given as we have just updated our Best Cell Phone list with a bunch of top new models the LG Cookie, the Samsung Mythic, the HTC Pure, the LG Chocolate Touch, and the LG Shine, we figured we'd take matters into our own hands.

And yes, we also have the Apple iPhone listed, which happens to be the fastest selling gadget in history.

So let's do this - please rate your Cell Phone.

12/15/09

In the News: December 15

In the news today (with links to the appropriate RateItAll page):

- The women of Tiger Woods (story still going strong)

- The ongoing Health Care debate

- Google is coming out with their own phone - watch this page for Google Nexus reviews

- Roy Halladay is on the verge of signing with the Phillies

- Glee is doing well at the Golden Globes

- Wells Fargo is trying to repay its TARP funds

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12/11/09

Big Ad, Small Ad

Some of us like Big Ads when we browse RateItAll.

And some of like Small Ads.

Rather than make a value judgment on which is better, we've thoughtfully decided to try and please everyone.

If you would like to see Big Ads, all you have to do is log out.

If you would like to see Small Ads, all you have to do is log in.

Go ahead, try it out on this list of Best American Beaches.

Tweeted This Week: 12/11/2009

Yes, RateItAll has a Twitter account. We have used it pretty sparingly so far, and typically only tweet a few times a day with lists that catch our eye. Here are some of the lists that we tweeted this week:

Best Mass Transit System

Best California Ski Resort

Best Guitarist of All Time

Worst US State Flag?

The Women of Tiger Woods

We also retweeted some of Jedi58's awesome travel reviews of Cairo, Venice, and Naples.

So if you're just getting going on Twitter, please follow us - we'll be interesting, we promise.
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12/10/09

Top Rated Christmas Gifts for Men

One of our interns, Nicholas, spent a good deal of time pulling together a list of top rated gifts for men this season across a variety of different personality types; techie, gamer, etc.

I think he did a great job - check out this full list of Best Christmas Gifts for Men (this also went out as a newsletter).
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Flooding the System with Votes (Continued)

It's fun when a site tweak works as hoped.

Check out this graph of total review votes posted on RateItAll. Can anyone spot the day that we rolled in the voting changes? We'll see if the increased volume holds, but for now, it would appear that this enhancement is exceeding our expectations.

Congrats to RateItAll's design and engineering teams for a job well done.


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12/6/09

Getting More Review Votes into the System

When I take the time to post a review on RIA, it's nice to know that people read it. RateItAll tries to provide a couple of different ways that readers of a review can react to reviews on the site. There's the commenting feature, which I think has been a great addition. There's the compliments feature, which is a little more buried, but which is also a nice way to tell folks that you like what they have to say. And then finally, there is the voting feature, which allows people to vote on if a review is helpful, funny, or if they agree with it.

This last feature has been the source of much entertainment and drama over the years. There are some people who can tell you how many votes they get on a daily, or even hourly basis. There are others who will get enraged if they get a disagree vote. There are some that like to drop funny votes at unexpected times. And finally, there are even those that have undertaken elaborate and sophisticated schemes to get, or give, a few more extra votes than they were entitled to.

This fascination with votes might strike outsiders as odd. Why should we care what others think of our reviews?

I know I care.

I think it has to do with the fact that when you take a time to write a review, it's nice to know that people out there are reading it. Even more than if people find my review helpful or agree with it, I care that they read it. I'll take a "disagree" vote over no vote any day of the week.

So with this philosophy in mind, we are going to try out a couple of different things this week to see if we can get some more votes into the system.

The first change you'll notice later this week is a design change that allows for one click voting. Currently, you have to click a link that says "vote," and then choose your selection. That means it can take up to four clicks to react to a review. This will be changing soon.

The second change has to do with expanding the universe of people who can vote on a review. More on this to follow.

Here are RIA HQ, we are curious as to whether a couple of simple changes can bring more votes into the system. There is only one way to find out.

11/30/09

Related Lists

Last week, we quietly launched a neat new feature that displays topically related lists on our most popular list pages. The goal is pretty simple - to provide an additional way to discover high quality, entertaining / helpful lists related to the one you are browsing.

For example, on the Mexican Beer list, you will now see a module called "Related Lists" in the upper right hand side. In this module, you can see links to lists like our main Beer Reviews section, the list of drinking games, a list of Mexico Attractions, and our Tequila Ratings section.

This feature is part automated, and part manual. We are rolling it out slowly to high traffic lists on the site, so keep your eyes out for it.

11/10/09

Spam and the Spammy Spammers who Spam Us

Sigh.

We've spent the last few days battling spammers who are using hundreds of IP addresses to post links to spammy employment, hosting, and pill websites.

These folks are trying to break the Internet. Our small but scrappy team is circling the wagons in attempt to keep our little corner of the web in the Light.

Sadly, today we had to pull the nuclear option on the country of India. Users with IP addresses originating in India will no longer be able to access RateItAll until we can get the spam agencies off our backs.

To friends of RateItAll in India, we hope this is a temporary measure. And we apologize for such drastic measures - we just don't have the resources to continue to fight these spam shops.

And truth be told, it appears that these spam agencies have at least two US companies funding them. We are in the process of seeing what our legal options are for going after the purse strings.

11/6/09

Building out our Art Section

We're experimenting with a new tool that let's create lists on the fly of pretty much any topic. We're trying it out by building some lists of some of the greatest works by the greatest artists - some of the descriptions might look a little screwy, but the images of the art should be accurate.

Check it out:

Degas Paintings
Kahlo Paintings
Da Vinci Paintings
Rivera Paintings
Van Gogh Paintings

I also used the tool to build out a list of Mexican Presidents - and took a bit more care with the descriptions.

11/3/09

How to Add a Photo to a Review

We are starting to see more and more photos added to reviews. Photos can be particularly helpful for things like restaurant reviews, travel reviews, and even, beverage reviews.

So how do you drop a photo into a review? There are a couple of ways.

1) Far and away the easiest way is to use our emailed reviews feature. Just look for the "email your review" link on any item page, and attach the image to the email:


One note on this: make sure that you are sending the email from the same email address that is linked to your RateItAll account. If you send it from a different email address, a new RateItAll account will be created.

2) You can use image hosting services like Flickr, ImageShack, or PhotoBucket. Upload your photo to one of those services, and look for the embed code option (similar to embedding a YouTube video).

We will likely be looking at more ways to include photos in reviews. It seems like this might be something that would be handy from a mobile device as well.

11/2/09

Please Welcome our Fabulous New Interns

All, please take a second and say hi to RateItAll's amazing and talented new interns: Barbara, Yulia, and Nicholas.

They will be helping us get the site ready for the Holiday shopping season, as well as working on our new mobile project (details coming).

10/30/09

List Your Business / Product / Site on RateItAll

This month, nearly 1.4M people will visit RateItAll.com and many, many more will see RateItAll reviews on other sites.

Putting your product / business / site / blog on RIA is a great way to get more exposure, and to get folks talking about your product.

Listing is free - just use this link.

Here are a few things you get access to by listing your stuff on RateItAll:

You get editorial control over the description, links, and images on the page (alas, not the reviews).

You get access to our cool ratings / testimonials widget for your site. This lets people read and write reviews of your biz / product without having to leave your site. It looks like this:



You get access to the "Loved on RateItAll" seal / badge. It looks like this:

RateItAll Badge for RateItAll

You get access to our really cool emailed reviews feature, and an email address just for your business. Try it out by emailing a review of RateItAll.

You also get things like email alerts of new reviews of your business, commenting tools, and RSS feeds for your business' reviews.

The price for all of this is $0.00. We think it's a pretty good deal. Click through to get listed.

10/29/09

Getting More Votes into the System

One of the things we are looking at right now is how to get more votes (helpful / funny / agree) into the system. Currently, voting on a review is a multiple click process. One click to open the voting box, and then more depending on how you are voting. We are going to try and make this simpler.

The second piece of this is looking at how we might expand the universe of people able to vote on the helpfulness of a review.

As a fairly prolific RIA reviewers, I know I enjoy getting votes and comments on my reviews. Making this feature easier and available to more people should help me (and everyone else) get more votes.

10/27/09

So what are we working on these days?

It's been a while since we've posted on the blog, and I wanted to check in and let folks know what we've been working on:
  • Revenue. Yes, we have to pay the bills. The biggest thing we've added recently is pricing information on all of our product pages. You'll notice on any product page, you will now see the best prices from various merchants, as well as pictures of the product. For example, check out the prices on the iPod Touch Reviews page.
  • Adding Stuff to the Site. Typically, the holiday shopping season is a very important time for RIA, and it's crucial that we have coverage for what people are shopping for. One of the sections that's grown the most recently is our Home & Garden reviews section - take a peek to see the kinds of things we've been adding to the site.
  • Mobile. We are working on some VERY cool stuff around accessing RIA from your cell phone. Stay tuned.
Finally, we've started to work on getting the Longtail content out of the main river. Our friends at Longtail have an extremely popular video player, which sometimes has a RateItAll ratings plugin attached to it. Everytime someone rates a video, that rating shows up in the main "everyone" river. Our rating plugin is on something like 400K sites, meaning there is a tremendous amount of Longtail activity on the site - way more than we expected. We're working on ways to make this high volume activity, uh, less visible to visitors to RateItAll.com.

That's it for now. We have more good stuff in the pipeline... stay tuned.

9/22/09

RateItAll Mailbag

We often get entertaining messages sent to us via the web, or via post. Like the RateItAll user plagued by recurring dreams of an offline RateItAll themed nightclub. Or the preacher furious that their default avatar was a serpent.

Here is a polite, handwritten request from Ohio for some tobacco coupons. If only we could grant these sort of wishes :(

9/21/09

RateItAll Economy - On The Rise

For those of you participating in the RateItAll Economy revenue sharing program, you might want to check your stats. We made a few tweaks, and we are hearing reports of big improvements in earnings.

9/8/09

Messaging Spam

We are having some problems with a spammer using RateItAll's messaging system to send commercial pitches.

A fix will be pushed shortly, and we apologize for the inconvenience.

I guess it's flattering that a spammer would take the time to write a messaging script just for us - we are oddly touched :)

9/1/09

Major Search Enhancements

For the last few days, we have been heads down tweaking our search algorithm. Specifically, we have been focusing on 1) prioritizing exact matches for queries in search results; 2) prioritizing listings with lots of reviews over listings with few reviews in the event of duplicate results; 3) doing a better job of handling characters like -,&,', etc.

I think we've made a lot of progress. Check out this query for Jessica Alba - you will now see many exact matches at the top of the results, with the listing with the most reviews coming first. The movie District 9 was impossible to find previously as well - now it's top ranked.

Please help us hammer on this new search algorithm - search for popular items, your own RateItAll nickname, specific lists, etc, and feel free to send us feedback if you feel the search results are not ideal.

I think we've made a lot of progress.

Quick Hitter - Product Label Feedback

Here's a quick one - a RateItAll member is looking for some feedback for some product label designs. Can you help him?

8/26/09

Reviews via Email - A Case Study

I've heard this a few times from RIA regulars:

"reviews@rateitall.com is great and all, but why do I need it when I can just post my reviews from the site?"

For regular users, this is a valid point. You usually don't need need to use reviews@rateitall.com unless you want to, although it is far and away the easiest way to post photos with your review, or to add new things to the site.

But here's a case study from my own experience of when the reviews@rateitall.com feature was really, really helpful.

I recently came back from a trip to Tokyo. It was a 12 hour flight, with no wifi. So what did I do? I opened up my laptop and drafted some reviews of each of the amazing things I saw on my trip, and attached photos to each one.

When I was back online, those emails went out and posted instantly.

I use RIA almost as a diary of the things (and my reactions to those things) that I come across during my life. Reviews@rateitall.com is a way to document and capture those moments, even without access to the Internet.

This theme of how to log a moment on RIA even during those times when you are not sitting at your desk with an Internet connection is something I find pretty interesting.

For some of my Tokyo reviews, see here, here, here, and here.

8/21/09

Have a Blackberry, Pre, or an iPhone? You can now post reviews on the go.

One other aspect of our reviews@rateitall.com feature that we haven't really mentioned - this is a baby step towards making RateItAll a mobile service.

If you have email on your phone, you can now post reviews just by sending an email to reviews@rateitall.com.

Somebody has already figured this out:

Some Coverage for reviews@rateitall.com

Here are some links to some coverage and more information on our new reviews@rateitall.com feature:

TechCrunch

HyveUp

Press Release

Twitter Stream

reviews@rateitall.com FAQ page

8/19/09

Major Product Announcement

For the last few weeks, there have been whispers around RIA-land of an important new feature - the ability to post reviews, instantly, via email.

We have just released this feature publicly.

There are two ways to post your reviews via email.

1) The easy way. Look for the "email your review" link on any RateItAll item page. It looks like this:


2) The easier way. Email your review to reviews@rateitall.com

Here's how:



That's it. Of course, you can also attach images to your emailed reviews, and the resizing and formatting happens automagically.

Believe it or not, it was very, very hard to make this feature so easy to use.

Please help us out by hammering on this feature a bit. Send feedback to feedback@rateitall.com (it blasts out to the whole team this way).

8/6/09

Testing a Top Secret Feature

We are testing a top secret feature on RIA. If you are an RIA regular and would like to help us test, please message me, Automatt, or Lena.

8/5/09

On Off Topic Reviews

We've been seeing a rash of off topic reviews recently. These are typically very well written and pretty funny joke reviews (or photos) posted on a real product, service, or local business page.

Unfortunately, we need to delete these, per our site rules.

Behind every product, local business, brand, and service provider on the site, there is a real company with real marketing people, and sadly, real lawyers. These people tend to get really pissed off when RateItAll allows our regulars to post jokes on their pages. For these folks, their online brand reputation is no laughing matter.

So if you see your off topic joke reviews of real products, services, brands, and local businesses go up in smoke, this is the reason.

We tend to be much more lenient on the member created lists about whether something is off topic. The beauty of RIA is that you can usually find an acceptable place to post just about anything on your mind.

7/24/09

Dreams of RateItAll

We get a lot of unusual fanmail to RateItAll. We've gotten hand written reviews of products mailed in from Mississippi. We often get notes asking us to "Tell Oprah" this, or "Please tell President Bush to call me." We've gotten cases of energy drinks from marketers confused about who is doing the reviewing.

This one came in this morning, and I thought it was worth sharing. Apparently, a particular RIA reviewer has RIA on the brain so much that it is infected his / her dreams. Here it is:

I had a really weird dream last night that RIA got so huge that they opened up a really swanky hot spot called "The RIA Lounge" in Los Angeles.

It was basically this huge club. It looked almost like a night-club but it was multi-storied and it served food and was open all day. It almost felt like a casino. The whole point was people and companies would petition RIA to allow them to leave their products lying around inside so that patrons could come in, play with them, and then either go home and rate them or rate them right there in the club on the laptops and computers that other companies left inside for the same purpose: exposure, hype, excitement, etc.

Even chefs (up-and-coming and well-established, alike) would take turns churning out the food so that people could rate that as well. There was a huge stage on the top floor in an area that resembled the Palms club in Vegas, where only the coolest new bands would play -- also to get ratings, etc. People couldn't get enough.

Anyway, I showed up one weekend and RIA put me in charge of explaining to patrons what this one product was. Turns out it's pretty hard to explain. But basically, the product was this software program that put people in various scenes. The way it worked was, there were video cameras and monitors planted throughout the club. As people walked around the club, the video cameras put them on the screens -- but the backdrops wouldn't be RIA's club; instead they would be different scenes from around the world. In one, you might see yourself surrounded by tribespeople in the amazon, walking right in step with you through the jungle. In another you'd be in a sea of British redcoats marching in time down a city street. The way the software worked was pretty cool -- the lighting, etc., was perfect so you wouldn't even stand out from the scene were it not for your clothing. It was bizarre, but that was just one of the many cool gadgets that you could check out at this place. And then you'd go and rate it.

Really bizarre.
Bizarre indeed.

Please keep the fanmail coming.

How come you can't subscribe to a city from the new home page?

We are still digesting feedback on the new home page. Our new registrations were up noticeably yesterday, which I think is a good sign, and which was sort of the whole point - let people play with the site a bit before forcing them to register.

One bit of feedback that we've heard a couple of times:

"How come I can't subscribe to a local directory / city from the new home page?"

The short answer is because we haven't yet hooked up a visitor's geolocation to the site yet. Once we do that, it will be an easy thing to offer each visitor the opportunity to subscribe to reviews of bars, restaurants, and businesses from their home town.

But just because you can't subscribe to your home town from the home page doesn't mean the functionality doesn't exist.

Here's how to add reviews from your home town to your River:

1) Drill down to find your home town's directory on RateItAll - for example, here is the San Francisco directory

2) Click the "Fave" icon - bottom right of this screenshot:


Clicking "Fave" automatically subscribes you to the city's reviews, and if you click your river settings, you can confirm this:



We will continue to look at ways to make it easier to subscribe to the topics you are interested in - not just for non members, but for everyone.

7/23/09

Help us test a new feature?

Hi All, we just pushed something that we think is pretty cool - it's a new home page (for not logged in users), that shows off some of our amazing "river" functionality. Basically, it lets you easily subscribe to the topics that you are interested in, making your river fill up with not just the posts from people you follow, but also from topics you follow (e.g. Politics, Gadgets, Movies).

Here's how you can help us out with testing.

1) Logout
2) Go to the RateItAll home page, and try clicking on various icons (note how the river updates dynamically each time)
3) when you come up with a combination of topics that you are happy with (and note that you can "view more" on topics to select from 21 different ones), click "Save Your Feed" and then login. Your new topics will then be added to your feed.

I love this new home page - I think it's incredibly interactive, and is a nice show of force for our database. BTW, if you like the icons, tell Lena.

7/21/09

Help us choose RateItAll's Next Feature

Last Friday, the RateItAll team departed the hallowed halls of RIA Global HQ and Campus, and got on the Bart train for the Carnelian Room - a magnificent restaurant and meeting facility in downtown San Francisco located on the 52nd floor of one of the city's tallest buildings.

The goal was to get offsite for a day, unplug from the daily grind, and talk about what we wanted to be as a website and as a company.

The venue was stunning - we were literally in the clouds, up above even the Transamerica Building, with views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Coit Tower.

During the afternoon, we had a session where we went around the table and came up with every idea for "small tweaks" to the site that we felt would make the site better for folks trying to use the site - whether they be writers, readers, businesses, or advertisers.

The session was done in a game format. Each person had 10 seconds to come up with an idea, or be eliminated. The winner got a package of Astronaut Ice Cream (and the loser got a package of Astronaut Ice Cream). Those who came in second, third, and fourth, also got packages of Astronaut Ice Cream.

The output of this meeting of the minds was this list of 82 suggested RateItAll site tweaks. Please rate them based on your opinion of their Priority. 5 = highest priority.

7/16/09

We have a new page!

We've just launched a Review Success Page. You will only hit this page when writing a review from A) the river; B) an item page; or C) the add a new item page. You won't get this when speed rating from a list page.

We built this page because A) we felt that it would be helpful from an editing / proofreading perspective to see the review you just wrote front and center; B) we could better call out the sharing buttons (FB, Twitter, Email); and C) that having a separate page was a good opportunity to highlight other places to hit on the site.

Here's a screenshot of the review success page:

6/17/09

Add RateItAll to Your Site by Copying and Pasting

We just launched a new feature that we hope will make adding RateItAll to other sites as easy as copying and pasting.

We're calling this thing the RateItAll Review Widget.

Here's how it works. On every item page on RateItAll (e.g. iPod (widget), Pixar's Up (widget), Abraham Lincoln (widget), Red Bull (widget)), you will now see a little embed icon that looks like this:



Clicking that icon lets you format a little module (widget) that can be pasted onto your blog or website. Don't be fooled by the small size of the widget - you can post reviews into this thing, and you can also read the reviews of others. You can login via your RateItAll or account, or via your Facebook account. It's like a little mini RateItAll to go.

So what are the implications of this? If you are Randyman and write an awesome blog about boxing, you can include reviews of some of the great fights in history on your blog. Or if politics is your thing, you can include reviews of any US President, or any issue from RateItAll controversial list of political issues.

Anyone who has spent time on RateItAll knows we have something for everyone. There are now more than 2.2M little review widgets for your copying and pasting pleasure. Message me with questions.

Here's a widget for Disputed Iranian Election.



(Note: if you were using the old widget, replace the old code with the new - it's way better)

6/1/09

Are you on Twitter? Follow RIA's accounts

Here are some fun Twitter accounts to follow for RIA addicts:

/AllReviews - this account gives you a real time feed (with links) of everything getting rated on the RIA network



/AllComments - this account gives you a real time feed of all new comments



/AllItems - This account gives you a real time feed of all new items added to RIA (minus LongTail)



/AllQuiz - real time feed of all quizzes taken



/RateItAll - Editorially selected pages from RateItAll

One More Big Fix Live

Since the launch of V3, one of the biggest complaints we've heard from folks who use the site a lot was in regards to the Home / River page.

Here was the problem:

If you paged down a few pages to see recent reviews on the home page, then clicked off on something, and then clicked back on the browser - the page was not remembering that you had paged down. In order to get back to the view you were on, you had to page down again.

This was annoying for a lot of folks.

This is now fixed - please try it out.

5/30/09

Host Maintenance

Our host is doing some maintenance today and site availability has been sporadic.

I will post an update when I have it.

5/29/09

Best of May

Here are a couple of stats from the month of May:

Top Three Helpful Vote Getters:

Irishgit
edt4
FranksWildYears

Newcomers of Note (follow these folks!)

Gris
Ayn
SK4U2009
quarterhorse51
kat15lee
cinnleigh
darkpalace
irishprincess3279

Most Visited Review / Comments Page:

Torture Should Never be Used (review by Ridgewalker)

Most Visited Member List:

90's Music (jamie mcbain)
(more than 22K people visited the landing page for this, and many more hit item pages on it)

5/27/09

Perfect Review Sharing

We've spent the last few weeks working very hard on improving the sharing functionality associated with various parts of RateItAll - specifically, Lists, Items, and Reviews.

We've focused our efforts on three ways to share in particular:

- Email
- Facebook
- Twitter

If you look at the top of the right hand column of any List, Item, or Review page, you will now see a "Share This Page" module:

First, let's look at the email sharing option.

Let's say I wanted to share my awesome list of Mexican Beer (which I am very proud of) with my friends via email.

Clicking the envelope icon on my Mexican Beer page pops open the following form:



With this form, I am able to type in email addresses one by one, and include a brief note.

I can also pull in contacts from my address books on services like Yahoo! Mail and Gmail by clicking the "Use Your Address Book Instead" button:


This tool lets you select friends from your address book to receive an email with a link pointing to your list (or item, or review).

Now let's look at Facebook. By now, just about everyone has a Facebook account, and Facebook's newsfeed format is a perfect way to share your lists, reviews, or items with your Facebook friends.

Clicking the Facebook Icon (farthest one on the right), will do one of two things depending on if you are logged into Facebook at that moment:

If you are logged into Facebook, you will see a prompt from Facebook that looks like this:



If you are not logged into Facebook, you will be prompted to login to your Facebook account before seeing the posting prompt above:



When you share a RateItAll story on Facebook, your Facebook profile will look like this:



And when my Facebook friends share RateItAll stories, this is what I see on my Facebook home page:



Now let's talk about Twitter. I know that folks on RIA are a bit skeptical, but this service is taking off like a rocket right now.

Clicking on the light blue "T" icon:

Will automatically open up a new browser window that includes a link to the page (list, item, or review), as well as some text that indicates whether it's a list, item, or review that you are sharing. Here is what it looks like - note that the posting field is pre-populated with the link and text, all you have to do is click "update":



One thing to note - you can share any list, item, or review page to Facebook, Twitter, or Email, whether or not you created the page, and whether or not you are even logged in to RateItAll.

These sharing features are available to everyone, and we hope they will be a great way to get more exposure for your reviews and lists.

Please poke around and let us know what you think.

5/26/09

We just pushed a couple of improvements live

We just made a couple of enhancements to the site:

- We added perfect sharing tools on every List, Item, and Review page. You can now push out any of these pages with one click to Facebook, Twitter, or Email, whether you are logged in or not. This will be a full post shortly.

- The home page river now remembers what view you were on if you click away, so that if you click back, you don't have to reconfigure your view. For example, let's say you are on your home river / feed page, and have used the filters to isolate just comments. If you click away from your home page, and then click "back" on your browser, you will see the same view that you left - just the comments. The only view state we are not remembering yet is the paging - this will be added soon. Sounds minor, but this is a big improvement.

- We have created a short form URL of all of our item and topic pages that can be more easily shared. Here's an example of the long form URL:

http://www.rateitall.com/i-839549-should-never-be-used.aspx

And here's the short one:

http://rateitall.com/i-839549

- We have fixed some annoying formatting issues when publishing reviews to Facebook - things like apostrophes and quotations should work fine now.

5/19/09

Congratulations to our Book Review Contest Winners

There are a couple of folks on the site who have realized that by focusing their efforts on a particular category for a day, they can walk home with some serious loot.

Congratulations to:

1) Irishgit
2) Twansalem
3) CinnLeigh

A close honorable mention goes to edt4.

In this particular contest, it took 42 qualifying book reviews to walk home with a $100 Amazon gift certificate. For some of you folks with 2K, 4K, 10K reviews... it would have been child's play to finish in the money.

Don't get me wrong - We are happy to keep shipping gift certificates and loot to Twansalem and Irishgit - both are very strong writers, and write consistently helpful, amusing, and thoughtful posts. But it surprises me that more of you don't lay off the silly stuff and / or the politics for a day, and put your reviews to work.

Prize delivery will go out today, via email.

Congratulations to those who participated.

5/15/09

Dealing with some performance issues...

.... we're on it. Stay tuned.

Sharing is Beautiful

For the last few days, we've been working very hard on making RIA reviews more share-able. Some of our work is live on the site, and there will be some more tweaks coming.

Here's an interesting look at the 10 most shared reviews on RateItAll over the past 45 days:

Directv
http://www.rateitall.com/r-3849860.aspx

Tribe of Noise
http://www.rateitall.com/r-3901927.aspx

Canaca Web Hosting
http://www.rateitall.com/r-3921430.aspx

Keith Reid
http://www.rateitall.com/r-3925302.aspx

Camel Snus
http://www.rateitall.com/r-3887130.aspx

University of Phoenix
http://www.rateitall.com/r-3884516.aspx

Panasonic Lumix
http://www.rateitall.com/r-4154474.aspx

Jimmy Swaggart
http://www.rateitall.com/r-1343509.aspx

Wal-Mart Super Tech Oil
http://www.rateitall.com/r-2282764.aspx

5/14/09

Quick Update on Sharing Reviews on Facebook

If you see a little FB icon in the header like this:



You are good to go, and can pick and choose reviews to push to Facebook.

If you DON'T see that little "F," you need to click the Facebook Logo in the right sidebar on the home page:


Can people please help us test this feature?

Try logging in with both Facebook and your regular RIA login.

Thanks.

Friday Book Review Contest - IT'S ON

Do you like to read books? Do you read the occasional comic book? Did someone read to you as a small child?

Then you may be well positioned for our Friday Bookworm Smackdown.

You know the drill:

- Any review of a book or author qualifies as long as it's three sentences or more
- Contest runs from Midnight tonight, Thursday, to 11:59PM tomorrow, Friday
- Winners will be determined by number of qualifying reviews within the contest period

send an email to contest@rateitall.com with your RateItAll nickname to participate

Our book section is massively, grotesquely inflated - I bet you will be able to find anything that you might have read.

Prizes:

First: $100 Amazon Gift Certificate
Second: $50 Amazon Gift Certificate
Third: $25 Amazon Gift Certificate


Official contest rules
  • Contest starts at 12:00AM PT on Friday, May 15th and runs through 11:59PM PT on Friday, May 15th.
  • Participants must have valid RateItAll member accounts.
  • Contest participants must register for the contest by sending an email to contest@rateitall.com with their valid and active RateItAll nickname in order to be considered for the prizes.
  • Reviews must be of books or authors to be considered.
  • Each quality book review will count as one entry in the contest. Reviews must be at least three sentences.
  • Recycled or reposted reviews will not be considered for the contest, and use of such reviews will be grounds for disqualification.
  • Prizes are non-transferrable and are subject to change and availability.
  • RateItAll reserves the right to discontinue the contest at any time, for any reason. RateItAll reserves the right to disqualify participants if we determine that contest rules have been broken.
  • Questions about the contest? Email contest@rateitall.com
  • Winners will be notified on or by Monday, May 18th, 2009.
  • All decisions made by contest administrators are final.

5/12/09

Want to rate the local businesses in your neighborhood?

Then shoot me a note. Tell me the town you live in and I will see if we can load up some local biz info for your home town.

We're here to help.

Merge Feature

We now have an administrative merge feature that allows us to merge identical lists together, as well as identical items.

Because as we all know, duplication is such a drag.

If you're aware of any identical weblists, please let us know...

5/11/09

Share your RateItAll reviews with your Facebook friends

For a while now, we've offered the ability for new members of RateItAll to sign up using their Facebook login. This allows these new members to pick and choose reviews that they write to share on Facebook with their Facebook friends.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to offer this functionality to existing RateItAll members, because we didn't have the ability to link an older RIA account with a Facebook account.

This is no longer the case.

We've just introduced the ability for anyone to link their RateItAll account to their Facebook account.

Why would you want to do this? Because it lets you easily share reviews with your Facebook friends, giving your reviews more visibility.

The key aspects of the program are as follows:

- it only takes one click to link your RateItAll and Facebook accounts

- you only share the reviews that you want to - each time you write a review, you are given the option of sharing it with your Facebook friends. If you don't want to, you don't have to - I probably only share about one out of ten reviews that I write.

- once you have linked your Facebook and RateItAll accounts, you will be able to login to RateItAll with one click

To link your RateItAll and Facebook accounts, click the Facebook icon on your home page:


Here's what the Facebook prompt looks like after you write a review:



Here's what a shared review looks like on a Facebook news feed:



I really hope that you will try this feature out. One of the fun things about RateItAll is the "instant feedback" aspect of the site. We write things, and people react to our opinions.

This new Facebook feature increases our collective reach to include our Facebook networks. Folks can even "like" and comment on your reviews right on Facebook.

Let me know if you have questions.

5/7/09

Book Review Contest - Postponed One Week

For the last seven days, our friend and compatriot Automatt has wired himself to an energy drink IV and has been furiously adding books to RIA's database in preparation for the Great Book Review Contest.

He is now adding books, with full descriptions, at the rate of one every seven seconds. He is typing at approximately 4,321,654 words per minute, and hasn't slept since last Thursday.

Astromike, in assessing whether or not he would like to have a beer with Automatt, says it best:

As long as he doesnt bring his lap top to the bar and post list items on RIA all night it could be fun lol. Im sure he's an all right dude. (lol)

Sadly, even at this reckless pace, it looks like we're just not going to be ready for tomorrow.

I've asked Automatt to pick it up all a bit - we should be good to go for next Friday.

In the meantime, for you book readers out there, please start compiling a mental list of books to review. For those who don't read, you still have a week to get started.

More details to follow.

Some Definitions, aka The Most Boring Blog Post Ever

I thought that people might enjoy a peek into the internal RIA HQ nomenclature that we use to describe things on the site.

(editor's note: this is boring)

Here it is:

Definitions:

Reviewer – Registered user

Rating – Value: 1-5

Review – Text associated with a rating

Comment – Response or reply to a review

Item – Something that can be rated (e.g. person, place, thing, Corona, etc.)

Topic – A grouping of items (e.g. Mexican Beer), otherwise known as a list or a weblist

Subject – A collection of topics (e.g. Drinks)

5/4/09

Book Review Contest on Friday

We've done movies.

We've done music.

We've done local businesses.

This Friday will be books... more details to follow.

4/30/09

Speed

The RateItAll dev team has been working very, very hard at making RIA fast.

And I think it's very fast now - as fast as it's been.

I hope you all are seeing the same thing.

4/28/09

You can now see item descriptions on the list pages

A few days ago, inspired by the RIA movie review contest, I wrote a review of the Sandra Bullock coming of age, romantic comedy "28 Days." Among other things I said:

The empty London scenes were the best, and spastic, fluid spewing zombies are certainly more effective than the slow moving sort.

Some have suggested that I may be confusing the Sandra Bullock film with 28 Days Later, about a zombie outbreak in London. This is debatable, and neither here nor there.

What I would like to talk about today is a design tweak we just rolled out that lets you see item descriptions (text, photo, video, etc.) when rating from a list page. This feature might prevent people from getting confused about exactly what item they are rating while on the list page.

Check out this screenshot of my Flight of the Conchords video list.




If I click "Review It!" you will see that the first item on the list snaps down to display the description - in this case, a video.



I think rating from the list pages will be much easier now, especially for items that have images, descriptions, and / or videos.

4/24/09

Music Contest Prizes Just Went Out

Congratulations to OscarGamblesFro, Irishgit, and Frankswildyears - Amazon gift certificate just went out.

Speaking on behalf of the entire RIA community, we expect to see reviews of whatever Amazon product you buy.

A couple of site updates

Two days ago, we rolled in some optimizations to the home page / river that vastly sped the page up for most people.

However, we learned that folks who had subscribed to multiple keywords were seeing some timeouts - this was fixed last night, so now everyone should be seeing a faster home page while logged in. While logged out, we have the home page loading in under 0.2 seconds, which is as fast as its ever been.

Yesterday, we rolled in some optimizations to the list page - these pages should now be loading rocket fast for everyone. Even some of our notorious Crunchbase lists which have 17K items are loading pretty quickly.

Today, we're going to be taking on the item page - once we get done with that, I think we're going to have a pretty fast site.

Finally, we made some small tweaks to the AdSense revenue sharing code yesterday - please let us know if you see improvements in your daily AdSense numbers.

4/21/09

Congratulations to our Music Review Contest Winners

Our top finishers in the music contest were:

1) Oscargamblesfro

2) IrishGit

3) FranksWildYears

Prizes will go out by the end of the week.

Now that Twansalem has a Netflix account, he can't be bothered to participate in our contests.

As has been the case with our previous two reviews contests, I found to the quality of the reviews to be very, very high.

Here is a taste:





4/20/09

Couple of Changes to the List Page

You may have noticed a few changes to the list page.

The two most important are:

1) the introduction of a "confidence score" which is the default view

2) bringing back the number rankings associated with each item (1, 2, 3, etc.)

The Confidence Score reflects how confident we are that the rating is statistically significant. It takes into account a number of different factors like number of ratings, and the distribution of those ratings. The math is actually pretty complex.

For example, check out the beer page. Under the old view, the default view was dominated by a lot of obscure beers with one five star rating apiece.



With our new Confidence Score, you'll see a lot of beers that you've heard of, ordered by how confident we are in the accuracy of the rating:



We are NOT saying the Bud Light is the fifth best beer in the world. We are simply saying that we have a high degree of confidence that Bud Light's rating of 3.05 is accurate.

The practical effect of introducing the Confidence Score is 1) You won't see an item with one 5 star rating outranking an item with 200 ratings and an average score of 4.33; and 2) Our lists will be a bit harder to game

We've also rolled in a few optimization enhancements that seem to be making the site a bit faster.

4/17/09

Music Contest - It's ON

There are some amazing music reviews coming in as we speak, and still plenty of time left to do some damage.

Who's in?

Email: contest@rateitall.com

4/16/09

Music Review Contest Smackdown - Friday, April 17

It's that time of the week again.

We've done local businesses. We've done movies.

And now we're doing music.

The contest will run from 12:00AM PST tonight, to 11:59PM PST tomorrow night.

Here's how to participate:

1) send an email to contest@rateitall.com with your RateItAll nickname
2) start rating Music (musicians and / or albums) tonight at midnight. I recommend our Best Buy channel as it has just about everything.

Winner will be determined by the total number of qualifying reviews in the 24 hour period.

Qualifying Reviews Are:

- at least three sentences long
- of a real band or musician, or a real album

Prizes:

1) $75 Amazon or iTunes gift certificate
2) $25 Amazon or iTunes gift certificate
3) $10 Amazon or iTunes gift certificate

Finishers in the Top Ten will get a RateItAll Demon Star Schwag Package (T-Shirt, stickers, pins).

Official contest rules
  • Contest starts at 12:00AM PT on Friday, April 17th and runs through 11:59PM PT on Friday, April 17th.
  • Participants must have valid RateItAll member accounts.
  • Contest participants must register for the contest by sending an email to contest@rateitall.com with their valid and active RateItAll nickname in order to be considered for the prizes.
  • Reviews must be of albums or musicians to be considered.
  • Each quality movie review will count as one entry in the contest. Reviews must be at least three sentences.
  • Recycled or reposted reviews will not be considered for the contest, and use of such reviews will be grounds for disqualification.
  • Prizes are non-transferrable and are subject to change and availability.
  • RateItAll reserves the right to discontinue the contest at any time, for any reason. RateItAll reserves the right to disqualify participants if we determine that contest rules have been broken.
  • Questions about the contest? Email contest@rateitall.com
  • Winners will be notified on or by Monday, April 20th, 2009.
  • All decisions made by contest administrators are final.

4/13/09

Movie Smackdown Wrap-Up

The KPMG auditors have finally left the Global RIA HQ after a grueling 48 hours of sifting through and analyzing movie reviews for authenticity, quality, and depth.

The results are now in, the volunteers have gone home, the press have moved on to the next big story, and things are returning to a degree of normalcy here.

I am pleased to announce that Twansalem has won his first RIA review contest, authoring over 100 quality movie reviews in just 24 hours. Here's a sample - a review of the the teen remake of Cruel Intentions:



Irishgit staged a late rally but ran out of hours. For a taste of IG's work, check out the following:


For a few hours in the afternoon, a time rich law student named SperryC made a big push as well. If he had been able to keep up this level of production for a few more hours, he may have finished in the money. Here's a taste of his reviews:



We had a lot of fun at RIA HQ watching the movie reviews roll in, and a number of us jotted down movies that we'd like to see (as well as some that sound just awful).

We're going to try and run a Music Review contest on Friday. Hopefully some of you wall flowers will get out there and dance this time.

Thanks to all that participated, and prizes and t-shirts will go out this week.

Apture