Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Twitter fails as a promotional tool?

Colnect has joined Twitter less than a week ago using a few Twitter profiles:
* Colnect news Twitter @colnect
* A personal Twitter for Colnect's manager @AmirWald
* Automated feed reporting new collectibles in Colnect's catalogs @ColnectCatalogs
* Automated feed on Colnect's catalog edits @ColnectEdits

During these days 28 visits came to Colnect from Twitter, a meager amount in comparison to the number of "followers" and energy invested. The bounce rate (visitors seeing a single page and leaving the site) was incredibly high as well. In comparison, a few posts on a relevant forum resulted in hundreds of relevant visits (with much lesser bounce rate).

It seems a lot of people use Twitter to self promote and so it's more of a bubble where "followers" is a rough indication of the number of people who will actually read anything of what you write. My guess is that for most people, a small percent of their "followers" actually read more than 5% of their tweets. Though some people think of it as a useful personal tool, it doesn't seem like they dominate Twitter.

Though less than a week may be a too short amount of time for a verdict, results so far are very unsatisfying. In the future, the automated feeds may be of use to some of the addict collectors on Colnect. Let's see what the future brings.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Colnect on Twitter

Giving up to the fad? Possibly...
Easier than blog posts? Obviously...
Useful? hmmm.....

Anyway, you're welcomed to follow the official Colnect on Twitter
All public updates regarding Colnect may be there before anywhere else.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Custom Personal Lists on Colnect

A new much-needed premium service had just been added to Colnect.

Custom Personal Lists

In addition to the common inventory lists on Colnect (Collection / Swap / Wish), premium members can create more lists. When custom lists are added, you can add and remove item to and from them in the same way you do for the common lists.

Common Uses

  • Reserving items for a specific swap
  • Offering many item for a single sale
  • Marking items you wish to attend to later
  • Creating a list to be shown to collectors on other sites

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gmail: back to the future

The following post has nothing to do with this blog but it's just something amusing I've recently seen while using my GMail. After sending a message, it tells me my message has been sent -1 minutes ago. Are they trying to say it will be sent in 1 minute? Is it yet another bug in Gmail?


Here's the attached picture. My interface is in Spanish so "minutos antes" means "minutes ago".

Friday, March 20, 2009

Biggest phone cards catalog for collectors - 142,000+ phone cards listed

For a long time, Colnect provides the world's most extensive collectible phone cards catalog. However, the phone card collectors on Colnect keep adding information to the catalog. It has just passed over 142,000 listed phonecards. The catalog is very organic and changes as the editors on Colnect receive feedbacks from collectors. It's freely available for browsing even without the need to register. Free registration to Colnect allows collectors to also manage their personal collection.

Coins catalog: over 14,000 coins

Quietly but surely, Colnect's coins catalog, being built by coin collectors for coin collectors, has surpassed 14,000 listed coins. It's freely available for browsing even without the need to register. Free registration to Colnect allows collectors to manage their personal collection.

Colnect's coins catalog is currently the world's biggest freely available resource for coin pictures and information.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Colnect rises on Compete / Quantcast / Alexa



I've been updating about Colnect's rank rising on Alexa and have now decided to include links to other rankings. So you can check out Colnect's rankings on Compete and Quantcast and start wondering what all these ratings are actually worth. So although it's nice to see Colnect gains momentum on all non-related meters, it's interesting to note the difference between what they report and between the reality. By "reality" I usually mean my reports from Google Analytics and, when really bored, the server's logs can be inspected. There's little connection between the real graphs and the estimated ones by these services. Colnect has been growing and growing throughout. Sometimes slower, lately faster. The graphs by Compete and Quantcast actually show a very inaccurate picture. Oh well...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Collectors premium services on Colnect

A few days ago, Colnect's premium services for collectors have finally opened up. Colnect has already been offering a respectable set of free services to collectors from around the world. These free services will continue to be offered for the benefit of the entire collectors community.

The announcement has been made:
"Premium membership gives you access to several features that will enhance your Colnect experience. If you regularly use Colnect, please consider supporting us by becoming a premium member."

Currently, not many premium services are offered but these will be added with time according to collector demands.

Happy collecting :)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Colnect's Alexa Rating Keeps Climbing

Since the last post about Colnect's ranking on Alexa, it has risen again, now standing at 144,039 whereas a month ago it was 184,627, ~4 months ago it was at ~360,000 and ~6 months ago ~500,000. More information on my previous post about the subject.
The ranking is coherent with Colnect's internal report, showing a significant increase in traffic during the last months.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Email Anti-Spam Tip

This tip will not completely prevent spam but will enable you to quickly deduce if you've got spam, how you the spam and help you decide what to do with it. It's quite simple, have your own email domain and give different email addresses at different places.

An Example


Today I've received this unsolicited (SPAM) email trying to frighten me into buying colnect.tw, colnect.cn and so on. Here it is:

From: kevin.wu

(If you are NOT CEO,please forward this to your CEO, because this is urgent.Thanks.)

Dear CEO,

We are the department of registration service in China. we have something need to confirm with you. We formally received an application on March 3, 2009, One Japan company called "Path soft investment Corp" are applying to register (colnect) as internet brand name and domain names as below (colnect.net.cn colnect.org.cn colnect.mobi colnect.asia colnect.hk colnect.cc colnect.tw etc.).

After our initial checking, we found the internet brand name and these domain names being applied are as same as your company’s, so we need to get the confirmation from your company. If the aforesaid company is your business partner or your subsidiary company, please DO NOT reply us, we will approve the application automatically. If you have no any relationship with this company, please contact us within 15 workdays. If out of the deadline, we will approve the application submitted by "Path soft Corp" unconditionally.

We would like to get the affirmation of your company,please contact us by telephone or email as soon as possible.

Best Regards,

Kevin Wu
Senior Director
TEL: +86 21 69929440
Fax: +86 21 69929447
Website:www.qpnic.org.cn
Shanghai QPNIC Web Property Solutions Limited


Now, this email was sent to management@ and webmaster@ (both of them at my domain colnect.com). However, since I never give these email addresses to anyone, it means that every email I get there is SPAM. Other common names such as info@ and contact@ and others are frequently used.
A short search on the Internet affirmed my suspicion of a scam, when I found this blog post and that one.

What About My Private Email?


Well, you can easily get yourself a free domain on any service that would freely forward your email (such as cjb.net). Then, whenever you register a website, make up an email site_x@mydomain.cjb.net and use it to register the site. You would always be able to receive such emails but when this address becomes 'dirty' (starts receiving much spam), you can filter out all emails coming to it. It's a better solution than one-time emails since sometimes you do actually want to allow the site to later contact you. It is also a completely legitimate email address.

Symfony: Error Logging Hack

Symfony is an excellent PHP framework used on Colnect. As any piece of software, however, it has its shortcomings. The good thing is that I can hack it to fit my needs when some things are not to my likings. A recent hack I've done (and should have done a long time ago) is about the error logs. Though the guidebook to Symfony describes logging at length I couldn't figure out how to easily add some useful information to any Exception thrown on my production machine.

The following hack can be has been customized for my needs but you can change it to your preferences. It'll change the output Symfony places in the PHP error log file.

What the Hack Does?


A boring Exception such as:
[04-Mar-2009 17:20:25] Action "coins/collect" does not exist.


Will become:
[04-Mar-2009 17:20:25] CODE[0] MESSAGE[Action "coins/collect" does not exist.]
FILE[.\config_core_compile.yml.php] Line[715]
REQUEST[/it/coins/sdlk] REFERER[]
AGENT[Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.0.6) Gecko/2009011913 Firefox/3.0.6] ADDR[127.0.0.1]


How To?


Find sfException class (should be /symfony/lib/exception/sfException.class.php) and add the following method:



public function getMessageFull() {
$exception = is_null($this->wrappedException) ? $this : $this->wrappedException;

try {
$sReq = isset($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']) ? $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'] : '';
$sRef = isset($_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER']) ? $_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'] : '';
$sUserAgent = isset($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT']) ? $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'] : '';
$sRemoteAddr = isset($_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR']) ? $_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'] : '';

$sErrMessage = "CODE[".$exception->getCode().'] MESSAGE['.$exception->getMessage()."]"
."\n\tFILE[".$exception->getFile()."] Line[".$exception->getLine()."]"
."\n\tREQUEST[$sReq] REFERER[$sRef]"
."\n\tAGENT[$sUserAgent] ADDR[$sRemoteAddr]\n"
;
}
catch (Exception $e)
{
$sErrMessage = $exception->getMessage();
}

return $sErrMessage;
}


Customize this method to your needs. Make sure it doesn't raise any exceptions itself.
Now you need 2 more small changes in both sfException.php and sfError404Exception. Change the line:
error_log($this->getMessage());

to:
error_log($this->getMessageFull());


More Enhancements?


It's your call. You can email yourself an alert, include more system-specific pieces of information or use the code as is. It's obviously not the cleanest solution possible but it works for me and hope it helps you.

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