Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Colnect Wins 2nd Place in Nail-biting TechAviv Peer Awards Competition

The strength of Colnect was on full display Wednesday night as we captured 2nd place in the TechAviv's inaugural Peer Awards competition, losing by a single vote to worthy champion 5Min. This honour comes at the end of a year in which Colnect claimed victory in the prestigious European Startup 2.0 Competition. Although Colnect came up just short this time around, our video presentation enthralled the approximately 150 people in attendance, with Frognector reappearing to explain the great benefits offered by the collectors' community and its enormous potential:



The Colnect team, led by founded Amir Wald, was gracious in defeat. "Although obviously we would have enjoyed the win, I am ecstatic about our 2nd place finish and how close we came to the top. There is much to celebrate in coming 2nd to an incredible company such as 5Min and ahead of three other extremely worthy competitors in the finals," Wald declared shortly after the voting concluded. Colnect is pleased to congratulate 5Min on its narrow victory and wishes the best of luck in the new year to all our fellow start-ups who provided such intrigue to the Tech-Aviv competition.

Colnect is hoping to build on this great momentum heading into the new year. A newly designed easier user-interface is now under construction. One of the major objectives to add even more collectible categories and expand our existing catalogs for items such as stamps, where many improvements are still desired. In addition, Colnect is looking to further increase the number of languages offered (in full) to broaden our international appeal, with Japanese and Bahasa Indonesian being two examples of translations that are regularly being made more comprehensive.

As always, Colnect would like to thank our extensive army of volunteers who deserve full credit for making these language and catalog enhancements a reality.

Colnect is of The 5 finalists on TechAviv Peer Awards

After three weeks of public and members-only voting, over 100 startups nominated and 6,000 votes cast, Colnect was chosen as one of the 5 finalists to present on the TechAviv Peer Awards.



Colnect has a great presentation waiting, dubbed "The Story of Frognector".

Rather than have a panel of so-called experts pick the winner, TechAviv’s founders and investors will select the winner via live SMS vote after the startups get 10 minutes each on stage to impress their peers.

Wish us luck :)

UPDATE: Colnect took the 2nd place by storm. A new blog post will soon be available but meanwhile you're welcomed to enjoy the video here:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

FaceBook vs. YOUR Privacy - AKA Note: Your Friend List is always visible to you and your friends


The Facebook team, after apparently deciding that there wasn't enough excitement to its old privacy settings, made additional changes this week in an effort to appease users who have complained about the amount of their profile information that's available to the public. Ironically (or perhaps deliberately), these modifications mean that users now have even less control over the visibility of certain content to others. For instance, before the changes were made, Facebookers could designate certain "groups" of their contacts who could not see all or part their friends list. However, Facebook now displays a new notification when one tries to modify the settings on their friends list that "Your Friend List is always visible to you and your friends" (see screenshot image). Since these changes were completely unannounced, profile information that some users specifically designated as private and presumably still believe as such are now potentially visible to the public. In the eyes of many, this constitutes a serious breach of privacy. One can't help but wonder if Facebook will soon make other confidential information universally accessible, such as which profiles a user clicks on or messages sent to their Inbox.

This stir has caused some devoted users to seriously question their loyalty to the social networking site. Many have a wide variety of friends on their Facebook list and like to keep their personal and business contacts separate in some ways, such as being able to meet and stay in touch with business connections while simulataneously keeping their list of personal friends hidden from them. With these changes, that is no longer possible.

In addition, the new changes have made it much more difficult to control which types of a user's Facebook activity are automatically published as "News-Feeds" on their wall. As an example, it used to be possible for Facebook addicts to hide the notifications for adding friends and posting on other peoples' walls from being displayed in their profile, whereas now this appears to be impossible. This lapse in confidentiality was discovered by the exasperated Colnect founder Amir Wald when he checked his wall this morning. "Introducing changes that breach our privacy so blatantly and without a warning is nothing less than outrageous" said Mr. Wald, "We would never dream of doing such a thing to our devoted collectors community".

In order to maintain this element of privacy, Facebookers are now required to manually delete each of these notifications one-by-one from their walls, as opposed to the "Erase All" function that was available in past incarnations. The fact remains that users should not have to go out of their way to preserve the confidentiality of information that they previously took for granted, especially when many are not even aware about the automatic changes made to their settings.

These latest developments mark the latest concern with the site for internet privacy advocates. If Facebook keeps making Privacy changes, it needs to ensure that any strict privacy restrictions already established by existing users are not compromised in the process. Otherwise, many dedicated supporters may opt to pull the plug and end up displaying none of their personal information to anyone.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Save Us From Index Spamming / How to Make Google Carry Your Slogan

As the number of internet users and available web pages worldwide continue to grow exponentially, the importance of maintaining a high index on search engines is magnified with it. Consequently, many spammers or special-interest groups wishing to spread a particular message have developed more sophisticated techniques for "cheating" their way to the top of search results. One of these newer methods involves exploiting sites that display a 200 Code for error messages by adding the spammer's unsolicited content into Google's (or another search engine's) indices for the purpose of generating traffic the next time a user searches for that term. For more details about this technique, see this previous blog post on the subject.

However, a more interesting phenomenon is the recent adoption of this method by political organizations and other non-commercial action groups. For example, typing the phrase "Save Us From Berlusconi" (see Image 1) into Google generates countless results in this fashion, evidently a result of the efforts made by individuals and organizations opposed to the Italian Prime Minister to get their message across.





This was brought to our attention after the messages appeared in the search engine indices for the site Transposh. Similarly, these indexed pages can also appear even without a specific search being carried out for them (see Image 2), a trend that has been noticed by the Colnect administrator who reported the problem originally.



This relatively recent spamming method has the potential to undermine the legitimacy of search engine results and consequently make some users think twice before clicking on a link that appears at the top of their results list. Google and the other major search engines need to put a halt to this problem before it becomes even more prevalent and completely compromises the integrity of their search functions.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Over 20,000 Coins on Colnect's Free Catalog



Colnect's free, extensive catalogs achieved a new milestone this weekend, as more than 20,000 coins from around the world have now been published. These continual catalog additions and improvements ensure that Colnect collectors have the widest variety of items to choose from in managing their collections and making exchanges with others. Colnect's catalogs operate under wiki-like principles, meaning trusted collectors can add their own personal collections onto the site and make any necessary changes or updates. We would like to thank all of our volunteer contributors who help keep our catalogs growing and provide the entire Colnect community with the best collection experience possible.

Russia currently features the largest coin collection on Colnect with over 1,000 items, followed closely by Poland at just below the 1,000 mark. Every continent is well-represented with at least hundreds of coins on display.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Postcards - Colnect's Latest Addition

We are happy to announce the launch of yet another category to Colnect's catalogs: postcards. This addition offers our collectors an even wider variety of collectibles to choose from in managing their collections and finding others around the globe to exchange with. It also closely follows last week's expansion into bank cards, hotel key cards, and transportation tickets.



The postcards catalog, which presently features a couple hundred items from France and Germany, was made possible through the dedicated efforts of Paul Giba [CarnivorousVulgaris] . Feel free to check it out if you or someone you know collects postcards!

As always, Colnect is grateful for the continued support of all its volunteer collectors who make these catalog improvements a reality.

If you're an avid collector in one of these new categories, any assistance you could provide to help expand the catalogs would be most appreciated. We also welcome any suggestions you may have for future collectible categories to be added!


Colnect has the world's biggest phone card catalog, with over 200,000 currently being displayed! Colnect also features tens of thousands of items in our stamp catalog, coin catalog, bank note catalog, and bottle cap catalog. In addition, our newly-created tea bag catalog is growing rapidly and now has nearly 2,000 items from 43 countries displayed.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New SPAM technique? "warning_this_is_english_domain_to_solve_this_problem_submit_site_in_atoall.com.html"

It's not uncommon to see weird requests coming to my server at Colnect but I found this one interesting since it came from GoogleBot, the bot used by Google to index the web for its search engine.

The request made by the bot was for the URL:
/warning_this_is_english_domain_to_solve_this_problem_submit_site_in_atoall.com.html

Needless to say, this URL never existed on my domain. Seeing the actual page of atoall . com, having the title "Hot girls pictures free games boys images local news all", made me suspect spamming.

Searching for this URL on Google currently gets 106,000 results for warning_this_is_english_domain_to_solve_this_problem_submit_site_in_atoall.com.html.
which means that Google has indexed that many pages which don't really exist on the other domains. Some very well known domains have this page URL indexed on Google.


How does it happen?



Well, some sites are configured to never return a proper 404 code to let bots and people know the page is not found on their server. They prefer returning a 200 code that tells bots and browsers the page is found. The page's content, displayed to the user, indicates that what the user was looking for was never found. Most users would never know the difference between getting a 404 or 200 code.

So why do they generate a 200 code?



Well, it makes search bots, like Google, index a page that has content which was searched by a user. The next time a user would search for the same term on a search engine, there is a chance that he'll get to their page. Also, as some plug-ins to browsers can "steal" 404 pages by replacing them with their own custom results, returning a 200 code prevents it.

Why shouldn't they generate a 200 code?



The downside of returning such pages is the obvious spamming by sites such as atoall . com and others which seek illegitimate sources of traffic. According to Alexa, the site has been gaining traffic since August and it wouldn't come as a surprised if this unique form of spamming Google's search engine has a lot to do with it.

Another issue is that the search engine may choose to penalize sites which return the wrong results. The search engine can easily know if that is the case by requesting randomly generated page URLs.

So now my only question is: how come Google didn't already penalize atoall . com and removed it from their search results?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Google Analytics Asynchronous Tracking

As Colnect is using Google Analytics to measure our traffic, we're happy to learn about the change to their tracking script. Announced 2 days ago and now implemented on Colnect, the script will now be loaded asynchronously and thus not block other page elements from loading. This should results is slightly faster load times and improve user experience on the site.

So now the question is when such asynchronous code be available for AdSense? I see no reason why the ads shouldn't load only when the page has been rendered.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Note to Facebook Collectors of Coins, Banknotes, Stamps and other Collectibles

Stamps? Coins? Banknotes? Phone Cards? Bottle Caps? Tea Bags?

Though only recently have we publicized our FaceBook fan page for collectors, we already have to change it due to limitations with FaceBook. The former page name was "colnect.com", which is not a bad name but when searching FaceBook for "colnect" it would never appear in the search results. Contacting FaceBook's support resulted in no answer. Trying to change the name of the page also fails so we've now opened a new page "" and welcome all collectors to join us there.

Link and Search

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